It’s official. Last week we predicted a surge of at least 125% +/- based on the sales we were studying for single family homes in Lee County. Official numbers were just posted, and it looks like it was on the + side of our prediction. Sales came in at 133% over last year’s numbers for single family homes, and prices were up a healthy 3.82% over last month, marking the 5th straight monthly gain. Median single family sales prices now stand at $95,100, up from a recent low of $87,900 set back in June. As you can see, the market has turned around since June and has steadily increased in price, and has set records in sales volume as well.
This isn’t news to News Press readers or listeners of the Future of Real Estate Radio Show, nor to agents active in the business. For months agents have been telling buyers the market is one the move, and the time to buy is now, and buyers for the most part have gotten the message. It’s always fun when an out of the area buyer comes down and wants to make offers 20% below asking price because that’s what you do someplace else. Buyers seek the assistance of an agent and it is the agent’s responsibility to educate buyers and sellers to actual market conditions.
Most agents I speak with do a very good job at this. When you need an attorney typically you let them represent you and you follow their advice. Same goes with a doctor, typically you tell the doctor how you’re feeling and answer the questions and the doctor makes a recommendation for you based upon your needs. So why would an agent not offer the same advice to an out of town buyer or seller?
Like I said, most agents do. Many times we’ll receive multiple offers on a property, and most are at or above asking price, especially when the property is a good buy. Occasionally I’ll receive one that is 10-20% below asking price when I’m sitting with other offers above asking price. I’ll ask the agent working with the buyer what was it that caused the buyer to offer at that price. Sometimes we’ll get that’s all they’re qualified for, or that’s all they want to go or feel it is worth. Sometimes the agent replies the buyer just wants to buy it as cheap as they can. Who wouldn’t want to buy it as cheap as they can, but the buyer’s got to get in the game to buy it at all.
We’ve told people before, if you’re going to steal, don’t do it in slow motion. If you’re looking at a bank owned bargain, and it’s a steal, go get it. Chances are others are looking for the same thing. SW Florida is experiencing record sales right now, and if it’s a bargain, you know there will be multiple offers. Why try to get an additional 10-20% off when it’s already a bargain?
I then ask the agent why they haven’t told their buyer about the market, right after I inform them we have multiple offers. Sometimes I hear “I know, I know, I’ve tried to tell them but they won’t listen.” Other times I hear I don’t want them to work with another agent, so I just do what they tell me. Both instances are signs of lack of confidence in the agent.
It’s truly an agent’s job to educate. Buyers and sellers will thank you for it, because if you don’t do it, you’re just wasting their time and yours. After losing out on about 7 offers, buyers become frustrated. Agents become frustrated with buyers after about 2-3 offers if the buyer isn’t listening. So why not just cut to the chase and end it upfront. I know, there will always be another agent who will do what the client says, but if the client won’t listen to you, can you really help them?
It’s one thing to work with a buyer who is doing everything they can to buy a home. We have customers putting in offers above full price at the max of what they can afford and still losing out. That’s quite different than a buyer who is low balling out of ignorance.
Buyers and sellers should listen to their agent, and agents shouldn’t be afraid to counsel and give the cold hard truth to their customers. Market forces eventually win out in the end anyway, so getting there as quickly as possible is the best way to avoid frustrations, and get you in your first choice property instead of your 8th choice. In a stagnant market your choices don’t change often, but this market is anything but stagnant and the market is on the move.
It pays to study the market and get ahead of the market. Sellers never want to chase the market down, and buyers hate to chase it up. 2010 will be an interesting year. It’s always fun to cover a changing story, and this story is changing. If you’re not buying or selling, it will be fun to watch. If you are buying or selling, it’s time to do your homework.