R5Realty News and Notes

Market Snapshots and Commentary on Value and Quality of life along the former Main Line of the Pennsylvania Rail Road, up until recently called the R5 Line, and now officially known as the Paoli /Thorndale line. R5Realty runs from Center City Philadelphia through the walkable, Westward outlying Towns & Townships.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Too Few Lower Merion Houses For Sale in 2013 Creates Opportunity For Prepared Sellers

Wynnewood, 525k: 11 Days to sell in Feb.   
Two observation regarding the early days of the Spring 2013 housing market in Lower Merion and the Mainline area...

1) Available "For Sale" inventory is very low in relation to demand from buyers. All the top agents in R5Realty.com's Prudential office in Haverford Station can be heard speaking with exasperation about the lack of listings available to show our qualified buyers. "There's a sweet spot right now under one million, where there is almost nothing on the market," said Lower Merion's top veteran agent,  speaking to a seller uncertain whether to market now or wait for spring to bloom.

 Our review of market stats indicates the amount of new listings in 2013 is nearly on par with the first few weeks of 2011 and 2012.  What's different is that homes are selling at a somewhat faster clip, for a slightly higher percentage of list price. And the volume and determination of 2013 buyers is significantly  greater than in past seasons. Trend/MLS, which serves as the real estate professionals' information clearinghouse  in the Philadelphia area, reports a 34% increase in online appointment/showing requests for Jan. 2013 versus Jan. 2012.

(2:13)  Video Update on Early 2013 Local Market Volume  Source: Trend MLS via Youtube

2) Homes in decent to good condition that are priced in accordance with reasonable market value are selling fast - within days and sometimes within hours. We attribute this to the relative dearth of new listings versus the amount of actively-shopping buyers.  In the recent one week period, Feb 13-20, a total of 4 new houses - with at least 3 bedrooms and priced between $250,000-$400,000, were listed for sale in Lower Merion Township. Each of these newly listed homes was under agreement for sale within days - two lasted less than 48 hours on market.  These homes included one in Bryn Mawr at 30 Thomas Ave, and  three in Wynnewood: 505 Glen Arbor, 1403 Remington and 233 Harrogate.

New Homeowner (left) had Buyer's Agent 
From a buyer's perspective, the upshot is that the competition this spring for well-priced Lower Merion houses is stiff and the importance of developing a relationship with an active, focused, locally based Mainline-area buyer's agent is essential toward swiftly locating and getting in to see new listings as soon as they are available. Your dedicated buyers' agent will also get you positioned properly in terms of the documentation required to have your offer go to top of the list and get primary consideration. Perhaps best of all, quality buyers agents (we are among many, many good ones!) like Prudential R5Realty.com's Ted and Heather Gross, perform all services will no obligation or fee, as it is - nearly universally - the sellers who provide any and all buyers' brokerage compensation,

From a sellers' perspective, supply and demand is in your favor right now. There is a healthy audience of buyers and few quality listings from which to choose. If you took our advice from the November edition of R5Realty.com News & Notes and made the preparations to get your home ready for market in mid-to-late February, you have two options right now:

With so few homes for sale, you can test the market with a higher-end list price with relative security  that buyers and agents will not ignore you for being perceived as overpriced.  It's been a buyers market for so long, and prices can only rise incrementally, so finding a buyer to pay significantly above market value is doubtful. But you might get lucky and  you can know you've at least tested and attempted to capture the highest price. With March and April still ahead, you still have time to reduce and sell for a good price to folks who looked at you longingly in February, albeit with insufficient buying power or the will to pay above market value.

Fish ponder life  out of water but won't overpay for a house.
The other option - if your house is ready to show and put its best foot forward right now - is to price right at, or just a hair below market value. Well-informed buyers will absolutely pay list price for a quality, fairly-priced property. And with so little to choose from now, you could see your home sell within days or hours after hitting the market. Keeping your home in show-ready condition and accommodating viewing requests gets old fast (really!), and a rapid sale not only keeps your sanity, but it allows you time to turn your focus to finding a new home while the home-shopping season is still early. Finally - and best of all - bidding wars and multiple offers absolutely still do happen. Presenting your home with style and pricing it sharply can absolutely trigger multiple offers and bids that will take final sale price above asking and to the highest ends of market values.

Whatever the pricing strategy, it's important not to rush your home to market before it's ready. Buyers want and demand value. And while eager, they are hardly desperate. If your home is ready for market right now, hallelujah, it's a great time to list. If not, talk to your agent or contact us at Prudential R5Realty.com, 610.348.7972, and we can help you put your best foot forward to maximize value when the time is right.

