60% of homes sold in Dorchester County since January 1, 2007 have been new construction. Furthermore, this holds true in different price ranges. 62.5% of homes sold in Dorchester County over $250,000 have been new . If you are buying, the good news is that there is new construction inventory available, sitting on the ground, waiting for you to move in. If you’re selling, talk to your agent about what you can do to be more competitive. Staging and condition are especially important if there is new home inventory around. When the market was super hot here in Charleston, there was almost no new inventory available. Sellers could get away with not painting, and so-so staging. If you have a significant amount of new construction competition, then you may need to take it up not one notch but two.
I’m not speaking just from numbers here, but from direct experience showing lots of property to lots of buyers. Buyers are either looking for close to new, or something older that offers them more charm and texture. If your home is in the middle, you need to be aware of the aesthetics that today’s buyers are looking for, and price your home accordingly.
Here is the problem from a buyers perspective for buying your used home.
1. Cost. Roofing, appliances, heating and air systems, carpet, paint, etc., if they have to replace it during the time they’re going to be living there, they’re going to be factoring these things into their choice, and their offer price. CASH. Once they’ve purchased the home, improvements need to come from their cash flow. Many buyers are buying with no money down, and simply don’t have the money to replace the roof.
2. Hassle. People are busy with work, family, well….life. A lot of people talk about buying a fixer upper to gain a little ground in the equity game, but few carry it out in the end. They simply don’t have time, and there are things they’d rather be doing. With their time and their money, more specifically, their cash.
3. Staging. Most people do not have the imagination to see past your stuff, or cosmetic issues. If the buyer is numb as a stump, maybe, but most people have a lot of emotions going on when they step into your home. After they’ve looked at 8 more houses and headed back to the office, if your house meets their must haves, what they remember most when comparing your home to the 2 or 3 other candidates they’ve found is what they felt when they stepped into the home. If your home is staged properly, if it looks and smells new, you have a much better shot.
4. Multiple Choices. Buyers used to struggle with finding one choice that met their must haves, and would deal with getting the home into shape. Now, they are finding three and four and choosing the best.
5. Pricing. Builders are offering big incentives right now to move inventory. There are more motivated buyers than before. Buyers may be zeroing in on homes that have been on the market longer, hoping to get a steal. Your home may be priced right, but it’s hard for buyers to ignore the opportunity to get ahead, if they can find the right seller.
“Clutter is worse than dirt.” I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve looked at, where the owners’ stuff is just everywhere. These homes get crossed off most buyers list immediately…and if they stay on the list, the percieved value by the time they get back to the office is lower.
“But we don’t have time…we have lives too.” Selling a home while you’re living in it is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, especially if you’re not normally a very tidy person. Making improvements is harder while you’re there too. The reason why you need to make this a priority, even if it means taking a couple of days off work, is that not getting your home up to speed is going to cost you $5000-$10,000…and I’m talking about improvements that cost little or nothing. If you don’t take the time to declutter and depersonalize your home, it could easily cost you thousands of dollars. More importantly, it could cause you to miss the buyer that might have bought your home, and it could take you a couple of more months to find another one. So now, you’re having to deal with keeping your home in showroom condition for another 60 days.