What do these 3 sellers have in common?

I’ve got a busy week coming up. I have 3 people who the only thing they have in common are that they have houses to sell and have picked me to be their realtor.

Two of the clients have used me before. One of them is a family member.

The house in the first block of Kenwick is owned by a person whose mother used me to sell a house in Palomar. I don’t even remember how they found me. They were great to work with. I had lost contact with the daughter. I had often thought of her since she lived in Kenwick, and I did too when I was much younger. One day out of the blue, she calls me and says she is buying and selling. She didn’t think I would remember her since it had been close to 15 years, but I couldn’t forget her. She had to do a little digging to track me down since I had gone out on my own several years ago. It has been great catching up with her and working with her on her new home. She is fun, laid back and very wise.

The house in Beaumont is owned by a very special family to me. They used me to buy the house many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and was very excited when they told me it was time to move again. We found their perfect home within walking distance of their old home. We had quite a dramatic time buying the new place since it was in multiple offers. This family is just so nice and pleasant to work with. It has been one of the highlights of my summer to work with them again.

The house in Landowne Merrick is owned by my cousin’s family. It has served them well but it’s time to move up to something that better fits their stage in life now. I don’t get to see my cousin all that much so it has been a lot of fun to go look at houses with her and her husband. Sometimes my aunt and uncle show up to for the showings so it is like a family reunion but at some stranger’s house.

I’ve got two more listings in the pipeline that should be ready before long. It’s been a great year and an especially great summer. Selling these three houses for these three fantastic sellers will be a nice way to wrap up my summer.

Are prices going to drop?

I’m reading a lot of headlines and seeing YouTube videos about the market crashing.

Is it going to happen? Short answer is NO.

Is the market slowing down a little right now? YES. It always does this time of year. People go on vacation and those with kids like to be in their new home before school starts. I always like this time of year because I can catch my breath and enjoy a break before it picks back up a little for the rest of the year. When I go to a track and I get used to doing 120 MPH in a straight, hopping on the interstate on the way home and doing 80 feels slow. Right now we are all so used to a crazy fast market, that even a strong but not super strong seller’s market feels like a major slow down.

Are we seeing more houses come on the market right now? YES. I think this is because all the sellers who would have sold during COVID now feel it is okay to put their house on the market. We started seeing more listings hit the market after the vaccinations rolled out. This makes me think that the sudden increase in inventory hit all at once. We will see if it keeps up. Really though, I sort of hope it does. I would love to see a balanced market where there aren’t 5 offers the first day on the market for a loser house and 15 offers the first day for an HGTV worthy house. Simple economics tells us that as long as there are more buyers than sellers, that it will remain a seller’s market. As long as it is at least a balanced market, meaning supply is equal to demand, prices will remain the same.

Does location matter any more?

I guess a lot of people think being a realtor is about opening doors and cashing checks. I guess there are a lot of realtors who think the same so that is probably the source of the perception.

You don’t need me to help you pick a pretty house. You don’t need me to be there to tell you what you like or dislike about a house. You don’t need me to find houses for you. You don’t need me to walk into the only room with a chandelier and announce it is the dining room. You don’t really even need me at all…….unless you view spending the most money you have ever spent as an investment that you know you will sell someday and want to maximize the return. Oh, I guess you also need me to make sure you don’t pay too much since you won’t really know if you overpaid until you go to sell it.

So here is a quick lesson on how I go about helping people pick a neighborhood. We have all heard that real estate is about location. It is, but I don’t think people really know what that means. I normally break down neighborhoods into 4 categories:

The “A” Neighborhood-These neighborhoods are the ones people know and love for a variety of reasons. Some might be close to something desirable, some might have a lot of charm, some might have lower crime. Almost all “A” neighborhoods have a good performing school district. These are the ones that people know by name. These are also the ones that will always be easy to sell in even a bad market.

The “B” Neighbhorhood-Is like the “A” but may not be as well rounded. It’s popular, but often viewed as an alternative to another “A” neighborhood that is close by.

The “C” Neighborhood-This is one that no buyer has ever mentioned as somewhere they would love to live. It is just average in everyway. Nothing really is wrong with it. Nothing is really great about it either. It is just a neighborhood full of houses.

The “D” Neighborhood-These are like the opposite of the “A” neighborhood. These are neighborhoods where 16 years worth of buyers have told me they DON’T want to live. It is often because of high crime in or around the neighborhood or due to a combination of poorly performing schools. Let’s face it, if buyer’s are telling their realtors they don’t want to live in specific neighborhoods, there’s your sign that it isn’t the best investment.

