The real estate market in 2022 has been on fire - and when I meet people and let them know that I am a Realtor, the first thing they ask is "How is the real estate market in Richmond doing" and then the second thing they ask is "Do I Really Need A Realtor to help me buy or sell a house in 2022?"
Having been a full time Realtor in Richmond since 1996, and having bought and sold homes before that, I have seen the changes that have come in the real estate market over the years! And in 2022, selling a home hasn't been very difficult - put a price on it, put it out on various websites and social media sites, put out a lockbox and wait for the multitude of offers (all well above asking price) to come your way! And if you are buying a house, unless you are waiving inspections and waiving the appraisal and giving the seller your first born child (and anything else they want), you just have to figure out how much above the asking price you are willing to go!
So with all the websites out there letting you know the houses to buy, the sites like Zillow telling you what the houses are worth in today's market, a Google earth map letting you virtually go through the neighborhood to see if you like the neighborhood, the school sites telling you how good or bad the schools are, and other sites telling you about crime, demographics, where shopping is, etc. - is there really a need for you to use a Realtor? And many people think that if they use the listing Realtor to help them write a contract then they will even get a break on the price!
But, as a full time Realtor, I will admit that online you can find almost anything you want. There are even television shows like House Hunters and Million Dollar Listing that will tell you just how to buy a house or how to sell a house! And when you search online, there is so much information out there that it does become information overload!
So why should a buyer or seller use a Realtor? What value do I, as a full time Realtor, bring to the table? Most buyers and sellers are not aware of the things Realtors do to help their clients. Here are the things that we do when working with our clients ---
RESEARCH COMPARABLE PROPERTIES!
I do this for both my buyer and seller clients! It is easy to understand why you would do it for sellers - this helps to see what the market value for the home that you will be selling! But for a buyer, it is kind of the same thing - the buyer wants to know if the house they are interested in is priced fairly. This takes some time - it is not as simple as going in to a site like Zillow and looking at the Zestimate! After all, Zillow did not see the house - it doesn't know what the condition is compared to others on the market, it doesn't take into consideration things like upgrades and renovations that have been done, or does it back to a busy street, or even if the comparable home has the same schools! All Zillow does is look at the public information and apply an algorithm - but I have found tax records are sometimes highly inaccurate! So properly researching the comps can take some time to put together!
REVIEWING PROPERTY CONDITION!
Again, this is something I will do for both buyer and seller clients! For instance, if a house that will be coming on the market has a very dated kitchen and dated baths, buyers will take that into consideration when determining how much they will pay for the house! A house coming on the market needs to be in tip top shape and showing condition if they want to get top dollar, even in this crazy 2022 market! I work with the sellers to get the house into tip top shape! For buyers, condition is very important as well - I cannot tell you how many houses I have walked into where there was a slope in the floors or soft spots in the floor, water damaged siding! All of these things will be factored into what a buyer will offer to the seller! Having seen thousands of homes over the years, I know what buyers are looking at and what will be issues for most buyers!
DETERMINING PRICING STRATEGY!
Again, this is something I do for both my buyer and seller clients! The seller needs to know how to properly price their home in order to generate an acceptable offer! For instance, should the house be priced at $425,000 or priced at $399,900 (which will then, hopefully, generate multiple offers that end up bidding the price up above the $425,000 the seller wants to get). If the house is listed at $425,000 and there are no offers received, how long do you wait to take a price reduction? The buyers need to know what strategy to use when making an offer on a house - their pricing strategy will be different if they are competing with other buyers than it would be if there were no other offers on the table. The buyer's pricing strategy will be different depending upon how long the house has been on the market! As Realtors, we live in the real estate market every day and we are able to see trends as they happen! It is much harder for someone who doesn't live in the real estate market every day to see when these trends happen! And computer algorithms are not going to be able to take that into account!
