The weather as of late has been a bit confusing, but there’s one thing that’s been very clear: the spring real estate market is here. The numbers are all up, both from previous months and from last year too.
March saw 36.6 percent more sales volume than last month, which is not abnormal for performance changes from February to March, but we also saw 1.26 percentage higher volume than last year at this time. In addition, the median sale price was up 6.59 percent from last March, the average sale price was up 7.87 percent and the total days the average property was on the market before fetching a contract was down by about two.
These numbers help the statistically oriented see what is obvious to everyone else: things are crazy now! The Dwight & David Group had its most productive week ever last week, netting nine contracts in seven days, at a total volume of about $4.5 million. Almost all of those contracts were won by beating out other buyers and a few of them were all-out bidding wars. One in particular escalated almost $60,000 over asking price with five offers on the property.
Those who have watched real estate for a while recognize this phenomenon as the hallmark of the mid-2000s, where a listing would sell as soon as it hit the market and buyers had to be willing to escalate far above asking price to get a home. Sellers love that scenario, but then find they are sometimes stuck, because they end up suffering as a buyer on their next transaction. Therefore, most industry practitioners are happy to have a healthy market with steady, but not spiking, growth, and to be able to find a property for their buyers without having a bidding war with every offer.
Sellers looking to take advantage of these favorable market conditions are not too late. Generally, the market stays strong throughout spring and summer in the D.C. area, but it’s usually best to get to market at least a week before Memorial Day to avoid missing the beach-bound crowd. Also, since the Washington area can be pretty balmy, it’s nice to be on the market before it becomes too hot for house hunting to be enjoyable. While uncommon, it has happened that a casual open house visit from a curious neighbor has ended up selling a house and that happens less when it’s really hot or really cold out.
Certainly the first step in marketing your home is to contact a qualified agent to represent you. Remember that in essence, you’re hiring the agent, not their broker, so don’t assume all agents from one brokerage are the same. Do your homework to find the agent who knows the area, spends money wisely (but freely) on marketing, has the best photographs of previous listings and the most comprehensive marketing plan. They will likely also have the best connections for contractors and handymen to take care of any lingering maintenance issues, and perhaps even stagers to really make your home shine with luxurious furnishings.
You and your agent should be able to get minor fixes done and some staging in place within a week or two. Then a professional photographer should take the most flattering photos possible, which should be disbursed far and wide across the internet, and also mailed directly to potential buyers’ homes. The broker’s opens and public open houses can begin, and if you’re priced well and presented perfectly, you should expect offers abounding. With a little focus, you and your agent can get your home up to snuff with more than enough time to ride the spring sales wave to a handsome profit.
David Bediz is principal at the Dwight & David Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, which has sold more than $200 million since its inception in 2005. David is a 2012 Director of GCAAR, the local Realtor association, and has been featured on HGTV’s ‘Get it Sold and Designed to Sell.’ He can be reached at 202-352-8456 or viadwightanddavid.com.