A win-win for buyers and sellers By Nedra Kanavel, Associate Broker, Idaho and Montana
“How’s the real estate market?” might have been the most asked question of 2022. My answer typically included something about the latest shock from another interest rate hike. In 2023, it’s exciting to already see a steadier market emerging; one that can be a win-win for both buyers and sellers. In particular, those who act early this year can take advantage of some unique benefits and be one giant step closer to what lies on the other side of selling or buying their home in North Idaho.
As of mid-January, we can see three major signs that show a rosier picture for real estate. First, showings of listings are on the rise. More showings means more active buyers. One example: A listing that was on the market for four months last fall had only four showings total. That same listing, with no price change, has now had five showings in just the last 14 days. Second, mortgage-backed securities are increasing in value, which translates to lower interest rates and more buying power. And third, inventory of available houses remains historically low.
Winter sellers have a lot to gain this year. Here’s how:
• Be one of the few gems on the market. The first “showing” is always online these days. Be sure your photos, videos and 3-D tours are some of the best out there. Much of that depends on your agent and their team.
• That leads to the next seller tip. Interview for your agent. Ask for their specific marketing plan. It should be more than just “putting it on the MLS.” Ask what kind of team they have behind them—excellent photographers, title companies, contractors and inspectors are a must. Research their track record and experience; they don’t have to have the biggest numbers, but they should have a record of success. Ask them for their strategy of keeping the listing fresh and appealing to buyers.
• Focus on the quality of your showings. If the home is vacant, arrange to have the home’s temperature somewhere in the ‘60s. Have someone on hand to keep the driveway and sidewalk clear. If the house is winterized, ask your agent to make sure that is communicated well.
• Ask for current market data. Average days on market and sold prices for houses in your price range and area can help you know what to expect as you are on the market.
• Be prepared for buyer requests. Even though you will be one of the few on the market, your buyer on the other end is choosing to invest after a very tumultuous year. It will be normal for buyers to ask for some repairs and price reductions. Because of low inventory, sellers will still have bargaining power but should expect to find a happy medium to get to closing.
• If you haven’t yet, find your loan officer. Interview two to three. Don’t settle. You should know ahead of time about your costs; appraisal prices and loan fees can vary widely. Almost all loans do lead back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But each bank has different restrictions on credit scores, down payments, etc., and that can dramatically impact your future monthly payment. Ultimately, sellers are looking for pre-qualified buyers. Your offer is much stronger when they know you’re ready.
• Same goes for your real estate agent. Pick one who will invest the time to meet or speak with you and determine your wants and needs. It’s true. Any licensed real estate agent can be a door opener. But now more than ever, you will benefit from someone who will make sure you don’t miss anything and you don’t spend more than you have to.
• Base your offer and requests on facts, not feelings. Statistics show that we are in a balanced market. That means both sides give and take to get to closing. If your offer is below the list price, be sure your agent is providing reasonable comparable sales with your offer. If you ask for a price reduction or repairs, sellers are much more likely to work with you when you and your agent have gathered written estimates on the work that needs to be done.
Winter 2023 is a unique time with advantages to both buyers and sellers. These steps will help both win!