Fall into a new home this season

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published September 18, 2018

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“In the fall, you don’t have to give anything up. Anybody that’s got buyer fatigue from experiencing the spring market, come on out.”

Nancy Robinson, Century 21 Town and Country

METRO DETROIT — While many think that spring is the best time to start shopping for a home, local real estate agents say that better deals can be found in the fall, with less stress.

In the spring, houses will get multiple offers and buyers might be fighting for them, offering to pay more than the appraised value, to buy without the guarantee of an appraisal or to make other concessions, said Nancy Robinson, of Century 21 Town and Country in Royal Oak.

“In the fall, you don’t have to give anything up,” she said. “Anybody that’s got buyer fatigue from experiencing the spring market, come on out.”

Robinson said that 9,527 units were sold in the local MLS market in August 2018, compared with 9,425 in August 2017. But 9,061 units were sold in July 2018, compared with 8,701 in July 2017.

Although it doesn’t seem like a lot, Robinson said the slightly higher trend has been seen all year long. In addition, she said, prices are up, with the average sale in August 2018 at $175,000 compared with $167,000 in August 2017.

Robinson said the market is more balanced, so sellers lacking a typical feature in their home, like a garage or a second bathroom, will have to price the house lower to get it to sell.

“No amount of marketing is going to get people to buy what they don’t want,” she said.

Julie Pawlak, of Keller Williams Great Lakes, agreed.

“It is still a seller’s market, but if they’re overpricing their home, they’re going to sit on the market,” she said. “The average days on the market is getting higher.”

Pawlak said that homes priced under $200,000 are “flying off the shelves.” More expensive homes are still selling, she said; it is just taking longer for those houses to be sold.

Trust your real estate agent’s advice when setting the price of a home, said Debbie Corey, of Real Living Kee Realty in Rochester.

“We know what we’re doing, and we do a market analysis for them, and we can advise,” she said. “The more they listen to and look at the information we’ve shared, the more successful they’ll be.”

Robinson said mid-September usually sees another uptick in the housing market.

“That is because people will start price-correcting, and buyers who come out in the fall are generally looking for better deals than they could get in the spring,” she said. “We’re seeing more and more people wanting to stay in the same communities, just looking for a different house to meet their needs.”

The best piece of advice that Pawlak said she has to offer sellers is to make sure the home is clean.

“Even if your home needs updating, it needs to be clean. If you want top dollar, you have to look top dollar. Just because it doesn’t have updates doesn’t mean it’s not desirable,” she said. “Maintain what is maintainable.”

Ranch-style homes are still in high demand, Corey said, as are ranch condominiums.

“Especially in Oakland County, we just really don’t have enough ranches to go around for what people want,” she said.

Inside, Robinson said that quartz countertops, white cabinets and stainless steel are trending in the kitchen, as are soft palette colors and light “greige” colors. Energy efficiencies and new technology, like Nest thermostats, “are simple upgrades that really do help,” Pawlak said.

But turn-key homes are still selling quickly, Corey said.

“If the house is updated and it’s priced right, it won’t last,” she said. “People don’t want to invest any sweat equity, so the more clean and move-in condition, the quicker it goes.”

Both buyers and sellers have to have open minds and be reasonable with their expectations, Pawlak said. She said that buyers should prioritize the “things that can’t be changed” and realize that every buyer will be fighting with them over shiny, new houses. If buyers are willing to put in some work, they can save some money.

“See past the ugly carpet,” she said. “Be open-minded when you’re looking at houses and try to be reasonable. If this is the house you want, you have to pay what it costs.”

Interest rates are still below 5 percent, Robinson said, and she doesn’t think that will change in the immediate future.

“I don’t think anything’s going to happen at all until after the election. I don’t think they’re going to mess with the interest rates,” she said, but she theorized that if Republicans stay in power in Congress, rates could start to increase after the election.

“I think it’s a great time to buy,” she said.

For more information about Nancy Robinson at Century 21 Town and Country Royal Oak, call (248) 224-1013 or visit www.century21town-country.com/nrobinson. For Julie Pawlak at Keller Williams Great Lakes, call (586) 246-7764 or visit www.julie pawlak.com. For Debbie Corey at Real Living Kee Realty in Rochester, call (248) 601-1000 or visit www.debbiecorey.com.