You’ve picked an opportune time to sell your house fast in Providence, Rhode Island. The historic capital city attracts local and out-of-state homebuyers like a steady drumbeat. Between 2015 and 2019 alone, local home prices climbed 74% from $165,000 to $288,500.
With its proximity to colleges, charming colonial architecture, and affordable cost of living compared to some East Coast neighbors, Providence boasts a healthy real estate market year in and year out.
“There’s been a lack of inventory in the regular markets below $1 million, so sellers have not had issues,” says Michael Russo, top-selling agent in Providence and Native Rhode Islander. “It’s been a seller’s market.”
To capitalize on these trends, you’ll need to balance any of your Providence home’s unique historical flair (hello, ornate period details!) with modern upgrades. With a hot market like Providence, you could escape New England winters or relocate for a beachy retirement in nearby Gansett sooner than you think.
1. Market your campus-adjacent home as a rental
As Providence local, you know that the city is home to three Fortune 500 companies (United Natural Foods, Textron and Citizens Financial Group.) But it may surprise you to learn that higher education institutions like the Ivy League Brown University, Rhode Island Institute of Design, and Providence College draw the largest group of home buyers to the Providence market, including faculty, staff, property investors, and students’ parents.
“Instead of paying through the nose for student housing, parents will buy a property and pay cash for their child to live there,” says Russo. “That can really help propel the market.”
Since these buyers seek properties with a short commute to campus, sellers should highlight their home’s proximity to universities in the listing description when relevant — especially if you have a home within walking distance.
Mandy Key, the principal of Providence-based Mandy Key Interior Design, agrees that a short commute trumps everything for students. She also suggests that sellers point out their home’s low-maintenance features, since durability is a big bonus for parents and property investors concerned about students damaging the building.
If you’re looking for a quick upgrade to tick this box, replace your old appliances with new, stainless steel models. Stainless steel is highly durable and is still buyers’ favorite finish, according to 75% of real estate agents.
Such an upgrade might seem excessive for student housing, but it will create that shiny “wow” factor for renters and parents alike and perhaps even entice your buyer to pay a little more for it.
Finish it off with some well-designed affordable luxury vinyl or laminate flooring that will stand the test of tenants and time.
2. Price to your Providence home’s age and location
If you want to sell your Providence home fast, you need a spot-on pricing strategy. Even in a hot seller’s market, homeowners must price their home right to sell it quickly or buyers will balk. While median home values in Rhode Island soar to $333,164, home values vary across the state and city of Providence.
With a history dating back to 1636 and 25 distinct neighborhoods, Providence homes come in a range of price points. In fact, Rhode Island ranks #3 in the country for having the oldest housing stock, behind only Massachusetts (#2) and New York (#1). According to the U.S. Census, existing homes are worth roughly $60,000 less than new construction, so your home’s age will certainly influence its value depending on how much TLC you’ve poured into it over the years.
According to data from NeighborhoodScout, the five highest appreciating neighborhoods since the year 2000 in Providence include Huntington Ave., Cranston St., City Center, Westminster, and Olneyville. If your home is based in one of these areas, you can probably expect higher yearly price gains than the rest of the city has experienced.
3. Put a modern twist on your Providence home’s history
Providence has more historical homes than almost any other region in the state, with more than half of homes built in 1939 or earlier. If you’re selling one of these historical beauties, you’ll want to play up your home’s unique features to attract old soul buyers. Here are our tips for honoring that history and style with a modern twist:
Add a fresh coat of paint to the exterior
Nearly 31% of agents suggest painting a home’s exterior before selling your house. On average, this project costs around $2,800, but you can expect a 51% return on investment, not to mention a major boost in marketability. Key shares that gray is a safe bet to appeal to the largest group of buyers, so choose a color like Storm by Benjamin Moore, Slate Pebble by PPG, or Flagstone Grey by Glidden.
“Navy is also a newly-popular choice,” she adds. “If you’re lucky enough to be in a Victorian, you can really have fun and create a scheme with a few colors, like gray with navy, yellow and white accents.”
Newburyport Blue, an elegant, muted navy in Benjamin Moore’s Historical Color Collection, is in high demand. For yellows, try Beacon Hill Damask and the earthy Chestertown Buff — both are part of Benjamin Moore’s 2021 palette.
