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Germantown Home Prices Up, But Sales Slide


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By Andrew Einsmann

In September, the Germantown housing market saw mixed results but overall signs of improvement. A total of 77 houses were sold resulting in a total volume of $25 million dollars of housing.

While the total units sold are down about seven percent from August 2014 and the numbers are lower compared to last September’s totals. However, Germantown has seen a slight increase, five percent, in prices of homes sold year over year and about one percent increase in prices over homes sold in August 2014.

This is a sign that the market in the area is robust and there still is demand because the housing prices are stable after the school year has started. The average days for a house to be on the market has increased to 50 days which is almost double what it was last month but it is about the same amount of time as last year in September.

Germantown is seeing the standard slowdown in the housing market when school starts however, pricing is remaining robust. If you are selling your house, remain calm and do not drop your price too early. The buyers will still be willing to pay for your house if it is good condition and if the house is not in good condition consider using a local handyman to fix up the property a little to help it sell.

Here are five tips for getting your house sold before real estate hibernation season sets in.

Determine if you really need to sell.

If you do, keep reading. If you don't, consider taking your house off the market until the spring. Traditionally – admittedly there is nothing traditional about the current housing market -- buyers lose interest in the fall. Kids are settled in school, the holidays are approaching, and buyers' sense of urgency just evaporates.

In today's market, it's all that and more. As a seller, you are competing with foreclosures and short sales as well as standard sellers. Unless you really need to sell, consider delaying the listing of your house for a few months to avoid it sitting on the market and growing stale. If it makes you feel better, let a few agents know that you are still open to an offer and make it a pocket listing. In the our market, it takes 90 days off the market to refresh and make the house you are selling a new listing in the eyes of buyers. Consider taking your house off the market from Nov-Feb to give your house a fresh new look in March.

Update your listing photos, especially if you live in a four-season climate.

It just won't do to have photos of the trees in full bloom and the lawn nice and green when your house is in Germantown and it is January. Yes, you know your house has been on the market for six months, but why underscore that fact to prospective buyers with your photos?

By the way, don't be afraid of winter photos. House exteriors can look pretty in the snow, but do try and shoot it while the snow is fresh. For the interior photos, light the fire in the fireplace and make sure every room conveys warmth.

It's important to change out the photos every season. It's easy enough to do and different photos "speak" to different buyers. Encourage your agent to update the remarks in the MLS listing as well.

Know your potential buyers and speak directly to them.

Long gone are the days when buyers would get into bidding wars over houses. But what's not gone are the emotions that a home can evoke. It's your job to identify what makes your house a home, and zone in on that emotion -- and hire an agent smart enough to do the same. Before you list, ask prospective agents to describe the potential buyer of your house.

For family homes, consider advertising in the local school bulletins or in the PTA newsletter. Are you close to public transportation, on a street filled with stay-at-home moms and a playground at the corner? Your selling points may not be a spectacular view, but if you market directly to your audience you may not need one.

Make it easy to buy your house.

The biggest obstacle that buyers have today is getting a loan. If you are in a position to, consider offering owner financing. If not that, can you handle a lease-purchase option? Talk to not just a real estate agent, but also an accountant, and get creative. You might find that tax-wise, you are better off with something other than a sale involving a third-party lender.

Buyers today are shopping situations as much as they are houses. They want bargains and are savvier than ever before about pricing and transaction details. While those bargain-hunters may be drooling over foreclosures and short sales, the convenience and expediency of a standard sale has value.

Keep your house comfortable during showings.

In the winter, turn the heat on. In the spring, open the windows. In the summer, stage the patio furniture. And in autumn, rake the leaves, burn some spice candles and remember that the buyer pool has dwindled, so make each showing count.

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About the Author: Andrew Einsmann is a local Germantown Real Estate Agent with eight years of experience. He has been involved in the community as part of the Upcounty Citizens Advisor board and a long-time resident of Germantown and Montgomery County. For any real estate questions just ask.

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