“But the Listing Said…”

“With some vision and effort, the kitchen can be transformed…”

“But the Listing Said…”

Lately my buyers have found themselves frustrated and I am right there with them. Earlier this week a buyer found six homes online that appeared to meet their criteria. I looked through the listings and started removing some from our tour. Why? The listing agents were over-fluffing to the public and saving the real scoop on the condition or terms acceptable for agent remarks.

Agent remarks are visible only to licensed agents who are members of the MLS (multiple listing service.) Public remarks are the ones published to third party websites and the remarks seen by our clients when we forward listings to them from the MLS.

One listing showed a new construction home and gave lots of information as to what updates cost, etc. However, it was only a phone call to the listing agent that revealed that permits were not going to be pulled on construction until a buyer chose to build. Well that wasn’t going to work. The buyer was so deflated. She loved the look of the new home they had a picture of with zero qualification that the reality was there was no home on that lot yet. They can’t wait that long.

Another listing talked up the potential of a great deal in Manassas. It was above this buyer’s max price point, but sounded as though it needed some TLC. Understandably, the buyer thought that meant they could negotiate the price down since they home had been on the market for over forty days. Agent remarks stated that it was a pre-foreclosure sale and that the price was firm, dictated a specific settlement date, that the home was sold as-is and the sellers would need a post settlement occupancy agreement for sixty days. That didn’t work on price or timing. Important things for a consumer to know, don’t you think?

In my role as a listing agent, I believe that agent remarks should be administrative or give more insight. For instance, in agent remarks on my listings I let colleagues know how to schedule showings, what times might be restricted, where they can find information to make offers, and reiterate disclosures. Yes, disclosures to agents only, in my humble opinion, are not the sole place for disclosures on property condition, terms, etc. As agents, we have a duty to the public to be honest in our communication. Combine that with our duty to disclose defects of which we know, well you may understand why I see there is no other way to conduct business than to respect the public and disclose important information and defects.

This morning another buyer disappointed. Agent remarks talk about the vision and “a little effort” that could transform a three story colonial. Agent remarks state something every buyer should know: there is “microbial growth” in the home. My call to the listing agent revealed that due to three feet of standing water in the basement and a home that was vacant for eighteen months that there was severe mold growth over all three levels and that only a cash buyer or rehab loan will work. “A little effort,” doesn’t begin to get a buyer to that mindset. Why not be honest and disclose?

Sadly, my mind goes to only one reason why these defects and terms are not disclosed. Putting in the disclosure(s) that the public deserves would keep listing agents from having the opportunity to take a very excited buyer inquiry, level with them about the condition and then make a case for being hired as their buyer’s agent. Do buyers even consider what was withheld before that call and the lack of respect it implies for them?

Buyers deserve the truth about any specific terms and major defects about a home. That’s my interpretation of our REALTOR® Code of Ethics and the standard that agents are held to with regard to knowing defects in a home. It would certainly save a lot of wasted time and soul deflating moments in the house hunt for buyers already stressed with low inventory.

Happy house hunting this weekend! If you find yourself floundering in a mess of over-fluffed MLS data and want straight talk, don’t hesitate to reach out for a no obligation buyer consultation. I work out of the Gainesville, Virginia area and am willing to go as far out as your search and my schedule, license and MLS allows.

Once a Seller is Under Contract to Sell…

Once a Seller is Under Contract to Sell…

Ever wonder what would happen if you were under contract to sell your home, but you changed your mind and wanted to stay put? Unfortunately, it does occasionally happen that sellers will be under contract with a buyer and have a change of heart. Does a seller have any outs in the Residential Sales Contract used in Northern Virginia? That’s a question every seller should ask of every listing agent they interview.

The contract used in our area, written by the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®, primarily focuses on the rights buyers have to void (get out without penalty) the deal. Unless a seller has a contract with the “Contingent on the Seller Purchasing Another Home” clause, sellers have no avenue to unilaterally void a contract. And even in the case of the home purchase contingency, if a seller is working with a listing agent that isn’t watching the calendar, the contingency dissolves at the deadline, obligating the seller to sell. A seller definitely wants to know when that home purchase deadline is up.

