By Diane Saatchi
In the season of puffy coats and 5 p.m. sunsets, summer couldn’t feel further away.
But if you’re hoping to sell or rent your Hamptons home for the upcoming summer, it’s time to get on it. Some home shoppers have already claimed their 2019 summer homes, but don’t worry if yours isn’t ready to show: There is still plenty of time. Weather permitting, the three-day weekend in honor Martin Luther King was the unofficial start to the new year home shopping season.
There is a lot of available inventory, here are some tips to help your home stand out:
Make sure you have professional photos taken in the summer. Shoppers won’t hold your frozen garden against you (everyone’s gardens look terrible in January) but they do need a good idea of what the house looks like at its best, in the summer. Family photos won’t cut it. Use a pro and make sure the images are high resolution.
Don’t shut down the house completely. Make sure it’s warm inside, and that it smells good. A frigid, musty house isn’t inviting for home shoppers. It’s okay to turn the water off but if you do, leave notes in salient places so no one finds out too late.
Arrange to have your driveway shoveled. Any landscaping or house-watching service should be able arrange for a plow following snow falls. If agents and customers can’t access the house, they won’t be able to see it.
Consider having your home inspected once you decide to list. That way, you’ll have advance notice of any issues the buyer’s inspector might uncover, and you’ll have the chance to repair or adjust the price accordingly. There’s no hiding issues — the buyers will find out, so it’s better to address them upfront. Although not done often, it’s also a good idea to have a home inspected prior to renting. If you do, it’s best to wait until spring so air conditioning, pool equipment and irrigation can be checked. It is never fun to find out about needed repairs when the tenant takes possession — and when it’s nearly impossible to find available repair service. The premium you’ll pay for holiday weekend, emergency repair will more than match the cost of the preliminary inspection.
Make sure your papers are in order. Is your Certificate of Occupancy (CO) up to date? If you made any changes or renovations, does your CO reflect that? For sellers, your home can’t close until the CO is up to date, so it’s in your best interest to check (and correct) it now. Note, if your home is in any of the municipalities requiring permit or registry to rent, an updated CO will be needed anyway.
Finally, remember that listing your house in the winter and selling for the summer is an ideal situation. Selling a home isn’t easy, and it depends on a dozen different things, many of which sellers and agents have little to no control over. Taking the steps above will put you in the best possible position to sell your home by the summer, but it’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do so.
If you’re planning to rent, there are a few more things to consider
That said, you might want to rent your home for the upcoming summer. Maybe you need another season to get the best pictures, maybe you’re not all that eager to let it go, or maybe you won’t be able to use it for the upcoming season, but you don’t want to give it up.
The difference between buyers and renters is that buyers need a few weeks’ or months’ lead time to close, whereas renters can sign on the dotted line at any time. Knowing that, many of the above steps apply: For potential renters seeing the house in the winter, you’ll want to make sure yours is warm and accessible and free of must and dust. Professional summer pictures are absolutely critical, even more so than for buyers, who could use the house year-round; renters, most likely, will only be there in the summer and they’ll need some help imagining what it will look like.
Another difference is that buyers won’t be as attached to the home’s decor. They’ll probably expect to do some work, and to redecorate at the very least. But renters are getting exactly what they see, so it’s up to you to make sure your home looks exactly how it will look the day they move in for the season. With so many choices, would-be renters can be choosy.
A few tips on making your home appeal to renters:
Show them your outdoor furniture. If it’s stored, it should be clean and not shrink-wrapped. Your barbecue must also be clean.
Upholstered furniture and floor coverings should be stain-free.
You’ll want flat screen TVs in the bedrooms, even if you personally don’t watch TV in bed. Beds should be nicely made — people will try them out! So, you’ll want to make sure they feel as nice as they look.
Your dishes and silverware should be clean, matching sets, with service for at least 12. Your fridge should be empty and sparkling. Likewise, the oven and even the small appliances should be clean.
Your beach and pool towels should be fresh, clean, and matching.
If you use different summer and winter decor, like slipcovers, make sure your summer decor is in place.
Remove any tchotchkes, mementos, or artwork that you don’t intend to leave for the renter, and any family photos that mark the home as yours and not theirs.
And a word to the wise: If you listed your home for rent last year and it didn’t rent, you might want to rethink your pricing for this year. Just like starting early can’t guarantee your home will sell, it also can’t promise your home will rent. Bear in mind that listing high because you are not in a hurry won’t work because whatever your horizon, Memorial Day is just over five months away.
© 2019 Diane Saatchi