Written by Don Ratzlaff Wednesday, 25 July 2007 07:03
If it seems an inordinate number of houses are for sale in Hillsboro these days, you’re right. A street-by-street survey of the community last week revealed 50 yard signs around town.
Local real-estate agents agree the number is unusually high.
“When we moved to town nine or 10 years ago, we had, for the size of house we needed, three or four to choose from,” said Becky Nuss of Real Estate Specialists.
“This year, if someone moves to town, you have five houses to look at just at the $120,000 to $145,000 range. You have so much more selection.”
Houses for sale in Hillsboro range in price from $15,000 to a high of $340,000. The listings and the asking price can be viewed on the Web at realtor.com.
The number of houses for sale has made the market favorable for buyers, but sales have been slow in recent weeks.
“Spring and early summer are the best (times of the year for house sales locally),” Nuss said. “We can always see when a lot of people in the area go on vacation because one week will be busy and the next week will be slow.
“This year it was right after the Fourth of July—everything slowed down as far as our houses that were being shown.”
Reasons for the glut
Local brokers say more homes are on the market this year in part because of the number of people who have been selling their homes and moving into retirement apartments or nursing homes.
“I know there’s been more people this year, it seems, who have been retiring,” said Delores Dalke of the Real Estate Center. “That’s kind of a normal thing every year, but maybe there’s been more this year than in the past.”
Nuss estimates that half of the homes currently for sale fall into that category.
“The part I don’t like to see is at least 10 (cases) are younger people leaving town for whatever reasons,” Nuss added. “But on the other hand, we’re bringing in some younger couples that either will have kids or already have young kids. I love to see that, but I hate to see young people leaving town.”
Glenn Thiessen, who will become owner of Fast Realty Aug. 1, said he’s seeing economic hardships as the reason for some houses being on the market.
“For one reason or another, people have had to get out of their house because of foreclosure or have overextended themselves,” he said. “I’m seeing some of that.”
Dalke said 85 percent of the homes being sold in town are being purchased from out-of-town buyers—which is both good news and bad news for the local market.
“I think it speaks very well for Hillsboro in that were are attracting people,” she said. “But people in Hillsboro seem less likely to be moving up compared to what they have in the past.
“We need to determine why Hillsboro people aren’t moving up.”
Tips for sellers
Local brokers offered tips for people who are thinking about putting their house on the local market these days.
Nuss said curb appeal is still No. 1 on her list.
“If (a potential buyer) doesn’t like it when they drive by, they’re not going to stop—or at least you have to work a lot harder to get them to stop,” she said. “Things need to look warm and inviting.”
The house itself needs to be in good repair, inside and out.
“Maintain, maintain, maintain,” Thiessen cited as his No. 1 piece of advice. “Don’t wait until you’re ready to sell. You should be maintaining your house on a regular basis. If the roof leaks, fix it. If the old furnace is just barely hanging on, put a new furnace in.
“If people walk in and see a lot of cracks (in the walls), obviously the foundation is an issue,” he added. “Or if they go into the basement and it smells like mold, they’re going to walk away from it.
“And get rid of the pets—if it smells like animals, people will walk in the front door and turn around and walk back out.”
Thiessen said if homeowners are short on cash to make major upgrades, the minimum strategy would be a can or two of paint.
“That’s the cheapest thing, and people can usually do that themselves,” he said. “(Buyers) can usually overlook carpet, cheap vinyl countertops and that kind of thing—if the house is painted and the cracks are repaired.”
Another key factor is pricing the house strategically.
“I would definitely have a Realtor do a market analysis, which compares the house to other houses that have sold that are similar are on the market,” said Dalke, echoing the sentiment of other agents. “Then I would listen to what they say and price it accordingly. They are the professionals; they do know what the market is doing.”
Pricing can make all the difference between a relatively quick sale or a long wait.
“I tell people that if you’re house doesn’t sell in the first three weeks, you need to be figuring it’s going to be on the market for at least six months,” Dalke said.
Nuss said she’d extend that initial timeframe for a sale to as long as 45 days, but if nothing is happening by that time, “that price needs to come down—unless you feel you’ve priced it at a very good starting price and you’re not pressed to sell it.
“But if you’re needing to sell and you don’t have something going on in 30 to 45 days, it just has to be reduced.”
Thiessen said checking with the county appraiser is one step toward setting a starting price for the house.
“They’re doing a lot better job (of valuing property closer to its market value),” he said. “Check the appraisal and find a Realtor you know and trust get a sense of what your house might sell for on the market.”
Tips for buyers
Local agents agree the first step for a potential buyer is to know what they can afford to buy.
“You need to start by talking to several lenders,” Nuss said. “Shop around. Some may have higher rates, but lower costs.
Thiessen recommended finding a bank that makes you feel comfortable.
“All the banks in Hillsboro do a great job of being competitive,” he said, “so that way you’re working with an individual you know. Stay away from Internet and TV mortgage brokers. They have a lot of hidden costs and you end up paying more.”
Thiessen also said buyers need to be aware how their credit record can affect their ability to borrow money for a house.
“Pay those bills,” he said. “I’ve had some people who walked away from a car payment 10 years ago and just assumed it had ‘disappeared’ because they didn’t get billed for it. But it’s still there. Now they can’t get a loan because of that $1,000 they owe on a car they don’t have anymore.”
Once you know what you can afford to pay for a house, do your homework about the local market, agents agreed.
“I would definitely look at what all is available and do my own market analysis,” Dalke said. “I believe a lot of buyers are doing that.
“I know a lot of sellers believe that someone will come in from out of town and pay them a premium,” she added. “Most buyers do not do that because they have looked at the market and they already know what it is.”
Finally, Nuss added, don’t rush into a deal.
“Give yourself time,” she said. “If you have to move in three weeks, don’t be afraid to make an offer and negotiate a price. People in this area expect to negotiate.”