Andrew Wetzel's Musings

November 23, 2022

2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: Highlights

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has published its annual report. The report is based on surveys of recent home buyers including those who sold one property to buy another. The survey consisted of 129 questions mailed to 153,045 recent home buyers. These reports began in 1981 with just 59 questions and are intended to provide insight into consumer behavior, specifically their needs and expectations.

The reports are as unique as the economic, social and demographic environment. The time period covered ran from July 2021 through June 2022 and was impacted by a number of major events including a Real Estate market in transition.

The highlights are broken down into several characteristics.

Home Buyers:

  • 26% were first-time buyers, the lowest share ever recorded in these reports, down from 34%
  • The typical first-time buyer was 36 years old, up from 33, and the typical repeat buyer was 59, both all-time highs for these reports
  • The share of unmarried couples buying was higher than reported previously
  • 22% of all buyers said that their primary reason for buying was to own their own home; the number rose to 62% for first-time buyers
  • 86% of recent buyers used a Real Estate professional; 10% bought directly from the owner
  • 49% used an agent to help them find the right home.

As you will see as I continue, several factors have been adversely affecting buyers, especially first-time buyers.

Homes Purchased:

  • 12% bought new homes with 41% of them looking to avoid renovations and mechanical problems
  • 88% bought previously-owned homes with 31% of them looking for a better price
  • 79% bought detached, single-family homes
  • The median distance between the recent purchase and their prior home was 50 miles, up from 15 miles as reported between 2018 and 2021
  • 49% cited the quality of the neighborhood as the most important factor in selecting a location; affordability and proximity to family and friends were both cited at 37%
  • The typical purchase was at the full asking price while 28% spent more than the asking price
  • Typical buyers expected to live in their home for 15 years; 28% said they would never move

The Home Search Process:

  • 47% started by searching online; 18% started by contacting a Real Estate agent
  • 96% of buyers used online tools in their search
  • Typical buyers searched for 10 weeks, up from 8 weeks, and looked at a median of five homes plus another four they only viewed online
  • 86% found their agent to be a very or somewhat useful source of information
  • 91% were at least somewhat satisfied with their home-buying process

As I have seen in other reports, delaying contacting a professional may have an adverse effect on buyers especially if they learn that financing requires them to do some work to “qualify”.

Financing the Home Purchase:

  • 78% of recent buyers financed their purchase, down from 87%
  • The typical down payment for first-time buyers was 6%; 17% for repeat buyers
  • 47% used their savings for their down payment. 38% of repeat buyers used the proceeds from the sale of their home; 22% of first-time buyers used a gift or a loan from family or friends
  • 26% of first-time buyers cited saving for a down payment as the most difficult step in the process
  • 88% of buyers viewed a home purchase as a good financial investment

Home Sellers:

  • The typical seller was 60 years old, up from 56
  • 21% sold to move closer to family and friends; 11% sold due to retirement; 11% said that their neighborhood had become less desirable
  • Sellers typically lived in their home for 10 years, up from 8 years
  • 41% bought a larger home; 32% bought the same size home
  • 39% used the same Real Estate agent to buy as they used to sell
  • 86% used a Real Estate professional; 10% sold on their own, meaning without representation
  • The median final selling price was 100% of the asking price, the highest since 2002
  • The median time on the market was two weeks, up from one week
  • 91% of sellers were at least somewhat satisfied with the selling process

FSBO Sellers (meaning For Sale By Owner or Unrepresented Sellers):

  • 10% of sellers sold without representation, up from 7%
  • 6% of suburban sellers sold without representation while 13% did so in rural areas
  • 50% knew the buyer of their home
  • FSBO homes typically sold for less than Real Estate agent-assisted sales. FSBOs sold for a median price of $225,000 compared to Real Estate agent-assisted sales at $345,000.

Sellers who do not use a Real Estate agent typically do so to save the commission. Given the wide disparity in results that merits a conversation. That being said, some sellers say they needed to save the commission to make a move. Their choice but I respectfully suggest that all sellers think about it.

This is a lot to digest. How closely these results may reflect your feelings and experiences will vary. Selling and buying Real Estate is a personal decision, often an emotional one justified with logic.

Remember, when it comes to selling or buying what is likely your biggest asset and your largest overall investment,

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations.

HIRE WISELY:  We are notall the same”!

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November 11, 2022

Sellers, Does Disclosing Multiple Offers on Your Property Make Sense?

That depends. What is your strategy, meaning what do you think will happen?

The Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS Listing Contract has a clause that states in part, “Unless prohibited by Seller, if Broker is asked … Broker will reveal the existence of other offers …”. Broker could mean Agent since the contract is really with the Broker.

This “conversation” should take place at the time the listing contract is being signed so that there is no misunderstanding about what the parties have agreed to do. Frankly, I am not sure that all agents really discuss what the seller is signing, that all agents completely understand the listing contract or that every seller really understands what they are signing or that they really care as long as their property gets sold. My experience as a mediator and serving on Professional Standards hearing panels has shown time and again that a number of sellers and buyers claim that they did not understand what they signed. The agents may have done their job or not. Electronic signing can make this more problematic as people rush to execute contracts and get properties on the market and under contract. How sad! Real Estate is typically our biggest asset and largest investment. Mistakes can be very costly!

At the very least, this MUST be discussed before there is any interest in a property or there could be a problem especially if the seller thinks their agent acted unethically. Absent discussing the paragraph, the “default” position as stated is that the agent has been “authorized” to disclose whether or not there are multiple offers. If asked, the answer could be yes or no.

Many buyer agents will call to ask if there are offers “in hand” or “other interest” in a property before preparing an offer; some will even call to ask before scheduling a showing. In “hot” seller’s markets these instances will increase. Why is this a concern at all?

From a buyer or buyer agent’s perspective, they may not want to waste their time pursuing a house that may be unattainable as doing so may result in their missing out on their “second choice” if a seller has or is about to sign another offer. Our multiple listing service requires that the listing status be changed within one business day of executing a contract but a lot can happen in that time. Listing agents may have advertised a due date for offers that others assume valid only to find that something was signed sooner than expected. Real Estate sales are a “moving target”. Even if I answer your question now, the answer could change.

As far as the disclosure, some buyers may be willing to “compete” so thinking that there is competition may cause them to make their “highest and best” offer at the outset. On the other hand, some may decide not to compete. Are they entitled to know anything short of an agreement of sale being signed? No they are not unless the seller grants that permission.

What should a seller do?

As far as how to respond to inquiries about “multiple offers”, a listing agent MUST have a conversation with their seller client about how to handle inquiries. We cannot lie and we cannot divulge the answer without our seller client’s permission. We can tell others that we are not authorized to answer the question, which may make others think there is competition. How they handle our response is up to them.

I do not like to disclose that we have other offers but I believe that there is a time and place for doing that. Telling others that there are no offers makes no sense, does it? Whatever other agents and sellers do, throughout any given year, I see MANY listings expire, meaning that the listing contract ran out before getting an offer signed, or get canceled, meaning that the seller and agent decided to stop working together such as when the seller decides not to sell, that advertised in their “remarks” section that there was a “multiple offer situation”. That adds a “twist”:  the listing agent is answering the question without being asked. Did the seller authorize that? The fact that these houses did not go “under contract” and sell can mean that multiple buyers thought them priced too high. Did that disclosure help the seller? Did it deter any serious buyers who may have offered enough to convince a seller to sign a purchase offer? There is no “one size fits all” answer.

