Editor’s note: Randy Goff and Erika Lucas-Goff, principals of The Lucas Group, a respected real estate firm serving Tempe and West Chandler for the past 20-plus years, discuss current market conditions and how buyers and sellers can optimize their transactions during what many feel is an opportune time to weigh their options.
How is the current real estate market?
Erika — We are still in the midst of a strong seller market—both locally in the Kyrene Corridor and throughout most of the Valley. The inventory is down over 10% from last year, which was already low.
Randy — Supply and demand are pushing prices up—over 10% in the last 12 months and the average market time down.
There is a lot of news about large investors buying up hundreds of homes.
Erika — Yes, Maricopa County is the fasting growing county in the U.S. Unemployment is low. Housing prices, though increasing, are still low compared to other large cities in the West.
Randy — Also, we are witnessing many large companies expanding or relocating to the Valley. Locally we are seeing a lot of tech growth along the Price/101 corridor. These dynamics are attracting small and large investors alike. Some will flip right away, some plan to hold and sell down the line.
There are several companies offering to quickly buy out sellers with instant offers, then quickly returning those homes to the market for sale. Is this a concept sellers might want to consider?
Erika — Indeed, this is a growing trend and now accounts for over 5% of our market. Yes, you get a quick close, but you very well may give up thousands of dollars. What is your time worth?
Randy — Equity that took years to accumulate is now going in someone else’s pocket. Unless you need to close and move next week, we believe a home seller often is better off doing a few projects themselves and keeping their profit.
With it being such a strong seller’s market, do home sellers still need to prepare the same way to get their home market ready?
Erika — You can put a home on the market without preparing it, and frankly, in this market it will probably still sell; however, you won’t maximize your profit that way.
Randy — There are some fairly simple, time tested projects that a home seller could do to reduce their market time and increase their profit.
What are the top tips you would give a home seller to get their home market ready?
Erika — The top tip is to clean and declutter. Start packing your items into boxes. Put those items in the garage or a storage unit. Or take them to Goodwill or another charitable organization of your choice. Have a garage sale. A buyer prospect needs to be able to envision their belongings in your home. They can’t do it with too much clutter.
Randy — Curb appeal is also important. First impressions are critical. Clean up the front yard, trim the bushes, pick the weeds, clean or refinish the front door. Get a pot with flowers and a new doormat. Have the carpets cleaned. Take off the sun screens and clean the windows. Inside and out.
Erika — Make minor repairs: sticky patio doors, dripping faucets. Buyers who see these small anomalies likely will wonder about how well the major systems have been maintained.
Randy — Have a Realtor or a friend with a decorator touch come in and do some modest staging, maybe a few plants and bright pillows in the right spot.
What other projects will give a home seller at least a break even return on their investment?
Erika — Painting the interior and/or exterior is probably the best way to give a tired house a fresh look. Stick with a light neutral beige or gray. Update fixtures like lights, ceiling fans, bathroom and kitchen faucets. If carpets are shot then new carpeting might be in order.
Randy — Beyond that it gets tricky. Some projects might pay for themselves while others might not. And if not done correctly, an improvement might even have a negative impact.
If a major system (HVAC, roof, plumbing, electrical, pool) is not working, then you will likely need to fix these during the inspection process. It can sometimes be best to handle it up front.
Erika — Part of an experienced Realtor’s service is to consult with his or her clients prior to listing the home and give them recommendations on what is most likely to give them the most bang for their buck. Names of contractors who have an established reputation can also be a help.
Address inquiries to Randy and Erika by visiting TheLucasGroup.com or calling 480-598-8800.