Another thing that a Realtor will do for both buyer and seller clients! For the seller, that is fairly obvious - it is the marketing that goes into making sure their home is exposed to as many people as possible! That means not only working with the seller to make sure their house is in tip top shape, but also making sure that the house has great pictures & video online, that other Realtors within the Richmond area are aware of the house and what it has to offer - not only on MLS, but also through social media sites! It is making sure that the house has professionally designed & printed brochures for buyers to take with them when they see the house! It means making the house easily available to buyers and their Realtors to see! But for a buyer, this task is a little different - with limited inventory in the Richmond area, it is making sure that we exhaust every avenue to find that right house for a buyer to see, even if that house is not currently on the market! That means searching neighborhoods for homes that may not be on the market but may be right for the buyers! It may mean searching MLS to find a home that may not seem perfect for the buyer on paper, but could possibly work for the buyer!
NEGOTIATING THE CONTRACT!
Contracts can be fairly complicated! And every region in Virginia has their own contracts! I had a recent sale where the contract received was from a different region in Virginia and the contract and associated paperwork was over 30 pages! For sellers, a contract will contain a lot of things in it: not only the price and closing date but also things like financing terms, earnest money deposit amounts, inspection contingencies, who is doing the closing, how strong the buyer's lender letter is, who the buyer's lender is, dates when contingency items are to be completed by, and so on! There are also disclosures that need to be made by the seller! A Realtor will be familiar with the contracts and disclosure laws and will be able to advise the sellers just what the contract terms are - which is especially important if you have more than one offer! A seller may need advice on how to respond to the offer - do they accept the terms and price, do they reject the offer or do they counter back the offer - and if so, what do they counter back with! For buyers, it is much the same thing - a Realtor is there to advise the buyer how to structure their offer, keeping in mind those things that are important to them. A Realtor is there to explain the contract to the buyer so they understand what they are signing! And a Realtor is there to help them decide how to respond to the seller's response - do they accept the seller's response, do they reject the seller's response or do they counter a seller who has just sent them a counter!
MANAGE THE TRANSACTION!
Once you an accepted offer, there are the next steps! For the seller, it means deciding on the settlement agent, complying with the terms of the contract, and answering any questions that may come up along the way to closing! The seller will also want to make sure that the buyer's loan is moving along as it should, which means a Realtor will need to stay on top of all the details that need to be taken care of for the house to close! For the buyer, there are contingencies and deadlines in the offer that will need to be managed! Inspection deadlines, financing deadlines, homeowner association document review deadlines, closing deadlines - all of these things need to be managed to get the transaction to closing!
COMMUNICATE THROUGHOUT THE TRANSACTION - AND BEYOND!
Communication between the Realtor and their client as well as the Realtor for the other party is key! Making sure that all parties are kept up to date on where things are in the transaction and making the other party aware if an issue has arisen that needs to be promptly dealt with!
UNDERSTANDING MARKET TRENDS!
We are right now in August 2022, and the real estate market has begun to shift! At the beginning of 2022, if you were a buyer, it was extremely difficult to get a house under contract without bidding up the price, waiving all contingencies and closing in a very very short time frame! If you were a seller, you most probably would expect to get well above the asking price for your home, with little regard for the condition! Realtors stay on top of the real estate market and the shifts in the market and are there to advise you on what you can expect! All real estate is local and what is happening in some states, or even in one county vs. another county, one neighborhood to another, one price point to another - a Realtor who works full time will understand how your particular area or neighborhood is doing as the real estate market starts the shift!
APPLYING ANALYTICAL THINKING TO YOUR TRANSACTION!
Real estate is a good balance between art and science! There is lots of data out there about the real estate market - most sellers and buyers can easily go online and get as much data as they want! But you need to have someone that can analyze the numbers and data to hone in on what is crucial and important. A good Realtor will be able to think quickly on their feet when helping you with your transaction!
As you can see, buying a house is much more complicated than just pulling out the credit card and handing it over to the seller! And selling a home is also much more complicated than just pulling a price out of the air & putting it up on some websites! There are lots of moving parts to any transaction. The Realtor works for you to guide you through the home buying or selling process! Realtors do much more for buyers than show them houses. And they do much more for sellers than put the house into MLS and put a sign out on the front lawn! If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in this shifting real estate market, feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to sit down and answer any questions you may have!