June 10, 2018

How Sellers Can Navigate Today's Hot Housing Market


Aaron Taylor
2018 NETAR President

Home sales are absorbing new listings almost as fast as they come on the market these days. And inventory is at a record low. But there's still a lot of buyer demand.  That means Northeast Tennessee has become a sellers' market. But it's not the kind of sellers' market portrayed in media reports.

You know the ones we're talking about. Stories about listing getting offers hours after they go on the market and the price goes higher and higher as aggressive buyers bid against each.

We definitely have the best market for sellers since the Great Recession, but it's what can best be called a conservative sellers' market. In April the average listing price was 9% higher than last year. And the average sales price was 96% of the average listing price. So, while there are sales at full price, there're also a lot of sales where the listing price was discounted.

And the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors® Trends Report shows the average sale closed in April was on the market for 134 days in the 11-county region monitored by the report. When we look at a breakdown of each county with Realtor Property Resources'® (RPR) data shows the median days on the market ranges from a low of 45 in Unicoi Co. to a high of 190 days in Johnson. In the largest markets, it was 68 days in Washington Co. and 69 days in Sullivan Co.

Those numbers are a good representation of what things are like across the market, but there are many other examples of listings getting offers in a week or so and selling much quicker than the median.

All of this begs the question: How can sellers navigate this market for the best deal when there's so much conflicting data?

The first step is to get a good Realtor®.

In a hot market, you want the best professional help you can hire. Interview until you find one where the chemistry is right. Don’t be afraid to ask about what they have accomplished and who they worked with. Then check out those references.   

Use strategic pricing if you're pushing for a quick sale. Carefully consider the competitive market analysis your agent will do for you. It will show the sales price of comparable homes in your community. Target an asking price somewhere just below the average listing price and just above the average sales price of those comparable sales.

While owners are not under as much pressure to stage their homes or to offer incentives in negotiations, you should still carefully prepare the property so it shows well. Remember that even though it's a sellers' market there is still a lot of competition for qualified buyers.

Have a multiple offer strategy in mind if you do get multiple offers. Just because an offer is the highest, it might not be the best offer. Are the buyers preapproved for how much they're offering or just prequalified? Sometimes offers come with contingencies. Be prepared to huddle with your Realtor® to evaluate what's best for your needs.

There also a chance you'll sell your home quicker than anticipated. And while you can negotiate a later move-out date be prepared to move sooner than you had anticipated.

Today's market is ripe for owners who want to sell. Inventory is low, and buyers are motivated. But don't get over confident – especially if you're tempted to go the "for sale by owner" route. This is the type market where a good, local Realtor® is always a big part of the process.

Aaron Taylor is the 2018 president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,200 local Realtor® members and almost 100 affiliates.