My interview with the Huntsville Times
I was privileged to be interviewed for an article published in today’s Huntsville Times Sunday edition, entitled Season Opens for House Hunters. If you get a chance check out the complete article written by Anna Thibodeaux in the Homes Section of Sunday’s paper dated April 12, 2009. I have not yet found the article online but will post the link if it is eventually published online.
The interview, conducted a couple of weeks ago, was about what local sellers can expect this Spring given the recent upheavals in the financial and housing markets. While only excerpts of the interview were published in the paper, what follows is a complete list of questions and answers I kept from my notes. Hopefully they will be useful for both buyers and sellers in our current Huntsville Real Estate market.
The Complete List of Interview Questions
If I’m selling my house in spring why is it important that I make improvements?
The competition is stronger than ever. As a seller, you need to have you home be “best in show”. There are too many choices for buyers, so make yours the most attractive through a buyers eyes.
Is spring a big selling time? Buying time? Why?
Spring is big for buyers and sellers. Call it “spring fever”! With Huntsville, many companies are hiring out of town employees. Having so many relocation’s, this is a big time for families to come in to our area and buy homes.
Who are the typical buyers this time of year?
I couldn’t really put a finger on a “typical buyer” seasonally. This year, I have noticed more first time buyers out scouting their homes. Great interest rates and the first time tax credit plays a part in this, I believe. And of course, Relo families that plan on moving after school is out are coming into the area on a regular basis.
With the recession, do you think buyers will be looking for smaller houses? lower-priced houses?
I think buyers are looking for deals, period. I do think people are more wary and realize the “American dream” of home ownership can bite them in the back side if they don’t purchase within their means. Most of my buyers have a price range in mind and do not want to stray above that range. I see wiser choices being made, typically.
Should sellers expect to negotiate harder to sell?
Oh absolutely! I have countered offers many times before coming to an agreement. Get your combat boots on and hang in there!
What should sellers do to prep the house?
Make sure your home is show room ready, from the outside in. If you don’t have curb appeal, many buyers will not even want to venture in the front door. CLEAN and de-clutter. I can’t stress that enough. Clean out closets! Yes, buyers look in your closets!
What’s the typical budget or price range I should anticipate to spruce up my house?
I really can’t answer that. Each home is different. Many homes just need to de-clutter a bit, while others need to paint, replace carpet and make much needed updates. If you are willing to price your home accordingly and can’t afford to do the updates, just make sure your home is clean and clutter free. I can’t stress that enough. All homes will sell, if priced correctly.
Should I paint? If so, what?
Think neutral! Buyers can easily get distracted if rooms are painted in loud, vibrant colors. Choose a neutral shade! Remember, while selling, it is not your home, this is now a house you are trying to sell and you need to depersonalize it as much as possible. If you have out dated wallpaper, that’s an easy fix to pull it down and paint.
Does everyone replace the carpet?
Absolutely not. If you have pet stains, or carpet that has stains, then yes, you’d better replace it. If not, if it needs cleaning, by all means have it cleaned.
If I’m selling and having pets what should I do?
Keep the animals put up. Many buyers are afraid of dogs and cats. While you love your pets, some buyers will not. If you have dogs, make sure the yard is “cleaned up” after your pets as well.
Do you think selling will be more difficult this spring?
Not necessarily. We are in a price driven market. Most homes will sell if priced correctly. Gone are the days of overpricing and waiting for an offer. You will be lucky to get many showings if the home is overpriced. Buyers are very intelligent and study the market before ever hitting the streets with their agents, many times. Price, price, price!
Should buyers expect better deals this spring in the area market?
Again, it depends on the price range and area. In some areas builders are carrying a larger than usual inventory. There are some potential deals to be made there. It all depends on the price range as well. In some price ranges we are still in a sellers market. Overall, I think the time to get a deal is better now than it has been, however.
Are fewer people putting their houses on the market because of the recession?
I think so. I think the media has everyone scared to death. Many sellers are staying put until our economy levels out and they can get more for their home. Many sellers are seeing the benefits of selling now, if they are buying “up” in price range. While they may not make as much on the selling end, they should more than make up the difference on the buying end. This is a great time to move up.
What are some clever things I can do to help sell my house in a more competitive market?
It’s really not clever…price it right! Show room ready and priced competitively! Works every time. I’m not saying “give your house away”. I’m saying price it accordingly to the statistics in your area.
Do you expect the typical strong spring market this year or not?
I do. I started seeing “spring buyers” a month ago. Business is booming right now. I see homes that have been sitting for months now selling. I think the market is really picking up.
What do I do if buyers want to low ball me on my house price?
By all means don’t get upset and reject the offer. Make a counter offer! Grit your teeth, but counter the low offer.. Many buyers just need to test the waters, just in case I don’t blame them. I would too!
What mistakes do sellers typically make with marketing the house?
Again, PRICE! Showroom ready, curb appeal. You have seconds to form that first impression. Make it easy to show. Buyers want to see it, these days, many times. They can’t or won’t look in 24 hours. Expect last minute showings and be prepared.
What extras should I consider to move my house in an especially competitive market?
I know I sound like a broken record, but again, price. More times than not, sellers are paying closing costs for the buyers. If they ask for your refrigerator for instance, consider leaving it, instead of losing the sale. This could be your only offer, so do everything you can to find middle ground for you and the buyer. Everyone needs to feel as if they are winning something.
Comment on anything else a buyer or seller should know about the spring market this year?
Educate yourself on our market. Huntsville’s market, not nationwide. Our market is stronger, thankfully! Have your agent educate you about the absorption rates in your price range. (Inventory levels) This will let you know if your price range is a buyers or sellers market. That is the most important piece of information, I believe.
For buyers, have your agents pull very thorough statistics in your chosen area and price range. For sellers, the sellers need to have a very thorough CMA done of their areas as well. Listen to the market in your area and price range. Find a Realtor you can trust, that knows the market and understands your wants and needs. From there, it’s all downhill!