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Fall Could Be Right Time to Sell Your Home

Sales of existing homes are up and the housing market in general appears to be making a slow, but steady comeback. That's good news if you want to sell your home now.

So, you’ve wanted to sell your house for the past couple of years but the sagging housing market has given you the blues?d

Cheer up! This fall could finally be the right time to put the homestead on the market.

That’s the consensus among a group of real estate experts we asked to assess the current Milwaukee area housing market and — in particular — the conditions for selling a home this fall.

In fact, the market has been slowly but surely improving for several months.

“This year, we’ve seen a steady increase in the market,” said John Paul Horning, vice president of Shorewest Realtors, which has offices throughout the area, including Wauwatosa,  Shorewood and Mequon.

“We’ve been up roughly 25 to 30 percent every month compared to last year and prices have stabilized and certain areas have increased, especially if you have a home that’s in good condition," Horning said. "If it’s priced right, we’re starting to see multiple offers.”

“I would think this fall will be a good time to sell your home because of supply and demand,” said Roy Scholtka, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Homesale Realty, which also has an office in Wauwatosa. “From our company’s point of view, 2012 will be a mirror image of 2009. We did have a little up tick in October and November sales that year. That was the year we started falling off the real estate cliff. 

"We’re climbing up the abyss right now as we increase our sales. Interest rates are driving it and the prices in Milwaukee are reasonable, about 30 percent below the high-water mark," Scholtka added. "It’s a good time for buyers to be out there for well-conditioned, well-located, well-priced properties that are priced fair to sell fair.”

Home Sales Easily Topping 2011

According to the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes in the four-county metro Milwaukee housing market were up 21 percent in August, with 1,619 sales. It’s the continuation of a performance trend that began in mid-2011. 

The progress came despite shifting consumer confidence, uncertainty about the upcoming presidential election and no announced plan to avoid a federal “fiscal cliff” later this year.

The association's numbers show improvement in many more surrounding areas as well, including:

  • Milwaukee County – Sales up 11.5 percent
  • Waukesha County – Sales up 42.7 percent
  • Washington County – Sales up 8.8 percent
  • Ozaukee County – Sales up 26.6 percent
  • Racine County – Sales up 25.7 percent
  • Kenosha County – Sales up 1.7 percent
  • Walworth County – Sales up 17.1 percent

The bad news? You have to put everything into proper perspective. 

“We’re better than last year but last year was very bad,” said David Price, president of Milwaukee Realty, Inc. on the North Shore. “Right now, 100 percent of the people I talk to feel like the market’s getting better.  It is better than last year, but those were relatively low numbers that we’re beating.

“We’re still below where we should be. We’re basically trading at 2003 prices, so everyone who bought at that point has a risk of having overpaid for it," Price said. "The number of sales is increasing, but I think in some cases the prices are going down. I see more sales than at this time last year but aggregate pricing is also going down.”

Still, each one of the Realtors expressed optimism about the fall home selling market.

“I think right now is an outstanding time for somebody to consider selling their home,” said Randy Schmit, president of Schmit Realty in Port Washington. “I think overall the market has improved dramatically. We’re seeing much more consumer confidence come back into the marketplace.

“The interest rates are phenomenal,” added Horning, of Shorewest. “A 30-year mortgage is down to 3.24 percent and a 15-year is down to 2.75 percent.”

Tips for a Successful Sale

Another area in which all of the Realtors agreed was that, if you want to sell your home this fall, there are several key elements to keep in mind. Each recommended that the buyer hire a real estate professional to help with the process, to properly “stage” your home. Take the time and invest in the improvements that will make your home more attractive to that potential buyer.

“To make your house more attractive, you have to eliminate objections,” Scholtka explained.  “If there are things you can put a dollar into to get two dollars back, like paint, carpet, and landscaping, those are the kind of things you want to do.

"The cardinal rules of merchandising your house are to keep it open, uncluttered and to keep it neutral," he added. "You’re moving anyway, so you need to merchandise your house differently than when you live in it on a daily basis. Certainly, outside curb appeal is a big attribute to get people from the outside inside. If there are leaves in the yard, rake them up.”

Above all, buyers are advised to be fair and realistic with pricing.

“Don’t start the price way too high and continue to come down,” said Scholtka, of Homesale Realty. “There’s a range of 3 to 5 percent of what it will sell for. That’s where you should start your asking price. Typically, a Realtor will get you 3 to 10 percent more money for your house because they will help you get more exposure. The more exposure you have to more people, merchandising and people to help you negotiate, stage and market your house, the better.

"Establish a price that makes sense," he added. "If it’s going to sell for $195,000, you don’t want to ask for more than $200,000. You want to be priced fair to sell fair.”

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