Realtors advise how to handle the hot market

Realtors Leah Drury (l) and Jill Numrich. Photo by Anna Grinets
Realtors Leah Drury (l) and Jill Numrich. Photo by Anna Grinets

In a market where an entry-level house might generate six offers in a weekend, Leah Drury and Jill Numrich are working as a team at Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty.

“You need more than one person to efficiently run your business,” Numrich said. “You need to be available all the time.”

The “neighborhood realtors for urban nesters” met at a family Music Together class Drury teaches, and they bonded as working moms living in the same neighborhood. They’ve worked together since early 2014 and handled 80 buying and selling transactions last year.

Their clients take them all over the metro, but they tend to focus on high-demand neighborhoods in South and Southwest Minneapolis as well as St. Paul’s Highland Park and Mac-Groveland neighborhoods.

“We follow the water,” Drury said.

The agents have a bit of advice on everything from staging old homes to beating out competitive bids.

New quartz counter tops, fresh neutral paint and new stainless appliances updated a vintage kitchen with the original 1920s cabinets. “Kitchens are very important to buyers, so we often recommend a kitchen refresh such as this,” says Numrich. Photo by Seth Hannula
New quartz counter tops, fresh neutral paint and new stainless appliances updated a vintage kitchen with the original 1920s cabinets. “Kitchens are very important to buyers, so we often recommend a kitchen refresh such as this,” says Numrich. Photo by Seth Hannula

On staging and selling

Numrich is “Old Home Certified” through the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and lives in a stucco and stone Tudor Revival from the 1920s. (She said she knows firsthand that you can’t order a round front door at Home Depot.) Numrich said she loves old-growth woods and the quality of construction in older homes.

“For me, the character is worth it,” she said. “They’re solid, they stand the test of time. They were sited to get the maximum amount of light and maximum amount of air flow.”

While modern houses tend to showcase larger airy spaces and bright white paint, Numrich said that doesn’t always work in an older home with smaller rooms and dark woodwork. She recommends Sherwin-William’s “accessible beige” as a great complement to natural woodwork. She also shows clients how to make the trim and cabinets shine without refinishing them.

Leah and Jill_2
Drury and Numrich replaced dark brown paint at this Uptown duplex with “Accessible Beige” paint by Sherwin-Williams to complement the natural woodwork. Photo by Space Crafting

The agents hire professional photographers to make the best impression on tiny smartphone screens. The photo must be realistic, however.

“You want the in-person feel to match the photo,” Drury said. “You don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

“You can have marketing that’s great, but the product has to deliver,” Numrich said.

They advise sellers to list the house price competitively and allow the market to determine how high it can go.

How to win a bidding war

The realtors said it’s common at the moment for houses priced from $200,000-$400,000 to field anywhere from 6-17 officers. The record they’ve seen is a Northeast house on Cleveland Street that drew 25 offers. (It sold for $269,900.)

Even fixer-uppers can yield six offers and land well above asking price, Numrich said.

“The list price is not necessarily what the market value is,” she said. “…Keep in mind that the list price is a starting point.”

They’re seeing prices for in-demand homes come in $15,000-$20,000 above the asking price on average.

But winning a bidding war hinges on more than price, the agents said, because buyers are educated and they all know how much to offer.

“Everybody could come in at the same price, but who is the seller going to pick?” Drury said.

“Sellers want assurances,” Numrich said. “How do you make them feel like your offer is safe?”

They said winning bids include strong lenders known for closing loans on time. Shorter inspection periods can help. They also develop relationships with selling agents to learn more about what each seller wants.

To help ease the pressure of making an offer, Drury said they immediately educate new clients about what’s involved in a purchase agreement. That way buyers feel comfortable signing paperwork when time is tight.

They encourage clients to drive neighborhoods and visit open houses well before they’re ready to buy.

They also encourage people to think about resale value. The value of a three-bedroom house will increase more dramatically than a two-bedroom house, they said, and it’s worth considering the potential to build a home addition in the future.

“We often take up large rugs to showcase beautiful hardwood floors,” says  Numrich. Photo by Seth Hannula
“We often take up large rugs to showcase beautiful hardwood floors,” says Numrich. Photo by Seth Hannula

Outlook on the Minneapolis market

“I don’t see it as a bubble, I see it as a general trend,” Numrich said.

She said low housing inventory has accumulated a pool of buyers over several years. Millennials and downsizing baby boomers are drawn to the same types of houses in Minneapolis, she said. Young families, meanwhile, are increasingly investing in their homes and staying in the city.

“We’re coming into this renaissance as a city in general,” Numrich said.

Minneapolis has always been a relatively affordable city, she said, compared to other major cities like Chicago.

“I think we’re playing catch-up,” Numrich said. “…I think it’s just an upward trend.”

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