Real estate market springs back to life
By Steve Levine
Each year about this time, we see the buyers and sellers alike awake like bears coming out of hibernation. This year, however, has been the most dramatic shift I’ve ever seen in a market in all of my years in the industry. In fact, my last two open houses on Saturday and on Sunday had over 60 families each coming through – something that we would never have seen in the fall.
There are obviously more than a few logical reasons for such a thing to happen. For one, the slow fall and winter market meant that there was a huge pent up demand as buyers put their plans on hold waiting to see which direction the market was going to move. Now that it’s become apparent that we’ve hit the bottom and are likely on the way back up, buyers have been flooding into the market afraid that they’re going to miss out on the best buying opportunity in history. When you combine that with interest rates that are at historical lows, it has increased demand to the point where it has outpaced supply in some market segments.
The results have been nothing short of astounding, with several of my recent listings seeing multiple offers the first day on the market, and sellers finally feeling that for the first time in years they may have a bit more control. In recent weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to be able to sit back and evaluate three or four offers for the same home, and evaluate which one to take based on a variety of factors, such as the strength of the pre-approval letter, terms of closing and of course pricing.
Of course, getting the point of a multiple offer situation isn’t about luck, but about planning and more than a little bit of hard work. In many cases, this is where the “pre-marketing” team I put together comes into place. Over the years, I put together this team of fantastic folks such as my painter, handyman, plumber, electrician and carpet installer who enable me to step into a home that needs a bit of freshening and bring it to like new condition affordably, and in just a few days. Taking that stress off the homeowners has been a huge help, and delivers a product that truly sparkles on the very first day of the listing period.
Just over the last few weeks, I’ve had the joy of watching several homes undergo this transformation, and as the second dumpster was taken away, along with a Pod full of furniture, you can’t imagine how different the home looked. As a result, we have an open house flooded with buyers, and are able to sell for top dollar in just a few days. What could be better than that?
One question I’m often asked is how many of the folks that show up at open houses are real buyers. I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. I routinely bump into people that I’ve been seeing for years and years who still haven’t purchased a home. Yes, you have the neighbors that stop by, as you can tell since they leave and walk up the street instead of getting in the car, but overall I think that the bulk of the people that come through that first week truly do have an honest intention of buying something – even if realistically they are months away.
This brings us to a hidden challenge buyers face today, which I call the inventory-fear factor. As we’ve put a few homes on the market the past two weeks, the inventory situation has clearly started to improve and there are some lovely homes to pick from. That said, many buyers are afraid to pick anything – for fear that something even better will come on tomorrow – and that has some of them just paralyzed. In the end, many of them will wind up losing out on a great opportunity in the hopes of an even greater one, only to find that down the road they wish they had grabbed that great place back in March.
Opportunity knocks, but the question is who will have the courage to open the door?
Steve Levine is President of Steve Levine Inc. and an agent at REMAX Prestige, where he has been ranked as the Top Agent in New England in 10 separate years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-735-4663.
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