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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every day is a blessing when you love what you do. There are plenty of agents out there that get wadded up over showing property on a gorgeous weekend day when they know their buyers have zero chance of either liking the homes or have the ability to win in a multiple offer situation. I am an agent that understands that interacting with my buyers at properties helps me to understand better what they like, help them adjust expectations and get to know them better. Bonus for me is that I genuinely have fun just about anywhere I go. And I have found that my good disposition has a way of rubbing off.
Today my buyers and I traveled from Culpeper to Warrenton, to Nokesville and back to Warrenton. We saw some interesting things. The blue pig above was one of the more attractive things we saw today. He was so cute we just had to stop and admire. Didn’t notice he had his left ear reattached until uploading the photo above to this post. Some defects can be easily overlooked if the subject is charming enough.
One room we saw was a virtual time machine. Shag carpeting on the walls as an accent to the wood paneling below. Welcome to 1970. The literal orange laminate counter tops in the kitchen made it easy to picture Mike Brady at this desk drawing up some architecture plans.
The other gorgeous thing we saw was this back yard. It had some truly lovely trees in bloom. The dogwood pictured above was the prettiest. Somehow, it looked better in person. Probably something to do with being in the sunlight, hearing the birds chirp and the rooster next door crow.
Though we ruled out more than we ruled in, my buyers and I made good progress today. We tried on some homes that would have been dismissed out right before. My buyers learned where they have flexibility and that the geographic area of the most interest is not out of reach with a new vision on how to utilize smaller spaces. We are now thinking out of the box.
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?
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.
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.
On January 21st, I listed 14530 Kylewood Drive for $315,000. Before we hit the market we received a very serious offer from a buyer who was desperate to be in the Gainesville area in an affordable home. Having come off of the second half of 2021, where things had not be crazed, but still favoring sellers, I wondered if it may be the best offer the sellers got. Heck, based on a look at the comps when signing the listing in late December, it was likely to be the only offer. My seller wanted to work something out with the buyer, who incidentally had a home sale contingency. However, when that buyer panicked about the amount over list he had written and didn’t sign my seller’s counter that only shortened time frames, I advised my seller to withdraw his counter offer. Thank goodness he heeded my advice.
Turns out that a condo with fees at just under $500/month, got a total of fifteen offers.
Were any of them just at list price? Not a single one. Every offer was above list price. And surprisingly, buyers willing to waive inspections, appraisals or offer a low appraisal guarantee were back in full force. What a difference a week makes.
If you are a buyer in the western suburbs of Northern Virginia, get yourself an agent that is actively engaged in the market. A full-time professional who notices quickly when the pace or conditions shift. Looking over the fifteen offers I saw submitted, I realized how poorly some of these buyers were being represented. Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
In other news my buyer-clients, who wrote their first offer in a similar price point in Warrenton over the weekend, got their offer accepted. You don’t get winning advice from agents who are barely engaged in the market.
If you need a buyer’s agent, give me a call. If you want the best results and expert evaluation of multiple offers, get in touch with me. This is what I do every day. I make it my job to know the market so I can best represent YOU.
Looking for affordable three bedroom properties in Gainesville? You have come to the right place. Welcome to 14530 Kylewood Way in the Parks at Piedmont South Condos. A four level condo with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms and one car garage for only $315,000. Let me tell you all about it.
For starters, it is located in the only phase of the Parks at Piedmont South Condos that is HUD approved. That may not sound like anything meaningful to you until I share this next bit with you. For a condo to qualify under FHA or VA financing regulations, the condo meet certain approval guidelines. This one does. So unlike two-thirds of the condos in Parks at Piedmont South, literally any type of loan can be used to finance it. That makes it in high demand before I even tell you anything about the condo itself.
Every condo in the Parks at Piedmont South is an end unit. However, this is about as end a location as you can get. It is the last condo on the street before you get to the townhouses. That means it sides to a nice grassy common area and also offers a longer driveway than most, with the ability to accomodate two mid-size cars without breaching the concrete apron.
Inside you will be greeted by laminate hardwood flooring. The first floor is the “landing zone” with a powder room, and closet. The powder room boasts a utility style, stainless steel sink in the vanity. It serves dual duty, being right next to the garage.
Head up to the second level, which I call the main level. This is where you find the kitchen overlooking the living room and dining area. You will enjoy plenty of Corian counters, more laminate hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances and a gas fireplace.
Third floor is carpeted and is where you find the owner’s suite. An expansive room with walk-in closet with custom built-in shevling and a luxury bathroom with dual sinks, soaking tub, separate shower and water closet. Don’t walk past the hidden gems on the third floor landing. A laundry area with full size stacked, front load wasther and dryer, shelving and a tuckaway folding station. And the full size hall mirror hides an ironing board nook. Just slide it over and you will see the organizational ingenuity of the owner at work.
The fourth floor, also carpeted, is home to a loft area off of which bedrooms two and three and the second full bathroom are located. Forget an ensuite bathroom. This entire floor is perfect for the family member(s) that want their own living space in the loft.
There will be an open house on Sunday, January 23 (2022) from 1pm-3pm. Come by and see it for yourself.
Attention to Detail Matters Even in Shredding Files
When you are studying to obtain a Virginia real estate license, one of the details is that is ingrained in you is that our licensing entity only requires brokerages to hold onto files for three years. That works well with the Virginia Statute of Frauds having a two year expiration from the time fraud was committed. Of course, our commonwealth law is not the only law that can apply to a real estate file.
Over ten years ago, while representing a buyer, I uncovered what appeared to be mortgage fraud. A fly-by-night investor who had taken a course in buying up distressed properties that were headed to foreclosure was crossing many lines in selling homes. State laws were being broken and ultimately, when reported to the FBI, it was the federal laws broken that mattered. Turned out, the Federal Statute of Frauds time limits are different. In the case of this investor, the statute of limitations for bank fraud was five years.
When the Federal Prosecutor called me before the Federal statue of limitations had expired, I was fishing through email for remnants of the file since the paper copy had been shred. Let me tell you, that’s not a great feeling. None the less, with what I had turned over to the FBI nearly five years earlier, was enough to kick off an investigation that would land this investor in Federal Court and ultimately, behind bars for five years.
As I shred files from 2014 and move into 2015, I realize that I am not a typical Viriginia real estate licensee. My experience in this career has taught me so much more than a lot of my fellow licensees care to even entertain. Attention to detail is the most important thing a real estate licensee has, but if they are trained to the bare minimum of details, it is their clients that pay the price. This is an industry where the required level of training does not even begin to cover how an agent can truly benefit their clients, industry and society at large. Being inquisititive and learning the ins and outs of contracts, mortgage, title and insurance are what make the agents that do attain this level of knowledge invaluable to their clients.
If you require more than the bare minimum from the person guiding you through your home purchase or sale and reside in or around the areas on my chalkboard to the right of this post, I would love the opportunity to help.