7 Reasons to sell your house now and not wait till 2016

October 27th, 2015

I remember when I young and first working in NYC, the adage was “when taxi cab drivers start giving you stock tips, you know it’s time to get out of the market.” This is similar advice to what one of the smartest and most successful financial advisors told me years ago, “don’t be part of the herd. To be successful, you need to be different.” That’s my message to you today. If you want to sell your house for more money and in less time, don’t take your house off the market for the holidays and then put it back on the market afterwards. Why? Cause no one else is!! So here goes my top 7 reasons to list your house now and not wait until the spring market:

1) In December 2014, 801 homes sold, 5,982 homes were on the market, and there was 7.5 months supply of inventory in Fairfield County. During the height of the spring market in April 2015, 724 homes sold, 8,291 homes were on the market, and there was 11.5 months supply of inventory in Fairfield County.

2) With less competition, you could potentially sell your home more quickly and for more money.

3) Work tends to slow down, everyone takes time off from work and buyers now have time to shop.

4) Companies transfer employees for the first of the year, and buyers want to have their kids start their new school right after the holidays.

5) Buyers that are out looking are serious buyers, so your life is not disrupted for the lookie loos that we have in the spring. Plus it’s dark out at 5pm, so no more dinner time showings.

6) Banks are less busy, so loans process faster.

7) Historically, interest rates tend to drop the most at year end, so your buyer gets a better deal and so will you.

How to Win a Bidding War

February 8th, 2015

How to Win a Bidding War

There are many ways to win a bidding war, but the best way doesn’t require you to pay full asking price or drop your mortgage contingency.

Most of the time, the seller looks to their broker for his/her advice about which offer to accept. The majority of brokers, myself included, will go over the finances of the prospective buyers with the sellers to help them make an informed decision. The brokers will also talk about what the potential buyers are actually like as well as if their broker is knowledgeable and easy to work with.

At the first meeting at a potential home, buyers have to keep in mind that they are being vetted from the get go. The moment they walk into the door the seller’s broker is figuring out if their broker knows what they are talking about. Your broker is a reflection of you. Once you get to the stage of multiple bids, here are a few tips that can help you along the way to getting an accepted offer.
1. Don’t make derogatory statements about the home or how much work it needs. Some people think incorrectly that they will get a better price if they point out the “flaws” but in reality it just makes you look like a pain in the neck, someone the broker and seller won’t want to deal with.

2. Don’t make unreasonable demands such as unrealistic closing dates don’t make a really low ball offer in the beginning. Listen to your broker’s assessment about the current market environment. Remember, not to make too many appointments to come back and see the home before you sign the contract. Yes, this is a big financial decision both financially and emotionally but you also don’t want to inconvenience the broker and seller too many times or they will move to the next bidder.

3. Lastly, remember to be rational. Listen to your broker (you chose them because you trust them, right?) and your real estate attorney (they have experience and knowledge about the law and what works).

Another Way to Win a Bidding War

October 31st, 2014

Having sold real estate in Westport and surrounding towns for the last 21 years, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly one offer can turn into three. I am not just talking about price reductions or spikes in the market; bidding wars can materialize in any market. As a buyer, a bidding war is less than ideal, but let me give you an insider tip to close the deal.

There are many ways for buyers to secure the winning bid. One new way just came to my attention recently: instead of a pre-approval letter attached to your offer, one step better is getting a pre-underwriting letter for a specific loan amount. The documentation is much more thorough and takes more time and effort but is thus much more impressive to a potential seller than a standard pre-approval letter. Generally, a a pre-underwritten loan can close in 14 days as opposed to 30 for a pre-approved loan. And of course waiving the mortgage contingency is still best but that is just not something all of us can do. Your absolute second best option is a pre-underwritten approval.

Permits: Get them now before it’s too late!

October 23rd, 2014

Permits: Get them now before it’s too late!

If you have any thoughts of selling your home and would like to minimize stress down the line, I would suggest checking if you have any open permits for work. Check now, not two weeks before closing. Many of us have owned our homes for many years and have made improvements such as adding central air or finishing a basement. But how many of us ever have checked if our contractors were issued permits, and most importantly, if they closed open permits? I can’t tell you how many times our deal is all set, the buyer’s attorney does a municipal search and then issues arise. It’s not so fun to make fixes at the 11th hour. As much as I love the hardworking staff at town hall, their attitude goes something like this: Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. They will get to it when they get to it. After all, they hear this story daily. “I need to get you out here now,” “my buyers need to close,” “I need to move, get on this.” Such commands usually causes them to work at a slower pace. So make your life, and town hall’s, a little less stressful by having your attorney run a municipal search on your house now and clear up any issues now so you have one less thing to worry about later on.

The Luxury Market Is Back!

