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Buying or Selling a Home This Fall? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Are you looking to buy a home? How about sell your current place?

Since 2020 produced an intense real estate market heading into the fall, we reached out to Daniel Brewer and Sebastien Courret of The Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate group affiliated with Compass Real Estate. Daniel and Sebastien have excelled in the real estate industry and assist homebuyers and sellers on a journey to elevated living.

Read on to learn what you need to know to navigate this year's fall real estate market and secure the home of your dreams. 

Sebastien Courret and Daniel Brewer

Is the market busier this fall than previous years? 

"Absolutely. We started to be busy by the middle of May," says Sebastien. "We were busier than ever, and July and August have been our busiest summer months ever, as realtors. What the pandemic has done is made the general public realize how important it is to have a comfortable space or shelter, to live and work."

Rather than traveling or spending money on entertainment, theatres, and restaurants, some buyers are saving money to spend on their homes.

"The ones who have been paid have been saving like they have never saved before," says Sebastien. "The buyers have deeper pockets, but there are also more buyers than there were before."

Home offices have become important in the housing market.

The DC-based group has seen an influx of homeowners from the New York area, especially. The second and third home market is also booming, notes Daniel.

"What some people perceive as 'fleeing the city;' is just people saying, 'Hey, I'm not at my office all the time anymore. I want to have a house in the country as well, but I also want my house in the city.'"

Also included in this segment of home buyers are one-time renters.

Says Sebastien, "For the majority of the buyers for us right now – it's either the people who are in apartments and do not want to touch elevator buttons anymore, or condo owners who want to go into suburbia or into a house."

Some baby boomers are looking to downsize to smaller homes.

While these home buyers include many millennials, baby boomers are also looking for new homes, but Generation X is looking for something entirely different.

"Generation X homeowners are refinancing," says Sebastien. "It's not like, 'I love my home,' but 'I love my loan.' Meanwhile, baby boomers are downsizing to something easier to manage."

Winning advice for the buyers in the competitive fall market  

Partner with the right real estate agent.

1. Now more than ever, partnering with the right real estate agent can help you find and close on the house you want.​ 

"A lot of our properties are sold off market," says Sebastien. "It is crucial for a buyer to pair with the right agent who has already built partnerships and alliances with the brokerages to be able to go over their pipeline. By the time a home gets on the market, it's already too late."

New multiple listening service (MLS) restrictions prevent real estate agents from pre-marketing homes. Thus, strong relationships between brokerages help buyers get a leg up on the competition. Otherwise, a seller will receive multiple offers, and some homes will go for as much as $350,000 over the asking price.

"This is the biggest purchase of your life," reminds Sebastien. "You need to have someone that is going to go for it and not be shy about it because otherwise you're always going to be at the end of the party."

Narrow down your search online.

2. The buyer needs to be more disciplined than ever.

"There's no more Saturdays and Sundays looking at six, seven properties, and taking weeks and weeks to get it," says Sebastian.

Instead, Sebastien encourages potential homebuyers to first talk to a well-connected agent in the location you wish to move and then talk to a lender to find your price point. Afterwards, head online, check listings, and narrow down your search.

"Buyers have to scrutinize those properties before they enter them," says Sebastien. 

Are you ready to sign on the dotted line?

3. Be ready to move fast.

Local D.C. lenders can close within two weeks, putting people who need to finance or engage in a longer buying process at a disadvantage.

"People who are coming in, even if they have the money, are not going to make it if they have to wait 30 days with one of those big banks," adds Sebastian. "It doesn't matter if they bring $300,000 to a million-dollar transaction. If we have a 30-day close with a certain lender, they are not going to make it."

Instead, buyers must be pre-approved (The Alliance, like most agencies, won't take buyers to see a home if they're not preapproved), but in today's competitive market, having preapproval may not be enough. 

Preapproval may not be enough to get the home you want.

"You have to be completely, fully underwritten now in order to win most of these houses because you need to write them as cash," says Daniel. "Everybody is writing with no financing contingencies whatsoever."

Once you are ready, being fully underwritten, then the process continues quickly and seamlessly. At times, buyers' agents complain that a property went under contract before an open house, but ultimately, that's the seller's decision.

"There is a compelling offer, and that's why it is very important for the buyer to be organized and to have already the connection with a very established, well-known agent, who has already identified the property before it goes live."

Prices next year (most likely) will be higher.

4. Don't be afraid of overpaying (because you're not).

Explains Sebastien, "One thing I would tell the buyer is: It might feel like, 'Oh my God, I'm overpaying for that house by $100,000 or $150,000,' but at the same time next year, when everybody is going to relax from COVID-19, those prices are going to be even be higher."

As millennials continue moving out of New York, San Francisco, and other large cities, suburban areas will allow them to be close to business without breaking the bank.

"Some people are moving now, but others will do it in 2021 or 2022. It's going to be even much higher then."

Expert advice for sellers in the current fall market 

Buyers want a finished product.

1. Shoppers are buying a vision.

Because it's a strong sellers' market, some sellers are hesitant to pay for staging, fix up certain areas of their home, or even paint. They believe they'll get a decent price for their home regardless of the home's condition, but Daniel reminds them that home buyers are searching for a finished product.

"They buy a vision. You're going to get top dollar by having a property that looks good to buyers, especially now when everything is virtual."

Many transactions are now being done via FaceTime.

With so many of The Alliance's transactions being completed via FaceTime, it's more important than ever to showcase a home in its best form.

"They're not coming into the house and saying, 'Oh, it's got great bones. We can do X, Y, and Z," says Sebastien. "They're looking at the pictures online and saying, 'It's done. We can move in. We don't need contractors breathing around us during this epidemic. We want to buy a finished product.'"

Organize your home before selling.

2. Declutter, declutter, declutter.

Showcasing a finished product means making it as pristine and immaculate as possible.

"If you're still living in the house while it's on the market, making sure that you decluttered the house is a huge thing," says Daniel. "So many people have so much furniture and just odds and ends all over their house. Editing the house is really essential."

This is important on virtual tours, especially 3D tours, where homebuyers can see around every corner.

"They'll know if you're hiding things or not," says Daniel. 

Avoid overpricing your home.

3. Price your home competitively.

Some sellers have been attempting to price their homes "beyond the realm of possibility," says Daniel. However, that doesn't mean the home won't get that price, but the price point shouldn't start that high.

"It's always better to price to get more buyers in the house than it is to overprice, even in this market," says Daniel. "If it's a great product, you're still going to get that amount but only if you price the home correctly."

Also, if the price is too high upfront, many buyers will find a better product close by that will go quicker. 

Once you're in your new home – 

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Meet the Alliance Team.

Looking to buy or sell your home in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.? Contact The Alliance now.

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