Category Archive

Is It Happening Again?

Is It Happening Again?

As 2023 began, Northern Virginia real estate agents were wondering if the pause in the market that happened in the last third of 2022 was going to continue. Interest rates had more than doubled during 2022, but going into 2023, they had eased a bit. Were they back in the threes or fours? No. They were in the low sevens and high sixes. Yet, just as consumers are prone to do, in light of the most recent highs, this felt like a relief. Indeed, it is the “new normal.”

Buyers have begun flooding the market, just as they did in 2020 and 2021. The same problem that existed then exists now. Where is all the inventory?

While buyers had their momentum paused in late 2022 as mortgage rates rose steeply, sellers seem to have hit their own pause button in 2023. It is certainly not for lack of buyers looking for homes. In fact, from Winchester to Stafford, and in my own home town of Bristow, I have represented buyers and sellers in multiple offer scenarios. In all cases, offers accepted were well above list and waived contingencies. The reality of the situation is this: as there is less and less to sell, buyers are left to duke it out on the homes available.

To sellers, this means another shot at unprecedented buyer demand and multiple offers. Not all houses are getting multiple offers, but those that do the listing preparation and price right, are the ones reaping the reward. Of course, in 2023, a handful of sellers are experiencing seller’s remorse and begging to be released from their contracts. Why? There are no homes for them to buy once they sell.

To buyers, this means shrugging off the national news of a real estate market crash and realizing that asking for closing cost help along with every conceivable contingency in a purchase offer is no longer going to be competitive. In fact, if the demand keeps up and lack of inventory continues to be a problem, we will likely see sight unseen offers again. Believe me, I wish this were not the case, but it seems we are trending back to the insanity of 2020 and 2021 in Northern Virginia and the surrounding market places.

Buying in 2023 is likely to feel like a rough and tumble sport. Knowing what you want and where you want it is essential. If you are tire kicking, this isn’t the market for you. Buyers that will do what it takes to succeed are the ones that know when they have found the home that meets their needs and want to be done before prices, or rates, go any higher.

Selling in 2023 is going to feel like a second shot at the insane seller’s market of recent years. Again, that is only for those that take the time to create buyer enthusiasm. Buyers aren’t likely to compete on listings that are over priced or under prepared for market.

What’s your move in 2023? No matter if you are buying or selling, get in touch with me and I will be happy to give you the real state of our local real estate market. My business is a full-time venture and has been for over eighteen years now. That means you will be represented by someone who is well versed in the ebb and flow of our market place. When the result matters, the agent you choose is the first critical decision. Let me know how I can be of assistance.

Do Sellers Always Take the Highest Offer?

10158 Pale Rose Loop in Bristow Sold Above List Price on 2/10/2023

Do Sellers Always Take the Highest Offer?

If a seller is reviewing multiple offers on a home, the first thing that becomes the focus is price. How much does each offer net them? Once that burning question is answered, other questions come up.

  • Does each offer have an appraisal contingency?
  • What is the down payment amount of each buyer?
  • Are any buyers waiving contingencies?
  • When are the proposed settlement dates?
  • Are any of the offers from owner occupants vs. investors?

In the case of the townhouse that I closed today in Bristow, the sellers were indeed interested in making the most money, but were also wanting to sell to an owner occupant. As parents of grown children who were up against investors on the homes they wanted to buy, and often losing out, when these sellers had the chance to sell to an owner occupant, they ran with it. Of course, the owner occupant offer was even a little higher, but carried more risk of a low appraisal. Their desire to help someone trying to buy their first home happened to be aligned with making the most money as long as the home appraised for the higher sales price.

Come appraisal time, the sales price was not supported and the sellers were faced with a choice. Lower their sales price and stick with the offer they chose, or get into business with the investor who may still be able to net them more money. Not every seller chooses money. In this case, having to carry another month of mortgage and utilities on a vacant home while waiting for the next appraisal outcome was not worth the potential of making a bit more money. The sellers stuck with the owner occupants they had first chosen.

Time and again I have seen sellers weigh what is important to them when selling their home. Making the most amount of money is up there, but usually doing so with minimal risk. The owner occupants that landed this townhouse in Bristow are fortunate that the investor was in more of a conservative mindset when writing his offer. When there is a lot more money at stake in much higher offers, selling to an investor over an owner occupant does not seem like such a bad idea. Investors are not in that mindset right now.

In the current market (spring 2023) we are still experiencing low inventory and high buyer demand. Owner occupants are the ones emotionally invested in an outcome and not likely to write low offers. Investors are more likely to believe stories of a market crash on the horizon and offer accordingly. The good news for owner occupants is that if they reasonably swing for the fences, they are likely to win.

