Northside SF
Real Estate Update
How to speed up your home sale in a slow market

Winter months are typically slow for home sales. Weather is often a factor (although we have mostly had a beautifully dry winter so far) along with the holidays and other family distractions. Now with a new year and the upcoming spring selling season, there are a few things you can do to speed up the sale of your home.

If you followed the tips in my January column about New Year’s resolutions for your home, you are already on your way. Go through your home and make a list of needed repairs or spruce-ups. Be sure to get any problem areas fixed before showing your home to potential buyers. If there is evidence of leaks, peeling or poor paint, drippy faucets, or running toilets, a buyer naturally thinks, What else is wrong with the house that I’m not seeing? The key rooms in your home are the kitchen and baths. These often make or break a sale because they are costly to redo. Even if your home is already on the market, making this list is a good exercise, and any touch ups should be done as soon as possible. The cost of these repairs is likely far less than the potential loss in your home’s selling price. Buyers are picky today and have other inventory options.

Make sure your agent is taking advantage of the technology available today. Here are some of the things we’re doing at Hill & Co.: We post professionally made videos on YouTube and create a dedicated website featuring the seller’s home. We also share the property information on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure your agent is posting the listing on all the popular real estate websites, including his or her personal and company website,, SFGate, Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, and Yahoo.

Be sure your agent is using traditional techniques to the best advantage as well. A professional photographer for website and print promotion is a must. Nicely printed marketing materials, broker’s tours, Sunday open houses, mailings to the neighborhood around the home, and inclusion on the San Francisco MLS (Multiple Listing Service) are just some of the traditional techniques that help get the word out.

You want your home to appeal to everyone and for prospective buyers to see themselves living there. Remove most if not all personal photographs, plaques and trophies. They may be a distraction for a buyer rather than a selling feature. Any collections should be thinned out. Remove some books from your bookshelves. Since the plan is for you to move, why not go ahead and box up these items and store them now? Your agent can help advise you about what should stay or go.

Also consult with your agent about any rooms or accent walls painted with bold colors. You may wish to consider painting some with neutral colors like beige or taupe. Paint is often one of the least expensive and best ways to improve your home and help get a quicker sale.

By putting in a bit of effort, you can help make your home more desirable to a larger group of buyers and ultimately work toward a quicker sale.

Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at

March 2012
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