Welcome to our Main Line Real Estate Blog

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings and thing to do. That’s because we care about the Main Line community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

April 5, 2022

How Was the Q1 Main Line Real Estate Market?

The words "crazy" and "insane" are the words I hear the most when Realtors, buyers, and sellers describe the Main Line real estate market over the last year.

Is that accurate? Everyone has heard stories of bidding wars with 25 offers where the seller got 100K+ over asking price and the the buyers waived their all of their inspection and mortgage contingencies. But a closer look at the sales statistics may surprise you.

https://u.realgeeks.media/housesofthemainline/stats_mainline_2022_Q1_03.png

The average sales price in the first quarter of 2022 was almost exactly what it was in 2021 over the same period. The $765,000 average sale price was unchanged. Even with all of the multiple offers that drove up the final sales prices over asking prices, the average sales price of a house on the Main Line didn't move.

The median sales price actually DECREASED 12.7% to $576,000. What accounts for the difference between the average and median sales prices? Fewer super-luxury homes sold this year and more of the lower price range homes sold, which brought the median sales price down to $576,000 this year, compared to $660,000 in the first quarter of 2021.

Inventory, or the number of homes on the market at a given time, DECREASED 43% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the first quarter of 2021. Last April 1st there were 352 homes on the market, compared to just 200 this April 1st. Even though there were far fewer homes on the market this year, it didn't increased the average sales price.

Houses sold 31% more quickly this first quarter compared to the first quarter last year. The combined days on market decreased from 58 days to 40 days. Less inventory led to immediate buyer interest, which decreased the days on market.

There were 20% less homes sold the first quarter this year compared to the first quarter last year, 429 sales last year vs. 342 homes sold this first quarter. Less inventory led to less sales.

The total sales volume also decreased 20%, from 326 million last first quarter to 261.5 million this first quarter.

So what does all of this mean?

How was the first quarter on the Main Line? The common expectation is that multiple offers, bidding wars, and a lack of inventory have driven up sales prices on the Main Line. The sales statistics, which were obtained from Bright MLS and include Lower Merion, Radnor, Tredyffrin, and Easttown townships, show that the average sales price is flat and the median sales price decreased by 12.7% ($84,000) the first quarter compared to a year ago. So there were 20% less sales compared to last year but that hasn't led to a bump on sales price - yet! Interest rates have increased more in the last two months that at any point in the last 25 years - from 3.5 in February to around 5% today. How will the increase in rates affect the Main Line marketplace? It could possibly lead to buyers holding firm and not offering 10-20% over asking price for houses - something we've seen since last Winter. It could also mean fewer buyers in the market, which would slightly balance the market. We may see an 85% seller's market instead of the 100% seller's market we've seen for a year-plus. Sellers will still do well with their sales prices going forward, but buyers may see a little less competition which would be a positive sign for them.

Have questions about the market? Reach out to us anytime to have us make sense of our changing market.

John Flanagan
Real Estate Advisor
Keller Williams Realty
610-256-04435
johnflanagan@kw.com

Posted in Market Updates
March 31, 2022

7 Bidding War Mistakes Today’s Homebuyers Are Making in Droves

Courtesy of By Lisa Johnson Mandell at Realtor.com

Bidding wars are the new normal for buying a home today. In desirable areas, there may be multiple offers, which might force you to up the ante in a dizzying quest to come out on top.

Yet in the heat of the moment, many buyers run the risk of becoming overzealous, making mistakes that cost them the deal—or worse, land them with a house they regret. Don’t be one of them!

Here are some common bidding war mistakes you might be particularly tempted to make in today’s crazy market, along with some smarter, saner alternatives to try.

1. Bidding every last penny you have

“The market in Seattle is so competitive these days that houses go for tens of thousands of dollars above the list price,” says Lily Lei, an agent with RSVP Real Estate. “I’ve had buyers who want to bid all the money in their budget in order to win a bidding war, and I counsel them away from it.”

Why?

“The house may require tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs immediately, like a new roof or new plumbing,” Lei continues. “They would have no money left to cover these essential repairs.”

In a heated market, “the appraisal may come in low,” she says. This means the bank’s appraisal says the home is worth less than what you’ve agreed to pay for it.

“Then you’d need a higher down payment to make up the difference,” Lei explains.

