What to Expect in Real Estate the First Quarter of 2015

Jan 12, 2015

Happy New Year!

This is always an exciting time in real estate as we ramp up for another year. We have seen the average days on the market for residential homes increase and the median price remain quite stable. However, inventory remains low and there are certainly many buyers trying to find homes to buy. In fact, inventory remains low and there are certainly many buyers trying to find homes to buy. In fact, inventory remains so low that most of our buyer clients express frustration that they do not have more from which to choose. Moreover, most of the buyers with whom we are working are very serious about making an offer and buying a home.

I continue to see multiple offers on some properties when they are priced correctly. I think these trends will continue for the first quarter of 2015.

I realize many sellers believe that putting a home on the market in the winter is a bad idea. I can understand the reasoning behind this belief; however, if one plans strategically, it could serve a homeowner to gather some facts about the market to make an educated decision about whether it might be a great decision to list a home for sale during the winter. With inventory being so low, there is a lot less competition right now. We anticipate seeing a lot of homes come on the market in the springtime. The old “supply and demand” concept could be just the thing to help you sell your home if you are prepared to do what needs to be done to list and sell in the winter. I encourage you to call a Mountain Metro Association of Realtors® member to discuss whether listing this winter might be the smartest thing you have ever done. Anyone on the Alaris team would be delighted to speak with you.

If you decide to list this winter (or anytime for that matter), here are some tips for you to consider. The first tip is pretty obvious. You have to be ready to keep the ice and snow from your driveway and walkways so that buyers can safely view your home. The second tip is not meant to offend anyone; however, this one is very important. You want your home to look and smell clean. This does not mean that you should use air freshener or scented candles. When I am showing homes to buyers and there are strong or obvious odors, it is a huge turnoff. I have had buyers tell me that they did not even want to look at homes because of the smells. Keep in mind that many people do not enjoy smelling cinnamon, vanilla and other commonly used scents. The best thing you can do is clean top to bottom. Clean the scary parts of the house, basement, window wells, furnace room, etc. I recommend using Pledge to clean the furnace, hot water heater, and other equipment. It is pretty unpleasant to walk into cobwebs when a buyer is looking at a home. Another tip on this topic is to have your windows cleaned. There are some great services which will do this for you very inexpensively. Clean windows make a home show much better.

Third, painting can be another inexpensive way to brighten your home and make it feel warm and welcoming. We recently picked up an inexpensive 5-gallon bucket of top quality paint in neutral color that transformed and brightened the interior of the house. Fourth, you should fix things that are broken. Also, if you have a cracked window, replace it. In other words, take care of any deferred maintenance items. This will not only help you secure an offer, it will also help you avoid inspection related issues. Buyers typically feel great about buying a home in which they do not have to do a lot of work.

The fifth tip is another controversial tip and that is to put away photos, awards, trophies, etc. If you have your photos everywhere, it is a lot more difficult for a buyer to imagine living in your home because they don’t know all those people in the photographs. Also, I see buyers distracted by photos. They stop to look at the pictures instead of focusing on the home. After making this recommendation, we are asked what should go in their place. Most often, the answer is quite simple, nothing. There’s an old adage that says, “when your home begins to feel a little empty to you, you are closer to being ready for your first showing.” Once family pictures come down, the shelves won’t be as cluttered, the room will feel bigger and buyers can focus on how they will utilize the space when it’s theirs. We can usually find something around the house to put up in a hallway if necessary. Most often, we leave hallways empty to move buyers on to the living spaces. And, we can always rearrange the shelves so they can look uncluttered and attractive. Large portraits over the fireplace or living room sofa can be replaced with a mirror that reflects light or, even better, allows buyers to see themselves in your home.

Sixth, speaking of photographs, put out photos of your yard in the spring and summer. This way, buyers can see how beautiful your yard looks outside of winter. We even use digital picture frames to arrange a slide show of your home, yard, and surrounding areas to help buyers see how beautiful the outside areas can get. This helps overcome any worries about buyers not being able to imagine how a home looks in the spring. Remember, as we have been saying, it is all about lifestyle.

We know how stressful it can be to keep a house looking great for showings. That’s why everything we advice homeowners is designed to put a “SOLD” sign in the front yard as soon as possible. If you can get your home on the market in the next month or two, you will have a jump start on everyone else and likely have your home sold before the competition heats up.

We look forward to helping with your real estate needs. Let’s make 2015 the best year yet.

Jon P. Terry, JD, CMAS, Realtor®
Alaris Properties, LLC
Past Chair and Member of the Mountain Metro Association of Realtors®

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