Sellers no longer get away with stretching the asking price. In fact, they must be extremely careful in pricing or they will not find success. It is not as easy as pricing it right at the most recent comparable sale either. Rarely are two homes completely identical. There is a lot more that goes into the value of a home: location, condition, upgrades, updates, décor, and overall appeal.
Buyers today are much different than buyers of past markets. Buyers used to overlook some deferred maintenance and lack of upgrades and updates. They focused on the “bones” of a home, the floor plan, and location. They were not afraid of a home that required a little bit of “elbow grease.” Today, buyers want a home that is turnkey, ready to go. They want it to look like a model home. What happened? Quite simply, it was Chip and Joanna Gaines.
HGTV’s hit show, Fixer Upper, about home design and renovation, starred Chip and Joanna Gaines and aired for five years, from 2013 to its final season this year. This show, along with the overabundance of real estate related reality shows, changed buyers’ expectations and approach to real estate. Buyers now know the approximate cost, time, and hassle in improvements, updates, and remodels that go into a home. These real estate show carefully displayed the purchase price, the cost to upgrade, and the time it took to complete the project. The result was always a spectacular home that left the viewer wanting to move in. This is where the expectations and desire for the perfect, turnkey home originated from.
Today’s buyer wants a home to look like a model. When it falls short, buyers subtract from value. If a home needs carpet, the walls are scuffed and dirty, the kitchen is outdated, the yard needs work, the patio is cracked, the light fixtures are old, the bathrooms are dated, and there is plenty of deferred maintenance, buyers will subtract heavily from value. Many buyers will just skip these homes altogether and wait for a home to come along that is already done and ready for immediate occupancy.
To find success, sellers must price their homes carefully considering the comparable sales and factoring in a home’s condition and overall appeal. The closer a home looks to a model, the faster it will sell. Pricing a home at the last comparable sale, yet it needs a lot of work, will simply not sell in today’s market. As a result, sellers have a choice. They can either invest in their home and update it prior to placing it on the market; or, they can adjust the price to reflect the work that needs to be done. Buyers will also subtract for the hassle to do it themselves. With the market knocking on the door of a buyer’s market, price is everything.
The active listing inventory continues to bounce around the 7,200 mark. Originally, it looked as if the inventory had reached a peak at the end of September when it reached 7,207, and then two weeks later dropped to 7,201. It was the first time in 2018 that the inventory went down. Then, on October 18, it climbed to 7,292, adding 91 homes. Today, two weeks later, it dropped to 7,231, shedding 61 homes, or 1%. So, it appears as if the peak has been reached and the inventory will fall for the remainder of the year.