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When Going Under Contract is Not Immediate

When Going Under Contract is Not Immediate

Not every home goes under contract immediately. It is still a seller’s market out there. I have recently negotiated deals from Bristow to Woodstock and last night, Middletown. What is happening in the market is a shift in buyer behavior. They are no longer prone to acting in a frenzy. Their actions have become far more deliberate as rising mortgage interest rates, coupled with the steady increase in home values, have pinched affordability. Buyers just entering the market are looking for smaller homes than they were a year ago, or homes further out.

The home pictured above at 6717 Middle Road took forty-two days to go under contract. (pause for reader gasp) Hold on there. That’s not all that unusual. Looking back to my listings to January 1, 2021, I found one that had higher days on market at fifty-two. The next highest below Middle Road was a home at thirty-one days. Mind you, my average days on market in that time frame is nine days. Median days on market is four. What takes some houses longer to go under contract than others?

PRICE

Price is usually the first, sometimes the only culprit to remedy when a property is not going under contract. If a seller does everything you tell them to do and the home is showing in immaculate condition, the price is the problem. Newer agents, licensed during the seller’s market boom since the pandemic, may not even realize that price can be a problem. They may give you feedback that the home doesn’t have a finished basement or the high level finishes expected. When their buyers pick higher priced houses with those traits and don’t pick yours, that means the price needs to come down. Let’s face it, there is zero sense in finishing a basement vs. lowering price to compensate for not having one.

TIMING

Sometimes, selling a home too soon after a purchase gives buyers two feelings. The first one is, “What’s wrong with the house?” Two of the sellers I have helped with the highest days on market owned their houses less than eighteen months when they listed them with me. In both cases, life circumstances precluded holding onto the homes. One was meant as a second home, but the owner wasn’t able to utilize it as much as she had hoped due to life circumstances. The other was a job transfer right after it was purchased.

The other feeling buyers had about these homes was about time owned in conjunction with list prices. “They are asking too much. They only bought it eighteen months ago.” Despite HUGE value increases during those times, buyers felt they were the judge and jury of how much these sellers should make for their short time of ownership. This feeling is pure jealousy and has nothing to do with market value. They will often feel value has solely to do with what an owner has done to improve the home. In the crazy market we have experience since 2020, demand alone was enough to justify high value increases.

CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND YOUR CONTROL

Sometimes there can be a combination of factors contributing to high marketing time, not the least of which are circumstances beyond the seller’s control. Maybe you list a property in winter and you get snow storm after snow storm. Maybe you have a vacant home with, unbeknownst to you, poor drainage, live out of the area and experience torrential rain storms twice a week that leave puddles in your basement. You only find out because of agent feedback. Yikes! Middle Road had a timing issue (lots of judgement over how much the seller was asking having only owned the home eighteen months) and then water in the basement in puddles. Despite the latter being disclosed, then corrected to not be a problem, buyers were hesitant. To buyers who had been squeezed out of areas with newer homes not prone to such issues having different foundation structures, there was a bit of panic. What did the seller do? First she lowered the price. Then she hired a home inspector to do an entire property inspection and posted the very run of the mill, ordinary results for buyers and their agents to read. Now, they had a resource above either of our heads, to discuss the findings. Guess what? That’s when it went under contract. And without an inspection contingency because she had done the inspection for them.

Some homes just take longer to sell. Understanding the dynamics at play and being able to bring considerable experience and skill to the table to help my sellers work around whatever the market throws at them is where I shine brightest. Not every home sale is going to be prep it, photograph it, market it and review offers. There is often more skill and nuance in marketing it.

No matter what the process entails, I’m here to lead the way and make it as stress free as possible. Not all paths to going under contract are short or well worn, but having an experienced and skilled agent on your side that can help you work with the market, not against it, is critical to success.

Selling With or Without Tenants in Place

14443 Macon Grove Lane in Gainesville Sold for $352,400 on July 22, 2022

Selling With or Without Tenants in Place

Seems like every time I meet a seller who is hiring me to list a property they have rented, I get very anxious reactions about the suggestion to list after the tenants have moved out, or to financially incentivize them to be part of the process. (The latter usually means offering them a free month’s rent or discount on rent if they comply with showing requests, leave the home neat and the house is under contract quickly.) Landlords are quick to become fixated about the cost of such ideas.

