The Real Estate Process, Home Buying and Selling Tips

An Open Letter to Lake Norman Area Home Sellers


Dear Potential Sellers in Lake Norman,

If you are considering listing your home in the next 6 months, it is extremely important that you not only know the current status of our local Lake Norman real estate market, but what to consider before listing your property and finally what you and your Realtor should do to prepare and market your property in this challenging real estate market.

General Overview of the Current Lake Norman Real Estate Market

There is simply no doubt that we are now, and have been since late spring 2007, in a buyers market. The number of active listings around the Lake Norman Area (#13 in our MLS) is double what we should have in a healthy, balanced real estate market. Add to that the fact that we are entering the holiday market which is traditionally slow, and it becomes a tough decision whether to list now, take your property off the market and/or wait until spring. Interest rates have dropped slightly and may drop further but the home mortgage market is still recovering from the sub-prime market collapse. The negative news is prompting many buyers to wait and see if the market continues downward in the spring or whether it will pick back up as it does traditionally. For a detailed real estate sales analysis see: Third Quarter Lake Norman Sales Analysis. (Link below)

Whether or not you should sell now depends on what you have to sell (price range, location, size, amenities), what kind of condition its in, how well it is priced for this market and how motivated you are to sell. The holidays are usually a time when only serious buyers and sellers are active. If you don’t have to sell you should seriously consider postponing until there is a sign that the market is improving.

What to consider before listing your home

  • What is your motivation to sell?
  • Your direct competition…the amount of inventory of homes for sale and the number of days they have been on the market.
  • Are you willing to list at a truly realistic price? This is not a market in which to “test” a higher price on a home sale. If a property is not priced properly it is likely to sit for months and ultimately sell for less.
  • Are you ready to manage your expectations? Be grateful for any offer at a reasonable price from a well-qualified home buyer.
  • Buyers are not overpaying in today’s real estate.
  • You are not only in competition with other homeowners but you may also be in competition with builders. Builders right now are offering myriad incentives and financial inducements with which home sellers may not be able to compete.
  • Be open to offering to pay buyers closing costs and/or pay points to reduce the buyers mortgage rates if the lender allows it.

How to list and sell a property in today’s market

  • Price your home to sell! Never “test” a higher price because you are not in a hurry to sell.
  • Be prepared to make your property perfect before it is placed in the MLS. With so much to choose from, home buyers want a property that is like-new or in move-in condition. Make all necessary repairs before it is listed.
  • Your real estate agent should help you “stage” your property, both inside and outside. It should be your goal to make your property a buyer’s dream home. If your agent can’t help you themselves then at the very least they should get you in touch with a professional staging company.
  • With so many homes to choose from, buyers are pre-screening online before they even physically visit the property so it is also imperative that your real estate agent capture and present the absolute best images and comprehensive visual experience of your home and garden for home buyers online. This means professional photos, videos and floor plans.
  • When you interview potential listing agents it is no longer enough to ask them how many homes they have sold. Make sure that they have a very clear marketing plan that is designed specifically to target your niche of potential home buyers. Print is not necessarily the best use of your real estate agents time and money. There are myriad sites on the Internet where your property can be displayed. Take advantage of all of today’s technology and social networking on the Internet!
  • Make your property easy to show.
  • Hire an agent that will provide you the very best comparable sales to help you price it properly and who offers all of the above marketing and staging services.

Having moved here from California where I have experienced the lows and highs of real estate markets, one of the first things that I noticed about sellers and listing agents here is that because the greater Lake Norman and Charlotte real estate markets have been consistently growing and have not experienced a slow down:

  • Both sellers and agents can be almost complacent about how they price and market a listing.
  • Sellers assume that if they are in no hurry the real estate market will eventually catch up to their price.
  • Many real estate agents are willing to take over-priced listings because it will get their name and signs out in the community.
  • Sellers tend to hire the agent that provides them with the highest price rather than the best services and most realistic price.
  • It takes a strong agent to be honest with a seller about a realistic listing price and be willing to walk away if the seller insists on a higher price. That is the kind of real estate agent you want!
  • Many sellers end up overpricing their properties for months, ultimately reducing them to where they should have started.
  • The first two weeks a listing is on the market are the most important. All marketing and staging must be complete and ready to go when the listing hits the MLS. This is when most properties will sell at the highest prices and when the most serious buyers will first see your property.

I hope this list has been helpful!


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