Gina LeDuc-Kuntz ... Topsham native

Gina LeDuc-Kuntz … Topsham native

My first “official” summer in real estate as a newly licensed Realtor has been a learning experience, leaving me with both hope and oftentimes sympathy for those selling their homes and entering the market as new buyers.

Growing up in a real estate family, my early childhood memories are littered with dinner time conversations surrounding tales involving mysterious homes having recently fallen through.

Not understanding “falling through” verbiage means the deal is off, I remember the very young me thinking, “Wow, what is making all these homes fall down in Topsham?” Growing up in Topsham, my 7-year-old self never considered homes were also “falling down,” aka contracts falling apart, in Brunswick, Bath and the surrounding areas. Yet, as far as contracts go, they were.

 

 

Now, the not so young me ponders instead a slightly different, but much more, legitimate question: Why have some perfectly fine homes in the greater Brunswick region failed to sell in this seller’s market?

A home-purchase contract falling through is a different beast than a home failing to attract ready buyers in a reasonable time frame. Wanting more answers surrounding home selling failures, I pick up the phone and simply ask homeowners, who have taken their homes off the market, their perspective surrounding the potential reasons their home is well, still their home.

Cold calling for answers, not for listings, I contact homeowners explaining who I am and why I am calling — asking one simple question, “Why do you feel your home didn’t sell this past summer?”

The overwhelming answer? “My home was overpriced.”

This answer took me aback. Expecting stories fraught with agent incompetency, poor agent/client communication and poor marketing; this simple, straightforward insight probably does nail down the causative reason behind a home’s failure to sell.

How is a seller to reasonably know their home may be overpriced? Have sellers given up too soon in leaving the market? Maybe. Anxious sellers hear amazing tales from Portland about a friend of a friend whose Portland condo sold in one day, for thousands over asking price.

Ignore those tales; the Brunswick area market is not the Portland area market. In the greater Brunswick region, a home’s average days spent on the market before selling range from 80-110. A home in Portland enjoys a much shorter wait time on the market averaging anywhere from 31-75 days on the market before selling.

It is hard for a seller to know for sure if their home is overpriced. Home valuation is a moving target, fluctuating even monthly. As on chart on page B7 shows, each month in 2017 has seen its own peaks and dips in the Brunswick area home values. This is normal. Considering the buyer determines market value, or more simply put, “A home is worth what the buyer is willing to pay,” as my father always reminded folks, these numbers show a fairly priced home in our region sells within 96-100 percent of original asking price.

To confuse the pricing question a bit further, all homes are not the same. The price point your home falls within also sets the time frame your home will remain on the market. Homes falling within the $100,000-400,000 price range in the greater Brunswick area spend less days, on average, on the market than homes on either end of the price spectrum.

Regardless, from January 2017 up to present, 727 homes for sale in the greater Brunswick area have dropped off the market without selling. This number is down from the same time span in 2016 where 781 fell off the market without selling. The decrease in unsold homes dropping from the area real estate market is overall good news, demonstrating market strength, yet still 700 or so families have been unable to sell their home and move forward with the next phase of their lives.

How can these families and individuals be helped to sell if still interested in selling? Sellers, look at your home through a buyer’s eyes. Does your home need help with curb appeal? Is the roof old and needing repair? Fix those things. Talk to your Realtor about which repairs harvest the greatest return on investment; all home repairs and updates are not equal.

If your home still does not sell after looking at curb appeal and repairs, or if there are no obvious staging and structural defects, your home may very well be overpriced.

GINA LEDUC-KUNTZ is a local Realtor who grew up in Topsham and whose family owned and operated LeDuc Realty as a mainstay in Topsham for nearly 40 years. She now lives in Freeport with her very large and rambunctious family. Her two eldest sons are Maine lobstermen off Chebeague Island, her eldest daughter is studying early childhood education, her two young children attend St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick and her preteen son attends the Coastal Academy in Harpswell.


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