Navigating the real estate market

Castles in the Sand

I recently read a very extensive and well-researched piece in The Wall Street Journal regarding how foreign buyers are back in the United States to buy real estate and relocate their families. As expected, the majority of these buyers are wealthy individuals who are ready to make a move they may have been thinking about and weren’t able to do during COVID-19 lockdowns in their own countries. Well, they’re here now and buying in Florida and other sunbelt states and, naturally, New York City.

Obviously, if you come across a buyer from another country with a pocket full of cash considering your home, it could be your lucky day. That doesn’t mean you still don’t need to adhere to common sense. No one wants to overpay just because they can.

Everyone knows that cleaning, decluttering and making obvious repairs or paint touch-ups is essential in selling your home, however, that isn’t the most important thing to take care of. The most important decision a seller makes is pricing their property correctly and, in a fluctuating market, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

The old real estate adage that all real estate is local should not be ignored. Since anyone reading this will likely be selling a property on the Island or coastline of Manatee County, what you’re really selling is the Gulf of Mexico. Our region has an abundance of waterfront, water view, water peek, canal front, sailboat water, direct access to the Gulf and I’m sure other descriptive wording I haven’t thought of. Every single one of these “water” possibilities changes the value of your home. Reviewing recently closed properties as close to yours and as recent as possible is a good start. Manatee County’s property website provides access to the public and has every closing available and can be sorted in a variety of ways.

You may have the best waterfront on Anna Maria Island, but if you overprice the property with the assumption that you’ll have plenty of leeway to negotiate, it could be a mistake. You may be missing an entire block of buyers who won’t even look above a certain price point. Pricing a home correctly when it first lists is a much better strategy. Remember there are buyers out there who have been actively looking for just the right thing and have educated themselves in the value of the area. They or their agents are aware of anything new on the market and will know instantly if this property is priced right and worth looking at.

Likewise, pricing a property high because of improvements you have made and perceive to be valuable could be another mistake. What you value is not always what buyers are looking for, especially if the improvements are dark or not neutral or specific to your tastes.

During the pandemic frenzy you could sell just about anything that had four walls and a door. No one cared if your 10-year-old daughter glued almost impossible to get off stars on her bedroom walls or if your husband insisted on a black guest bath, but now they do. According to Zillow, in December 2021, about 44% of homes sold above list price; in December 2022, only 25% sold above list price. Today’s buyers now have a more critical eye and are calculating how much those stars are going to cost to remove.

Whatever market adjustment we’re going through in the country, remember there are always foreign buyers who want to move here. It’s a confidence in our country and our markets we may take for granted, but others don’t. If they have the confidence, certainly we should also.