There is no guarantee that, regardless of the type of market or the amount of competition, a buyer will have a “second” chance when making an offer to buy Real Estate. If they really like a house they may want to consider making their best offer at the outset. Should a buyer offer “more” if there is real or perceived competition or “less” if there isn’t? Shouldn’t they base their offer on HOW MUCH they like and want to own a house and what they can manage financially?

A market analysis is helpful as is concern about an eventual appraisal if financing is involved but why should a house be “worth more” because someone else may like it? Suppose money is “no object”? Here is the underlying question:  what is the point of making an offer on Real Estate? I believe that the goal should be to lock it up to exclude other buyers. A buyer can do a number of inspections to see if there are any “material defects”. If their interest changes, they can request repairs or credits or even terminate a sale. I do not take any of these lightly but I do feel for buyers who misjudge the market and miss out on what may have been the best house for their needs and wants.

One interesting point of contrast is that a seller may entertain any number of offers, of course they can only sign one, but a buyer can really only pursue one house. I have heard of buyers making multiple offers but that can blow up if not handled properly.

My job as a listing agent is to “protect and promote” my seller client’s best interest. They rely on my experience, training and education even if we disagree about how to manage this specific topic. As I mentioned, I do NOT like to disclose the existence of other offers generally speaking but that can change when it suits our strategy. Let me share the possibilities.

Let’s assume we have a buyer agent with a buyer interested in making an offer. When the agent calls me to ask if there are any offers, which I presume to mean “in writing” and not a mere expression of “interest” which means nothing and does not always result in an offer being written and presented, if I do not know my seller client’s thinking, absent this paragraph in the contract, I would have to say that I have not discussed that with my client, which may lead some to think there are offers or not. Either of those could hurt my client.

Suppose I have at least one offer in hand and I disclose that. Will their buyer decide not to compete or could that make them try to win? Who knows? However, having one or more offers in hand does not guarantee that a seller will sign one or even be interested in what they may have offered. Suppose I have multiple offers but all are well below the stated asking price or have contingencies or conditions that concern the seller? While that could help me convince the seller that the price is too high, what sense does it make to tell buyer agents that we have offers in hand if none are going to be signed?

The life of a listing agent would be easier if every listing had quality multiple offers to review and if telling someone that they have competition compelled them to do their best to “win” but

human beings are unpredictable. In reality, an offer can even be retracted before being signed and returned, which we call “execution and delivery”. As I often say. It is never over until the seller has the buyer’s money and the buyer has the seller’s house keys.

Here is what I suggest and my seller clients have generally agreed with my thinking:

First, I do not want to disclose whether or not we have other interest or offers in hand.

Second, when I receive an offer, after doing what I need to do before presenting it to my seller, I will look at the recent and upcoming showing activity and review any feedback I may have received. I need to think about whether anything else might be coming in. If I think there is, we need to stall to allow that to develop. However, purchase offers have expiration dates and I never assume they are flexible. Waiting for an offer that does not materialize and letting one “in hand” expire makes no sense. Some buyers will just move on to another house, especially in a competitive market.

Third, if I have received at least one offer that a seller is strongly considering signing and someone inquires about the existence of any offers in hand, I will ask my seller for permission to report that we do have other offers. I won’t specify the number or disclose the details. Worst case, the caller does nothing and we are no worse off. Best case, they bring us an offer that is better than what we already have in hand. Absent a concern about an “appraisal”, before signing the latest offer, to be fair, I ask my seller for permission to let the other agents know that there is competition and ask for their buyer client’s “highest and best” offer. My thinking is that it would only be fair to let everyone now know since the latest offer was prepared with that knowledge. I have heard complaints about agents who were led to believe that a seller was going to sign their offer but changed their mind when a better one came in. We need to be conscious of what we say and do to avoid any misunderstandings. A buyer may be selling their house and have an offer they would sign if they knew they had a house to buy. Imagine signing an offer only to learn that the house you wanted to buy was sold to someone else!

Do I have to go back to those who took the initiative and brought offers in already? I don’t think so. If none of those agents ever asked the question, that is on them. If they did ask, regardless of how I answered, they should not assume or expect me to keep them up-to-date as the situation changes. Again, Real Estate is a moving target. The seller is my client and I work for them.

As I often say, this is NOT a “retail” environment. The asking price is not necessarily the final price and the purchase of Real Estate typically requires several steps allowing either party the opportunity to “change their mind”. It can be like a “roller coaster” and that aspect can wear on the parties or their agents.

This is especially true when the market is not “in balance”, meaning that sellers or buyers have a decided or perceived advantage. Our REALTOR Code of Ethics requires us to be honest, meaning that we cannot lie although our not being permitted to disclose something could adversely affect another agent’s client. I try to be “fair” meaning that I am treating all parties “consistently”. The public, including my fellow agents, deserve nothing less regardless of what they “expect”.


There is NO TIME for inexperience, empty promises OR false expectations!


HIRE WISELY: We are NOT “all the same”!

November 8, 2022

Buyers, Does It REALLY Matter If a Listing Has Multiple Offers?

That depends. How would that information affect your level of interest?

As long as a property is “still available” to bid on and you know if a contract signing is imminent, you have a decision to make. Even then, there is no guarantee that, regardless of the type of market or the amount of competition, a buyer will have a “second” chance when making an offer to buy Real Estate. If they really like a house they may want to consider making their best offer at the outset. Should a buyer offer “more” if there is real or perceived competition or “less” if there isn’t? Shouldn’t they base their offer on HOW MUCH they like and want to own a house and what they can manage financially?

A market analysis is helpful as is concern about an appraisal if financing is involved but why should a house be “worth more” because someone else may like it? Suppose money is “no object”? Here is the underlying question:  what is the point of making an offer on Real Estate?

I have taught the Accredited Buyer Representative core course and offered my opinion that the point of putting a house “under contract” is simply to lock it up so that the buyer and seller can go through the process of seeing if transferring the deed works for both parties. When a house goes “under contract” before a buyer can make an offer or their offer gets rejected that opportunity does not exist. There may be no “second chance”. First impressions may doom an offer even if there is no competition. Not to minimize the process of buying or selling Real Estate but both parties likely have one or more chances to reconsider their interest in closing a sale. This is not a retail transaction.

Of course, we are dealing with human beings. How they respond to real or perceived “competition” will dictate whether and how they react when they learn about a house they like. If they reach a “meeting of the minds” with a seller will they come to think they paid too much? Home inspections and appraisals can help “correct” that. Do they have remorse, wondering if they bought the best house for their “needs and wants”? I have specific ideas about how to approach “the search” to help ensure that a buyer will have minimal if any “second thoughts” but, in reality, other houses will keep coming on the market. Whether sales contracts fall through or new houses become available, they can tantalize a buyer who is not fully committed to a house they have under contract. I have had buyers want to view a new listing or one that came back on the market while in the inspection contingency phase. I remind them about our search and how they arrived at the decision to make an offer on the house they now have under contract. I also tell them that we have no idea how much other interest the new listing may have, what it will take to get a signed contract, what may have led to its being back on the market or what inspection issues may exist. A “bird in the hand” ….

