Monday, November 27, 2006

The Fall Real Estate Market Has Ended

Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us and life goes on, we look ahead toward the winter holidays and the end of the year. But what about life for the unsuccessful real estate seller who’s been marketing their property for the past year, doing everything they can to entice buyers only to realize they aren’t moving as quickly to purchase real estate as they were a year ago.

On a historical basis, the fall real estate market has technically ended, so now the dilemma is what to do. Do you leave your property on the market hoping that the right buyer will come along during the winter months? Or do you remove it from the market in an attempt to erase its shop worn memory from the consumer’s mind and put it back on the market next spring as a “New Listing”?

I’ll admit the inventory is pretty fat right now. According to the Martha’s Vineyard Listing Information Network (LINK), there are about 500 homes and condos on the market, that’s up about 25% since this time last year. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Property Information Network puts the number of unsold condos and homes in Massachusetts at about 44,817. That’s a 15% increase over last year. The statistics go on to point out that only 19.5% of all properties sold in 2005 went under agreement from December through February 2006. The period between March and May was much stronger with 31.8% of properties going under agreement, but that’s always been the general scenario. Let’s face it, with all the holiday shopping, parties and winter vacation planning, who has time to think about trekking around looking at houses.

Since I’m an Exclusive Buyer Agent most seller agents will disagree with me. I believe a seller should leave their property on the market, because regardless of whether you are attracting a low-ball buyer or someone who really loves your home, a buyer is a buyer and by removing your property from the market you may miss that buyer. During a buyer’s market one of the first things a buyer wants to know is, “How long has the property been on the market?” Buyers have been trained to wait. Why? Because the longer a property has been on the market, the more opportunity there may be for negotiation. Buyers can find out how long a property has been on the market and how many price reductions there have been. I don’t believe leaving a property on the market during the winter months implies the seller is desperate. For gosh sake, why would a seller put their property on the market during a buyer’s market if they were not motivated. Trolling for buyers with over priced ego listings makes no sense in a market like this. I love the seller line, “We don’t have to sell.” Okay, but if I bring an offer, am I holding a gun to the seller’s head? The worst a seller can tell my buyer is no thank you. Or better yet, perhaps my offer could inspire a dialog and begin a creative negotiation process. Isn’t that better than hosting a lot of Looky Lou’s who you never hear another word from?

Here is my advice for the serious Martha’s Vineyard real estate home seller who will stay the course and keep their property on the market during the winter:

1) First and foremost, PRICE YOUR PROPERTY ACCURATELY. You can either be ahead of the curve or chase the market.

2) It is the holiday season so let your home reflect the holiday spirit.

3) Keep the interior light and bright. After all, the winter months tend to be grey and gloomy so lighten up.

4) One of the biggest hurtles for a prospective buyer to get over is envisioning interior spaces when each room is piled high with the seller’s prize possessions like the last 10 years of Field & Stream magazine, your Star Wars collection, or the 1200 piece collection of Depression Glass you’ve been collecting since you were first married. Hide the junk!

5) Keep your interior looking fresh and cheery with cut flowers, bowls of fruit --- anything that is remindful of the warmer weather to come.

6) No one will be able to see how nice your property looks with 12” of snow on the ground so keep a photo album available to show prospective buyers what your prize gardens and outside areas look like during the other three months of the year.


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