Is it time?

I’ve been saying for several years that people don’t have much of a reason to move.

Yeah, everybody knows they can sell their house fast but where would they go?  Everybody knows their house is worth a lot more than it was a few years ago but so is the house they’d want to buy.   And then there are the interest rates.  It is sort of hard to think about giving up your 3.25-3.75% rate and signing off on a new loan at 4.25-4.5%….even though I remember bragging about my 6.5% rate on my first house when all my friends were paying 7.25%.

Rates are back under 4% now.

I am thinking that we might start seeing more houses come on the market as people move on to bigger and better things.  If there is one thing I know about real estate in America, it is that we all love to move to a bigger and/or better home.  I mean, as soon as the economy picked up after the Great Recession, we flipped from a Buyer’s Market to a Seller’s Market overnight as people felt comfortable to buy the home they had been wanting for a while.

If that happens in the next few months, the headlines will read that it is a seller’s market fueled by the threat of a recession, but you and I will know the real reason.  It’s the rates.

How many days on the market are best?

One.

One day on the market is best.

A lot of sellers feel like if their house sells immediately that their realtor under priced the house.  Some of them feel like realtors shouldn’t make that much money when a house sells fast.

Here is the truth from 14 years experience:  1)  A house will always sell for market value.  If it was under priced, buyers will bid over the list price.  2)  The effort between selling a house the first day on the market or it taking 6 months is not that different.  Being the listing realtor is a lot like fishing.  You bait a hook with your marketing and cast it in the pool of buyers.  Then you wait for one to bite.

Enough about the realtor perspective, how about why this is somehow great for the seller?

Statistics tell the story.

A seller is much much much more likely to get their full asking price when it is a new listing.

When a house hits the market, every buyer in that price range comes out to see it.   They often see other buyers leaving the house before they see it and/or have other buyers waiting to see it when they leave.  Buyers know that they need to act fast if they want the house.  They know that other buyers may want it too so they better put out their best offer first.  There is a sense of urgency.

If it sells, it will most likely sell for the full list price.

Once all the buyers currently in the market have seen it, a seller will only get showings as new buyers emerge into the market.   There is no frenzy.  No buyer is afraid of losing the house so they want to see how low they can get the seller to go.

A phenomenon that has been happening since buyers have been able to set up their own saved searches on Zillow is that buyers seem to look at a house online only once when it is a new listing.  Few buyers these days will comb through rejected listings.  They opt to just wait for new listings to come on the market…..which means a house that did not sell quickly is unlikely to ever have a buyer reconsider viewing the house.  It is like it doesn’t even exist to them.

So, how many days on the market are best for the seller?

One.

One day on the market is best.

Advice as we dig out of a housing shortage

I’m starting to see an interesting thing happen.

We all know that due to the lack of new construction for many years, we have a shortage of houses for sale.

Many people have said the way to solve this is to build our way out of it.

I am starting to see this happen.

In Nicholasville between $200k and $250k, 17 of the 30 houses for sale are new.  In Lexington’s 40509 zip code, there are 104 houses for sale between $300k and $500k.  48 of them are new.  That’s an incredible amount of houses for sale in the Hamburg part of Lexington.  No wonder sales are slowing way down in that price range and I am seeing $10k price reductions left and right.

So what does this do to sales of existing houses?

Most people who buy a new house are only looking at new or newer houses.  If you live in an older existing neighborhood, you are probably in good shape.  Few buyers will seriously consider a 20+ year old house on a bigger lot with mature trees AND a brand new one on a smaller lot with trees shorter than they are.  If you have a house that is less than about 10 years old in this price range, well, you may have a hard time competing with brand new houses.

Any time I have a buyer wanting a newer house in an area with a lot of new construction around them, I always tell them that it might be hard to sell and/or might not appreciate that much until the last new house has sold.  The longer they plan to be there, the better.  If they tell me they may only be there for 2-3 years, I tell them it might be wise to pick another house.

If you are buying in an area with lots of new homes around you, try to pick one that has some unique feature or has a super good lot.  In a neighborhood where most homes aren’t too much different from each other, these small things are the difference between your house selling and always being a buyer’s second choice house.

