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Selling Your Home in the Age of Coronavirus? Here Are All Your Top Questions, Answered

June 4, 2020

Selling FAQs During Coronavirus

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With every day of this pandemic feeling like it brings a fresh batch of news, you’d be forgiven for feeling confused about the actual state of things now. While many cities start to reopen—and some continue to experience a high volume of new COVID-19 cases—it’s hard to know how any sector of the economy is doing, especially the real estate market.

Are things getting back to normal? Is now an OK (or even appropriate) time to consider selling a home? Whether you’re curious about the timing of a sale or the nitty-gritty details of how it will all go down, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve gathered advice from the real estate experts to answer your most pressing questions about selling a home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Can I sell my house during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Selling a house should always be based on a number of factors, particularly with regard to your family’s health and financial situation. But to cut to the chase: Yes, you can still sell a home during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly now that states are beginning to reopen.

In most markets, inventories are low and prices are high—which means you can still make a profitable sale.

“Now’s a great time to sell,” says Michelle Sloan, a broker and a Realtor® who’s with Re/Max Time Cincinnati. “With low inventory and high buyer interest, many homes are selling very quickly—within days or hours in some cases. Interest rates are also low, and there’s serious pent-up demand for homes, especially in lower price ranges.”

Is it safe to sell your home during such an outbreak?

Home selling safety during coronavirus
Selling your home during a pandemic means extra precautions.

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You might be asking yourself if it’s safe to go through the traditional home showing and selling process. Assuming your family members are all in good health, there are several precautions your real estate agent can take to safely show your home to interested buyers.

“We’re allowing showings, but with safety in mind,” Sloan says.

For her team, that means no overlapping showings, no children in the house, masks on, shoes off, and hand sanitizer at the door. She also recommends people leave all of their lights on and doors open (even for closets), since this translates into fewer surfaces being touched.

Are houses even selling now?

Yes! The fact is that people still need to move, pandemic or no pandemic. For instance, in Austin, TX, at least 400 homes “and counting” are closing every single week, reports Regine Nelson with Wealthward Realty.

“Austin is low on inventory; we still have more people moving here than we have housing available,” she says.

Other markets, like Tampa, FL, are seeing a similar trend in sales.

“Houses are definitely selling now,” says Nadia Anac, a Realtor with Reagan Realty. “In my market, I’ve even been in multiple-offer situations.”

The key to these kinds of numbers seems to be in the inventory: Markets with low inventory are seeing houses sold quickly. As always, we’d recommend chatting with a local real estate agent to get the pulse on exactly how your market is performing.

Should I sell my house during a recession?

Since this recession is largely dictated by the pandemic, it’s almost impossible to keep the two separate. But if you do decide to sell during this period of economic downturn, take the time to consider your own financial stability, as well as the conditions of the market you’re moving to.

“If you planned to sell your home due to relocation, a short sale, or moving for larger space, then I would recommend proceeding—but with caution,” says Nelson. “Do you have another home or area in mind? Always be sure to see if what you are seeking is available or will be available when you’re ready to find a property to purchase.”

And while the buyer pool has undoubtedly shrunk in the past few weeks, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Homes are still selling, but lending requirements have tightened, meaning buyers are more qualified and ready to move forward,” says Karen Parnes, owner of NextHome Your Way.

Will I have competition if I try to sell my house right now?

home selling competition
Even during a pandemic, you can expect some competition from other sellers.

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“You’re likely to have much less competition as a seller right now,” Parnes says, since potential sellers are still wary about putting their homes on the market amid a pandemic. (These conditions are expected to change as summer ramps up; more on that later.)

But Nelson advises her clients to avoid getting caught up in the competition, and focus instead on the things they can control—like competitive pricing, getting their home in a good state, and having a solid marketing strategy.

Another point to remember? Competition happens on both sides of the street.

“Once you sell, you’re way more likely to have competition as a buyer,” says Parnes.

Should I expect to sell for less right now?

Not necessarily. Although the economy’s experiencing a recession, that doesn’t mean prices are going down.

“There are less buyers, but there are also a lot less homes on the market,” says Parnes. “The old rule of supply and demand still holds.”

