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Archive for Monday, July 13, 2009

Go!

Sold! — Lawrence housing market has some success stories

July 13, 2009

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When Sarah Stirn put her house up for sale and received a bid three days later, she had one word to describe her feelings: ecstatic.

Never mind that the offer was $10,000 less than she and her husband, Jarvis, originally asked for. Given the slumping housing market, Stirn was relieved to sell her house at all.

“I was nervous,” Stirn says. “It can be very stressful. You have to make lots of decisions in what feels like a very short amount of time.”

But Stirn’s ecstasy was far from over. Her real estate agent knew of other home shoppers who were interested in the house, located in the 900 block of Tennessee Street. Before the Stirns accepted the first offer, she made some calls.

The next day, four days after she put her house on the market, Sarah received a full-price offer.

In this tough economic climate, selling a house in a reasonable amount of time can seem impossible. However, experts indicate that the housing market is improving, and the National Association of Realtors recently reported that pending sales of houses rose 6.7 percent nationwide in April, the largest increase in six years. Selling a house doesn’t have to be a challenge if you remember some simple steps.

Know when the time is right

The Stirns had practically given up searching for a new home when Jarvis found a house that suited their needs. Jarvis requires a wheelchair to get around, so the Stirns wanted a house that would not require major alterations to accommodate a wheelchair. When Jarvis found an affordable home with small ramps and wide hallways, the Stirns decided to put aside their apprehension and put their house on the market.

“We thought, now is the time,” Sarah says. “We had never seen a house that was so perfect for us.”

Jim Rome had been watching the housing market for approximately a year before he decided to sell his North Lawrence house, which he had lived in for 18 years.

“It seemed like the market was moving along pretty briskly,” Rome says.

But the market’s upturn wasn’t the reason Rome chose to sell. He finally found a West Lawrence house worth giving up his old home for.

“We didn’t know what it was going to sell for, if it was going to be hard or easy,” Rome says. “We had to get over that.”

Rome was pleasantly surprised when each of the first two people who looked at his house made offers. Rome accepted the higher offer and sold his home in four days.

Cut out the clutter

The most important thing to remember when selling your house is to keep it clean and organized, says Tanya Kulaga, who was the real estate agent for Rome and Stirns. Even simple things like rearranging furniture or painting can dramatically increase a house’s appeal to prospective buyers.

Both Rome and Stirn attribute their home-selling successes to removing clutter from their houses.

Rome moved items from his house to the garage to make the home appear roomier. Similarly, Stirn pulled furniture out of her home to maximize floor space. Stirn also applied some touch-up paint to the house.

“We didn’t do any major cosmetic work at all,” Stirn says. “It was mostly just straightening up.”

After going through a divorce, the burden of the cost forced Robert Janssen to sell his house in northwest Lawrence.

It took Janssen about a year and a half to get his house ready to sell. He cleaned, painted and made cosmetic changes, such as fixing trim around doors and repairing windowsills. He spent between $300 and $500 on fix-ups.

“That was one of the huge factors in selling the house so quickly,” Janssen says.

Janssen sold his home within 10 days of entering the market.

Listen to professionals

Janssen also believes his house sold quickly because of how his real estate agent marketed it. The real estate agent posted flattering pictures of the home on the Internet, Janssen says.

Getting advice from experts is important because they can offer objective opinions on what you should do to sell your house, Rome says.

“A lot of times people won’t listen,” he says. “They won’t de-clutter or they’ll price it too high. It blocks the sale.”

While Stirn agrees real estate agents can be helpful, she also warns sellers to feel comfortable with their decisions.

“You have to feel good about it,” she says. “Use them for advice, but ultimately do what feels good for yourself.”

Comments

toe 4 years, 9 months ago

County appraisals are way too high. You should appeal your assessment.

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compmd 4 years, 9 months ago

"I can understand your owner COMPMD, but if you're in love with THAT particular house, offer more. "

Why? You're perpetuating the mindset of irresponsible spending. Like something? Buy it! Who cares if you're paying more than its worth? That's what gets people into unreasonable debt.

"The current market has no where to go but up and chances are that within 3-5 years it will still be worth more than you bought it."

O RLY? I don't know if you've looked around this city, but more and more housing is getting built (including apartments) and there aren't enough people to fill them all. The build quality of houses going up is really not that great either, so the money you're spending on a house today doesn't go very far. There's 25 year old houses with uneven floors, atrocious foundations, and rotting siding. Peruse the county assessor's page and look at all the values going down. But the market is going UP?

