This year looks to be challenging for both buyers and sellers. While home prices are still elevated, and mortgage rates linger at 6%, buyers are paying a premium for a new home and consequently, their expectations are high. First impressions and price will be the key factors in selling a home.

The Washington metro area is still a sellers’ market, but the atmosphere has changed. Despite our housing shortage, homes are sitting a week longer than last year and sales in November 2022 were down 42% from 2021.

Typically in a slowing market, home prices come down. In our area, home prices have decreased slightly month over month, but the median price this November was 1.4% higher than last year. Buyers are getting squeezed by increasing home prices, mortgage rates, and inflation, and their price sensitivity and expectations have gone up. Every upgrade, touch up or renovation that a buyer may be required to do, will influence their decision. Home sellers should be prepared to price correctly and to present a market-ready home.

First impressions are always important, especially in real estate. One of the best investments a seller can make is in curb appeal. A welcoming and tidy entrance is essential. For the exterior, invest in shrubs and landscaping. Make the first steps into your home as appealing as possible — fresh cut flowers, an inviting bench and basket in the entry do make a difference.

Buyers are looking for value, and any indication that a home has not been well maintained may deter interest. The easiest and least expensive preparation a seller can do is to ensure their home is always show-ready. Even small oversites, such as dishes in a sink, can leave a bad impression. Clean all windows, fix leaky faucets, and replace light bulbs with white LEDs to brighten rooms. If possible, give the walls a fresh coat of neutral paint.

Perhaps the most important room in the house is the kitchen. Sellers who are unable to update a kitchen should be prepared to price-reduce accordingly. At the very least sellers should repaint cabinets and replace outdated hardware. Kitchen remodels offer one of the highest returns on investments, so it may be worth replacing counters or appliances.

Both buyers and sellers are frustrated. Sellers regret missing the recent buying frenzy and buyers are longing for the days of low interest rates. Working with an agent who is a strong negotiator and understands the nuances of this market will make the process more efficient on both sides. Please reach out if we can help you buy or sell a home!