If a seller does NOT have a home purchase contingency in place and finds their desire to sell has changed, there is little more they can outside of pushing back on any requested home inspection repairs or price reductions due to low appraisal that their buyer requests. The ultimate hope here is that the buyer, in the absence of the seller’s willingness to do anything in the buyer’s favor, would void the contract. Obviously, that is a poor strategy and reliant on the buyer having significant repair requests that would trouble them immensely if not done, or the property having a significantly low appraisal that the buyer can not cover.

In my business, I have never had a seller-client that wanted to halt the sale of their home while under contract. Of course, my sellers are counseled on exactly what they are getting themselves into when accepting an offer on their home. My seller-clients also have in me, someone who can read non-verbal communication very well and will address it out right. If I get the vibe a seller is having second thoughts, I am going to ask about it.

In representing my buyer-clients I have come across situations where sellers are wanting out of their home sale. In particular was a buyer-client of mine who happened to be the seller-client of another agent. Every time we went house hunting, there was remorse that they should not be selling their home. It started before the home was even listed. Naturally, not being my clients on the home sale, all I could do was encourage them to talk to their listing agent.

As time went on and they were under contract, the seller’s remorse became stronger. By that point in time, their buyer was past all of their contingencies and ready to close. What does a seller do then? They either a) ask the buyer kindly to release them from the contract, b) hire an attorney and discuss their options, or c) suck it up and sell their home as much as they hate doing it. Again, all I could do was tell them to talk to their listing agent. They ended up sucking it up and selling their home, which made me very sad for them.

The most recent buyer-client I had that encountered a suddenly reluctant seller happened about ten days before closing. The seller, through their agent, begged to be released them from the contract. In mulling it over, my buyer decided (with other factors at play that had not been discovered) to let the sellers out. The sellers were so relieved that we were able to work out reimbursements for my buyer-client from them to cover out of pocket expeneses incurred for inspections, appraisal and survey.

The bottom line message to sellers here is that if you are listing your home, you should be ready and willing to sell under the terms agreed upon in the sales contract. You can not rely on buyer’s being empathetic and kind enough to let you out of the deal, especially in a low inventory market. Have a back up plan if you can’t find a home you want to purchase next. Start by hiring a listing agent that isn’t invested solely in getting you to closing, but whose business is relational. Agents like that…like me, are going to care more about what is in your best interest and not the pay day at the end of the deal.

Quick Sales are Possible in January

Quick Sales are Possible in January

Common knowledge seems to be that the best time to sell a home is spring. However, that philosophy would mean hitting the market when everyone else does. That increases competition. The one thing that the wild ride that started in 2020 taught us is that not having more buyers than competitors is where the money is made.

This Bristow townhouse at 10158 Pale Rose Loop hit the market on January 13th (2023.) Showing requests were immediate. There was only one other competitor on the market at the time in the neighborhood and a few others in nearby neighborhoods. Nineteen showings and a two hour open house that was like Grand Central Station were proof that when it comes to townhouses in Bristow, it is still a seller’s market.

After two offers on the fifth day on the market, the sellers felt accomplished with their multiple offers. They chose one and were under contract on the sixth day on the market.

Want to create that kind of scenario when you sell? Give me a call and let’s talk about the process of creating buyer enthusiasm.

Just Listed in Manassas: Split Level Home for $449,000

8265 Highland Street in Manassas, Built in 1969

Just Listed in Manassas: Split Level Home for $449,000

It not so common to list a home built in 1969, that has only been occupied by the original owner, but this is one of those times. Entering 8265 Highland Street, it is clear that the original owner of this home loved it until the moment she moved. The home is in excellent condition for its age.

The furnace was just replaced in 2022. The A/C and water heater were replaced the year before that in 2021. A new refrigertator was installed prior to list. Even the roof and windows are approximately ten years old. This home does not suffer from deferred maintenance. The only issue we do know is that the dishwasher in the kitchen no longer works.

