Buyers, sellers should gear up for busy housing market this fall

By: Joshua Gordon | C&G Newspapers | Published September 9, 2015


METRO DETROIT — After a strong summer, the housing market in metro Detroit shows no signs of regressing heading into the fall, although buyers and sellers both could take extra precautions in getting in or out of a house.

For the buyer, real estate agent Jan Hays, with Max Broock in Birmingham, said the market will still look to be a sellers market in the fall, so buyers should be ready to make a bid when going to look at a house and not be afraid to make the call.

“The market is extremely active, and there is a shortage of inventory and an overabundance of buyers, so if things are priced right and in good condition, they are seeing multiple offers again,” Hays said. “With prospective buyers, they should choose a serious agent who can get house information immediately when they go up and have a preapproval in hand to prove they are a strong buyer.”

Hays said other factors that make the market difficult for buyers are that time is of the essence with multiple offers being put on many homes, as well as some buyers looking to make cash offers, which sellers usually take over buyers who offer a little more than the asking price.

“I have been an agent for 30 years, and this is one of the busiest, most difficult years,” Hays said. “If you see something you want, you need to get in there and move forward fairly quickly.”

On the seller’s side of the market, while some houses may be getting multiple offers, agent John Kurczak, with Keller Williams in Sterling Heights, said sellers need to make sure their home is in proper showing condition and not skimp on easy fixes, as buyers want a house that is nearly perfect.

“If a house is staged properly with the right amenities and right furniture, it looks so good and is something inexpensive a homeowner or agent can do,” he said. “In 2015, buyers only see what they see and not what could be a finished product. If you have two good showings, you should have your home sold, and by staging, it helps the buyers see.”

Sellers also have to be cautious when listing their home and picking a price point, Hays said. In the past, a seller might have listed a house for a higher asking price and come down, but because buyers are more willing to meet or go slightly above the market value, proper pricing is key.

“We are not in the type of market where the seller can list a home for $350,000 because they know someone will offer $300,000 that way,” Hays said. “Buyers are waiting for homes to come on the market because there is a shortage, so you get the majority of your activity within the first 10 days of it coming on the market. If it is priced right, you are more likely to get full asking price or above, but if your price is high, you will take less in the long run.”

One way to make sure the asking price is in the right spot is by having a seller’s real estate agent study the market and get selling points for similar homes in the area, Hays said.

As fall begins to roll in, Kurczak said homes in metro Detroit should continue to sell well as interest rates continue to sit between 4 and 5 percent, meaning buyers can get “more bang for their buck.”

The type of home that sells, however, may change as a buyer’s wants shift as the seasons do, he said.

“In the summertime, people are only looking for air conditioning, shade and patios,” Kurczak said. “In the fall market, they are looking for fireplaces and dining rooms and attached garages. The housing market is very seasonal, and there will be a huge demand for these amenities in the next few months, as there is every year.”

Other key factors that buyers are looking for begin with location, Hays said. A home in a good school district and near a walkable downtown is on more wish lists than one not in an active neighborhood.

Updated homes are big selling points, she said, with buyers still wanting updated kitchens and bathrooms, as well as homes that are just generally well-maintained.

With an influx of buyers and good mortgage rates, Hays said real estate agents in metro Detroit are preparing for another busy season.

“Notoriously, August is slow because people take their last summer hurrah and kids are going back to school, but by mid- or late September, (the market) will be active again,” she said. “Consumer confidence is up right now, as people see all aspects of the economy recovering. With favorable interest rates, which we don’t anticipate going up in the near future, it won’t stop people from being active in the market.”