By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
UPPER CUMBERLAND – In the midst of this roller coaster real estate market, both buyers and sellers are wondering what steps to take to get the most value out of their real estate transaction. Both can rest assured that they have done their best by taking advantage of a few tips from Upper Cumberland Association of Realtors President Kathy Dunn.
Tips for buyers
- Get pre-approved for a home loan. Buyers need to know how much home they can afford and be prepared to make an offer as soon as they find the perfect house for them. Being pre-approved also lets the seller know that you are ready to buy.
- Hire a realtor. Buyers need someone who is scrubbing the market everyday looking for something for them. Homes are being listed and selling within hours to a few days in the current market. Buyers need a realtor who can call and say, “let’s go now,” and be ready to go and tour a house on a few hours’ notice.
- Be prepared to pay over the asking price. It is common for more than one buyer to make an offer on a newly listed house. Buyers from out of the area are also looking at listings online and making offers sight unseen.
“Recently a house was listed in Cookeville for $274,000,” said Dunn. “Within hours there were several bids. I had an offer for $300,000 with 30% down. There were multiple offers, and the house sold to a buyer that offered $322,000. That was $48,000 over asking price. One day later there was even an offer for $329,000.”
Tips for sellers
- Hire a realtor. “You need a real estate agent that knows the numbers, knows the stats, and knows what your comps are, so that you don’t leave money on the table. A lot of sellers right now are surprised at what their homes will bring,” Dunn said. “I’ve had houses that I priced right at the top and it made me a little nervous. Then boom, it sells and appraises for that or above. I don’t know when I’m going to quit being surprised.”
- In any market, to get top dollar, make sure the house is all clean and in good repair. Conducting a pre-list home inspection and a termite inspection will so you don’t have any unexpected surprises saving you time and frustration later.
- Make sure that the house has good curb appeal, and the landscaping is neat. The front door and front porch need to be clean. It sets the stage. Usually if there is deferred maintenance on the front porch, there is deferred maintenance in the house.
- Declutter the house and remove personal photos. This is important no matter the market.
- Sellers need to have plans made where they plan to go after selling. If they are going to stay locally, they need to have their eyes on something and have it secured. Some people are even moving in with family and putting their things in storage for a short time or buying a camper and living there until they buy or build their next home.
- Be realistic that the sale is going to happen quickly. Make sure that you are prepared for everything that will happen.
- Sellers need to be prepared to be gone from home the first three days the house is listed due to all the showing activities.
Real estate trends that Nashville and the surrounding area experienced several years ago have finally reached the area.
Four years ago, Dunn listed a house in Lebanon and placed it in the MLS (the realtor listing of available homes). Before she could get in her car to leave the home, a realtor pulled up with her client to tour the house. There were cash buyers at list price within a couple of days. The number of offers was insane.
“Another buyer wanted to buy a house in Goodlettsville, and we couldn’t even get an appointment to tour the house,” shared Dunn. “We finally got to the point we were making offers sight unseen because we couldn’t get appointments. That is happening here now too. Sometimes you can’t even get an appointment to get in and see a house because it’s backed up. We were making appointments sight unseen and letting the home inspector do his job.”
Whether a buyer or a seller, the current real estate market is an adventure that is not for the faint of heart, but if you follow these tips and prepare yourself before you enter the market, there are definitely deals to be had.
“Recently a home was listed, and the homeowner was having a vapor barrier installed in the crawlspace,” shared Dunn. “The home was being listed just under $300,000. When the installer arrived, he asked how much the house was. When the seller answered, the installer said, ‘two weeks or less and it’s sold – we’re hearing anything less than $300,000 is gone within a week.’ We had offers immediately and they had their choice within three days. It’s funny that even the professionals in our industry that aren’t realtors, whether they are the termite inspectors, the HVAC people or the handyman, they all know what the market is doing. I don’t know of anytime that I’ve ever seen that happen where everybody has got their ear on it.”
This is part six of a six-part series on real estate in the Upper Cumberland.
Part one in the series: Property reassessments go up, but taxes remain steady
Part two in the series: UC, nation facing housing shortage, not bubble
Part three in the series: A shortage of contractors drives up the new home market
Part four in the series: Building materials: How shortages are impacting housing market
Part five in the series: What you should know about the UC real estate market
Part six in the series: Realtor’s advice for buyers, sellers in today’s market