We're off to the races! The holidays are behind us, the cooler weather is upon us and our winter visitors are in town enjoying the gorgeous weather we are known for this time of year. For local Realtors, business is picking up and we’re keeping up with the marathon race season brings our way each year between the months of January and April. Many consider Season to be the best time of year to have your property listed; buyers are plentiful, demand is higher leading to a better chance of selling. With the influx of buyers, keeping inventory at pace with buyer activity allows the market to stay neutral and not in favor of one particular side. Even with increased activity and potential buyers abound, it’s important, as a seller, to keep in mind that season is a short window of time to nab a contract on your property. Don’t make crucial mistakes hoping “the right buyer” will come along when your best opportunity to sell is right in front of you. Here are some tips we often share with our clients during the height of season.
DO: Make Your Property ‘Show Ready’: Cleaned, organized and decluttered properties make for a better showing experience for buyers. Don't be fearful of packing away the personal items, trinket and collectables. Buyers want to be able to walk through a home and envision their lives (and stuff) in the space. While it shouldn't be a reason to walk away from a perfectly good house, buyers can be turned off by a listing that needs a good clean or purge and find something that appears more aesthetically pleasing. You want potential buyers to walk away with the best feeling possible after seeing your home so it stays front brain when they narrow their choices. Along with show ready, having your home in it's best form for MLS and marketing photography is HUGE! Good photos highlighting the best features of your property will entice buyers, leaving them wanting to see more and shift them from online browsing to getting their feet through your door.
DON'T: Turning Down Your First Offer: Some sellers seem to think if their listing receives a contract too soon in the process that it’s a warning sign of some kind. They may feel the need to turn down the first offer in case a better offer comes through or they may want to reevaluate their current list price thinking they're priced below market value and someone is getting a bargain. While our market here on the gulf coast has been favorable, we're not in the same buying and selling climate as cities like Denver, San Francisco or New York. Bidding wars happen more frequently on well priced listings and usually occur for listings that have had fewer days on the market. If you are not in a highest and best situation with multiple offers, we've seen over and over that the first offer generally will to be the best offer. Why? When a listing first hits the market, buyers who have been searching and searching for properties have exhausted what's currently on the market. If a new listing checks all the boxes on a buyers list who've been house shopping, they may be eager to get their offer in so not to lose another property to other buyers. They likely will have done their homework with their agent to determine a fair market value for this property. Price isn't the only factor to consider, in many cases price can be negotiated but little (or no) contract contingencies can leave you with a more successful outcome. The longer a listing sits, buyers begin to assume something is up with that property, there has to be a reason no one has bought this yet and so their offers begin to reflect that mindset.
DON'T: Overpricing your listing: This is by far the number one topic we discuss with sellers. While season is a busy buying time, no buyer is EVER interested in paying more than market value for a property. Pending Sales traditionally go up in January - April, but so does the inventory. Overpriced listings will naturally lag behind and stay on the market far longer than appropriately priced properties aka: your competition. We’ve heard all the seller responses over the years, “The right buyer will come along and pay what we’re asking”, “We’re pricing it high so there’s room for negotiating and no money is left on the table”, “Other listings are not as nice as our property, buyers will gladly pay for a nicer property”. We respect these approaches but for Realtors, experience has taught us these are not the best or most successful approaches. Is it possible “the right buyer” will come along, of course. You can reach into a deck of cards, call the Ace of Spades and pull that card from the deck but the odds of that are slim. It’s better to produce a comparative market analysis of your neighborhood’s recent sales and compare your property to what’s been selling and price in the ball park of similar listings. If you do price higher than your competition, be prepared to quickly correct your list price to reflect what the market is telling you. No showings or showings with no offers is an indicator the price likely needs to come down. Your listing may be nicer than others, but some buyers may be open to putting in a little bit of work into it to make it what they want. They may also feel they can turn a lower priced listing into a beautiful dwelling for less than what your property is listed for. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer and think about how you’d navigate this process.