Buyers and sellers were both winners in 2016

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 14, 2016

 Stamped concrete and brick paver patios are becoming more popular than decks.

Stamped concrete and brick paver patios are becoming more popular than decks.

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METRO DETROIT — According to local real estate agents, the past year has shifted the balance away from favoring sellers more to leveling out the playing field.

While property values continued to rise in 2016, interest rates remained low, so both buyers and sellers won, said Kathy Coon, owner and broker of Real Living Great Lakes Real Estate in Rochester Hills, West Bloomfield and Clarkston.

Dan Elsea, president of brokerage services at Real Estate One, said he expects the market to remain about the same in 2017 — while interest rates are expected to increase from approximately 4 percent to 4.5 percent, Elsea said incomes are also expected to increase.

“Buyers can make a decision and take their time to move forward, and property sellers are pretty confident because (properties) are selling pretty quickly,” Coon said. “Values on properties continue to rise, especially in our market area, so sellers are actually able to sell houses without taking a loss.”

In 2016, Elsea said, homes were on the market for approximately 60 days, on average.

“In 25 percent of transactions, homes were on the market for 10 days or less, 50 percent were on the market for 30 days or less, and 86 percent were on the market for 90 days or less,” he said.

Elsea said all types of homes — large, small, new, old, urban, rural, condos, apartments and houses —  are up in demand. The strongest demand, he said, is from first-time homeowners opting to buy now, particularly in downtown locations, such as Berkley, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, he said.

Coon said she is seeing a resurgence in demand for new homes.

“The builders can’t build them fast enough,” she said. “(There is also a resurgence) of people interested in buying condominiums. When the market tanked, they went first, but in the last couple of years, there’s a real interest in people wanting to own and move into condos.”

Many homebuyers are still looking for an open floor plan, which combines the family room, dining area and kitchen into one open area, Coon and Elsea both said.

“Some builders (have catered to people who) have gone back to want an extra other room, whether it be a sitting room or living room, much smaller than it used to be in the past, when it was a (formal) family room, living room or dining room,” Coon said.

She said many people have strayed from the once-popular trend of decks in favor of stamped concrete or brick paver patios.

Coon and Elsea both said that clean, staged homes with updated kitchens and bathrooms and curb appeal are more likely to hook buyers. Clean walls, floors and carpets; a fresh coat of paint; a pleasant aroma; and no clutter or debris go a long way.

“Take some time to put some sweat equity into the house,” Coon said.

While many people believe spring is the best time to put a house on the market, she said homes put up for sale in December sell very quickly.

“Springtime is the strongest for families that plan on moving over the summer when the kids are out of school, but there are a lot of other people that buy homes,” Coon said.

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