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Arguement

“To each his own,” I say. Your perfect house is not mine, and vice versa. Now that the real estate market has shifted slightly to the buyer’s advantage in Southern California, I’m finding more buyers are dead-set on finding the “perfect house.” As house inventories rise in many states and communities across the country, buyers are now reciprocating what they went through in the past, when it was a seller’s market. They’re passing up the “less-than-perfect” homes and continuing to look for the ever-elusive “home of their dreams.”

When the slight number of homes on the open market was at a dirth in the 2003 – 2006 market, buyers were often left hanging out in left field as sellers were combing through multiple offers on their freshly listed homes. “You don’t have substantial dollars to shell out for a down payment? You’re not waiving the loan, appriasal  and home inspection contingency? Sorry Mr. or Mrs. buyer, you’re not even in the running for purchasing my home.”

Skip forward one year. Ah, yes.The tide has turned! Buyers are not settling for anything that is even romotely close to what their dream home is in their minds. That is, unless the price is considerably lower than what the home needs to “meet their standards.”

Sellers, forget about listing your home for higher than what you think it’s worth, just for negotiating sake! Buyers are walking right by homes that are over-priced. They won’t even go to see them let alone consider making a lower offer than the asking price. Hello! There is too much inventory on the market. They move on to the next home that is closer to their price-point and nearer to what their dream home would look like.

The way I see it, we’re at a stand-off between buyers and sellers in the So Cal real estate market today. Some sellers are not willing to be realistic with the price that their home should be marketed at. They’re still thinking that their home is special and stands out above the competition in the neighborhood. “We have to at least try to get our price,” they say.

This is the wrong approach to marketing a home in today’s market. In order to get top dollar in our current market, the seller(s) must be willing to do the following:

  1. Make all repairs that are known to you and man.
  2. Creat great curb appeal by planting seasonal flowers, have GREEN grass, and give your house punch to make it stand out from the rest on the block and your competition.
  3. Pack up all personal photos and items that clutter shelving, table-tops and counter space.
  4. Neutralize paint colors that may not appeal to the masses.
  5. Get rid of pet paraphenalia and pet odors.
  6. Maximize outdoor views and outdoor spaces to add the feeling of more living space.
  7. Make the entire home spotless, including: washing windows, scrubbing out the tub, power-washing decks, siding, etc.
  8. Remove excess furniture in every room to show the actual living space and size of each room.
  9. Return rooms that have been used for their purposes to the intended purpose of the room; ie. dining room used as an office.
  10. Clean up the yard; no toys, yard ornaments, or dead anything left hanging around to turn-off buyers.

Buyers, on the other hand, have to be able to look past some one else’s faux pas. In the beach areas of Southern California, there isn’t much new construction. Many areas, such as Long Beach, are land-locked. There is so little “new construction” unless it is going “up,”  as in high-rise condo projects.  It’s more of a reality than not, that buyers wanting to live in beach communities will have to consider purchasing  homes that were been built between 1920 – 1955. Some up-grades my have been made, but not chances are,  the entire home has not been completely refurbished. Buyers should be asking themselves these questions:

  1. Does the neighborhood and floorplan of the home suite my needs?
  2. With some paint and minor cosmetinc alterations, will this home suit my/the family’s needs?
  3. Is the price of the home comensurate with the condition and alterations that I would like to make?
  4. Is the yard the type of landscaping that I can realistically live with and keep up with?
  5. Can I offer less than the asking price and hopefully come to an agreement with the seller and feel good about my purchase?
  6. Can I realistically afford to make the improvements in the time-frame that is completely necessary for me to live in the home?

The big “Ah Hah!” is that, there is no PERFECT home. Not  with newly constructed homes or with existing homes. Period! There is always something that the you would change; do different; get rid of; turn into something else, if you could, once you’ve lived in the home for a while. That’s just the nature of our beings.  We live with something for a while, evaulate it, and then re-invent it.

My best advice is to work with a seasoned real estate agent, evaluate each home on the criteria above, and then have your agent explain the most recent, comparable sales (comps) to you. After that, make an offer that is best suited to the seller’s criteria for an acceptance with your goals in mind. (An experienced agent representing you will call the listing agent and discuss the details of the offer, including a lot of the fine points that the seller is going to be very picky about.) It doesn’t take much sometimes, to get sellers to see the light and for them to lower their price to accommodate an offer. If you, as a buyer, don’t put pencil to paper and write an offer, you’ll never know what the seller may have conceeded.

Cant find what you’re looking for in the neighborhood that you’re smitten with? I am somewhat of an Home & .Garden T.V.  junkie in the late evenings and on weekends. There is an excellent show on the H.G. network called “Hidden Potential.”  The show highlights 3 different homes that are not up to the buyer’s standards, but are below their price-point. The designer/architect shows buyer’s how they can re-create the space to make it their own, while staying within their budget. Great show! Too many buyers don’t have enough vision as to what the home ccould actually become when they put their own stamp on it. I say, GET CREATIVE! Look outside the box! Or at least learn to look for the “potential” of a home.

To buyers: There are so many fantastic homes for sale from many different eras. What would happen to these landmarks and historic mavens if nobody had vision to turn them into their own “perfect house?”  Look for the home’s best attributes where your criteria is concerned and figure out, with the help of your experienced agent, what you can negotiate on the price with the seller.

Sellers: Put your absolute best foot forward from day 1! The day your house goes active in the Multiple Listing Service (on the open market,) your home should be in primo condition. You want to WOW! buyers and leave them with the impression that they can move right in without doing anything to the home.

Everybody, can we just learn to get along in this housing market?

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