April 4, 2023

Selling a home in a post-pandemic world

Higher home prices combined with ballooning mortgage rates have made home selling a greater challenge in the post-pandemic era.

As always, capturing buyers’ interest is the first step to landing a sale. With housing so uncertain right now, adding a layer of predictability can be a valuable advantage. Sometimes, it may be as easy as offering and highlighting included appliances. If not, there are other ways to catch a buyer’s eye.

In a high-mortgage environment, one might offer an interest rate buydown. Though typically negotiated between the buyer and the buyer’s lender, there is no rule against the seller ponying up the dough to lower the interest rate, thus making the future mortgage payments more manageable.

The “rate buydown” can also come in the form of a specific amount of money credited at closing. That way, the buyer can choose to use the cash toward points on their mortgage, or they can cover their closing costs.

Not only do mortgage rate buydowns directly address a pain point most buyers are facing, but they also usually make less of an impact for the seller than significantly slashing the price would.

A seller might also offer to pay for a big-ticket item. The average age of homes in America is 40 years. Therefore, there is probably a major detail – the hot water heater, the roof, or HVAC – due for replacement. Buyers love new systems and appliances. Either do it before the sale or offer to cover the cost from sale proceeds.

During the pandemic, demand for larger homes with outdoor spaces and home offices surged and remain very desirable. Homes containing Adult Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as "granny flats" or "mother-in-law" units, have attached or detached space that can be re-purposed, often as a separate private residence. Highlighting these features attracts buyers to maximize the selling price.

Consider offering buyers a home warranty, as well. Homes with a warranty sell significantly faster and for more money. And sellers with existing home warranties can usually transfer the contract directly to the next owner!

Those with VA loans may be unaware they can be assumed, or taken on, by buyers. The new borrower will not need to meet any military service requirements - but will need to prove their financial qualifications to the lender.

Some sellers use “micro” price drops to trigger interest. But be cautious. Pricing a home too high can make it harder to sell. Many serious buyers get turned off by inflated prices and may not come back when the price gets slashed.

Last, but not least, you should select a real estate agent with a proven sales record. An experienced, skilled real estate agent to help set a reasonable opening price is crucial to selling a home promptly.