Is there anything worse for a serious buyer than NOT getting the “best house” under contract? Competition is what it is. Others may be in a better position to buy what you want to own. If you start looking before you are prepared and organized, you may be forced to watch others buy the house you liked and wanted to own. All any buyer can do is “know their limitations” and act accordingly. An experienced, trained and educated professional can help! The Real Estate market is constantly churning and that can frustrate even the most serious buyer.

As far as how to respond to inquiries about “multiple offers”, a listing agent MUST have a conversation with their seller client about how to handle inquiries. We cannot lie and we cannot divulge the answer without our seller client’s permission. We can tell others that we are not authorized to answer the question, which may make others think there is competition. How they handle the situation depends.

I do not like to disclose having other offers in hand but there is a time and place for doing

that. Telling others that there are no offers makes no sense. Whatever others do, throughout any given year, I see MANY listings expire, meaning the listing contract ran out, or get canceled that advertised in the “remarks” section that there was a “multiple offer situation”. The fact that these houses did not go “under contract” and sell can mean that multiple buyers thought them priced too high. Did that disclosure help the seller? Did it deter other serious buyers who may have offered enough to convince a seller to sign a purchase offer?

Frenzied markets typically result in buyers and sellers having regrets, especially if they failed to plan and prepare as well as they might have. Did sellers wait too long to put their houses on the market or to sign an offer, thinking prices would continue to rise? Did they sign one too quickly? Did buyers jump too quickly, perhaps thinking they paid too much? Do they wish they had bought a different house or waited to buy? Did they wait only to find that nothing nicer came on the market? There is no perfect house search!

Some sellers have told me they settled to quickly or waited too long and felt that they had missed a better opportunity. I have read a number of articles about buyers having remorse. Whether they feel that they overpaid or jumped too quickly only to find that a better choice came along is a shame! They may not be able to sell for what they paid or recover their costs. Real Estate is likely our biggest asset requiring our largest investment. Mistakes can be very costly!


There is NO TIME for inexperience, empty promises OR false expectations!

HIRE WISELY: We are NOT “all the same”!

Bright MLS September 2022 Delaware County PA Residential Housing Report

Showing Time, using Bright Multiple Listing Service (MLS) statistics, has released their Local Market Insight report for single-family homes in Delaware County Pennsylvania through September 2022. If you would like information about this or any other County or any specific municipalities in the Delaware Valley, please contact me or visit my website, AndrewWetzel.com. I am only a phone call, an email or a text away! I respond promptly to all inquiries.

We are at the three-quarter point for 2022 and the Real Estate market continues to be affected by recent economic developments which have resulted in a substantial increase in the interest rate and the lingering effects of the pandemic (which contributed to an inventory shortage and then pent-up demand for housing). All of these have added uncertainty to what is generally considered a long-term decision. While many of us contend that our present circumstances should not be confused with the “housing bubble” we experienced some 15 years ago, it is difficult to really assess what is going on as information ebbs and flows. What will sellers and buyers think later when they reflect on these days and how they responded to them?

For example, the pandemic caused many sellers to stay off the market, dramatically reducing inventory levels. While many buyers delayed taking action, the easing of the pandemic contributed to many jumping into the market shifting the “supply and demand” ratios. In many areas, the result was a huge advantage for sellers. Complicating this were several underlying factors.

On the “supply” side, housing starts are down, complicated by supply-chain issues driving up lumber and other costs, a general shortage of existing housing as the number of overall households has been increasing and a significant number of investors are buying in bulk, typically with cash and limited contingencies, solely for the purpose of using them as rentals. Those purchases are estimated to consume about 25% of the inventory. There has also been a drop-off in foreclosures due to a moratorium. That will be changing so do not be surprised by what may look like a sharp increase in foreclosures as there is about a two-year supply to manage.

On the “demand” side, millennial buyers entered the market looking to buy. In addition to the “supply” side issues already mentioned, many of the “bulk” purchases include properties that generally appeal to first-time buyers. The competition for them and other properties has driven up prices and prevented many new buyers from becoming homeowners. As long as rental income remains strong, these investors will continue to acquire properties. The irony is a “catch-22”. First, rental income remains strong meaning high as many are unable to purchase their own homes which creates competition for rentals. Second, the elevated rental pricing is preventing many from saving for the down payment they need to obtain financing. I am not sure there is a way to change this dynamic in the short term.

Interest rates, while still considered historically favorable, have risen rapidly in recent months putting pressure on monthly payments. While interest rates have not historically suppressed pricing, they can influence selling and buying which affects “supply and demand” on local levels. Locally, I am seeing inventory levels increasing, some of which is attributed to sales falling through due to inspection and financing issues. The “auction-type” environment has subsided in many areas resulting in longer times on the market and buyers being better able to work through the buying process.

Many sellers and their listing agents remain overly optimistic as evidenced by a number of dramatic price reductions. Many buyers are refusing to continue the panic-buying hysteria we have been seeing. It appears that, as with the “bubble years”,  many sellers waited too long to try selling although, if they are buying, that may have been in their best interests. From a selling perspective, once again I would remind people not to try to “time the market”. As always, your experience may differ depending on your location and how you have been personally impacted. As I always say, the decision to buy or sell Real Estate is a personal one and the current environment typifies that as many sellers stay off the market or wait for a better offer.

Some buyers are waiting for a “bubble” to burst as interest rates rise. I recently heard a slogan aimed at buyers that makes a lot of sense:  “date the interest rate and marry the house”! That makes sense. You can refinance the interest rate if it drops so what do you do if you find the perfect house for your “needs and wants”? Will something better come along? Alternatively, buying the “wrong “house” will have financial and other consequences. Will interest rates continue to rise while you think there is a better home waiting for you? Maybe; maybe not! As with all serious decisions, having options can present problems! When do you commit?

As always, this report compares current year-to-date results to one year ago during the same time period. As with all Real Estate statistics, two things are true. First, the performance within individual zip codes can and will vary significantly from the overall County. Real Estate is local and results can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and even block to block. There is no such thing as a “national” Real Estate market any more than there is a national weather forecast so, whether you may be thinking about selling or buying, please contact me for details about your areas of interest. I can provide current information and keep you informed about the evolving market. Deciding whether it is the right time to sell or buy, again a personal decision, typically involves a number of variables, some of which you can control and some of which you cannot. I can provide the knowledge and insight to help you decide what works for you.

My second point is that, unfortunately, all Real Estate statistics involving sold data are stale. This is especially true if you are relying on Internet valuation models which use recorded sales data rather than up-to-date MLS information. Even then, while a sale may be reported as having settled or closed today, the real question is when was the offer negotiated? Typically, financed sales can take 45 to 60 days to close so the market today may be different from when the offer was presented and negotiated. This is especially true as markets change. Up-to-date information, even if not perfect, is important!

