COVID-19 had a profound impact on the housing market. The rise of remote work, and the decreased pressure to commute, has changed the way people think about the type of home they want to live in, with many buyers consistently wanting bigger homes in more suburban area. This, combined with record low interest rates, has created an extraordinarily hot housing market.
Hopkinton is no exception, where the average time on market for a home less than $1.4mm is just a couple of days. Even with rising interest rates cooling the national market, Hopkinton remains seemingly insulated from these trends.
For many people, spring is the time they start thinking about selling their home. A lot of times they think to call a real estate agent in after they’ve finished a project, such as a kitchen remodel, but this is actually not the time. The time to bring a realtor in is when you’re thinking of selling your home, because often a realtor can help the homeowner avoid a costly investment that will not create the return they think it will. Many times a fresh coat of paint and small touches like shelving are enough to make the house ready for sale.
How to hire a Real Estate Agent
Beyond the obvious chemistry fit, there are several questions a homeowner should ask when evaluating who the right agent is for them.
First, is the realtor engaged? Do they like the house, and are they taking notes? Are they asking you the right questions, such as what your fears are about selling the house? A good realtor will listen and work to assuage those concerns.
What type of team does the realtor work with? Do they have an assistant, a transaction coordinator, and a full staff? If so, how much will you be paying them for these services?
When the realtor walks through your house, they’re looking at the condition of it, the size of the space and ultimately the marketability of it.
One of the biggest things people think a realtor will care about (but they don’t) is clutter. Almost all realtors will look past that, and focus on the structural elements, like millwork, hardware, and things that can’t be easily changed. Clutter is no big deal and can be handled during the staging phase. Buyers, however, do care about clutter. A home that is sparkling clean will almost always command more money.
What buyers really care about
For people that buy homes in Hopkinton, the number one thing they care about is how far the home is from the schools. It’s all about the schools, ultimately. Almost every buyer has already seen the house online, and so they come to confirm that it looks like the pictures and then ask how far it is to the schools. Most of the buyers are very involved with their kids. Access to the grocery store and commuter rail is also a factor sometimes, but those are lower on the list.
Commissions are negotiable
Many people think that the amount you pay a realtor to sell your home is fixed, but this is not the case. In fact, in Massachusetts, there is no set rate. The commission is negotiated with your agent, and it’s up to your agent to decide how much of that amount the buyer’s agent will receive as a commission (the split). That information is put in the Agent Remarks section of the MLS listing, which buyers never see. I recommend you ask your agent how much they’re giving the buyer’s agent, because if that percentage is too low it will discourage agents from showing your home to their clients. You want to make sure it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Setting the price
After the initial meeting, the agent should come back to you with what they think your house will sell for. It’s never a bad idea to get multiple perspectives on this, because estimates may vary. A lot depends on how well the agent knows the Hopkinton market, and what similar homes have sold for. Again, you can always negotiate this – remember, it’s your house! Many agents rely on “price per square foot” to suggest a price for the house but rarely rely solely on this metric. You have to walk through the house and understand how the space is used and the finish quality to price it accurately.
Marketing your home
Most of the work to sell a house happens before it even appears online. Your agent should coordinate staging, professional photography, drone photos, and an interactive floorplan. Once all this is set the agent will put it on the MLS, and at this point it will be syndicated to Zillow, Redfin, and many other sites that buyers use to shop for a home. Traditional media, like postcards and print advertising, tend to be ineffective in our market; by the time those end up in front of a buyer the house is already sold.
Open Houses are key, and your realtor should be there, not someone on their staff. Open Houses in Hopkinton are very well attended.
And then the offers roll in…
For most sellers in Hopkinton that price their home at $1.4mm and below, they’ll typically see multiple offers in a few days. The ratio of buyers to sellers is 70%/30%, so this is still a very strong market.
Last weekend a house came on the market, priced at $950,000. Within a few hours it had 5 offers, and the second place offer was $1,057,000 ($107k over asking price) and they did not get it. This house has no source of heat in the master bedroom. This gives you an idea of just how feverish the real estate market remains in Hopkinton.
Jeannine Coburn is a Real Estate agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton. She has been selling real estate in Hopkinton for more than 25 years.