11 Tips for Successfully Selling Your House in the Fall


Along with shorter days and cool temps, autumn brings with it a host of home-selling challenges. But with a little attention to detail and some creative marketing techniques, you can take your house from “For Sale” to “Sold” before the last leaf falls.

1. Seasonal Home Sales

According to the National Association of Realtors, spring and summer are the hottest seasons for selling a house. But that doesn’t mean you can’t successfully sell your home once autumn arrives. If you’re putting your home on the market just as the leaves begin turning vibrant shades of red and gold and the air becomes cool and crisp, follow these tips for staging, maintaining, and showing your home to boost its marketability and rise above the competition.

2. Focus on the Furnace

When potential buyers walk through your home, it should feel welcoming and toasty warm. If you’re selling a house in the colder months of fall, it’s more important than ever to have a professional HVAC contractor inspect the heating system and make any necessary repairs to ensure it runs efficiently and quietly. (Mysterious clunking noises will turn buyers off.) Also remember to replace the furnace filter monthly while your home is on the market to keep indoor air as fresh and dust-free as possible.

3. Call the Chimney Sweep

The cooler temperatures of fall make fireplaces especially attractive to potential home buyers. Your real estate agent may even suggest lighting a fire if you’re having a showing on a particularly cold day. Over the summer, however, birds, squirrels, and other little critters may have built nests in the chimney, so it’s a good idea to have a skilled chimney sweep come out and clean the fireplace and the chimney before you list the house. While a warm, flickering flame is welcoming, smoke backing up in the house from a clogged chimney isn’t.

4. Celebrate Fall

Decorate your front door with a tasteful wreath made from fall leaves and pine cones, or dress up the entry with a pumpkin, a pot of flowering mums, and a brand-new autumn-themed welcome mat. Keep it simple, though. Don’t overdo it, and stay away from Halloween decorations: Cottony spider webs strung on the porch railing can appear messy and distracting.

5. Make Glass Glisten

Summer thunderstorms can result in streaky windows, muddy storm doors, and layers of dirt covering the exterior window trim. While you may not notice the grunge, buyers will. Before you start showing your house, remove the screens from the windows, then take them outside and hose them off to get rid of accumulated dust and bugs. Wipe dirt and dust from the exterior window frames, and then wash the windows and any glass panels in your doors until everything sparkles like new.

6. Keep It Light

Fall ushers in shorter days and longer shadows that can make a home seem drab and gloomy. During this darker season, you can’t depend on natural lighting to make your house look its best. Before a showing, turn on every light in the house, including table and floor lamps. Also, as some showings may stretch past sunset, you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient exterior lighting. If you don’t already have lights along the path leading to your front door, consider installing solar lights to add a measure of safety as well as visual appeal.

7. Attract with Aroma

A gentle waft of cinnamon or hot cider will appeal to buyers’ senses as they walk through your home, so don’t be afraid to bake a batch of muffins or put out a bowl of clove-scented potpourri before a showing. One caveat, though: Don’t try to cover up bad smells with good ones. Keep your home clean and fresh, and make sure there isn’t even a hint of unpleasant underlying odors like mold, fried fish, or smoke.

8. Don’t Leave Leaves

Fall leaves can be beautiful, but if they’re littering your yard they can make your whole house seem unkempt. While many homeowners wait until the trees are bare before raking up the leaves, when your house is on the market leaves should be cleaned up regularly to keep the yard looking tidy. In addition, have your home’s gutters cleaned as soon as the leaves are done falling. The last thing you want is for potential buyers to see water pouring over the tops of clogged gutters if there’s a rainstorm during a showing.

9. Bring Autumn Indoors

Don’t limit seasonal decor to your home’s exterior. Incorporate the colors and spirit of fall in your living spaces, where potential buyers will appreciate the homey touches. Again, skip the Halloween decorations, but feel free to toss an autumn-hued throw over the back of a sofa or on an entry bench, and display a centerpiece of ornamental gourds, pine cones, and warm russet candles on the dining room table to celebrate the season.

10. Market with Summer Images

This one requires a bit of advance planning, but try not to let your real estate agent use photos taken when the trees are bare and the lawn is dry and brown. In print and online listings, you want potential buyers to see the exterior of your house at its best, which is typically during the spring and summer. The photos used to market your home should show the exterior surrounded by lush green grass, trees thick with foliage, and flowering shrubs in full bloom. Even though you’re selling in the fall, potential buyers should see how appealing your home is in other seasons.

11. Tend the Landscape

As soon as the first fall frost arrives, annuals wither and die, leaving your yard and flower beds with clumps of droopy, decomposing vegetation. Remove these dead plants as soon as possible to keep your landscape tidy and clean. While you don’t have to mow as often (or at all) after chilly weather arrives, the fall yard requires frequent attention to keep it looking sharp.


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