Taking Control Of A Sellers’ Market

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We are in the thick of a sellers’ market in upstate New York. Good properties at reasonable prices are getting multiple offers within days of being listed. Properties that languished, perhaps because prices were a bit higher than the market would support, are now getting full price offers.

This isn’t anecdotal. This is precisely my experience. And thanks to my experience, I can give you some advice to help you successfully navigate a hyper-competitive market.

First, let’s start with today’s underdogs – the BUYERS.

Yes, inventory is low. It’s not your imagination. There just aren’t enough properties for the sheer number of buyers. It’s a game of musical chairs, and buyers are scrambling for the best chairs. Those left standing, then re-evaluate the chairs that are left, and if they don’t move quickly, someone else sits down while they’re thinking. Another property gone.

Here are five tips to help you get the house you want.

1. Pick an agent. Seriously. Far too many buyers are accustomed to urban areas, where it makes plenty of sense to simply call a listing agent, and never commit to a buyer’s agent. It doesn’t work in rural areas and it’s really a problem in a competitive market. Having your own agent means having someone scouring the new listings for you every day, listings you won’t see on Zillow for a day or more, and giving you a heads up. Your agent can preview for you, even if you can’t get to a showing for a few days. And that early start makes a difference. Finally, a buyer’s agent is YOUR ally in a negotiation. A listing agent would have to act as a dual agent, representing both you and the seller. It can be done, and done well. I’ve done it myself. But in a competitive market, you want someone who represents only you. The cost to you? ZERO. Upstate, sellers pay the listing agent, and the listing agent splits the commission with the buyer’s agent. So why wouldn’t you?

2. Get pre-qualified. If you’re going to need a mortgage, make sure you’ve already applied, and gotten a pre-qual, at the very least, from a local bank. Pre-approvals are even better. But any offer must include a bank pre-qual or proof of funds for a cash sale. If you find the place you want, you’ll be ready to make an offer without delay.

3. Use technology. It saves you time, and helps you zero in on properties that really interest you. Use Google Earth. “Walk” around communities, even down the street in front of the properties you like. Read up on the towns, the schools, the attractions. Be an armchair sleuth. Also, understand that Zillow “estimated values” mean nothing in rural areas. Zillow has no clue. So understand the limitations of the tools you use.

4. Don’t try to outsmart the market. In a seller’s market, an offer with lots of unusual contingencies, or an offer well below asking price, just isn’t worth the effort. And it’s likely to turn off a seller. If you like a property, make a reasonable offer, and listen to your buyer’s agent. If it’s likely to get multiple offers, make an offer that stands out in a good way.

5. The more reasonable you are, the more attractive your offer is. Can you give sellers a little extra time to move out? That might be appealing. Will you refrain from nickel and diming them on every little item in the inspection report? Very attractive. Offer a seller a simple, uncomplicated way to sell, and you’re going to come out on top.

SELLERS – these are for you.

1. Don’t be greedy. Listen to your agent, price your house correctly. And if you get a good, solid offer, work with those buyers. If you get multiple offers, let your agent guide you in the best way to handle them. And if what’s proposed doesn’t sound right to you, ask for alternatives. But don’t make the mistake of getting a full price offer and trying to dangle the buyer along as enticement for more offers. First, that’s really not cool and you’re likely to lose that buyer. Second, you could find yourself having to pay the commission to the agents, who did precisely what you hired them to do, who brought you a ready, willing, and able buyer at your price, which you then refused to accept. That could be expensive.

2. A seller’s market doesn’t mean you don’t have to stage your house. If you want to sell, you want your house to stand out in a crowd. In a good way. So clean up, de-clutter, do all the things you’d do if it was a buyer’s market. It will bring you higher offers, and you’ll sell faster than your lazy competition.

3. Have a plan. If someone wants to buy your house, they want to move in. Know where you’re moving. If the sale is contingent on you finding a home you like, buyers know just how hard that’s going to be for you, and how long they may have to wait for you to move out. If they want a house now, they’re going to find one that’s actually available.