January and February 2013 Homes Sales Transactions in Lower Merion ($100k to 1 Million)

Merion Single: Asked 625k, got 637,000.
Valley View Rd. in Merion Station is a delightful haven of 2000sf, Tudor-style twin homes, puntcuated by several single-family homes at the North end of the block, including the pictured house at 506 Valley View Rd.
The current market value for the twins is about $400,000, but this recently built Single (2004) -with about 3,100 square feet of living space - was listed for $625,000. It settled in mid-January for $637,000 and was actively on market for just eight days. Valley View Rd. is sublimely situated just several short blocks walk to Merion Elementary school and a brief five-minute stroll to downtown Narberth's shops, restaurants and transit.

  Home Sales in Lower Merion Township during January and February, Priced Under 1 Million

Sold ForStreet AddressTownBedsBathsSq Ft.Orig List
$95,000 210 Greenfield AveArdmore311,472$119,900
$257,000 153 Grandview RdArdmore41.11,686$249,000
$485,000 55 Llanfair CirArdmore42.12,699$550,000
$210,305 153 Jones StBalaCynwyd31.11,596$230,000
$335,000 535 Cynwyd CirBalaCynwyd321,835$350,000
$360,000 710 Harvard RdBalaCynwyd32.11,745$374,900
$375,000 75 Academy RdBalaCynwyd31.11,762$389,000
$397,000 125 Clwyd RdBalaCynwyd43.13,435$398,000
$432,500 158 Jennifer LnBalaCynwyd32.12,244$475,000
$457,500 27 Aberdale RdBalaCynwyd43.13025$499,000
$600,000 612 Cambridge RdBalaCynwyd42.23,372$629,000
$755,000 106 Pennsylvania Bryn Mawr32.13,257$755,000
$335,000 1905 Lafayette RdGladwyne42.12,634$354,900
$450,000 1033 Black RockGladwyne22.12,048$450,000
$620,000 1009 Black Rock Gladwyne52.12,463$675,000
$732,500 370 Youngsford PlGladwyne32.12,298$739,000
$865,000 650 Merion Sq. RdGladwyne45.14,319$899,000
$430,000 415 W Lancaster 3Haverford33.11,995$499,000
$900,000 114 Avon RdHaverford54.24,800$969,900
$257,000 873 Beechwood RdHavertown321,632$265,000
$255,000 227 Upland RdMerion42.11,804$299,000
$420,000 454 W Levering MillMerion32.22,489$439,500
$436,000 511 Prescott RdMerion32.22,580$439,900
$540,000 513 Mercer RdMerion42.22,482$579,000
$541,000 510 Latmer RdMerion52.12,968$559,000
$635,000 468 N Highland AveMerion53.13,761$639,000
$637,500 506 Valley View RdMerion42.13,143$625,000
$170,000 516 Homewood AveNarberth31978$209,000
$330,000 3 Langdon LnNarberth42.12,200$349,000
$605,000 813 Larkspur LnPenn Valley56.15,159$749,000
$640,000 408 Helen CirPenn Valley43.13,776$699,000
$420,000 2005 County Line Villanova52.22,576$449,990
$700,000 726 Mount Moro Villanova455,634$750,000
$200,000 1480 Braddock LnWynnewood31.11,176$209,000
$315,000 528 Twin Oaks DrWynnewood421,423$319,000
$355,000 26 Overbrook PkwyWynnewood42.12,076$399,000
$587,500 1205 Wyngate RdWynnewood43.13,085$589,700
$610,000 1322 Wyngate RdWynnewood64.22701$664,000
$630,000 1320 Medford RdWynnewood42.12,732$670,000
$645,000 469 Clothier RdWynnewood42.12,454$659,000

Mainline Home-For-Sale Tales: Happy Explorations of the Higher End of Market Value and Beyond

Lovely Landscaped Ranch is Hypothetical Sellers' Fictional Home
Mr. & Mrs. Hypothetical Mainline-Area Sellers have decided to list their home for sale with Prudential & R5Realty.com agents, Ted Gross and Heather Gross. Through analysis of recent comparable sales, current inventory, and awareness of the current market climate, it is evident the likely perceived market value of their home by potential buyers, buyers' agents and appraisers/lenders is about $475,000 - give or take a couple percentage points.