In the case of the Parks at Piedmont South Condo pictured above, the landlord-seller was very smart. When attempting to first list the home with the tenant in place, she cleaned the home herself and put the tenants up in a hotel for the weekend. Nothing was going to stop buyers from hemming and hawing about the condition. The tenants had painted some loud colors, left the carpet a disaster and the walls in the stairway were very marked up. It felt shabby. And because the condo didn’t go under contract during the weekend the tenants were out, we dealt with limited showing availability and deteriorating show condition. It was no surprise when the buyer under contract to purchase got cold feet and bailed, having been in a competitive situation with three other buyers. That’s when the seller went down the track of improving the home once the tenants were out and listing again…$25,000 higher.

Having a conscientious seller that cared about the condition of the home was a blessing. The market had cooled since the initial listing at $325,000. Listing at $350,000 with new carpet, fresh paint, a new refrigerator and punch list items fixed, my next step was to do some light staging and order another set of professional photos. We wanted the fresh face of the improved listing to lead the way.

Even with all that, buyers seemed to want to tire kick more than usual. While this was literally the only property with three bedrooms available to buyers under $400,000 in Gainesville or Haymarket, buyers wanted to will a market crash into existence. Buyer agents chimed in with the verbal lowball offers from their clients. Then, one savy agent stepped up to the plate with his ready, willing and able buyer. While lowballers were circling, the serious buyer made a deal and today, they went to closing. The property sold for $352,400. The additional sales price more than made up for the less than $2,000 the buyer requested in closing cost help. Did I mention one of the lowballers wrote an offer at $280,000? Yikes. Talk about trying to will a market crash into existence.

When the time comes to sell your tenant occupied home, my advice is to get the tenant out, improve the home and then list for the best result. The money saved in attempting to dovetail a sale with the end of the tenants lease is usually not equal to what you would net in a higher sales price even with additional costs. Get in touch and let’s talk.

Staging a Home Makes a Difference

Staging a Home Makes a Difference

Getting a property ready for the market is not a task to be taken lightly. In order to generate buyer enthusiasm, a home needs to feel inviting. In the case of an occupied home, personal items need to be minimized. Walking into a home that feels like the owner is still very much there, is not helpful. Whether they realize it or not, buyers are trying to imagine themselves in the space. If they see your family photos, recognition plaques, diplomas or degrees, they are seeing you. They need to see a blank slate.

This topic is top of mind for me again today because I am about to step out and help a seller warm up her home with what I call fluff. The seller has cleaned and de-cluttered, but needs a tad of flair in the now bare surfaces. Of course, none of the flair ever conveys, but it sure does make a difference in how a buyer sees the space they are touring. Staged homes get chosen faster and make more money.

For my occupied listings, I take listing preparation very seriously. It is never a waste of my time to make sure a home is properly primped. And if there is a need to fill with some fluff (plants, paintings and the like) I am happy to provide whatever I have to make a more welcoming statement. Sometimes, a family room mantel just needs a pop of color. Or maybe bookcases need straightening up and items of interest. The more generic, the better.

In the case of a vacant home, it is very hard to visualize how big a room is, or feel any warmth in a bare setting with just four walls. Light staging is a complementary service I offer my vacant listings. A dining area would receive a table and chairs and some place settings and a centerpiece. Bathrooms are fluffed with towels and kitchens are warmed up with cookbooks and the like.

Making the best impression on buyers in the market is essential whether there is limited inventory or you are competing with twenty homes. How enthusiastic buyers are about your home will determine how high your offers go in a seller’s market or how quickly you are chosen in a buyer’s market.

When you are ready to sell, it is never too early to engage my listing services for the absolute best advice on the preparation that will make a difference in the market. The staging is the icing on the cake.

Under Contract in Parks at Piedmont

14443 Macon Grove Lane in Gainesville

Under Contract in Parks at Piedmont

Every once in a while, a property is able to be marketed twice and the second attempt is for a higher amount. This stacked townhouse condo with a one car garage in Gainesville’s Parks at Piedmont South at 14443 Macon Grove Lane is one of those instances.

