With a low inventory of homes available for sale and strong housing prices, now could be a great time to sell your Las Vegas home. But, a quick sale is never a sure thing. To increase your chances of capitalizing on a seller's market, you need to do your research.
To better understand today's buyers, U.S. News consulted some of the top real estate agents in Las Vegas as identified by Agent Explore, a real estate technology company (and a U.S. News partner). Here are the top trends they say are important to know before listing your home.
Turnkey properties are in demand.
Unless your potential buyers are investors (meaning they plan to rent or flip the property), it's unlikely that they'll be open to fixing up the place. "The majority of people no longer want to do the work, which means that buying a property that needs repairs has decreased quite a bit," says Alan Hays, owner and corporate broker at Realty Executives of Southern Nevada.
Buyers want a home that is move-in ready, so sellers should invest extra time and money to ensure the house is in good repair and up to date. Agents agree that buyers are looking for granite countertops, upgraded flooring and modern cabinets. The demand for contemporary finishes is in part because your property is competing against plenty of newly constructed homes.
Cash is tight.
Another reason that buyers don't want to buy a fixer-upper is that they might not have the money to invest in upgrades. Hays says many Las Vegas buyers are cash-poor and rely on Federal Housing Administration loans to finance their home purchase. A buyer can be approved for an FHA loan with less money down and a lower credit rating, which typically could be a red flag. So, having an experienced real estate agent is important when you're evaluating offers that include FHA loans. Hays advises, "Whether or not an FHA loan is a bad thing depends on whether your agent is lazy or not."
An experienced agent will know to examine a loan closely, contacting the lender who wrote the loan approval and verifying what was used to qualify the client. Agents should be asking: Did you check the buyer's credit report? Did you review his or her bank statements? Did you see his or her pay stubs? If agents do their due diligence, an FHA loan should not be a concern, according to Hays.
Cash-strapped buyers also mean that luxury homes may be harder to sell. The FHA mortgage lending limit for a single-family home in Clark County is $287,500. Because of the large number of buyers financing with FHA loans, homes priced below this threshold have a bigger market. For homes valued above the FHA lending limit, it can become more difficult to find a qualified buyer, so having a proficient agent who can create the right marketing plan is essential. "Finding an agent who knows the market for your house and will market the property aggressively is crucial to selling a higher-priced home," Hays says.
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Las Vegas public education doesn't have the best reputation, and as a result, buyers with children are often most concerned with finding a house in a good school district. "The majority of the time, buyers want to buy in communities with highly rated schools," Hays says.
Michelle Bush, broker/salesperson with Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace, agrees, saying, "Inspirada is popular currently because of new development, but also because the elementary schools in the area are highly rated. Summerlin continues to be popular because of five-star ratings for [its] middle and high schools."
Buyers begin their search online.
"One hundred percent of buyers are beginning their search online, so internet presence is very important," Bush says. Photography maximizes the impact of your home online, so be sure your agent works with a professional photographer. "Pictures draw potential buyers into the home to begin with," she says.
The market is good, but don't get greedy.
Real estate experts point to a historically low number of homes for sale in Las Vegas, or low inventory, as being indicative of a seller's market. But, homeowners who are considering selling are becoming aware of the market dynamics. This, combined with a fear of rising interest rates, can undercut demand, and the spring season may result in an increase in homes for sale. "In the spring there is typically higher inventory, so sellers may not get as much," Bush says. "If you are not getting two to five showings per week, you need to reduce the price." But, to avoid that problem, start with an experienced agent who will make sure you don't overprice your home.
Looking for a real estate agent in Las Vegas? U.S. News' Find an Agent tool can match you with the person who's most qualified for the job.
Misti Yang is a freelance writer and public speaking professor in Las Vegas. From stolen HVAC units days before closing on her home in Las Vegas to a faulty title on the home she sold in Atlanta, Yang understands the challenges of buying and selling a home. Yang previously wrote Yelp's weekly newsletter for Las Vegas and continues to pen stories about food and travel. You can visit her website and connect with her on Twitter.