Real estate agents offer advice when buying or selling a home in New Year

by Todd Lewys

The real estate market in Winnipeg was a tale of two stories in 2015.

On one hand, sales were strong. On the other, those sales, for the most part, were hard-won. With plenty of inventory to choose from, buyers were able to take their time to choose the home that was right for them, while sellers were often left wondering why it took so long for their home to sell.

Those market conditions figure to stay constant in 2016, said REALTOR® Steve Gallagher.

“The fact remains that the (buyers’) market is still quite new to us,” he said. “With so much inventory to choose from, it actually fluctuates from week to week. As Realtors, we have to be sharp, work harder and use all the tools at our disposal.

“Above all, it’s critical to price homes right. Even though there are so many homes to choose from these days, if your home is priced right, it will sell.”

That said, Realtor Terry Gallinger said sellers have to realize that the market isn’t what it was three or four years ago.

“It’s now a buyers’ rather than sellers’ market,” he said. “The latest statistics are showing that it now takes 41 days on average for a home to sell.”

With that sobering statistic in mind, it’s important that sellers come to terms with the realities of today’s highly-competitive market.

“Sellers have to realize that buyers today are so much better educated,” he said. “They know products so well because they can get so much information in advance on the Internet.

“As a result, they have their eyes wide-open when they walk into a home today. They’re just not going to jump at the first home they see.”

Rather, they’re going to cast a very critical eye on any home they’re thinking about purchasing.

“Success as a seller stems from two things — pricing and the condition of your home,” Gallinger said. “Pricing must be accurate, and your home must be in tip-top condition. Rooms have to be neat and clean and the home needs to be free of clutter so potential buyers can visualize living in the home. If your home isn’t in order, they’ll move on to the next home.”

While sellers need to be realistic about what it will take to sell their home in short order, its a Realtor’s responsibility to get sellers tuned in to reality, added Realtor Cheryl Thurston.

“Of course, pricing a home is critical, but as Realtors, we need to show sellers why a home needs to be priced at a certain level for it to sell,” she said. “Sellers should expect to see data that supports the reasoning behind placing a home at a certain price point.”

Then, if that data is indisputable, it’s up to the seller to see the rationale behind the price a Realtor is recommending.

“When a Realtor provides data that supports a list price, that price is difficult to dispute,” added Thurston. “The good news is that we’re gradually seeing sellers becoming more realistic in that regard. When that happens, everyone wins.

“We had a client that did everything we told them to do, and their home sold right away,” she added.

Wiebe said taking care of all the important details — from price to presentation — is critical in such a highly-competitive market.

“By trusting your Realtor and taking care of all the small, but critical, details, you’re setting your home apart from others. That’s what you need to do in order for your home to sell as quickly as possible.”

As winter starts to shift gradually toward spring, Gallagher said the key for both buyers and sellers is to be prepared.

“I think there will be a peak in the market, but not as sharp as in the past. Sales in the spring might well be strong, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to start looking, or listing your home, before March or April.

“If buyers start looking now, they might get a slightly lower price and avoid spring traffic. If sellers price and prepare their homes and their Realtor markets it properly, it will sell.”

While current market conditions are challenging, said Gallagher, it’s still a fair market.

“My confidence in it is high. It’s still a fantastic market to work in. Sellers just have to be realistic, and Realtors need to work harder.

“If everyone works together, 2016 will be another strong year even though market conditions are different,” added Gallagher.