For a while there even I was starting to believe that maybe I had developed special real estate powers. All but the most challenged of our Chicago listings this year were going under contract in under 30 days. But I know there is no such thing as special powers and more than most people I know that the data will keep you honest and in this case it's pretty darn clear what is really going on.
As you know this year's record low housing inventory has been well documented along with the multiple offers for desirable properties that is a logical consequence of this market dynamic. So the truth had to be that these low inventories were dramatically driving down market times for the entire Chicago real estate market. So I pulled the data and sure enough that's exactly what is going on. In particular I focused on properties that sold above $400,000 in order to minimize the impact of distressed sales (a higher percentage at the lower end of the price spectrum) and to focus on the most desirable segment of the market.
Over the last 2 years market times for properties that actually sold has declined from about 200 days to 120 days most recently, with a really dramatic decline since January.
So it's the market, not any special powers, that are driving quicker sales! But, as I've pointed out before, often the most successful real estate agents' true skill is in lying to get your business. So expect to see plenty of Chicago real estate agents touting their ability to sell homes in record time. Worse yet, they may not need to make these outrageous claims because gullible home sellers will take note of the fact that this or that celebrity realtor sold the house around the corner in 2 weeks. And home sellers, buffeted by declining home values, want to believe that if only they can pick the right real estate agent they will get more money for their home - quickly.
To expose this fallacy all you have to do is conduct a thought experiment (I knew I could eventually apply my physics degree to real estate). Ask yourself - better yet ask the real estate agents you are considering to sell your home - what exactly they DO differently to sell a home faster and for more money. I will guarantee you that all you will come up with is a bunch of gobbledygook: a) a list of services that any decent listing agent will provide and b) vague references to networking and contacts, which no longer provide the value they once did.
Does this mean that all real estate agents are created equal and it doesn't matter who you choose to list your home? I didn't say that. While a real estate agent can't really DO anything to sell your home faster and for more money than the market will dictate there are a lot of things they might NOT DO that will cause your home to languish on the market. In reality it all comes down to execution, which is a lot harder to discern. But that's the subject of another blog post.