Anybody who knows real estate knows that Kansas City is a seller’s market right now. Inventory is down, demand is up, and mortgage rates continue to hold near record lows. That all adds up to a boon for sellers in the Kansas City market, and it’s a trend that doesn’t look to reverse anytime soon. Home sales in Kansas City have outpaced the national average every year since 2014, according to the WSU Center for Real Estate, and home prices have risen by an average of over 4% annually during that same time span. 2017 looks to bring more of the same.
That said, for every Yin there’s a Yang. If you’re looking to purchase a home in KC, those same numbers add up to a mad scramble for real estate. Inventory has dropped from an 8-month supply in 2012 to less than a month and a half’s supply in 2017. Buyers that were used to having the pick of the litter are now facing bidding wars and the prospect of paying over the asking price if they want to remain competitive when purchasing real estate in Kansas City.
The Current Real Estate Squeeze in KC
What is the secret to getting the biggest returns, or the biggest bang for your buck, if you’re jumping into the real estate market in Kansas City? Melinda Bartling, a 30-year veteran of the Kansas City real estate market, a Five Star Professional Real Estate Agent for 11 years running, and a licensed home stager to boot, boils it down to understanding what’s at the heart of Kansas City’s real estate upturn.
“It’s a crazy market right now,” says Bartling, who notes that there are a number of factors at play, first and foremost a lack of inventory. “Right now we’ve only got 1.4 months worth of inventory available, and just one month’s worth of homes in the $250,000 to $300,000 dollar range,” a range that is in high demand in Kansas City because it’s perfect for those looking to enter the market. “In Blue Valley, for example, there are 452 homes listed, but only 9 in that $250,00 to $300,00 range.” And when the law of supply and demand kicks in, things get interesting, especially where real-estate is concerned. “Whenever you can’t have something,” Bartling says, “everybody wants it.”
When a Door Closes, A Window Opens in KCK
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t opportunity in the Kansas City real estate market, however. While there is a drought of homes in the lower range, Bartling emphasizes that there’s still a lot to choose from if you’re willing to move up in price. And since you can get more than asking price at the lower price ranges, you can sell your present home in Kansas City, roll that profit into the purchase of larger home, and find your dream home. “You can sell a home for $320,000 and get a $500,000 house, and because you’re moving up in the market, you get your choice of homes for less than market value,” says Bartling. The key to making that leap is making the most of your opportunities when you put your current home up for sale, which is where Melinda Bartling’s home staging skills come into play.
Home Staging and Real Estate go Hand-in-Hand in Kansas City
Home staging is the act of preparing a home for sale, and staging it to appeal to the highest number of buyers possible. Melinda Bartling studied staging under Barb Schwarz, who pioneered the concept in 1973, and she now considers it an integral part of her success as a realtor. “I only stage for my sellers,” she says. “I provide a one hour initial consultation as part of my services. I do a walk-through of the property and say this is what you need to do. Change the paint color, update the flooring. What I recommend really depends on the price range and the comparable houses and what they look like.” In the end, regardless of what she suggests, Bartling is looking for a single reaction from buyers. “I want a ‘Wow!’ coming out of their mouths when come through the front door. The second they walk into the house, they’re willing to pay more money and have to have it.”
In a market like Kansas City’s, where multiple offers are the norm and getting more than asking price is the rule, not the exception, that “wow factor” can translate into thousands of dollars for sellers. Case in point, Bartling recently staged a property that originally sold for $18,000 under the asking price, bringing carefully selected furniture and design accents into the vacant home before putting it back on to the market, and was able to sell it for $15,000 over the asking price. That’s a $30,000 swing for the seller thanks to home staging and a realtor who knows her stuff.
Use the Experts for Successful Real Estate in Kansas City
When asked for final piece of advice for those entering the Kansas City real estate scene, Bartling paused before providing an answer. “I can’t give away all my secrets,” she laughed. “I’ve spent 30 years perfecting them. But if I had to give advice, I’d say listen to me when I say there’s 6 people waiting to make an offer and you can’t come in at asking price. Look, I’m not trying to spend your money, I’m trying to get you a house. You have to come ready to play.” In a competitive market like the one that defines Kansas City real estate, that can make all of the difference. According to Bartling, it boils down to one simple truth: “Listen to your agent and trust your agent,” Bartling says. “And if you can’t trust your agent, go get a new one, because that’s what they’re there for.”
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