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Birmingham Bloomfield Real estate market is not slowing down

Even in the slowest housing markets, the Birmingham Bloomfield area is one of the most desirable places to live. So it should be no surprise that in this hot sellers’ market, there is practically a mad rush on homes, especially those in a certain price range.

“We sell houses in the $250,000-$500,000 range in a matter days, if not hours,” said Christine Winans, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HWWB Realtors in Birmingham. “It’s crazy.”

“Crazy” is an appropriate term, as potential buyers are finding a housing inventory that is 25 to 30 percent lower than this time last year.

“The market is great in the Birmingham Bloomfield area especially for sellers,” said Ron Rocz, broker and owner of RE/MAX Nexus in Birmingham. “The average days on the market is down, the number of homes for sale also remains low; this is causing the price per square foot to rise, which increases the sale prices and also the seller’s percentage of asking price to sale price is up too.”

Realtors are seeing bidding wars among buyers, and more buyers are also offering incentives like free occupancy after closing to the sellers. The homes that are priced below $600,000 are the ones seeing the most competition.

“Buyers are happy to pay full asking for homes that are done and ready to move into,” Rocz said. “Turnkey and updated is proving to pay off for sellers.”

Still, even though it’s a sellers’ market, buyers won’t just settle for just any property, Rocz added.

“Surprisingly, buyers are less willing to take on projects or settle for less than they want, even with the lower inventory,” he said. “They will wait and are prepared to go in strong for the right home when it comes available.”

In other words, if you want to sell your home even in this market, you better make it look attractive to potential buyers. Winans, who has more than 20 years experience in real estate, has a few pieces of advice to offer.

First, she said, real estate is always about three things: price, location and condition of the home. Therefore, it’s important to consider who your buyers are and what they’re looking for in a home.

It’s the small touches that make your home more attractive to potential buyers, she said. “Clean and de-clutter. Sparkle. If you have the ability, paint. Think about who is buying. Think about who your customer is.”

What you should not do right before selling a house? Major renovations or updates. They often don’t add enough value to the home to recover their expense. Instead, Winans said, get renovations or additions only if you are staying in the home long enough to enjoy them.

“Whatever you do to your house, do it because you enjoy it and then sell it. Don’t do it just to sell it,” she said. “You’re not going to get the money out of the house.”

While the real estate market is expected to remain healthy for the next year or so, Realtors know things can, and likely will, change.

“Real estate is cyclical. It’s always cyclical,” Winans said. “There’s going to be an up and there’s going to be a down. … I think we all think we’ll eventually see a change to see it benefit the buyer more than the seller. It just won’t happen overnight.”

Rocz thinks the next year may bring some challenges to potential buyers, as the housing inventory continues to be low, the long-term interest rate is rising, which affects a buyer’s purchasing power.

“If rates go up by 1 percent a buyer would have to pay 10 percent less for the same house to have the same payment,” he said. “Rising rates and values are a double whammy on the buyer.”

The upside is that Birmingham Bloomfield area is resilient no matter the market, Winans said. The combination of higher incomes, and high-quality schools and amenities means that home values do very well even in uncertain economic times. “Our properties hold their value,” she said. “The quality of living is high.”

Rocz, meanwhile, advises both buyers and sellers to do their research before they take on the real estate market.

“My best advice to anyone looking to buy or sell is to realize everyone’s situation is different and no one should take a one size fits all approach,” he said. “Buyers who are in the market should take stock of the entire process.”

Two-thirds of buyers already own a home, he added, and they’re often uncertain how they should approach buying a new home. Should they sell their current home? Should they keep that home as a rental? What if they can’t find the right home?

These are the questions Realtors can help answer. “Ask a professional for advice,” Rocz said. “It’s what we do.”