Originally listed on April 30, 2022 for $325,000, this condo had been tenant occupied at that time. While the seller did everything in their power to make sure the home looked fantastic by de-cluttering and cleaning, even getting the tenants a hotel room for the first weekend on market, the level of wear and tear on the carpets and walls left the buyers that had gone under contract with it feeling remorseful. At least that’s the conclusion that the seller and I came to after those buyers voided their contract over a gas fireplace not igniting that cost less than two-hundred dollars to fix. After that, the seller waited for the tenants to vacate, had the home painted and new carpet installed. They fixed the fireplace and even ordered a new refrigerator. Those improvements warranted an improved list price as the home was in move-in ready condition. On June 23rd, it hit the market again at $350,000.

No seller of mine hits the market under prepared, relying solely on conditions to get their price. They get preparation advice, light staging and professional photography. Even though professional photos had been done during the first listing period, new photos were ordered AFTER light staging to increase buyer enthusiasm on the improved offering. It is not my business practice, even in a seller’s market, to do what is easy or cheap.

Even with the mortgage interest rate increase that buyers have had to cope with, they still find themselves in a seller’s market. There is no real estate crash on the horizon, despite some buyers making offers that are trying to will it in to existence. Inventory is still not meeting buyer demand. In fact, at the time that the first offer came in on this Gainesville condo, it was the only non-age restricted condo on the market in Haymarket and Gainesville below $400K. The only competition it had was a one bedroom condo. Yet, buyers still called with low offers and one made a written offer so low it made me think their agent had made a typo.

A serious buyer whose agent was advising them of the true market conditions and not a pipe dream of a buyer’s market coming to fruition made an offer that, with mild tweaking from the seller, hit the spot. On this 4th of July holiday, my seller is celebrating that she is under contract and is on track to close before another condo fee or HOA fee is due.

The hard reality for buyers is that, while many have been priced out of the market due to the continued rise of home values and now the steep increase in mortgage interest rates, there are still many buyers out there that can afford to buy. Affordability is not the problem of a seller. Smart buyers who hire experienced agents know that. They are making deals and taking advantage of what are still, historically low mortgage interest rates.

If you are a seller looking to sell in seller market conditions, don’t listen to the doom and gloom the news feeds you day in and day out. Get in touch with me. I’m a full-time licensed agent that has been at this since 2005. I have seen market crashes and know the signs. Buyers are more deliberate now, but there are still not enough homes to meet the demand in most Northern Virginia locations. My seller consultations are free and carry no obligation. Let’s talk!

Buyers: Let’s Talk About Escalation Clauses

Buyers: Let’s Talk About Escalation Clauses

Having been a full-time real estate agent in Northern Virginia since 2005, I have experienced more than the intense seller’s market of 2020-2022. Seller market conditions had been present in 2019, but the market was not as difficult to navigate as it became in 2020 and 2021 for buyers. Escalation clauses became very commonplace in the last two years and right now, they are still present in the market. Unfortunately, the market conditions, while still favoring sellers, is chilling out a bit. Competition is still present, but more limited and buyer actions more deliberate. What concerns me is the buyer and buyer agent perception of how escalation clauses actually work.

When you write an offer with an escalation clause, you are writing an offer that can speak in your absence. I have written about the appropriate use of escalation clauses before which focuses on situations that would call for them. This post is not to rehash that, but to talk about how shifting market conditions are chaning how sellers react to escalation clauses.

The risk to a buyer in writing an escalation clause is that they are showing the seller exactly how much they are willing to pay for a property. In the absence of other offers in hand, a seller is well within their rights to remove that escalation addendum and counter at a higher price, possibly to the max of the escalation addendum. Buyers and their agents tend to think that is not fair, but I am here to tell you that fair has nothing to do with it. When you have shown your upper limit, you need to be prepared for the consequences.

Just in the past month I have represented two sellers who had escalation clauses in offers. Neither had anything above list price when the offer with the escalation addendum arrived. One had multiple list price offers, the other no offers, but lots of traffic. Both buyers were stunned when the seller countered removing the escalation addendum and countering their offer. Cries of, “You can’t do that,” and “That’s not fair,” were made. Well, the seller can and who said life was fair. Mind you, in the ultimate act of fair negotiations, both sellers went midway between the max escalation and list price with their counters. Yet, the buyers were left feeling taken advantage of.

