After watching the market numbers over the past 12 months, a solid (positive) pattern has been set that appears to be spreading across the nation. The housing market, for all practical purposes, has shifted from a Buyers Market to a Sellers Market. In the five-county Southeast Michigan market, 84% of all sales are homes that have been on the market less than 90 days. These homes are well priced and in the best condition, but also only represent 30% of the homes for sale, which means 84% of all buyers are bunched together chasing 30% of the available listings. With a limited supply of desirable homes and increasing buyer demand, good things are starting to happen for sellers, the most important of which is appreciation. (The Northwest Michigan market is about 6-8 months behind SE Michigan so the inventory numbers are not as dramatic, but the same improving patterns are still evident.)
The “average” market statistics hide the true strength of the current market. Overall, the average Months Supply of Inventory (MSI) is 4.1 months (for SE Michigan), but in reality, 84% of the market is operating with a MSI of 1.5 months while the rest of the market (70% of the homes for sale) is operating with a MSI of 18.5 months. The result is a strange world where 70% of all sellers complain about a slow market with few offers while 84% of all buyers complain about a wild market with no saleable homes to purchase. Both are correct! The reality is those 70% of the homes that are in the 18-month MSI “slow zone” are not really relevant to the market since they are not attracting much market attention.
The chart below outlines the “true” MSI for the majority of the market as well as the hidden MSI for those homes that are not priced in a saleable range.
What does that mean for a buyer? It means over bidding on list prices, sight unseen offers, waiving appraisal contingencies and pricing wars above the asking price. Most importantly, it means make your best, strongest offer the first time since we are approaching 50% of all transactions with multiple offers.
So buyers have two choices: jump in and play by the new rules of a Sellers Market – move fast, be aggressive and patient since you will most likely lose out on a few before you get one, or go after the other 70% of the listings that are sitting quietly and find that diamond in the rough.
For sellers, throw your line in the water. Don’t be crazy about the price. You might be surprised what the market will give you, but be prepared to be honest about the condition and features of your house. Buyers are willing to pay a larger premium for a home that is updated, without deferred maintenance, and with a design consistent with the neighborhood (i.e. points off for a contemporary in a Colonial neighborhood, etc.). It may be worth the time and money for some basic updates before putting your home on the market.
April of 2011 was really the start of our heated up market, but even so we still showed growth over our previous year, which was strong, and buyer demand continues to grow.