Selling “By Owner”

It’s a hot market.  Many people want to go the For Sale by Owner route.  I have no hard feelings towards them.  It is their house after all!  They can do with it whatever they want.  My only real problem with this whole For Sale By Owner process is that the buyers who look at these properties and the sellers BOTH want to save the commission that would be paid to a Realtor.

Okay, the seller is thinking, hey, I can save as much as 6% if I do this myself  The buyer is thinking, hey, I can make a low offer on this FSBO house since they don’t have to pay a Realtor!  That is where the fun begins.  Both parties are viewing the savings as THEIRS!!!!!!!

And let me stick this little bit of trivia in now.  Usually the seller thinks their house is worth more than it is.  Often, they interview several agents who all tell them their house is worth about the same amount.  The seller of course disagrees and puts their house on the market for way more money because you know, they think their house has some magical aura that adds value.  I often call FSBO sellers for my buyers.  Their interest usually ends the moment I tell them the seller’s list price.

Usually the buyer writes an offer than insults the seller.  The seller then says something like, “But I need to get this much out of my house so I can buy my next house on the terms that I want!”  The Buyer then tries to justify their offer by saying something like, “Well, we just can’t pay any more for your house since we are going to have to repaint your baby’s room and replace that ugly carpet in your family room.”  By this time both parties have gotten away from the fact that the goal is to change who owns the house, not to win a battle.  While I did exaggerate things a bit, this type of thing is what keeps agents in the business.  I think this is more the norm than a pleasant FSBO experience.

I have always said that the day people can negotiate without taking things personally, when they can see how the other party thinks, when sellers realize that their house may not be the best one in town, and when buyers realize they don’t have to put the seller in a chokehold, that it will be the end of the road for realtors.   I use to worry about this, but now I know that day will never come.

The hardest houses to sell

I’ve been at this for a long time.  I’ve sold a lot of houses.  In a good market.  In a bad market.  In Lexington.  Outside of Lexington.  In neighborhoods.  In the country.

Want to know the houses that are the absolute hardest to sell?

The ones that are partially updated.

Why?

You would think that a buyer would view a house that has some parts really nice to be a big bonus.  They don’t.  The nice part of the house just makes the rest of the house look worse to a buyer.  Too much contrast between the nice and the average bits of the house.

Who comes to see these houses?

  1.  The buyer who sees the nice new stuff in the pictures.  They get excited but almost always say that the rest of the house needs too much work.
  2. The buyer who see the part of the house that needs updated.  They get excited because they want to renovate the rest of the house, but not give any credit for the work that has been done……meaning they want it for free.
  3.  All the other buyers who come mainly because it meets some or all of their search criteria.  They don’t buy it because they say it needs too much work.

What you have to do with a house like this is try to make the non-updated bits look as good as possible.  You want to minimize that contrast.  You don’t want the buyer to walk in one room and be unhappy, then walk in the next and fall in love, then walk in the next and be unhappy.  The goal is to make them at least feel neutral, then love, then neutral as they walk through the house.  Less contrast is good.

You also have to really emphasis the other features of the house, hoping that the right buyer will see all the other pluses and feel like they can live with the house like it is or take on the updating.  If the house is the best bargain in the neighborhood, walking distance to trendy places, has a park nearby, a desirable school district, is the most square footage for the money…..whatever the house excels at, and all houses have something unique, that is what you want to emphasize.  Anybody looking for one or more of those unique features is usually the one who buys the house.  Why?  Because they don’t have as many choices

Best undervalued neighborhood in town

My first new car was a 1996 Geo Prizm.  Green.  Because green was a hot color for everything in the mid 90s.  We bought it because it was mechanically the same thing as a Toyota Corolla.  General Motors and Toyota had a joint plant back then in California where they produced the Geo Prizm and U.S. market Toyota Corollas.

They were the same car, only the Prizm was cheaper.  Few people knew that you were essentially getting a Toyota Corolla for less that what a Toyota Corolla cost.

Neighborhoods can be like that too.

If you are the type to have picked the Geo Prizm over the Toyota Corolla, then you should check out Old Paris Place.

This is a Ball Homes neighborhood.  It has the same model houses as any other Ball Homes neighborhood, only they are cheaper than you will find in other neighborhoods like Masterson Station.

If you are looking in the $125-160k range, this neighborhood should be on your radar.  The same houses will cost you $140-175k in other similar neighborhoods.