These buyers didn’t seem to understand, that in a market with not enough inventory, sellers still have the advantage. What sense does it make to say you would pay twenty thousand over list, but only if someone else was willing to pay a little less? Do you want the house? Do you want to lock down the deal before a better offer comes in? Especially on properties that you know will get other offers, it is a dangerous game to say no to a counter at a price you would pay otherwise. And if a buyer in this situation has not waived appraisal, there is no way they are going to be forced to pay above appraised value. From even a buyer’s agent perspective, it is hard to see rejecting a counter offer at a price a buyer would be willing to pay.

There is risk to a seller in removing an escalation addendum. Once a buyer’s offer is countered, the first offer that buyer made is no longer valid. It has been altered. This is very important for buyers to understand because their offer with a escalation, once countered by a seller, is not automatically going to best another within a certain range.

Understanding that bold statement above, let’s say Buyer A made an offer at list price, escalating above other offers in increments of two-thousand dollars to a max of twenty-thousand above list. Seller counters Buyer A removing escalation addendum with a sales price of ten-thousand above list price. What is wise for Buyer A to do? If Buyer A was worried that other offers may get higher than that since their original escalation was twenty-thousand above, they would be wise to take the counter. However, if Buyer A wants to counter the seller one escalation above list from their original offer at two-thousand above list, meanwhile Buyer B enters the scene at five thousand above list, Buyer B is now the highest offer. If the seller takes Buyer B, Buyer A will be kicking themselves that while they wasted time trying to get a few thousand lower, they could have locked in a deal still well below their max escalation.

When representing buyers I always make sure they understand the worst that could happen when including an escalation clause in their offer is that they get countered to their max escalation. And common sense says that if they were willing to pay that to begin with had other buyers been present with offers on the table, why wouldn’t they want it in a counter offer?

As far as I can tell from the listing side, buyers seem to think escalation addendums are a way of playing a real estate version of The Price is Right Showcase Showdown. They can best another buyer and be minimally out of pocket. Sellers are under no obligation to take the highest offer. In fact, sellers often times will take the buyer that appeared the most serious from the beginning, even if it costs them one-thousand dollars. An example would be Buyer A bringing in an offer at twenty-thousand above list with no escalation and Buyer B bringing in offer at list, escalating five-hundred above another to a max of twenty-thousand five-hundred above list. Buyer A swung for the fences with their offer. They didn’t need to know another buyer wanted it for just as much. That speaks volumes to a seller.

If you are serious about a home and you are worried enough about other buyers wanting it to include an escalation, try reframing a possible counter from a seller as a positive thing. You may just lose the house you wanted because your perception is that there are no other buyers interested. Better yet, write the max offer you are willing to make without an escalation and get sellers to act vs. waiting a day or two for an offer to escalate you. Buyers are still facing markets with not enough homes to go around.

How Many Days Does it Take to Sell in Spring 2022?

14443 Macon Grove Lane in Gainesville listed for $325,000 on April 30, 2022

How Many Days Does it Take to Sell in Spring 2022?

With the two percent increase in mortgage interest rates since the beginning of the year, you may have heard whispers of our Bristow and real estate market changing. Certainly, interest rates increasing have pinched buyers even more when rising home prices were already making it tough to afford a home. However, to declare that the market has measurably shifted from a seller’s market would be wrong.

In late April, dealing with the same interest rates, I placed a single family home in Bristow on the market. It was hottly contested and had multiple offers in a matter of four days. This past weekend, after having been on the market for just over one week, 14443 Macon Grove Lane had three offers at the same time. Multiple offers did happen, but not quickly. It was a rolling situation that left one of the four offers pulling out and moving on. What’s different between these two homes?

9477 Cromarty Court in Bristow listed for $584,000 on April 22, 2022

The single family home at 9477 Cromarty Court was owner occupied and updated to the nines. It also had a sought after water view. The downside of this property was the compact size of the rooms on the main level. However, the sellers had left no detail unnoticed. When it was time to the hit the market, the professional marketing drove up buyer enthusiasm and the coziness of the main level was not an issue.

Water view at 9477 Cromarty Court in Bristow

While the condo at 14443 Macon Grove did hit the market a week later, it was not owner occupied. Tenants in a home never have a vested interest in a successful outcome. They are losing their rental home. In this case, the landlord realized this was an issue. She was by far, the most savvy landlord I have dealt with in my seventeen years of selling homes. She cleaned up the property herself. She decluttered the property before showings herself. She even put the tenants up in a hotel for the weekend while showings were happening. The only problem was, the weekend we really wanted to list the house was unavailable to us as the tenants had plans. That meant a hasty rush to market.

