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Under Contract in Six Days

Under Contract in Six Days

On Thursday November 19th (2020) I was pleased to introduce 14455 Gringsby Court in Centreville’s community of Newgate to the market. Priced at $260,000, I didn’t expect it to last through the weekend. Over the course of the next six days there were over two dozen showings. And while I have listed over twenty homes this year and know the rhythm of the market very well, the sales process on this one stumped me.

Hitting the market on a Thursday, and being the lowest priced townhouse in the neighborhood, I consulted with my seller about setting an offer deadline. In the seller’s market we have been experiencing, it is RARE to find a listing that doesn’t have an offer deadline. However, in the case of this townhouse, the deadline for offers came and went and none of the agents representing interested buyers seemed to have any concern about getting their offers in. So the deadline was lifted. Enter the lowballers.

This townhouse, priced $40,000 lower than the upgraded unit of the same model that just sold, was slapped with an unbelievably low offer. A cash buyer of course. They think, somehow, cash gives them the right to ask for a discount. Why would a buyer accept a low offer when they have had two dozen showings and have a handful of interested buyers? Cash buyers still haven’t figured out their value in this seller’s market.

Next up, a buyer that, like the cash buyer, wanted to punish the seller for not updating the kitchen and bathroom. Well, that’s the reason it was priced lower. We went round and round and were negotiating a higher price when….BAM….a truly serious buyer saw it and made an offer within hours. It was an offer that expressed the seriousness of the buyer and showed her understanding as to how this unit was priced from the get go.

Last night, the second buyer was scrambling to go higher. The danger to coming in low and not understanding that the price of the improvements is already worked into the list price on a home like this is that you make a crappy first impression. Coming into any offer situation in a seller’s market, you have to make your highest and best offer. There’s no bullying your way into a buyer’s market.

This sale is scheduled to close just before the Christmas holiday. Stay tuned for the final sold price. In the meantime, if you have a Newgate townhouse to sell, give me a call and let’s get it done. This is a great time of year to sell. Clearly, there are over two dozen buyers in your neighborhood looking for property.

Determining Fair Market Value When Making an Offer

Determining Fair Market Value When Making an Offer

You found the home you want to make an offer on, but it’s got some areas you would like to improve. How do you go about determining a fair market value offer?

The first step to determining fair market value is to look at the closet comparable sales that have closed. Now, since we are talking about making an offer on a home that may need updating, consider the cost to get those improvements made to the home you want to make an offer on. The cost of those improvements will then be subtracted from the sold prices of the other sales, in essence, bringing you to the price those homes would have sold for without those improvements. You don’t take the price to make the improvements off the list price, unless the list price is not already adjusted down from more improved comps.

Now, if you are shopping in a seller’s market, where there are fewer homes for sale, you may be at a disadvantage. Even outdated homes can get higher offers than you would expect just based on supply and demand. However, the real advantage is in a buyer’s market, where there are many homes for sale and a lot fewer buyers for them. The latter is the market where you can reasonably expect to turn the screws on a seller to get them to accept your offer.

To recap, you need to:

  1. Look at comparable sales
  2. Deduct the price of the improvements you want to do the home from the comparable sold prices
  3. Add some grace up or down depending on the type of market you are in

Odds are, once you have done step one and two above, you will know if the seller took their lack of updated into account when picking a list price. If they have already taken it in account, the strategy of taking the cost of improvements off the list price is likely to land you without that home.

Is It a Bad Thing to Be the First Offer?

Is It a Bad Thing to Be the First Offer?

This afternoon I met with a small group of experienced, local Gainesville/Bristow real estate agents. The topic was business planning for 2021 and exchanging ideas on how to meet new buyers and sellers. And as any agenda with a talkative and opinionated group of professionals, it took many twists and turns through the topics affecting our businesses NOW.

One thing that was eating at me was how buyers, or the agents advising them, seem to be unwilling to make the first move on a listing they KNOW will have multiple offers. They think being the first offer is a weak position. It truly puzzled me. Why?

If you look at being the first one to make an impression, in an ensuing multiple offer scenario, why wouldn’t you want that chance? I can tell you, as a listing agent, more often than not, the first offer in is the strongest. Of course, if you write the offer as if you are going to be the only offer, you may not have success. Gimmicks like deadlines to make sure you are evaluated with a lower offer to try and strengthen your position don’t play well. There are other buyers out there and the sellers know that.

Having recently helped two buyers get under contract, and another buyer close, being the first offer into a multiple offer situation, I will tell you that writing that first offer in like you are already competing with four or five is what makes the impression. That’s the trick. You have to know what you are going to be facing, be realistic and push in with your highest and best offer up front. The reality in any seller favored market is that sellers aren’t going to sign off on just list price if they are hearing there are multiple offers over list happening in their area. They are going to wait for another offer.

