The Cambrian

Vicki Clift: Some bright spots in challenging real estate market

Since this isn’t the ideal time to sell a home, I contacted Realtor Becky Adams for some insight on successful selling despite the gloom. Adams, a broker- associate with Coldwell Banker Don Bricker Real Estate, Inc. in Cambria, has been the office’s top producer since 1996. Asked to summarize today’s real estate market in one word, she replied “challenging.”

“In general, it's a buyers’ market, as home values have not held up well. In 2009 only 110 homes and 26 lots sold, according to Scenic Coast Association of Realtors. Another factor is that foreclosure sales have lowered comparable sales prices, causing appraisers to downgrade home evaluations.”

The good news, Adams says, is that property listings are down 20 percent from last June. Sales are finally up 50 percent, and niche buyers abound. Market niches include young professionals seeking a better house, or a second home. Another is investors in vacation rentals, which can command up to $30,000 per year, with pet-friendly homes emerging as a hot rental market.

And, a surprising new niche is the desire to live near East or West village. Another is buyers who plan to retire in several years, and who are snapping up bargains to rent out in the meantime. A further niche is those planning to live in their home now, avoiding properties requiring renovation. Sellers willing to give their houses a minor facelift; say, with new carpeting and paint, can enjoy an edge here.

The most critical niche is aging locals seeking a smaller home, especially a mid-sized, single-story one. Adams says that there are never enough of these on the market.

Finally, some niche buyers can’t obtain desirable mortgages. Sellers willing to finance some of the purchase price, and those amenable to leasing with an option to buy at today’s price, have the advantage.

Beyond capitalizing on such niche buyers, Adams maintains that sellers need a Realtor willing to work diligently during hard times. Beyond traditional marketing tactics such as advertising locally and hosting open houses, she said the listing agent should advertise in newspapers like the Los Angeles Times that offer vast Internet exposure, too.

She adds that Realtors also need their own Web sites encompassing home floor plans and virtual tours that simulate a walk-through. Tapping into such Web sites as Twitter, Trulia, Facebook, YouTube and Craigslist also offer competitive advantages; as does an enhanced listing on Realtor.com,which even provides shoppers with local sales data.

Furthermore, Adams reveals, an aggressive agent may suggest professional staging, which entails rearranging the home’s furniture and accessories for the greatest eye appeal. Finally, once a prospective buyer is snagged, an effective Realtor must not be afraid to negotiate boldly on the client’s behalf.

Meanwhile, how does Becky Adams view the future? “First, we need market stability. But no matter how long that takes, nothing ever stays the same. Financial goals can be attained even in today’s real estate market.”

E-mail Cambria resident, business writer and Chamber of Commerce member Vicki Clift at vlclift@charter.net.

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