The desirable location in the heart of Manassas, located just a few blocks from the UVA Prince William Medical Center, is just another plus for this home. In addition to having great curb appeal, it also has a large, partially fenced yard that has very little grade, making it about as flat as you would ever what a back yard to be.

Inside the split level floor plan are three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. The bedrooms and full bathroom are the only rooms on the upper level. The bathroom is in great condition and has all original finishes from when it was built. Updating this bathroom would be an easy project.

Downstairs, the oversized foyer faces a half bathroom straight ahead, family room with wood burning fireplace to the left and steps up the living room. Around the corner from the living room is the dining area and kitchen. The kitchen also has original finishes, but is isn good condition. Paint the cabinets, add new hardware and countertops and the kitchen would be completely different. A new appliance suite would only make it that much more modern, but as stated earlier, the dishwasher is the only one in need of replacement.

Carpet and paint will definitely be a project that the next home owner will want to address before anything else, particularly on the bedroom level. Carpet in the upper hall, staircase and main level seem to have been replaced at a later date.

To make the home a four bedroom, two full bathroom home, some home owners with the same floor plan in the neighborhood of Highland Park has converted the family room to a main level bedroom and the half bathroom to a full bathroom. There is unfinshed storage, accessed only by outside, that could be insulated and made part of the a main level bedroom suite. Right now, that storage area is housing the dryer, while the washer is in the utility room between the kitchen and back entrance to the family room.

Interior photos will be coming on this one in the near future. In the meantime, if you would like a tour of this one, please reach out and we will get you inside for a tour.

Just Listed in Bristow: End Unit Townhouse for $458,000

10158 Pale Rose Loop in Bristow Listed for $458,000 on January 13, 2023

Is January a good time to list a home in Bristow? It is if you want to hit a time where there are not as many sellers and there are plenty of buyers looking to find a home.

On January 13th I introduced 10158 Pale Rose Loop to the market, priced at $458,000. The sellers had refreshed the kitchen and bathrooms and done a lot of other really important things. In 2020, they replaced the roof, garage door, large living room window, refrigerator and installed LVP (luxury vinyl plank) flooring in the kitchen area and foyer. The year 2019 was when the Owner’s Bathroom got updated along with every toilet in the home, as well as the water heater. Even the water heater and HVAC are not original. Water heater was replaced 2019 and HVAC 2016.

Main Level Floor Plan is Open and Overlooks Two Story Foyer

The main level is where every day life happens. A living room is open to the kitchen. On the other side of the kitchen is a breakfast nook with a gas fireplace. There is even a generously sized deck right off the kitchen. That passes my hot dog test with flying colors. (What’s my hot dog test? How far do you have to walk from the refrigerator after grabbing your hot dogs to get to the space where you grill.)

Who wouldn’t love this kitchen with plenty of granite counter space, under cabinet lighting, gas cooking and even a light fixture pot rack over the island?

Another test specific to townhouses is simply put, “When nature calls.” To put this one delicately, when nature calls, how far to you have to go to get to a bathroom? In a townhouse, staircases may be involved. Not in this townhouse! There is a half bathroom or better on every level. The main level powder room is also updated to be farmhouse chic.

One of my favorite rooms is the owner’s suite. A sliding barn door opens to to the spa-like owner’s bathroom with high end vanity, cubby cabinetry, seamless shower and soaking tub.

Secondary bedrooms and additional full bathroom are on the uppermost level. Basement level (entry level) is where the garage enters the home and is also where you find a cozy family room with walk out exit, laundry area and additional half bathroom.

This townhouse offers so much, but buyers will need to bring their own washer and dryer. It will be open on Sunday, January 15th from 1pm-3pm. Make sure to take a peek for yourself or sneak a look at the immersive 3-D tour.

Just in Time to Close Another Deal in 2022

Just in Time to Close Another Deal in 2022

Selling a home after a death in the family can be difficult. Emotions can run high when the loss is recent or if the property being sold was a family home where the heirs to the estate were raised. In the case of 2519 Belleview Avenue in Alexandria, the estate selling the home had not experienced a recent death. Rather, the owner (mother of five) has passed away in 2018, but it was the home where the heirs were raised.

