-- — Batesville’s residential real estate market is running hot and cold – and having just as much trouble stabilizing as most of the rest of the U.S.
“June was the seventh highest sales month in total dollars in the past 10 years,” noted Countryside Realty broker Jim Dreyer, who used Southeast Indiana Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service statistics. The area defined was within Batesville Community School Corp. lines. “However, July has followed with the second lowest month in the past 10 years,” odd because many families opt to move when school is out.
The good news: “We are still ahead of 2011 by $2.23 million” and through July 31, 62 houses have sold this year compared to 50 for 2011’s same period.
It looks as if home values are holding steady – the 2012 year- to-date average is $185,591 compared to the 2011 year-to-date average of $185,593.
“The trend has been in existing home sales,” reports Bob Koester, Tudor Square Realty managing broker-owner. “New construction and land sales have been slow.”
According to Amy Buckley, Countryside Realty broker-owner, “The ‘buyer’s market’ mindset is still prevalent. A buyer today wants to see a seller really come off their price; they want to feel like they got a good deal. We have seen buyers using the USDA Rural Development type of loan. It can be 100 percent of the purchase price; (interest) rates are currently 3.5-3.75 percent. The buyer must have a minimum FICO score of 620.” The Fair Isaac Corp. credit score is based on five categories.
She believes job security is the reason for sometimes sluggish sales. “With our current local economic vibe, people are afraid of possibly losing their jobs; therefore, they will elect stay put” instead of purchasing a needed larger home. “A lot of people have re-financed to take advantage of the low interest rates available and then improved their current homes.”
Koester naturally remains bullish on buying a home now. “Interest rates are at an all-time low and home prices will only go up in the future.”
What home features do buyers want now? “Basements seem to be more important of late. I believe that is a direct result of the deadly and destructive storms that have occurred in our area in the past year,” says Doug Smith, a Sibcy Cline, Harrison, Ohio, Realtor who lives and works in Batesville.
“Buyers also favor open areas, fewer walls and well-lit rooms.”
According to Buckley, “They want updated homes. No wallpaper or work that they would be required to do themselves or hire done and as little maintenance as possible, particularly maintenance-free exteriors.”
The Tudor Square Realty broker notices, “Formal dining rooms and formal living rooms are not as desirable these days.”
There are steps buyers should take before making offers. “Get pre-approved from your lender of choice,” Buckley suggests.
“Educate yourself first. Think about the process, ask questions – don’t leap until you have ... done your homework.” Real estate education can include looking at all homes in the desired price point and also asking the Realtor to provide data on sold comparable properties in the same neighborhood so an offer is not too high or too low. For a house to sell and not be listed for what seems like an eternity, a seller must have “the best buy in their price point,” she urges.
While buyers are researching, sellers likely are doing some dirty jobs. The interior needs to be “freshly painted in neutral tones and, most importantly, de-cluttered,” Buckley says. Smith maintains, “To obtain the best price, your home needs to be clean and need no significant repairs.”
He recommends being pro-active: “The sellers could elect to get a home inspection prior to listing. This could identify any potential issues that could drive buyers away. This would give sellers an opportunity to make any necessary repairs and place their home in the forefront of comparable listings.”
Sometimes it takes money to make money. “Outdated kitchens and baths are candidates for renovation prior to marketing your home,” the Sibcy Cline Realtor points out. “Please be aware that renovations do not have to cost thousands to make a notable difference. For example, new kitchen countertops and a new sink can make a huge difference in the appearance of your kitchen at minimal cost. “Replace any dead shrubbery and trim any that are overgrown. This could make a dramatic improvement in your home's curb appeal.”
Adding new carpeting usually pays off, according to Koester.
To find out what renovations bring the best and least returns, persons can request a 2012 cost vs. value report by e-mailing info@Country sideRE.com. It covers projects ranging from entry door replacements to additions.
Sellers are finding success. The Batesville area’s listing-to-selling ratio “has remained at a constant 93 percent,” Smith notes.
But sellers still have to be patient. He says the average number of days on the market has dropped from 170 last year to 153 in 2012 – about five months.