Knowing the market in which you are house hunting is critical to your success. When you are ready to buy your home, get in touch with me and let’s talk about market conditions and what you can expect in terms of competition. I’ll make sure whether you are the first offer in, or the last, you have the absolute best advice to make a winning offer.

Careful Not to Overplay Your Hand

Careful Not to Overplay Your Hand

The market you WANT to house hunt and negotiate in may be vastly different than the market in which you are ACTUALLY shopping. Case in point is our 2020 Northern Virginia real estate market. With so little on the market, and still plenty of buyer demand, the advantage in negotiations goes to the seller. It’s a matter of supply and demand.

That does not mean that buyers can’t find a seller who has pie in the sky dreams expressed in an overly optimistic list price. Any reasonably priced home in a seller’s market will sell. If a home isn’t selling, it is likely overpriced. Buyers may be desperate, but they aren’t stupid. Those sellers, however, are extremely rare and very hard to reason with. Generally, the majority of unreasonable demands is coming from buyers who wish the market were different.

Consider the multiple calls and text messages I got on a listing recently from agents with interested buyers. Their buyers are investors. They have a desire to be shopping in a different market. That means every little outdated feature will be highlighted with far flung, exaggerated statements like, “the kitchen is a gut job” or “that bathroom tile is so old it needs replacement.” It’s exhausting to have conversation after conversation with these agents and try to get them to understand two things:

  1. The home is priced for the condition it is in. If if it were updated, it would be priced higher.
  2. Using phrases like “gut job” and stating the “need” for things to be replaced because they are not the current trend is buying into the buyer’s false thinking that the market conditions will be different because they want to update a home.

While an investor may want to overplay their hand and end up without the one townhouse that will come up in their price range in the next two months, that’s their decision. However, there will be a buyer, two or maybe three that will know all too well the market conditions and therefore understand that kitchen and bathroom updates are going to be minimal and well worth it for their future equity and enjoyment. You don’t take away for items not updated if they were already factored into a lower list price.

If you want a home in a seller’s market, hopefully you have hired a buyer’s agent that can accurately run market comps and show you why things are priced they way they are and help you focus on what is most important you. Using bully tactics in an attempt to change market conditions because you are upset you can’t find a better home at a lower price is not a great strategy.

For the record, if you want to know what a true “gut job” would be, consider a home with mold and cabinets falling apart. Outdated is a far cry from a hazard that MUST be addressed. I’ve got pictures saved on my phone of gut jobs to share with buyers who need some perspective.

The Value of a Cash Offer in a Seller’s Market

The Value of a Cash Offer in a Seller’s Market

Market conditions seem to not register in the minds of cash buyers, or the agents that represent them. There is simply a declaration of a cash offer, remarks of what is “wrong” with the property (usually cosmetic) and the sock in the gut that comes from an offer 10% below list price.

In a buyer’s market, this tactic works perfectly. When there is too much inventory and not enough buyers, prices are trending down. This is where cash buyers with a low-ball mentality are going to shine. That, however, is not the market place that buyers and sellers are experiencing at the end of 2020.

The current Northern Virginia marketplace is one where multiple offers are expected if a property is priced right for its condition. Again, cash buyers come out of the wood work, see a kitchen that could use a makeover and low-ball 10% or so with promises of closing in two weeks. What sense does that make to a seller who has priced their home for the condition it is in? If it had a renovated kitchen or bathroom, they would be able to sell it for more.

The true value of a cash offer in a seller’s market, where prices are increasing, is to right a high offer and be able to close with no appraisal worry. That means, just like any other buyer, these cash buyers need to be looking at or above list price, not kicking seller’s in the shins.

If a seller has a cash offer for $20,000 less than less and multiple offers at or above list, some with home inspection contingencies, and a home in good condition, why wouldn’t a seller wait two or three more weeks for a payoff of $20,000 or more than the cash offer? The logic to low-ball in a seller’s market just is not there. The real value in a cash offer is being able to perform without an appraisal at higher prices.

‘Tis the Season to Fall in Love

‘Tis the Season to Fall in Love

The anticipation of the holidays have a reputation for even warming up the Scrooges among us. There is a want to fall in love this time of year. You need look no further than The Hallmark Movie Channel lineup. Holiday movie after holiday movie with stories of love, many of which include a relocation. This sentimentality about being “home for the holidays” makes the year end selling season a very powerful one.

Some sellers may think spring is the best time to sell. Flowers are blooming and the world feels like it is coming back to life after the cold winter. However, that’s also the time of year just about every other seller in the area is thinking of listing. That means more competition. November and December are not only chock full of emotion, but there is also a lot less competition. And the buyers out at the end of the year tend to be among the most serious buyers.