If you are searching for a home in the Bristow/Gainesville or surrounding area, the search is a lot easier with an experienced, full-time professional agent on your side. At this point in time, I am able to accomodate new buyer clients. Get in touch and let’s start by talking about the process.

Hitting a Target in the Dark

Hitting a Target in the Dark

Listing a home for sale is no small task. Counseling sellers on prepartion projects, getting photos taken and creating a description of a home that draws in buyers is only a very skeletal part of the job. Understanding what your seller needs from the process is essential. Basic questions that I ask at a listing appointment include:

  • Are there any items that do not stay with the home?
  • Are there items that you want to leave with the home?
  • Where are you moving?
  • When you do need to move?
  • Do you need the funds from the sale of this home to buy your next home?
  • Is there a particular settlement date that works for your situation?
  • Are there any appliances that are not functioning that you don’t plan to fix?

    These questions provide a framework for how the sales contract needs to work for my sellers. For instance, if a seller has gone under contract to purchase a home and needs to settle quickly, or needs a rent back, that is important information for a buyer and their agent to know.

    One of the wonderful things about our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is the ability to add documents for agents to see. In my listings, I love to provide what I call an Offer Info Sheet. There are many fields in our standard Residential Sale Contract that a buyer’s agent won’t know how to complete without looking through photos or cross referencing other sources. Owner names, conveyances, license numbers, where seller notices are going, etc. In the Offer Info Sheet, I provide information so that offers come in complete and have a shot at working. Preferred settlement date is always in there if needed.

    In some cases, settlement date is critical. If a seller has already gone under contract to purchase another home on a specific date and needs the funds from the existing home sale to do that deal, the settlement date needed is critical information for those making offers. If you haven’t provided it in the MLS through remarks or some semblance of an Offer Info Sheet, when a buyer’s agent asks a specific question about the settlement date, you should be ready with the answer if you are committed to the best outcome for your sellers. Being caught off guard and stating your seller needs a quick settlement date AFTER you have received one or more offers is not the best way to get what your seller needs. Yet, these are things that happen in the practice of real estate that make me scratch my head.

    My seller-clients never have to wonder if I am prepping buyer’s agents, or buyers, for what are mission critical goals. In the multiple offer situations of 2020 and 2021 that yielded offers in the double digits on many properties, my seller-clients were amazed to see that ninety-nine percent of offers met whatever settlement date or post settlement occupancy was requested. (There are always the one percent of buyer’s agents that never look at Offer Info Sheets, or the like provided by listing agents.) It is no less impressive when a seller has one offer that checks their boxes.

    When selling a home must be within a specific time or have other critical components to work, don’t leave it to chance. Hire a listing agent that understands communication is the key to a successful, smooth transaction. In Gainesville, Bristow, Haymarket and points beyond, I am happy to meet and discuss how we can get it done.

    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 REALTORSĀ®, 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.

    “Was Anyone Ever Murdered or Did Anyone Die Here?”

    “Was Anyone Ever Murdered or Did Anyone Die Here?”

    With Halloween coming up and skeletons seemingly around every corner in October, it is a great time to address a rather macabre subject that ocassionally comes up with buyers as they narrow down their home selection. It happened just this afternoon that a buyer asked, “Was anyone ever murdered or did anyone die here?” Her friend, a former client of mine, told her that sellers didn’t have to tell you unless you asked. Let’s unpack fact from hearsay.

    Just because you ask a seller this question does not mean they have to answer it. Sellers are required to disclose material defects to the property, but not events that transpired there. The Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act specifically states:

    Purchasers should be aware that neither a seller nor a real estate licensee is obligated to disclose facts or occurrences which have no effect on the physical structure of the property, its physical environment, or the improvements located thereon, or the fact that the property was the site of a homicide, felony, or suicide.

    The thought that someone may have died in a home they are contemplating purchasing is not the only thing that can cause a buyer anxiety. It was actually a closing just days before Halloween 2019 when sellers and I, as their Listing Agent, were accused of violating the Residential Property Disclosure Act. Buyers were doing their final walk through and noticed the neighboring lot was an old family cemetery. While the idea of living next to a cemetery may freak out some buyers, that’s just as much a non-disclosure for sellers. All a seller is held to is disclosing any material defects of which they are aware within the boundaries of their own property. Deaths, murders and suicides are not among them.

    Navigating the Northern Virginia real estate market can be complicated on many levels. I would love to help you if you are looking for a place to call your own. Investing in yourself vs. a landlord is the first step to building wealth. Give me a call and let’s get started find you a house that YOU can haunt for years to come.

