Now that we seem to have finally broken through the worst part of the market in 2009, we can begin anew with an exciting and fresh approach, and with nothing but hope and optimism for what lies ahead. In recent weeks, I’ve had multiple clients re-enter the marketplace after being previously for sale with other agents last year. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see many of those properties sell with multiple offers within the first week. When that happens, we know that we’re on the right track in terms of our marketing approach and pricing, and that the overall health of the market itself is vastly improved over where we left off last year. We’re still seeing massive inventory shortages in many towns and ranges, so if you were on the market in the past, or even if you weren’t, now is the time we should be talking. Call me…
Working with people re-entering the market is one of my favorite things. It’s sometimes a bit challenging, because these homeowners usually feel as though their last agent let them down, and made promises they didn’t keep – and so naturally they are scared to trust anyone again. In the end we need to look at each and every one of these as an individual situation and come up with the most decisive marketing strategy to get the job done. The one thing we know for sure isn’t the answer is that “nothing was selling” last year. In fact, an analysis of many towns shows that while price was definitely down in 2009 versus 2008, the number of sales remained the same or increased. I know that I had many, many listings last year still selling for well over asking price – in one case over $30K above asking.
I was chatting with one of these homeowners on Monday, and it was clear that they had been through a really tough time when they were on the market last fall, as they went on with reason after reason why they felt their home didn’t sell. They went on about the lack of feedback they had on showings, photos that didn’t make the house look its best, and days that would go by without their agent returning their calls. Of course, in the end they made my day by telling me that I had been recommended by several of their friends, and that they “should have called me in the first place.” After all, I had a success rate of selling over 90 percent of all my existing home listings in 2009.
For new listings entering the market, I have seen some impressive results in the last couple of weeks. Homes in outlying suburbs in which the market had been sluggish for over a year were coming on the market and selling in a week. Some condo listings that just came on which were purchased last year were commanding offers over 20 percent above their purchase price. Always in demand, those pristine younger colonials in great neighborhoods are still commanding bidding wars at the first open houses.
Overall, I would have to say that the biggest piece of advice I have for my clients is not to “rush” the home onto the market, instead of taking the time to prepare a properly. By bringing in my team of painters, handymen, stagers, and other top professionals I work with all the time, we can get a house to its absolute best state, so that it hits the market as near to perfect as it can. The better job we can do in preparation, the higher price you’ll ultimately command for the property, and that’s a win-win for everyone.
We all are aware that these are challenging times in the market, but they are not unique. After 25 years in the business, I’ve been through this type of market three times, and know very well just how to navigate it for maximum results. Just the other day a homeowner and I were chatting about that, and talking about how when the market is hot, everyone is a hero, but it’s at times like this that the true professionals show their colors.
As I do each winter, I’ve opened up the Homeowners Blend program again, in the hope that we can get 10 or 12 new listings on that program this month. That’s always been a huge hit with the local home sellers, in that it provides real estate fees as low as 2.5percent, which is a huge difference when your equity position is low to begin with. We already have four people signed up, but still have room for about six more – so if you’re looking for a solution that will put a bit more money in your pocket, just give me a buzz at (508) 735-4663 or email me at [email protected] com and I’ll save you a place in the program. Until then I hope you have a happy and healthy 2010.
Steve Levine is President of Steve Levine Inc., and an agent for REMAX First Choice. He has been ranked as the top REMAX Agent in the six-state New England region, and can be reached online at www.stevelevine.com or by phone at 508 735-4663.