What happens when we do see more houses for sale?

I read a lot of news about real estate. It is always a little funny to me to see what people who are not realtors have to say about the market. There are two things that I have read this week that have me rolling my eyes.

The first one is the headlines about how the number of sales have been declining. Gee, that’s just what happens when there are so few houses for sale. This does NOT mean that buyers are deciding not to buy a house. It means that they can’t get a house.

The other one is that it seems there is a projection that we should have more houses for sale later this year than we have in a long time. That would be great but let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that prices are going to drop. They might stabilize prices a bit but when a hot new listing in Lexington can easily get 15 offers, we would need 15 times the listings for a balanced market. There is going to be more buyers than houses for a while.

A lot of the people who are fantasizing about what that market might look like are not old enough to have lived through the housing crash during The Great Recession. Back then we had more houses for sale than ever and do you know what? The best houses still sold fast and often in multiple offers. Do you know why? It is because everybody wants the best house in their price range. We could triple the number of houses for sale today and it wouldn’t change much. What would happen would be that the best houses sell fast and for top dollar while every other house languishes on the market. This flood of new inventory does not mean that every buyer will be able to get their ideal home.

Sold for 25% OVER list price!!

I listed a manufactured home in a tiny town in northern Scott County on 15 acres last week. I have had it in my pipeline for close to a year so I have been watching the market in the area for a while. Prices have gone up quite a bit, but lately similar properties have all been listed for about $160k.

So we got pictures and put it on for $160k. I fully expected it to sell for a little more since the market value is no longer determined by recent sales. It is determined by how desperate the buyer is.

Turns out they get more desperate every day.

We got 8 offers. 10 actually but two were for a financing type that did not do manufactured homes so we can’t really count those.

One offer was $155k. I always laugh at those buyers and scratch my head. What rock have they been hiding under that they and their realtor don’t know that practically every house in multiple offers goes for at least list price.

Five of the offers had escalation clauses. That is where the buyer pretty much says they will pay so much more than any other offer up to a certain price.

I got one offer for $200k. My mind was blown. No escalation clause. Just a flat $200k.

This gave me the chance to tell the buyer’s agents with the escalation clauses that they might want to up their amount if their buyer really wanted the house.

Fortunately one buyer whose offer had some better secondary terms raised their escalation clause to be $200k. I have seen where people throw out some high number on an escalation clause to get their offer noticed but they have no intention of every going that high. I called that buyer’s agent to confirm they were legitimately willing to go that high. They were. They got the house for $200k. Next step is to convince the appraiser it is worth that.

A pleasant surprise this morning

Like always, I woke up, made a cup of coffee and checked out the new listings. I saw what prices got reduced, then viewed the pending and sold listings. Pretty routine. Lately it takes about 30 seconds to go through the 15-25 new listings every morning.

Today I woke up to more new listings than I have seen in a while. Many of them were under $200k!

I am really hoping this is the beginning of a new trend. There has been speculation that a lot of sellers were holding off on listing there homes until COVID got under control and they felt okay about letting people in their homes. Today might have been the first day of that.

I am starting to hear from a lot of sellers that it might be a good time to sell their homes. Of course, it has been for a long time. However, when many sellers feel like prices have gotten crazy and decide to cash out, it could mean a shift in the market a little. While I think it will remain a Seller’s Market for quite a long time, I totally welcome a more balanced market. It is good for everybody.

Or it could just be that it is the first big spring day when all the sellers begin to put their homes on the market. Sellers usually need the first couple of warm weekends to spruce up their yards before listing.

We’ll see how the next few weeks pan out. All I know is that it got me excited to think about so many new listings hitting the market!!

2 wrong ways and 1 right way to win in multiple offers

I recently got to experience a part of real estate that I don’t do often. I got to be a seller. In all of my life, I have only been a seller 4 times. I sold the first house we owned a long time ago. I sold two rentals in the past several years. And just this week I sold another rental property.

The first sale of this house fell apart and it came back on the market. Two of the offers I got were from people who had seen it when it was first on the market.