To affect a sale in a reasonable amount of time, skipping the drudgery of fruitless showings, price reductions, and life lived in limbo, prevailing wisdom indicates the Sellers adopt a list price of $500,000.. Since a vast majority of quality Mainline-area homes in this price range will sell at about a 5% discount to list price, a $500,000 list sets up a logical bridge to the target market value of $475,000, while still giving Sellers the opportunity to attract a premium price over market value.

In this case; however, the Sellers are a bit unconventional. They've got the means, patience and endurance to put a high bounty on their home. While a smooth path to victory here is unlikely given the current economy and housing market, there are potential scenarios where one can see the Sellers' overpricing strategy prevail as a winning gambit.

If $500,000 is conventional widsom's starting Asking price, a number from $525,000 to $549,000 enters the range of overpricing. For sake of argument lets say, they the Sellers settle on $539,000, which addresses the $525,000 that their neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. R.E. Bubble, got for their identical home in the long-gone boom days of 2006.

In a best-case scenario, the Sellers might strike a deal  with the refined buyer,  Mr. I. Overpay, who is an out-of-towner, wrapped in cash and strapped for time. He loves the house and doesn't have the time, interest, or energy to shop for a more competitive deal, and he settles on a purchase price of $535,000, which is even more than the Bubbles got in the hey-day... The Sellers celebrate their saviness and willingness to explore the highest possible returns. They are fortunate Mr. Overpay has a large cash position, since a lender-ordered appraisal will likely be in the $500,000 range at best and this would likely throw a hefty wrench in the deal.

Always Counter: Even when Horrified.
Another potentially upbeat outcome to aadopting a high list price - and one which is more likely than the lottery-esque best case scenario above-  sees  the Sellers again going with the leave-nothing-on-the-table $539,000 ask figure. While this intimidating list price discourages some buyers from the usual 5-10% below market-value opening-offer, Mrs. Letts C. Whatapens does present a very-fair offer of $479,000. At first-glance, the Sellers are horrified and insulted, but they take their agents' advice and make a counter-offer that includes a small reduction down to $530,000... Mrs. Whatapens is disappointed but at least the Sellers' move has opened a dialogue and an opportunity to negotiate.

Over the next month, Mrs. Whatapens comes up a bit in her offer amount. Meanwhile, the home remains on the market at the high list-price and attracts (as-to-be expected) few quality showings and no other offers. Then the Sellers and their agent learn that another home in the neighborhood is soon-to-be-listed for a non-astronomical price, say $499,000. At this point, Mrs. Whatapens' very generous offer of $490,000 (significantly above the pre-determined market value of $475,000) is starting to look like a bird-in-hand versus none in the bush. The Sellers lower their demand to $500,000 and an agreement is struck at $495,000.

Bottom line, is that by planting their price tag at the high-water mark from the get-go, the Sellers left themselves plenty of room to appear generous in negotiations, and they leveraged and lured the Buyer into a gravitational pull toward the uppper-spectrum of market value. Better yet, the Sellers were not left wondering or with regrets at what might have happened if they had explored a very high list price. In this case, aiming high didn't produce the fantasy scenario of a rabid Mr. Overpay, but it still produced the very desirable outcome of a higher than expected sale price.

 Utley: Has cash but too practical to overpay 
Both of these examples fall into the category of Best Case Scenarios. The Ovepaying cash-buyer is pretty much a fantasy, and the buyer who stretches significantly upward is quite uncommon these days. Typically, in today's housing market, pricing your house significantly above market value will attract a Cold Shoulder from buyers,which translates into an extended stay on market and showing requests that are ultimately a nuisance as they have little hope of generating an offer toward a daunting list price. More unfortunately, the house can become tired and stale in the eyes of prospective buyers and agents. The new kid on the block always has more luster than the been-there, done-that listing.

Nevertheless, there is something to be said for letting Buyer Indifference, rather than self-limitation, speak to the potential folly of overpricing a home. At least, if you put the price out there and get no good reply, you aren't left with regrets. And, of course, you might hit upon a dream buyer like a Mr. Overpay or Mrs. Reach Upwards... However, the typical scenario is that overpriced homes often linger and languish on market, ultimately attracting a lower price and higher degree of frustration than they would have if originally priced sharply.

Early 2013 Home Transactions in Delaware County's Haverford and Radnor Townships Under $800,000

Foreclosure on Idyllic Biddulph Rd. near Wayne settled Jan. 15.
Tucked behind the Radnor Corporate Center and Harford (Off-the-leash) dog park is understated Biddulph Rd., home to an eclectic mix of modest, old-timey country houses, palatial new construction, and this unassuming ranch-style villa that went into foreclosure and was eventually relisted by its institutional owner for $589,000. Nestled on a 1.3 acres, the home settled in mid-January for $420,500. At over 3300 sq ft, the home will need some rehab but the location has ample upside.

