September 2016 Newsletter
In this issue…
- CALLING ALL FIRST TIME HOME SELLERS……
- A FEW GENERAL FINANCING TIPS…
- SUMMARY OF RECENT PINELLAS COUNTY MARKET STATISTICS….
Even in a “sellers’ market,” the home seller must keep certain tips and possible pitfalls in mind to stay the course. I’ve read several notable articles in recent weeks that discuss practical home selling ideas, which, hopefully, even seasoned home sellers appreciate my collecting and repeating. I know some of my peers do! This month’s just-past-Labor Day newsletter is a collection of A,B,C steps and tips that are dedicated to the new seller…
CALLING ALL FIRST TIME HOME SELLERS…
If you look around your neighborhood you’ll probably notice most seasoned sellers list their property with a Realtor. Even in a “Sellers’ Market.” Pricing, predicting, presentation, problem solving, processing…peace of mind. It takes a professional.
A. HIRE A REALTOR. You won’t be sorry.
As a prospective seller, it’s wise to interview a number of real estate professionals in your market to determine your best “fit.” You are choosing your available point person, who is going to be with you beginning to end. Consider references, overall reputation, expertise, connections, community and global engagement. Be sure to discuss the hands-on management and services you expect. It’s important you participate in this groundwork, review the professional’s networks, her proposals for exposure and her/his marketing plan offered, and discuss the program best suited to your specific needs and goals.
And meanwhile, keep in mind one very basic key to success…Share with your agent all the things you love most about your home, details and insight you’d like her/him to share with consumers. Then from that very moment on, think of your property as a product instead of your home.
This is the art of selling.
Don’t put your property on the market until you’re ready to sell. Then be educated to sell. Selling property properly means get professional, non-subjective advice, especially if it’s your home. If the owner isn’t ready to let go, buyers will know and the house will likely sit. And don’t “test” the market. You will fail.
B. PRICE PROPERLY. Your key to success.
A seasoned Realtor can help you target the perfect pricing position for your property in any current marketplace. Pricing a property for the most successful sale is not only a science, based on what actual statistics tell you, it is also an art, a perception that the professional Realtor develops over years of experience, added to the intimate study of your home real estate market, its histories and the relative sales climate at any given point in time.
There is often a spread between the original offering/list price and the price where the property actually sells… Alert!: the narrower this spread, the more successful your sale. Be sure to analyze, and disregard fabricated or manipulated data.
Time on the market must be factored into your pricing decision. It’s proven today, just as it was before we had computers and fax machines and cell phones, the longer a property sits, the lower the sales price.
Also a proven statistic, no matter the market trends, up or down, the further above the actual market activity your initial list price, the longer it will sit. That’s the basis for the advice given by Bryan Robertson, co-founder and managing broker of Catarra Real Estate, Inman.com 8/2/2016…”6 Things That Help A Home Sell Faster.”…who says
“in most markets, the best strategy to attract the most buyers is to price just a bit low. “ In my experience, you will lose nothing by determining the savvy pricing position…Before you begin.
Today’s buyer has all manner of access to statistics and histories and trends, viable or not, and while of course, buyers seek to pay as little as possible, they essentially want a fair deal. When it comes to buying their first, or their fifth, home, they are largely willing to step up to the price that can be supported by professional and reasonable analysis of what the market will, or should bear. In other words, be prepared, and demand your agent be prepared to provide this in writing to a prospective buyer and/or his agent.
In addition to these guldelines, I’ll repeat a segment of my previous discussion referencing a 5/1/2016 article that appeared in Inman.com, professional on-line real estate journal…by Joseph A. Rand, a managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate…
6 BIG MISTAKES sellers make in pricing their property.
1. Biggest mistake, pricing to what has not sold rather than what WAS sold.
When I was a new Realtor the saying went like this, “Price a little high, and a little low…” given a stable market, you can successfully price a little higher than what just sold, but also price it lower than what is currently offered for sale, i.e. the competition. Don’t worry that a neighbor might sell for more than you. If he is priced way higher, focus on your goal. That competitor will not likely sell sooner, certainly not for more..
2. Overvaluing the amenities.
What is important to one owner may not be important to another, or even preferred, such as granite countertops and high end fixtures and appliances. No two women like the same kitchen. Even a pool may be a drawback, perhaps for an out-of-town owner who doesn’t prefer the added maintenance and liability, or a family with an infant who are concerned about family safety.