4. Don’t overprice. A seller’s market means houses are moving fast, and there are lots of buyers. It doesn’t mean buyers are suddenly stupid. They still want fair value for money. When they perceive they’ve found it, they’re willing to pay full price, maybe even a bit better. But overpriced homes sit longer. And sell for fair market value in the end. Price it right and then you can be firm. Someone will meet your price.

5. Maintain your systems. Buyers inspect them thoroughly. Get your septic cleaned. Keep the receipt. Test your well water. Service the furnace. Clean the gutters. Touch up the exterior paint. Repair what needs repairing. Your goal is to give an inspector nothing to flag. Inspections make or break a sale. Offers get slashed, buyers even walk away after a bad inspection. You can avoid that.

There’s a lot here, and there’s a lot more. But these are some good basics. Any good realtor knows these, and can offer you even more. Find one. We’re out here, and we’re busy, but we will always make time for clients willing to listen to us.

Real estate, believe it or not, is a service industry. Sales are the result of good service. We know how to help you succeed, and that’s our ultimate goal.

Find out more:  https://www.upstatecountryrealty.com

 

Buying and Selling, a Virus, and You.

person holding thermometer

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

It’s rural here in the Catskills. Really rural. That’s great when there’s a global pandemic. And it’s not great at all.

I’m in Delaware County, New York. We’ve got a lot of open land. And not so many people. I consider it nothing short of heaven, and so do a lot of people who visit here from urban areas. In scary times, it looks even more attractive. And safe.

But there’s a downside.

This county doesn’t have a hospital that can handle ICU cases. We have a screaming shortage of health care professionals. We have a pretty high population of older folks.

That’s all a bit worrisome.

The county government has put out a press release asking our weekenders and visitors to think twice before coming to the country. There’s a concern they’ll bring the virus with them. There’s a concern they’ll be less vigilant once they’re in the country, and there’s a huge concern that they’ll be an added strain on an already critical health care system.

I see both sides. I imagine if you’re in the city and your thinking now’s the time to get out of the city, you don’t want to hear that you should stay home. Particularly if you own a home here.

Then there’s the question of whether you can act on your desire to buy a home somewhere outside the city now. That’s where I enter the picture.

I want you to know how I am trying to walk that tightrope between helping my clients buy and sell properties, and taking stupid risks that might impact me, my clients, and my neighbors.

First, if you’re a buyer and want to see a house, this is the time the video tour is going to absolutely shine. You’ll see enough to know if you want to see more. And use Google Earth to view the neighborhood. Even if you can only do a satellite view, you’ll learn a lot. Weed out the maybe’s from the no-way’s before you ask for an appointment.

I’ll do as much as I can via video and phone. All realtors are trying to limit personal interactions as much as possible.

I’m doing listing appointments virtually. No need for me to haul whatever germs I may have into someone’s home to discuss listing their home. I can talk with them, answer questions, and hopefully convince them I’m going to work my butt off for them without shaking their hands or even walking through the door. My hope is they’ll appreciate that I’m putting their health first.

I’m giving my seller clients the option of showing or not. If they have reasons to be particularly vigilant, whatever they are, I respect that. I hope you do, too.

If we set up a showing, I’m going to ask prospective buyers to be considerate. I’m not showing if they appear sick. I’m not showing if I’m sick. And I’m not showing if sellers seem sick. That may mean a last minute change in plans. That’s just how it is right now.

I’ll be wiping down doorknobs and asking everyone to cover their shoes. It may seem like overkill, but better that than making anyone sick.

Realtors are being asked to limit interactions by lawyers, so I’m not going to closings. I’m limiting my presence at inspections, too, much as I’d like to be there. It’s not worth the risk.

Risk vs. Reward. Think about it. We’ll be here when this is over. There will be a place for you and a buyer for your home. Give it just a little time, let’s get everything under control, and then get in touch.