2007 Housing Trends: Whats Out

By: Kris Kombrink

Last in a three part series, I'll share some interesting insight from various publications, experience, and trends in our local Chicagoland residential real estate market.

"As is" in home sale marketing. Anything went in the boom market, but if you're planning to use "as is" in 2007, forget it. Buyers see 'As Is' as a red flag about the home and the seller. With all the competition from existing and new housing, an 'As Is' will chase the buyers away.

Buyer incentives. Free cars don't sell houses, realistic pricing does. Gimmicks only confuse and distract buyers. Cut to the chase and deduct the cost of your free-with-purchase from your current price and send the signal to buyers that you're selling real property, not personal property.

Endless Open Houses. The open house pendulum has swung from "the house sold in the first day" to "we need to have our house open every Sunday". Desperation is when your home is open every Sunday, and don't think buyers don't know this and keep track. Plan on every three weeks if you must have a public open house.

Over-full-price offers. It was a strategy in the boom market to under-price a home and let the market set the selling price. Not today! One thing that won't change in 2007 is that every buyer will want a deal, and you had better be prepared for them to walk if they don't get one.

Bedrooms not large enough for a bed. In the boom, rehabbers and developers learned the fastest way to profit was to increase the room count of an existing home. Bedrooms shrunk to walk-in closet size when a four-room, one-bedroom was gut-rehabbed into a four-room, two-bedroom. Or, the doorways and windows eliminate required wall space. Savvy agents kept asking, can you fit a queen-size bed in either room? And the answer was usually, no.

Loads of glass upper kitchen cabinet doors. Buyers say it looks great, but many who specified and experienced it firsthand don't have the time to keep their kitchen cabinets organized. Plus, if you hate washing the windows, having more glass in a greasy room like a kitchen is high-maintenance.

Bowl-shaped above-counter bathroom sinks. The splashing and overall upkeep have earned these the reputation of nice to look at, but, 'no thanks, don't want one.'

Any shiny metal finish. Brushed nickels and pewters are in and antiqued and polished brass is out.

Stainless-steel refrigerators and dishwashers are a fading trend. The cold look and higher maintenance of steel is shifting buyers to specify warmer colors in kitchen appliances.

Spiral staircases. Once the rage for mid-seventies makeovers, these are now death to a home seller. The boomers have aged, their kids don't like them, they're unfriendly to pets and a danger to young children and elderly parents. Take yours out and put in a standard staircase (inside or out) before you sell.

Bamboo floors. The first reviews are in on this popular eco-friendly flooring, and they're not pretty. Complaints range from easily dented and scratched to prone to warping from variations in our climate and humidity levels.

Hardwood laminate floors. These noisy, poor relatives of solid hardwood simply don't stand up to multiple sandings to remove stains or change colors.

Home sellers who smoke in their home while it's on the market. Buyers HATE second-hand and stale smoke odors. Marketing your home is not the same as living in it. If you have to smoke, go outside. Clean the smoke smell from the house, carpet, window treatments, etc.

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