    There is More to Consider Than SOLDS

    There is More to Consider Than SOLDS

    The fall real estate market in Northern Virginia is changing, just like leaves on our deciduous trees are undergoing a transformation. Many had become used to the frenzied pace of extreme buyer demand that stormed in during 2020 and lasted through 2021, that had sellers setting record high sales prices and collecting multiple offers. Those for whom that was a baseline for the real estate market are left feeling the market is a buyer’s market now that the frenzy has quieted down. That is not at all the case.

    While buyers are enjoying the fact that they no longer have to make rushed decisions and waive every contingency, they are left feeling pinched by rising mortgage interest rates that have doubled since the start of 2022. Combined with housing prices that are still trending up, though not on as steep a trajectory, buyers are acting more deliberately. In a lot of cases, they are requesting seller subsidy to help buy down their mortgage interest rate. These factors that have slowed buyers down, has not changed the lack of housing supply to meet buyer demand. We are NOT in a buyer’s market. Believe it or not, the market still favors sellers.

    Being in a seller’s market, however, does not mean multiple offers or always selling above list price. Real estate markets are defined by the absorption rate of available homes on the market. We could still have four months of inventory to sell and be considered in seller favored conditions. Our inventory in Northern Virginia, and particularly my primary service area of Bristow/Gainesville/Haymarket has not seen available inventory measured in months for a long time.

    The current seller’s market is one where those looking to sell their homes will be advised to consider more than the most recent SOLD listings to figure out a suitable list price. Yes, sold listings are comparables. However, as we begin to build a bit of inventory, home sellers need to also look to a number of other types of listings.

    COMING SOON AND ACTIVE

    Looking at the available inventory there is to purchase will help a seller to figure out how to price competitively. Just because there are four comparable sold listings at $450,000 doesn’t mean that is the place you should price, or higher, as you would have in 2020 or 2021. Looking at active listings and those coming soon with similar features to your home is critical. If you have three similar competitors on the market priced at $450,000 that have been on the market for a few weeks and aren’t getting chosen, that suggests $450,000 is no longer a reasonable list price. If it were, those home would be under contract. So what competitors have been chosen?

    UNDER CONTRACT

    Competing listings that have gone under contract were chosen by the marketplace. Those list prices are much more valid, if all things are equal from a value proposition, than solds. Maybe the solds are at $450,000 and the three actives are at $450,000, just sitting there, but there are two under contract that were listed at $430,000. Do you think pricing at $450,000 or $430,000 is a better play? Clearly $450,000 isn’t working for the three sitting on the market.

    WITHDRAWN, EXPIRED & CANCELED

    As we build inventory, there are also clues in the listings that have been pulled from the market. If there is a withdrawn listing at $460,000 that was on the market for sixty days, that is a big hint that if you were just looking at sold listings, going higher is a no-no. The listings not chosen are as full of valuable information to choose your placement in the market as those active and under contract.

    PRICE REDUCTIONS

    Suddenly we are seeing price reductions in the market, where they were unheard of in the previous two years, with the exception of sellers who were really taking the frenzied buyer demand for granted and placing exorbitant list prices on their homes. There are sellers in every market that expect their inflated feelings of values to pan out on the market. It can be crushing when they don’t. Buying into an unfounded value as a list price can also be costly in a market undergoing a shift. Wasted time when a market is building inventory means wasted buyer opportunities and inviting more attractively priced competitors. Looking at who is lowering their prices and still lingering on the market is informational as well.

    The buyer frenzy has subsided, but market conditions still favor sellers.

    The real estate market is still favoring sellers, but that doesn’t mean sellers are seeing ten percent lift above their list prices or are getting buyers willing to waive contingencies. As the insane pace of the previous two years is slowing to a more measured pace, sellers are still likely to get under contract quickly and with reasonable terms when their homes are priced right, properly prepared and professionally marketed. Buyer demand is still high and inventory is still not enough to meet it.

    Tread carefully when deciding how to present your home to the market of interested buyers. Overpricing is a real pitfall that will lock up sellers unable to grasp that the market dynamics are changing. Partnering with a full-time professional agent with experience beyond a seller’s market where the highest and best offer is chosen from a pile of offers is highly recommended. Skills that encompass all kinds of market conditions are not a given just because someone hold a real estate license. The soft skills to start the conversation that leads to getting an offer are absent in those that thought being a listing agent was putting a sign in the yard and collecting offers. Hire your listing agent wisely.

    I have been at this since 2005. Making deals that put my sellers ahead of market conditions is what I do, no matter the current dynamics of the market. My listing process starts with detailed analysis of the market and listing preparation advice that will lift buyer enthusiasm. Combined with professional level marketing, sellers go under contract faster and walk away with more money than their competing listings. It would be a pleasure to help you do the same.

    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!

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