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Real Estate Is Still Red-Hot

Buyers, Prepare for Battle, Says Top Area Broker

Hugh Jones, CEO and managing broker of Clocktower Realty, offers a 2021 market analysis and tips for home buyers and sellers.

Spring is real estate season. What should we expect?

It’s still a sellers’ market. Inventory is still low. March has historically marked the start of the market – last year, it started in January. The market will be very active.

Low inventory is a challenge, for buyers and agents.

Many homeowners are reluctant to list because there’s nowhere to go. It’s a Catch-22. Sellers may need to consider a short-term rental or temporary stay with family while they transition. In this market, offers contingent on the sale of another property are not attractive, because many listings are getting multiple offers with prices being driven up. For buyers, this means a harder time finding a place. You want your offer as clean and contingent-free as possible. If you intend to buy, you must be prepared for some lag time and to be outbid.

How should sellers prepare their homes?

A pre-listing inspection puts you ahead of the game. No two inspectors are the same, of course, but a pre-inspection lets you formulate a battle plan regarding needed improvements. Then: Declutter and depersonalize. Painting and curb appeal improvements always help. Kitchen and bath upgrades still bring the most return on investment. If you don’t have stainless steel appliances and solid-surface countertops like granite, consider updating. Just be careful not to “over-upgrade” so yours is the most expensive house in your area. As you get closer to listing, staging becomes important – staging can really help sell a home.

Best paint color?

Gray. Yellow as the accent is trendy now.

Other hot trends?

Hardscaping is big. Firepits, custom decking. Upscale fixtures: pendant lighting, farm sinks. Smart home features like Nest thermostats. Hardwood and tile flooring. Gas stoves are more attractive than electric. One or two HGTV elements can help sell an otherwise ordinary home.

For buyers?

Make sure your financing is in order. Get pre-qualified and pre-approved. We always recommend using a local mortgage company you can easily reach out to. Interest rates are at historic lows, so a buyer who spoke with a lender just a year ago may find their purchase power may be substantially higher, as they would need to pay less interest. After that, get ready for battle. Mentally prepare yourself for multiple offer situations. Finally, be honest about expectations. HGTV hasn’t done real estate any favors. It sets high expectations. Buyers want a turnkey house with many amenities, and that comes at a price.

We’ve heard of buyers writing letters to sellers to get an edge?

Letters can work. We had an Army Reserve buyer who wrote to a Navy reserve seller. That offer was accepted over others because of the military connection.

What’s the hottest price point?

Around $300,000. First-time homebuyers are spending in the high $200s if not the low $300s.

Hottest neighborhoods?

Midlothian is the hub of new construction – RoundTrey, Hallsley, Magnolia Green, Harper’s Mill. For established neighborhoods: Salisbury, Rosemont, Stonehenge, anything in the Robious Corridor.

Why should buyers or sellers come to Clocktower?

We offer a concierge level of customer service. Our process is more consultative than others, for both buyers and sellers. We pay attention to touchpoints – initial consultation, listing, closing. Closing is important – we’re your one-stop shop, recommending the best attorneys, title companies, and loan officers to ensure a smooth, seamless, unmatched closing experience.

We want our clients to feel they were truly cared for. Having a caring and knowledgeable agent who takes care of every aspect of the transaction makes all the difference. Our business comes almost entirely from referrals and repeat clients, so happy with the experience they recommend us to friends or return for their next real estate need.

HUGH JONES manages Clocktower’s 63 agents, in partnership with Rhonda Carroll, principal broker and broker of record. ClocktowerRealtyGroup.com, 804-505-4CRG, https://www.clocktowerrealtygroup.com/ 

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