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Market Update

What Will Help My House Sell?

With the current inventory of resale homes higher than it has been for many years, many sellers are asking what they can do to give their home a better chance of selling.   

There are really only five major things that create the best chances for a home to sell.  One of the five you have no control over and the other four you as a seller can control.  Then, of course, there are some minor details which may also help you. 

1.  Location

Everyone has heard that real estate is all about Location, Location, Location.  There is no exception for homes for sale in San Miguel. This is one of the five keys to selling that you really have no control over at this point. Even if you would make a different decision if you were buying again, you can't pick your home up and move it to a location that is more desirable to buyers. 

  • Homes in Centro or within close walking distance will always sell better than homes in the outskirts of town or in the country. 
  • For San Miguel, walking distance is important.  A decade ago, "walking distance" was defined as10-15 minutes from Cento, where today that has probably been expanded to perhaps 20-25 minutes walking distance to Centro.
  • Whether your home is in the best or the worst part of your street or your Colonia or if you have to walk through a less desirable area to get to Centro will also determine how buyers perceive your location. So if location alone won´t sell your home, then you will have to make your home stand out from the competition by addressing one or more of the other factors.  

2.  Condition

Regarding the physical condition of your home and to keep this simple, I'll just say that the homes that generally sell the best or fastest are those which are in the best condition with no deferred maintenance needed.  Of this group, the ones that are newer or have been remodeled sell better than a home that is feeling dated - even if itis in tip-top condition. In boom times buyers will often accept some deferred maintenance with little negotiation beyond the real cost to make the repairs.  However, when sales are slow, buyers will want to discount their offer by for example $40,000 to compensate for $2,500 worth of deferred maintenance.  So if you have a home for sale or are thinking about selling, the best thing that you can do is take care of any deferred maintenance. Whether that be floor tile, painting, water damage, appliances, or mechanical systems. And don't forget to replace old or overgrown plants and pots in the garden. It will be money well spent. The fresher your house looks and feels the better chances you will have of selling.   

Is remodeling necessary? Normally when a home starts feeling dated, it needs a complete facelift to recapture the charm and most of the time it won't be worth it to the seller to remodel. However, I have seen a few homes where remodeling the kitchen, a bathroom, or some other limited part of the house would make all the difference in the world and would create a return on the investment required to do so. In one case, I suggested that the sellers install a medium-size window in an area of the house that just seemed dark.  When they did, it totally changed the feel of the house and sold fairly quickly afterward. 

Be harshly objective. Take a tour of your own house as a buyer would or ask a friend with a good design sense to help you.  Often minor and inexpensive cures can help you eliminate potential stumbling blocks that buyers may have.  

3.  Exposure Of Your Property For Sale

Many years ago I was at dinner with a group of friends.  Afterward, one of the couples who I barely knew kind of took over the conversation and practically pleaded with everyone there to say a prayer that their rural lot would sell.  It had been for sale for over a year with no offer. They seemed desperate for money and $30,000 would really help them. I was moved on their behalf.  Before the night ended I chatted with them for a little while, first asking where the land was and then who they had the property listed with.  "Well we don't have it formally listed," they said. "Just with an agent friend who sometimes sells properties, but it’s not in the MLS."  I couldn't believe it.  Do you have a sign on it? I asked."No."  I didn't say anything to them, but I was completely indignant. They were obviously sincere about selling their property and they needed the money, yet they had zero exposure for the property!  How would anyone even know that it was for sale? 

It's highly doubtful that any of you reading this would do anything similar to this couple, but you should at least be aware of what exposure you are getting and know that this is also an area where you have a lot of control - mainly by what agent or agency you choose to list with.  I'm using this opportunity to brag again that Realty SanMiguel has more website traffic, even excluding our webcam, than our top seven competitors combined.  In fact, we have the most visited website in SanMiguel.  No one can give your property more exposure than Realty San Miguel.   

We have been number one in Google for 14 years, and instead of investing in a franchise, we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our web presence.  Covid has only increased our web traffic and we are working with more long-distance buyers than ever before. 

Of course, when there are 10 years of inventory on the market, we are not going to be 100% successful with every listing.  But as an example, Bryan Townsend, one of the agents in our office, has sold ALL but one of his listings from January to June 2020. Several were sold even during the Covid shutdown.   

I don't think you will find a better group of agents who can give you a realistic evaluation of your property or who will work harder on your behalf.  Combined with the massive exposure we give your property your chances of a sale greatly increase. 

Frankly, I think the best decision for every seller would be to list with us.  However, I know that every seller in San Miguel is also friends with several real estate agents. So if you feel compelled to list with another agency, at least choose an agent/agency who cooperates with Realty San Miguel and allows us to put your listing on our site.  When you do, on average, your property will be viewed by well over 200 buyers a month directly on our website and our affiliate sites and hundreds of interested buyers will receive an email notification when your property is listed and then every time something about the property changes. For an agent to prohibit us from listing your property on our site is intentionally choosing to limit the exposure to your property.  

4.  Price

Price is one key to selling where you have complete control but is potentially the most painful considerations for a seller to face.  I know that you don't want to sell your home for any less than you have to, and in many cases, I know that you are counting on and your future plans are based on a specific number that you need to net. I also know that every agent wants to sell it for as much as they can and that no agent enjoys telling a seller that the price of their beloved home should be lower.  Almost every seller sees their home as special, and better than the competition. But will a buyer see it the same way? 

The reality of the market we are currently in is one where we sitting on 10 years of inventory when comparing the sales of the first six months of 2020.  This means unless things drastically change for the better, you only have a one in ten chance of selling your home in the next twelve months.  I also know that there are always sellers who become extremely motivated if not desperate to sell and will drop their price or at least put the word out that they are willing to negotiate aggressively on price.  Their more aggressively priced homes will be the ones that make it on the showing lists of the agents representing the buyers first and more than likely will be the ones that sell in the next twelve months.   

If your home does not have a better location and or is not in better condition than the competing homes for sale, then you have few other options than to make yours the most attractive in price. 

I also know that there are always buyers.  We have numerous buyers we are working with who are waiting on the prices to come down.  One recently told me, "send me every link to properties that are already priced 30% below the peak of the market in2018."  This is somewhat typical of this type of market and it seems to me that many buyers are sitting on the fence because they see the slow sales volume and are just waiting for prices to begin to reflect the reality of the market or on sellers who become desperate. 

5.  De-cluttering and Staging

Although this doesn´t apply to all sellers, many home owners tend to accumulate things that they no longer use or need.  Perhaps it’s less so when it is a second home or vacation home, but to the extent that this applies to you,de-clutter your house.  The less clutter the larger and more functional your rooms will feel to a prospective buyer.  In the same way, whether using a professional or doing it yourself, consider staging your home.  What staging attempts to accomplish is to make your home the most appealing as possible to potential buyers.  Once selling one of my own homes, I completely rearranged the living room. Since we often entertained, we had kept both of our sofas in facing each other.  It was great for our lifestyle. However, since the back of one of the sofas was the first thing you saw leaving the foyer, it was really not the most inviting arrangement for showing the house. Again, take an objective tour of your own home as though you were a buyer.  

 If you are thinking about selling or have a current listing with another agency which is close to expiring, one of our agents would be happy to do a realistic analysis on your property, help you understand how many other similar listings you are competing with, and come up with a strategy and price to see your property have the best chance of selling.


Philip Hardcastle