The market is crazy but being a realtor isn’t

Everybody knows how crazy the real estate market is right now. Everybody I meet wants to talk about it. Everybody assumes every realtor is crazy busy right now. We are not. The reason is because you need houses to be on the market in order to sell one.

It’s super easy being the listing realtor right now. You put a house on the market and have a busy couple of days getting offers, then it is over. Being a buyer’s agent these days is a lot about waiting for a house to come on the market, then rushing out to see it. I used to show houses 3 nights a week and all day long every weekend when it was a Buyer’s market. I think the last house I showed was mid last week. Back then, people would look at 20-30 houses before making a decision. Today a lot of people are viewing 3-4 houses and picking one. I have sold many where the buyer bought the first house they saw. I’ve got plenty of buyers. Some of them are looking for a very specific home in a specific school district or neighborhood. I have worked with one of them for about a year and only shown them 6-7 houses. That’s because so few houses have hit the market in their price range and in the neighborhoods that will work for them.

So being a realtor right now is a lot of waiting. Waiting for sellers to get their homes ready to list. Waiting for the right house for your buyer…….waiting for something interesting to happen so you can blog about it.

Want to know where the market is, TODAY?

I like to do these market updates every once in a while. When I do, I do them in real time. What do I mean by that? I meant that the info is right now. Most of the time when you are hearing about the real estate market, it is from sources that are a month or more behind, or it is from a national source that is giving you a dated snapshot of the market for the entire country. My data is taken from the MLS in the past 20 minutes and is specifically for the Bluegrass area.

I won’t geek out and break down all this data into price range, which town, or property type, but there were 24 existing home sales that went pending in the past 24 hours. Do you want to guess how many of them sold within 2 days of being listed? You would think it would be all of them based on what your realtor friends post online, or what you read in the news. But, of those 24 houses, only 4 of them sold in less than 2 days. There were 8 that sold between 2 and 10 days. 4 sold between 11 and 30 days. 4 sold between 31 and 60 days. And 4 sold between 61 and 90 days on the market.

Let’s look at the houses that closed in the past 24 hours. While pending sales give us a snapshot of what the market is doing right now, freshly closed sales give us a snapshot of where the market was a month ago since it usually takes 30 days or so to close.

How many of the closed sales do you think got full price, or over full price offers when these sales went pending last month? Again, you would assume all of them, right? Of the 23 closed sales posted today, only 8 of them sold for the full list price. 5 sold for over the asking price. One sold for $10k over the list price in a neighborhood where I have seen this happen frequently. That means 10 of the closed sales went for LESS than the full asking price.

I could go a lot of ways with this blog post, but I think I will take this chance to say that you really need an agent that knows when you need to offer the full price, when you need to go over the list price, and when you can make an offer for less than the list price. The market is so fast right now that I think a lot of buyer’s realtors are not looking at comparable sales in the neighborhood. They are just so focused on getting an offer in fast that they don’t really take the time to figure out what the house is really worth. To me, that is the most important bit of info we have to offer a client. I have had many listings in the past year where I had a ton of showings and didn’t get an offer on the first day on the market. Then the next day a realtor is frantically trying to reach me saying they are about to send a full price offer and are so glad the house is still available. Well, if I had 12 buyers look at the listing and didn’t get an offer, truth be told the house probably wasn’t worth the list price……but I am not going to tell the buyer’s realtor that, I just tell them where to send the offer.

That’s the data. I am by no means saying the market is slowing down. It is after all the middle of winter which is usually the slowest time of the year. I do think the market will stay strong for quite some time. I just wanted you all to know that not every house sells the first day on the market for full price or more. I want to help separate the perception of what the market is like compared to the reality.

Always think about selling in a Buyer’s Market

I am always sad when I see a house sell that has been sitting on the market forever.

Sometimes a house will stay on the market for a long time because the initial listing price was too high, or the house didn’t show well.  Both of those can happen to perfectly good homes.  The reason those don’t sell is because of the seller, not the house.  Often these houses sell once the list price gets reduced into the realm of reality, or the seller does some cosmetic repairs that make it easier for a buyer to want the house.

Any time I show a house like this, my client usually asks me why the house hasn’t sold yet.  If I check the listing history and see that they started out asking a crazy high price and have reduced it, I tell them it is okay to buy it.  If I look through old pictures or see fresh paint, new flooring, etc, I tell them it is okay to buy the house.  Sometimes sellers just need to learn how the market works at the expense of their days on market.