What to do instead: “Unless my clients have families who can give them the extra funds, I advise them to hold back 10% to 40% beyond what they can actually afford,” says Lei. “If it’s a young couple who are out on their own, for example, and they have no other financial resources, I tell them, ‘Maybe this is just not the house for you. There will be others.’”

2. Bidding with many contingencies

“You should never get involved in a bidding war before your financing is in place and you know exactly where your money is coming from,” says Glenn Raynes, a Las Vegas real estate investor who has been involved in numerous bidding wars and won most of them.

He especially advises against having your offer be contingent upon the sale of your current house.

“The seller will always pick the bid with the fewest uncertainties,” says Raynes. He recalls that he once won a bidding war on a Huntington Beach home with the third-highest offer it received. The reason? He was an all-cash buyer, which meant a quick and seamless closing.

What to do instead: Most of us aren’t in a position to offer cash, but we can get pre-approved by a lender before we go into the bidding war. We can also make sure the sale of our current house doesn’t enter into the deal. You could sell and then rent prior to bidding on a new house—or possibly sell and request a lease-back agreement from the new owner.

“It’s seldom all about price,” says Raynes. “Find out what else is important to the seller and try to accommodate that better than anyone else.”

3. Bidding with no contingencies

Jared Blank and Kacey Bingham, managing partners of The Agency in Denver, have seen buyers get so excited while bidding that they release all contingencies. That includes waiving the right to a home inspection and the ability to back out of the deal if an inspection reveals major flaws.

What to do instead: “If buyers want to be competitive in this market, they need to compromise on a lot of things,” says Blank. But the inspection is not one of them. If you win the bid on a house that’s crumbling and you can’t back out, it’s no win at all.

Instead, bid as high as you can comfortably afford, and make compromises on things like the length of escrow and down payment. But never, ever sacrifice the right to inspection as a negotiation point.

4. Assuming you’ll get a second chance

“Here in the Chicagoland area, bidding wars just won’t quit,” notes Janice Corley, founder and CEO of Re/Max Collection Premier by Janice Corley, a Chicago-based real estate brokerage. “Very often, we see hopeful buyers lose out on their second chance.”

Prospective buyers think they’ll have more chances to raise their bid if needed, and they are often wrong about that, Corley explains.

What to do instead: “If you find yourself in a multiple-bid situation, I recommend writing your bid as if you will not have a second chance to negotiate,” Corley advises. Consider it one and done!

5. Using the term ‘best and final offer’

You see people using this term on real estate reality TV shows. (Translation: “Negotiation is done, and I’m not offering you one penny or concession more.”) But what works on TV doesn’t always work in real life.

In a bidding war, negotiations are never over until the seller is ready to throw in the towel.

“Never use the term ‘best and final’ because it usually isn’t the case,” according to Todd Miller at The Agency New Canaan, CT. “Once you use this term, the listing broker will not take you seriously if you actually counteroffer again.”

“There are other important negotiable things that the seller will probably take into consideration,” adds Cliff Smith, also at The Agency in New Canaan. “These include the closing date, a larger down payment, or potentially removing a contingency, etc. If the seller sees the term ‘best and final,’ they may not come back to your bid to see about altering any terms other than price to make the deal work. Instead, they may choose another offer.”

What to do instead: Even if you’ve bid as much as you can possibly afford, never tell the sellers that. They might take you at your word and cut you from the herd. There might be other contingencies you might be able to handle, like a few months of leasing the property back to the seller at a reasonable price. Sometimes sellers aren’t ready to move yet.

6. Using an escalation clause

An escalation clause automatically increases your purchase offer by a certain amount above all competing offers. This continues until the price reaches the maximum price you’ve determined you’re willing to pay for the home. In other words, you bid $500,000 on a house and write an escalation clause that tops the highest bid by $5,000, until the price reaches $550,000.

“Our agents are not big fans of escalation clauses,” says Don Mastroianni of The Agency North Shore Long Island.

This clause puts the bidding beyond your or your agent’s control. Also, it doesn’t take into consideration valuable contingencies beyond price that you or other bidders might be willing to add.

What to do instead: “We recommend clients give a very strong offer right from the start to be able to stand out from the competition,” says Mastroianni.

Make a strong entrance with a high bid, and you’ll never be forgotten.

7. Not knowing a home’s true value

Some buyers are hesitant to offer above the asking price in a bidding war, thinking that the home is not worth more than that. What they don’t realize is that sellers often intentionally price their home slightly below its true value to get a bidding war going and have potential buyers drive the price much higher in the heat of competition.