"I almost feel like buyers today think they can ask for the sun the moon and the stars on a silver plate and people will give it to them because they are desperate to sell. Maybe in other parts of the country… not here."

Oh come on. What makes Lawrence so special? Its no secret that this city (and a lot of people in it) are fools when it comes to spending. There is incredible greed and a delusional sense of entitlement to profit on the part of many of those selling because they don't like the idea of taking a loss, regardless of what math and reality have shown. Don't believe me? Remember how I said there's all this new housing going up? Looking at Lawrence's wikipedia page, it shows that income has gone up 12% between 2000 and 2007, but housing costs increased 52%. Explain that disparity given the glut of cheaply built cookie cutter houses and the steady increase in the percentage of the population below the poverty line.

"The market is not as bad as CNN or MSNBC would have you believe, especially not in Lawrence and I'm glad to see an article like this outlining a fairly strong market here and encouraging people to buy."

The market is artificially strengthened by buyers with good credit who don't know a bad deal when its staring them in the face and sellers who think that because they are selling something they are entitled to profit on their sale.

"Now everything is being priced much lower than what it should."

One anecdotal data point does not make a trend, and a simple search through today's listings will show that your belief is incorrect.

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BigPrune 4 years, 9 months ago

Beware of realtors who might price the home lower in order to make a sale faster. Out of desperation due to a new house purchase, a neighbor priced his home for $20,000 under what it should've sold for. Result: It sold in 3 days. Now everything is being priced much lower than what it should. I think a lot of it is lazyness or desperation driving the market.

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KansasVoter 4 years, 9 months ago

All houses are over-valued, and the current downward correction will continue for several more years before home prices get back down to what they should be.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget those inflated property values during the "boom town economy" that were necessary to keep our bedroom community afloat. This also meant all of us paid more to live in our homes. Don't forget to add that in to the loss column.

Overall the housing market is flooded.

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Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 9 months ago

The rules of real estate in Lawrence are unique. Values here generally are higher and trends in Lawrence don't follow trends nationally. I'm glad to hear that sales are still holding but the comments are correct, values have dropped. My wife and I looked at moving about two months ago, growing family, 700 s.f. That's when I found out that if I sold my house right now (two years after we bought it) it would sell for pretty much what I owed on it. This also doesn't account for the money we have put into it and doesn't leave us with a down payment for another house, so were sitting tight for now. I can understand your owner COMPMD, but if you're in love with THAT particular house, offer more. The current market has no where to go but up and chances are that within 3-5 years it will still be worth more than you bought it. Remember too, people may be OK with accepting thousands less for their house IF they can turn around and buy for thousands less on their next house, this is not always the case. I know everyone would like to buy low, sell high, but I almost feel like buyers today think they can ask for the sun the moon and the stars on a silver plate and people will give it to them because they are desperate to sell. Maybe in other parts of the country... not here. I know 3 people (couples) in Lawrence that have all sold their homes in less than a month. The market is not as bad as CNN or MSNBC would have you believe, especially not in Lawrence and I'm glad to see an article like this outlining a fairly strong market here and encouraging people to buy.

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bronze 4 years, 9 months ago

The so called Reagan Revolution, brought you Alan Greenspan for too long - who helped lay the groundwork for a 'let the market determine' Federal Reserve.

Result? current situation.

excerpt from 'Deep Economy' by Bill McKibbe (2007): p11, “The median wage in the United States is the same as it was thirty years ago. The real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers has declined steadily: they earned $27,060 in real dollars in 1979, $35,646 in 2005. Even for those with four-year college degrees, and even though productivity was growing faster than it has for decades, earnings fell 5.2 percent between 2000 and 2004 when adjusted for inflation.”

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Reality_Check 4 years, 9 months ago

Folks, your home isn't worth what it was, PERIOD. If you want to sell, you must understand that. Contrary to popular believe, "real estate always goes up" isn't true. If you want to sell, price it so that it is obviously the best deal on the market and it will sell. Otherwise, it will sit there. It must be obvious when anyone views your listing that yours is the best deal...buyers need to feel like, if it still goes down another 10%, they won't be stung too bad if they buy yours.

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compmd 4 years, 9 months ago

If you want to sell your house, don't ask a ridiculous price. There is a house I really like, but for some reason the owner thinks that their asking price of $20,000 over appraisal (down from $50,000 (30%) over) is a good deal. They think this even when over the last three years their house has dropped 4% in value each year. The owner complains that they can't afford to keep the house, and yet doesn't act in a very buyer friendly manner. I wish I could say this was a unique situation, but time and again I've seen it with homes in Lawrence.

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