Sunday, May 17, 2020 / by Teresa Dipeso
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still a pretty good time to sell a house.
Though the U.S. unemployment rate stands at nearly 15%, the housing market was hot before economic shutdowns began, and many prospective home buyers still have money to spend. Interest rates are at historic lows: 2.73% for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and 3.26% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, according to Freddie Mac.
The homes that buyers want are in short supply, too. New home starts aren’t sufficient to keep up with demand. The number of home builders controlling 90% of the market for new dwellings dropped by a quarter between 2006 and 2015, and remaining home builders are keeping the lid on supply as a way of maintaining demand—and high prices.
The upshot is that, despite large swaths of the economy being temporarily closed, many brokers and economists expect home prices to rise in 2020, if somewhat more slowly than they had hoped before the Coronavirus pandemic hit.
Looking to sell your home? Here’s what you need to know.
Your house won’t sell itself
Before the pandemic, you could sell the house for full price with just a sign in the yard, but you’d leave money on the table. Now, with the focus switched to virtual tours, “It’s still all about the presentation.”
To get top value for your home, present it in the best possible condition. Paint the walls and trim. Wash the carpet. Empty the basement and crawl space. Replace the light fixtures, which go out of style quickly, Stevens says. Put new faucets on the sinks, paint outdoor furniture and play structures, put down fresh mulch, trim all the greenery and put space between it and the home. In pictures, you want the home and yard to look neat and attractive.
Get your home inspected
Having your home pre-inspected can make a big difference in
Lynn Sanborn, a broker in Kirkland, Wash., suggests paying for a pre-inspection from a well-regarded inspector. When you get the report, consider fixing the items that seem important. Correcting the items initially will create a smoother transaction when negotiating price with the seller and addressing defects with the appraiser.
Consider including the pre-inspection results with other disclosures about the home. It’s much easier to give every potential buyer that information than to have ten prospective buyers send 10 inspectors to your home.
Put your best pictures forward
Some photo slideshows are presented as visual walk-throughs, beginning with the front door. Consider putting your best pictures first creating that "wow" factor. Buyers look at photos and virtual tours online before seeing the home in person. Capture their attention and motivate them to take the next step with great photographs.
Price the house for the market
Even in a relatively strong market, the sky isn’t the limit as you determine your asking price. It's important to work with an experienced real estate professional with a strong knowledge of comparable homes in the same market. This will help you determine a fair price for your property.
Err on the side of too low a price. It is possible to overprice a property, even in a hot market. If the price is too high, it will scare away buyers and the property will just sit there on the market. A home that spends a long time on the market can give buyers the impression that something serious is wrong with it.
If you’ve priced the place too low, on the other hand, the market will tell you: Prospective buyers will bid more than your asking price.
Expect speed and competition
You should expect multiple virtual and some in-person showings in today's current climate. Many agents are hosting virtual showings for buyers unable to view the home in person.
Keep the house neat and clean, and make arrangements to be out of the house while prospective buyers see it.
If there are multiple offers, as your agent we will ask for a second round of “highest and best offers” from the initial bidders.
We have been seeing multiple offers in our local market with buyers making bids over list price,. Before you count on that money, though, remember that a home has to appraise for the offer price if a buyer is to get bank financing. If it’s a cash offer, though, the sky’s the limit.