If you’ve been contemplating a move, now is the time

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Renee Velasquez is the owner of The RSVP Group at eXp Realty. She and her team cover Brunswick, Hinckley, Valley City and beyond, and report that the strong market now may not be the same market next year. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Ken McEntee

One curve that hasn’t flattened during the past couple months has been home sales, reports Renee Velasquez, owner of The RSVP Group at eXp Realty, in Brunswick.

“Despite the pandemic, home sales during the month of April held their ground —or even exceeded sales during April of last year—depending on the city you’re looking at,” Renee says. “If you have a home to sell, right now may be the best opportunity you’re going to have to cash in on a strong seller’s market.”

Partially due to historically low interest rates, a lot of buyers are exploring the market.

“On average, there may be as many as six to 10 buyers for every available home,” she explains. “That means prices are going to bid upward.”

Unfortunately, Renee says, the strong market may not be sustainable.

“It may take 12 to 18 months to fully feel the repercussions of the pandemic response on the real estate market,” she predicts.

“With millions of people losing their jobs and unable to pay their mortgages, we’re probably going to see more foreclosures over the next year, which will increase the number of homes available on the market. If you had already planned to sell, or if you think your financial situation is going to make your home less affordable, this may be your best opportunity to get the maximum value out of a sale. If you think you’re going to be under financial pressure going forward, the strong market may give you a way out of it.”

In April, Renee points out, 34 homes transferred ownership in Brunswick. Even in the midst of shelter-at-home orders, that was only five less than in April 2019. Meanwhile, prices improved. In April 2019, Renee says, homes sold at an average of $108.51 per square foot. Last month the average was up 13 percent, to $123 per square foot.

“In Valley City, zero homes sold in April 2019, but, this year, despite the pandemic, six homes sold last month,” Renee says. “In Hinckley, there were seven sales in April 2019, for $127 per square foot. In April 2020, during the pandemic, six homes sold at $137 per square foot.”

By the middle of this month, Renee reported, 22 homes sales were pending in Valley City.

“Those sales will probably close between now and July,” she says. “It’s a very promising sign for the next several months.”

Renee believes that spending more time at home has helped people to get reacquainted with their houses—and assess how they use their space and amenities.

“After being cooped up with their families for a couple months, some people may realize they need more room,” she says “After working from home, many people are realizing that it could be a permanent option that they hadn’t considered before. They may want to explore where a dedicated home office would fit. Or, they may want to upsize to accommodate office space.”

For many people, the transition from an office to working at home in recent weeks may have been awkward and uncomfortable. But it was nothing new to Renee and the RSVP Group. RSVP and other eXp realty groups around the world were designed to take advantage of today’s digital communications technologies. With more than 28,000 agents across the world, eXp is the fastest growing brokerage in the country, Renee says.

“We’re a cloud-based international brokerage where brick and mortar offices are optional,” she explains. “Using cloud technology, we have access to agents and experts all over the world. We have ‘meetings’ in virtual offices that we ‘attend’ with avatars that can look and dress however we choose. It’s very cutting edge, efficient and conducive to how business is done today. There are many different ways to meet with clients virtually versus in person.”

When the time comes to show homes, RSVP can do it in person or by remote live streaming.

As a tech-centric real estate company, The RSVP Group at eXp Realty offers expert-level remote and digital services.

“We can be there to do a physical room-to-room walk-through on your behalf, so you can see the home you’re interested in from the comfort of your own house,” she says. “We can answer your questions and zoom in on areas that you want to inspect closer.”

During in-person showings, RSVP works to make buyers and sellers safe and comfortable according to their own preferences.

“We are not permitting overlapping showings, and we have face masks, gloves and plenty of hand sanitizer readily available,” she promises.

In today’s seller’s market, buyers need to be ready to move quickly when they find their ideal home.

“There is a lot of competition, so you’ll need to be pre-approved and ready to make a strong offer,” Renee advises. “You want to be sure that you’re working with an agent who is going to get you in the door as quickly as possible to view a property and enable you to make a sound decision. Our goal is to provide the best customer experience possible.”

Buyers and sellers are invited to call Renee or Administrative Assistant Anera Bammerlin, at 440-879-8851. The RSVP Group is located at 50 Pearl Road, Suite 106, in Brunswick. You can visit TheRSVPGroup.com, or Facebook: @thersvpgroup for more information.