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Fall housing market doesn’t lean toward buyers or sellers

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published November 13, 2019

METRO DETROIT — There aren’t too many “for sale” signs out on the front lawns of homes this time of year, and that’s for good reason, according to regional real estate brokers.

The fall housing market is not always considered the best time of year to purchase, but it still can be a beneficial one if you know what you’re looking for, according to real estate brokers.

Caron Koteles Riha, an associate broker with Real Estate One in Rochester, said they’re currently seeing a 3% increase in sales price from this time last year, but the sales numbers still are pretty consistent.

While the market has flattened out, Koteles Riha couldn’t say if it’s a buyer’s or a seller’s market, though she said that what they are seeing is people coming to terms with pricing their homes too high in the spring and summer.

“It’s definitely not a hot market, but I think the problem we’ve been experiencing is — and we get it at this time every year — is everybody that was a little bit high on their price over the summer months has decided to face a little bit of reality and come down to the real estate pricing that they probably should have started with in June and July,” she said. “We’re dealing with a lot of serious and very motivated sellers right now, but at the same time, it’s nice because we have a lot of serious, motivated buyers who all want to get into something by the end of the year.”

If the fall housing market does anything, said Nancy Robinson, an associate broker with Century 21 Curran & Oberski, it usually brings out people looking for better deals.

“More first-time homebuyers that don’t want to compete as heavy as they would have to in the spring, and people who are looking in the spring and summer but kept getting outbid, they’ll come back ... in November, December because people who have their houses on the market during this time usually are more motivated to sell,” she said.

A good thing for both buyers and sellers that Koteles Riha is seeing is very low interest rates — almost the lowest she’s seen in her 25-year career.

“It’s a good thing for buyers because it gets them more spending/buying power,” she said. “They can afford more home for less of a payment, and therefore it’s good for sellers because if a buyer really wants a home and a seller is really sticking to their price, it’s an easier way for the buyer to justify spending a few thousand dollars more, because it’s going to be so insignificant in their monthly obligation and monthly payment.”

Robinson agreed with Koteles Riha’s point on interest rates, adding that the fall always is a balanced market but also tends to slightly favor the buyers more, as anyone who still has their home up for sale now really wants to sell.

“People who are really looking for top dollar tend to pull their property off the market the first week of November and then put it back on the first week of March,” Robinson explained.

If there is a trend that Koteles Riha has noticed working out of the Rochester, Shelby Township and Troy areas, it’s that homebuyers — specifically those who are getting older and want to scale down their house — are looking for anything with a first-floor master bedroom.

The problem is that builders stopped trying to build those kinds of ranches around 15 years ago, because there was more money in the price per square foot to build up, said Koteles Riha.

“We’re short on that, which causes the demand of the first-floor-master-style homes. So either a ranch or a first-floor master is very ideal, and condos as well. There’s a lot of apartment-style condos out there, and those sell really well. There’s no problem with the condominium sales at all, but if you get something that has a bedroom on the main floor and it’s a condominium, it sells within a couple of days.”

Robinson primarily operates out of Royal Oak, Beverly Hills, Berkley, Madison Heights, Ferndale and Birmingham, and from what she’s seen, it isn’t so much what kind of home style is popular, but that the homes that are in the highest demand are the ones that are in the top condition for their price point.

Some people — like seniors — like to live all on one floor, while young parents want their children up on a second floor with them. What’s more in demand, Robinson said, are homes — no matter the style — with an open floor plan.

“An open floor plan is, essentially, if you are in the kitchen area, you can see what’s going on in your living room and dining room,” she said. “People want to feel more connected to each other when they’re in their homes. Parents want to see what their kids are doing. When you’re entertaining, you want to see that your guests are happy.”