What you Should Know About The Housing Market in Southwest Michigan This Spring

Looking to sell or buy a home in Southwest Michigan this spring or summer? While fluctuations in the market and reports around rising interest rates can create confusion, it’s still a very good time to sell…and there are still deals to be had for buyers, says Lars Petzke, Real Estate Broker and Owner of Re/Max By The Lake. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or both, here are Petzke’s top tips for getting the best possible deal:

If You’re Looking To Sell:

Berrien County’s housing market is still hot for sellers, Petzke says, citing limited inventory, high demand, and prices that are holding steady despite the rise in interest rates.

However, the seller’s market is not quite the feeding frenzy experienced early in the pandemic. “We’re not seeing 14 offers on a typical listing like we did a couple years ago,” Petzke points out.

To give yourself the best possible chance at a strong offer and quick sale, Petzke says, make sure your house is a “finished product.” Updated major systems like HVAC, newer roofing, kitchens, bathrooms, and flooring can go a long way in attracting and securing buyers.

Petzke also advises pricing your home realistically if you’re hoping to sell soon. “Some sellers puff the prices up so high, because they don’t really have to sell right away. Those are the houses you’re seeing sitting on the market right now, but if a listing is priced realistically, it’s going to move quickly.”

That said, homes at a variety of price points are selling right now, Petzke says. “Last weekend I put two properties up, that both happened to be in St. Joseph. One was listed at $325,000 and the other at $800,000 – so, significantly different price ranges – and they were both gone over a weekend.”

If You’re Looking To Buy:

Southwest Michigan’s high quality of living, combined with the trend of remote work, is continuing to make our region attractive to out-of-area buyers, and no doubt about it – inventory is tight right now. “I was doing a search for a client today, and in all of Benton Township there were only 16 homes for sale, and of those, only 10 under $300,000,” says Petzke, pointing out that housing inventory in the lower and moderate price ranges is particularly scarce. And while certain areas of Berrien County, such as Niles, have more inventory at lower prices, those houses are still moving quickly, he said.

But don’t despair – there are still houses to be had at fair prices! Petzke advises three tactics for improving your chances while searching for your next home:

  • Use a local lender. “I’m a big fan of using local institutions for lending, whether it’s a local credit union or bank,” says Peztke. “A lot of times the listing agents will go with a buyer who’s using a lender they’re familiar with versus someone from the other side of the country that they’ve never met or don’t have a door they can knock on if there’s an issue. So using local lenders is definitely helpful.”
  • Find out what the seller wants. It can take a little digging, but it’s totally worth finding out what the sellers are looking for before writing up an offer. “Not every buyer agent knows to do that, so make sure you’re working with an agent who has experience and market knowledge, and who is willing to be aggressive,” says Petzke.
  • Make a strong offer. Whether you should come at or above asking price, or if there’s wiggle room to negotiate, depends a lot on the seller and the market you’re in, Petzke points out. “If the home is fairly priced, you might need to be competitive and potentially go over the asking price to secure it.” This is where an experienced buyer’s agent can really offer guidance.

Whether you’re buying or selling, the experience and skill of your real estate agent can have a huge impact on how smoothly and successfully the process goes for you. Petzke recommends doing your research to make sure you find a team that can lend expertise and confidence to your buying or selling experience. “One nice thing about working with The Petzke Team is that we have agents with expertise on both sides of the aisle, so whether you’re looking to buy or sell, we can customize our services to make sure your needs get met.”

Check out our directory of Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber members, including the agencies below, to start your search today!

Southwest Michigan Real Estate Agencies

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