Monday, January 29 2024 10:31

2024 Real Estate Roundup

Written by Laurel Anderson

What the experts say

In this issue focusing on homes — fine homes, oldest homes, dream kitchens — we wanted to touch base with local real estate professionals to see what they have to say about the market outlook for this year.

Clearly our area remains a hot spot for real estate activity. After all, no less than Zillow identified West Chester as the top small town searched on that site for 2023. So, we asked our panel of realtors what questions they wished their clients would ask them about the market — and then share their answers.

Q: What do you think will happen in the market this year?

A: “I have an optimistic outlook for increased inventory and a robust real estate market in 2024. As interest rates continue to decline, many sellers are now freed from the ‘interest-rate lock’ that kept them in their homes. Reduced inflation and the year-end stock market rally have given sellers renewed confidence in their finances and the economy. In addition, the mounting pressure of life events may finally be at the breaking point, motivating sellers to stop waiting and make a move now.

“For Baby Boomers, the need to move to a retirement community may have increased in priority due to declining health. Move-up buyers may have outgrown their current homes with the addition of more children, so selling now is more of a priority than ever. All these factors suggest an increase in inventory and a positive outlook for the 2024 housing market.”

Sue Fitzgerald, Compass RE

Q: Are people still buying in this market?

A: “Absolutely! On the buying side, even when mortgage rates spiked to over 8%, buyers were still there to purchase. Some changed the target price range of their next home to accommodate higher interest rates, but they still wanted to buy. In 2023, buyers saw limited inventory to choose from. But in that last quarter and start of 2024, we’re seeing more inventory — a welcomed sign. Surprisingly interest rates have dropped to the 6.5% range (down from 8+%). Good news for buyers.

“Yes, sellers are still selling even in this long-running sellers’ market. Sellers expect to get top price for their home and multiple offers, if priced correctly. For a few years, many sale contracts excluded inspections — good for sellers, but nerve-wracking for buyers. That’s changing. Sellers seeking top price from qualified buyers find inspections part of the agreement. Here’s to a great 2024 in real estate!”

Kit Anstey, Kit Anstey Real Estate Team

Q: Should I try to time the market?

A: “I always say, ‘Even the greatest economists don’t time the stock market or any market perfectly.’ Very few people are financially able to sell at the market’s peak then wait for a historic low to buy — not to mention the inconvenience of renting while waiting for prices to drop.

“In our area, more people want to live here than there’s housing stock. So Economics 101 tells us when inventory is low, prices are high. I counsel folks instead to focus on their goals, establish their priorities and then make the best decision they can, even if it’s not timed perfectly.
“If you need more room, upsize; or less room, downsize. Got a good job offer? Take it and move. Do what’s best for yourself and your family, and don’t worry about timing the market. You don’t have control over it anyway, so focus on the things you can control.”

Debra Sparre, RE/MAX Direct

Q: How can I get my home ready for market?

A: “We always offer advice about this, but if sellers ask the question, it means they’re willing to do what’s necessary to present their property in the best light. When sellers follow our advice to get their property ready for market, it makes it much easier to sell their property for top dollar. It also greatly enhances the seller’s experience of the process, as they can see the results of their hard work and quickly get rewarded for it.

“In every case where our clients have followed our advice and done everything on the punch list, their properties have sold exceptionally well, and they’ve earned a huge return on the added investment. Few things are more satisfying than putting your home in tip-top condition and seeing the fruits of your labor returned to you many times over in a higher sales price.”

Stephen Gross, Holly Gross Group, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

Q: The interior of the house should be staged, but what about the exterior?

A: “There’s an adage that 10% of the value of a house should be allocated to landscaping and the grounds. While 10% doesn’t sound like much, with the increased values over the last five years it’s important to keep up with the aesthetic of your home’s architecture and frame it with appropriate landscaping.

“Because there’s often a lot on a seller’s plate when they decide to move, landscaping sometimes gets pushed aside. But if you have a beautiful property and grounds — as well as a beautiful house — have the landscapers over early and often. Not only does this extra care enhance the presentation of your property, it shows pride of ownership, which translates to higher valuation and an easier sale of your home.”

Robert B. Van Alen, Country Properties Office / Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Q: What do you think will be a key issue in the 2024 real estate market?

A: “This year’s real estate market will focus squarely on value. By this I don’t mean home value. Instead, what will be important is the value of advocacy and representation by experienced, professional realtors.

“The national discussion around home sales commission sharing will highlight realtors’ value, leaving behind agents who are focused merely on selling buildings and assets. Experienced realtors will demonstrate their skills and value, whether navigating complicated sales contract terms or advising on zoning regulations, conservation easements and emerging land-use legislation. Only realtors focused on delivering client-minded service will prevail.

“The stakes are high for buyers and sellers today, and the collective interest to ensure value in representation will finally take center stage.”

Karen Nader, Monument | Sotheby’s International Realty