By Steve Levine
Well, after a relatively slow autumn it appears that the lack of snow this winter has caused the spring market to arrive in force in February, way ahead of schedule. Spurred on by interest rates that almost seem free compared to what we are used to, and prices that are still hovering around 2002 levels, buyers have really stepped up to the plate in droves, causing actual bidding wars on some properties – something we haven's seen in many months.
I suppose on some levels, it's to be expected. I attended a seminar years ago where the lecturer spoke about the theory that the American consumer isn's accustomed to being made to wait. His analogy went to that of technology. Even though it's logical to see that the price of a flat panel television might go lower as the holidays neared, people were only willing to wait so long – and then they wanted what they wanted. The same holds true in the real estate world, in that people in various stages of their life, from first time buyers to snowbirds heading south, just grew tired of waiting. They came to realize that no higher power was going to descend upon them and tell them “now is the time to move,” and ultimately just decided to forge ahead.
This is the third such market I'se lived through in my 25-plus years in the business, and I know there are lots of uncertainties. There is one thing that's about as certain as it gets however, and that is that down the road 10 years as you'se hanging around talking to friends, people may view those who had the courage to step into the market of 2012 as the smartest people on the planet. Others will no doubt be kicking themselves later.
Three years ago, I was about to board a flight for vacation to Florida and I had by stock broker on the phone. I had a buy order in on a few thousand shares of Apple stock at 83/share, but it had just refused to dip below $85 all week. He knew I was going to be in the air for a few hours and wanted permission to just buy it at the market price. I thought about it, but really thought it was going to drop a bit, and so I held off. By the end of the day it had rallied to $88. It hit $120 by the end of the week, and is now in the $500s. I was stubborn, and it cost me enough to pay for one of the kids” college educations. The key is that you just can's “time the market.” You need to do what you think is best, and work from there.
Inventory is still at a real low point, which comes as a surprise to many. Actually, to put it more accurately, the inventory of nice, well-priced homes on the market is very low, and this creates an opportunity for sellers to maximize their returns before others flood to market.
Contrary to what many may think, selling during the winter can be a much more lucrative time than the spring or summer, when inventory is much higher. The key to success lies in what I call the “pre-marketing phase.” This is when things happen that are true life changers. We sit together and evaluate staging techniques, minor changes such as paint and paper and anything else we can take on that we feel will return at least a 300% return on the investment. By doing those minor things long before hitting the market, we can achieve top dollar at a time when many sellers are having the worst year ever.
Drop me an email or call, of course, and we can talk about how to set that up for you. I think you'sl be astonished to see just what possibilities are out there.
Steve Levine is President of Steve Levine Inc., and an agent for REMAX Prestige. He's been ranked as one of the top agents in New England for over 20 years, and can be reached by phone at 508-735-HOME (4663) or by email at [email protected].