Then there are those houses that don’t sell because of the property itself.  Those are the ones that I advise my clients to not buy.  These houses usually have some odd feature like a crazy floor plan, a poorly done addition, a neighbor whose yard is full of junk or has a dozen dog kennels in their backyard, the house backs to commercial or industrial zoned properties, etc.  These houses eventually sell to somebody who doesn’t mind that particular negative.  Whenever I show one of these houses, I like to tell my client that while they might not mind the negative feature that has kept the house from selling, it will be extremely difficult for them to sell it when it is their turn.   The past 8 years have been a pretty strong Seller’s Market.  If a house took a long time to sell in a hot market, can you imagine how long it would take in a Buyer’s Market?

I have lived through lots of markets.  I have seen seller’s who paid too much in a hot market lose money when they needed to sell.  I have seen people get their dream job and move out of town, only to have to make two mortgage payments until their old house sells.  I have seen people who felt lucky to have gotten their house in multiple offers struggle to sell it in a Buyer’s Market.

I don’t want to see any of my clients go through any of this.  In real estate, you often don’t see the consequences of a mistake until years later when you go to sell.  Helping people avoid this mess is one of the greatest joys of my career.

The riskiest house to buy

What is the type of house that is the riskiest to buy?

 

(I’ll pause to give you a minute to think.)

 

I bet you didn’t come up with a brand new house as an answer, did you?

Now, new homes are built every day all around the country.    Most of the time everything goes well.  Probably like 98% of the time, but there are some risks involved that I always like to check out before a client decides to build a house.  So, why is new construction risky?

  1.  You don’t know what the neighborhood is going to look like until it is done.  Ever drive down Wilson-Downing and see that one street with about 12 houses that are much bigger than the rest of Belleau Woods?  Those were the first houses in what was going to be a neighborhood similar to Hartland.  Until interest rates shot through the roof in the early 80s and the only thing that was selling were small homes.   The people who bought their new houses on that street didn’t get what they expected.
  2. You don’t know what the value is going to be after you build.   A brand new sale is a unique sale.  It is never going to be brand new again.  It will be a “Used” house for each subsequent sale.  That is why when I have a client who builds, I like to look at the sales of other “Used” homes in the neighborhood so I can tell them what to expect.
  3. You don’t know what the builder is like.  Building is like most industries where 99% of them are good honest hard working people.  The rest are the ones that bring their whole industry down.  Many many years ago, there was a custom builder who was flying first class to see every UK basketball game, using his customer’s money to live large instead of you know, building their house.  He got arrested because he was telling banks that houses were nearly done so he could get more drawls from the construction loan.  There were a few houses that were still vacant lots.  This is why I like to check out my client’s builder to see if I think he is going to take their money and run.  Usually a long track record of building homes and a good reputation goes a long way with me.  I get nervous when the builder has only been around for a short time.

These are just a few things that pop in my mind when a client says they want to build.  Like I said, most of the time you never have these issues, but I think it is always a good idea for you to have your own realtor involved.

Which builder would I pick?

Before I spill on which builder, let’s establish the criteria:  Priced between $200k and $400k and brand new.

Ok, you ready for it?

To keep me out of a lawsuit, lets just say it is the big one in town.  Four letters.  You know the one.

I can already feel the tension in the air.  It is because I get it all the time when people ask me who to use and I suggest this builder.

Sure, everybody in town knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who has had a bad experience with this builder……but nobody ever knows “That” person first hand.  I own 3 of their houses myself and have sold 60 of them of all ages.

It has been my personal and professional experience that they build as good of a home as anybody.  Am I saying they are perfect?  No.  I am just saying that after selling new homes built by other builders and selling hundreds of “Used” homes built by other builders,  their homes seem to have fewer issues caused by the construction of the home.

Any house is something with thousands of pieces assembled by lots of different trades that has to withstand both time and mother nature.   Things go wrong with them.

I think one reason this builder has so many detractors is just because of their scale.  If you have build maybe 25,000 homes in the Bluegrass and 5% of those people had a bad experience, that is a lot of people.  If you are a smaller builder who has maybe built 100 homes in the Bluegrass, that same 5% complaint rate is only 5 people.

All I know is that if I were wanting a new home in the $200-400k range, I would rather go with a builder whose 50 year old houses are still standing verses somebody without much of a history.