3. Reflecting improvements you’ve made dollar for dollar in the list price for your home.
Buyers may not appreciate the improvements you’ve made along the way as much as you did when you paid for them. It’s often difficult for a home seller to recognize when his cherished improvements and decor seem out-dated, even ill-advised, to the prospective buyer. In any event, we all know a car or a couch never brings the same price 5 minutes off the lot or the showroom floor. A buyer will not, cannot sincerely appreciate your personal clutter, nor even perhaps your financial investment. None of this will weigh so much as your clean, manicured, professional presentation.
4. Pricing with your next home purchase needs in mind.
Buyers won’t care what you need to net for your next purchase.
5. Pricing according to on line computer estimates, Zestimates, automated valuation models.
These sites are available everywhere, even on some agents’ websites (!), fun tools to “see where you are today”… But these are macro-level, at-a-glance unwarrantable valuations that no one, even the people who create them, believes to be accurate enough or substantive enough to be dependable indicators of where a property is properly placed on the market. A good buyer, one who will pay the price, will seek professional guidance and expertise. You as a Seller, should, too.
An example given by Mr. Rand: “For homes with Zestimates of , say, $400K, only half those homes are going to sell inside a range of about $368K to $432K. The other half is worth more or less than that range.” What if an agent knocks on your door and suggests you list your home in a range of $368k to $432K, then adds he’s confident you have a 50% chance of selling it in that range…?
That’s essentially what you get with these valuation models.
6. Ignoring feedback and traffic indicators.
Really look at the actual, not manipulated, listing to selling to time ratios when you price your property. AND once you have listed your property on the active market, stay engaged. Listen to what the market is telling you: listen to what buyers are saying and feedback from showing agents, watch the traffic patterns, on-site and on-line, keep up with what your neighboring competitors are doing, and find out what your prospective buyers bought instead of buying your property.
Your agent should be prepared, in writing, to help you make an informed decision about pricing your property. Then your agent will be kind, your agent will be understanding, and ultimately your agent will do his or her best job to continuously counsel you and to ensure you’re not still sitting in your home six months later, along with the other Un Solds. There are Un-Solds in any market..
C. PREPARE AND PRESENT your property for sale…Ready, Set, Go…
Again, think of this property as a product to sell, not your home. You won’t live there any more, someone else will. And the best odds of finding your buyer sooner rather than later is to de-personalize it, and show your buyer a palette (s)he can use to imagine himself living there, not you.
- Curb appeal…first impressions, the initial determination of what your home is like inside…yes? Clean the yard, manicure, get rid of obstacles that detract from this in any way. Re-mulching, new grass, new plants can add color and appeal without costing a fortune. Keep a realistic budget, don’t replace the driveway unless it’s a major irreparable detraction. You’re providing a snapshot, a first impression to bring that buyer back, or to stay with him while he visits inside.
- ‘Clean clean clean,’ says Bryan Robertson, and I can’t agree more. Be very sensitive to this, it’s above all the major feeling that will weigh in with prospective buyers. Not only clean, make it sparkling…which of course denotes attention to that sort of detail, and gives a prospective buyer peace of mind. You want the buyer to know you think well of your home, not just what you have in it. This can surpass the countertop upgrade you couldn’t afford, and it costs the seller virtually nothing beyond time and detergent and polish.
- Repair/remodel. Small improvements go a long way… details such as fresh trim at doors, baseboard, crown molding, cabinet handles, fresh paint (neutral shades only!…such as warm white), and get rid of the wall paper… Cleaning and making sure all lighting fixtures are in working order is a big plus.
You can step up another level…to new or continuous (all rooms matching) flooring, new windows…all of these items can significantly brighten and improve the look of your home and help your home sell faster, thus for more. Attention to such items can also likely increase the return on dollar spent.
The next step might be appliance upgrades, but basic attention to major mechanical items, indicating your home is well maintained, will likely win you more points with a buyer.
Substantial interior upgrades such as bathrooms and kitchens, for the purpose of selling faster or for more, are ill-advised, not only for potential dollar return on your investment, but also for the time, not to mention unexpected hurdles, it will likely take to complete. And after all, second-guessing what your buyer will prefer is very risky…especially with kitchen and master bath arrangements.
4. De-cluttering and staging.
You don’t need to have a huge budget to be staging savvy. Staging can mean professional, really upscale designers, or it can translate to de-cluttering, de-personalizing, and/or “styling” a house.
Less is more. De-cluttering is top of the list…which may mean renting a pod or storeroom, removing a couple pieces of furniture from each room. Whether you hire someone, or you and friends and your agent are the staging sages, do it before you put your property up for sale. It will sell faster, for more.
