Used to be that new construction in your area held back the value of your house. The “Used” houses needed to sell for much less than a new one would. Even in a mildly appreciating market, your newer home didn’t really go up in value until that last brand new house sold. It was like the thought was “Why wouldn’t I just get a brand new one instead of buying a ‘Used’ home?” I know this is hard to believe for those of you new to the real estate market, but you used to be able to be the only offer on a completed new home and if you had time, you could pick your lot and pick your floor plan and have your house built. Today, builders like to finish the house and put it on the market to see how much they can get for it. Construction times have gone from 6-8 months to 10-12 months. Builders don’t want to be locked into a sale price where they won’t get paid for 10-12 months in inflationary times and with supply chain issues.
While an existing home will still sell for less than a brand new one in the same neighborhood, I am seeing something that hasn’t happened before. Since new construction is sooooo expensive these days, I am seeing the value of existing homes being boosted by the sticker shock of new construction homes. Yeah, the market is good and inflation is driving the prices of everything up, but prices are rising even faster than I expected in some neighborhoods with a lot of brand new homes going up, such as Masterson Station and The Home Place.
A brand new 2000 square foot home in Masterson is about $325k and the same size in The Home Place is about $440k. Now, instead of saying “Why wouldn’t I just get a brand new home instead of a used one?” buyers are saying “This existing home is a bargain compared to what the brand new homes are!“
I woke up Monday morning with not really much to do. That is how a lot of days go in real estate with so little on the market for buyers to view.
Also like a lot of days, things can suddenly change. As I was standing in an isle at Lowe’s, two new listing had hit the market and I was suddenly trying to schedule showings from my phone.
One was a $620k house near Albany Road/Shady Lane. The lot was fantastic. That area was outside the city limits when new and probably felt like a semi-rural area when built. The house had a bonus garage which would have been great for my car loving client. The house was, how can I say this…..STRANGE! It was sort of like somebody decided to throw every trendy 1980s design at the house and see what stuck. Well, ALL of it stuck. It was an old house that had been added on to on 3 sides. The kid I was in the 80s would have loved this place.
The other one was a $900k house off of Chinoe. Really nicely done. Fabulous patio and backyard. Nothing really odd about it other than it only had 3 bedrooms and there were cabinets above the kitchen island that made the kitchen feel small.
It wasn’t too long ago that a seller at these price points expected to wait an average of several months before selling. Like that famous video of a news clip where a lady was being interviewed about a fire in her apartment and said “NOT TODAAAAAAAAAY”, the same can be said about the current market.
The $620k house sold that evening. The $900k house that hit the market about 3:PM got an offer by 9:PM that the seller accepted the next morning. Neither were a good fit for my clients so we are anxiously awaiting the next batch of new listings.
I just had a client who is going to sell and buy with me ask me to forecast the market in the short term. Here is what I said:
I think that the market and prices will at least remain stable for the next 6-12 months. All of the unemployment is probably the biggest concern, but a lot of those that have been laid off are renters and not home owners so I am not expecting to see a lot of foreclosures.
Like any market, real estate is about supply and demand. As long as the ratio of buyers to sellers remains fairly equal, the market will always be strong even if the total number of sales is down. What we had already been seeing in the pre-coronavirus market is that people are staying longer in their houses. That is one reason the market has been so strong the past few years….there have just been fewer houses for sale. In Lexington, we have another issue that plays a big role, which is that we are running out of land to develop. Lexington cannot simply build new houses to meet the demand like other towns across the country. Even though the surrounding towns are seeing a construction boom, Lexington will always be the most desirable place to live in the Bluegrass.
There is a lot of refinancing going on. Usually people stay longer in their houses when they have recently refinanced. I saw this several years ago when rates had hit a record low at that time. If rates stay similar to where they are now, it won’t be too bad. If rates go up past 4%, people would have to pay a lot more for their mortgage than they do now. If a seller’s house has appreciated a lot and so has the house they want to buy, having more equity from the sale of their old house to carry into the new one doesn’t matter as much if their payment is still going to be a lot higher. Most people base their decision on the monthly mortgage payment.
