Friday, January 19, 2007

St. Charles’ brighter 2007 real estate market

The national news coverage of the 2006 real estate market could be kindly described as gloomy. Frankly, it sounded like the apocalypse. Headlines read: Real Estate Investing Slows, Great Upheavals in the Nation’s Real Estate Market, The Housing Slump, Real Estate Bubble is about to Burst, etc.

The truth is I did not experience a great downturn in the market. What I did see was fear. I saw people who were so inundated with doom’s day news coverage that they believed the local market was in worse shape than it really was.

Those of you considering your initial step into the St. Charles County real estate market or any local market should be selective regarding the news. Make sure that when it comes to the real estate market you get a local perspective. Markets differ greatly across the country and national reporting cannot accurately reflect conditions here in St. Charles County. So trust your chosen real estate professional to give you a true picture of what should be expected.

The year 2006 in the St. Charles area was not a bust or a bubble but a “transition year.” Although the national markets on the east and west coasts have definitely been unstable, the Midwest has remained somewhat above the fray. Real estate trends for the year ahead are promising. But the market has changed and adapted and so must buyers and sellers.

The seller’s market of the past will stabilize and become more balanced with existing home sales likely to rise gradually throughout the year. But this will only happen with increased flexibility from sellers.

I have seen successful sellers make minor to broad home improvements in order to sell their home. It may become more commonplace for sellers to repaint the home’s interior and/or exterior, replace efficiency systems, upgrade appliances, change flooring, etc.

I offer sellers a complimentary interior design consultation with a licensed designer to make my listings more enticing for potential buyers. As we see on HGTV, it is entirely possible to make a room or two more eye-catching just by rearranging what is already there. Sellers can also take advantage of my free pre-listing home inspection which is helpful in letting sellers know what the buyers’ inspectors are going to find. So then they can choose what they want to improve/repair early on.
Preplanning is necessary to sell a home. You can’t change the location but you can amaze and astound buyers with the condition and the price.

Speaking of price, another job for today’s sellers is to be proactive in setting an effective price. Gone are the days when a home could be listed at a higher price and then reduced after so many days still on the market. There is no longer that high level of buyer motivation where the buyers feel the need to act quickly or they will lose their desired house to others. In order to sell a house fast, the home must be priced right or there has to be a frenzy going on and it is rare to see the latter.

There is a great potential for more reasonable housing costs to materialize with the emergence of greater seller flexibility. This trend would help the market make its upswing and would surely excite first-time home buyers.
New construction sales may continue to slide but to correct this, home builders are reducing their inventories nationwide and are dangling enticing incentives. The National Association of Home builders reported that 77 percent of builders were offering some sort of sales incentive to sell down their completed homes in December.So my New Year’s prediction is that we will see headlines this year peppered with words like “upswing” not “downturn” and “stable” not “slump.”

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