October 12th, 2014

I have been holding my breath, waiting until I felt confident enough to say it… The luxury market is making a comeback in Westport, everyone. In the last 30 days alone, 12 homes priced over $3 million have sold. Year to date, 44 homes over $3 million have sold. Compare that to last year, when only 34 homes over $3 million sold, and the year before, when only 29 did. Note that this year’s number of 44 does not include the $130 million that Bridgewater paid to go from renting in Westport to owning. This is a great boom to the town as a whole, not just for the millions in transfer taxes (Bridgewater sale paid  Westport $500,000 in taxes alone). I also foresee this trickling down to the overall real estate market. 

 Why is the luxury market making a comeback now? It’s hard to say but it could be the recent corrections in the stock market. We may have some market timers here in Westport who decided to take their recent gains and reward themselves with a wonderful home for their family. Winter is coming and what better time to think about a great place to nest? And in my opinion, there is no better place to nest than in Westport.

You must get your home photographed now!!

October 6th, 2014

If you are considering selling your home this coming spring, now is the time to have your realtor bring in a photographer before the leaves fall and snow arrives. With 90% of home searches beginning on the internet, it is important to showcase beautiful photos of your home online. Photos of your home should display your home in the best light, but the photos should not mislead potential buyers either. Early fall (i.e. right now!) is an excellent time to have your home photographed because you can still have photos of your house with the pool open, flowers blooming, and trees looking spectacular. Think about how your home will stand out in February when most of the homes on the market are photographed with bare trees in the background – or even worse – with snow half on the roof and half off. Get your home photographed now before it’s too late!

The Truth About Zillow and Trulia

September 30th, 2014

Their information is rarely completely accurate. In fact I just read this morning on Inman News that one of Pennsylvania’s biggest brokerages, Northwood Realty Services, has pulled approximately 3,700 listings from Zillow, citing concerns over the accuracy of Zillow’s automated valuations and with listing data displayed on the site. In towns such as Westport, where each of our locations and homes are unique, Zillow and Trulia can be significantly off. Zillow, for example, uses the median listing price— that is, the asking price in the middle of all the homes on the market. Relying on a median rather than an average is useful because you aren’t counting prices that are way high or way low. But listing prices merely demonstrate what a seller hopes to get, not necessarily what a buyer will pay.

On Trulia, the number is based on an average of recorded sales— deals that have been finalized and filed in property records— on a rolling three-month average. While using sale prices rather than asking prices will give you a better sense of how much homes are actually selling for, averages incorporate outlier deals as well, so a handful of extremely pricey sales could artificially inflate the number. You can see that in areas where homes are relatively uniform, Zillow and Trulia will have a better chance of being accurate, but in our towns where your neighbors house just sold as a tear down and yours is a brand new 6000 sq ft home, their numbers will be off. So instead of being down about your Zestimate, email me and I will be happy to email you recent sales of homes that are actually comparable to yours.

Half are gone!

January 30th, 2014

It’s 30 days into the new year, and the market is going quite strong! So far this year, 69 new homes have come on the market, 19 have bindered and are waiting to have contracts signed, and 14 have signed contracts and are waiting to close. That means in a mere 30 days since the new year started, half of every home that decided to come on the market is already gone. And when you think of how many of those days were “snow days,” we have had maybe 20 good showing days this year. If this continues, we will have another record-breaking year.

2013 was a great year; we ended with 5.1 months supply of inventory (six months or less is considered a seller’s market). Sales of 393 were up 27% from 2012, and our average sale price was up 10%.

My prediction for 2014 is that we will have another record year and inventory will remain low. Have you had any thoughts of selling? 2014 is looking to be the best year in seven years!

Why your first offer is always your best!!

January 16th, 2014

I have sold real estate for 20 years and only rarely when there was a multiple-offer situation has the first offer not been my seller’s best. This is because of a few factors.

The main reason is that the buyer who makes the first offer has usually been looking for homes for a while and is very motivated . . . maybe they lost a house or two and don’t want that to happen to them again.

The second reason is days on market. The first question a buyer asks when they are serious about a home is: How long has it been on the market? If a home has only been on a couple of weeks, they are going to give an offer closer to the asking price. The longer it’s on, the further from asking price they will offer. Yes, even if the agent says “but it started much higher.”

The moral of the story is that while the first offer may not be what you are hoping for, you need to really consider the proven fact that your next offer will most likely be lower.

Real estate’s five-year rule

December 30th, 2013

Trulia has a great new Rent vs. Buy Calculator. Based on my calculations using a $950,000 home that would rent for $5,000 per month, right now it’s 16% cheaper to own than rent if you’re going to stay in the house seven years. If you stay longer than that, the percentage goes up. If you stay five years, the percentage is down to 5% cheaper.

This matches the general rule of real estate investing: To be safe, you should only buy real estate if you’re going to be there five years or more.