Slow winter expected to lead to busy spring for local housing market

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published March 16, 2016

Photo by Sean Locke/Shutterstock

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METRO DETROIT — After years of the housing market favoring either the buyer or the seller, real estate agents in metro Detroit saw the winter season bring a more level playing field, a trend that should continue into the spring.

While May through August may be the most popular months for buying and selling homes, real estate agent Alex Nugent with Real Estate One said the colder months usually bring a slower market, something that shows the market is closer to being back to normal.

“After the last three years, we are seeing the market go back to normal with November through February being a little slower,” he said. “There is a little more inventory on the market than there has been, and it is still not a bad time to sell a house. A lot of it has to do with the weather and school, because typically people don’t want to move while their kids are still in school.”

For Mike Ripinski with Century 21 Town & Country in Royal Oak, his agency saw winter sales numbers that were slightly up from a year ago, but he also feels like the market is where it normally is in the winter.

Heading into the spring, however, an influx of homes on the market and buyers looking to purchase are expected. In the past few weeks alone, Ripinski said he and his wife have held open houses that have had 10-20 groups walk through in a few hours.

“Early January and into February was a little quiet, but it has picked up since the middle of February and into March,” Ripinski said. “As we move into the warmer weather, the demand picks up and we see more listings, but also more buyers are coming out and looking around. It lends itself more to a seller’s market at this time.”

If the market does in fact go more in favor of the sellers, Ripinski said it is important for the buyers to talk with their lenders to figure out what their mortgage options are, including what percent they must put down and what rates they will be looking at.

“We don’t want to take someone out and show them a $200,000 home when they only qualify for $150,000,” he said. “In this market, if you see the house you love, you have to be ready to move on it quickly, as it could be a multi-offer situation and you could lose out. If you get the first offer in, you may be at an advantage.”

Ripinski also pointed out that homebuyers should understand that the process of buying a house takes time and closing times are taking between 40 and 60 days at this time.

With supply and demand being closer than they have been in past years, Nugent said it is important for sellers to make sure their home is ready to be shown.

“If a house needs work, the price is generally reflected in that,” he said. “There are things you can do relatively inexpensive and multiply what you get back, from replacing carpet to getting rid of clutter and cleaning out closets.”

Kitchens and bathrooms may be two of the bigger things that buyers look at, but Nugent said one of the big improvements a seller can make that doesn’t cost much is simply painting.

“The best thing you could ever do to a house is paint it and give it that pop,” he said. “One of the things I usually do with people is have them take a picture of a room and put it on the big screen, and if you think it needs work, it probably does.”

When staging a home, Ripinski said making it clean and neutral is key, such as taking down personal items from the refrigerator and family photos. And while the winter made it harder to prepare the exterior of a home, Ripinski said the springtime means extra attention needs to be paid to the curb appeal of a house.

Whether a little work needs to be done to get a house on the market or a lot, getting the home listed as quickly as possible is key, he added.

“It is a good time to be a buyer, but sellers can get maximum bang for their buck too,” Ripinski said. “I think people are holding off on listing until it warms up, but we are already in the beginning of the peak selling season and if you wait until May or June or July, you will miss out.”

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