How can sellers appeal to the most buyers for big wins?
First, let’s take a look at where we are now. 2019 started pretty well as we burned through the unsold housing inventory left over from a particularly unspectacular 2018. This pickup in sales was still anemic from a historic perspective with fewer homes sold in the first quarter than in the prior decade. Some bubble-bursters are quick to proclaim this as a leading indicator of another market crash. I disagree.
One must consider that the overall number of homes sold annually has fallen to a new much lower average than in prior decades. So of course a lower than low annual start will seem gargantuan in a greater historic context. But less so, when viewed against the prior six or seven years since the recovery truly gained momentum.
Early this year it looked like the market was finally picking up momentum even though prices didn’t accelerate much, if at all. Soon overzealous sellers rushed onto the scene and the ratio of homes sold versus those for sale quickly balanced out. So what started briskly has again softened into the par market we saw during most of the prior two years.
The luxury sector is not even remotely “hot” – unless parading buyers through your home for more than a year until it sells appeals to you. And no one, at any price level, can expect to sell for 5% more than last year. It’s going to be another year of stable, modest gains.
The housing market is not the only thing that’s confusing sellers. So are current homebuyers’ tastes. Like it or not, Millennials are now driving trends. And it seems they covet really old or really new homes – but nothing in between. So if you’ve got a mid-century or older home to sell, you’re golden. And if you have a brand new or a remodeled “nearly new” home, you’re also in pretty good shape. But anyone wanting to offload a “middle aged” home built between 1970 – 1999 has their work cut out for them.
The good news is that updates to increase marketability are pretty simple. When selling, the key is to make the fewest, inexpensive changes. Whatever upgrades you make, new buyers will probably change anyway. So consider it stage makeup. It’ll be wiped away when the show’s over – best not to make a sizeable investment in this.
Take your cues from current fashion; 1960’s influenced slim suits and 1970’s flower power hippy tunics are all the rage. This goes for home design as well. Stay true to the year built. If your home has baby pink or powder blue tile in the bathrooms – embrace it! Freshen up the grout, hit the walls with a fresh coat of bright white paint and call it a day. Got old, avocado green appliances? No worries – keep them. Retro is uber “in”. Clean and Sparkly is your mission.
The smartest low cost fixes such as scraping ceilings, installing recessed lights, power washing the exterior and repainting inside and out all net nice returns. Whenever possible, remove all carpeting. Hard floors are an imperative. Inexpensive wood-look floor tiles or laminate strips laid in a herringbone pattern will make millennials’ hearts flutter.
Sometimes when budgets are strained, simply decluttering and playing up architectural features makes all the difference, as seen below where we removed clutter and added neutral slipcovered furniture to draw attention to the fireplace and spectacular views outside.
Millennials also want to rent in these hip communities while they pay off their student debt and prepare to buy a home down the road. Linked here are a few homes now for sale that make sense for investors wanting to appeal to these frugal renters. Now is the time to pick up a low cost rental property. Pay attention! In spite of how soft the resale market is, rents continue to increase. In fact, we’re headed for another record breaking year of rental appreciation. Compared to the lackluster gains on Wall Street, savvy investors are turning toward real estate for the trifecta benefits of tax shelter with equity appreciation and long term cash flow.
There’s a reason Warren Buffet owns a massive residential real estate company.
Landlords looking for longer term investments in rentals with lower operating expenses (like minimal property taxes and association fees) in neighborhoods with greater than average potential for equity appreciation due to infrastructure and development nearby should consider these homes. They’re all priced below $1 million and warrant serious consideration.
If you need to sell a home in this climate, think back to when you bought it. Dress the home up as well as you can, highlighting the features you found most endearing then. Odds are others will agree today. Add interest by carving out intimate outdoor living spaces with strategic furniture placement, and amp up the charm indoors with lighting focused on the homes most interesting architectural features. A little creativity will net massive returns. Whatever you do, do it NOW. It will take 90+ days for the average home to sell – that puts you well into August if you listed it today.
Bottom line, the market is stable – hotter in lower price ranges and cooler at higher price levels. Smart investments can be made now. And strategic planning will yield tremendous results for sellers still wanting to capitalize on the summer market.