Let the Providence sunlight pour in
You want prospective buyers to feel at home in your home, and natural light is an easy way to make this happen. Providence sellers have the weather on their side — the city is sunny 200 to 210 days per year. To take full advantage of those rays, we recommend cleaning your windows before photographing or showing your home.
A professional window cleaning service will save you time without breaking the bank. Pros charge about $2 to $7 per window pane or about $50 to $200 total on average. If you’re willing to DIY, grab a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to complete the task for less than $30.
Share a history lesson on your home
Old homes have a story to tell, and it makes for good conversation during an open house. Check public records or your local historical society for vintage photos and original property deeds. If you have neighbors who have lived in the area, pick their brains for tales about previous owners. Buyers won’t expect a comprehensive history; still, you can intrigue them with an anecdote about how the rose garden in the backyard dating back a century or the story of a well-known merchant who resided in the home.
Opt for quartz over granite
Key suggests opting for a quartz countertop, particularly if you have an older home, to blend the old with the new seamlessly.
“The dark granite stuff is definitely over,” Key shares. “We do a lot of marble-look quartz. It connects you more to the original vibe of the home than whatever mid-century kitchen update has happened along the way.”
Key shares that new quartz countertops cost $4,000 to $7,000, depending on the counter’s size and type of quartz you want. Pursue this list of 75 transitional quartz countertop styles that bridge your home’s old and new features for a timeless look.
Go for energy-efficient upgrades
As much as Providence homebuyers love historical architecture, they dread old kitchens and bathrooms. If you want a fast sale, update your home’s appliances and other systems while keeping decorative finishes like hardware and molding true to the home’s architectural style.
“Modernizing the home but keeping the original charm is key,” Russo emphasizes.
“There’s a fine line there…really blend it with today’s style, and the seller will hit a home run on the backend sale.”
Just keep in mind that if you own a registered historic property, there are limits to the changes you can make to the building. Check the State of Rhode Island’s Historic Property Search to see if your home is registered.
Swap out inefficient appliances
Buyers have become more environmentally conscious over the years, and younger generations are leading the charge. A Nielsen survey showed that 66% of more than 30,000 millennial respondents were willing to pay more for eco-friendly products.
While upgrading kitchen appliances can be expensive (a new fridge and dishwasher can cost between $3,000 and $12,000 combined) they can make or break a buyer’s offer, so consider upgrading if your appliances are more than a decade old.
If you still have sticker shock, consider this: Energy-efficient updates attract green-conscious buyers at an 80% clip, leading to more potential offers on your home. Sellers can capitalize on this buyer trend by investing in SMART appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators. These appliances use less energy, helping the planet and saving homeowners more than $100 per year. Seal the deal with buyers by comparing your energy bill with similar properties without this modern upgrade.
Replace dated windows
You know clean windows and natural light can boost a buyer’s mood. If those windows are double-pane, you’ll see an even bigger boost in your home’s value. Buyers love new windows that reduce air leaks, which can hike energy bills up 10% to 20%, according to Energy.gov.
If your home has new windows, mention them in your Providence home listing and ask your real estate agent to point to them during home showings. If you don’t, ask your agent if the upgrade is worth completing to snag a quick sale. This job isn’t a quick or cheap fix; the average cost to replace all windows in a house is $12,000. However, new windows can add about $9,000 to your resale value — that’s 81% of your cost recouped.
Get a new water heater
As attractive as an old home may be, plumbing issues can deter buyers from closing the deal. In fact, 36% of buyers said they bought a brand-new home to avoid plumbing and electrical problems. Aging water heaters of 10-plus years are a top cause for leaks and floods that can ruin your home’s original hardwood flooring (a $4,300 fix, plus the loss of an attractive feature). You can increase your home’s marketability by mitigating this risk with a new water heater about $600 to $800 for a new one, like this highly-regarded water heater from Home Depot.
Brighten your historical interior with freshly coated walls and trim
More than 57% of top real estate agents say painting the interior of your home is a must before putting it on the market, according to HomeLight’s 2019 survey. You can tackle a DIY paint job for about $100 or hire a local pro for about $1,000. Either way, expect a 1%-3% ROI.
Gray is still golden when it comes to interior walls, so we recommend choosing a shade like Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl or Revere Pewter. Key suggests pairing gray walls with crisp, white trim. White paint is also becoming popular as the wall’s primary shade as well, for a super bright white on white aesthetic.