Meredith Schlosser of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Brentwood, CA, notes that buyers are less likely to win a bidding war if they “won’t step up to their highest price. Instead, they choose to believe the property is worth less.” As a result, they lose the house.

What to do instead: Refer to “numbers and proven stats that take into consideration the lack of inventory, market trends, how much the price of properties have increased in certain areas over time,” suggests Schlosser. “This will give you a better understanding of what the property is worth.”

Courtesy of By Lisa Johnson Mandell at Realtor.com

Posted in Buying Tips
March 23, 2022

How the Rise in Interest Rate Affects You

In an effort to slow down inflation, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates and is expected to raise them again later this month.

So do rising rates affect your buying power? They do, and more significantly than you may think.

So as rates rise, the less home you can afford — which is going to make being competitive even more difficult in an already tough seller's market. So if you've been waiting on the sidelines for the market to slow down, it's time to get in the game, while rates are still low!

However, it's important to remember that even though rates may be rising, they are still very low from a historical perspective — so it is still a great time to buy a home, especially as a move-up buyer.

If you are ready to make a move, I'd love to connect you with a lender that has the lowest rates around!

Posted in Buying Tips
March 11, 2022

New Listing: Single Tudor in Havertown

2418 Wynnewood Drive

Don’t miss this builder-renovated single Tudor home in the desirable Merwood Park area of Havertown. It’s a short walk to the 100 train line, Wynnewood Lanes, four beautiful parks, Oakmont Farmers Market, the popular Brick & Brew restaurant, shopping, and more! The main level was opened up to create an easy flow and much of the original millwork, doors, and inlaid hardwood flooring was preserved. The focus of the living room is the original 1920s stone fireplace with stone mantelpiece. Oversized windows and the light from the front door light up the room. The elegant dining room features three large windows, chair rail and a glass door which opens to the covered patio. The remodeled kitchen features new wood cabinets with soft-close hinges, LED under cabinet lighting, peninsula and granite countertops, new tile flooring and marble backsplash, new stainless-steel appliances. There is main level bonus room, perfect for a home office, playroom, or den. A second floor bedroom was converted into a master en-suite bathroom, including a free-standing soaking tub, a spacious 48-inch neo-angle shower with a glass enclosure, a two-sink vanity with a marble top, beadboard paneling, tile floor, tile shower floor and walls, a large linen closet, and plumbing for second floor laundry. The third floor attic was converted into a bedroom with a new, ductless HVAC system. The entire house has been insulated. Schedule your showing today!

Offered for $625,000
Three Bedrooms
2.5 Baths
1,920 square feet

More info here.

John Flanagan
Keller Williams Realty
610-256-4435 (cell)
610-647-8300 (office)
johnflanagan@kw.com

 

 

Posted in Listings
March 8, 2022

Best Kept Secrets To Selling Your Home

Seller Tips

Even in a hot seller's market, it's important to partner with the right agent when selling your home. Will most homes sell quickly in this market? Yes, but wouldn't you also like to net the most amount possible for your home? 

Below are some of my best-kept secrets to selling your home quickly, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘥𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘳:

1. ᴘʀɪᴄᴇ ɪᴛ ʀɪɢʜᴛ.

Overpricing your home (even by a few thousand) is one very easy way to make sure you don't get top dollar for your home. Buyers in today's market know what your home is worth due to having access to all of the online valuation tools, and if it is overpriced, they will wait for the price to drop. A home priced correctly will ALWAYS generate more interest and sell faster.

2. ʟɪɢʜᴛ ɪᴛ ᴜᴘ.

It is important to always maximize the light in your home. Every buyer wants great lighting, so make sure you remove any curtains, clean the windows inside & out, open the blinds, and turn on all of the lights during showings. These easy steps will make your home feel brighter & more welcoming.

3. ᴄʟᴇᴀɴ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴄʟᴏꜱᴇᴛꜱ.

Storage is something every buyer is looking for, and can never have enough of. Organize your closets and donate anything you don't wear or need anymore. 

4. ᴄʜᴏᴏꜱᴇ ɴᴇᴜᴛʀᴀʟ ᴘᴀɪɴᴛ ᴄᴏʟᴏʀꜱ.

You'll want to present the closest thing to a blank canvas, so buyers can start envisioning their own style in your home. If your budget is limited, focus on the main areas such as the kitchen, family room, and master bedroom.

