Scott Belcher: Realtor at RE/MAX Results – Selling in the Spring Means Prepping in the Winter

ScottBelcher

Scott Belcher at RE/MAX Results has been a Twin Cities realtor for 18 years. In that time, he’s learned that keeping abreast of your current local market is key to navigating the world of real estate. “Here in the Twin Cities, we’re impacted by seasonal trends, as well as weather in general,” Belcher says. “We have fewer buyers who want to be out in the cold.” When approached by a seller looking to capitalize on the busy spring market he clarifies that spring in Minnesota can start as early as the middle of February. So, homeowners looking to sell this spring should start conversations with their realtors now.

Belcher is an advocate for buying and selling in the winter months because, while there are typically less buyers, these are the serious ones—the braving-the-cold die-hards. As a seller, that is totally to your advantage. “We have a harsh winter and any slight warm-up sparks cabin fever,” Belcher explains, “so buyers want to get into a home quickly” before the market heats up along with the weather.

It’s expected that this spring will be similar to the last couple years with low inventory and low interest rates. However, with the expectation that interest rates will finally go up later this year, it may saturate the market with even more buyers. This makes for the perfect storm for sellers to optimize their profits. 

Belcher has a few preparation methods for sellers. He says, “The importance of curb appeal is as important as [the] inside. If you can’t get them in the front door they aren’t going to be able to see any of the improvements you’ve made.” He’ll walk a seller to the curb of their own home and ask them to look at it as if they were a buyer. “A lot of times,” says belcher, “I’ll get a gasp.” The roof, gutters and yard should be spotless, and landscaping can be a huge advantage: evergreens in the winter, flowers in the summer. Evaluate the color and see if anything needs a fresh coat of paint. You want to have something that’s eye-catching but complementary to the rest of the home. Adds Belcher: “Remove or minimize any distractions and highlight the positives by making a focal point.” 

Inside, the flow of the home is most important. This can be accomplished by staging where the main goal is promoting movement. Keep in mind that two to three people will be moving through the home together—make sure there isn’t any furniture obstructing free movement through the rooms, and all surfaces should be clear of clutter. Distraction interrupts flow, so remove all of them. Continuity is your friend: stick to a dominant color in a front room and carry that color throughout the home in smaller ways. “This helps buyers feel more connected,” Belcher explains. At the slightest hint of warmer weather Minnesotans start looking for a patio. It’s beneficial to extend the staging of your home to the back yard and showcase the enjoyment of outdoor living spaces. 

Because of buyer demand getting a home ready to sell doesn’t have to cost as much as you might think in this market. “Buyers are more willing to overlook outdated items,” Belcher says, “knowing they can live with them if they’re functional.” Finally, Belcher again stresses that sellers boost their curb appeal and be mindful of staging but also that “timing is everything, and be realistic.” There are a lot of variables in real estate, so listen to your realtor—they know the market. 

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