The executor first mentioned this home to me when I helped her sell another home owned by the estate. That was the year her mother passed away. The family home on Belleview had been vacated by the deceased ten or so years prior to her death and one of her sons was renting it. The sibling named the executor of the estate in the will used her best judgment and let her brother continue to rent the home. The estate was collecting rent and paying to maintain the property, which included having a new water heater, new roof and new furnace installed since 2019. However, annual estate reporting to the county, which was more invasive than a tax return and costly, was becoming too much and the executor ended the lease with her brother.

Touring the home with the executor, it was evident that no cosmetic updating, or general upkeep, had been done to the home. As executor, she wanted to know what selling the home would net as-is versus fixing it up and getting it to market spec, which would be updated and move-in ready. No agent has a crystal ball on what investors will offer, but based on what the dollar figure was to renovate the home, and adding a profit margin for an investor, we had a ball park idea of what the as-is value would be. More importantly, with the cost to renovate and the price to sell renovated as known quantities, we knew what was too little to accept.

With low expectations of what investors with cash would offer on a home that needed its plumbing lines and electrical panel brought current, new sub-flooring on the top and bottom levels and cosmetic updating from top to bottom, we hit the market with one photo and a very detailed description of the property condition. The list price was set at a very optimistic $455,000. Cost to update in hand, the lowest amount that would make sense to accept was $399,000 before taking on updating and selling for the market value of move in ready.

Low and behold, after six offers in only three days, there were two owner occupant offers. One at list price with cash, another above list price with a conventional loan. The highest of the investor offers was $405,000. The executor was delighted to accept a full price cash offer for $455,000 that netted her the same amount as if she had done the updates and sold for the highest probably amount the market would allow. There was no waiting for renovations and worry about what the real estate market would be in five months.

What was really an exercise in finding the highest market value for the home as-is ended up being the best course of action. After choosing the full price cash offer, the executor politely requested that they settle prior to the end of 2022 so the estate would not have to file a 2023 tax return or 2023 estate report. The buyer graciously accommodated.

When you are dealing with an outdated home and unsure of what course of action to take, get in touch with me for your complementary consultation. My connections with contractors that can be paid at closing makes renovating a real possibility for cash strapped sellers. All you need is a quote on highest dollar return renovations and a look at the value of selling as-is vs. selling renovated. The right choice for your situation and your property will become clear when all the information is gathered.

Some Sellers Have a Hard Time Letting Go

Some Sellers Have a Hard Time Letting Go

Listing a home for sale involves a lot of preparation. When I go into a seller’s home, it is not unusual to be met with some resistance to suggested listing preparation tasks like de-cluttering, re-organizing, painting, etc. My best advice is that, in addition to putting your home in the best light for the pool of potential buyers in the market, de-personalizing a home also begins the process of letting go. When a seller is too attached to a home, it can be difficult to feel they have ever made enough money or found a grateful enough buyer.

Recently, in representing a buyer in their first Virginia home purchase, I crossed paths with a seller who really wanted to dictate inspections and quotes on behalf of my buyer. At issue was an unfinished project. A guest house was nearly complete, but needed water run to it for a bathroom and kitchen sink. At the time of writing the offer, this seller gave a verbal amount she had received from a contractor. My buyer noted that and then scheduled her home inspection. Interestingly, the seller nearly called off my buyer’s home inspection because it was inconvenient for her. Let me say, having been down this road with many of my own seller-clients, there is no convenient time to have inspections. The idea of an inspector in the home of the most chilled out seller I have ever had still fills their gut with anxiety. Breathe and let the inspection(s) happen.