As far as the statistics, there were 6414 new “For Sale” listings through September 2022 compared to 7403 through September 2021, a decrease of 13.4%. There were 5496 closed sales through September 2022 compared to 6041 through September 2021, a decrease of 9.0%. The median selling price through September 2022 was $300,000 compared to $270,000 through September 2021, an increase of 11.1%. The decline in the number of newly listed properties impacted the number sold while substantially increasing their selling prices. Real Estate is a “supply and demand” commodity!

The number of currently available properties (667) is above last month (615) and well below one year ago (767). The Days on the Market (DOM) (21) is up from last month (16), the “Sold to List Price” ratio (99.3%) is down slightly while the MSI (Months of Supply) rose above one month (at 1.2 months), about the same as one year ago. Again, these numbers vary throughout the County:  the underlying data shows a wide range of results in all categories among the 49 different municipalities in Delaware County. What happens going forward? Only time will tell.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations! 

HIRE WISELY:  We are notall the same”!

August 8, 2021

Delaware County PA June 2021 Residential Housing Market Update

Tri-County Suburban REALTORS and Showing Time have released their June 2021 Local Market Insight report for single family homes in Delaware County Pennsylvania.  The report uses Bright MLS statistics.  If you would like more information about this or any other County or any specific municipalities in the Delaware Valley, please contact me or visit my web site, AndrewWetzel.com.  I am only a phone call, an email or a text away!  I respond promptly to all inquiries.

The Real Estate market continues to recover from the pandemic shutdown and resulting economic impact.  As always, your experience may differ depending on your location and how you have been personally affected.  As I always say, the decision whether or when to sell or buy Real Estate is a personal one influenced by a number of lifestyle factors and external variables.  The past year or so typifies that.  Some have not been deterred causing a frenzied sellers’ market while others have decided to delay their plans to sell or buy.

The report compares current month and year-to-date results to one-year ago.  We are past the halfway point but the statistics continue to include pre- and post-pandemic time frames so it is not a true “apples-to-apples” comparison.  As with all Real Estate statistics, two things are true.  First, the performance within individual zip-codes can and will vary significantly from the overall County.  Real Estate is local and results can vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood and even block to block.  There is no such thing as a “national” Real Estate market any more than there is a national weather forecast so, if you are thinking about selling or buying, please contact me for details about your areas of interest.  I can provide current information and keep you informed about the evolving market as well as provide you with the knowledge and insight to help you decide what works best for you.

My second point is that, unfortunately, all Real Estate statistics involving sold data are stale.  This is especially true if you are relying on Internet valuation models which use recorded data rather than up-to-date Bright MLS information.  Even then, while a sale may be reported as having settled or closed recently, the real question is when was the offer negotiated?  Typically, sales can take 45 to 60 days to close so the market today may be different from when the offer was presented and negotiated.  This is especially true as market conditions change.  Up-to-date information, even if not perfect, is important!

As far as the statistics, please remember that these numbers include a variety of single-family homes throughout the County.  There were 1003 new listings in June 2021 compared to 880 in June 2020, an increase of 14%.  YTD 2021 shows 4802 new listings compared to 3800 in 2020, an increase of 26.4%.  The 5-year June average is 906 new listings.  There were 665 active listings in June 2021 compared to 875 in June 2020 with a 5-year average of 1477.  Inventory levels continue to rise but the “Months of Supply” is below one month at .7 which is down 70% compared to last year.  There were 908 closed sales in June 2021 compared to 408 in June 2020, an increase of 122.5%.  YTD 2021 shows 3699 closed sales compared to 2555 in 2020, an increase of 44.8%.  The 5-year June average is 756.  The median sold price was $290,000 in June 2021 compared to $259,500 in June 2020, an increase of 11.8%.  YTD 2021 shows a median sold price of $265,000 compared to $235,000 in 2020, an increase of 12.8%.  The 5-year June average is $256,250.

Here are two other interesting June 2021 vs June 2020 statistics:  (1) the Sold vs. List Price Ratio was 102.4% compared to 97.1%; (2) the average Days on the Market was 13 compared to 38.  As usual, properly priced houses are selling fast and achieve more than their asking price.

How you interpret all of this information and data is subjective, meaning you can draw a variety of conclusions and then make decisions based on what you think.  Does it make you any more or any less likely to want to sell or buy?  If you are thinking about selling, know that history suggests that markets change suddenly.  Some will try to “time the market” and get as much as they can.  Many owners still regret not selling during the last seller’s market.  Some waited too long and prices fell or they wanted too much for their house.  If you are thinking about buying, do you worry about prices continuing to rise, do you worry about overpaying or are you waiting for prices to drop?  How many wish they had bought months ago?  If you need or want to sell one house to buy another, this can get even more complicated as you try to coordinate two processes.

All of this underscores the need to work with a professional.  The internet and advice you get from family, friends and the media is likely very general and subjective.  In my opinion, much of the well-reported “frenzy” created erratic behavior.  Assuming buyers did what they thought or were told they needed to do to “win”, even without really knowing if others were bidding on the same house, do they or will they regret their decisions?  Many agents will tell you that they are shocked by buying “sight unseen”, waiving inspections and going well over asking price.  I have no doubt that we will be talking about this time period for years to come.  I hope that it all works out as the market stabilizes and then shifts into a buyer’s market.  Only time will tell.

What about the properties that did not sellMany came off the market and remain unavailable.  Did owners delay, change or give up their plans?  While buying activity has generally been strong, some sellers are reluctant to allow showings or may have issues holding them back.  Given the statistics, are people making an informed decision or reacting to what they “think” is happening in their local market?  A brief conversation may be very helpful if you have any questions about selling or buying.

Anyone thinking about selling or buying needs to understand their local market and decide how to react to it.  The effects of buying and selling remain for years as does inaction.  These are important decisions and likely require the knowledge and insight that an experienced, trained and educated professional can provide.

I tell my clients that I cannot guarantee that their house will sell if it is on the market but am fairly certain that it won’t if they keep it off the market.  Anyone trying to sell now may have less competition and more offers to consider.  Buyers may have more competition and fewer houses to consider.  Hiring an experienced, trained and educated professional is more important than ever.

No matter how good the market may appear, every house will not sell.  Houses may get showings without generating offers unless buyers think they are priced within the range of their perceived “worth”, whatever that means today.  Most property listings whose contracts are canceled or allowed to expire have asking prices considered high for their local market and/ or they were poorly marketed, meaning that some buyers and agents may not have even known that a property was available to look at or purchase.  Some buyers may make an attractive offer just to control the process only to have remorse later as inspection results are revealed or they see another property they prefer more.

Some buyers may not be willing to look at houses priced high compared to the rest of the market:  why try to negotiate a price down when other similar properties are available at more competitive prices or others offer more for the same price?  Many sellers open to negotiating their price will never get the chance.  I will be happy to discuss specifics with you.

Statistics aside, what are you planning to do?  Real Estate is generally a long-term investment.  There are always opportunities out there.  As with the stock market, it is very difficult if not impossible to pick the best time to make a move.  All you can do is get the best available information, determine what is in your best interests and then start the process.  Getting started is easy once you take action.