Here is what I like about it:

  1.  You are close to the interstate if you need it.  Close to Hamburg too.  Close to all the cool things on the north end of downtown.  And not a terrible drive to the south end of town either.  My kid’s school is very close to Old Paris Place.  I remember rushing to pick them up from a house I was renovating waaaaay out Harrodsburg Road.  It mentally felt like I was super far away, but I would hop on New Circle at Harrodsburg Rd and before you knew it, I was turning left on Old Paris Pike.
  2. You are closer to restaurants, banks, gas stations and grocery stores than you would be if you lived in Masterson Station and paid more for your house.  You’re 10-15 minutes away from Hamburg too.
  3. Several of the lots back to a wooded area owned by the HOA.  Many back to two farms.
  4. I have had a couple of clients live in this neighborhood and have met several other residents.  All say it is a friendly place to live.

Right now,  this neighborhood is a little undervalued.  Most people wanting a 10-15 year old home in this price range default to Masterson Station for their search, just like most car shoppers knew about the Toyota Corolla but not the Geo Prizm.

 

Shhhhh….Don’t tell anybody this

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

The market has slowed down in much of the Bluegrass.  I don’t mean that it is dangerously slow or anything.  It is still a hot market with too few houses for sale.  It just isn’t the crazy frenzy it was earlier this year.  That is to be expected since it does slow down a little after school starts, then a little more the closer you get to Thanksgiving, then a little more the closer you get to Christmas.

How much?

In Fayette County, sales are down 6% when comparing August 2016 to August 2017.

I put two new listings on the market last week.  I try to put my listings on late Friday afternoon so we get lots of showings on Saturday.  That way everybody is off work and they can all see each other come and go from the house….it makes it feel more like an auction.

I knew it had slowed down some, so I was expecting only 4-5 showings at each house, and probably at least two offers on each.

House A did not get any showings the first day on the market and only one showing was scheduled for the second day on the market.

House B had only one showing scheduled the first day on the market.

Fortunately both sold to the first buyers who saw them, but I imagine they and their agents would be surprised to know this.

Both houses were priced right, presented well and in the most popular price range.

I sold another house this week too.  This time I was working with a buyer.  We saw a very affordable house the very first day it was on the market.  Throughout most of this year, I have shown a house and had another agent showing it before and/or after my showing.  Sometimes there has been a line, prompting me to consider a side hustle of selling snacks and drinks while I am there waiting.  I was at this house for an hour.  No agent was there before me.  No agent was waiting for me to leave.

I am noticing home inspectors have been able to get to jobs in fewer days too.

When I scroll through the pending sales every day, I am seeing fewer and fewer 1 day on the market sales.  Most are still selling in less than a couple weeks, but that is a big change from earlier this year when almost every house sold the first day.

All of this makes me think it is a great time to buy.  Probably the best time all year.

 

 

 

What neighborhood is the winner in this market?

Masterson.  Formally know by it’s full name, Masterson Station.  While the whole neighborhood has seen values really go up, I think the true winners are the single story homes in the 1000-1350 square foot range.

Many many years ago, half of Masterson was in foreclosure.  That happened to a lot of the newer neighborhoods where the first owners bought at the top of the previous hot market with sketchy no money down loans.

I remember I would often spend ALL day with first time buyers just in Masterson when the market collapsed.  I would schedule 8-10 houses, all just blocks apart.  It would get confusing after a few.  I would find myself saying stuff like “This is the Roxbury plan by Schneider Homes.  It is the same floor plan as the 2nd, 3rd and 6th house we saw earlier, only this one has blue vinyl in the kitchen instead of tan, and it has a deck instead of a patio…..oh, and this one has a fenced back yard too.”  Then my client would say something like “I thought the 2nd and 6th house were the two story houses?”  Then I was like “No, it was the 4th house that was the two story.  It was a Ball Home plan.  The Fairfax is the name I think…..yes, that is it.  The Fairfax is the one I told you about that sometimes has an open loft instead of the 3rd bedroom, and realtors often call that a 3rd bedroom because they know nobody will come see it if they said it was REALLY a 2 bedroom house.”  Then my client would ask “What was the 5th house?  I don’t even remember it!”  I’d reply “The 5th house was the only occupied house we saw today.  The water was on and we both used the restroom.”  Client be like “Oh, I remember now. How do you keep all this straight?”  And I’d be like “It is taking every bit of concentration I have.”

Back then, $125k was like $155k is today.

Then the market improved.  I was amazed these houses were selling around $130k.

Then it got better.  I started seeing a lot of $140k houses a year ago.

Now a decent one is $150k, some are even higher!

That is a huge turn around from half the neighborhood being vacant houses that took 6 months to sell.