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While the focus on the housing market nationally is often driven by new home construction numbers, for many people housing trends still come down to buying and selling of existing homes. And southeast Michigan’s real estate situation entering the spring and summer season is characterized by lack of homes for sale, which makes it a seller’s market.
According to the February 2017 Realcomp report on the housing market in southeast Michigan, median home and condo sales prices rose 6.2 percent year-over-year, but listings decreased 39.5 percent versus February 2016. That lower inventory does positively impact the time it takes to sell a home, as the average days-on-market has decreased from 63-56 days.
Karen Kage, CEO of Realcomp, (866) 553-3003, moveinmichigan.com, said that the 39.5 percent decrease in home listings is based on 26,000 last year versus only 16,000 this year.
“We traditionally see more homes listed in April and May, so these next few months will be telling about where the real estate market is headed,” Kage said.
And these regional statistics are playing out in communities throughout Metro Detroit. “Demand is high but the inventory remains low, so a home that is sharp and priced right will usually get multiple offers,” said Jim Stevens, a broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Preferred in Plymouth, (734) 459-6000, cbpreferred.com.
He said it is particularly important for a home to be well maintained and updated to impress younger homebuyers.
“Younger buyers are too busy and want to move into a home that is updated and won’t require any work,” he said.
He also said that new construction in the western suburbs won’t solve all the inventory problem.
“Many of the new homes are priced in the $500,000 to $800,000 range in the western suburbs, but buyers can’t always afford that expensive of a home so they are still looking to buy an existing home,” he said.
Inventory continues to be a problem in Macomb County, according to Kimberley Drescher, a Realtor with Real Estate One in Clinton Township, (586) 216-2088, kimberlydrescher.realestateone.com.
“Our inventory in Macomb County is lower than last year at this time, so homes that are properly prepared for sale and priced right are going to get multiple offers and can sell in one to two weeks,” Drescher said.
Drescher said “properly prepared” includes making sure the home is clean and decluttered, is de-personalized and has the furniture organized so buyers can envision their things in the home.
One change in Macomb County is the increase in new construction north of the M-59 corridor, which benefits many move-up buyers.
“Because there isn’t a lot of inventory on the market, many buyers who are looking to move up can’t find an existing home they like so they are deciding to build,” Drescher said.
A big part of preparation when buying a home includes the mortgage process. Fortunately, the need to have a 20 percent down payment isn’t as necessary as it was a few years ago after the housing crisis.
“Today people can get a conventional mortgage loan with as low as 3 percent down depending on their financial situation, and as low as 3.5 percent for an FHA mortgage,” said Diane Abraham Selvaggio, a senior loan officer and branch manager for Mortgage 1 in Clinton Township, (586) 612-6714, dianeselvaggiohomeloans.com.
Abraham Selvaggio said that credit scores are still important when qualifying for a mortgage loan and the higher the credit score, the better chance that a homebuyer will qualify for a lower interest rate.
“I recommend that homebuyers get prequalified for a mortgage before they start looking for a home,” she said. “With the low inventory of homes for sale in the market, it gives them an advantage over other buyers who haven’t even begun the loan process.”
Abraham Selvaggio said she can do a prequalification for someone starting to look for a home in an hour, and a more detailed preapproval that would include a review by a credit underwriter in around 48 hours.
While planning is important for anyone selling a home, it is also vital for homebuyers because low inventory may require a quick decision to get their dream home. Drescher concluded by saying, “If you are a buyer and have to go home to sleep on it, you may not be sleeping in it because the house will be sold.”
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