Friday, June 28, 2013

A Seller's Market

A funny thing happened to the real estate market in recent months. A low inventory of houses for sale coupled with low interest rates for prospective buyers to create a (dare we say it!) seller's market.

It seems like just a year or two ago, people were happy to unload their houses. You want to eat a dozen warm chocolate chip cookies at the open house while you dream up your lowball offer? Help yourself! Want the flat screen television and surround sound included? You got it!

We really didn't realize how quickly the market had changed until we put our house on the market and had three offers in a twenty-four hour period.

Seller's markets are GREAT when you are a seller! Who, I ask you, does not want to choose from multiple offers? And who, given the option, would love to end the cycle of frantic cleanings and showings? (Me! That's who!)

 The downside of a seller's market? It stinks to be the buyer. Two houses were under contract before we could even look at them, and one was listed and poised for multiple offers. Seven offers, to be exact. And our offer, while it was above list price, was not accepted.

My husband has heard the same story from many associates around the country. Houses that quickly sell, {insert happy face}! Homelessness because you can't find a house to purchase, {insert sad face}.

Here are a few tips we picked up this time around:

You can ask any price you'd like in a seller's market, and you may get it, too. The snag comes when the bank appraisers come out to appraise the house for the prospective buyer's mortgage company. If the comparable home sales in your neighborhood do not match your home price, you'll find that all of that staging and home improvement won't help you fight the case for the higher list price. Comparables can be the kiss of death for a good sale price. Until more houses sell for best list prices in this market, the appraisers will continue to use their own mysterious formula.

A seller's market does not, however, mean that you can skip home repairs, cleaning and decluttering. These houses are still lingering on the market for too many months. Home repairs, as well, are liable to get called out on inspection, which could lead to renegotiated sales prices or costly contractor repairs down the line.

If you've found your dream house, you'll probably need to act quickly. Sleep on it, and you could lose it. Bring your best offers to the table because this may be your one and only opportunity.

If you haven't found your dream home, consider the potential dream home. Maybe it has a great lot, but horrible paint colors. There are so many things that can easily be changed...paint, fixtures, landscaping, decor. And there are those things that cannot be changed...location, neighborhood, school system. Weigh the pros and cons, and consider those things that you can and cannot live with for a while.

In this market, timing is everything.

We sold our house quickly, spent a lot of weekends looking for the dream house, lost a few of them along the way, and eventually decided to make an offer on the house that others had overlooked for nearly a year. A great lot in a great neighborhood, great schools and a great location. Plenty of room for the family, with just enough quirkiness to give it a little vintage charm. Vacant, so we could move right in with no temporary housing scenarios.

Perfect timing.

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