5. ᴅᴇᴄʟᴜᴛᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴅᴇᴘᴇʀꜱᴏɴᴀʟɪᴢᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʜᴏᴍᴇ. 

This is one of the most important steps in preparing to sell your home, and goes hand-in-hand with home staging. It's all about neutralizing, or removing your personal taste from your home decor so that buyers can envision themselves living in your home.

Selling a home is exciting, but it can also be stressful, which is why hiring the right agent is crucial.

Have questions about where to start? Send me a message— I would love to help!

Posted in Selling Tips
Feb. 17, 2022

How to Win a Bidding War

bidding war

After months of searching, you’ve finally found your dream home. You’re financially secure and ready to take the next step in buying a house. But if you’re searching for a home in a seller’s market, there’s one thing standing between you and the home of your dreams: other buyers.  

Bidding wars are the hallmark of a seller’s market. You may find that your perfect home is perfect for several others. We’ll look at a few strategies you can use in a bidding war to avoid heartbreak and ensure victory.

Offer a Cash Deal

“Cash is King” is a common real estate expression and for good reason. If you don’t need to apply for a mortgage, your offer will usually jump to the top of the pile. The seller doesn’t need to worry about you running into problems with financing. But don’t worry. You may be able to use delayed financing after you close on the sale to help you regain access to the cash you have in the home.

A cash sale saves time for everyone and can close much sooner because there’s no underwriting process to wait on. If the seller wants to sell their home as soon as possible, a cash offer is very powerful.

Make The Highest Offer

Traditionally, the best way to win a bidding war is to offer the most money. Although the highest offer isn’t always the one that the seller chooses, money does talk.

Under no circumstances should you throw caution to the wind and ignore your budget. Bidding wars can get emotional, but you must be able to walk away, secure in the knowledge that a home that fits your budget awaits.

How can you tell how much competition you have on a home? Ask your real estate agent to get in contact with the seller’s listing agent, who should have some key insights. Your real estate agent can also use local market data to help you strike the perfect balance between saving money and securing your home.

Have Your Preapproval Letter In Hand

Get preapproved for a mortgage before you start shopping for a home. If you’ve heard about the prequalification process, note that the prequalification is an estimate of the loan amount based on verbal confirmation of your income and other details.

A preapproval letter, on the other hand, offers a precise mortgage amount based on your W-2s, bank statements, credit score and more official documentation. 

A preapproval letter tells the seller that you’re serious about buying their home. It also tells the seller that you won’t run into trouble getting a mortgage to buy the property. It’s always possible that if you don’t have preapproval, a seller could skip over your offer entirely.

Waive the Inspection Contingencies

Most offer letters include a contingency that says you can cancel the sale if a home inspection reveals major problems with the property. Although you can make your offer stronger by agreeing to skip the inspection contingency, you’ll be taking an enormous risk.

Unless you know for a fact that the property has been properly maintained – which might be the case if you’re buying from a family member or close friend – you might be purchasing a house whose great looks hide some urgent and expensive repairs. 

But if you feel able to shoulder the potential risk and want to make as clean of an offer as possible, do a thorough walkthrough of the home. Here are some things to mark off your walkthrough checklist before submitting your offer:

  • All lights and outlets in each room work
  • Toilets, showers and faucets aren’t leaking or emitting foul odors
  • All home appliances are functioning as they should
  • Gutters are clean, secure and directing water away from the home
  • Garage door closes and opens correctly
  • Home security system arms and disarms as it should
  • No cracks or other issues with the foundation

You can also ask the homeowner for repair and home improvement records, as well as any warranties for work completed. These documents will give you a closer look at the condition of the home and how well the owners have been taking care of it.

Drop Other Contingencies

Sellers don’t want their homes to sit on the market forever. They also don’t want to have to relist their home because a contingency resulted in the sale falling through. You can make your offer stronger by dropping your contingencies. Contingencies are specific conditions that must be met before the sale can be completed.

For example, you might have a contingency in your offer letter that says the home must meet or exceed your offered price during the appraisal. This is because mortgage companies won’t lend out more money than the home is worth. You’ll still need the appraisal, because your lender requires it.

By dropping the contingency, you’re telling the seller that you’re willing and able to pay an additional amount in cash at closing if the home appraises for less than the agreed-upon purchase price.

For example, you may be willing to pay up to $5,000 extra at closing to make up for the low appraisal. This allows you to fill the gap between the appraised value and the purchase price.

