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Best and Final: the Dreaded Multiple Offer


Those who have been paying close attention to how the houses for sale in West Chester have been performing may have observed the results of the dreaded multiple offer situation. When a closing price seems to rise unexpectedly, it could be because of something called the Notice of Best and Final.  


That notice can be issued by a listing agent as soon as more than one offer is on the table. Experienced real estate agents sometimes choose this strategy to win the best price for their client. It instructs all interested buyers to submit their best and final offer by a deadline (usually within 24 - 48 hours). Since no counters or escalation clauses are allowed, one blogger has aptly called it Multiple Offer Sudden Death. Here's how it works:    

  • The sellers asking price is listed at, say, $320,000.
  • Buyer A is interested; bids $310,000.
  • After a few rounds of negotiation, the seller and Buyer A near agreement at $316,000, when-
  • Buyer B, not knowing that the seller is nearing agreement with Buyer A, submits her own bid.
  • The seller initiates Notice of Best and Final, giving both parties two days to submit their last offer.
  • Buyer A begrudgingly goes up to the full list price: now offers $320,000.
  • Buyer B shoots all the way up to $329,000 the offer which is accepted.

In this scenario, Buyer B not only paid $13,000 more than Buyer A was about to pay, but also paid $8,000 more than needed to beat Buyer As top price.

Great news for the seller, for sure but less exciting for the buyers, since what was a great deal just becomes so-so. That's why I advise my buyer clients to do their best to remain emotionally detached. I suggest deciding on the true value you believe the home is worth, then sticking to it, no matter what!

Whether you are selling or buying houses for sale in West Chester, I'm here to watch out for your best interests in every situation. Call me today to discuss a plan that works for you!


West Chester Home Buyers May Skip Starter Homes Altogether


The concept of starter homes cropped up after the end of the Second World War, when millions of young families took advantage of low-cost new developments to gain a foothold in homeownership: the emblematic first step in fulfilling the American Dream.


Todays first-time West Chester home buyers are a lot less predictablejust as the market itself is altogether different. As we recover from the previous years economic declines, which temporarily suppressed the number of local West Chester area home buyers, the combination of low interest rates and historically affordable home prices allows many to aim for bigger and more accommodating housing skipping the starter home altogether.


For sure, the market hasnt completely abandoned the starter home ideaespecially if you include local REO and foreclosure fixer-uppers as financially rewarding targets for handy young householders. The FHA 203(k) loan, which includes a built-in limited repair budget, can enable that route. But new home buyers also find other prospects can be newly within reach among them, larger older homes and newer area condominium and townhome choices.

If the combination of bargain prices and low mortgage rates isnt enough to call prospects to action, the clear trend toward rising prices may do the trick. As inventories of the best bargains begin to shrink and mortgage rate rises look more and more inevitable, local home buyers could well imagine a tick-tock sound growing louder. For area sellers waiting to make a move upward on the housing ladder, the same conditions could well make this springs real estate market the one theyve been waiting for.


It all means that prospective home buyers in town stand to be rewarded by keeping an open mind about the variety of properties they may now find within reach. By seeking the help of an experienced agent, the widest choice of possibilities will be open for consideration.  If you are looking for  the areas most up-to-date market advice, Im here to make sure you have access to the tools you need to make the right decisionthe first time around, and every time after!

Area Home Sales Prospects: Anything but Calm!



Last week, West Chester home sellers saw more than the usual number of reasons to look forward to this springs local home sales selling season. It looked like the opposite of the lengthy real estate Perfect Storm that caused free-fall across the national landscape.


Signs pointed to the possibility that we may be headed into the opposite market conditions. Websters Dictionary says the opposite of storm is calm but I dont think you would call home sales in West Chesters outlook to be a Perfect Calm.  Far from it! 


Some of the signs:

Falling Inventory.  Per the NARs Existing Home Sales Report, theres a nation-wide shortage of total inventory. By the end of January, it had fallen another 4.9%: lowest in seven years. Raw unsold inventory hasnt been this low in 14 years!

Rising Demand. Per last weeks National Association of Home Builders News and Alerts bulletin, housing demand continues to return.  NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, pointing to buyer traffic that is up 40% over a year ago, states flatly, Weve transitioned into a sellers market in much of the country.

Buyer Attitude. Consumer confidence shows a rebound.  A tipoff to gathering strength is the proportion of those expecting their income to rise is now growing.


If this spring turns out to be the opposite of a Perfect Storm for local home sales, will conditions improve further?  Should sellers wait?  The falling inventory measure might suggest otherwise. If the NARs appraisal is correct, now that these trends are consolidating, …it would seem likely more inventory would come to market.


If you are a home seller whos been waiting and watching for the right moment to enter the area home sales listings, I hope you will consider giving me a call soon. Actually today might not be a bad time!



A Yard Weighs in With West Chester Buyers


Your yard is your home's calling card. A dated or overgrown yard can be a huge turnoff to potential buyers just as an appealing one can trump other objections. 


Landscape designer Cynthia Bee knows this well. "Landscaping often makes the difference, she says, between a prospective buyer getting out of the car for a closer look or simply driving on by."

The same goes for Internet prospects as they scan through listings in search of a home to buy in West Chester, PA.  An unappealing yard can detract from your all-important curbside glamour photo -- and cause them to drive on by your listing. The backyard is not as important in attracting buyers, but often proves vital in holding their enthusiasm.