Wrong way #1

I got an offer from somebody who had lost in multiple offers the first time it was on the market. It was the exact same offer with just the dates changed. The buyer’s realtor seemed a little upset that I didn’t take it the first time and was a little snarky in letting me know that I should have accepted it then. Here is the thing. If I didn’t pick your offer the first time when I had other offers, why would I pick it again when I also had other offers. They should have changed some terms to make it more attractive to me. I even told the buyer’s realtor what I didn’t like about the offer.

Wrong way #2

I got a phone call from a realtor who had a couple of questions about it. This realtor asked if I did “Escalation clauses.” I wasn’t totally sure what he meant but I did tell him one of the offers I had in hand did have an escalation clause, so I guess I do them. He then told me how they were not fair to buyers and that he wouldn’t show my house to his buyer. Since I had two other offers in hand, I really didn’t care. He called me later that night and said his buyer wanted to offer $150k for the house that they hadn’t even seen yet. The list price was $130k. Both my offers were $130k and $130,500. If he had submitted an offer earlier, and done the escalation clause he was opposed to, his buyer might have gotten my house for something like $131,500 instead of $150k. He dropped the ball. Instead of riding his high horse about a perceived injustice in the market, he should have shown her my house and written an offer. But no, he lost his client the house and was willing to let her overpay for it.

Right way #1

I get a phone call from a very wise agent. She tells me how her people saw the house the first time it was on the market. They currently live on that side of town and want to stay. That tells me these buyers really want the area. She tells me that they are preapproved with a local lender. Always the best choice. I asked her who she usually recommends for a home inspector. One of the inspectors she mentions is one I personally use when I buy houses. I tell her that and the next thing I know, they have scheduled an inspection with the inspector. So, I am a seller and a realtor. What am I looking for when examining offers? The best terms I can get from a buyer that I feel will mostly likely get the deal done. This agent recognized my concerns and adjusted. In the end, her ability to think about what she could do to get the house for her buyer is what got it.

This is what you need a realtor for. Today’s market is like a traffic jam. You can have a realtor who sits there not moving and complains, a realtor who just stays stuck in the same lane, or one who figures out how to get around obstacles. I feel sorry for the buyers represented by the first two agents.

When it seems like it was meant to be

I sold a house this week that I wanted to tell you about.

The buyer is a first time buyer who was sent to me from two separate past clients. She works with a client who has become a friend of mine…..Thanks David! Her mother works with another friend who has used me before too……Thanks Doug! I don’t have this happen often when somebody is asking for realtor references and I get mentioned twice. It always makes me feel twice as good that somebody would take their time to connect two people they care about. Close to 100% of my work is getting referred to new people or people coming back to use me again. That is why I don’t ask for reviews and don’t advertise. I just don’t need to do either to attract new work!

The buyer was going to be in the super tight $150ish market. There is almost nothing ever for sale and when something hits the market, you are competing with cash buying investors who sometimes don’t even look at the house before making an offer. This was going to be a tough one.

Right after I started working with this buyer, I get a text from another client who was wanting to sell their house.

The sellers are past clients who I have thoroughly enjoyed working with several times. They bought a house to rent many years ago and it was time to part with it. The sellers did a lot of work to it themselves and it looked really good. The price point was going to be around $150k, which is very hard to find in the current market.

I just knew this was the house for my buyer. I mean, I had recommended it to the sellers when they bought it so I could certainly recommend it again to my buyer!

I told the sellers what I thought it was worth. I told them that I had somebody that was interested in it. I also told them that they could put the house on the market and possibly get a little more than the price range I thought it would sell within since you never know what a desperate buyer will do in this market. They liked the idea of me managing the entire transaction and keeping it simple, so I showed it to my buyer. Of course she wanted it. It was a gorgeous home in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in her price range.

The buyer is happy she didn’t have to frantically make an immediate decision and that she got a great house. The sellers are happy because they know I am managing the whole transaction and made it so easy for them. A win for everybody.

I seem to be having this happen several times a year now. A seller will tell me they are wanting to sell soon and then shortly afterwards I have a buyer tell me what they want and they describe exactly the house my seller has. Happens the other way too. I will have a buyer tell me what they want and then I will have somebody tell me they are ready to sell the exact house the buyer described. It’s sort of cool when this happens. It makes me feel like I am a small part of a bigger story.