But be careful. You still need to have enough cash to cover your down payment and closing costs. With an appraisal shortfall, you’ll need to come up with that money.

Otherwise, you’ll end up either having to walk away without your earnest money, or putting less down on the house, which might force you into buying private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Be Available

The final key to remaining competitive on a home sale is to keep yourself available. Leave your information with the seller and invite them to contact you or your agent with any questions about your offer.

Respond to any inquiries quickly and have your real estate agent regularly check in with the listing agent to monitor the seller’s progress. Be as flexible as possible and stay on the seller’s radar. When they decide, you’ll want to be the first to know.

How To Beat A Contingent Offer

What if your dream home’s seller accepts a contingent offer from another buyer? Likely, it means it’s time to move on, but if your heart is set on a property, there are some things you can try. Who knows? You may get lucky. 

Find Out if The Sellers Are Accepting Backup Offers

First, have your real estate agent find out if the seller is still accepting offers while the sale is pending, and if they included a kick-out clause in the sales contract. A kick-out clause allows a seller to continue accepting offers while the potential buyer awaits the home inspection, appraisal or financing needed to close. 

If the seller gets a better offer, and depending on how it’s structured, the kick-out clause allows them to notify the first potential buyer and encourage them to do one of the following:

  • Match the competing offer or exceed it (the escalation clause)
  • Agree to waive all contingencies in the contract
  • Agree to waive some contingencies

If there is no kick-out clause, all you can do is have your real estate agent keep an eye on the pending sales process. It’s possible that buyers will back out after reading the home inspection report or they won’t be able to get the financing they need.

If your need for a new home isn’t urgent, and you love that house, you could wait it out. Just know that most sales contracts successfully close. 

Should the sale fall through, be ready to act and make an offer that matches or exceeds the last offer. Otherwise, the sellers may decide to simply put the home back on the market.

What To Include in Your Backup Offer

If you are serious about making a backup offer, make it worth the sellers’ time and effort to invoke the kick-out clause. Make the offer price tantalizing, the earnest check large and the contract as contingent free as possible. 

Keep in mind that while you are awaiting a resolution between the sellers and the first potential buyers, you will not be able to make an offer on another home. If you are in the middle of house hunting in a competitive market, this may cause you to miss another great opportunity.

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 2, 2022

Staging Your Home in a Seller's Market

Staging your home – even in a seller’s market – is always recommended! Although it is a HOT market, staging your house will make it stand out from the others in your price range, and you won’t waste a single opportunity to create a great impression. If you want to sell your home quickly and for the best possible price, staging is one of the easiest ways to make it happen.

Just to drop a few stats, according to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of Realtors:

• 23% of sellers’ agents reported an increase of 1-5% of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to unstaged homes (which means more money in your pocket)

• 82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home

• According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes sell 73% faster, on average, than their non-staged counterparts

Here’s what else — staging doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated! I’ve listed below a few non-negotiable staging homework items I give to all of my sellers:

• Declutter and depersonalize everything! Small objects don’t photo well so remove any knick-knacks and any personal items. When it comes to getting your home ready for the market, less is ALWAYS more

• Deep clean the entire home top-to-bottom like you’ve never cleaned before

• Focus on Curb appeal – fresh mulch, power washing, new wreaths, and front door mat with a pop of color

• Add fluffy white towels to the bathrooms, remove bathmats, and add white comforters to all of the beds – this will make the rooms feel larger, and the bathrooms look inviting (and clean)

• Remove area rugs and curtains

• Eliminate pet presence (and smells) and get rid of air fresheners! The best scent a home can have is CLEAN

If you’re curious how you can get your home looking its best, send me a message, and let’s chat. I’d love to help you sell quickly and for top dollar!

Posted in Selling Tips
Feb. 2, 2022

How Was the 2021 Main Line Real Estate Market?

The 2021 Main Line real estate market was unlike any other. The number of available listings decreased 44% compared to 2020, which was also a low inventory year. The increase in millennials searching for Main Line homes combined with record-low inventory lead to sellers receiving 10-20-30 offers on a single listing. In order to win the bidding wars, many buyers resorted to waiving inspection and mortgage contingencies. Non-contingent offers became a popular strategy buyers used to win. 2021 was the strongest seller's market I've seen in 18 years selling homes on the Main Line and 2022 is picking up right where 2021 left off with the majority of new listings selling over asking price quickly. Reach out today to gain an advantage in this challenging market.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 31, 2022

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates