Prepping for the market changes that are occurring in the real estate market in the Olympia WA area is a continual thing. Analyzing trends in the market is absolutely key to be able to give good advice to buyers and sellers both. And the current changes aren't the first we've seen - and likely won't be the last.
A little background first. When I first was licensed and began my real estate career in 1995, our market heavily favored buyers. It was commonplace to take listings for an absolute minimum of 6 months, knowing that at least one extension would be likely before the house would finally sell. And I remember that any time I made the call to a listing agent to announce that I had an interested buyer or was bringing an offer on a listing, there was excitement and relief on the other end of the line. Helping sellers stay motivated and hopeful was a full time job.
Fast forward to 2004-2007 and the market changed into a crazy seller's market, with eye-popping appreciation and the advent of common use of escalation clauses in offers, buyers waiving inspection contingencies or doing them in advance of even knowing if their offer would be the winning one. New strategies evolved to help buyers find every way possible to make their offer the most desirable so that they didn't say after the fact that they would have happily agreed to X, Y, Z to get the house...
Then....oh you all remember what happened next. No gradual leveling off and return to "normal". Oh no, it felt like we collectively went hurtling off a cliff. So next came the years of hanging on, finding innovative ways to market without spending scarce dollars, wondering when - or if - this would turn back into a "normal" market. And new skills were learned - how to help a seller who needed to sell and was WAY underwater, how to deal with REO's and short sales (and lions and tigers and bears - oh my!)
Now our Olympia market is strengthening, and again, some new strategies become necessary. So, what's happening now? I'm sure I'm not alone in going back to contact people who had expressed an interest in selling in the last couple of years, only to decide to sit tight or rent their house out when they realized the cold, hard truth of what price their house might bring. We desperately need more listing inventory, so the message to sellers has changed to yes, please list - NOW!
At the same time, it's important to counsel them that buyers are still a little wary after seeing what happened in the past. Overpricing will not be a winning strategy, nor will expecting to put a house on the market with deferred maintenance and dated everything - and thinking top dollar is reasonable to expect. Nope - the builders are back in full tilt construction, so the resale homes are being compared with what else a buyer could buy that is shiny and brand new. Especially at some price points, I am actually taking sellers out to tour the new construction that will be their competition, so they can see for themselves that their green shag carpet and countertops from the 80's are going to be impacting their sale price - big time!
Working with buyers also has required some new strategies and approaches. Lending guidelines have tightened dramatically, so ALL buyers - unless they have all cash for their purchase (and can prove it) need to make a first stop at a reliable lender to get preapproved. No assumptions that of course there will be no problem getting a loan because there just might be.
And now the buyer education includes the message that inventory is very, very low and they can expect to get a poor - or no - response to a lowball offer (assuming the house is priced in the right ballpark). Again it seems like we no sooner spread the word far and wide that it was a buyers market that we find that the market has shifted, and is beginning to tilt back into at least a level playing field if not actually favoring the seller a bit. So buyers can certainly spend the time they need looking at enough homes to feel like they have a good sense of the market and what is available to them - but some of what they look at may well be under contract by the time they are ready to decide on a home to buy.
So market change is ever the challenge in real estate - and I am making sure to watch the trends, anticipate where our market may be headed next so that I can give good advice to the buyers and sellers in this - and every type of market in the Olympia area!