What’s Going on With South Jersey Real Estate? We Asked the Experts.

 

It’s been 2 years since the pandemic disrupted the real estate market, and things are still unbelievably different. If your house is on the market today, it will probably sell for more than you’re asking. And if you’re looking to buy a house, it won’t be easy. In fact, there’s a really good chance you’ll make several offers – crazy good offers, more than you wanted to spend – and you’ll still lose the house to someone else.

We checked in with some top South Jersey producers to learn how to best navigate this unprecedented market.

 

Participants:

Michelle Carite, Compass

Moira Smith, Compass

Val Nunnenkamp, Keller Williams

Anne Koons, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Gina Romano, Romano Realty

Moderator 
Marianne Aleardi, Publisher, SJ Magazine

Is it still a buyers’ market…

Many hot markets are specific communities. There are some folks who request only certain sections of a particular town. So for instance, if there is a little subsection of 300 homes but zero inventory – a seller in that area is sitting on a goldmine.
Val Nunnenkamp

Everything I’m listing is going $40-$50,000 over list price. We’re pricing them to the market, but buyers are just going that much over asking price to get a property they want.
Michelle Carite

It depends on the area you’re looking in and the price range. In Burlington and Camden Counties, anything under $750,000 is going rather quickly. Once you go above that price range, it’s not going as quickly. But there’s also not a lot of inventory above $800,000 in some towns. So when something comes up in those areas, that will sell quickly.
Anne Koons

If you have a seller who is over speculating on the value of their home, then it sits a little bit longer. If you have someone who listens to their agent, prices it properly, and it’s in great condition, then you’re going to get multiple offers.
Moira Smith

I just got $50,000 over asking price with 4 or 5 offers in 48 hours. So we’re definitely still seeing that inventory is extremely low in Gloucester and Salem Counties. The top end of our high-end market is about $1.2 million, and those properties are also selling within a week.
Gina Romano

 

The benefits of working with an agent…

Everyone thinks they can sell their home themselves, but you need to know the business and have the experience behind you. Sellers sometimes set unrealistic price points, and they don’t know if they have a qualified buyer. I can come in and represent you properly.
Michelle Carite

I took someone to 3 open houses this past weekend, and I couldn’t get over the number of buyers there who weren’t working with a realtor. I don’t think they knew enough to see what’s in the house or what they should be looking at. They’re missing out on a lot, because they don’t realize what one house has over another house. I was talking to my client about certain things in the house, and the next thing I knew, there were 5 people standing around me, listening.
Anne Koons

I haven’t really seen too many “for sale by owner” homes in this area, but in this sellers’ market, I can’t see how a homeowner would manage the extreme number of people coming through their home. We have systems so we know if a buyer is qualified. You also need to navigate through multiple bids. People can get angry, disappointed, frustrated – you need that middleman. I like to think of myself as an advisor and an educator.
Gina Romano

It’s beneficial to have a hyper-local agent. I sell in Sea Isle. I know every single street. I know where the beaches are, where the surfing beaches are, where the raft beaches are. I have multigenerational buyers who have certain needs, and I can help because I know the ins and outs of this area. A lot of times clients are buying an investment property, and they’re going to rely on me for rental income. Or they’re 2 hours away, and they call me because they need to know if a storm did anything to their home – or maybe they think they left the door unlocked and they’re asking me to check.
Moira Smith

It’s important to have an agent represent you in a strong sellers’ market, because you need an agent that has fantastic negotiation skills. They can write your offer correctly to make it look more prominent. And they keep you abreast of things that come on the market that minute, not 2 days after it’s been listed.
Val Nunnenkamp

 

Changes Covid brought…

For the market at the Jersey Shore, the mindset of the buyer and seller changed completely. The Shore was the only place they could go to get away from their primary home. It’s a quick drive – it’s a tank of gas. So people who were thinking about selling, they started falling in love with their home and using it more. I don’t think that mindset will ever go away. Because people will remember they were able to go to their beach house during this time, and they enjoyed it tremendously.
Moira Smith

Covid killed open houses for 12-14 months. It also stopped brokers’ luncheons, where we meet our fellow agents. Even home inspections were very limited. So we worked smart. We did virtual open houses. We created more excitement on our social media page to attract people to the inventory. Miraculously, during this time of what we thought was a collapse, it got busier. Folks started migrating. They all wanted to bail out of the city, and that caused our South Jersey market to heat up.
Val Nunnenkamp

I’m social, so I like to be in an office environment – that motivates me. I had to adjust to that, and I learned how to work from home much better. But business has been crazy. It’s nonstop. I’ve been through other cycles, but not like this one.
Michelle Carite

The first time I went to a settlement when this first hit back in March 2020, I sat in a car and my buyers sat next to me in a different car. I feel like that’s not right, even today. When someone is buying probably the most expensive thing they’ll ever buy in their lifetime, the relationship you have with them, the time you spend with them, is important.
Anne Koons

Best tip for buying a home…

Now more than ever, you need an advisor to help you navigate through what’s happening in the market right now.
Gina Romano

Have your ducks in a row. If you’re a buyer, have your pre-approval ready. And be prepared for a bidding war. Know what’s the most you would pay for that property. Don’t take days to digest it. Be ready to give your best offer the day you see the home.
Val Nunnenkamp

Make the strongest offer you can right away. Some buyers think they’ll make an offer and then have an opportunity to raise the price. But some sellers aren’t asking for a highest and best offer. I just saw that, where a seller went with the highest offer he had because he didn’t want the process to go on forever.
Michelle Carite

 

What to look for when you’re touring a house…

Because we do this all the time, we see things a lot quicker than a buyer does. I tell them to really read the MLS listing on the house and look at the pictures, so when they come in, they’re not green to everything. I try to point out as many features or non-features, so when they make a decision, they can make an intelligent decision.
Anne Koons

I suggest clients have a notebook with them so they can take notes. If it’s not an open house, you might have 15 minutes to go through, and then you’re going to put in an offer on one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. It can be a lot, but I’m there to point out what’s important, what might be an issue.
Gina Romano

For me, it’s my communication with my buyers. I could spend 3 hours with my buyers on the beach or on a boat to learn everything I need to know about them. So when we do go into a home, I’ve prepped them. I’ve probably been in that house once or twice. I may have rented that house. I know the house inside out. So it’s not so much the questions they’re asking, but how much we’re communicating.
Moira Smith

 

What buyers want in their new homes…

Buyers want everything done with an HGTV designer look.
Moira Smith

The 3 things I’m hearing about the most: hot kitchens, open layouts and bathrooms already done.
Val Nunnenkamp

White subway tile and LVP (luxury vinyl plank) flooring – everyone wants it.
Gina Romano

My clients want the outdoor living space – every one of them.
Michelle Carite

The home office is very important, because a lot of people still are working from home.
Anne Koons

 

What makes South Jersey a great place to live…

We’re just an hour – either way – to get to the beach at the Jersey Shore or into the city of Philadelphia.
Michelle Carite

In Gloucester and Salem counties, we are close to the Shore and Philadelphia, but we also have farmland, so we get to enjoy the beautiful country living.
Gina Romano

We have the best beaches in the world. And in Sea Isle, we have really low taxes!
Moira Smith 

 

May 2022
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