Anatomy of a real estate recovery



As I first mentioned in my column last month, it would appear,

at least in our local market, that the real estate recovery is upon us at last. While gloom persists in many areas of the nation, and we have a long way to go before our entire nation is back on track, we have most definitely turned a corner here in Central Mass.

In the last few weeks, for example, I have had many, many of my listings sell within a day or two of hitting the market. If that's not a sign of a recovery, then I don't know what is. Drilling down a bit deeper into some of the sales reveals a particular pattern that further points to the inevitable recovery around us. For one thing, almost all of the properties sold for nearly full price or over, and half of them had multiple offers. Granted, those prices were less than they would have been at the peak of the market in 2006, but after properly analyzing the recent sales and inventory, and coming up with an attractive offering price, all sold at what I feel was a great value, given the current marketplace. Buyers who had cash in hand, a mortgage pre-approval ready, and the courage to move forward did really well for themselves. Down the road, they will undoubtedly be talked about, as the folks who got a great deal way back in 2009 when prices were great.

Much credit goes to the sellers as well, who really have been great to work with, under obviously stressful circumstances. By taking the extra couple of weeks to properly prepare their homes for sale, before ever hitting the market, staging them correctly, and of course pricing it properly right from the get go, these sellers helped work with me hand in hand to create a recipe for true success.

In contrast, I see many other folks' listings still sitting hopelessly on the market and seeing little or no activity at all. In some cases, this is merely a matter of price, but in most it may be a simple matter of doing a better job on marketing to the buyers and agents out there looking to make a move. I really feel that in this day and age far too little time is spent on the marketing and pre-listing preparation aspects of the property, and this is where I think I've been making the difference for many of my home sellers over these recent months. Even now, so many sellers still think that the choice of Realtor is of no consequence to them, but those who think this way are truly missing the mark. It's at times like this especially that agent selection becomes the most critical part of the process.

Developing a cohesive marketing strategy for each property is the first key to success, as is recognizing the very unique nature of each and every home sale. Another is looking at the use of advanced technological avenues to try to convey the unique positive features of each house to a greater number of potential buyers. For some recent listings, this has meant doing a full video tour, actually walking the buyers through the property from the perspective of a guest at the front door. I've done this on several homes recently and the feedback has been amazing.

Of course, the strategy that succeeded with one property may be wrong for another, and that's precisely where we come in. This is the third one of these recessions I've been through, and it's great to be able to tap into that knowledge base of over 2,000 transactions, and 20+ years of experience, to custom design the best possible approach for each individual seller.

A few things that I've noted this week bear discussion. For one, inventory is critically low in many sectors. Despite the national media, it's important that we all recognize that real estate is local, and here in Central Mass., the number of "cream puff " homes out there that are priced right, and ready to go, are very small. I can tell you personally that my listing inventory is about as low as I've ever seen it, so if you're thinking of making a move, we really need to talk. Call me at 508 735-4663, and let me know your thoughts and plans.

Another interesting thing we have seen in a year or so are buyers contacting me not because of a particular home they want to view, but because they realize I often know in advance which ones are coming on the market, long before they do … and they want to try and grab something before it hits the market itself. That's yet another great sign that we've turned the corner at last.

Some final things, since I'm running out of room. Home sellers, I still have room for a few more listings under my annual Homeowners Blend Program, with real estate fees as low as 2.5 percent. To the many Buyers out there, the time is now. Get in touch and let me know what you're looking for. The property of your dreams may be closer than you think. Check out the online videos for buyers and sellers alike at www.stevelevine. com.

Steve Levine is President of Steve Levine Inc., and an agent at REMAX First Choice. He's been ranked as the top REMAX Agent in New England for over a decade, and can be reached at 508 735-4663 or by e-mail at [email protected].