Macon Grove, cleaned and decluttered by the landlord.

A professional photo shoot with great pictures that truly represented what buyers would see in the straightened and cleaned home, happened the day before it was to go active. I am here to tell, buyers and buyer agents do not make appointments until they see listing photos. Unfortunately, the photos didn’t hit the MLS until Saturday morning of our two day showing free-for-all. Showings picked up after the photos had been in a few hours, but the real activity wanted to happen Sunday through Friday. The tenants were unable to accommodate showing requests except for three hours in the evening, and one evening was taken off the table completely. (sigh) Even with showing restrictions and showing condition dwindling after the return of the tenants, the condo in Gainesville got multiple offers. It just took eight days to get there.

Fresh & clean owner’s suite at 14443 Macon Grove Lane

We are still in seller market conditions in Bristow and Gainesville. Of course, what matters most is what has mattered all along–how your home is prepared and marketed. An unprepared home is not going to create buyer enthusiasm. And even if it does, if buyers can’t get in to see it, that is a problem. If buyers are seeing poor listing photos, you are sunk.

Proper listing preparation and professional marketing get sellers to the top of the market no matter what their condition. And when there are issues you can’t work around, having a skilled negotiator representing you as a seller is critical. These two properties are great examples of how the market is influenced by condition and marketing. Stay tuned for their final sold prices. Until then, if you want to investigate the 2022 sale of your Bristow or Gainesville home, get in touch with me for a no obligation market analysis.

Just Listed: Gainesville Townhouse-Style Condo

14443 Macon Grove Lane Listed for $325,000 on April 30, 2022

Just Listed: Gainesville Townhouse-Style Condo

In late January 2022, I listed a Parks at Piedmont South condo for $315,000 at 14530 Kylewood Lane. At the time, $315,000 was on the high end for what a condo there would get in a sold price. Imagine how delighted my sellers were to get $335,000 when they sold. That leap up $20,000 over list price in sold price got the attention of the seller of my latest seller at 14443 Macon Grove Lane.

With tenants in place through June 30th, the owners had to make a quick determination. Do they list before the lease is up, for fear that rising interest rates may hinder a future sale, or list with tenants in place? Knowing that no two scenarios in real estate are the same, I advised the owner that if they listed with the tenants in place, it would behoove them to somehow get the tenants to buy into the process. Tenants in a listing have nothing to gain and their residence to lose. How do you get them to help with showings and make the house neat?

After deciding to move forward with listing sooner, the owners took the listing preparation on themselves as any other seller would have to do in the sale of an owner occupied home. They went in and took care of patching and painting, decluttering and cleaning. Best of all, they graciously paid for the tenants to have a weekend in a hotel during the first weekend of showings. Buyers and their agents are able to see the home this opening weekend from 10am-8pm with ease.

This three bedroom condo is the same floor plan as 14530 Kylewood. The floor plan is simply reversed and with different finishes. The floors on the entry and main level are hardwood, with the exception of the kitchen. There you find ceramic tile floors and granite counters.

The open main level floor plan, located on the second floor of this Linden model condo is the top feature of this home.

The second best feature is the owner’s suite on the third floor. It is an expansive space, large enough for any size bedroom set. Attached owner’s bathroom offers double sinks, oversized soaking tub, separate shower and water closet.

The fourth level is where a loft living area separates the second and third bedrooms from each other. It also offers a second full bathroom.

With a one car attached garage and convenient Gainesville location, close to many shops, restaurants and major commuter routes, this condo is sure to please. If a buyer closes on this sale before June 30th, the monthly rent of $1,930 will be pro-rated or paid in full to the buyer, as they will become the temporary landlord. If a buyer does not to deal with tenants for even a month, the settlement would have to occur in early July.

Community amenities in Parks at Piedmont include a community pool, playgrounds, basketball courts and walking trails. Condo fees include snow removal, trash removal, road maintenance, exterior building maintenance and master insurance policy for the structure. Owners need only a condo insurance policy to cover everything from the walls in.

