Even the most casual observers of the real estate market have noticed random, almost schizophrenic results for sellers in particular. One home will sell in one week with multiple offers as if it’s April of 2022, and another will sit on the market, its value lowered with each month that ticks by.
Many times, stale listings are a result of over-pricing. Today’s sellers should be careful they are not clinging to a price that impressed them during the pandemic-fueled spike in demand. It’s important to understand that interest rates have affected some buyers’ purchase power, and other buyers are more cautious about over-paying in a cooling market. Some of our listings are simply taking a week or two to bring in an offer. It’s a healthier, more balanced market.
In my opinion, it’s OK to attempt a unicorn ‘reach’ price off market, but an honest agent will counsel a seller to lower their expectations, and price, when their property is introduced to the world on the multiple listing service (and every website imaginable). You don’t want to blow your big ‘debut’ when you have buyers spotting it as a new listing.
Sellers who do not want to spend what it takes to pull in top dollar will often pay for it at closing. Spending money on painting and staging almost always brings in many times the property preparation budget. Many of us at a certain age feel like the turn of the century was just yesterday, and refuse to update our harvest colors applied with a sponge. It’s not necessary to remodel completely. Painting cabinetry and walls, updating lighting fixtures and refinishing or replacing flooring will provide the clean, contemporary ‘look’ that draws in dozens of buyers. I have several recent listings that polished up like a gem and achieved a much higher price per square foot than similar properties weighed down with tired finishes, heavy curtains and grandma’s beautiful, but fussy-looking antiques.
A good agent will provide photography, a video and property website at a level that elevates, rather than diminishes all the work that has gone into making the home shine. Creative marketing throughout the listing period will keep the property top of mind for agents and buyers looking through the listings.
Some of the homes sitting on the market cannot boast checking the ‘location, location, location’ box. Is there road noise? Some run-down neighbors? The difficulty of attaining insurance and the higher prices for premiums can’t be overstated when viewing country properties in the hills in particular. Buyers are paying high premiums for the state FAIR plan, and some are augmenting the limited coverage with an additional policy. Premiums can reach well beyond $20,000 per year and that can be a deal-breaker for buyers who are also taking on unfamiliar septic systems, wells and a myriad of permit and building use regulations.
On the buy side, be guided by what your agent says the level of interest is in the home, how the reports compare to similar properties, and what the list agent says about the offer strategy. For properties that fill your wish list, make sure you and your agent have viewed the property and the disclosures carefully. Your agent should have an opinion (not a guarantee) on whether it is presented well and priced to be snapped up, or whether it’s smarter to wait for a price reduction.
It can go either way, these days. In a shifting market with so many variables, touring with your agent and doing your market research is key to spotting a good value and moving fast…or taking advantage of a stale listing.
I’m happy to discuss your wine country real estate goals with you. Contact me at Julie.Leitzell@SothebysRealty.com