If you want or need to sell any type of Real Estate, now or in the future, whether you tried and did not succeed before or are planning for the first time, it is never too early to start the planning and preparation.  Please do not wait for what you think is a better or the best time to start.  If you need to sell in order to buy, let’s have that conversation.  Now may be the best time to start planning.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectation!

HIRE WISELY: We are not “all the same”!

My Buyer’s Offer Did Not Get Accepted: What Can They Do? Part 4 of 4: The MLS, Seller and Listing Agent.

Whether you are starting the process of buying your first or “next” home, engaged in the process of house-hunting or you have already been denied a house you really wanted to own, I want to share some time-tested advice.  I am going to address the main question in three parts.  This is not intended as legal advice and not intended to interfere if you have an existing business relationship.

Let’s start with the premise that you have made an offer and it was rejected.  You may have had no response or you may have been given an opportunity to negotiate that did result in a signed contract.  If a buyer makes what they think is a reasonable offer and the seller did not accept it, they should have no regrets.   Easy for me to say.  However, did the buyer have the right expectations and understanding about the process?  Could or should their agent or the listing agent or the seller have done anything differently?

If the seller was given the opportunity to review all offers and was properly informed of any possible interest that could generate additional offers and they accepted what they thought was the best offer, who has any reason to complain about the process?  Every executed agreement will not close so it may be best to remain on good terms with everyone involved.  You may get another chance to get a house you want to own, if you want one, but do not assume you will.

I provide my buyer-clients with a few pearls of wisdom I have gained through experience, training and education.  The process of buying or selling Real Estate is typically an emotional decision justified with logic.  It should be treated as “business” and not taken personally.  It is also not retail.  Looking for a house can be a full-time job but it is worth the investment of time and effort.  Your life will get back to normal after you succeed.  Bad decisions are costly and their effects can last a long time.  Real Estate is typically our biggest asset and requires our largest ongoing investment so buying or selling it deserves a lot of attention.

I have already discussed how a buyer might manage their search and making their offer in a previous post.  Those are both important but there is more work required to get the house you like under contract.  Respectfully, you may have had the best planning and preparation and made your best offer but there are still two potential obstacles to having a signed contract:  they are the listing agent and the seller.

As a buyer agent, it can be very frustrating just trying to show properties to our clients.  Add to that possibly waiting for a buyer to decide if they want to make an offer, their trying to assess how to do that and then trying to ensure that your buyer’s offer is properly presented to the seller.  My intent is not to criticize acceptable business models but I do question some business practices.  Article 1 of our REALTOR Code of Ethics requires that we protect and promote the interest of our clients and that we be honest with others.  Not all Real Estate agents are REALTORS.

The MLS has rules and regulations which member agents are required and expected to follow.  Listing statuses and their definitions are a major part of them.  For example, Bright MLS requires that properties are listed in the MLS within three business days of having an executed listing contract and within one business day once it is advertised if not already uploaded to the MLS.  There is status called “Coming Soon” which offers agents an opportunity to advertise properties before any showings are allowed.  There is a publicized date when showings will start.  Those dates change so buyer agents need to monitor them as they should when a listing agent specifies when offers are due and going to be presented to sellers.  There is no rule that you cannot submit an offer sooner than required or that you can’t have it “expire” before they intend to present it.  Obviously your buyer must agree with what you do.

The “Coming Soon” status can be effective with generating interest but frustrates some waiting for showings to start.  Listing agents and sellers tend to like this status as it can reduce the actual marketing time while maximizing competition and the selling price.  Buyer agents and buyers are less enthusiastic.  Should a buyer wait to make an offer on another house, especially if the listing agent of a “Coming Soon” property has not shared pictures or provided a decent write-up?  Is this property better than what they have already seen?  Competition and a lack of knowledge can create anxiety.  However, a major concern is that some listing agents may be allowing some people to  see inside, against the rules, while others are left out.  Some buyers are willing to make offers “sight unseen”.  However anyone views that, it is perfectly fine even if some refuse to do so.  Some think it “unfair” and risky.

Some agents have suggested eliminating this status saying that a property is either “active” and available for showings or it isn’t.  I can see their point but I do not agree.  Even now, some houses are listed as active and immediately placed “under contract”, suggesting that it never got full market exposure.  I think the issue is how the status is handled and that is a “people problem”.  There is no perfect system.  What guarantee is there that every interested buyer would be able to see every “active” and available house?

If you were going to design a perfect, “neutral” system, meaning it levels the playing field rather than favoring or potentially harming buyers or sellers, several things would have to be in place.  I will suggest a few although many will see the folly:

  1. Perhaps no showings should be allowed until a property is “active” in the MLS.  PERIOD.  This makes sense but how do you implement it or prove it was violated?
  2. Once “active”, a property should be kept available for showings and offers for some “reasonable” amount of time to allow any interested buyer and their agent an opportunity to visit and make an offer.  In theory, this should maximize the selling price but some sellers are more interested in a quick sale.  Only a seller gets to decide what is in their best interest and which offer to accept.  Either way, there is no way to force this on a seller.  What about buyers unable to see a house for whatever reason?  Even then, how do you know that your offer was properly presented to the seller for their consideration?
  3. All listing agents should be required to use a third-party showing service to schedule appointments.  I have had to call listing agents to schedule showings on numerous occasions.  That tends to take longer as far as getting an answer and a confirmation than contacting an appointment scheduling service.  Are these listing agents too busy to promptly respond or are they trying to keep out competition, hoping to sell their listings to their own buyers?  I do not know but that is the suspicion.  Calls for showings can go unanswered for days.  Even worse, some listing agents, for whatever reason (some are valid!) need to attend showings.  A buyer and their agent should not have to work around a listing agent’s schedule.  Granted, they have to work around a seller’s schedule but it is the seller’s house.
  4. Many agents have wondered whether their buyer’s offer was actually presented to the seller.  In PA we have forms which attempt to document that an offer was presented but you never really know.  I once had a sealed offer returned to me unopened.  That buyer never had a chance to compete.  In multiple-offer situations, I have been told by several agents that their seller-client reached a point where they wanted to stop looking at additional offers that they had in front of them.  I do empathize!  The real question is how many offers is too many to open, evaluate and compare?  My experience has been that after awhile the offers tend to seem very similar but you never know about any offers you do not actually look at.  What about the time and effort the agent and buyer took to see the house and prepare and deliver an offer?

The bottom line is that we have to rely on and trust each other to do our job.  Technology has made our job easier as far as creating, executing and delivering paperwork than in the past but you still have to print them out and look at them.  Some buyer agents do not submit complete packages.  Some use formats that are difficult to work with.  Do all agents really explain what their clients are reviewing and signing?  Do our clients really understand the paperwork and their potential obligations?  Electronic signing and delivery have made life easier but it has also increased the possibility of a client not fully understanding what they are doing in a rush to sign documents.  Can Real Estate really be conducted electronically instead of face-to-face, at least for major documents like representation agreements and agreements of sale?

My best hope is that a seller hires an experienced, trained and educated agent that has the ethics and integrity to do their job and that a buyer does the same.  If they have both hired the same agent, that is fine but that creates an inherent conflict called “dual agency”.  If, as is more likely, they have hired separate agents, my best hope is that they do everything in their power to promote and protect the best interest of their client while being honest, at least as allowed by their representation agreement, with everyone else.

