YES!! The best time to put your home on the market is when YOU are READY!
It is important to have a good game plan for time and preparation. You certainly don’t want to put your home on before its looking perfect and ready for buyers. But I know it can be confusing with market conditions and timing, so here are some hints to help!
I hear spring is the best time – is that true?
The Real Estate market is definitely seasonal. In the spring is when most people list their home, thus when most buyers are out looking.
Summer – Many people are traveling during this time, so it could be slower, but your home WILL sell and buyers are DEFINITELY still looking.
Fall – Families are back in school, so inventory starts to slow down, but this is when many buyers who had no success in the Spring/Summer, find exactly what they are looking for. There is less competition and they can often take more time to look and decide.
Holidays – This is by far the slowest time of year. No one wants to move during this time. However, the buyers and sellers who have listed their home and are looking to move, are doing so because they HAVE to. Typically a job change, or other life event is propelling this move, so in turn they are serious buyers.
In the Seattle area, we typically see the market start to pick up mid-Jan/early February. Buyers are out there and ready to go!
But I want to make sure my house is ready.
Absolutely. 100%. No question about that. I, personally, would never advise a client to hurry and get their home on the market before it was ready, just to catch a certain month or week. As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” so make it count! Photos, marketing, and that first week of showings is crucial in the Seattle area.
Last Spring, the average house was on the market only 20 days before selling. However, you’ve all heard the stories about homes selling in just a weekend. In the last two months, the market has shifted a bit and we’re looking at roughly 50 days on market on average.
While this seems like a lot, the homes that are “market ready” and priced right, are still flying off the shelves. Just this week I had a buyer put in an offer on a home that had been on the market less than 24 hours. We were the 4th offer and luckily got it! But the house was ready and priced right – and buyers recognize that!
(Above chart is the average days on market (orange), by month since Nov 2017. The green line is how much % of the asking price, the house sold for. For example – in January of 2019, the average home sold for 95% of the list price)
How do I know if my house is ready?
- Together with your agent, take the time to go through each room and make sure your home is tidy and staged to perfection.
- Start packing now! You’re going to move eventually, so why not box up half your belongings and put them in storage while you’re on the market?
- Have your Septic System tested and inspected before going on the market. Time and time again, I’ve run into septic issues that could have easily been resolved and not wasted buyer/seller time if they had been addressed before going on the market.
- Gather any reports for furnace inspections, pest inspections, and other ongoing maintenance services. These records put buyers at ease that the home has been well maintained.
My house is ready, now what?
- PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY! When your home looks perfect, have a professional take the photos. Most agents pay for this as part of their services (as they should). If your agent does not hire a professional, request they do or recommend a professional to you. Keep in mind that by professional, I don’t mean someone with a nice camera who takes family photos of their friends on weekends. Your photographer should be experienced in capturing all the tricky angles and lighting in a home.
- Your agent will prepare quality marketing materials and put it on the market!
Through this process, work closely with your agent. Ask their opinion on what things you could upgrade to make your home sell for more. Paint, carpet, lighting, staging….it all plays a part!
A recent post by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that in the months of December 2014 through February 2015, there was an increase in the number of first-time buyers making a down payment of 6% or less as compared to last year:
- 2014: 61% of first time home buyers
- 2015: 66% of first time home buyers
While the number of small down payments is lower than it was in 2009 when 77% of down payments were 6% or less, it does show the recent decisions by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer 3% down payment options to certain buyers is impacting the market. FHFA Director Mel Watt recently explained why Freddie and Fannie made this decision:
“The new lending guidelines by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”
This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.
Will these programs create future challenges?
Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:
“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”
Also, the Urban Institute revealed data showing what impact substantially lower down payments would have on default rates in today’s mortgage environment. Their study revealed:
“Those who have criticized low-down payment lending as excessively risky should know that if the past is a guide, only a narrow group of borrowers will receive these loans, and the overall impact on default rates is likely to be negligible. This low down payment lending was never more than 3.5 percent of the Fannie Mae book of business, and in recent years, had been even less. If executed carefully, this constitutes a small step forward in opening the credit box—one that safely, but only incrementally, expands the pool of who can qualify for a mortgage.”
Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:
Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion. Contact your mortgage professional for a deeper understanding.
Today I came across an MSN article by Steve McLinden of Bankrate.com. As I read through his tips, I knew this was valuable information to share as a Real Estate Professional. I am a huge advocate of educating my clients, so I would highly recommend reading this full article. Below I've written McLinden's 10 tips, with my own local perspective and twist.
Here are the 10 tips for Buyers and Sellers in 2014
1. Sellers: Jump start the process
The greater Seattle market is hot if you are a seller. Homes that are priced right are only lasting a few days on the market before receiving several offers. So how do you get here? If you are getting ready to sell your home, take an honest look at what small improvements need to be made. New paint? Window treatments? Taking the photos down and de-cluttering your home? These factors will honestly make a huge difference.
