I think we can all agree that we are living in historic times. Undoubtedly, we will be sharing with our grandchildren about the Great Pandemic of 2020 and the first time in modern history that the entire world came to a screeching halt. Streets and businesses were empty, parents became instant schoolteachers and church members had to worship from their living rooms. None of us could have predicted that we could experience such unbelievable and frightening times.
To date, the 2021 real estate market has been extremely active, and is a much-needed positive and welcomed experience after a difficult 2020. The energetic market is being driven by historically low interest rates, the desire of consumers to return to normalcy, and the rise in first-time buyers. Lower interest rates mean a lower monthly payment. Because of that, many buyers can qualify for a more expensive home than they might qualify for at a higher interest rate. Being able to afford a home that is listed at $50,000 to $100,000 more than the buyer had originally hoped creates an urgency to make a move while rates are so attractive.
For many buyers during the first few months of 2021, the availability of homes to purchase has been a challenge. The shortage of available listings has been affected due to many sellers deciding to refinance the home they have grown to love, and the inability of listed properties to keep up with the unprecedented buyer demand. Real estate agents and buyers have faced the competition of multiple offers, and many buyers have lost their dream home to seller-accepted contracts with offers above list price. Many “winning” offers have removed contingencies for home inspections, repairs, financing, and appraised value hoping to entice the seller to consider their offer. The prevalence of this type of offer has often meant a guaranteed list or possibly above-list price for sellers if their home is appropriately maintained, staged, and priced for the current market.
As a 29-year veteran REALTOR®, I have never experienced a time when using a real estate professional to buy or sell a home has been more important. An agent’s ability to negotiate, creatively market, avoid future liability and prevent transactional pitfalls are just some of the invaluable skills that a home seller cannot afford to ignore. Although sellers may perceive this market as easy and predictable, the hidden logistical and contractual crises that could arise might potentially rob them of time, money, and heartache that could easily add up to more than the cost of using a licensed agent.
For a buyer, the use of a REALTOR® in today’s market is equally important. The agent’s ability to identify a home’s value, negotiate on their buyer’s behalf, and to counsel them in areas that could potentially prevent future or long-term issues with their selected home are invaluable. Those areas of expertise are essential in an extremely competitive sellers’ market. Providing representation for the buyer with an unrepresented seller is particularly essential in assuring disclosure of the home’s condition and assessing list price. Serving as an intermediary and advocate in all aspects of the transaction are skills that are priceless to buyers and should be considered before entering a binding legal contract with an unrepresented seller.
Representation by an experienced REALTOR® who knows the market, understands the transaction, has knowledge of all aspects of financing, and has mastered the art of negotiation have always been the most valuable areas of proficiency offered by real estate agents. The expectation of consumers and their need for a skilled professional are both equally important and worth the cost in today’s market. If you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, make sure that you secure the help of a REALTOR® in making the biggest purchase of your life.