Housing market tilts farther in sellers’ favor

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 31, 2017


METRO DETROIT — As the weather is beginning to heat up, local experts say that serious homebuyers are waiting to pounce on the best deals.

“We’re still limited on our listings,” said Kathy Coon, broker owner of Real Living Great Lakes Real Estate in Rochester Hills, West Bloomfield and Clarkston. “We’re seeing a few more with the summertime and the kids getting out of school.”

Coon said that sellers are seeing values come up “quite a bit,” and that homes are selling “very quickly,” often selling within a week with multiple offers — in some communities, but not all of them.

She anticipates that the housing market will favor sellers for a while, since prices remain high and interest rates remain stable.

“A lot of buyers are wanting to buy and get into the housing market,” Coon said.

Many of those, she said, are first-time homebuyers and “empty nesters” wanting to downsize.

The problem, she said, is that many sellers are more cautious about selling or listing their home until they find a replacement.

“They don’t want to be homeless,” Coon said. “Only those that can afford to buy something before they sell are the ones moving forward.”

One of the hottest commodities, she said, are ranch-style condominiums. The lack of supply, she said, is partly because builders can reap more profit from building colonials, so the existing ranch-style condominiums are pricey.

“People tend not to move forward with that,” she said. “They have to be priced reasonably.”

One trend Coon said she has noticed at this point in 2017 is that people are beginning to frequent open houses again.

“It might be that group of people trying to find something before they put their houses on the market, or sellers with an agent (to scope it out), or buyers who just can’t find anything and think they’ll find it if their agent can’t find it,” she said. “Or they’re just bored.”

She said the economy and the increase in employment have contributed to buyers’ and sellers’ willingness to move forward and spend money.

Updated kitchens and bathrooms are the No. 1 items that buyers want, Coon said.

“The next challenge is the appraisal, which can lag behind what’s going on in the market,” she said. “You always have to be careful with the pricing.”

Bill Frohriep, of Century 21 Town & Country in Clinton Township, called the market an “extreme seller’s market,” with more buyers entering than sellers, which pushes up prices.

“Buyers need to have a strong pre-approval and need to make their offer as strong as possible,” Frohriep said. “For example, not only offer the highest price, but a strong deposit; give someone occupancy and the closing date they want; include or exclude property; all the minor terms and conditions.”

He predicts, barring no major changes to interest rates or the economy, that the market will remain in sellers’ favor for the next year or two.

“Pretty much all Macomb County communities are in high demand,” he said. “In my market of Clinton Township, single-family residential homes are some of the highest in demand. Condominiums are a very close second.”

Since the beginning of the year, he said, the average number of days on the market has decreased and the average sale price has increased.

“Home sellers need to be looking at (the adjusted prices) right now, not the last six to 12 months when (they might have had it priced),” Frohriep said.

Kathy Broock, of Max Broock Realtors, said the luxury market has not accelerated “the way it should have,” considering low inventory.

The markets that are on fire, she said, are the downtown areas of cities on the periphery of Detroit, largely because Detroit is offering many new job opportunities and many more people are becoming attracted to the city.

“Families are enjoying living in urban communities, and it’s a quicker commute to get downtown (Detroit) from Royal Oak, Berkley, Ferndale,” she said.

Some properties in those communities have 16 offers at a time, she said.

She added that homes with first-floor master bedrooms and 1 1/2-story condominiums on the outskirts of Oakland County, Washtenaw County and areas where available land is more abundant — such as South Lyon, Milford and Salem — are being gobbled up.

“Supply is still uneven, but if you look at a map and all the listings out there, you do have a lot of listings on the market,” she said. “Certain price ranges are selling quickly; other more expensive (houses) are taking longer to sell. The supply is more about where people desire to live.”

All of the local real estate agents agreed that working with an educated, knowledgeable and able Realtor will help protect buyers and sellers, give them the best value, and deliver what they seek.