Is activity high? Inventory low? Are prices rising? How long are homes on the market? Are we in danger of re-entering another real estate bubble?
And, perhaps the big questions on people’s minds: If you’re a seller, how aggressively should you price your house? And if you’re a buyer, is time on your side in the negotiations?
Today, Adam Caperton, managing broker at Keller Williams Realty, weighs in with a picture of a seller’s market in his particular parts of town: limited inventory, fast sales, multiple offers, bidding wars and sales that exceed the asking price.
He does a lot of his work in the Original Highlands and Germantown neighborhoods. And he tells us those markets are hot!
In just the past week or so, he says, he’s been involved with five properties in those neighborhoods where there were multiple offers and the homes sold quickly for more than the selling price.
“In these cases,” he says, “it was a lot of first-time home buyers” for homes priced between $100,000 and $400,000.
“I recently had two closings in Germantown, a great transitional neighborhood by the way, where we had to go above the list price because there were a lot of scheduled showings going on and the seller was receiving other offers.”
In homes for sale on Lydia Street, Mulberry Street and the 1000 blocks of East Caldwell, East Kentucky and East St. Catherine, priced at between $127,000-$130,000, a couple of Caperton’s clients lost houses they wanted because they didn’t make timely or high-enough bids.
Recently, as Capterton walked with two sets of clients out of open houses they’d attended in Germantown, he told both of them “let’s go write it up.” And even acting immediately, both buyers had to go above list price.
“Partly, in this price range, it’s an inventory issue,” Caperton says. “You’ll find higher inventory in the higher price range, $500,000 and above. There’s just not the same density of buyers up there.”
But, he says, in a price range that goes to about $250,000 or $300,000, a nice house in good condition in a good location will be snatched up quickly, sometimes by the first person to see the house, sometimes after a bidding war of multiple offers.
I asked Caperton about Old Louisville, another neighborhood in which he works, a jewel of a neighborhood that ought to be participating in the same updraft. But for some reason, it isn’t. Millionaires seem to be looking elsewhere than Millionaire’s Row for their homes.
“Old Louisville is so specific,” he said, “so diverse culturally, socially and economically. On one block, you can find beautiful owner-occupied Victorian homes mixed in with homes that have been chopped up into rentals over the years.”
He cites such factors as lack of good commodity retail, concerns about crime and even the spotty condition of the sidewalks.
“Sure there are great restaurants there,” he says, “but you can’t go out to Buck’s or 610 Magnolia every night.”
He recently represented the buyer on an Old Louisville home west of Central Park that sold from a one-time showing agreement even before the selling agent had had time to list it on the Multiple Listing Service. Clearly, he says, the right Old Louisville houses are very desirable in this market.
“I had clients coming in from out of town,” he told me. “We looked at some houses that had been botched up over the years, divided into apartments, and there was a lot of work to be done. My clients weren’t interested in a lot of work to be done.”
On the other hand, “when we looked at homes in better condition, with more of that Old Louisville character, that’s when we ran into multiple offers.”
He said they attended an open house and the sellers received four or five expressions of interest that day. “The next day, I called and they told me they had already received an accepted an offer. My clients were from out of town, they weren’t interested in making a back-up offer.”
For that reason, he now tells his buyers, “Look, evaluate and act – quickly!”
And, he said, he’s telling his sellers, “push the envelope [regarding the price you list your house at]; inventory is low and you have a good product.”
“Even just a year ago, they’d have been afraid a high listing would scare the market away,” he told me. “Now, the right house in the right neighborhood is getting all kinds of offers, quickly, and selling above the asking price.”