After a rollercoaster year in 2016 in which we saw inventory levels hit rock bottom, interest rates stay low, and record sales in Dane County there are many questions as we being to tiptoe into 2017.

Stark Company President Dave Stark outlines a number of factors that will affect our 2017 market in the most recent edition of the company newsletter found here, starting with the fact that our inventory levels are 27% below where they were a year ago.

With so few options available, and rates still relatively low, basic economics come into play and we can see that demand heavily outweighs supply. In other words, we’re in a strong sellers market.

So if there aren’t many homes to choose from, when should you put your current house on the market?

And if it’s a sellers market, can’t I just raise the price/skip the staging/sell it myself?

These seem to be the biggest items sellers in today’s market are working through, so here are a few things to consider if you’re looking to make a move in 2017.

Every situation and move is unique in it’s own way, but in terms of the general market our suggestion is to do something now. The concern is always that you won’t find something, but the flip side is that if you need to sell your home you won’t be able to make a competitive offer on the house you want to buy as most sellers will accept an offer without a home sale contingency over a potential buyer who has a house to sell. In other words, if you wait you may miss out on the home you really want.

If you can’t fully dive into the market we suggest you take a look at one of two options:

  1. Private listing: This allows your agent to market your property offline while you make final preparations or search for a home. The benefit of this strategy is that you have time to prepare your home to fully hit the market at a later date while still collecting feedback from homebuyers and potentially securing an offer before you ever go public. If you have a number of showings while privately listed, but nobody writes an offer, then you have time to adjust pricing, make repairs, or correct your staging without accumulating days on market.
  2. Stay Withheld: In Withheld status you cannot show your home. However, agents can see it is coming, you can begin preparations, and if the home you want to write an offer on hits the market you may be in a better position to pull the trigger on selling that if you hadn’t already started the process. Think of this strategy as putting the boat in the water. You aren’t going anywhere, but when it’s time to ride you’ll be ready to go.

Sellers also need to consider how they will price in today’s market, what they really need to do to prepare their home, and how they will go about selling.

  • Pricing: In today’s market you can push the envelope a little bit on pricing, but it’s a very fine line to walk. Two factors come pretty strongly into play. The first is the appraisal, especially this time of year. Since appraisers typically look at sales over the last 6 months early winter sales can easily have appraisal challenges as homes from November and December are likely based around September/October pricing. With prices often rising after the New Year it can take awhile for comparable sales to reflect this. The second is that homes on the market longer than expected given today’s market pace can quickly become stigmatized or targets for lower offers. It may be a better strategy to price wisely to encourage competitive offers and entice a lot of buyers to walk through the door.
  • Preparation: Gone are the days when agents held the keys to all the homes. Homebuyers today can see plenty of information online, and although it’s not always timely or accurate the pictures usually tell the story. Sells must continue to go through the stages of preparing their home by starting with simple cleaning and decluttering and moving on to staging furniture and decor. With professional photography in hand to highlight these efforts homebuyers will come through the door ready to write an offer.
  • Professional vs By Owner: It’s tempting to thing the market will sell the home and to therefore avoid the added fees of working with a professional, but many sellers often forget everything their agent does behind the scenes to secure an offer and then make sure the transaction closes. Here’s a good article from Realtor.com that outlines a few of the things you’ll want to consider when looking at selling solo.

Whether your buying, selling, or both there are challenges to be had in a market like we are in today. Our biggest advice is to connect with a professional to walk you through your options.