To help sell a home this spring, right now is prime time to consider some yard-focused dos and donts:


DONT allow ornamentation designed to create character -- that character may be hard for prospective buyers to see past. In this category are mirrored globes, plastic fauna, and (definitely) gnomes of all varieties.

DO consider maintenance issues when you plan front and backyard updates.  To sell a home that appeals to the widest swath of prospects, avoid intricate garden plantings that shout, Weed me!  Water me! Trim me!

DONT let original planting design make an otherwise appealing property feel dated. It used to be considered elegant to have flat-toped and rounded bushes alongside pathways but that was the 50s. Today, the vast majority of buyers appreciate the natural look (and native plants).

DO consider who your likeliest prospects will be and how your yard will fit their family. If you are going to sell a home with four bedrooms, a back yard with plenty of playing space for the kids is a good idea.



Sometimes it can be the smallest details that determine how quickly you sell a home.  Its my job to help in figuring out which and what those are likely to be.  If you are getting ready to sell a home in West Chester or beyond, I hope you will call me to put my knowledge to work!


Buyer Beware - Strategies That Get You Nowhere


Anyone who is buying a house in West Chester -- or even just checking up on the market -- is likely to find that some of the rules of the game seem to have shifted. Particularly anyone expecting to be deluged by the kind of amazing deals being offered in 2008 and 2009 should see what I mean.


As the latest housing statistics continue to paint an upbeat picture, at least when it comes to bargain-priced properties, the days of multiple bids and offers over asking are back.  If you are weighing the advantages of buying a house in West Chester or beyond before interest rates and prices rise in earnest, it should be useful to take a look at some strategies that work -- and some that virtually never work:

Blanket Low-balling Running around writing up a bunch of low-ball offers is a surefire way to get yourself ignored, or worse, miss out on an otherwise great property. A better approach?  Work with a knowledgeable agent whose expertise in West Chester neighborhoods will allow you to check on the most recent comps, and then write a serious offer.

Dismissing Imperfect Properties The degree of your success in buying a house in West Chester can depend on starting out with a reality check: only very rarely is a property totally perfect for you and priced absolutely right.  

Highest and Best - Unfortunately, the tempting low prices listed for some bank-owned homes (REOs) also means that its increasingly common to encounter the dreaded multiple offer situation.  If you find yourself there, be prepared to submit your highest and best offer first -- you may not have another shot.


This changing market doesnt mean we are headed into the kind of fever-induced bubble we saw in the mid- 2000s.  Those seeking a deal waiting for the market to bottom out could be waiting a long time.  Clearly, the year 2013 is the time to jump in!


Staging Helps Home Owners Sell Faster


We all know the feeling the one where guests are due and you havent had time to clean the house.  You shove all thewell stuff into the back bedroom and shut the door (youd lock it if you could).

Now imagine that feeling times 10.  If you are trying to sell your home this spring, and you have rooms full of thatwellstuff -- youre in for exactly that. 

You can prevent it all with just a touch of the staging approach for your home.  Not everyone has $5,000 or more to spend on professional staging, but then again, you cant offer your home in lived in condition and expect to have buyers racing to write you their high-priced offers.

Real estate is in large part an emotional selling proposition beyond their basic housing requirements, buyers want to see themselves living a better life in their new home. The quickest and easiest way to make that possible is to simply get rid of that same stuff!

Heres an easy example: while a messy home office one stuffed with papers and files will cause many potential buyers to think too cramped for me, a well-staged home office helps them imagine their own paperwork in control. To achieve a look thats clean and simple, box up your files and clean out the dust bunnies.  If you have allowed extra furniture to accumulate (like that folding table in the corner that holds last years tax records), go ahead and de-accumulate it!

Staging of any kind may not be your first choice for how to spend an afternoon, but selling your home is a business transaction, and when you approach the process confident that a little elbow grease will go a long way, your pocketbook will register the difference. 

If you are, in fact, preparing for this springs selling season, contact me to discuss practical strategies for economically handling the repairs, remodeling, and staging that will speed the sale of your home.

Any Day is a Good Day to List Your Home-- Just Do It!


Mansion is the Wall Street Journals entry into the high-end real estate magazine world. Well, not quite a magazine -- its an extra section they run on Fridays. Its a nice diversion for those who want to read about really rich people selling their properties.

It was article that caught my eye on a few days ago, though; one that dealt with a topic we agents have long debated. The article was headlined THE BEST DAY TO LIST A HOME IS”.  It summarized an elaborately executed study by a national brokerage revealing hard statistics on which day of the week is best for launching your listing. The author, Sanette Tanaka, brought up several ways to look at the question. While her focus was, of course, national, the unspoken allure was to zero in on which day will maximize our listing results.

 I bet you want to know the answer, so here it is: (drum roll, please) --

Friday. Houses listed on Friday spent the fewest days on market (2 fewer than Thursday, 7 fewer than the most ho-hum day for listing, Sunday).

But, reading further, there is a problem.  The article stated that homes listed on the weekend days were well below the average in terms of online page views during their first days on the market.  Homes listed on Tuesday bought in the highest page views with request for house tours.  For drawing house tours, Friday faded into the pack.

All of which points to something experienced agents already know: statistics are helpful, but not to the point where they detract from getting the job done.  The best day to publish a listing is as soon as its ready the instant its ready! Buyers are constantly combing the listings, and the ideal prospect may be long gone if we hold off for any reason. 

If you are ready to sell your home, get your listing in West Chester ready to go now! Call me and I can help get your home ready to list.


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