The real state of real estate
Advice on making the most of the seller’s market
Thinking of selling or buying a home anytime soon? If so, realtor Susan Ververs has some words of advice that can help you navigate the choppy waters of the current housing market. Not only is Ververs a professional real estate agent with fourteen years under her belt, she has also lived and worked in the Rochester area since the age of seven. While raising her growing family, Ververs owned investment properties and coordinated renovation projects. “Becoming a realtor became my grown up, ‘it’s all about me,’ job and has been a natural fit,” says Ververs.
Ververs was kind enough to answer some of the biggest questions buyers and sellers have right now.
What kind of clientele do you normally work with, and what makes your process different than other realtors?
I work with a variety of clientele, both buyers and sellers, within a wide range of neighborhoods, towns, price points, and needs. It would be hard to compare myself to other realtors since we all operate differently. I have stayed a single agent without a team and consider myself a “Boutique realtor,” focusing 100% on taking care of my clients.
In your opinion, what has made the housing market so difficult in the past year or so?
There was a major slowdown during the months of March to May 2020 due to COVID. That has strengthened since “in house” showings are able to take place again. The difficulty has been the continued low inventory of homes that come up for sale. I saw this start to happen as early as 2013, when my first “multiple offer” occurred. At that time, it was $1,000 over one other offer. Every few years since then, there were predictions that the low inventory would soften soon. This did not happen. In fact, it increased to the point that selling homes is currently a completely different process. We now have “delayed negotiations” and “escalation clauses” tucked within a purchase offer package. There seems to be an increase of homes for sale in the past six months but there are still areas and desired types of homes that are few and far between. Those would include, in part, upsizing buyers looking for colonial-style homes with three to four bedrooms and two full baths, ranch homes for downsizing buyers, and new builds, not too far out in Monroe County, available at reasonable prices.
What words of wisdom can you offer readers who hope to purchase a house in Rochester soon?
The advice that I start out with when meeting a buyer is to say to them, “If you plan to ‘play’ in the current market, all reasonability for comparison pricing is out the window.” What is important for buyers to know is that there is no crystal ball for the future value of the home they are purchasing. There is an understandable fear that a buyer in this market may be overpaying. Rochester has typically been a “bargain” compared to other parts of the country. Prices have risen dramatically over the past few years and could be considered to be catching up. There has been such a desperation to be the “winner” of a house that has received anywhere from two to more than fifteen offers that it can cause buyers to be quite creative with their offers. For example, paying cash for the house, placing a large earnest money deposit to secure the house until closing, having a large percentage down toward their mortgage, or using an escalation clause, which allows you to “best” another offer that comes in higher than yours. One thing to think about are the years a buyer plans to own his or her home. If this is a short-term ownership, selling within the next five to seven years, then it would be hard to know where a sale will land with the down payment percentage that has been paid at the time of purchase. If there is a long-term plan to own the house, at least ten to fifteen years or more, then purchase your home and enjoy it for the length of time you live there. The idea is that after that many years the owner will have a good amount of equity in the home and should be able to sell without penalty.
What is this market like for sellers?
This is definitely a seller’s market. It is hard to compare value looking back over the past year since the prices have risen so dra- matically.Yet, the past twelve months of sales can still give a base for the seller to choose the right listing price.To get there and still have the best price, sellers should find a “fair” price using what is cur- rently the competition in their area and the similar home sales over the past year. Being “aggressively fair” would be recommended. Do not reach for a high price.The buyers will take care of that for you with multiple offers. An important question for sellers to ask themselves is “Where am I going?” Once that is known, it makes it easier for a seller to get into the market. How to go forward will depend on what a seller’s goal is. Are they looking to sell quickly? Do they want to take time and update slightly, more, or total? Over the years I have successfully done all levels of updating homes for the sellers, causing higher sale prices. Buyers do not mind pay- ing for a home that has some updating done vs. work to be done immediately upon owning their new home. It is advantageous for sellers to, if nothing else, have their homes be squeaky clean and repaired before selling. With the lack of homes to sell, buyers have become more forgiving and compromise with minor issues to be able to purchase a house.
Do you feel the process of buying a home will become less difficult soon?
It is hard to tell whether the market will slow down in the near future. The buyer quota continues to be high. It could also have something to do with the general shift throughout the country with more people moving around from larger cities to areas such as the Rochester vicinity.
There is what is called the “season” for real estate sales in our area. This has predictably been a spring market, starting in February and going through mid to late May. This market has the most buyers coming out of hibernation, excited to see what homes start to come on the market. Many would like to move by the summer, or before the school year starts. In late May and June, the spring market is wrapping up with less activity for new homes to be listed. July and August have always been quiet summer months since many people go on vacation or have other summer plans. Come Labor Day, there is a slight increase in activity, and November through January have typically been slower, quiet months. Since the spring of 2020, this appears to no longer hold tight.
The homes keep coming up, and buyers still purchase them right through to the end of the year. One observation has been that some buyers are delaying a move due to the crazy prices that homes have been sold for in the past few years. Others have had their offers rejected on more than one occasion and end up renting to see if the market changes.
Any final advice for our readers?
Bottom line, buyers are still finding their homes; it’s just more difficult than a few years ago. Learning as you go, by way of understanding what it takes, possibly experiencing one or more rejections with the knowledge of what could have been done differently, and hanging in there to keep on going forward has been successful for many buyers. My belief has been, since starting in this business, there is a house for everyone, and the twists and turns will end with the buyers finding the right house. I mention this when I first meet a buyer, as their journey begins. Many have come back to say they always remembered that statement.
You can find Ververs at her website, susanververs.huntrealestate.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.