housing market

A smaller inventory has flipped the housing market in Junction City to favor the seller.

The Flint Hills Association of REALTORS summary of the reported active listings in Geary County at the end of May was 154 units, down from 277 in May 2019.

“If you’re considering selling, I would definitely say now is the time,” said Heather Goodson, realtor at ReeceNichols Cornerstone Realty, LLC “The rental market is getting extremely tight so people are being forced to choose between living on post or buying a house and a whole lot of people go towards buying a house. If you’re looking to buy, I would move quickly and if you’re looking to sell, it’d be the same thing I would get it listed as soon as possible.”

People who will look to take advantage of the seller’s market might want to start thinking about what they need to do to sell and get top dollar.

The chores list can get long. However, spending a little time and money can make the difference in the sale price. Some of the items on the list will make the house look more presentable to buyers, while other work will be mandatory to pass an inspection.

“Think of it as a buyer,” said Steven Burch, broker, owner of Next Home Unlimited.

Go around the inside and outside of the house and try to look at it from a buyer’s perspective. Is there paint chipping on the exterior, is the carpet worn and stained.

Putting money into the house before selling it can pay off. However, people should spend wisely to get a return on their investment. For example, if the paint is chipping on the exterior it may be worth having it repainted rather than having new siding put up. Either way, a home inspector will flag chipping paint, Goodson said.

“If there is chipping paint it will halt a VA loan,” she said. “If you see chipping paint on your siding, on your trim — go and sand it, touch it up if you can. I’d say the biggest thing that I see pause VA loans that people don’t really expect is even just a little paint chipping on the outside of the house.”

Some of the required work may have become mandatory after the house was built — such as installing handrails on some porches.

“It’s a safety hazard and that’s going to be something that any home inspector and appraiser is going to call for,” Burch said.

Before putting in a ton of money and work, it may be worth visiting with a realtor who can walk through the house and help the buyer know precisely what needs to be done. Burch and Goodson and Laurie Crites owner of Crites Real Estate & Appraisal all agreed that sellers should have a home inspection done up front as well.

“Then … (if) the buyer is using somebody we’ve never heard of … and all of a sudden, we get this full honey -do list of things that are completely off the wall, we’re able to make a better educated decision,” Burch said.

If a seller has the inspection done before the house goes on the market It can also prevent surprises and possible delays during the selling process, Crites said.

“The big thing that a lot of sellers need to understand is that 90% of the buyers start looking online,” Burch said. “What that means is that you want to make sure your property is Pinterest ready, as I call it, that they are not going to be turned off by the photos.”

Walls should be a neutral color and the clutter be picked up. Ideally a seller wants a buyer to walk in and be able to envision themselves living in that space.

“You’d be amazed at what you’re able to do with some new light fixtures, paint and flooring — it will turn (the) whole place completely around,” he said. “I think it’s all about the money. It’s all about the aesthetics.”

Choosing a realtor

Just as important as the internet is to buyers, sellers can use it to choose what realtor they will list with. With several agencies to choose from in Junction City, it may be difficult to know which one to go with. Burch, Crites and Goodson all said the best option is to talk to people and look on the realtor’s website.

“A lot of it is hearsay and referrals,” Burch said. “It comes down to a relationship — who you want to work with and making sure it’s a good fit for you.”

He suggested sellers look for a realtor who will keep the lines of communication open and have a robust marketing plan.

Crites said whether a person is buying or selling, the reviews people leave online can give an overview of how a realtor might handle business. Also look to see how long a realtor has been in the industry.

“The longer they’ve been in the field, the more experience they have and they been through the ups and downs, highs and lows and they know the deal,” Crites said.

Goodson agreed with Burch and Crites and added that sellers can do a little research into what the agent has sold. This will give them an idea of how successful they are and how much work they put into getting a house sold.

“Does an agent have a social media site that they post their listings on,” she said. “Do they do any kind of other advertisements? Another big thing is how involved are they in the community?”

Mistakes to avoid

The decision to sell has been made, repairs and sprucing up is done and a real estate agent has been signed. The Flint Hills Association of REALTORS summary reports the average days on the market for May was 69. However, a few mistakes and that number can get larger.

Over pricing and do-it-yourself projects by people who don’t know how to do it themselves are the two mistakes Burch says he tends to see most.

“You want to make sure that you’re protecting yourself and not putting yourself in a position to where you are opening yourelf up for a lawsuit,” he said. “Overpricing — that’s going to be probably the top thing.”

If the house has been on the market a long time, buyers are more apt to wonder what is wrong with it and be hesitant, especially if the seller has not reduced the price.

Crites and Goodson said clutter is a big mistake they see.

“Put things away,” Goodson said. “Put personal items away. Clear off all of your countertops. Store away as much as you can — utilize the storage that you have.”

People want to see the counter space and clearing away the clutter will make a room appear more spacious. If extra furniture can be removed, it opens up the space for buyers to get a better idea of what is there.

When removing clutter, Crites said to also remove personal items, especially family photographs.

“A house can feel overwhelming (to a potential buyer) because there’s so much of (the seller’s) stuff in the house — they need to de-personalize their home,” she said. “Take the pictures down because it’s a distraction for the buyers because they always try to figure out if they know the seller or not. They are sitting there not paying attention to the house, but they’re paying attention to the personal belongings.”

If the seller plans to move out of the house before it sells, when they should approach curb appeal with ease of maintenance in mind.

“Curb appeal is very important,” Goodson said. “But you don’t have to overboard. You don’t want something that you’re going to expect somebody to have to come over and water daily. Keep it kind of low key, don’t go crazy with it.”

Last month 68 contracts for sale were written in Geary County, according to the FHAR. The median list price was $168,900, up from $147,450 the prior year.

Half of the homes that went under contract in May were on the market less than 45 days.

“This is the time to sell,” Burch said.

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