The inspection brought about more questions about the unfinished project. The seller, who had presented a binder full of permits, invoices and warranty booklets in a three ring binder, seemed uninterested in acting on the request for written estimates and scope of work that had been obtained. When she received nothing my buyer, still in her home inspection time frame, contacted a Class A contractor in the area and made an appointment to get an estimate for the unfinished tasks. The seller refused to allow that appointment that would have taken sixty minutes or so. Furthermore, the seller dictated who COULD come by and give quotes to HER as the current owner. “No you don’t want a Class A contractor, you want a plumber. I will schedule some to talk to me.” It was irritating, to say the least that the seller would double up on quotes and not allow my buyer to have one contractor come by.

All of this control over who, what, when, where and how that the seller exerted nearly cost her my ready, willing and able buyer. The emotional push back hit a nerve and my buyer, a keenly self-aware person, took some down time before responding to bullying tactics by the seller. The seller’s’ actions were doing the exact opposite of building trust and were sprouting seeds of suspicion. Why weren’t there written estimates in this organized binder about the home? Why wouldn’t the seller allow her to do her own due diligence with her own contractors?

The lesson for any would be seller out there is to realize when you are selling a home, you don’t have control over how your buyer will want to move forward in finishing projects or changing the property. The more you insert yourself in their process, the higher the odds are you will push that buyer away. You are listing your home for a reason. Fear is a natural feeling when a buyer has a home inspection. Will they still like the house? Will they ask for outrageous amounts of repair work? Rather than attempting to control the buyer as they process the information gathered, nothing speaks as confidently to the buyer as being quiet and allowing them to figure out their own way forward. No amount of exerting control over the flow of inspectors and contractors is going to make a buyer MORE comfortable.

December Settlements Feel Extra Special

December Settlements Feel Extra Special

In mid-October, I was contacted by a couple who were referred to me by friends who had purchased their home with me in June 2021. If you click that link, you will hear the tale of an entirely different buyer experience than what my most recent buyers experienced. Things can change quickly in the real estate market.

The buyers referred to me two months ago were looking for a home in Warren or Frederick County. A job relocation to Winchester was the reason for the move. Thankfully, my recent experience in the market had familiarized me with the outer reaches of our market area with a listing in Middletown and buyers I had represented that looked in Warren County, Frederick County, Clarke County before landing on Shenandoah County. I had also just gotten buyers under contract for new construction in Middletown.

The market in October 2022 was slower. There were more homes on the market as a result of steep increases in mortgage interest rates. The one and only stipulation that Mr. Buyer had in this case was that he did NOT want to live in a split foyer home. Well, when I ran a search in the areas they needed, with the criteria that they wanted, out of fifty-plus homes on the market, only a handful were floor plans other than split level. This was going to be a challenge.

We started our house hunt with a virtual tour. In the absence of being physically present in the market, we also had their friend go to homes with me and did more virtual tours. Having a friend or family member that knows the home you are coming from helps tremendously when explaining features of a home a buyer is not able to see in person. From that day out with their friend, they decided to write an offer on one of the homes–a split foyer home very close to Mr. Buyer’s job. The seller didn’t like the request for closing cost help and countered. My buyers took a time out and Mrs. Buyer came up fron North Carolina for an in-person tour.

The house they had written an offer on was not her top choice. Her top choice, unfortunately, was a hotly contested home that garnered multiple offers. They didn’t get that one, though they did their best. Mr. Buyer was secretly thrilled since it was a split foyer home. After that loss, re-engaging with the first split foyer home seemed like a major compromise. Nonetheless, time was of the essence and they were coming to grips with not getting a home style other than split foyer.

Just as I was awaiting word on whether they were moving forward with the first home, a new home emerged at four in the afternoon on a Sunday, October 30th. I was on the road to Stephens City nearly immediately to tour the rambler with them virtually. They loved it. We wrote up an offer and submitted it immediately. Within a couple days, they were under contract.

It is always a tense moment when buyers get to see the house they are under contract to purchase, or have bought, for the first time and it happens more frequently with relocating buyers who have been forced to act quickly in our market. Mr. and Mrs. Buyer drove up for the home inspection and were delighted.

