With unusually low home inventory levels, many buyers are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed at the prospect of ever getting their ideal home, or have first-hand experience at losing the home of their dreams in a bidding frenzy.
Yet not all homes sell for over their asking price. In fact many sell below. Granted, they may seem far and few between, but they are out there. In fact, so far in 2017, 25% of San Mateo County home sales sold for less than what the sellers were asking. Many wouldn’t think that’s true, and we’d be willing to bet that if asked, many would say that it’s a lot less, like 1%, but they’d be wrong. Perception is not always reality. The media’s constant coverage of how “crazy” the housing market is, has been drummed into the minds of buyers—and sellers. And the homes that people see closing well above the asking price, only serve to validate the overall impression that the market is overzealous. And that emboldens people’s impressions, but it’s more of an emotional response, than one of accuracy. It is however, what people talk about and what they remember.
We sold a home just last month at 534 Wellington Avenue to a buyer of ours. The sellers expected six offers and received none. We stepped in and delivered a full price offer and it was accepted. It’s the second lowest 3 bedroom sale in San Carlos on the west side this year.
One way to get a good deal is to focus on homes which have been initially overpriced. Any home which is still on the market after 14 days is probably one that will need a price reduction, or may be willing to take a lower offer. These are opportunities that buyers may want to focus on if the multiple bids are giving rise to second thoughts about buying a home.
As for timing the market, there are times of the year that homes get more attention and more multiple offers. We just went through that period—February, March, April and now May. A lot of “why” homes sell with more offers and at a higher percentage of the sellers asking price has to do with several factors.
[Click on the graph below for a larger image]
As the new year begins, buyers and sellers are slow to come out of their market hibernation, but buyers seem to thaw out first. Many buyers have just received their end-of-year bonus, which they had been waiting for to jump into the housing market.
Some buyers with children are desperately trying to get a home in order to get their kids registered into a new school before the vacancies fill up—most first enrollment periods end within the first month or two of the start of the school year.
Another influence is that buyers who had lost out on homes in the prior year now focus more than ever on not losing out again, and they bid more aggressively than other buyers who may be just dipping their toes into the waters. And by June, these more aggressive buyers have all won—they have their home and the buyers that are left are the less aggressive buyers and overbids begin to wane. This typically happens around June, as this graph above of San Mateo County home sales since the turnaround in 2012 illustrates. It’s important to note however, that while the percentage a seller receives, and the number of overbids may be fewer, that doesn’t mean that prices decline. A high home price bar has already been established in the spring and it typically carries through until the end of the year. [Note: These statistics typically lag the market by a month—the typical escrow period. So a high sale percentage in May, was likely consummated in April].
Then of course there’s the competitive spirit. Buyers want what other buyers want and often a bidding frenzy ensues, pushing prices perhaps higher than they otherwise would be. It’s important to note that the aggressive buyer gets the home—the buyer that was willing to pay more than any other buyer at that moment in time. Did they overpay? Perhaps. But now they are a comparable sale for the next home, which invariably will sell for more, and so on and so forth until at the end of the year we have “appreciation”.
Drew & Christine Morgan are REALTORS/NOTARY PUBLIC in Belmont, CA. with more than 20 years of experience in helping sellers and buyers in their community. As Diamond recipients, Drew and Christine are ranked in the top 50 RE/MAX agents nationwide and 3rd in Northern California. They may be reached at (650) 508.1441 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information contained in this article is educational and intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute real estate, tax or legal advice, nor does it substitute for advice specific to your situation. Always consult an appropriate professional familiar with your scenario.