It may take a trained “third” eye to transform a space to suit the latest trend in home buyer wants and needs, but often someone besides the owner, a friend perhaps, can help pin-point where attention is most warranted. Re-styling a home may be as simple as neutralizing, reorganizing and redistributing some pieces you already own, with the idea of drawing attention away from what detracts…or screams… and putting focus on what is spatially positive, what has general appeal. Perhaps you might create a focal point in a room with a piece of furniture that suggests how the buyer might use the room. But then give your buyer prospects the space they need to visualize and to engage.
D. KEY IN TO PROFESSIONAL MARKETING … get the word out.
Proper pricing is crucial, but the price a buyer offers is driven by cleaning, preparing, presentation (staging/styling)… and of course, bringing your public in. Traffic is generated by professional marketing and proper market exposure..
Once your home is ready to go on the active market, your Realtor can assure your photography, your brochures/ flyers, are attractive, and your marketing material is thoughtful, relevant, informative, and demonstrates pride of ownership for a new owner. The expert marketing representative has not only the resources, but all so the resourcefulness, the know-how to focus attention aggressively while in good taste, with the most beneficial and effective results.
A savvy real estate agent is equipped to hook you into all manner of networks, local and global, to expansively and properly expose your property for sale. All of us who are MLS and PRO members are syndicated on nearly a thousand on-line websites, and many of us are professionally linked through our certifications and designations and associated with countless other professional networks to assure you enjoy maximum exposure for your product, both in your own backyard, and across the globe.
A Few Financing Tips….
FloridaRealtors.org announced September 2 that the U.S. will extend the HARP home loan program for another year, through September 2017, which was set to expire this month. It has been seven years since the government first launched the HARP program, Home Affordable Refinance Program. It was first designed and since evolved to help an estimated 3.4 million homeowners stay in their homes during the housing crisis, by refinancing into more affordable mortgages even when the homewner had little or no equity, or was even under water. Most recently programs were offered on loans that were 80% or more the value of the home, or great than 80% LTV…or to 125% or in some cases, higher..
HARP loans may refinance loans that are owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The most recent requirements to qualify for a HARP loan have been as follows: The loans had to be originated before May 31, 2009. The borrower had to be current on mortgage payments with no late payments in the previous six months, and no more than one late payment in the previous year.
These loans are ultra streamlined, often not requiring an appraisal. About 18,000 borrowers refinanced under HARP in the second quarter of this year, down from about 20,000 the first quarter, but it’s estimated more than 323,000 loans are out there that are still eligible for this refinance program. It’s possible a homeowner might qualify now who was turned down in the past. The application process for any loan can seem tedious for sure, but this is a relatively streamlined application process for the homeowner, well worth taking the time to investigate.
Details are to be announced in November. There are expected to be changes with the new HARP…for instance, the focus may be restricted to mortgages over 95% loan-to-value or higher. But there will likely be no cut-off date, meaning loans originated after 5/31/2009 might be eligible. And unlike the current HARP, borrowers will possibly be allowed to use the new refinancing option more than once. This program should be available through your mortgage servicing company, but also through other participating lenders and mortgage companies in the area. Don’t hesitate to ask about it even if a bank loan officer does not offer it to you.
Summary of Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics for July, 2016.
David Bennett, President and CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization has posted the most recent statistics for Pinellas County Real Estate, July 2016. In our markets especially, where seasonal cycles affect sales in different locations and sizes, comparison is most valid if done in percent changes in sales rather than number of sales, and comparison is month over month and year over year rather than straight line.
There was a slight cool off in July…closed sales for single family in July, 2016, were 1,236, a drop of 10% over July, 2015. Closed Sales for Townhome/Condo segment were down 8.2%. But every indication from a sizzling 2016 summer trend is our market continues to be quite strong.
Months Supply of Inventory for Single Family continues to reflect this Seller’s Market, with inventory down 10.8% year-over-year, with a 3.3 month supply this July, as compared to a 3.7 month supply in July 2015. Months Supply of Inventory for Townhome/Condo was down only 2.5% year-over-year, with 3.9 months in July 2016 compared to 4.0 months in July 2015. Active listings for July 2016 Single Family and Townhome/Condo combined were 6,601, down 5.1% from 6,954 in July 2015.
Representing nearly 7,000 members, the Pinellas Realtor® Organization is one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest professional trade associations. The organization advances and promotes the real estate profession through professional development programs, government affairs, and political advocacy, and maintains a high standard of conduct by real estate professionals through professional standards training and administration.
Here is a do-it-yourself market analysis… Click On This Link… . You will land on a designated page on my website which allows you to search homes in your neighborhood that are for sale, under contract, and closed/sold over recent months. Real time. Linked directly into our Multiple Listing Service. Now you’ve taken the first basic step toward determining what is actually going on in the real estate market in your neighborhood..
Then call me. You’ll be glad you did.