2. Buyers – be credit ready
I've actually run into this situation recently – I had a buyer put an offer in on a home with a pre-qualification letter. The offer was rejected, because they wanted a pre-approval letter. The seller did not want to go through the process without knowing ahead of time that the buyer was actually approved. Also, because this is such a fast-moving market, if a buyer is not ready to pull the trigger because they haven't talked to a lender when they find "the one," someone else will beat them to it.
3. Sellers – vet your real estate agent then follow their advice
I always recommend interviewing several potential agents. You want to hire someone who knows the market and is tech savvy, as 85% of buyers start their search online. Your agent should walk you through exactly how they are going to help you get ready, market, and ultimately sell your home.
4. Buyers – Adjust your negotiating expectations.
Ultimately, the decisions are completely up to you. It's my job as an agent to carry out your wishes in a real estate transaction. However, most buyers want some advice or suggestions on offering price because this is the world we live and breathe. Sometimes low-ball offers stick, but be prepared for them to be rejected outright. If you receive a counter offer, respond quickly so they don't accept another offer in the meantime.
5. Sellers – its your market (finally!) so make the most of it
As I mentioned before, homes are selling quickly. As interest rates continue to rise, more and more buyers will be looking for a home. This means you have the upper hand and can finally demand more than you could in the last 7 years!
6. Buyers – find life after Foreclosure
Chances are, you know someone who was laid off with the recession. Do you judge them harshly or understand because it was just a rough market? The same is with foreclosures – its not something to be despised. Its something that happened. Now its time to pick yourself back up and jump back in!
7. Sellers – Hesitate to renovate
I go back and fourth on McLinden's 7th point. I think the choice to renovate is all based on the situation. If you are selling in an area that home prices are well above what the value of your home, there is room to renovate and earn a bigger profit margin. However, over-renovating for your area is really easy to do. Always keep your budget in check. If you are unsure about what to renovate, talk to your Real Estate Professional for some advice.
8. Buyers – Ask and you won't receive (an unpleasant surprise)
You would be surprised at the things sellers neglect to disclose. It is in your best interest to get a thorough inspection, as well as ask all the tough questions. Visit the home at all times of the day to see the conditions. Talk to the neighbors, look at the schools, and research the crime statistics.
9. Sellers – Tailor your local game
The national news always includes information on the real estate market. However, chances are your local market is drastically different and will behave different from what the national norm is. Discuss real estate trends with your agent so you know what to expect through the process.
10. Sellers and Buyers – Heed Changing Trends
It is so important to stay in the know and understand what your local market trends are. Hopefully, your Real Estate agent provides you with this information. If not, ask them! I send out regular information on local housing trends. If you would like to be included in this newsletter, fill out the information below:
The Olympics are a time to show our American pride. A time to support athletes who have dedicated years of their life to perfecting their physical abilites. It's also a time to escape to the couch and watch some figure skating or curling – sports we only seem to find interesting during the olympics.
And yes, there is a lack of preparation from the Russians, but it's still important to support our American team members and tune in! Below is a schedule of events. Hopefully you can take time from your busy schedule to enjoy!
Most people know what type of payment they can afford each month. We call that "buying power." For obvious reasons, the larger payment you can afford, the more house you can purchase.
However, as interest rates rise, your buying power will decrease. At the beginning of 2014, interest rates are close to 4.5%. By the end of 2014, interest rates are predicted to rise roughly 1%.
Below are some GREAT charts that show you exactly how much you can afford at each interest rates. Here are some ideas of how they can help you:
- Print these out and take them with you as you search for homes!
- Forward this blog to your friends who are thinking of buying
- Show your agent so they can help you
- Email me for further explanation and consultation!
One of my favorite things is DIY projects (do it yourself)! I used to have a lot more time for these types of projects, but since having my son, I simply get my fill by browsing pinterest and other creative home bloggers out there. Here are a few of my favorite quick DIY projects that would spruce up any home – whether you are planning on selling or not!
By the way, all the ideas below are pinned to my own Home Ideas Pinterest Board. Take a peek at my home inspiration!
1. Add extra storage!
Who doesnt love more storage? You, and your future buyers will see any added shelf space as a bonus!
2. Paint your garage floor.
This is a bit of a strange one, but have you looked at your garage floor recently? Stained with oil, paint, and who knows what else, giving your garage floor a clean and polished look is sure to please. Check out this tutorial at Painted Furniture Ideas blog.
3. Add Crown molding to your windows
This quick weekend projects will bring a classy look to your home. It may also bring extra $$$ if you are selling. The small details make the biggest impression
4. Make a great first impression!
Take a good long look at your entry. What does it say? Sad and old? or happy and inviting? This before and after happens to be one of my favorites that I'm contemplating for my own home. It would take a bit more work, but if the gal at Censational Girl Blog did it, so can you!
5. Give your outdoor space a facelift
Especially if you live in a climate where outdoor living is a must (only 2-3 months here in Seattle) your outdoor space will be a huge selling point. Add a little greenery, paint your fence, or create beautiful hardscape like this tutorial below.
There are so many quick DIY home project ideas out there. When selling your home or if you simply want to enjoy your home, a little goes a long way! Visit my Home Ideas Pinboard for more home inspiration!