As we enter spring, we look forward to all things new. For those of us who spent most of our winter hibernating indoors, spring can bring the itch for new surroundings. If you weren’t one of the hundreds of residents in the Waconia area who purchased or sold your home during the housing market frenzy of the past few years, you might be considering looking for a new home. Heather Reichenberger, a realtor with RE/MAX Results, says it’s still a strong market, and she predicts a busy spring.
Waconia is a desirable city for buyers to call home. “With its many amenities, like the lake, parks, good schools, walking paths, and community events, Waconia is a hot place to live,” she says. “It’ll be another good real estate year in Waconia. Spring will get everyone moving.”
She expects the market to normalize a lot more into what she considers a “traditional home market” in the next few years. For the past couple of years, buyers felt forced to make quick decisions, forego inspections, and pay higher prices rather than negotiate a middle ground for both buyers and sellers.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled since they hit their lowest rate ever in January 2021. Buyers who aren’t familiar with the double-digit mortgage rates of the 1970s and 80s might be nervous to take on a new house payment, but she points out there are some advantages to a cooler market.
“Rates are a bit higher than they were at their lowest, but they’re still historically low,” Reichenberger explains. “People are no longer paying $20,000-$100,000 more to get a house in a multiple-offer situation. Buyers now are getting a house for a lower price with a slightly higher interest rate, so their payments are similar to what they’d be in a multiple-offer scenario. This makes the payment for buyers now, during the lowest interest rates, almost identical with the purchase prices being much lower.”
Although no one can predict what will happen to mortgage rates, they are likely to continue to fluctuate with the changing economy. She reminds buyers they can always refinance later when rates go down, which typically happens after inflation decreases.
There was very low inventory but listings are starting to pop up now as we move into spring. She advises sellers to prepare their houses and perform regular maintenance to get a leg up over other sellers and eliminate issues that can come up during an inspection. Buyers are looking for finished or somewhat updated homes with good mechanicals and the big things, like roofs and windows, in good condition with homes in the $300,000-$500,000 range being the most sought-after.
Reichenberger suggests sellers use a neutral palette of grays, creams, and whites to entice a buyer. “Buyers can always paint or change up cosmetics which is cheaper than replacing a roof or furnace after the sale.”
For those new to the housing market, she recommends taking a few steps to get started. “New buyers should meet with their agent, have the agent go over the steps of buying a home, get pre-approved for their mortgage, and ideally narrow down their search to what they want and need. This will help keep them from looking at a ton of homes and getting overwhelmed.” In addition, she suggests buyers and sellers ask their realtors for recommendations on vendors and lenders that have established good relationships with past transactions.
Reichenberger has been in the real estate industry for nearly a decade and specializes in the western side of the Twin Cities, including Waconia and Carver County.