Q. Tom, how is the real estate market really doing? Really? For every positive thing I hear or read about the market, it seems I hear or read something negative too. Why all the contradictory information?
You’re right on with your perception of contradictory indicators regarding the marketplace. National vs. local data, sensational vs. realistic media reports, macro vs. micro-market statistics and timely vs. time-lagged information many times result in confusion rather than clarity for the home-buying and home-selling public. The best thing to do is keep in mind that real estate is local and that every market even within the same community is different based on local supply, demand, job market and even school systems. To answer your question, the real estate market is really not bad – really! It remains a very price-sensitive market but I assure you there are many more positive indicators than negative – this market is definitely stronger than a year ago. How do I know? For starters, the amount of short sale listings has been consistently dropping in nearly every community. It used to be that short sales comprised 45-55% of all sales, now it more like 30-35%. In some micro-markets, prices are actually increasing based on demand; in fact, about one if five houses now receive multiple offers. Also, my direct experience at weekend open houses in the last month affirms that buyers in good numbers are searching in earnest for the right home to purchase; some of these people have been renting for a couple of years and are already pre-approved with a mortgage lender, others are first-time buyers with their parents in tow ready to assist with the necessary down payment if the right home and value come along. And these days there are more than a few buyers, investors and non-investors alike, who are walking around with a lot of cash just waiting for the right real estate opportunity. So, the real estate market is good and getting better. Really!
Q. My mom passed away a month ago; my siblings and I disagree as to whether to sell mom’s home as-is with the furniture, sell as-is but emptied of all furniture & belongings, or improve its dated look with new paint, carpet, appliances, etc. with the goal of obtaining a higher sales price. And we’re also having a hard time getting started as mom was a ‘collector’ and left behind a lot of stuff. Any recommendations?
My condolences to your family. I run into this situation all the time. My first recommendation is to consult with an experienced Realtor whose opinion you trust. A trained eye is necessary to properly advise whether a home should be sold as-is with furniture or sold vacant as-is or updated with paint, flooring and other amenities. If improvements are recommended, keep in mind you only want to spend money and time on upgrades that will provide a return on the investment; in other words, for every $1 you spend you’ll want to get $5-10 back on the sale. Regarding getting started and sorting through mom’s stuff, maybe this will help. Think of putting all things in one of six categories: things you will 1) keep yourself 2) give to extended family 3) sell outright or consign 4) give away to anyone 5) donate or 6) haul away. That should get you all on the same page and moving in the right direction. I wish you the best!