I think there will be plenty of buyers in the market for quite a while. A lot of the older millennials have outgrown their starter homes and will be looking for a house like you have in Chilesburg. The Gen Z buyers are entering the market now and from what I have read, will be 27% of the population. These are people that will be buying based on a need, not just because they want to nicer house. One thing I learned from living through the worst real estate market in history is that first time buyers drive the market. It’s like a baseball game where the bases are loaded. Every player standing on a base has a house to sell before they can buy their next one. The first time buyer comes to bat, hits the ball and because they don’t have a house to sell, everybody on a base gets to move to the next one.
So, in Lexington, I think the limited supply due to people staying in their homes longer, the lack of new construction and the number of young buyer will keep our market strong.
Probably the single greatest threat to all of this would be if we saw crazy inflation and rates skyrocketed like they did in the 80s. If that happens, the houses over $400k would be much harder to sell. The cheaper houses should be safe because what will happen is that you will see first time buyers competing with all the buyers for smaller, affordable houses.
Not a lot so far.
Everything is a bit slower, but my listings are still getting shown and there seem to still be houses getting listed and selling every day.
Some of my buyers are laying low to see how this goes and for how long it lasts.
I’ve been reading a few articles that have said this could be like the Great Recession where real estate prices fell. It won’t be. Why? We still have a shortage of houses for sale. That will keep prices where they are. Think of it this way: If there are 1000 houses for sale and 1100 buyers, it is really the same as having 100 houses for sale and 110 buyers. Supply and demand are the same. As long as there are more buyers than sellers, prices will stay stable.
If you are a Buyer:
Don’t be afraid to buy. Take advantage of great interest rates. Negotiate the best price you can. As I have always recommended, buy a house that will be easy to sell in any market. That means a good location, a good floor plan, as flat of a yard as possible, average or better than average performing schools. Don’t buy the biggest or smallest house in the neighborhood. Don’t buy one that doesn’t fit in with the others such as having a one car garage when every other house in the neighborhood has a two car garage.
If you are a Seller:
I would put my house on the market as soon as possible. In uncertain times, taking action now to prepare for the worst is always good. I think I might put a new listing on the market on a Friday afternoon and only allow showings on the weekends. That way you get the most people in all at once and can then clean things like your door handles, counter tops, faucet handles, garage door opener button afterwards and feel good about being home again…..and take your toilet paper with you when you leave for showings, lol.
We all know this house, right? It’s been shared all over on social media. It’s made the news. Heck, I was even scrolling through the news on my phone and it turned up on a website for San Francisco real estate.
It’s been on the market with the current pictures for 16 days and is still available.
Kudos to this creative seller who is also a realtor. This was clearly a neat idea. I think it is going to greatly help her career. I have looked through the pictures and it is a beautiful house in a very popular neighborhood.
I wish her the best and hope she finds a great buyer soon.
When I first saw this house, it made me think about something I have always said, which is that exposure is never a problem in real estate these days.
There is a common misconception among the public that when a house doesn’t sell, you need to increase the marketing. This was true before the internet. Back a long time ago, a realtor had to get the house in front of potential buyers. There was print advertising like newspapers and those free home books with one tiny black and white picture, there were open houses and really anything to draw attention to the fact that a house was for sale.
Today, everybody goes online to see houses. All a realtor has to do is list a house and it gets fed to a bazillion websites. The chances of there being a buyer for a particular house and that buyer not knowing their ideal house is for sale are about the same as winning the Powerball.
This house is still waiting on a buyer after practically breaking the internet. It just goes to show that all the marketing in the world doesn’t make a house sell. There are 4 factors that get a house sold: Price, condition, location and presentation. Get all 4 aligned and any house will sell. Get one or more out of whack, and it doesn’t.