What is market value?

Pretty simple.  It is what a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay.

READY.

WILLING.

ABLE.

It has to be all 3.  Not 1 out of 3, not 2 out of 3.  All 3.

Too many times when I have gone to list a house, a seller tells me how they have or had an offer from somebody they know or a friend of a friend that is waaaaay over what the house is worth.

I start asking questions.  Most of them end with replies like:

“They had to sell their old house first.”

“They had to get preapproved.”

“They have to wait to file their tax returns.”

“They haven’t returned my call from last week yet…..”

It always breaks my heart to tell these sellers that their Buyer is not ready, is not willing, and is not able to buy their house.  These people are not buyers.  I call them Dreamers.  It is easy to make a high offer if you’re never going to buy the place.

Another thing on market value.  It’s what most ready, willing and able buyers will pay.  Out of 100 buyers, probably something like 98 will all think a property is worth the same.  Those last two buyers are the oddballs.  There is always one person who thinks eveeeeeeeeeerything is overpriced.  And then there is that one buyer who will pay too much.  This of course is the one ever seller wants, but in 14 and a half years of being a realtor, I have only come across a few of these buyers.  LOL, they are usually the ones who go way over the list price or make a full price offer on an overpriced listing…..making me look bad to my client.

A house I was going to flip is a perfect example of this.  I put this place on the market for, I think, something like $138,500 because that was what the recent sales showed.  I got 7 offers.  One was for $122k.  One was for $143k.  The others were a little over the list price because there was nothing for sale in that price range at the time and they all knew there were other offers.  The 5 offers were all within $500 apart.  That was probably market value since 5 buyers independently came up with pretty much the same value.

 

How to pick your first rental house

The first thing to know is that you want an exit plan.  You want to buy something that will be fairly easy to sell when that time comes.  That is why I usually suggest a single family home in a decent neighborhood.  When you sell it, your buyer pool will be owner-occupant buyers who will happily pay a full retail price.

The second thing to know is that you pick your tenants through them picking your house.  You have a crappy worn out rental, guess what type of tenant is going to be willing to live there?  You make your house one of the nicest ones in it’s price range and you will attract the best qualified tenants out there.  Also, if you have one of the best houses they could ever afford, why would they move?

Here are some things that I think make a house a good pick:

1.  A ranch house.  Who doesn’t like one?  They are suitable for buyers/tenants in all stages of life.  They are easier to paint by yourself since there is no staircase.  You can clean out gutters with a step ladder.  They are just easier to work on period.

2.  A house on a slab.  When the wax ring around the toilet fails and when water gets splashed out of the tub, there is no wood to rot.  Also there is no water to collect under the house and grow mold.

3.  A smaller house.  Fewer people can live in a smaller house.  That means less wear and tear.  While a 2 bedroom house has a little more limited market when you sell, tenants usually don’t care if a house is 2 or 3 bedrooms.

4.  A simple roof line with not much of a pitch.   The fewer ridges and valleys the better.  Not only are they cheaper to replace, there are fewer places to get a leak.

Here are some things I try to avoid:

  1.  Basements.  They all have the potential to leak.
  2.  Sheds.  They are just one more thing to maintain and tenants usually leave you stuff they don’t want when they move out.
  3. Huge yards.  When they get out of control, it takes a lot of time to bring them back.
  4. Big garages.  I’m talking more than a regular two car garage.  Usually tenants who are attracted to a huge garage have a lot of stuff to store or hobbies that need the space.  Either one means you might need a dumpster when they move out.
  5. Fireplaces.  Do you really want somebody starting a fire in your house?

Now a lot of this is based on paying retail.  If you get a great deal on a house with a huge lot or a basement, take it.  A good deal can make up for potential future headaches.

My ideal house would be a smaller ranch on a slab built after 1960.  It would be 2-3 bedroom and have 1-2 baths.  A normal sized, flatter yard for good drainage.  On the lower end, no garage is okay.  If the house is worth more than about $150k, I would want a garage more for resale than to make a tenant happy.