While some predicted a price drop for 2020, experts now expect the summer home-buying market to be much hotter than expected, as many Americans feel more secure in their jobs and can physically step into the homes they are considering.

While you might not have to drop your price, Anac reminds her clients that they may need to be more patient in pursuing a good sale.

“If your house is priced correctly, and depending on your market, it may just take a little bit longer to sell,” she says.

How can I sell my house without allowing buyers to walk through?

virtual tours
If you’re selling, now’s the time to make the most of virtual tours.

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It may be the safest option, but it’s not the easiest to pull off. Understandably, buyers want to see the home they’re buying in person. And no, telling them they can walk the property without entering won’t help matters much.

“It’s mostly impossible to sell your home with no showings or [prospective buyers] in the home at all,” says Parnes, although she admits “real estate transactions are still happening in states where showings are not allowed and being done completely virtually.”

If you have special health concerns or live with someone who’s considered high-risk, talk with your real estate agent about the possibility of virtual showings. Otherwise, consider just cleaning up thoroughly after would-be buyers leave.

Should I stage my house?

virtual stage kids room after
This room was virtually staged with furniture for adults.

VHT Studios

“Staged homes always sell faster,” says Anac, “but especially in times like these.”

The real question isn’t whether you should stage your house, but how you should stage it. With more tours and showings happening online, you might consider having your home virtually staged rather than actually inviting people into your home to decorate it.

How can I prepare my home for a virtual tour?

A virtual tour can run the gamut from a live walk-through with an agent on FaceTime to a sophisticated 3D rendering from companies such as Matterport. But for the most part you want to prepare for a virtual tour the same way you would for a still-photo shoot—by decluttering it, upping the curb appeal, and making sure nothing is broken or an eyesore.

“Make sure everything is clean, all lights are turned on, fans are off, blinds are open, surfaces are cleared, and everything is put away,” advises Anac.

How can I close remotely?

States are handling remote closings a little differently, so the short answer is to ask your real estate agent. The long answer: The way settlements are being handled varies quite a bit.

“Some, but not all, states have remote settlements,” says Parnes. “Some have approved it temporarily, and those that don’t are typically splitting the buyers and sellers at settlement and having only the essential people involved at the table.”

Looking for more advice on selling your home in the age of COVID-19? We’ve got you covered.

The post Selling Your Home in the Age of Coronavirus? Here Are All Your Top Questions, Answered appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Should Days on Market Matter as Much During the COVID-19 Pandemic? It’s Complicated

May 14, 2020

days on market

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Even in the age of the novel coronavirus, the process of browsing online listings hasn’t completely changed. Sure, there’s much more of an emphasis on new features like virtual tours, but a listing page is still likely to show all the specs you’re used to seeing—things like price per square foot, year built, and, of course, days on market.

For buyers, a property’s days on market, or DOM, is an important figure. Before the pandemic, a house on the market for more than 30 days was considered stale. But in these historic, uncharted waters we’re currently navigating, does DOM carry the same significance it once did?

“Historically, days on market has been one of several indicators of the value of a property,” says Dave Wetzel, MLSListings president and chief executive officer. “But COVID-19 is a particularly unusual circumstance, and such a drastic and sudden change in the housing market makes it much harder to determine the level of importance of DOM.”

Technically, we’re in prime buying and selling season, but currently, social distancing and masks are the new norm, open houses are rare, and buyers are hesitant to buy. Therefore, the rules on how much weight DOM carries have changed a bit. Here’s what real estate experts have to say about the current conditions.

Days on market 101

First, let’s go over the basics. DOM is the number of days a property is listed for sale on the multiple listing service until the date when the seller has sold the property.

The DOM can vary dramatically with market conditions and by price point. (For example, some luxury properties can sit on the market for longer because the pool of viable buyers is smaller.) But, in general, a high DOM has been thought to indicate that buyers are reacting poorly to the house.

Comps have always played a big role in gauging how much weight to give a home’s DOM.

“Usually, an important indicator is how a property’s days on market ranks against the average in that neighborhood,” says Wetzel.

Should days on market matter during COVID-19?

Under normal circumstances, buyers will use DOM as a tool to determine if a house has been given an appropriate asking price.

