Another day, another not so startling realization that too many listing agents have no idea how their choice of words, photos and inaction affect their sellers. A buyer-client texted me a listing of Interest. Her words were, “I know that something has to be wrong with the property since it’s been on the market so long.”
It would be a lie to say I had no pre-conceived notions as I typed the address in the MLS. Afterall, she had found the home on a media website beginning with the last letter of the alphabet that is infamous for its lack of current information. I was certain I would find that the property was in fact under contract. Alas, it was not. Hmm. What was going on?
Public facing remarks told the tale of a perfectly pleasing remodeled home with more acreage than its surrounding neighbors. Days on market showed nearly two months on the market. That does’t jive with being on the market two months when conditions favor sellers. The photos weren’t bad, but the opening one showed a three car garage with all of the doors open and junk spilling out of them. Not great, but not the worst I’ve ever seen. That’s when I noticed the agent remarks had some very important information.
The seller was insisting on a contingency on him finding another home to rent and wanted the right to void a contract at any time without penalty.
The property was being sold “STRICTLY AS-IS”
The first one alone was a big issue. Who the heck wants to get into business with a seller who sounds like they don’t want to sell? In two months, he should have been able to find some sort of temporary housing. Add in the all caps announcement that the home was being sold as is and I smelled trouble. Evidently, I was not alone as the home had been on the market all this time without action.
Calling the listing agent when you get into territory like this as a buyer’s agent is key. The barrier to entry into real estate is low enough, not to mention the very minimal expectations of many brokerages that don’t care who they bring on board as long as they have listings and buyers. A phone call always clears things up one way or another.
The listing agent was cheerful enough. He had been in business a very long time, but that doesn’t mean anything as I soon found out. Not only did he express that his seller had already found a home and moved out, he was shocked his own listing still had those remarks. Really?!! It was his responsibility to make sure the information was accurate, but I didn’t care. Leave it be. Less interest means more opportunity for my buyers.
As for the “STRICTLY AS-IS” language, I asked why he put that in there. After all, every listing agent worth anything knows that our contracts are as-is any way. Saying the home is “STRICTLY AS-IS” just rouses images of costly problems lurking in the shadows. Nope. There was one unfinished project, a koi pond. The seller just didn’t want to make any repairs. Most sellers don’t, but stating from the get go that a home is as-is just drives interest and price down. The connotation behind those words is not good for seller’s bottom line.
Counseling my sellers on the lay of the land with regard to strategy and marketing is key to getting them the most interest and highest possible price. Most sellers have no idea how their own ideas and stubbornness can work against them. It is my job as a full-time real estate professional to make sure they fully understand each aspect of the sales process and that we have a solid plan of action to increase buyer enthusiasm, not arouse buyer suspicion.
When you are ready to sell, insist on hiring a full-time professional agent that will level with you about how to get that sought after top of the market price. The simple fact that demand may favor sellers is not a recipe to demand one sided negotiations and lackluster marketing that will leave you buyer-less.
On Thursday, June 24th (2021) I had the pleasure of making 12148 Formby Street available for showings. It had been listed as Coming Soon for several days beforehand. Given the real estate market that Bristow had been experiencing to that point, the sellers and I set an offer deadline for Monday, June 28th. Surprisingly, after five days on the market, over a non-holiday weekend, there were only about a dozen showings and no offers in hand.
Hmm. Seems the Bristow real estate market had changed.
Undeterred, knowing the listing preparation had been done to make the home move-in ready and that it was being professionally marketed, the sellers and I waited it out. Before the 4th of July holiday weekend was even halfway through, ten days after hitting the market, this home had two offers. Multiple offers? Check. First weekend on market? No.
While there are still more buyers than there are available homes, buyers are less likely to act as quickly or enthusiastically as they were just a month ago. My suspicion is that summer vacations are playing a role in the slowing pace of the buyer demand. July and August, with the exception of 2020 when no one could travel due to the pandemic, are notariously slower than the other months of the year in the Bristow real estate market in a typical year.
Another factor could be the changing high school districts coming up in the fall. Some buyers who wanted particular high schools, or are unaware of what the new Gainesville High School will offer, may be waiting in the wings. After all, the MLS is still autopopulating incorrect high school data for some properties in existing districts that will be going to Gainesville High School. And Gainesville High School isn’t even identified in the MLS as an option for properties that will actually be going there.
Does this mean it’s a bad time to sell? No. It’s still a seller’s market. This home going under contract in ten days after two offers is still a very fast time frame given the real estate experiences I have accumulated since being licensed in 2005.
Stay tuned for the final sold price on this three bedroom Bristow single family home. As a Top Bristow Listing Agent, I love sharing market experiences. Of course, if you are thinking of selling, you can put my experience to work for you. It starts with a friendly conversation and ends with the successful sale of your Bristow home.
To say that the Bristow and surrounding Northern Virginia real estate market is experiencing a seller’s market would be putting it mildly. Demand is off the charts and, as a result, buyers are writing seller favored offers waiving many things like inspection and appraisal.
Putting a home on the market right now a listing agent is guaranteed to earn a commission. However, a guarantee of a sale is not a guarantee of a record high sales price for a seller, nor is it a guarantee of entering into a contract with a buyer who won’t get remorseful in the transaction feeling they have over paid. My job may seem easier to sellers right now, but I can assure you, it is not. That is because I don’t take it lightly.
Getting a property show ready is showing its absolute best is critical to creating that buyer enthusiasm that wrings every dollar out of buyers when they are making offers in a seller’s market. Just because any house will sell doesn’t mean it will sell for the next highest price. Professional marketing is a must. That means I help you prep your home for professional photos with staging. That doesn’t mean bringing in a truck load of furniture. It means making what you have show your home in the best possible light.
Reviewing multiple offers for a seller is a lot more work than reviewing one offer in a balanced market. Figuring out exactly which buyer offers a seller the best terms involves a lot of research. Calling lenders to make sure income and assets have been checked. Making sure in this day and age you aren’t entering into a transaction with a buyer who was laid off during COVID or a self employed person whose business was considered non-essential and will have to undergo a “COVID stress test” on their loan. Knowing the ins and outs of each offer is critical to picking the best one.
These days, many sellers are picking offers which waive appraisal. Does that mean I don’t attempt to get my listings to appraise? No! It means I try even harder to get that high sales price that seemed impossible. Why? I don’t want the buyer to get remorseful and feel they paid too much and walk out on my seller. Furthermore, I’m a real estate geek and like honing my skills. Getting a home to appraise for high sales prices has been my specialty since getting my Broker’s License in 2010.
Yes, any home in a seller’s market will sell, just like any superstar college athlete will end up getting offers from the pros. The difference in what both will make, and how smoothly their deals go, is in the agent they choose to represent them.