If you are interested in this home, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Selling in a Seller’s Market is Not a Guarantee of Best Terms

Selling in a Seller’s Market is Not a Guarantee of Best Terms

As limited housing supply continues to meet unfettered buyer demand, more and more sellers have been overly confident in their place in the market. Believe it or not, not all homes sell in a seller’s market. They will if they are priced right and/or in good condition. Market forces are always at work, which means buyers still compare what is offered to what they have recently seen and what they expect to see in the near future.

It is not uncommon for a buyer to walk away from a perfectly pleasing, over priced home in a seller’s market because they fear it will get bid up above that list price. Preparing market reports regularly for the neighborhoods of Braemar, Dominion Valley and Regency I see sellers getting below list price and selling in weeks, not days. Some even have to give seller subsidy. Why? It’s a seller’s market, right?

When buyer demand is high and inventory is low we are indeed in a seller’s market. That does not mean that sellers can ignore listing preparation, hire low skill listing agents who know nothing of professional marketing and expect to get the top of the market. Consider a top athlete who is a free agent. They will get picked up, but how much money they make depends on the strength of their agent. Agency is all about advocacy. Sellers who hire listing agents are not unlike athletes or actors who have an advocate on their side advising them and helping them negotiate. Talent agents know how to best present their client’s gifts to increase demand to max out the money made.

Bringing it back to real estate and the intense buyer demand our seller’s market is facing, it is fair to say to any seller who asks if they need to complete listing preparation to sell, “No.” If the price is right for the projects left to buyers who are faced with having to pay their own closing costs, down payment and now take on projects in a home, there is no doubt the home will sell. The question is, how much is being left on the table by leaving the preparation undone? More than the cost of the preparation.

Same goes for sight unseen offers. Can a seller get a great offer before anyone has set foot in their home? Sure. If they let showings roll a few days, chances are the offers would get better and better. Why? The pressure to accept sight unseen offers is usually from buyers who know they will not be competitive in a multiple offer situation. And if they will not be competitive in a multiple offer situation, why on earth would a seller who only gets one chance at maximizing their profit not wait to see more than one offer? From my own comps, I recently watched as a seller left approximately $30,000 on the table by not being photographed or going active with their listing agent. Very few sellers I know are willing to walk away from that kind of profit.

Having a strong advocate who knows the current market conditions because they are active in them every day is so important. Let’s go back to our talent agent analogy. Do you think hiring a relative who just became a talent agent is what big name athletes and movie stars do? No. Their paychecks are dependent on outstanding representation. They sign with agents with proven track records of success and outstanding reputations. Why don’t sellers when it comes to listing? Part of the problem is that they conflate the cost of a listing agent with the bottom line they will net. They never consider that a more experienced agent will more than pay for themselves in the preparation advice, professional marketing and skilled negotiation. The other part of the problem is they think anyone with a license will do. This job has very minimal standards. Agents who are exceeding industry standards are the ones breaking records with list prices.

When it is time to list your home, even if it is in a seller’s market, pay attention to the marketing done on behalf of the other listings in this seller’s market. Are they offering staging advice and other preparation? Are they hiring a professional to take listing photos? Are they pushing sight unseen offers? There is never an easy button when it comes to getting the absolute max the market will bear. However, if a seller is okay with leaving tens of thousands on the table, any agent will do. If they want every dollar they can get, are willing to do the work and put up with a few days of showings, they will be over the moon with the results when they hire an experienced broker like me to help them through the process.

A seller’s market can be exceptionally profitable, but should not be treated as a lottery. Choosing the path with the best odds of getting top of the market will make a seller successful. That path starts with hiring the right advocate.

Is Listing Preparation Necessary in a Seller’s Market?

Is Listing Preparation Necessary in a Seller’s Market?

Sitting across from a seller this morning who had started the process of packing, pausing only to sign our listing agreement, there was a lot of discussion over what is necessary to do prior to hitting the market. Very few homes that I walk into are neutral enough, de-cluttered enough and exuding enough mass appeal to be what I, as a real estate professional, would consider market ready, but it does happen.

As a Top Producing Agent in the Bristow/Gainesville area, the sellers I meet want the maximum amount of money they get out of their homes for the minimal amount of effort. Moving is hard enough. Prepping a home for a red hot market seems ridiculous to them. After all, the market is so hot that some sellers are accepting sight unseen offers. They want to know why I am advising them to paint, de-clutter, put in new carpet, etc when a buyer is likely to write a sight unseen offer. The answer is usually in the realm of, “Because you want the same or better that the seller down the street got, and their home was move-in ready.”