“If a listing is priced well, offers will come in, and hopefully a deal can be struck,” says Steve Gottlieb, real estate agent for Warburg Realty in New York City. If it’s overpriced, the property will sit, and the DOM count will tick up.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to seriously reconsider buying, selling, and moving. Because of that, DOM may no longer signify as much as it did a few short months ago.

“It becomes tricky during COVID-19 to try to identify a number [of days on market] as good or bad, because the global health crisis requires everything to have an extra layer of examination,” says Wetzel.

Because the pandemic has radically changed the speed and ability of many properties to sell, Gottlieb says a climbing number of DOM can be “misleading and, therefore, not useful.”

Wetzel says in these unprecedented times the usual rules don’t apply, and there isn’t a DOM playbook for what it should be during a pandemic where houses can’t be shown.

Of course, DOM has never been the sole indicator of a property’s value. In a strong market, 45 DOM might be high, but in a slow market, 45 days might be low. Therefore, in these extraordinary times, it’s wise to rely on other key indicators like the property’s location, curb appeal, neighborhood comps, home improvement potential, and local market conditions.

The post Should Days on Market Matter as Much During the COVID-19 Pandemic? It’s Complicated appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Should You Buy a Stale Listing? Pros and Cons of Buying a House With a High DOM

October 30, 2019

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A real estate listing can tell you an awful lot about a home, beyond just the price—essential stats like the year the property was built and the price per square foot. But one of the most important numbers to be aware of is the days on market, or DOM, the amount of time the home has been listed for sale on the multiple listing service. The DOM gives you an idea of how other buyers are reacting to the property and whether it’s priced high or low.

Properties with a high DOM are commonly referred to as stale listings, meaning the house has been languishing on the market for a long time. Depending on the specifics of local housing markets, experts consider that a house starts becoming stale around three to five weeks—and it usually causes one of two possible reactions. Some buyers think such homes are a bit tainted, while others believe they’ll have more bargaining power and can get the house at a steal. Which is more true?

Buyer beware?

First of all, let’s dispel the myth that there’s always something wrong with the house when it doesn’t sell quickly. There are a lot of factors that could come into play.

For example, Dolly Hertz, licensed associate real estate broker at Engel & Völkers in New York, says there’s a backlog of unsold inventory in the greater New York market—both city and suburbs. Hertz says some homes have languished on these markets for two or even three years.

Shawn Breyer of Breyer House Buyers, in Atlanta, tells us he’s seen a lot of great homes that are simply overpriced.

“As homeowners progressively lower the price on the home, the perception is that something is wrong with it—and this perception sometimes keeps would-be buyers from looking at the house,” he says.

Sometimes, a high DOM may be due to factors out of the seller’s control.

“Perhaps the seller accepted a contract at some point, but it fell through because the buyer couldn’t qualify for financing,” says Shafaq Chawla, a real estate professional with Compass in Los Gatos, CA.

But the problem could also be the home itself. Outdated interiors or big-ticket items in need of repair can scare buyers away. Some people would never gamble on buying a house with roof damage.

“Buyers are also turned off by homes that need a new paint job, landscaping work, and upgrades to decks, floors, and appliances,” Hertz says.

Location is yet another factor that could stall a home’s sale.

“Houses on busy roads or in a flood zone typically have longer days on market,” says Sarah M. Drennan, at broker/manager at Terrie O’Connor Realtors, in Allendale, NJ.

And, of course, bad listing photos can tarnish buyers’ opinion of the house before they even set foot inside.

Deal or no deal

Does a high DOM give buyers more bargaining power? Sometimes.

“Remember, market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home, not what a seller expects,” says Chawla. When there is no demand for the home, she says sellers and agents may be willing to accept less than the initial asking price.

“Many deals may be found by salvaging stale listings,” says Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International in Wilmington, DE. “To see if I have any bargaining power, I tend to suggest presenting a low offer to see how the seller will react.”

Just be aware: Sellers aren’t always desperate, regardless of how long the home has been on the market.

“Some are just fishing for the highest price they can get and won’t sell unless they get the price that they have in mind,” says Breyer. He recommends asking your real estate broker to find out why the homeowner wants to sell, since this can help you determine if you have any bargaining power.

For example, the sellers may just be testing the market and not desperate to sell, and Drennan says they may not be willing to take less than they’re asking. However, if circumstances dictate that they have to sell the home, you’re dealing with a motivated seller and can negotiate accordingly.

