ALERT!  HOW TO NAVIGATE TODAY’S REAL ESTATE MARKET

How Do Boomer’s and Seniors Demystify This Tumultous Market

Expectations: Are You’re Buying or Selling

The market appears to have definitely shifted from a seller’s to buyer’s market…. Photo by Thirdman (Pexels)

A blistering hot real estate market.  Well, not so fast.  That which we witnessed over the past several years was a red-hot selling market where multiple offers were the norm, bidding up the original asking price just to get the property of your dreams.  The frenzy was accompanied by buyers lining up to offer their bids and hoping for a successful outcome.  

Today, the “red-hotness” has somewhat cooled, in fact, it has cooled significantly.  Rising interest rates and inflation have precipitated a market that is just about 180 degrees from several months ago.  Higher mortgage rates have now caused a glut in the real estate market such that we are now witnessing the lowest rate of mortgages written in the past 20 years.  

I am not a real estate agent or real estate professional, but I keep a very close eye on the market in various parts of the country.  One of the leading indicators that I look for in a healthy market is the number of pending home sales.  This indicator has declined for the fifth straight month since March 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

One of the best indicators in the real estate market is now more difficult to find these days. Photo by RODNAE Productions (Pexels)

I just did my own little survey online with Zillow and was shocked to see the listings in areas where I have lived or wanted to move in the past.  The pending’s were as low as I’ve seen in recent memory, and now the listed homes are just sitting.  A sign of the times!

So, what does this mean for the market.  Baby Boomers and Seniors alike, along with all other age groups, need to prepare for this downturn.  Expect the Fed to continue raising interest rates, at least for the short term through the end of the year, inflation will continue to wreak havoc with the supply and demand of products and services, and a gradual easing of real estate pricing.  In fact, in several of the markets I evaluate, prices have already been reduced leading one to believe it is fast becoming a BUYER’S MARKET.  

In light of that, I want to focus on what you need to do if you want to sell your home or you have to.  You will have to do what was the norm in years past.  You’ll have to stand out and differentiate from other homes in your immediate neighborhood.  Along with the market, I’m really afraid the days of selling your home “as-is” are behind us.

I want to point out again, my BoomerGuy and I are not realtors, but we are savvy investors and have bought and sold many homes in different areas around the country.  And I can tell you, not always was it a good time to sell, but in many cases because of his career, we had to sell and move to the next corporate opportunity. Our lot in life.

So, what do you do from here.  Simply put, spruce up your house and landscaping and make it look as appealing as possible so that it stands out from others in your market.  

Here are 13 really fantastic tips for getting to “yes” in selling your home in an environment where costs are rising, listings are sitting, and real estate agents are scrambling.  

It really doesn’t matter if your home is large or small, dress up the landscaping. Photo by Pixabay (Pexels)
  • Walk the neighborhood.  The purpose here is to compare the inherent beauty of your landscaping with others.  If you see a home with a pristine yard, one that you admire, take a couple of photographs and see if you can’t get the name of their gardener.  It’s called curb appeal.
  • Get honest about your budget.  Being well-informed about the challenges and costs associates with plants and supplies.  Landscapers are facing labor shortages and increased costs, so make certain your landscaper or gardener knows your budget and you have a contract for the scope of work and timeframe.  I just saw an article where we can expect plant shortages well into 2023.  With that in mind, a good landscaper can recommend smart substitutes with a similar look that will still thrive in the conditions of your yard.  

“Landscaping is a piece that is emotional and psychological”

Jim Hodges

STAND OUT BOOMERS, WE ALWAYS HAVE!!!

OK, so your house is on the small side. That’s wonderful, and it still needs to look good. Mow the grass and keep it and the shrubs watered. Paint the trim and garage door. Get it looking its best. Photo by Get Lost Mike (Pexels)
  • Decide how much work you can do yourself.  If you’re an avid gardener see if your gardener or landscaper would handle just the heavy lifting, like installing boulders and irrigation and doing the weightier plantings.  Then you can fill in the rest.  
  • A fun planting idea for Boomers is the use of gardening containers.  Amazon has a host of books on gardening and on the specific subject.  A beautiful one is “Containers in the Garden.”  My BoomerGuy and I love, love, love container gardening.  It gives the back patio almost a 3-dimensional effect.  Make sure the color palette of the containers blend and harmonize.

Remember, everything you do outside and inside your home is to create an environment that not only appeals to your prospective buyer but allows them the freedom to envision living in and on the property with the same beauty.