January and February 2013: Haverford and Radnor Township Homes Sold to $800,000

Sold For Street Address Town Beds Baths Sq  Ft Orig Price
$114,299 2532 E County Line  Ardmore 3 1.1 1,173 $133,000
$167,000 743 Hathaway Ln Ardmore 3 1 1,414 $173,900
$172,000 617 Woodcrest Ave Ardmore 3 1 1,432 $193,700
$180,000 2725 Saint Marys Rd Ardmore 3 1 1,120 $199,900
$227,000 618 Woodcrest Ave Ardmore 3 1 1,696 $234,999
$310,000 766 Oakview Rd Ardmore 3 1.1 1,296 $269,900
$415,000 2516 Huntingdon  Ardmore 4 2.1 2,559 $435,000
$440,000 5 Golfview Rd Ardmore 4 2.1 2,262 $475,000
$450,000 2525 Huntingdon  Ardmore 4 2.1 2,040 $449,900
$800,000 140 Golfview Rd Ardmore 6 4.1 4,117 $870,000
$125,000 625 Dayton Rd Bryn Mawr 3 1.1 1,392 $139,900
$230,000 623 Dayton Rd Bryn Mawr 3 1 1,380 $242,900
$283,500 175 Brooklea Rd Bryn Mawr 3 1.1 1,651 $289,900
$350,000 121 Fairfax Rd Bryn Mawr 4 1.1 1,552 $364,000
$385,222 800 Deer Rd Bryn Mawr 3 1.1 1,568 $379,000
$473,000 782 Robinhood Rd Bryn Mawr 4 2.1 2,184 $486,900
$687,500 255 Golfview Rd Haverford 4 3.2 3,263 $750,000
$120,000 529 Woodland Dr Havertown 3 1 1,164 $149,900
$134,000 601 Naylors Run Rd Havertown 3 1 1,034 $134,000
$160,000 1139 Bon Air Rd Havertown 2 1 1,512 $192,500
$169,000 430 Llanerch Ave Havertown 3 1.1 1,152 $169,977
$182,500 135 E Turnbull Ave Havertown 3 1 1,032 $189,900
$220,000 123 E Marthart Ave Havertown 4 1 1,416 $239,900
$235,000 2540 Prescott Rd Havertown 4 2 1,302 $239,900
$247,500 200 Stanton Rd Havertown 3 2 1,610 $250,000
$252,600 1605 Rose Glen Rd Havertown 3 1.2 1,625 $259,900
$257,000 28 E Westwood Pk  Havertown 4 2.1 1,565 $269,900
$262,000 143 Fairlamb Ave Havertown 4 2.1 1,788 $284,900
$263,920 120 W Hillcrest Ave Havertown 3 1 1,144 $265,000
$270,000 56 Rodmor Rd Havertown 3 1.1 1,254 $283,900
$279,000 141 David Dr Havertown 3 1.1 1,610 $289,500
$289,000 42 W Marthart Ave Havertown 3 2.1 1,260 $289,000
$290,000 147 Sycamore Rd Havertown 3 1.1 1,499 $309,900
$295,000 1113 Larchmont Ave Havertown 4 2 1,953 $319,900
$295,000 201 Heatherwood Rd Havertown 3 1.1 1,632 $295,000
$305,000 233 Rodmor Rd Havertown 4 1.1 2,155 $319,900
$307,000 505 Shelbourne Rd Havertown 3 1.1 1,534 $309,900
$312,000 1731 Hawthorne Ave Havertown 4 2.2 1,697 $319,000
$365,000 574 Kathmere Rd Havertown 4 2.1 1,672 $379,000
$420,500 136 Biddulph Rd Radnor 4 3 3,318 $589,900
$785,000 311 Pine Tree Rd Radnor 5 3.1 3,300 $795,000
$519,000 123 Cambria Ct Saint Davids 3 1 1,120 $579,900
$499,900 104 Quaker Ln Villanova 4 2.2 3,226 $499,900
$552,000 1 Browns Ln Villanova 4 4.1 2,665 $550,000
$246,000 18 Clover Ln Wayne 3 2 1,207 $274,900
$425,000 443 Conestoga Rd Wayne 5 2.1 2,301 $429,000