Proceed with caution

Finding a house with a high DOM that actually meets all of your criteria may feel like finding a designer blouse at the bottom of a bargain bin, but don’t get excited just yet. You may be able to strike a deal, but the first move is to understand why the house is overpriced.

“Is it the location, a major defect, repairs needed, or difficult sellers?” asks Breyer.

If you do make an offer, be sure to include house inspection contingencies in the contract.

“The house may seem fine, but there may be issues that are not immediately apparent,” Hertz says.

A home inspector will reveal the house’s flaw that may cost you an arm and a leg to repair. But a contingency will give you the right to back out of the sale if something looks fishy.

The post Should You Buy a Stale Listing? Pros and Cons of Buying a House With a High DOM appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

What Does ‘Days on Market’ Mean? How Buyers Can Take Advantage

June 13, 2019

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In the real estate game, many buyers understand that knowing a home’s days on market (DOM) is absolutely critical intel. Why? Because the number of days a home spends on the market directly affects the price of a home. Plus, this information can be used to the buyer’s benefit to negotiate a lower price. Here’s how!

What does ‘days on market’ mean?

“‘Days on market’ is the number of days that a property has been listed on the local multiple listing services (MLS) until a seller has accepted an offer and signed a contract,” says Ryan Substad, a real estate investor and owner of NorthWestPropertySolutions.com. It can also be referred to as “time on market” or “market time.”

When browsing home listings, buyers should always take a look at the number of days on market to determine how other buyers are reacting to the property.

“A house that has only been on the market a few days typically means that home could go at the asking price or higher,” says Valerie Burmester, a real estate broker with Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty in Redmond, WA. “But a home that has been on the market for a longer period of time, say 187 days, is likely overpriced in most markets.”

This is usually a sign the seller seriously misread the market.

How buyers can use DOM to their advantage

While a high DOM can be a sign to buyers that something is wrong with the house, it can also indicate a potential bargain.

“Buyers and their agents can use days on market as a search filter to identify homes that have been listed for a long time,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor, landlord, and co-founder at SparkRental.com.

While DOM can indicate sellers who are refusing to budge on their asking price, it can also identify sellers who haven’t received offers and who may be open to a dramatically lower offer. Because the last thing sellers want is for their house to get stale on the market.

“A home with a high DOM tends to get overlooked because it becomes the ‘rotten banana,’” says Burmester. “It could be a beautiful home that was just overpriced from the start, but after weeks or months on the market, everyone wonders, ‘What is wrong with this house?’” And that perception can be difficult to recover from.

How to decide what to offer using DOM

Generally speaking, the longer a house is on the market, the more there’s the potential for buyers to score a great deal.

“Depending on the market, a home that’s been on the market for a long time begs for negotiation in a real estate agent’s mind,” says Burmester.

Buyers and their agents can often learn more about the seller’s urgency to sell by calling the property’s listing agent.

“Ask probing questions about why the property has sat so long on the market,” says Bryan Stoddard of HomewaresInsider.com.

Also feel out the seller’s openness to lower offers. While listing agents can’t violate their fiduciary responsibility to their sellers, you can usually gauge a seller’s openness to lower offers based on how the listing agent responds.

You can then arrive at an offer with your agent by researching recent comparable sales.

Days on market loopholes

In certain markets, a listing’s days on market can actually reset. For example, in New York, if a listing is taken down for 90 consecutive days, the clock goes back to zero days on market when it’s relisted. The same generally happens if a new agent takes over the listing.

Be sure to ask your agent to do a deep dive on a listing’s full history so you will know exactly how long the home has been for sale.

What sellers need to know about DOM

An overpriced home can be the result of sellers who think their house is the best in the neighborhood and won’t deviate from that idea, no matter what.

“Some sellers don’t understand that buyers set the market numbers,” adds Burmester.

You can figure out your home valuation by entering your address into an online home value estimator, which will give you a free evaluation of what your home is worth, based on recent home sales in the area, among other things. But that’s just a starting point—remain objective and talk in-depth with your agent to avoid a high DOM.

The post What Does ‘Days on Market’ Mean? How Buyers Can Take Advantage appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.