  • Prepping the inside of the home.  The days are now gone of selling your home as is without a care to how it looked.  The key element today is to eliminate clutter and have a clean house.  When you put your home on the market, not only do you need to stand out, but your architecture is really about a feeling of well-being.  The prospective buyer wants to see themselves living in your home and have a sense of comfort.  So, edit the unnecessary stuff and remove all the family photos.  Your home will appear more spacious and give a sense of a calm.
The living area must be immaculate…fluff the pillows, turn on the lights, dust the floors, vacuum, clean the coffee table, add flowers and REMOVE THE CLUTTER. Photo by Max Vakhtbovych (Pexels)
  • Once you have that done, you might find yourself having to repaint, especially if the walls and ceiling are tired and dingy, or if each room is a different “screaming out loud” color.  A neutral palette is the best for resale.  If it needs to be done quickly, get an all-in-one paint and primer that dries quickly so that you can save time and minimize prep work.
  • If you need a painter, find a good one.  Painters can be backlogged for weeks if not months, so you’ll need to decide how to proceed.  First, get a referral from a neighbor, the paint store, www.thumbtack.com, or your local Home Depot or Lowe’s.  Make certain they are insured and/or bonded so you’re protected.  Once you engage, stay involved and look over their work to make sure there won’t be any surprises.
  • If you want to do some remodeling before listing, you will probably need to start the project to ensure the scope of work can get done within your timeframe.  Home remodelers are also facing a labor shortage along with supply chain disruptions, so be aware of potential delays and sometimes rising costs, even with a contract for services.  Finding an experienced professional has never been more critical, and the cost of all home products are sky high and climbing due to inflation.  In the first five months of 2022, lumber jumped an astounding 218%.  Follow the same guidelines as for a painter in finding a reputable remodeling contractor.  It is essential the scope of work is finished per your agreement so that you can now list your home.  
The most important room in your house. This one might need updating in order to sell, but keep these vitals in mind: NO CLUTTER on the counters, turn on the lights, add some fragrant flowers, and make sure everything is spotless. Photo by Mark McCammon (Pexels)
  • There are a number of ways to sell your home.  You can sell it yourself, you can list your property through a number of online sources, you can find companies to buy your property on the cheap, and you can sell your home through a variety of low commission agents willing to take on any property of value.  My recommendation:  find a bona fide, experienced real estate agent.  Here’s a fact, as of February 2022 there were far more realtors in America than homes for sale.  That trend has changed dramatically over the past five months, and the resulting imbalance may lead you to be very selective.  Ken H. Johnson of Florida Atlantic University College of Business says your agent needs to have at least 10 or more years in the market, they need to have an intimate knowledge of your location and surrounding area (in other words, don’t fall for the agent living 30 miles away in another community), a great track record with solid references, and one of the major requirements, the ability to listen to you very carefully.  www.homelight.comwww.zillow.com, and www.realtor.com have an outstanding agent finder with impeccable credentials.  
The second most important room, the primary bedroom. All the same rules apply, and make certain you open the drapes and blinds. Photo by Pixabay (Pexels).
The primary bath must be organized and clean, including the mirrors, so that your prospective buyer can envision standing at the sink as if it were their home. Photo by Quark Studio (Pexels)
  • The outlook. You may not be thinking about selling immediately, but possibly in the future.  It doesn’t appear the market is going to improve beyond its current condition for the foreseeable future, which means you can start working on improving your home for salability at some point.  It’s never too early to start, and what a great way to enjoy your home with all the improvements while you decide on when to place it on the market.  

“We shape our homes, and then our homes shape us.”

Winston Churchill

  • Inspection.  One last dirty little reminder.  In this time of a “buyer’s market” you might wish to have anything you know of that is not functional fixed before you list.  I can assure you the new buyer will insist on an inspection certification and normally those fixes come at a higher price than if you are proactive.  Oh, by the way, you have to pay for these prior to closing, not the buyer.  If you suspect a problem rest assured they will be uncovered.  Better safe than sorry.  If they are too numerous or onerous, it could cost you the sale, and then you will be known to have a tainted property.  Not a good thing.
  • Oh dear, what if your house just doesn’t sell and you still need to move.  One of the simplest strategies is to rent your property.  Make sure you have a comprehensive rental agreement and include minimum durations, such as a year or more.  Rents are the highest they have been and you should reach for the maximum return to help you defray your ongoing living costs.  One thought might be to keep it in the family and rent to a child, grandchild or next of kin.    

It’s a different market gang.  The days of coasting with multiple offers are over.  Now it’s time to buckle down and make a difference.  You have to “stand out.”

Look for a follow on edition next week.

Good luck and good selling.  Your Number One BoomerGal, Connie. 

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