There’s no way it will sell for that much…. But then it did. Today I have an interview with a local real estate agent about a property that recently commanded easily about $100,000 more than it looked like it could have on paper. I hope you enjoy this Q&A with Ted DeFazio and my takeaways below. I’d love to hear your take in the comments. Any thoughts?
Ryan: On paper it looked like this property on Clear Circle was going to sell for way less, right? What do you think happened to get the price so much higher?
Ted: I thought the listing price was optimistic from the start. I even fielded emails from other agents asking how I came up with the price and a couple “good luck, you’ll need it” text messages. I think it was the perfect storm of a turn-key property in a low-inventory market. Added to that, it was a mid century modern (which some thought was bastardized by the previous remodel), had a pool (Bay Area and LA people think they will melt without one), and a somewhat walkable location on the southern end of Carmichael. I know a few buyers who mapped out the distance to Whole Foods and the American River Parkway.
Ryan: I get how agents were texting you “good luck” because based on two previous sales it looks like this one easily closed $100-125K+ above where it theoretically would have been able to.
NOTE: The black dots are the subject property sales through the years compared to yellow dots which are properties of similar size. As you can see the most recent sale at $815,000 looks to have gone well above the historic trend. By the way, the subject was remodeled during each of these sales.
Ryan: Are you seeing buyers pay more for unique properties throughout the market? Or is this just in certain price ranges?
Ted: There is another one that comes to mind in Fair Oaks that recently sold in Curragh Downs. Same situation. Mid century vibes and a cul-de-sac lot backing to a greenbelt. I once again thought the listing price was optimistic but every offer was above asking. The seller purchased the home less than a year ago for over $200K less and didn’t really do much as far as remodeling goes. These were both in the $700-800K range. Another I can think of was recently sold on Garfield in Carmichael. I fielded emails and texts from agents asking where the price came from. I have two others in the $500-600K range which are both in contract at nearly 10% above asking.
Ryan: How do you know if something is an outlier able to break away from the price trend?
Ted: The Clear Circle house, Canonero Ct and Garfield Ave properties all shared the unique architectural design theme. I think that is what truly sets these homes apart giving them the potential to be outliers. Check out Bonny Knoll in Roseville. The seller knew it was an outlier and priced it accordingly. I think that’s the constant. As agents and appraisers, we often think we know better. I responded to an email questioning value by saying: I’m going to let it ride and see what happens.
Ryan: What are you seeing happen with modern and mid-century modern home appeal during the pandemic?
Ted: I think these types of properties command a higher price point than that of the traditional Mediterranean or typical ranch home down the street. The Bay Area and LA types tend to appreciate these design styles more than the average Sacramento resident. With the influx of these buyers, we are seeing premiums added to the more modern properties. So I think it has further added to the delta between typical and unique homes.
Ryan: What sort of advice would you give to buyers right now?
Ted: It’s hard out there. The offers stack up and the sellers get overwhelmed. The common theme I am seeing with the winning offer is the high offer price and a removal of the appraisal contingency. This puts buyers who aren’t flush with cash in a tough spot. I am hearing buyers are thinking that the market is overpriced. I often tell them that I stopped commenting on the market. I thought it was overpriced back in 2016. What do I know? Buying in this market is tough but being able to sell helps neutralize the offset.
Ryan: Any advice for sellers?
Ted: You are in the driver’s seat. If you have considered selling or making a move, there is no time like now. What an opportunity.
Ryan: Anything else to add?
Ted: I am seeing a divergent trend of agents either sharing what the other offers are or not. I find this market as difficult as I have ever seen to be in the buyer’s shoes. Add to it the listing agent not sharing what other offers are on the table makes it even harder to do our jobs. I ask my sellers if they are okay with me sharing the current offer terms with the other agents (as long as there isn’t a NDA) and they are usually okay because they understand that it will most likely get them more money in the end. The shot in the dark offer mentality / situation is aggravating and makes me not even want to submit an offer in certain cases. I have seen some seller instructions added to listings of some brokerages and wonder if they are truly acting in the best interest of the seller.
Ryan: Thanks Ted. I appreciate your time and insight. Everyone, please visit Ted’s website and let us know what you are seeing out there.
NOTE: Once in a while I do a Q&A with a local professional. This is never a paid spot and it’s not done to highlight one person either. It’s only when something has piqued my curiosity and contributes to discussion.
——————— some quick thoughts ———————
QUICK TAKEAWAYS from an appraiser’s perspective:
1) Your opinion vs the market: It doesn’t matter what any of us think about a property. As Ted said above, quite a few people looked at Clear Circle and thought the remodel destroyed the character of the home, but the resale market blatantly favored this property despite what purists thought. There were four offers when priced at $749,000. This is a good reminder in the valuation space to divorce ourselves from personal opinions and focus on one question. What does the market think?
2) The previous sale: Sometimes a previous sale can be really useful because it helps us understand how a property has fit into the market. But in other cases we need to completely throw out a previous sale because the market is simply different today (or maybe the prior sale sold too high or low). This is exactly why we have to be careful to give the current market and current comps the most weight while not getting too hung up on a previous sale (even though at times a previous sale can provide really helpful context). This is especially true today where the higher-end market has come alive throughout the country, so what buyers are willing to pay right now could simply be a detour from buyer behavior a few years ago.
3) The pandemic x-factor: Buyers hunting for homes these days are willing to pay extra for something architectural distinct. Additionally, buyers are paying premiums for homes with stellar views and backyard amenities. The idea is people know what it’s like to spend more time at home now, so they seem more sensitive to location as well as what’s actually in the backyard (including the view).
4) Paying way too much: There are situations today where buyers are obviously paying way above normal. Let me be clear. I’m not saying this sale above represented market value at $815,000. I’m also not saying it didn’t. I’ll let you be the judge. I’m just saying buyers in general throughout the market are paying premiums for special properties right now. But backing up there is no mistaking there are quite a few situations where buyers are obviously paying well beyond a reasonable value and the appraisal rightly should be coming in lower.
5) Sellers, don’t price to an outlier: Sellers, this market feels totally lopsided, but buyers can still sniff out an overpriced home. My advice? Be realistic about your house and DO NOT price according to an outlier example like the one in this post. Remember, not everything is getting 20 offers and bid up $100,000. In fact, only 2.8% of all sales last month had twenty offers or more. This is actually a higher than typical number, but it’s important to realize this figure is nowhere near half the market like some real estate narratives might suggest.
Thanks for being here.
Questions: What are you seeing out there relating to modern homes or other “special” properties? Any stories to share? I’d love to hear your take.