REALTOR®’s advice can pay dividends for buyers and sellers in today’s market

by Todd Lewys
As the local real estate market transitions from fall into winter, sellers and buyers are facing different scenarios.
In a nutshell, the balanced real estate market — which still features more than 5,000 homes to choose from as of mid-October — will be challenging for sellers. At the other end of the spectrum, buyers (with the direction of a savvy REALTOR®) may be able to acquire a solid, reasonably-priced home if they’re patient.
The end result is that there could be more activity than normal from late fall right through the winter, said REALTOR® Phil Mosher.
“To date, the year in real estate has been a bit different,” he said. “There was no real spring market, so I think there’s some pent-up demand. With the recent good weather, I’ve been seeing more action. I think the winter market is going to be good because of that pent-up demand, plus another factor.”
That factor is a change in mindset from sellers. “I think more and more vendors are realizing that they have to play ball in order to sell their home,” said Mosher. “It seems that more people are starting to listen to their REALTORS®, and are putting their best foot forward. Doing that now is more important than ever, even more than just a year ago, because you can’t just list your home at an inflated price and expect it to sell.”
Long-time REALTOR® Dave Spiers said that change in attitude is happening, albeit at a relatively slow pace.
“Sellers are taking a bit of time to adjust to the change in the marketplace,” he said. “For many people, it’s difficult to accept that the price they’re likely to get will be lower than what they were expecting.”
At the same time, he said that when sellers follow the advice of their REALTOR®, homes sell — just not for $50,000 over list price, as may have been the case two or three years ago when there wasn’t near as much inventory to choose from.
“Houses that are prepared well and that are priced right are still moving quite nicely. However, if you don’t prepare your home well and it’s not priced realistically, your home won’t sell — it’s that simple,” added Spiers.
Mosher said following the advice of a knowledgeable REALTOR® is critical.
“When I consult with people, the first thing I do is go through their home and make a list of the things they need to do to make it market worthy,” he said. “Then I tell them to do what they need to do. If they follow my instructions and the home is presentable, I’ll put the home on the market, usually about 30 days after I give them my to-do list.”
He added that from a seller’s standpoint, the key is to make sure the home looks good from front to back outside and top-to-bottom inside.
“Sellers have to realize that as a REALTOR®, I’m now showing clients maybe 30 houses today, where two years ago, I was showing them five. There’s just way more choice today. If you’re home doesn’t look good, people will just go on to the next one because there’s so much inventory to choose from now,” he added.
Spiers said that inventory also includes new condo projects, which have affected the market in a profound way.
“Supply has increased from many condominium projects that have come to fruition in the last little while,” he said. “More houses are coming on the market from empty nesters and seniors — homes that are good and solid.”
Consequently, now is a good time to get into the market, said REALTOR® Rob Hutchison.
“Today’s balanced market represents an opportunity to get a fair deal on a good home without having to endure the stress that comes with multiple offers,” he said. “Homes are generally selling at list, not over. That’s good news for buyers. 
“As for sellers, if their home presents well and is priced properly, it will sell,” added Hutchinson.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a home, don’t wait for the spring to take the plunge, commented Spiers.
“There will be an uptick in the market in the spring with more people looking to buy. There aren’t as many buyers now, so if you’re looking for a home, the fall and winter will be an excellent time to be out looking. There are many good homes on the market. 
“With the direction of a knowledgeable, reputable REALTOR®, you have a chance to get a good deal on a good home.”