Does it seem crazy to you that homes are still being bought and sold during the pandemic of 2020? I’ve noticed some pandemic-specific trends with my clients and friends who are moving, and I reached out to some of my partner Realtors to get their thoughts.
There plenty of reasons to move, but this year, friends and clients who are moving are following these trends:
- To take care of family members, both older and younger
- To downsize, sometimes earlier than planned
- To reduce ownership from two houses to one main residence
- To change school districts because of coronavirus and distance learning situations
What has not changed is that the condition of your house and the online listing is THE most important introduction that home buyers have to their next home. What is new and NOW is people are putting in offers on properties before they are even able to tour the house in person. Can you imagine making the biggest purchase of your LIFE without ever going inside your next home? That means the photos and online listing for your home is more important than ever. Home staging is no longer an option. It’s a requirement.
One of my long-time clients got caught right in the middle of this crazy time. They had been prepping for months and were about a week away from listing when the lockdown orders went into force in March. I was finally able to get in to stage the home in May. Like most homeowners, they didn’t want to put money into the house they were leaving, but they really cared about attracting a family who would love the home as they had. And, of course, they wanted it to sell quickly and for a fair price. So we kept the old carpet, only repainted a couple of rooms, and didn’t upgrade the kitchen at all. My staging budget was about $100 for two sets of retail curtains, but I was allowed to borrow a few items from a nearby relative’s home for the staging. Even without any major investment, this home was shiny and bright, open, warm, and welcoming the day it went on the market, which might explain why they received two offers within a day of listing, and have since closed with one of those offers. The best part of the story? They had planned on listing for $399K, but when the realtor saw the staged house, she raised the listing price to $415k! They absolutely got their return on investment for this property, which is not unusual at all for my jobs.
That’s a very real $10k gain on a roughly $5K investment in combined staging and contractor improvements. Wouldn’t you like an extra $10K in your pocket?
We like to see $3 earned for every $1 you invest in staging. Here’s what that looks like:
Now, keep in mind that all real estate is local, so what I’m seeing here in southeastern Pennsylvania may or may not be what’s going on in your area right this moment. After a brief period where in-person real estate showings were halted, the market seemed to pick right back up again and is going full-throttle. Houses continued to list and sell once those restrictions were lifted. With nearly 40 million people applying for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began, what’s driving the housing market?
Brett Furman is the broker at Re/Max in Wayne and author of the book, What You Really Need to Know About Selling Your House. He confirms that nearly half of his recent sales have been due to people wanting to move closer to families in other states. He adds, “Three other families moved locally to take advantage of record selling prices, minimal time on the market, record-low interest rates, and the chance to move to a higher-ranked school district.”
Katie Kennedy is the Realtor(R)/Owner of EveryHome Realty. She notes that interest rates are hovering at record lows between 3.5% and 4% which is bringing the younger buyers into the market. With many young people employed in the tech, pharma, and healthcare industries in our area, our first-time homeowners have typically not seen a change in their income; instead, the change is where they do their job. They are entering the buying market as urban rent prices continue to climb even higher. There is a flight from the city as they are able to work primarily from home and no longer have to report in person to their jobs downtown.
When I asked her if people should consider putting their homes on the market now, she says, “It is still a seller’s market and inventory continues to be a problem, so prices are high, fueling the “move up” buyer to find a larger home where everyone in the family can have an in-home workspace. With more equity in their current home and low interest rates, the cost of a new home can be a lateral one, while still adding space.”
Kennedy confirms that she, too, is seeing families move closer to parents and grandparents, so they do not have to spend these long quarantine months away from people they love.
So while recent reports may seem full of doom and gloom, one thing is certain: people move all the time, even during a pandemic. And when they do, they want beautiful homes like this (before and after) below:
Minor changes. Huge visual impact. Home staging makes people fall in love with your home.
If you are selling your home anytime within the next five years, I’d love for you to make changes now so that YOU can be the one to enjoy them. Organize now. Make improvements every year to keep your home in top shape. And call us to stage long before you list your home for sale. We LOVE to bring YOUR home’s story to a happy ending like this one. Even after a hard day of moving furniture and shining up a staged home, I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
If you are thinking about selling your home, please contact any of the realtors who contributed to this article. I’m pleased to work with these committed professionals in up markets and down markets.
If you aren’t thinking of selling, check out my article earlier this week on a ton of resources to help you make your current house work better for you?
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