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A Double Header!

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Thursday August 7, 2014:  This report is a double header!

First, the 2nd quarter 2014 median sale price for Salt Lake County single family homes was $255,000. That’s up 2% from 2nd quarter 2013 and up 3.7% from 1st quarter 2014. However, the number of homes sold declined by 9% when compared to this same time last year.  There’s more on that below, but right now I want to talk about something else.

On Monday morning I was in my office starting to write this month’s SLC Homes News and my mobile phone rings.  It’s a friend of a friend that’s thinking about selling her home.  We talked for a few minutes about what her plan is, and then picked a time to meet at her home.  This phone call got me thinking about what happens from that first call to actually listing a home for sale.  It can take anywhere from a week or two, to a couple months or more to get the home on the market.

Sometimes the seller is looking for their new home first. Another big part of what’s going on during that time is preparing their home for sale.  When I make suggestions for preparing a home for sale, I look for ways we can take what’s already there and improve it without spending a lot of money.

All homes make a first impression and we call that curb appeal.  The front of the house, the roof, the landscaping, the front door and the porch are the first things a buyer sees when they pull up in front of a home.  As long as the roof has some useful life in it, improvements to curb appeal can be made relatively inexpensively.

  • Painting the front door, mailbox, trim and fence cleans a place up.
  • Landscaping improvements like pulling weeds, mowing, edging, watering and planting are also inexpensive ways to improve curb appeal.

Another impression happens inside the home.  The main components of most rooms are the walls, the trim, flooring, light fixtures, switch plate covers, windows and window coverings.  These are all areas that can be improved to make the home more appealing for low relative cost.

  • Dated or faded colors can be made fresh with paint.  Picking the right color is an important part of the painting process.  The wrong color can make it worse.
  • Broken or faded light switch and plug plate covers are easy to replace.
  • Broken and dated light fixtures can sometimes be painted or replaced.
  • Carpets can be cleaned and hardwood floors under carpet can be exposed.
  • Cracked window panes can be reglazed and dirty windows can be washed.
  • Dirty, broken or faded window coverings can be cleaned or replaced.
  • A dirty house can be deep cleaned to make it feel and smell fresh.

Kitchens and baths are areas that can be quite expensive to make major changes to.  Some inexpensive changes for these areas include:

  • Replacing old, damaged or dated faucets.
  • Dated or damaged sinks and vanities can be replaced.
  • Dated or damaged flooring can be replaced.
  • Cabinet and drawer handles can be updated.
  • Bathtubs can be reglazed in place at much less cost than a new tub.
  • Cabinets can be painted, but this can be very time consuming.
  • A deep cleaning is always an inexpensive winner.

Mechanical systems such as the roof, windows, electrical, plumbing, furnace and air conditioner can add or subtract value from a home and should be working properly and repaired if not.  I rarely recommend these items be replaced prior to a sale, because the replacement cost is more than the value they add to a home.  It’s better to adjust the price down for dated mechanical systems that are functional.

Staging, decorating, depersonalizing, decluttering and organizing is big part of the process too and is very subjective.  This is a topic for another time.

I have many contractors and service providers that I can recommend to help a seller prepare their home for sale from window washers to painters.

Regarding the 2nd quarter 2014 results for single family home sales in Salt Lake County, the news is somewhat positive.  The median sold price for a single family home in Salt Lake County was at $255,000 which is  2.0% higher than it was at the end of the 2nd quarter 2013 when it was at $250,000 and 3.7% higher than it was at the end of 1st quarter 2014 when it was at $246,000. It’s also equal to the peak of $255,000 at the end of 3rd quarter 2013.

However, the number of homes sold decreased in the 2nd quarter of 2014 when compared to the 2nd quarter 2013, from 3,587 to 3,284 homes sold.  That’s 9.2%.  This partially explains the modest increase in the median home price compared to the more robust increases of 2012 and 2013.

The Home Sales Graph below goes all the way back to 1st quarter 2011.  The lines on the chart are:

  • Blue line is the Median Sold Price for a single family home in SL County
  • Green line is the Total Number of Homes Listed
  • Red line is the Total Number of Homes Sold

For now, our market has flattened overall, but every neighborhood and price range is different.  There is high inventory relative to the number of homes selling in some areas and there is low inventory in others.  This is just the big picture.

I personally believe that these ebbs and flows are part of a healthy market.  We had six quarters of increasing home values in a row from January 2012 to September 2013, and we are holding onto those gains.

If you found this article interesting and would like to keep up to date with the Salt Lake County housing real estate market, I post a couple times a week on my SLC Homes Facebook page which is at:

https://www.facebook.com/SLCHomesNews

Thanks!

Kev

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