“In an old home with beautiful details, white lets those details be the star of the show,” Key comments.
In a recent study by the University of Texas at Austin, men and women found white to be one of the least distracting hues. When buyers aren’t focused on the walls, they’re more likely to pay attention to your home’s other striking features.
“One more approach is to do the same color trim as the paint color, but with enough contrast in the sheen to create interest,” Key adds.
4. Boost curb appeal, no matter the season in Providence
Buyers love that Providence changes with the seasons, so sellers should include photos of their home’s exterior in several seasons if possible to showcase its transformative beauty in the listing. In the warmer months, lush landscaping can score major points with buyers both in photos and in person. Experts say that a well-landscaped home can add up to 12.7% to your property value.
“I always recommend adding exterior landscaping, accent lighting if you can,” Russo shares.
Big, beautiful blooms like Hydrangeas pair perfectly with Victorian homes. Mix these flowers with greenery, like shrubs and variegated ivy, and add in carriage lights to complement your brick colonials. Lanterns are another timeless lighting option that nods to Providence’s identity as a seaport town.
Russo also suggests that sellers keep their yards clean and free of debris in the winter months, though he recognizes that this is tricky in certain conditions.
“Obviously, sometimes there’s nothing you can do if there’s a foot of snow on the ground,” he comments.
You should still clear a pathway on the driveway before taking listing photos or showing the home. If you’re listing in the winter, incorporate these curb appeal ideas, so your home looks warm and inviting, regardless of the temperature:
- Add a garden ornament that can withstand Providence winters, like concrete benches or birdbaths.
- Plant a Winterberry shrub; even when this shrub loses its leaves in the winter, it maintains bright red berries that feel particularly festive during the holiday season.
- Incorporate evergreens like Norwegian spruces; small potted versions of this favorite Christmas tree adds life to your porch in the colder months of the year.
5. Create an inviting atmosphere for home showings
You want your prospective buyers to feel at home from the moment they step foot on your property until the moment they walk out the door. Draw inspiration from Providence’s historical architecture as you put the finishing touches on staging prep.
“Providence is so great because it has a storied, classic New England feel but is brimming with youth and creativity, so it’s nice to have a home reflect that,” Key comments, adding that “Windsor chairs are very New England.”
Try not to get too kitschy with decor, though. Remove your beloved college merch and scale down the antique collection. You want to appeal to Providence’s buyers with contemporary, yet timeless accents. Key suggests displaying an anchor to play to the area’s coastal roots. You can further set the scene by setting out a beachy-scented candle. Key gets hers from a local shop, Shore Soap Co.
6. Watch out for common Providence home inspection issues
Before you list your home, check the property for radon and mold, two issues commonly flagged in Providence home inspections. If your home tests positive for either, you can bring a professional to fix the problem quickly.
“It’s only about a $1,000 fix,” Russo notes. “It’s the second or third leading cause of lung cancer. You want a clean conscience.”
Because Providence has four seasons, mold is common in areas like basements. For significant mold issues, sellers can spend upwards of $5,000 to remove it — a cost which not all buyers are willing to absorb to close the deal.
“Obviously, having it in your house isn’t a great thing by any means, but sometimes it’s very minor, and it would never really affect the person’s well-being in the house,” Russo comments.
7. List in the spring — Providence’s hottest real estate season
If you have the luxury to choose when to list your home, Russo recommends listing in the spring for the quickest sale.
“Anywhere from mid-March to the end of April,” Russo adds, clarifying that the best time to sell varies year to year depending on how quickly the snow melts away. “The second best time is right after Labor Day. We see a really nice push once people are back in town after vacationing all summer and back to school and work.”
8. Hire one of the best real estate agents in Providence
Providence sellers who worked with a top real estate agent netted nearly 12% more than those who worked with an average agent and closed deals 51 days faster, according to our transaction data at HomeLight.
When searching for the best agent to sell your home fast in Providence, look at their performance history first. How long does it take this agent to sell a home, and how does that compare to local trends? How much more or less than the listing price does the agent typically sell the house for? How many years of experience do they have? How large is their following on social media?
If you don’t have time to pour through 20 Facebook pages and resumes, HomeLight’s Agent Finder tool pulls top real estate agents’ transaction stats, empowering you to find the best match.
Header Image Source: (Tom Henell / Unsplash)