If a move looks like it is on the horizon in your life, don’t think you have to wait until spring. I would love to tell you the benefits of our year end selling season. If it’s a fit, I’m available to get started listing your home immediately. If not, let’s figure out what best suits your needs.

Getting Your House to Say “Cheese”

Whenever I take a new listing, the preparation for pictures is critical. First of all, I believe in professional photography for my listings. I tried to keep up with the advancements in technology as long as I could, continuing to take my own listing photos up until 2017, but that is when I left it to the pros. Sure I could go and buy a top of the line camera, but that doesn’t make me a professional photographer. The pros have the expertise to set up the shot correctly and, most importantly, edit it after the fact to look flawless.

You can’t rely on photo editing, however, to clean up your home and make it look great. There needs to be to actual work put in to make sure the home is looking great on photo day and, just as importantly, in keeping with how it looks online when buyers come to see it in person.

Before the photo shoot, I am there either to do light staging in a vacant home, or help you edit your furnishings and decor, to put your home in the best possible light. And on photo day, I arrive early to make sure all the lights are on, ceiling fans are off, trash cans moved out of view, and if needed, move things around to assist the photographer in getting the perfect shot. An example of that is the opening photo. The cord for the light on the night table was just laying against the wall and looking out of place. Thinking quickly, I took a table from another room and put a plant on it to make the cord less obvious.

In the photo of this family room, taken from the breakfast nook, a recliner was moved out of the way to show the openness of the floor plan, and not the sellers well worn furniture.

Getting top dollar for your home is a function of marketing. You can sell in any market, but how your home is marketed by the listing agent is going to determine just how quickly it sells and how much money you can get for it. In our current seller’s market, anyone can sell a home. A professional marketing agent can squeeze every dime you deserve out of it. Choose carefully when choosing the listing agent to market your home. Ask to see past virtual tours and photographs. Go to their website. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

What a Difference a Fake Bed Makes in a Vacant Bedroom

What a Difference a Fake Bed Makes in a Vacant Bedroom

The picture above is of a vacant bedroom. It’s got fresh carpet and paint and shows well. However, not having any furnishings it is going to be difficult for buyers to imagine what furniture will fit in there.

Enter my light staging touches that bring the bedroom to life.

A queen size air mattress on top of four medium moving boxes, along with a flat sheet for a bed skirt and comforter to cover the air mattress and a bedroom comes to life. The queen size bed will not only warm up the space and make it welcoming, it will let a buyer touring the home know how much space they actually have in this bedroom.

The same goes for lighting in bedrooms that have no overhead lights. In Northern Virginia, it is typical to have switched outlets in each bedroom.

A bedroom that is vacant during a fall or winter listing can cause other problems…not being to actually SEE the room itself. What does a top notch Northern Virginia Listing Agent do to solve that problem? Get a standing floor lamp and plugging it into the switched outlet makes showing the home easy.

Sure it isn’t as wonderful as the fake bed next door, but there is no need to overdo the staging when for safety and being able to see the space, only light is needed.

Are you ready to sell your home and want a Listing Agent that isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and help put your home look fabulous for professional photo day and for touring buyers? Give me a call. Even if your home is not vacant, I can help you edit your own items to make the best of the space you have to offer.

Coming Soon: 2 Bedroom/1 Bath Townhouse in Centreville for $260,000

14455 Gringsby Court in Centreville is set to List for $260,000

Coming Soon: 2 Bedroom/1 Bath Townhouse in Centreville for $260,000

If you are in the market for a down sized or first time home in the convenient commuter location of Centreville, this end unit townhouse in Newgate may be just the ticket. One the new carpet has been installed on the upper level and the entire unit has been painted, this two bedroom, one full bathroom townhouse will be hitting the market at $260,000.

A border of mature, evergreen hedges make it almost impossible to see the townhouse until you practically right up on it. Privacy is not something most townhouse owners are used to having, particularly in their front entrance. This townhouse, however, is not a typical design. It is an end unit on a row of back to back and side to side townhouses. The end units in these townhouses are all just two levels.

Enter into a foyer right between the staircase to the upper level and the living room to the left. Main level has laminate wood floors and a wood burning fireplace. There’s even a dining area visible from the pass through window in the kitchen.

Upstairs are two bedrooms and one full bathroom with an oversized vanity and tub/shower combo. On this level you will also have the convenience of a laundry area with full size washer and dryer off the hall.

Behind the mature, evergreen hedges is your yard, hidden from prying eyes. Enoy a nice day out grilling or just taking in some sun. Store your yard work equipment, or other outdoor items, in the shed.

Two assigned parking spaces are yours with the unit. There is no additional parking to buy. Visitor spaces are available on a first come, first served basis.

If you want to be notified when this listing transforms from Coming Soon to Active, get in touch with me. If you aren’t represented by your own buyer’s agent, I can connect you with one to help you navigate the process as I do not practice dual agency.

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