On December 6th (2022) they closed on their Stephens City home. Mother Nature could have been kinder with a welcome mat of sunshine, but despite the drizzly rain all day, there were smiles all around. And house number one? Well, it took until December 4th to go under contract. Sellers are not in control in every market area, but some have yet to make that realization.

Welcome back to Virginia! We are so happy to have you.

Why Are So Many Sellers Lowering Their List Prices?

Why Are So Many Sellers Lowering Their List Prices?

Summer 2022 saw a shift in buyer behavior, brought on by sharply increasing mortgage interest rates. We had started the year about 3.5% and by late summer, rates had more than doubled. The frenzy to jump into a multiple offer scrum and make above list price bids with no contingencies all but came to a halt. Multiple offers were still seen on homes that took the time to create buyer enthusiasm, but of the entire summer’s worth of multiple offers I encountered with sellers, no buyer was willing to give up home inspection contingencies or finance and appraisal contingencies. Most buyers felt a strong offer was list price. And seller subsidy was becoming a normal request.

As a full-time real estate agent, the shift in buyer behavior has been palpable. Obviously, I can’t speak to the advice sellers I don’t represent are getting, but my sellers are given an in depth look at what has sold, what they are competing with, any shift in the tides of the market and are given advice about where to price. They are also tracking competing listings and overall market activity to judge whether or not what they are experiencing is on par with competing listings.

Just because buyer behavior has changed with rising mortgage interest rates doesn’t mean buyers suddenly have gobs of homes to choose from. They are able to visit multiple homes and not have to make an immediate decision. Inventory to this point is still not meeting demand, hence we remain in a seller’s market. Unfortunately, to some sellers that had watched their friends, family or neighbors sell during the feeding frenzy that was 2020, 2021 and even early 2022, they equated a seller favored market to that level of frenzy. That leads to three main factors for list price reductions.

PRICING TOO HIGH FROM THE START

From what I can observe in the market, and feather in with what I watched some of my sellers struggle with, sellers were caught off guard and didn’t want to hear that their home wasn’t instantly worth more than the last home in their neighborhood that sold. Therefore, they listed even higher than that most recent sold price. When the market didn’t gobble them up right away, they were stunned. And when some even got list price offers, but included seller subsidy, they rejected them thinking the seller’s market must have more to offer.

Overshooting on list price is a problem a lot of sellers seemed to have faced in the summer and even into the fall. Changing buyer behavior does not mean you still price high and give yourself negotiating room. Price right and get the job done. As days on the market tick by, buyer offers get less and less impressive, assuming that the seller has been over priced. Sellers were forced with lowering list prices to what were more reasonable list prices and would have been appropriate prices at the outset. Some even ended up listing lower than offers they received at the outset. Those were the sellers trapped in the thinking that it was their turn for over list price offers and seller favored terms. Any offer outside of that was insulting.

UNDER IMPROVING A HOME AND RELYING ON MARKET DEMAND

To say a home is under improved for what the sellers are asking is another way of stating it is over priced. In the 2020 and 2021 buyer frenzy, many sellers relied solely on market conditions rather than primping their home for market. The insane level of buyer demand gobbled those homes up with multiple offers, reinforcing to those sellers that they didn’t need to do any preparation, their home would sell regardless. True. Those homes sold. However, there were plenty of examples of sellers who left money on the table with this mindset. Multiple offers always level at market value. Improved homes that peak buyer enthusiasm always see the highest sale prices, even in that buyer frenzy from which we are still experiencing a hangover.

Now that we are in a more typical seller favored market, listing preparation is even more important than it had been. Skipping it and relying on the too few homes for too many buyers to bring top dollar is a lost cause that is resulting in some price reductions were are seeing.

REACTING TO TOO MANY DAYS ON THE MARKET

Days on market has been freaking out a lot of sellers, not to mention their agents. When homes that used to sell in a matter of four or five days were still on the market two and three weeks later, panic set in. Many listing agents working in the market were licensed in years where they have only experienced extreme seller market conditions. Two weeks on the market to them meant it was a buyer’s market. If they represented buyers, they wrote offers reflecting that. If they represented sellers, they were ill prepared to handle negotiating on a seller’s behalf.