The simple facts are these:

  1. houses will come on the market.  They may or may not be overpriced or poorly marketed which could prevent their exposure to the full market which can lower activity and selling prices;
  2. some buyers will miss opportunities because their search criteria do not “capture” every real possibility, they simply miss listings as they rush through an email, they are not able to schedule a showing before a house sells or they are not in a position to make a serious offer for whatever reason.  Much of this falls on the buyer.  Many “shop” online for weeks before contacting a professional who can better explain the planning and preparation needed;
  3. sellers may make it more difficult than it should be to see their house or they might be expecting too much from the market;
  4. agents may frustrate their clients’ efforts to sell or buy.

There is a lot more to buying or selling Real Estate than marketing, showings and writing offers.  This is NOT retail!  There is no online “shopping cart” or a “Buy It Now” option.  Again, this is a business decision which is often emotional and justified with logic.  While the public has endless access to data and information, it takes an experienced, trained and educated professional to bring the knowledge and insight that Real Estate sales often require.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations.

HIRE WISELY: We are not “all the same”!

May 22, 2021

My Buyer’s Offer Did Not Get Accepted; What Can They Do? Part 3 of 4: The Offer

Whether you are starting the process of buying your first or your “next” home, actively engaged in house hunting or you have already been denied a house you really wanted to own, I want to share some time-tested advice.  I am going to cover this from four perspectives.  This is part 3 of 4.  This is a broad topic with no “one size fits all” answers.  My advice comes with two disclaimers:  this is not intended as legal advice and it is not meant to interfere if you have an existing business relationship.

Let me start with the premise that a buyer or you made an offer and it was rejected.  If a buyer makes what they think is a reasonable offer and the seller does not accept it, they should have no regrets.  Easy for me to say.  If yours was the only offer, I would assume that you had a chance to negotiate with the owner but could not reach a mutually beneficial solution.  If you were competing with other buyers, only one offer could win.  Did the buyer have the right expectations about the process and how it might go?  Could or should their agent or the listing agent or the seller have done anything differently?  If the seller was given an opportunity to review all offers and was properly informed of any possible interest that existed and they accepted what they thought was the best offer, there may be no valid  reason to complain about the outcome.  Every signed agreement does not close so you may get another chance, if you want one, but do not assume you will.  In fact, depending on the type of Real Estate market, you may want to assume that you have competition and that you will not have a chance to change your initial offer.

I provide my buyer-clients with knowledge that I have gained through my years of experience, training and education.  I have also learned a lot from conducting mediations between buyers and sellers and listening to ethics complaints about agents.  Fundamentally, I believe that the process of buying or selling Real Estate is best looked at as a business decision, not a personal one.  It is also not a retail transaction.

Looking for a house can become a full-time job but it is worth it.  Your life will get back to normal after you succeed.  Bad purchase decisions can be costly and their effects can last a long time.  Real Estate is typically our biggest asset and requires our largest investment so buying or selling it requires planning and preparation.  It deserves our full attention.

As I discussed in part two, The Search, once a buyer starts to identify possible houses to consider looking at and buying, there is a process to narrowing the list down to the best and getting in to see and evaluate them as quickly as possible.  I remind buyers that proper planning and preparation will position them to compete better and that they are not the only buyer seeing the search results they receive.  It all comes down to making an offer that will appeal to the seller or, at the very least, maximize the chance that the seller will offer a counter-proposal.  The purpose of negotiating is to keep talking.  While that can wear someone down, it is better than silence.  That being said, buying Real Estate can be very competitive so a buyer might want to assume that they have competition and may not get a second chance to negotiate after making an offer.  In some cases, you may want to make your “highest and best” offer from the beginning.  Unless you are concerned about over-paying, if your offer does not get accepted, you should have no regrets.  Inspections and a mortgage appraisal will provide some guidance about the property condition and the market value in any case.

When a buyer decides to make an offer on a house, only they know what they are thinking and hoping.  Did they make their best offer or are they expecting a counter-offer?  Whether they are suddenly inspired when they see a house or the decision comes after giving it some thought, if they have approached the process in a practical way, regardless of whether their offer gets accepted or not, they will at least know that they did their best.  That may be a small consolation but a buyer can only do so much.  Of course, if the search was haphazard or the buyer wasn’t completely convinced that a specific house was the best one for them but they decided to make an offer anyway, they may not know how to react even if they succeed.  Buyer remorse, meaning feeling that there may be a better option now or later or, even worse, if they come to believe that they made a bad decision after settlement, can be a problem.  There may be opportunities for either party to terminate a sale.  What will they to do?  Having remorse or doubts after closing is too late!

Some buyers will go “all-in”, perhaps to excess, with an offer.  This could include any or all of the following:  making an offer “sight unseen”, going above the asking price, keeping the contingencies to a minimum or waiving some or all of them.  Buyers have a lot of options when they really like a house, especially if they think or know there is competition.  What they do can be done to maximize their chances for success or it can be done to get a house under contract while they really take the time and effort to decide whether they picked the best house.  It is not for me to judge these things but there is a seller involved and one or two agents.  They can be impacted by a buyer’s motivation especially if the buyer is really unsure if they want to own the house.

How many buyers make offers “sight unseen” and cancel a sale using a contingency like a property inspection once they see inside?  The cost of inspections is minor compared to completing a bad purchase.  How many buyers make great offers and then ask for repairs or credits later to recover some of what they offered?  What about so-called “love letters” to the seller?  How many buyers just decide not to move forward and are willing to risk losing their deposit?  As I like to say, buying and selling Real Estate are business decisions justified with logic.  It is never over until the seller has the buyer’s money and the buyer has the seller’s keys.  So, what can prevent a buyer’s offer from being accepted?

  1. Their offered price is not the highest.  For some sellers, the price is their primary motivation.  Oddly enough, in some cases sellers refuse the highest offers if they don’t think their house will appraise;
  2. The buyer’s contingencies are not the best for the seller.  Perhaps the seller wants a “clean” sale, meaning few hurdles, or the buyer has a house to sell so they can buy their “next home”;
  3. Something else within the contract is not the best for the seller.  This could include the settlement date, the amount of deposit money or anything that offers the buyer an option and the seller a choice.  Some agents and buyers use an “escalation clause” in the hopes of learning what it will take to make their offer better than the competition.  Many listing agents and sellers refuse to share details while expecting the offer to be improved.  Suppose there are multiple offers with these same clauses?  However you view them, they are not perfect and may not be enough to overcome stronger offers.  I view these clauses as showing that a buyer may have made a low offer and will raise it if they have to;
  4. The offer does not include buyer financial information such as proof of funds for a cash offer.  Many PA agents use a “BFI” or “Buyer’s Financial Information” form, which I liken to a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement.  Buyers and sellers basically want to know that the other person is serious and able to complete the sale.  The BFI provides an overview of the buyer’s financial information for a seller and their listing agent to review when comparing offers.  It complements a lender’s pre-qualification letter but, in my opinion, carries more weight as the buyer prepares it and the seller has legal remedies if the buyer misstates something whereas there may be no remedy for what a careless lender does.  Sad to say but I have seen some lenders provide letters that were meaningless.  I have heard of situations where a BFI negated a lender’s letter resulting in a declined offer.  Some buyers are reluctant to provide their financial information; some buyer agents and listing agents do not ask for it.  In a competitive situation this can be a problem.  Give a seller a good offer and convince them that it will settle and your chances should improve dramatically.  Most sellers want to minimize their own risk.

