Sales Make a Final Surge Before the Winter Slow
Are Sellers Setting Their Sights Too High?
How to Prepare for Selling in 2016
Down Three from September, These 11 Homes $old During October:
Inventory crept up during October with 11 homes for sale at the peak of availability for Buyers. For several months, there were rarely more than four or five homes to choose from at any one time. Fast turnover prevented the buildup of selection. With the Holidays quickly approaching, January may be a better time to list your home if you’re thinking of selling. Inventory is beginning to hang around longer and, due to would-be-Sellers holding off until the New Year to put their homes on the market, I wouldn’t expect to see many new signs on yard arms in the near future.
Notwithstanding, that lack of homes to choose from, along with the anticipated forthcoming slowdown of new listings toward the holidays, seems to have motivated several Buyers to pull the trigger more quickly during August and September. The average home closing escrow during October spent just 10 days on the market before falling under mutual agreement in prior months.
|Model||Original Price||Asking Price when Sold||Sale Price||Days on Market|
Homes in bold & Green; the Elephant’s Work representing Sellers.
Take a quick look at this recap of home statuses so far year-to-date:
Mutual Agreement Contracts Fall 25%
Here’s What’s Currently “Pending” the Close of Escrow
Homes going under contract continue to fall for the third month in a row dropping by 25 percent from September and in half since August. There’s no doubt the typical November 10th through January second pretty much half of buyers making offers is at hand. The average days on market for homes that closed escrow during October were 10. These are homes that would have gone under contract in the previous month or two when things were busier. The average days on market for these nine homes recently coming under contract is now more than twice that at 21. Expect days on market to stretch out until the gifts have been returned and shopping turns to normal the first week of January. These nine homes have reached mutual terms between a Buyer and a Seller but have not yet recorded with the County. One is still pending the inspection process. We won’t know the sale prices until the deed changes hands and excise tax has been collected.
|Model||Original Price||Asking Price When Offer Accepted||Days on Market||Comments|
|Bainbridge||$699,000||$699,000||3||Fantastic Home Site|
|Cedar*||$799,950||$789,950||42||Lovely Corner Greenbelt|
|Maple||$859,000||$859,000||4||Golf Course Home|
|Cedar||$860,000||$860,000||6||Golf Course Home|
|Redford||$879,000||$879,000||8||Large Corner Greenbelt|
Homes in bold & Green; the Elephant’s Work representing Sellers.
Here’s What’s Available for Prospective Buyers:
|Model||Original Price||Current Asking Price||Days on Market||Comments|
Please, keep in mind all the following data is as of October 31st, 2015 at midnight for month over month accuracy. The statuses of some of these homes have changed by the time you receive this report.
The Match Tic
|Low – YTD||High – YTD||Prior Month||October|
Dropping to 27, the total number of various statuses of listings is nearing the 26 we started with in the cold of January. Barring a few stragglers, I think we can all but call 2015 a wrap. We will continue to see closings of prior agreements as they clear escrow for the remainder of the year.
Status may include Active (Homes currently available for sale), Pending Inspection (Homes under contract but still in the home inspection process), Pending (Homes that have worked through the inspection process successfully), Sold (Homes that have closed escrow), Contingent (Sold homes that are contingent upon the buyer selling their own home) and TOMK or BOMK (Homes that are either Temporarily Off Market or Back on Market after being temporarily unavailable.)
Considerations When Pricing Your Trilogy Home
I don’t intend to claim that I know why every Seller prices their home the way they do. Obviously, they have reasons. Some reasons are personal and some are the result of bad planning. I don’t intend to call out any Seller in particular as I wish the best for everyone. Furthermore, I have no desire to rile my counterparts in the real estate business. I do, however, feel the need to help the members of our community by sharing good, general real estate information with those who don’t sell homes every day. Thirteen years of home selling in Trilogy has blessed me with a little insight.
Within several market reports over the years, I’ve discussed how each collection of homes or specific floor plan has progressively found their basis for what would be an acceptable asking price. I think it would be fair to say that, most recently, those of us who really understand the Trilogy market could shoot from the hip with an asking price range for any floor plan without ever seeing it. Those whom I call “outside agents” would not have the tools to be able to do this. Even the Estate Collection finally found its basis during 2015. Prior to that, the upper end was a bit all over the place. All that is required from there is to evaluate the levels of fits and finishes, quality of location and condition of the home.