Having lived through the housing crash post 2008, I can assure you that two weeks on the market is not a long time. Neither is a month. Try being on the market for six months with no offers. That, my friends is a buyer’s market.

Sellers should be informed of what average days on market for homes like theirs is at the outset of their listing and kept abreast of what is selling before them, or if homes are coming on the market priced below them with more to offer. Many listings in the current seller favored market are going to measured in weeks, not days. When is it time to lower to the price? When other homes like yours at a lower price are being chosen or with more to offer. If nothing is moving, it is the market and you could do yourself a disservice by lowering the price too soon. On the contrary, you don’t want to sit around with a bad price for too many days on market because at some point, buyers and their agents wonder what is wrong with the home. That’s why it is important to know expected marketing times going in after a look at current comps.

Our real estate market is a living, breathing thing that changes. The most important thing a seller can do for themselves is hire a full-time, professional, local agent that can help them through the process.

A Critical Skill for Listing Agents

A Critical Skill for Listing Agents

The Northern Virginia real estate market has been so overly seller favored for long enough that it seems there were two misconceptions in the late summer marketplace. 1) Sellers believe that the frenzied buyer behavior of the past two and a half years is a given and that their home will sell above list price with no contingencies. 2) Buyers and their agents believe that because mortgage interest rates have doubled in less than a year that it is a buyer’s market and are making ridiculously low offers. Obviously, in a market that has shifting buyer behavior and market factors, these two mindsets are diametrically opposed.

When 10303 Annaberg Court hit the market on August 26th (2022,) buyer behavior had already started to change. There was still not enough inventory to meet buyer demand, but media hype of impending doom in the real estate market shifted buyers into a more deliberate mindset. They were no longer impulsive and pouncing on property. The seller had done a fantastic job getting the home ready for market. Updated bathrooms, new carpet, fresh paint, new lighting fixtures and updated landscaping really made this condo in Oakwood Commons shine. Because of the work put into the home, the seller and I agreed to a list price that was on the higher end of the current market at $438,000.

Two buyers threw in offers within the first five days on the market. Neither were motivated enough to write a winning offer, given the level of work that was done to the home. Instead, they parrotted media reports of a crashing market and stood by their closing cost requests, home sale contingencies and every other conceivable contingency. It was frustrating for the seller and the buyers, who could not understand why their offers were not scooped right up. The fact that these buyers were in competition with one another seemed to go right over their heads.

The decision to wait for a buyer that saw the true value in the home was made. Unfortunately, increasing mortgage interest rates scared buyers, priced some out of the market and brought forth three more offers over the course of the next month that were stomach turning, and a price reduction to $429,000. When mortgage interest rates had jumped to six percent and were still going up, it was time to make a deal. The seller saw the stark reality ahead. Unfortunately, the latest interested buyers were throwing around numbers even lower than offers the seller had seen before. It was time to massage a deal with one of the buyers that had previously taken a seller counter and disappeared.

In an inventory restricted market, buyers don’t have as much leverage as they think, despite their feelings to the contrary over mortgage interest rates. Rooting out the buyer’s agent that understood this out of the failed offers was key. That agent and I had conversations about an offer that would work for both of our clients. We floated the terms past our respective clients and they agreed. The deal was struck before mortgage rates increased to seven and a half percent. A win for both buyer and seller.

Listing agents born of the age of multiple offers may never know the art of countering an offer, or massaging a good one out of a not so good one. They both involve thought and creativity. The latter involves soft skills centered on clear, non-confrontational communication. Unfortunately, too many agents speak from a confrontational standpoint. I was raised by a mother that taught me that you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

When the time comes to list your home, there is a lot to consider. Listing preparation and professional marketing drive buyer enthusiasm. Knowing your place in the market, and finding it in a shifting marketplace are essential. Having an agent that can make something from what seemed like nothing can make all the difference. It certainly did to this seller. Let me know when I can help you navigate the sale of your home.

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