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Housing experts talk springtime market trends

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published March 28, 2018

METRO DETROIT — Springtime brings forth warmer weather, a burst of flowers brightening up the landscape, and an influx of buyers and sellers in the housing market.

Several Oakland County-based real estate agents discussed trends in the local housing market, tips for springtime buying and selling, and how to get the most bang for your buck. 

Nancy Robinson, a Royal Oak-based Century 21 Town & Country Realtor, said recently that the best time to buy and sell can be during this season and beyond.

“The best time … actually, is when people are ready,” she said. “If you’re ready to sell your home, you should put it on the market — we’ve been strong every season since the market rebounded. However, if you want a legitimate time — anywhere from mid-February to mid-July.”

Robinson said that time frame (particularly around Royal Oak) is high because there are 12 large metropolitan hospitals in the area, along with medical schools with interns and residents moving in from out of state or graduating locally and buying a home here. She added that local businesses are hiring too, which brings more buyers into the city.

Robinson said that interest rates have gone up and likely are going to continue to go up, but it hasn’t seemed to impact real estate sales.

She said the average 4.5 percent interest rate has increased to a 4.85 percent interest rate. 

“So it is not that much of a difference for people to decide not to buy,” she said. “They might buy a slightly less expensive home or (in a) slightly different area.”

Robinson also said that presently it is more expensive to rent than to own a home.

She said that a $250,000 home would rent out for about $2,500 a month; buying a home with the same price tag translates to about a $1,700 monthly mortgage payment.

“Those are the kinds of things that make spring a good buying season,” Robinson said.

Real estate agent Delight Okogeri, with Novi-based KW Advantage, who covers Wayne and Oakland counties, said that selling a home during the spring can be a competitive time because the weather is nicer and people want to put their house on the market. She said that before they do, though, sellers should get to spring cleaning.

“If they have the intention of selling during the spring, they have to start earlier — a few months back,” she said, adding that curb appeal is important to potential buyers. 

“Make sure the lawn is clean and welcoming. That is the interest; that is the first thing people see — the front porch, the yard.”

She added that buyers should also plan about four months ahead if they plan to buy in the spring. 

“There is a lot involved when somebody wants to buy a house … especially first-time buyers,” she said, adding that buyers should know their financial standing so that when the time comes, they will be ready for the market.

Royal Oak resident Kerri Carpenter said that she and her husband put their current house on the market and someone purchased it recently.

They were looking to sell the home last year and put it on the market, but they did not get any offers.

“It was in the fall, so it wasn’t the best time of the year,” Carpenter said.

She added that she and her husband then decided to wait until the beginning of 2018, and they received an offer the first night.

Carpenter purchased her new home in February in Lake Orion and plans to move around April 15.

“We were just ready to move further north,” she said, adding that her children are older and in college. “I think it is a good time of the year because it’s the end of the school year coming upon (us) and people feel that they can make that move then, and ... also people are getting their tax refunds back, and so they have the money to put a down payment on a house.”

She said that she and her husband wanted to get a ranch but couldn’t find any ranches in the Lake Orion area.

“(We) ended up getting a two-story home, but we’re very happy with it,” Carpenter said.

She said that when putting her almost 100-year-old home on the market, she added details that buyers would like to know.

“If you have unique things with your house, put it out there and explain how it doesn’t affect your day-to-day (life),” she said.  She listed the home as having a narrow staircase and a driveway immediately adjacent to her neighbors. 

“Explain anything that a potential buyer might have questions that the agents ... would not have the answer to,” Carpenter said.

Scott Love, a Realtor at Keller Williams Metro, said that springtime can be optimal for renovation too.

“You see tons of people adding additions on or redoing the kitchen — my wife and I … started a project for the bathroom in November,” Love said of a project forecasted to be done by the end of April. “We’re getting some custom-built stuff.”

He and his wife plan to continue renovating their downtown Royal Oak home in the fall with roofing, siding and porch projects.

Love added that if people are in the market to sell, renovating will help the home sell quicker because more buyers, in his opinion, want houses that are fixed up and ready to go.

“As opposed to houses that have projects,” Love said. “Buyers … especially younger buyers, want them fixed up — they don’t have to do the work and they are willing to even pay a little extra for that.”

He said that if a person fixes up their home to be put up for sale and renovates their kitchen for $30,000, they are more than likely not going to see a full return on that.

“You may not get $30,000 back instantaneously, but you’ll get a big chunk of the money back — that is for sure.”

Love also said that on the flip side, many people are renovating their houses for themselves, which makes the housing inventory “kind of low.”

Love said that at the start of the year, sales were down in comparison to last year in January and February, which he attributed to a lack of housing inventory and cold temperatures.

“I’ve noticed, obviously in the last couple of weeks it’s gotten very, very busy,” Love said. “I listed a house a couple weeks ago and had 15 offers in 48 hours. That was in Oak Park. … We need sellers.”

He also said that the popular home types and floor plans have evolved from a family room and living room space.

“(They) aren’t as heavily sought after as they used to be,” he said, adding that a more open floor plan — with the wall knocked down in between the kitchen and dining room — to create a unified space is ideal. 

“Or a larger home that has just a great room as opposed to individual rooms — those seem to be a little more popular lately over the last five, six, seven years, definitely.”

For more information, contact Robinson at (248) 224-1013, contact Okogeri at delightful@kw.com and contact Love at (586) 381-8898.