When a seller only receives one offer, they are more likely to negotiate if the offer is not exactly what they were looking for.  However, in a competitive or multi-offer situation, a buyer may not get a second chance to improve their “first impression”.  I remind buyers that, regardless of the type of market, there is no guarantee that they will get a second chance.  While many buyers are reluctant to make their “highest and best offer”, they need to understand the risk.  Wondering what happened later is uncomfortable.

For example, when I give a blank BFI to buyers, some will ask me how much they should reveal.  Obviously, they need to accurately disclose income and debt information and show at least enough assets to cover their closing costs.  However, some buyers are reluctant to show more than they need to justify their offer, typically saying that a seller may ask them for more money.  The same occurs with the pre-qualification letter.  Let me address both at the same time using a hypothetical scenario.

Suppose a buyer wants to offer $285,000 on a $300,000 house and they are financially able to go as high as $350,000.  Do they show enough to cover their offer?  The asking price?  Or do they show everything?  I say show EVERYTHING!  Again, if there is no competition, which you may not know, they will likely get a “second chance” if the seller wants more than $285,000.  However, if there is competition, a seller may just go with what “appears” to be a “stronger” offer or at least have a discussion with those agents who “appear” to be representing stronger buyers.  They may assume they have seen your best offer and move on.

So what if a seller wants you to raise your offer because they know you can?  Do you expect them to lower their price when you learn they have no mortgage?  Even if they ask, as I said earlier, the point of any negotiation is to keep talking to see if they can reach a mutually-beneficial agreement.  Most sellers will be happy to know that a buyer is not maxed out with their offer which could mean there is a greater chance of their loan being denied.  Even if they ask and you say no, you had a chance.  You may come to regret what happens but you had a chance.  It beats the alternative!

Ironically, when a buyer decides to raise their offer, it is likely that their expectations for the property inspection(s) also rises.  On the other hand, a seller who accepts less than they really wanted may be less enthusiastic when asked to make repairs or issue credits for repairs.  Either way, the goal is to keep the conversation going although one or both parties may tire if the process drags on and on and on.  While you continue talking, the house remains on the market allowing other buyers the opportunity to make an offer!

The bottom line is that a buyer needs to know what is in their best interest, understand the market they are in and make an informed series of decisions when making and perhaps negotiating an offer.  When an offer gets rejected or the parties cannot reach an agreement after going back and forth, a buyer needs to evaluate what happened to avoid repeating the same process over and over again.  I have worked with buyers who had several offers rejected.  For some, re-engaging in the process is tough.  Some give up for awhile while others jump right back in.  They may not know exactly what happened and they likely won’t find out what price the seller accepted for several weeks.  They may never know more than that.  A decision to buy or sell Real Estate is an emotional decision justified with logic.  Some are simply better prepared to put it all into perspective and continue moving forward.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations.

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

The Type of Market and How it Affects Searching for Price

I recently wrote a blog on “Multiple Offers” and how two different agents viewed them.  I want to explore one of their comments further.  One agent said that multiple offers are the result of pricing a property too low.  While I don’t agree, I do feel that there is something to this.  Let me explain.

Suppose an agent is working with a buyer “pre-qualified” and comfortable spending up to $300,000 on a house.  Pick any price.  What “price range” should they search?  I say “range” because no one would search for one specific price.  You can start at a certain number or go up to a certain number.  This is why pricing is different than before we had the Internet.  Agents have to “factor in” what a consumer may be thinking rather than trying to interact with the mindset of an experienced, trained and educated agent.  Let’s start with the minimum first.

For some buyers, such as investors, I do not set a minimum.  They may be open to considering whatever is in their search results and open to driving by or studying what I send them to eliminate houses that do not appeal to them.  Buyers looking for their next home, especially if they are financing the sale, may need to pick a starting point to meet their needs and abilities as well as the requirements of their financing.  Some houses simply need too much work.  How far they look below their “top number” depends.  Sometimes the areas that interest them or the features they include will provide some guidance.  Otherwise, they may evolve into “knowing” that anything below $x is a waste of time.

What about the top end?  They are “pre-qualified” and comfortable spending “up to $300,000” so why wouldn’t that be the number?  This is where it gets tricky.  The market will suggest or dictate what you should do if you want to succeed.  In a buyer’s market, if houses are getting less than full price, you can search higher than their top number.  That does not guarantee success as there may be competition even in “slower” moving markets.  A seller may still want full asking price.

In a seller’s market, when houses are getting more than full price, you may want to search lower than $300,000, expecting to have to raise your offer, if given the chance.  In a hot market every house will not sell so this is not a blanket statement but you may not succeed by offering full price.

The MLS offers data comparing the selling price to the opening and final asking prices.  However, “data integrity” may be lacking if incorrect information is entered, possibly impacting the overall report.  An agent has to look “within the numbers” to see what is really happening with pricing.

A buyer needs to know their financials, including their comfort level, and an agent needs to interpret the market so that they can properly advise their client.  How much to offer is still the buyer’s decision.  In some markets, offering “full price” will get a house “under contract”.  In other markets, the “asking price” is where the bidding starts.  The price is either a ceiling or a floor.  Ultimately, prices have to appeal to buyers, agents and appraisers.   Even cash sales have some parameters.  Sellers set the asking price and buyers determine the value.

That being said, some sellers and their agents purposely underprice a house to expose it to more people in the hope of generating multiple offers.  As I often say,  Real Estate is not retail!

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations.

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

May 15, 2021

Multiple Offers: Two Different Opinions

Competition and multiple offers seem normal these days.  Your opinion about them probably depends on whom you represent and your personal experiences.  They do not guarantee success for a seller but make it harder for buyers and their agents.  I recently heard two very different opinions about them.

A buyer’s agent, frustrated by losing yet another bidding war, told me that multiple offers are the result of pricing a property too low.  I guess that makes some sense, pricing it higher might reduce the amount of competition but is that best for a seller?  Would that result in their seeing the highest and best possible offer?  Who knows?  There are a few things I think I can say in general:

  • Competition tends to produce the “highest and best” offer, even if it is not what a seller wants.  When there is only one offer a seller may think a better one will come later.  They often do not.
  • Looking at and comparing multiple offers can get tedious, especially if they seem repetitive.  I have had several listing agents tell me that, at some point, their seller stopped reviewing additional offers.  Presumably, they had at least one they liked but that concerns me.  A buyer agent who shows a house and takes the time and effort to prepare an offer should be able to trust that their buyer’s offer was considered.  We have forms to confirm that but the bigger picture is that offers not presented may be better than what a seller accepts and that those that “appear” uncompetitive may just be a starting point for a buyer who really likes a house.
  • Some agents actively encourage a flood of showings hoping for multiple offers and a quick sale.  There is nothing wrong with that but it creates an environment that must be managed.  What is the goal?  I assume it is to shorten the marketing time and to get the “highest and best” offer that will appraise and close.  The real dilemma may be knowing whether to accept an offer or question whether it will appraise.  What if it doesn’t?  Having a pre-listing appraisal may help but may not be ideal, especially if the market is rising.
  • While there is nothing wrong with multiple offers, I think it places some responsibility on everyone involved.  Our clients must be advised of the advantages and disadvantages.

