House It Going in the Real Estate Market? A Realtor Q&A

Remember when buying a house was pretty straightforward? You’d find a real estate agent to help you peruse available homes, go to open houses completely unannounced and enjoy freshly baked cookies, and possibly send a low-ball offer in to see if the seller would bite — ah, the good old days.

As we all know, times have changed. We are now operating in an extreme seller’s market, meaning that there are more buyers than homes, and the demand is exceeding the supply. It’s time to take everything you thought you knew about buying or selling a home — including your parents’ well-meaning advice — and throw it out the window. We recently spoke with three successful real estate agents in the Triangle to guide you along your house hunting (or selling) journey, from buying and selling strategies, tips and tricks of the trade, and everything that’s happening in the wild, wild West of real estate these days. Godspeed!

Khush Dhaliwal, Caul Group Residential

Khush Dhaliwal

When buying, should you waive contingencies for a stronger offer?

Not all the time. I have won so many deals without waiving anything. It really depends on the location and property and its potential. We don’t want to give away everything just because it’s a seller’s market. A business deal happens when there is a potential for both parties. When it’s all one-sided, it almost never works.

If a property is fairly new, we can waive contingencies. But know that NC is an “asis” state when it comes to selling. As per our legal offer to purchase and contract, sellers really don’t have to say yes to any repairs.

Should you list above market value to drive offers higher, or lower to reel them in?

Oh boy! Never above market value — not in this market, not in any market. We all fall into this. As an owner and a seller, we always think our property is worth way more than what it actually is, and as a buyer, we always question the price. The right price and condition of the house will attract the most buyers.

Should owners worry about photos/staging nowadays?

That is one of your biggest selling points. Not that many buyers will make such a big investment without knowing what it looks like from inside. There is a world of insanity, but it still comes with a little visual. Professional photographs and floor plans with proper measurements are crucial.

Staging is optional. There are families who take such good care of their house and furnish it in such a unique way that you want to present that real life to your potential buyers. In these instances, we like to soft stage and de-personalize the house. When a house is empty or needs professional furnishing, we always recommend staging.

What are some major pitfalls to look out for in today’s market?

1. Price. These are the pitfalls for any market, but especially today. Always make sure you are working with your real estate advisor on the price. Do your homework and make sure you are offering the right price, given the potential of the house. Do not buy just because.

2. Location. I would rather pay more for the right location than less for a poor location. I always advise my clients to invest in the location first, and then the house. You can build a house anywhere, but you cannot replace a location. Invest in that. That will sell in any market.

Tracy Watson, Mission First Realty

Tracy Watson

Do you really need a realtor when the houses seem to be selling themselves?

Absolutely! My business as far as prepping my sellers’ homes hasn’t changed — I still offer the highest level of service, including staging consults and top-level photography and videos. Many homes are selling with multiple offers, so an agent comes in handy when weeding through the 20 to sometimes 40 incoming offers. The highest offer isn’t always the best of the bunch.

How quickly are homes selling at the moment?

Most are selling within the first week, but it honestly still depends on the home’s price. If it’s overpriced when listed, it will sit longer. Certain price points and locations are taking over a week to sell, even in this market.

What is the highest amount a house has gone over market price?

I’ve had a listing sell for $125,000 over the asking price. I try to price my homes where I believe they will appraise when we get to that point.

How much earnest money are people asking for nowadays?

I’ve not been seeing earnest money given on any offers I’ve received, and I’m not offering it on any offers I have been writing. Due diligence, however, is still high depending on the area and the home. I’m seeing anywhere from $1,000 to in excess of $100,000 in due diligence funds.

Keith Bonham, Keller Williams Realty Cary

Keith Bonham

How has the housing market changed in the last year?

Inventory has definitely dwindled during the pandemic, as we saw people listing their homes for sale only because they absolutely had to, whether it was for job relocation or other life happenings. Now with the rise in interest rates, we are seeing a small uptick in inventory and a drop in showings per listing. I believe that there will still be multiple-offer situations, as we still are one of the fastest-growing areas in the US. However, I think that the homes that will receive multiple offers will be the ones in the most desirable areas that have been updated, prepped, and move-in ready. The days of just putting a home on the market with no competition and very little prep are coming to an end.

What’s the average number of showings that people are seeing, and in what time frame?

The weekends continue to be the popular time for houses to go live on the market for showings, with most selling quickly, as the average days on the market are three in Cary, five for Apex, and four in Morrisville. The number of showings per listing in those areas has dropped dramatically. We were seeing, on average, 30-50 showings per listing in January, and that has dropped to just 13-16 on average for May for those same areas.

New build or older home — which is better?

It really depends on the area, but I think there is a better chance to negotiate new construction at the moment. We are starting to receive more calls and emails from builder reps as they are starting to see an uptick in their inventory. Due to the supply chain issues the past couple of years, many builders have opted to hold back inventory until the homes have reached a stage closer to completion to ensure less delays but also maximize profit. Builders were locking in prices on homes for buyers and then, six to nine months later, they were selling those same floor plans to new buyers for $50,000-$100,000 more.

Do you predict a crash?

Inventory is still going to remain tight in this area for quite a while. I don’t necessarily see a crash coming, but rather a leveling off of home prices with a small percentage increase in value year over year. Based on simple supply and demand, it would take A LOT of inventory to hit the market and sit before we see any significant price decreases in this area.

Tips for BUYING a Home in a Seller’s Market:

  • Try and get conditional pre-approval from your lender in lieu of a pre-qualification letter.
  • Be willing to compromise on what you’re looking for.
  • When you find a home that checks all your boxes, prepare to make an offer immediately!
  • Cash is not always king! The highest offer with best terms and secured financing will win.

Tips for SELLING a Home in a Seller’s Market:

  • Always work with a local lender and know your numbers!
  • Connect with a professional real estate advisor right away to come up with a winning strategy.
  • Make sure your home is as move-in ready as possible!
  • Curb appeal still matters! Trim the bushes, paint the mailbox, and make sure your entrance is welcoming.

Questions Before You Hire a Realtor:

  • How long have you been a real estate agent?
  • Do you work full time or part time as an agent?
  • How are you different from the other agents out there?
  • What strategies do you use in multiple offer situations?
  • How do you maximize exposure of your listings to get the most offers?
  • How many homes do you help buyers purchase each year?
  • How many homes, total, have you helped close?

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