A wonderful thing about Trilogy is that most home owners seem to know the name of their own floor plan. There was only one builder here, unlike many surrounding communities that may have had half a dozen or more builders so nobody really knows one floor plan from another. In Trilogy, it is very easy for a knowledgeable broker to find out exactly, and I mean exactly, how many of your specific floor plan have sold in the last year, two years or even ten years and for how much. However, the broker would need to be able to recognize from the photos which recorded sales are your specific floor plan. For example, the Cedar and the Hemlock are very different from one another but their square footage is very similar. Although these two homes are basically the same size, their prices can really vary depending upon the configuration of any individual home, location and fits and finishes.
The tough part is there are very few of us who can tell you the difference between, for example, a “Union” floor plan versus a “Vashon” floor plan because they’re nearly identical square footage. I’ve seen way too many over-priced attached homes that sit on the market and ultimately sell for less than they should have because the listing agent compared square footages when doing their analysis but they don’t know the construction or the value difference between attached or non-attached. An “Orchard”, for example, from the “Port Collection” of homes is usually only attached to another home at the garage but it can come attached side by side with another like kind home, as well. This situation eliminates the dining room windows and adds another wall to look at from the courtyard. Its obvious one is more appealing and valuable than the other. A stand alone “Orchard” would bring a significant premium over both the other scenarios because they are rare. Pricing a stand-alone Orchard the same dollars per square foot as one attached on two sides would be seller suicide. Notwithstanding, we see situations like this far too often.
Many brokers have contacted me for Trilogy knowledge over the years. It happens every week. Recently, a Discovery was sold. The broker was quite certain the floor plan was a Chelan and she was going to market it as such. There’s only 40 sq. ft. difference between the floor plans so it would be easy to make that mistake. However, a Discover typically sells for tens of thousands of dollars more than a Chelan. A Chelan is always attached side by side and, if not a rare stand-alone, the Discovery is always built in the back of a quad situation. You will never see an Orchard in the back and you will never see a Discovery in the front or on the street, if you will. A Discovery has two bedrooms plus a Den area. The Chelan has either two bedrooms and no Den or one bedroom with a Den. These things make a difference in price.
Why am I boring you with these facts when you own a Hemlock in the $700K range? There are many, many examples of unique features to Trilogy homes that definitely contribute to exactly the best price your home should be able to bring on the market. The message is the recommendation that you interview your broker well or you may really regret it.
Within this market report, there are three lovely properties under contract waiting for the close of escrow. The listing brokers did a good job. A Bainbridge set the bar for Trilogy’s second largest, two-car garage home asking around $373.00 per square foot. It has a phenomenal tiered sundeck with an elevated, magnificent forest and pond view with an abundance of hardwood flooring and built-ins inside. Around the same bucks per square foot are a lovely Forest home on the coveted 17th fairway of the golf course and a fabulous Maple floor plan, also on the golf course. They too are priced dollars per square foot similarly to the Bainbridge. Everything else waiting to close escrow had asking prices reflecting from $50.00 to $100.00 less per square foot. It’s understandable the others range from $273.00 to $325.00. They’re nice but status quo locations. Ask yourself, would it make sense to ask the same dollars per square foot for an attached home with nothing particularly special about the location? Sadly, we see it all the time and, barring the extremely rare lucky seller, consistently these homes are on the market a long time before eventually giving up and taking their home off the market or ultimately selling for far less had they been priced properly to begin with. I’m not picking on attached homes. This happens with non-attached homes, as well.
The Elephant’s recommendation would be to interview well before hiring a listing broker. If they can’t tell you something as simple as the names of the 23 floor plans, that’s the first indication you may want to keep looking. If they don’t know which homes have nine foot ceilings and which ones have 10 foot ceilings, you may want to continue your search. Some collections offer floor plans with three car garages but some of them may have been built as a two car. Some collections of homes offer only two car garages. Would an outside broker know the difference? Would they know how to sell against another floor plan just like yours that had different room and garage configurations? Not knowing this could allow a buyer to choose the other home instead of yours. There are oodles of examples just like this in Trilogy.
Be careful of brokers who may attempt to “Buy Your Listing” by getting you excited about their high recommended asking price only to talk you down to reality later, once they’ve got you under contract. A good broker is worth their fee and will pay for themselves in the long run. They should be able to provide you with good, very comparable sales data that will prove what you should really ask for your home and you’ll, most likely, get it. You’ll sleep better knowing this.
Be careful, too, of those who may try to obtain your listing by cutting their fee. Think about it; if a broker is willing to cut their fee for selling your home right up front, how strong are they going to be for you if they can’t even represent themselves? How strong are they going to be for you when they’re presented with a less than asking price offer? How hard are they going to work for you when negotiations get tough, especially during the inspection process where buyers want sellers to fix this and that?