Market value is determined by being open to the market. Yes, buyers actually seeing the inside of your home in person. (I know. What a pain, right?) Time and again, sale after sale as sellers and I go over comps, I point out how much more this home made after a few days on the market, being presented move-in ready and professionally presented vs. that home that listed as Coming Soon and took a sight unseen offer from a buyer that didn’t even see photos of the home. A seller that popped up in our comps today sold their home sight unseen. I know the inside of the home because I have been in it. To say the seller left money on the table by taking a sight unseen offer is an understatement. Try thirty-thousand dollars or so is my guess.

Earlier in the week, two of my Coming Soon listings were getting calls from buyer agents begging for a chance to submit an offer sight unseen and have my sellers decide right then and there. Why is that? They know their buyers won’t be competitive when the listing hit the open market. Why on earth would I advise my sellers to take a sight unseen offer that I know can be bested on the open market when they only get one chance to sell the most valuable asset they have? The situations are few and far between where that would make sense. Trying to sell before losing a home to foreclosure would be one of them. Losing out on a home they are under contract to buy because their home sale contingency is about to expire. Minimizing the exposure of a bedridden relative to an overwhelming amount of buyers would be another. Anything else that would may tempt someone to walk away from thirty-thousand dollars would be worthy of investigating opportunities they may not have considered. Boarding pets. Spending the weekend in a hotel. You only get to liquidate your home once.

The same argument goes for listing preparation. Buyer enthusiasm with those exuberant multiple offers doesn’t come from a home that hasn’t been de-cluttered, neutralized and spiffed up for buyers. Sure, an unprepared home may get multiple offers, but the offers will be substantially higher when a seller has put effort into making the home move-in ready. The market comps show it time and again. Is skipping the work worth the money that would be lost?

A little effort goes a long way in this market. Painting the home a neutral color is a great way to put a fresh clean face on the interior of a home. Sometimes the outside might need some fresh paint on the doors, shutters and trim. And maybe a power washing. First impressions are powerful. Tidying up and depersonalizing allow buyers to see themselves living there, which increases their enthusiasm for a home, which increases the price seen in offers.

So when a seller asks me if preparation is necessary, the answer is always, “No, but are you willing to walk away from five to ten percent more in final sold price?” The home sale we saw today that left thirty thousand on the table may have thought differently if her agent had said, “I think you can sell for thirty thousand more if we hit the market for a weekend. What do you think?” Put a price tag on the dreaded event and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad.

Just Sold in Gainesville $20K Above List Price

Just Sold in Gainesville $20K Above List Price

Bringing my first listing of 2022 to the market on January 24th, I knew things were going to be busy. My seller had received a pre-market offer on 14530 Kylewood from a buyer that was well above list price. That was enticing, but in the end, they wisely elected to see what the market would bear if that was an offer someone made without even seeing the home. Boy did the doors get blown off on this one.

Three full days on the market, plus the pre-market offer, left the seller with a total of fifteen offers. Fifteen offers! All of them were above list price. Some were even higher than what the seller ended up accepting. Why would a seller take a lower offer? Allow me to explain.

This four level Parks at Piedmont condo was listed at $315,000. The highest most recent sales were $320,000 and $330,000. The higher of the two had a floor plan where the main level with the kitchen was the entry level. Ours was one where the main level was the second level. Might not be as attractive. Plus the higher priced recent sale had upgraded flooring on the main level, more so than what my seller’s unit had to offer.

The highest offers we had were at $350,000. However, not one of them gave up the appraisal contingency. The best one offered a low appraisal guarantee of only $3,000. That’s not much considering the most likely appraised value would land between $320,000 and $330,000. Talking it over, we made a call to an agent with a listing under contract. Their appraisal had been lower than $330,000. Hmm. The path to which offer to choose became very clear. The seller chose the offer at $335,000 with no appraisal contingency and no inspection contingencies. They knew they would get the sales price. There would be no low appraisal consequence.

This sale now becomes a comparable for Parks at Piedmont South, rising values a tad higher. Maybe the next well prepared, professionally marketed condo will sell even higher. In this frenzied market with very little for buyers to choose from, it is nearly a given. Ready to sell yours? Get in touch for a no obligation market analysis.

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