Why would a major real estate industry player predict a slowdown in home sales? The L.A. Times reported on May 5th (Real estate giant predicts slow home sales for months to come) that Realogy Holdings Corp, the parent company of Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Sotheby’s, claims that a slowdown in mid and low bracket homes could hurt the brokerage business and could prove to be a difficult 2014.
Meanwhile, a recent “Real-Time Seller Survey” conducted by Redfin (refin.com) indicated that 52.4% of home sellers were confident about selling their homes; however 40.9% of sellers were concerned about affording their next home. This may be why 40.3% of those surveyed planned to price their home above market value – maybe not the best strategy. The May 8th Business Wire article (Redfin survey: 40% of home sellers plan to price higher than market value) quoted Redfin agent Paul Reid as saying; “Buyers this year are far less tolerant of overpricing, and homes that aren’t priced appropriately are likely to sit on the market until the seller is forced to reduce the price … Buyers often interpret a price drop as a sign there is something wrong with the home, leading some to negotiate even more aggressively or lose interest altogether.”
Economics aside, some experts say that a slowdown is in part due to institutional investors having all but left the market as distressed properties are decreasingly a part of the housing landscape; and the housing market is once again reliant on the owner occupant home buyer – who is often characterized as “picky.”
A lot has been said about “picky home buyers” since 2008, and the fact is that home buyers have not changed much – indeed, they may even be pickier today. It could be that the lessons of the financial crisis are still fresh in their minds; home buyers as group seem to be a hardy and savvy group. 2008 was a transition year, as home buyers shirked distressed properties for homes that exuded value. “Cheap” did not necessarily mean the home was a bargain to those who planned to be owner-occupants. Many home buyers were turned off to short sales and foreclosures, not just because of the process but because of the realization that the combined cost of the home purchase with repairs often exceeded the price of a re-sale that was in move-in condition.
Even though there is a perceived dearth of available homes for sale today, doesn’t mean that home buyers will pony up for an overpriced home. Home buyers are typically looking for a combination of location, quality, and value. According to Lyn Underwood (Home buyer turn-ons and turn-offs; McClatchy-Tribune Business News. April 26, 2014), home buyers are attracted to homes for a number of reasons; some of the top home characteristics include an updated kitchen with stone counters and maple cabinets; an open floor plan; new or refurbished wood floors; and flexible spaces (rooms that can be used for a number of uses).
If you’re selling this spring, don’t take home buyers for granted: don’t over price your home; and stay away from cheap renovations meant to look expensive (buyers are turned off by poor workmanship, sloppy installation, or inferior materials); and keep your home neat and tidy when showing. Your listing agent can provide guidance on preparing and pricing your home to sell in today’s market.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with Gerlach Real Estate, Inc. in Chevy Chase, MD. You can access more information at www.DanKrell.com.