This agent was frustrated with writing offers that failed and having to start showings again.  Imagine being a buyer who loses your preferred new or “next” home to competition, especially if it happens again and again.  We are in perhaps the best sellers’ market I have ever seen and its major attribute, if you  want to call it that, is that the number of buyers far exceeds the number of available properties.  While this does not mean that every property will sell, every buyer will not get a house.

Another agent posted on social media that a buyer’s agent who writes offer after offer is not doing their job.  I would love to have these two agents in the same room.  While I do agree that some agents do not adequately prepare their clients, both buyers and sellers, for what is likely to happen in this market, every buyer will not be able to buy a house.  There is a supply problem.  Buyers can adjust their needs and wants and pursue a house that is not selling but will they?  If multiple buyers want the same house, only one buyer will get to own it.  Does that mean that every agent who represented an unsuccessful buyer failed to do their job?  NO, but it could.  In a multiple offer situation, a buyer  may want or need to make their “highest and best” offer rather than assuming they will get a second chance.  A buyer agent has to present what they are given but the buyer decides their terms.  Doing the same thing over again is not a formula for success but let’s not assume that the buyer’s agent did anything wrong.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations.

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same.

January 13, 2021

Delaware County PA December 2020 Residential Housing Update

Tri-County Suburban REALTORS and Showing Time, using Bright MLS statistics, have released their Local Market Insight report for single family homes in Delaware County Pennsylvania through December 2020.  If you would like more information about this or any other County or any specific municipalities in the Delaware Valley, please contact me or visit my web site, AndrewWetzel.com.  I am only a phone call, an email or a text away!  I respond promptly to all inquiries.

The market continues to be affected by the pandemic and resulting economic impact.   However, generally speaking, the results in many areas are encouraging and, as always, your experience may differ depending on your location and how you have been personally impacted.  As I always say, the decision whether and when to sell or buy Real Estate is a personal one influenced by a number of lifestyle factors and external variables.  The pandemic typifies that.

The report compares current year-to-date results to one-year ago, same time period.  As with all Real Estate statistics, two things are true.  First, the performance within individual zip-codes can and will vary significantly from the overall County.  Real Estate is local and results can vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood and even block to block.  There is no such thing as a “national” Real Estate market any more than there is a national weather forecast so, whether you may be thinking about selling or buying, please contact me for details about your areas of interest.  I can provide current information and keep you informed about the evolving market as well as the knowledge and insight to help you decide what works for you.

My second point is that, unfortunately, all Real Estate statistics involving sold data are stale.  This is especially true if you are relying on Internet valuation models which use recorded data rather than up-to-date MLS information.  Even then, while a sale may be reported as settled or closed today, the real question is when was the offer negotiated?  Typically, sales can take 45 to 60 days to close so the market today may be different from when the offer was presented and negotiated.  Up-to-date information, even if not perfect, is important!

As far as the statistics, there were 8309 units listed for sale through December 2020 compared to 8993 listed through December 2019, a decrease of 7.6%.  Low inventory levels continue to affect related data points.  There were 7139 closed sales through December 2020 compared to 6984 through December 2019, a 2.2% increase.  The median selling price through December 2020 was $250,000 compared to $227,000 through December 2019, an increase of 10.1%.  The large decrease in inventory, meaning the number of properties being listed, had a relatively small effect on the number sold while substantially increasing their selling prices.  The number of currently available properties is well below one year ago and the Days on the Market (DOM) and “Sold to List Price” ratio are much improved.  Do we have an inventory problem or pent-up demand?  Again, these numbers vary throughout the County:  the underlying data shows a wide range of results in all categories among the 49 different municipalities in Delaware County.

Generally speaking, low inventory levels in some areas have produced multiple offers and a frenzy among buyers, some of whom may live to regret a hasty decision to get a property under contract. During the shutdown when “in-person” Real Estate activity was not permitted, many buyers made offers “sight unseen”, some without inspections to make their offers more attractive to sellers.  The effects of these strategies remain to be seen but Real Estate, perhaps with the exception of those properties acquired strictly as “investments” with documented income, is generally not something given its expense and complexity that the typical buyer would want to purchase without an in-person showing let alone removing the protection of an inspection contingency.  Even with our property disclosure law in PA, many sellers either do not know about underlying issues with their properties or forget to disclose them.  Whatever your feelings about property inspections, they can provide important information to a buyer.

What about the properties that did not sellMany came off the market and still remain off the market.  As the pandemic has evolved, some properties did come back on the market but many have not.  Did owners delay, change or give up their plans?  Buying activity has been strong but the sellers may be reluctant to allow showings or may have issues holding them back.  Given the statistics, are people making an informed decision or reacting to what they “think” is happening in the market?  A brief conversation may be very helpful if you have any questions about selling or buying.

Anyone thinking about selling or buying needs to understand their local market and decide how to react to the pandemic as a “variable” that was not here last year and, hopefully, will be gone in the near future.  However, the effects of buying and selling remain for years.  They are important decisions and likely require the knowledge and insight that an experienced, trained and educated professional can provide.

I tell my clients that I cannot guarantee that their house will sell if it is on the market but am fairly certain that it won’t if they keep it off the market.  Anyone trying to sell now may have less competition and more offers to consider.  Buyers may have more competition and fewer houses to consider.  Hiring an experienced, trained and educated professional is more important than ever.

Despite the pandemic, every house will not sell.  Houses may get showings without generating offers unless buyers think they are priced within the range of their perceived “worth”.  Most property listings whose contracts are canceled or allowed to expire have asking prices considered high for their local market and/ or they were poorly marketed, meaning that some buyers and agents may not have even known that a property was available to look at or purchase.  Some buyers may even make “full price” offers just to control the process only to have remorse later as inspection results are revealed.

If a market has a lot of inventory, some buyers may not be willing to look at houses priced high compared to the rest of the market:  why try to negotiate a price down when other similar properties are available at more competitive prices?  Many sellers open to negotiating their price will never get the chance.  I will be happy to discuss specifics with you.

Statistics aside, what are you planning to do?  Real Estate is generally a long-term investment unless you are looking to fix and flip it or planning to move within a short period of time.  There are always opportunities out there.  As with the stock market, it is very difficult to pick the best time to make a move.  All you can do is get the best available information, determine what is in your best interests and then start the process.  Getting started is easy once you take action.

If you want or need to sell any type of Real Estate, now or in the future, whether you tried and did not succeed before or are planning for the first time, it is never too early to start the planning and preparation.  Please do not wait for what you think is a better or the best time to start.  Buyers look all year long and can only see and buy properties that are available to see.  Based on what we experienced in 2020, is waiting for Spring something you would consider?

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations!

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

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