- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2000

Our clothing changes with the seasons. The way we drive does, also. In this volatile sellers' market, however, the way real estate agents sell houses has remained strong and steady no matter what the weather.

Though most might consider winter to be the slowest time of year for most agents, the booming economy and an insufficient inventory to meet the demand for potential home buyers has made this winter one for the record books.

"We aren't kicking back, like some might expect," says Carol Greco of Long & Foster Realtors in Annandale. "We are putting in contract after contract, regardless of the cold weather outside."

Mrs. Greco, who has been selling real estate for more than 20 years, says seasons don't seem to affect the market much these days. Whether it's hot or cold, people want to buy houses.

"When people are uprooted and transferred here," she says, "it doesn't matter what time of the year it is. They have got to find a house."

Though most people prefer to move after the school year has concluded and before the new school year begins, the real-estate rush isn't over and done with when summer comes to a halt.

Mrs. Greco says this has been a busy winter even though there don't seem to be enough houses to meet the demand.

The current market demands that buyers make snap decisions after they look at a house. Yet even though it is likely a house will sell quickly when it's on the market, the seasons can play a small part in how an agent tells a seller to "show" his house.

"Well, if a seller has a beautiful yard, we, of course, are going to want them to showcase that in the springtime," Mrs. Greco says. "Beautiful flowers, nicely manicured lawns and pruned trees do wonders when selling a home."

Although an immaculate yard won't hide deficiencies inside the home, it can draw a customer inside to want to see more.

"It is so important just to get the potential buyer inside," says Connie Goliheu, an agent with RE/MAX Innovations of Edgewater, Md. "Draw them inside with a stunning yard, then 'wow' them with the other great features of the home."

Mrs. Goliheu, who has been selling real estate for more than 10 years, says she deals frequently with waterfront properties which sell like hot cakes in the fall, spring and summer.

"This is when the properties up here are at their best," she says. "Fabulous views and immaculate landscapes can do wonders when one is trying to sell their home."

Mrs. Goliheu and Mrs. Greco agree that, regardless of the season, it is important to accentuate what the home has to offer a potential buyer and his family.

"During this wonderfully festive holiday season," Mrs. Goliheu says, "it is wonderful to show buyers what homes have to offer in the way adding to the holiday spirit."

Mrs. Goliheu says she encourages her sellers to decorate their homes and share the festive spirit with those who enter.

"Decorating according to the seasons gets buyers excited," she says. "It's really wonderful to walk into a home that is decorated tastefully for the holidays. It shows there is warmth and love in the house."

Mrs. Greco says now is the perfect time to highlight a wonderful mantelpiece or a fireplace.

"There is something homey and warm about a fireplace being lit," she says. "Buyers love to see what a home looks like when the fireplace is lit. It sets a powerful mood."

With or without the fireplace's warm glow, however, Mrs. Greco says that when a home is on the market, that's not the right time to be conservative with the heat.

"It's important to keep a home comfortable when it is on the market," she says.

"Don't turn your heaters way down to save money. If a potential buyer enters your home and it's cold, he will want to leave before he has even had a chance to look at the home."

Likewise, Mrs. Greco says that during the summer months, sellers should be sure their homes are nice and cool.

"Turn the air conditioner on. It needs to be cooler inside than it is outside," she says. "Also, it's always a wonderful touch to have a sign on your fridge that says, 'Help yourself to a soda.' Sympathize with those who are out house hunting during the heat."

Mrs. Goliheu and Mrs. Greco agree that during the months when the sun shines its brightest, it's important to throw open the curtains and let the sun in. When clouds stifle the sun, they say, make sure lamplight is abundant.

"Light shows warmth," Mrs. Goliheu says. "No one wants to walk into a dark house. Let the light shine in and show off the wonderful features of the home."

Mrs. Greco and Mrs. Goliheu agree that the market is prime for selling homes.

"And the way you present your home will make or break what you will get for it," Mrs. Greco says.

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