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Antonio Atacan has seen a lot of ups and downs during his two decades in the real estate business. But he’s never seen anything like the current home resale market in Philadelphia.
“I lived in Philly for 20 years and I’ve never seen it this hot,” says Atacan, a broker who manages 400 agents under The Atacan Group, his Keller Williams real estate franchise. Technically, it’s a hot sellers’ market if most homes sell in 90 days or less. In Philadelphia, the best homes are getting snapped up in about 60 days, so residential real estate is pretty much on fire.
Why do so many people want to own a home in the City of Brotherly Love right now?
It’s a walkable city with historic charm and character that’s very appealing to buyers priced out of Washington DC, Boston, and New York, says Atacan. For people leaving one city and going to a new one, Philadelphia was the second most popular destination in the U.S. from 2011 to 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Metro-to-Metro Migration Flows report.
Plus, Millennials moved to Philadelphia in droves in 2008 and 2009, according to another Census Bureau report. And now, they’re starting to buy homes. There are 75 million Millennials (defined as ages 20 to 36) and they’re the largest segment of the home-buying market, accounting for 66 percent of the first time home buyers.
So, how can you sell a house fast in Philadelphia?
We’ve asked local real estate experts for strategies to get serious offers on your home, stat!
Make Sure the Price is Right When You Sell Your House in Philadelphia
First impressions are important, so your home’s first 30 days on the market set the tone with many Philadelphia buyers. If your Washington Square West townhouse is priced too high, it can scare buyers off, especially price-sensitive Millennials who are flocking to this area.
For example, the median listing price is $384,900 in all of Washington Square West. But depending on the block, the median sales price can range from $395,000 to $508,000. How do you know where your property should fall?
The best way to do this is by working with a top realtor who’s intimately familiar with your neighborhood. In Philadelphia, Atacan says there’s typically just a 3 to 7 percent gap between the asking price and the selling price of a home. That means you need to price the home right from the start.
When a home doesn’t sell quickly in Philadelphia’s super-hot market, it can make buyers think there’s a hidden flaw with your listing. Or others may take it as a signal that you’re difficult to work with or won’t be open to negotiating a fair price if you start out too high.
The top realtors study how the market is moving to pinpoint the ideal asking price that takes into consideration your home’s pluses and any flaws.
Timing is Everything When You Sell Your Home in Philly
Spring is traditionally the big home-selling season, and that holds true in Philadelphia. Sales data from HomeLight’s “Best Time to Sell Calculator” indicates that homes listed in May sell the fastest, closing by August.
Atacan says savvy sellers should list early the year. “You have a tremendous amount of inventory hitting in spring, so I say the best time to list is in February or March,” he says. “In February and March, you get more serious buyers.” Dipping your toe into the market earlier lets you test out your home’s appeal and adjust in time for the spring season. On the other hand, if you wait to list until April and then have to make repairs, you’re behind.
Make It Look Like a Dream Home
Removing clutter and personal items from your home is key, says Rasheeda Gray, the chief interior designer and owner of Gray Space Interior Design in Philadelphia.
“All the nick nacks that are personal to you, put them away during the sale,” says Gray.
That includes all photographs and framed mementos, even your photo with Villanova coach Jay Wright and your diploma from Wharton.
It’s also a good idea to hire a stager to help rearrange your furniture or bring in key pieces to make sure your home looks up to date and appealing. You don’t want it to look too perfect, but if the home isn’t furnished, Atacan says it’s hard for buyers to use their imagination.
“As a seller, you want to create a vision for the buyer so they can see themselves,” says Atacan. “When they walk into something real… it sparks a emotion and the say ‘oh my god I think this is it.’”
Here’s how to do that in two of Philadelphia’s most popular neighborhoods: Fishtown and Rittensquare.
A trendy area that’s considered the Oakland or Brooklyn of Philadelphia, Fishtown is filled with restaurants, bars and unique spots like the Elfreths Alley Museum. It’s attracting young couples who want to be in the middle of it all. Many current homeowners here are doing complete gut renovations or remodeling existing homes to appeal to this buyer.
Here are five ways to make your Fishtown home more desirable:
1. Paint with cool colors.
Gray recommends on-trend tones such as true gray, blue and crisp clean white for interiors. They lend the home a modern look but still coordinate well with a historic home.
2. Open up the kitchen.
“The open concept is a must for buyers in Fishtown,” says Gray. Formal dining rooms aren’t a selling feature, so Gray recommends merging the kitchen and dining room to create an expansive living space for cooking, eating and entertaining. Quartz counters are on trend.
3. Expand a bedroom.
Most of the homes in Fishtown are historic row homes which tend to have smaller bedrooms. Gray recommends merging two bedrooms to create a spacious master suite.
4. Include tech or green features.
One of Gray’s clients recently added Nest video doorbell that allows you to see who’s at the door. Inexpensive tech features like a smart thermostat, and green choices in flooring or low VOC paint will impress younger buyers.
5. Make any needed repairs.
Many Millennial buyers spend everything they have on the purchase, so they’re not interested in a fixer-upper. Make sure your home’s exterior has curb appeal and any known problems are fixed before showing your home.
Of all the upscale areas that span the middle of the city, Rittenhouse Square is one of the ritziest. It’s also a historic center with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall nearby.
Buyers are likely to be upscale empty nesters looking for traditional homes with good light and every modern convenience. Here are seven ways to make your home in Rittenhouse Square more desirable to buyers.
1. Add an elevator.
Atacan says you can send your home to the top of the list with an elevator since many Rittenhouse row homes are three stories or more. No one wants to walk stairs with groceries and packages if they don’t have to, and it’s even more appealing for older buyers.
2. Trick out the kitchen.
Hidden appliances, custom cabinets, a waterfall island, a docking drawer for charging tech accessories, pull-out storage drawers instead of shelving, beverage stations for coffee and built in bars are ways to wow in the kitchen, according to designer Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn in New York.
3. Paint with warm colors.
“Go for beige colors more than grays, or if you do gray make it a warmer one like Accessible Beige by Sherwin Williams,” says Gray. Shades like yellow, red and even some greens work well for paint and upholstery.
4. Play up the home’s heritage.
Emphasize features like archways or moldings with a nice fresh coat of paint, or replace missing molding with something that fits the era. “If there’s a fireplace in the home but it doesn’t work, incorporate some candles … to attract the eye to that space,” says Gray.
5. Groom the garden.
A big yard isn’t necessary, but whether you have a garden filled with roses or culinary herbs, just make sure the outdoor space is well-manicured and appealing.
6. Move the master bedroom to the ground floor.
A mini-trend in the making inspired by Southern homes, Gray says having an expansive master suite on the first level that looks out on a patio would be convenient and appealing to empty nesters.
7. Make it open and airy.
Buyers here really get excited by lots of natural light, minimal furnishings and open and airy spaces. Consider adding a skylight, a window or even a deck if you have a great vista to highlight.
Once you partner with a top Philly real estate agent and follow these insights on timing your listing carefully, choosing the right listing price and creating a look that’s appealing, your Philadelphia home should be sporting a “SOLD” sign in no time.
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