We have two different markets as we begin 2018’s housing market. We have the market of homes below $500,000, and we have the market of homes above $500,000.
These are two very different markets right now, and many sellers I talk with are not aware of the dramatic difference between them. Currently, one of these markets is what’s traditionally known as a “buyer’s market” and the other is a “seller’s market.”
Published market reports include every price point. There are no journalistic reports focused on Milwaukee’s luxury market, and I think a deep understanding of the market is important for my clients and the public at large.
Luxury is a little tougher now than it has been in the past. It’s the buyer’s market. Sellers need to be fully prepared to win against other properties for sale in this category and need a good understanding of the market BEFORE they list their homes. That is where your trusted real estate advisor comes in. Here’s some advice: go and see every home you are competing with BEFORE you list your luxury home. The competition is fierce, and in this article I will tell you how to win the buyer.
The first thing to keep in mind…the buyer is shopping in EVERY county. Very rarely in luxury is the buyer choosing community over condition any more, especially transferring couples. CONDITION trumps LOCATION (unless you are on the water) for the first time in my 15-year history of being a broker. Your home must be in move-in ready condition to attract the buyer willing to pay your price. As of this writing, here is where we are in the luxury market (for this article’s purpose I calculated the market $800,000 and above):
Milwaukee County: There are 45 listings $800,000 and above, and only eight accepted offers in the last three months in Milwaukee County. The average number of days on the market is 223 and average price per square foot is $250 off the water. Whitefish Bay for move-in ready condition can be as high as $350 a square foot because of the school district. However, the home has to be in near-perfect condition. We just broke $267 a square foot off the water in Shorewood, and, yes, the home was in near-perfect condition.
Ozaukee County: There are 42 listings $800,000 and above and six accepted offers in Ozaukee County. The average number of days on the market is 233, and average price per square foot is hovering right around $200. Have an oak palace here and you will be sitting on the market for a good long time. Break out the paint brushes in Ozaukee County because buyers are not buying Milwaukee builder-grade oak trim. You may have to paint it to get your best price.
Waukesha County: There are 108 active listings $800,000 and above and 12 accepted offers in Waukesha County. The average number of days on the market is 280 days. On the very high end of this, community homes are sitting for over 1000 days if they are mispriced and not updated. The price per square foot varies depending on if the home has water access or not. Homes without water access should be priced below $1,000,000 throughout Waukesha County in most circumstances. Again, the 90s-built home is looking old. To get your price, you will need to update your finishes and replace carpeting.
So, how do you stay competitive in Milwaukee’s luxury market? Here are the top 20 tips to sell your luxury Milwaukee home:
1. Start with a pre-listing inspection. Repair all items that come up on inspection.
2. Paint, paint, paint. Get rid of the red and brown walls in any room and consult with your broker’s professional stager to get the latest paint trends to help you win over the buyer on your home’s interior aesthetic. No nicks on the trim and no hand prints on the walls.
3. Paint your oak trim. (Milwaukee is now rolling over on this one…if you are in Ozaukee and Waukesha County with anything built in the 1980s and 90s, this will be a strong suggestion.)
4. Replace your old garage door.
5. Fix, paint, and replace all old doors and door handles at the home’s entrances.
6. Refinish all the hardwood floors. (Your dog’s floor scratches are preventing your sale.)
7. Take down all refrigerator art and magnets.
8. Remove your kids’ bedroom posters and wall decals.
9. Make sure every bedroom has fresh linens in today’s latest trend colors.
10. Remove all old furniture, junk, etc.
11. Wash all the windows.
12. Decorate (but don’t over-decorate) your home’s front entrance for maximum curb appeal. Make it welcoming.
13. Make sure your home’s hardware, doorknobs, window latches, etc. are in excellent condition and good working order.
14. Re-carpet areas where there is old and worn carpet. I suggest re-carpeting all areas (where there is already carpet) when selling your home.
15. Chipped and cracked walkways should all be repaired.
16. Re-stain your deck.
17. Landscape the yard and plant flowers.
18. SMELLS – no cooking smells, no Glade Plug-Ins, no artificial smells of any kind. Use dryer sheets in your drawers and start the dryer before every showing to make the home smell like clean clothes.
19. Stage your home with a professional stager.
20. Make sure your top-producing agent is the one present for every showing of your home and NOT the agent’s assistant.
I will continue to blog and educate Milwaukee on the most unreported segment of our market: Milwaukee’s luxury market. Powers Realty Group represents the #1 Luxury Listing Leader of the Top 25 Companies in MLS for three years in a row. You are welcome to call Suzanne Powers with any questions at 414-870-7175. Thank you, Milwaukee!
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