In many popular communities, available listings are in short supply, causing some discouraged real estate agents to drop out of the business. But home-selling veterans know there are always some owners with urgent reasons to sell.
“Life events are the reason there are always people who wish to sell promptly,” says Kate Foster-Bankey, who’s sold residential real estate since 2011.
She cites five motivational factors for moves.
“There’s death, divorce, diamonds, diapers and ‘dream location,’” she jokes, adapting a mnemonic device used by real estate pros.
After more than three years of fruitless searching, a couple in their 30s were exceptionally pleased to discover a pair of owners in their 60s selling a brick rancher on a heavily wooded four-acre parcel. They soon bid on the place and captured it without facing any rival buyers.
The older couple was determined to immediately pursue their dream of buying a much larger property -- a farm where they could raise both crops and livestock. After locating a 44-acre place to their liking, they were eager to sell and readily accepted an offer slightly under their list price, with no attempt to negotiate.
The surprisingly smooth purchase brought welcome relief to the buyers, who had long struggled to compete with other would-be purchasers. On multiple occasions, they had lost out in bidding wars.
Inventory levels continue to fall in desirable communities, according to Jiayi Xu, an economist for Realtor.com, the home listing service.
“For 18 straight weeks, the number of homes available for sale has registered below that of the previous year,” says Xu, noting that housing remains chronically “undersupplied.”
Foster-Bankey of Compass Real Estate says potential home sellers fall into two camps. One group is impatient to move forward and refuses to wait for a drop in mortgage rates. But the other group wants to ride out the economy, hoping for still more appreciation on the homes they own.
Are you homeowners who wish to sell but are torn about when to proceed?
If so, Foster-Bankey encourages you to put your place on the market when the date is right for your lifestyle. That’s better than adhering to some arbitrary guidelines suggested by national housing economists.
She recalls how many economists had mistakenly predicted that, by the end of this year, mortgage rates would fall steeply. They now project rates won’t drop until 2024 at the earliest.
At this point in the economic cycle, housing conditions vary widely by neighborhood. That’s why sellers seeking to schedule their sale are advised to seek out the opinion of agents who closely track their neighborhood market.
Here are a few pointers for near-term sellers who are feeling stressed:
-- Don’t hang around when your property is shown to prospects.
Nervous sellers often assume their presence at showings could prove helpful. After all, they reason, who could better direct prospects around the home and answer visitors’ questions than the owners themselves?
But appearing at your own showings has more than one disadvantage. It’s likely to cause your visitors to feel crowded, making it hard for them to imagine making the place their own. Also, they’re prone to make critical comments about your place.
“In strong markets and weak, lots of folks feel entitled to critique any property they visit, and harshly so,” says Mark Nash, author of “1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home.”
When a showing is held, he recommends you leave the property until the coast is clear.
-- Don’t transmit your stress to your children.
During his many years as a real estate broker, Nash often noticed how adults inadvertently transmit stress they’re experiencing to their children. Parents are particularly likely to unload when the kids create a mess around the home.
“Yes, you need to keep your house orderly and straighten it up before showings happen. But yelling at the kids every time they bring out the blocks or the dolls is only going to raise your family’s anxiety level,” Nash says.
He recommends homeowners strive for a “sense of normalcy,” allowing their children to have ample play time, so long as they understand that all their belongings must be put back before visitors come over.
“Just remember you have a lot more at stake than simply keeping the house clean. You need to maintain household harmony, or the home-selling process could become a nightmare for your family,” Nash says.
-- Consider travel to distract yourself.
Those who need to sell a home can easily become obsessed with the challenge.
One antidote for this problem is to take a temporary break by getting out of town for at least one day. This won’t require you to take your property off the market, assuming you have a capable listing agent who stays in close communication with you.
“The best remedy for a fixation on your house is a change of scenery,” Nash says.
Maybe you can’t afford a genuine vacation. But you don’t have to fly to a remote island to find relief. Just going to the next town for an overnight visit should give you a welcome break from the tension.
“Almost any getaway you can do should get your mind off your fixation with selling the house. And, ironically, that could help get your house sold faster,” Nash says.
Those attempting to sell their property often wrongly assume a deal can’t be struck while they’re away. But that’s hardly the case, Nash says.
“Given that most people carry cellphones and have ready access to email and texts, there’s no reason your listing agent can’t handle offers that surface while you’re away,” he says.
(To contact Ellen James Martin, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)