Why does this make any difference if you’ve found a pretty house you like in your budget? Shouldn’t you be happy just to have found a house in this crazy market? Isn’t finding a house in a less than popular neighborhood better than not finding a house at all? The answer to all of this is that it doesn’t matter at all when you buy the house. It matters a lot when you decide it is time to move on and you want to sell it.

Right now, let’s say there are 100 buyers in the market. There are 20 houses in each of my categories for sale. That means there are 80 houses for 100 buyers. Oh no! That means all 80 sell for at least full price in multiple offers the first day on the market.

But markets change. I am no doomsday person. I don’t think the market is going to crash. It will however, over time, swing back and forth between being a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

This is what it looks like in a buyer’s market: There are 80 buyers in the market. There are 100 houses for sale, 25 in each of my 4 categories. How do you think this pans out? The “A” neighborhood houses sell first, then the “B” neighborhood houses, then the…….well, you get it. When there are more houses for sale than there are buyers, buyers get pickier. Buyers can’t be picky in today’s seller’s market but they will be able to again. I am sure of that.

My first house was in a “D” neighborhood. I was in my mid 20s and didn’t know anything. Like a lot of first time buyers, I was focused on just finding a house I liked. As I improved my house, I would look out my window and realize that I had no control over my whole neighborhood. Many of the houses around me were owned by investors. There was some crime. I loved the house but not the neighborhood. I sold it for about what I had in it, which meant I didn’t have a lot of equity to carry over to the next house. That is another reason to always pick a winning neighborhood. You will use the equity you’ve built in your old house as your down payment on your next house. You want to maximize that.

So do yourself a favor and always pick the best neighborhood in your price range.

Why I knew this house would come back on the market

I showed a house a couple of weeks ago.  It was a great house in a desirable location.  The price was sort of low for the neighborhood due to it being a bit outdated and having some expensive deferred maintenance items.

I told my people I thought it would need a new roof soon, that the disclosure said the HVAC units were original and we could clearly see the wood rotting on the windows.  I also told them that I didn’t think it was that good of a deal.  By the time you got all that addressed, you would have in it what a better one on the street was worth.  That’s just not worth it unless the property has some unique feature such as a fantastic lot or the perfect floor plan.

I gave all this feedback to the listing agent to help him out.  Within an hour or so, I saw that the house had sold.

I remember thinking to myself “I bet it will come back on the market after the home inspection.”  Sure enough, it came back on the market.

It is easy for most buyers to fall in love with a house only to be heartbroken by the end of the home inspection.   Most buyers don’t know how long a roof lasts, how long HVAC units usually last, how much windows will cost.  A lot of realtors out there don’t think about this either.

I can see the buyer for this house walking in for the home inspection, excited to again see what they were expecting to be their new home.  They have a big smile on their face.  The inspector begins reviewing the report.  The big smile is now a grin.  The inspector keeps going.  The grin turns into a blank expression.  The inspector gets to the end of the report and the buyers now have a frown.

Then the buyer has their agent write a huge repair list that the seller refuses to do.

It all ends with the buyer looking for a much better house and the seller hoping to find another buyer.

I try to prevent this outcome for my clients.  It wastes time, money and even more so, is emotionally draining for the buyer.

How do houses go up in value?

Ever wonder HOW prices rise for houses?

Before I got into real estate, I didn’t really think about it. You’d read stuff like the average price went up something like 4.6% last year…I assumed it was like a rising tide and affected every house the same way at the same time.

But it doesn’t work like that. It works more like traffic taking off after a stop light. The first car goes, then the second car see the first car moving and goes, then the third car sees the second car moving and goes, and so on. As much as I wished they would all move at the exact same time, they don’t. And that is exactly how prices go up in real estate.

There are lots of factors impacting value: Supply/demand, location, price range, condition, etc. No surprise here, but when prices are going up, the neighborhoods that are the most desirable and have the least supply go up first. Once there is enough of a price gap between those neighborhoods and the next best neighborhood, the prices of the second best neighborhood start to rise as buyers see a bargain and move in that direction. Then when the prices are up on the second best neighborhood, that does two things: It makes the prices go up on the first choice neighborhood since it is better, and it also drives bargain shoppers to the third best neighborhood. This process ends up going through ALL the neighborhoods in town as long as the market remains hot.

I sold two houses in one particular neighborhood several years ago to some friends wanting to rent them out. I was telling my friends that I thought the prices in the neighborhood were about to go up since there was a big gap between what an identical house was selling for in other neighborhoods. Since I tend to Geek out on this type of stuff, I don’t think they were as into it as I was…..but now their houses are each worth $35-45k more in just a few short years.

So, next time you are stuck in traffic, forgive me if it makes you think of real estate.