We hope this is some good food for thought and helps you to make a wise decision when choosing a listing broker to market your home. If we can help you in any way, just let us know. I think it’s very fair to say that the Elephant is ready to provide you with rock solid representation of any Trilogy home.
How to Prepare for Selling in the New Year
For the Elephant, it’s time for a little R & R. Although, we’ll continue to set appointments for January, we’re going to use this slow real estate time of the year to relax a bit and make plans as to how we can improve our service in 2016.
For those of you wanting to know what you need to do to get ready to be able to participate in the flurry of new homes for sale we usually see in January, here’s a few tips. First of all, the Elephant really has the “getting ready for sale system” down so there’s no need to panic. We have the knowledge, Team Members and Vendors to get most homes ready in a week or two from our initial meeting to placing the flyers out front. Feel free to email us with your name and address and anything else you’d like us to know and when in January or later you’d like us to come visit. We’ll spend the hours ahead of time and come prepared to help you set an asking price and to put a plan into action.
In the meantime, start with the garage and purge, purge, purge. Make your Salvation Army or Goodwill pile and have them come get it. Make your junk pile and take it to the dump. Make your “going to the kids” pile and ask them to come pick it up. Tell them, “If you want it, get it out of here.” Once all the stuff you don’t need any more is gone, begin to consolidate. Clear plastic tubs are available at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s and, sometimes you can get a great deal on them at Costco. A lot of space can be created by re-packing stuff that’s just sitting around loose and you’ll enjoy knowing just where everything is when you’re done. If you’re extra ambitious, slipping a piece of paper in the front with a list of what’s inside can be very handy.
I recommend clearing your shelves and dusting or wiping them clean and carefully placing your nicely packed, ready to move items as tightly and neatly as possible. Try to keep them consolidated and try to leave some bare space on the shelves if you can. When filling the shelves, don’t forget to do it as neatly as possible. Even facing items will pay off down the road. If you’ve ever reached for a box of cereal or a bottle of juice at a grocery store, you’ll recognize what facing is. Product is flush from row to row across the front and labels are turned forward. It makes the product easier to see and more appealing. You’ll want your garage to look appealing to a buyer in the future and you’ll appreciate all the extra space this will create. One last thing you’ll want to do is to keep it all to one side. This means you should have one side of the garage for storage space and the opposite wall should be bare at the floor level. Yes, a garden tool rack hanging on the wall is fine and yes, having your garbage cans sitting alone on that wall is acceptable but, basically you want to create a feeling of available space. Being able to park at least one car is important too. Get as far as you can and we can help if needed when the time comes.
Why start with the garage? First of all, you’re going to need somewhere to put all the furniture and knick- knacks that your listing broker and or staging company won’t want in the house when you are preparing the home for photography. Secondly, eventually you’re going to have prospective buyers come look at your home and consider making an offer. If they see that even the garage is spotless, their perception of the rest of the home is going to be that it all must have been extremely well cared for. This creates a visual of value and definitely will result in a higher offer than a home presented with a messy garage.
Speaking of knick-knacks, once the garage is done, if you, obviously, have too many tchotchkes you’ve collected over the years sitting around inside the home, that’s the next best task to tackle. Although, we recommend allowing your broker or stager to select some of your nice art pieces or décor items to stick around for photos, they definitely won’t want to see every space filled. Please, leave the decorative random pieces for staging but go ahead and pack away the diecast car or doll collections. We know you love them but when you’re planning to sell, you’ll want the home to look more like a generic showroom to a prospect. They’ll want to imagine how they’d decorate it. Allow them to take mental ownership rather than feeling like they’re intruding in a home that looks like you never want to leave it.
Those two tasks alone will have you super ready to get on the market quick whenever you decide it’s time. For those of you who are just overwhelmed by such a task, we have people who do it for a living and we’re happy to share them with you when you list your home with us. We’ve interviewed them well, used them often and they are solid professionals. I, also, own a broom and know how to use it. I’ve cleaned many a garage and often hear homeowners say, “Is this my garage?” when I’m done. It’s usually a two to four hour task and something I do when the homeowner is physically or financially unable to do it. The reward is in their relief.
We hope that gives you a little direction as to how to get started. It’s a good time of year for indoor tasks and you’ll be proud of yourself when you’re finished.
That’s a wrap for October. We hope you found something of value in this report and we’ll see you next month.
Devin, Bridgette & Team
If your home is currently listed with another broker this is not intended to solicit that listing.