BY BRUCE CATHCART
Looks like this year the Coachella Valley is going to skip winter and go straight to spring! With daytime temperatures in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s this year in January and February we are definitely enjoying the best weather in the Nation. Why would anyone want to be anywhere else? This “Chamber of Commerce” weather means that we are open for business as our real estate selling season begins. In February our resident population here nearly triples with visitors and part time residents and it is absolutely the best time of the year to sell your desert home. With that in mind, most sellers today know what the BIG things are that they can do to help sell their home like de-clutter, de-personalize, new paint and carpet, enhance curb appeal etc. But what are some of the LITTLE things a seller can do to help sell their home? Before I get into my best advice for the little things let’s take a look at last month’s sales data for real estate here in the Coachella Valley.
In last month’s article we learned that 2017 was the second highest year in terms of overall sales transactions and the third year in a row of more transactions at increased sales prices in the Coachella Valley. Is it possible that 2018 could be even better?
According to the Desert Area MLS as of 2/1/18 there were 973 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of January. That’s back up from the 711 pendings in the previous month (December) and considerably higher when compared to the same time last year when we had only 900 pending sales. This continued increase in sales activity over last year’s numbers bodes very well for a continued trend of a higher volume of sales in 2018. In December there were 795 solds and we were down in January with only 683 solds. That is still better than last year’s home sales in January (2017) when we sold only 658 homes. So we are off to a great start in 2018 with both more contingent/pending sales and closed sales than last year.
Our inventory of homes for sale went up a little this month with 4,009 homes available on January 31, 2018 compared to 3,874 homes available on January 1, 2018. Despite earlier fears that we would be faced with a critical shortage of homes for sale here in the Coachella Valley it appears that our inventory is increasing right on schedule and keeping our market in equilibrium where the inventory is adequate enough to meet the demand. As long as our inventory can keep pace with our demand for homes, 2018 should be another great year for real estate sales in the Coachella Valley. So far, so good! We’ll just have to watch and see if this keeps our trends of higher sale prices and more sale transactions going throughout the coming months.
Buyers ALWAYS prefer a home that appears to be well maintained over a home that shows obvious signs of deferred maintenance. My list of little things to do highlight several little maintenance items that buyers seem to pick up on that signal to them that a home has been neglected. Do the AC vents look like diesel truck exhaust pipes with small bits soot blown on the surrounding walls? This is an easy clean and while you are at it, go ahead and change AC filter and wash the air intake vent too. And since you have the cleaning tools out don’t stop there! Check the top of fan blades, blinds and valences, pot shelves and anything in those hard to reach and often neglected areas that collect dust and spider webs. Buyers notice all of these things. Water leaks are an obvious fix so check to make sure your faucets and water lines don’t leak or drip and don’t forget to inspect your sprinkler valves. As long as the lawn and plants get watered we seldom check our sprinkler valves but potential buyers do. Once any leaks are addressed there are several areas to check for water damage. Behind the toilet and around the tub/shower are usually suspect but a thorough check under the kitchen and bathroom sinks is also in order. Do what is necessary to repair any previous water damage. A little patching and paint may do the trick and under the sinks replace the shelf paper or where required replace the entire board. Check the grout line where the counter tops meet the back splash in the kitchen and bath… there is almost always a crack or missing grout there. You can buy a small container of colored replacement grout and patch this up in no time at all. The same goes for caulking around tubs/showers and toilets. Next get a screw driver out and go around the house and tighten the screws in your door knobs and locks and before you put that tool away tighten all of your cabinet door hinges and knobs (pulls). Then go back with a small can of oil or WD40 and lubricate anything that sticks or squeaks. Sliding patio and screen doors can need new rollers to operate smoothly but many times it is just a matter lubricating the rollers and just cleaning the tracks they run on. This always makes a good impression on the buyers when they go out to inspect your patio/yard area. Finally, make sure all of your light bulbs work. Buyers need to see what they are buying and a well-lit home generally appeals to more buyers. This is not a complete list but it should be enough to get you started in the right direction. Doing these simple little things are all items that you should be able to do yourself and should take no longer than a day to accomplish. It will be a day well spent and likely help you to sell your home quicker and for a higher price!
Join me each month this year as we keep a close eye on our Coachella Valley real estate market. If you have a real estate question or concerns please email me at the address below.
Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.