I have been a REALTOR® on the Virginia Peninsula almost 45 years. I have experienced every kind of market — good and bad — ever changing.
Then came 2020. After the real estate market crash that began in 2008 and followed with a buyers’ market for almost 10 years, the tide was finally turning. Prices were leveling and beginning to rise, and by mid-2019, inventory of housing was low and interest rates were dropping. By the start of 2020, we were experiencing a strong sellers’ market that promised to last.
In mid-March a year ago, the threat of COVID-19 changed our lives. The world as we knew it came to a screeching halt, and a strange thing happened to the real estate market. REALTORS were considered essential workers. With many offices closed to the public, our services were in high demand. Supplied with disposable gloves and hand sanitizer, many sellers were willing to let potential buyers into their homes, and buyers were racing to take advantage of the low rates. It was a market of challenges as our ways of doing business drastically changed. Many transactions were done remotely while the national and local boards of REALTORS, along with most real estate firms, were generating disclosures and COVID-19 addendums for clients to deal with the possible effects of the pandemic. Through all the obstacles and uncertainty, the market never skipped a beat. After 45 very successful years, this may have been my best year, ever.
Now that we are well into 2021, we are experiencing one of the most intense and challenging sellers’ markets in recent memory. Let me offer some advice on how to succeed if you are planning on buying or selling now. Most important: Be prepared! The first thing you need to do is find a good real estate agent who can represent and advise you on the steps you need to take. This is a very fast paced market — not for the faint at heart.
If you are a buyer, you must be committed and ready to act quickly. You can only do that if you have been counseled and informed before you start. Your agent will help you find a good lender to advise you on the best type of financing for you. Sellers have often helped buyers with their closing costs. In this current sellers’ market, that is no longer the case. Sellers are receiving multiple offers, and you will not be able to compete if you need closing-cost assistance. Your lender can often help you find ways to cover your closing costs without asking the seller to help.
Inventory is low, so there may not be a lot of homes available. No one likes to be pressured, especially when making an important decision, but you will be competing with many other buyers, so you will need to be prepared to act quickly once you see something you like. This is where an experienced agent can be invaluable to you.
If you are a seller in this fast-paced market, my advice is the same. Be prepared. While homes are selling fast with multiple offers, we are also seeing more contracts fall apart than ever before. Hire a good real estate agent who can help you navigate all the challenges. Listing your home will give it the exposure it needs to capture these multiple offers, and your agent will help you analyze the offers and negotiate for the best results. There are many aspects to an offer. Sometimes the highest price is not the best offer for you.
For those of you who plan to buy or sell soon, I hope this has been a help. There has never been a better time to buy or sell a home.