The timing couldn’t be better for Golden Isles property owners planning to put their homes on the market.
If a home is properly priced and the necessary improvements have been made, some Realtors are reporting multiple offers on homes within days.
“Inventory is low, prices are high and there are many buyers on the scene. Don’t waste the opportunity,” said Melinda Laager, sales associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate.
Rachel Marascalco, associate broker for Signature Properties Group Inc., agrees the timing is right to sell a home in what has become a seller’s market in the Golden Isles.
“This is a great time to put one’s property on the market,” she said. “Our currently low housing inventory combined with historically low rates on primary, secondary and investment property mortgages make the market prime for both buyers and sellers. Additionally, our market is currently experiencing a large influx of buyers from large cities across the East Coast who are looking to either relocate or invest in homes in a more relaxed environment.”
Another factor is the ability for many people to work remotely from any location.
While the demand is high, property owners can make preparations to put themselves in a position to quickly get offers without waiting months after it goes on the market.
“My recommendation to sellers is to have a home inspection prior to listing and repair the items found,” Marascalco said. “Additionally, have the exterior of the home pressure washed and any lingering landscape items cleaned and refreshed, including fences. The interior of the home benefits tremendously from decluttering and deep cleaning. Remove any non-essential items both inside and out.”
For those who like bright, bold paint schemes, Marascalco recommended repainting to more neutral colors.
“Updated light and plumbing fixtures also add bang for the buck,” she said. “New appliances, although costly, can drastically change the look of a kitchen. Curb appeal is essential.”
Inviting outdoor entertainment areas are also a good selling point.
Prior to listing a home, sellers should talk with their agent about any updates or alterations planned for the property. People should also routinely conduct “smell checks” to ensure no pet, smoke or laundry odors exist during the time of showings.
“Sellers should avoid adding new pets to the family who might be unfamiliar with the property and inadvertently cause damage,” she said. “Unless requested by the buyer, homeowners should avoid being present at showings if at all possible. This allows the buyer to take their time truly assessing the property and envisioning themselves in it.”
The price ranges in highest demand are homes listed between $150,000 and $250,000 in Brunswick, with the average price around $210,000, Marascalco said.
On St. Simons Island, homes listed between $400,000 and $600,000 are in greatest demand, with the average sales price around $522,000, she said.
“Interestingly, lot sales have also seen a surge despite increased construction costs,” she said. “My theory is that, given our current lack of inventory, buyers are choosing to purchase a lot in their desired location and spend a bit more in order to achieve their housing goals rather than to settle for their few options. Bottom line — this is a great time to list and give buyers more options!”
Laager said historically the best time to put a home on the market to maximize return and minimize the time on the market is the first two weeks of May.
“I think that it’s easy to see that in 2020 we have had several conditions influencing our local market,” Laager said. “COVID-19 has delayed our typical real estate season this year, and we are operating in a sellers’ market. There hasn’t been much rhyme or reason to the real estate market this year.”
If sellers find themselves in this situation, they need to make sure to choose the offer that works best, Laager said. To generate competing bids, she said the price is the starting point where everyone begins.
“It’s not always about the money,” she said. “Time consideration to move, or not having to make the repairs on an inspection list, may look a lot more attractive in one offer than another.”
Another “must do” for generating multiple offers is to be flexible and prepared for showings with short notice.
“It is a challenge to always have the house tidy and ready, but you don’t want to miss that qualified buyer when they are deciding that day to purchase a home,” Laager said. “And, certainly there are the musts for multiple offers: make your home beautiful, clean, decluttered and in perfect condition to sell.”
When it comes to home improvements before putting a home on the market, Laager said some don’t necessarily translate into a large increase in a home’s value. Major kitchen and master suite remodeling may not generate bigger returns. Bathroom improvements can be costly, so Laager recommends fresh paint, having beautiful towels and accessories, and leaving the costly work to the new owner.
Replacement flooring, however, has become a very popular project for sellers.
“Think twice and call your real estate agent who knows your market and your neighborhood for advice for such projects,” she said. “Don’t take out the wall and add that addition before seeking his or her advice.”
Laager recommends sellers don’t get too sensitive, especially those selling a home for the first time.
“Remember that your home doesn’t fit the needs for all buyers that will look at your property,” she said. “Avoid being too sensitive and keep your emotions in check and focus only on the business aspect of selling your home.”
Just because it’s a seller’s market doesn’t mean there is a massive exit of Golden Isles residents.
Laager said many sellers are taking advantage of low real estate interest rates to sell their homes and are moving elsewhere in the Golden Isles.
“Many sellers are taking advantage of low interest rates, and they are selling to purchase and upgrade to a larger home because now’s the time to get more for their money,” she said. “Others are selling to purchase a home that has a home office or more green space to enjoy. Home trends indicate that many people are working from home and not traveling to work and therefore desire more recreational space to enjoy.”