Buyers are plenty here, but not desperate


Drew and Johnathon are hot guys/models/actors/flippers with their own home improvement shows. Chip and Joann are a cute couple and give buyers amazingly beautiful homes on a budget. Then there is the other young couple, who always seem to be on the brink of bankruptcy, but restyle enviable west coast homes.  Thanks to these home improvement shows, real estate agents have encountered the “HGTV buyer generation.”

Today’s buyers view homes on television that have large square footage, are completely updated with granite counter tops, ceramic baths and finished basements for under $200k – in Texas.  Not so here in my market where comparable homes sell for over $350k.

Home improvement shows teach buyers that homes without updates are absolutely undesirable and updating will cost a big chunk of change. Real-life buyers have heard the term “good bones” about older homes but they lack funding/time/home updating education to seek a home in their ideal location that could use some work. Drew and Johnathon don’t work miracles in my market.

When first time buyers with low budgets look at homes in “real life,” they often see builder grade counter tops, 4×4 tile, tub inserts, 40 year old cabinetry, aluminum windows, linoleum floors, old decks and outdated plumbing. These buyers find themselves calculating what they can/cannot live without to live in a desired area. No wonder rentals are still hot.

Buyers want to be homeowners, but they aren’t desperate.  If they are about to make this major investment into their lives, they will be picky because most are not on a timetable—they will wait for a desirable, affordable home to come on the market. Some real estate agents often think of these buyers as noncommittal, or as only warm leads, but really these buyers have their own ideas about how they will or will not spend their money. (Smart Realtors are learning to nurture the nature and help them buy homes.)

Consider a home in my market that is currently listed with a popular agent. The house is beautiful, clean and has some recent updates, however, the price has gone from $489K, has taken 3 price cuts, and is now at $435k.  (This is often called “following the market” instead of “pricing to the market.”)  However, this home is a hard sell because the backyard is on a busy road. Buyers with/without children or pets do not want to live on a busy street due to the noise and traffic. Buyers want those quiet, private entertaining yards like those they have seen on television or what their parents had.

On the other hand, I also see buyers with smaller budgets with home improvement ideas moving into cities that were once ignored.  These towns have homes built around the 1960’s and have good bones but “need some love” (TLC, updating, paint). Towns that out lie large, working cities are booming with buyers and multiple offers.  For instance, Warren, Clawson and Sterling Heights border Troy/Warren are where many people work and offer an easy commute.  A buyer can get a home under $180k and will have grand ideas about how they are going to eventually update it to their liking. Home improvement shows make it seem easy to paint the cabinets and install quartz counters. Gut the bathroom yourself, then install porcelain tile (tv makes it look so easy), carpet is cosmetic so wait for the sales, engineered wood flooring is affordable and aluminum/wood windows can be replaced with vinyl or fiberglass.

But twice more for a home that still needs updates in the suburbs? Naw, they’ll pass.

For today’s buyers, sellers can list a home that needs work, but sellers should expect to take the lower price to appeal to buyers with the extra cash for updating.

It may be a sellers’ market, but the best Realtors will know who the buyers are and market directly to them for the highest resale rather than post and pray for higher paying buyers to overlook home flaws.







They’re not ready to buy/sell if…



.This has been a tough year for real estate agents.  If you are looking for seller leads, you are frustrated because not a lot of people want to sell, and if you are helping buyers, you are frustrated because you can’t find what they want due to low inventories.

Recently I read an article about a seller refusing to move out after closing and wondered why the sales agent did not see the signs. Here are some encumbrances in our real estate journey that seem to be popping up.  Feel free to add to the list in comments.

Your sellers may not be ready to sell if….

  • Spouses are fighting over new condo or house.
  • Spouses are arguing over lake view or large property.
  • Spouses are yelling at each other.
  • In-laws have no plans to move out.
  • Adult children have no plans to move out.
  • They refuse to declutter/cut lawn.
  • They keep changing the month/season/year they want to sell.
  • They are waiting for home values to go up.
  • Expect an unreasonably high price.
  • Seller refuses showings….all of the time.
  • They just can’t leave that big tree in the back yard.
  • Sellers don’t have a plan where they want to move.

Your buyers may not be ready to commit if….

  • You have sent them hundreds of houses from the MLS but they haven’t wanted to tour any of them.
  • They won’t get prequalified.
  • They want 10 acres with a house near town under $200k.
  • They have lived in the same apartment for 20 years.
  • If the school year just started.
  • It’s raining too much to tour homes.
  • They remodeled the kitchen and are enjoying it too much.
  • Repeatedly changes his mind about what he wants.
  • City, suburbs or country?.
  • Every house is awesome. Let’s see some more!


Ruth Berklich is a Realtor for Keller Williams Rochester – Troy, MI

She can be reached at

Homes we need now


“Give the people what they want.”

Easily quoted, but for anyone in a sales position, it is often difficult to achieve.

I get excited when I go on an appointment to list a small ranch home.  I dread when a client wants one.  There just aren’t that many available in my area under $250,000.

If you are thinking of selling a ranch home, please call a local Realtor.  We just might break out into tears.

My community has a lot of high-end homes but needs small ranch home listings.  Specifically those about $250,000 because that is a median budget that our buyers have.  Some of our buyers are young, first time homeowners and some are people who want to downsize due to retirement or as recent empty nesters. (We hear from sellers, “just what are two people doing rambling around this big house?”)

I have had dreams of ranch homes.

Unfortunately, people have the perception that their ranch must be finished the HGTV way to get a buyer.  This is a misconception.  It is true that young buyers do not usually have much cash to upgrade and renovate, but they know that they can do this later. Seniors want very low maintenance brick homes with clean bathrooms and kitchens.  Many are going condo. (I dream of condos under $250K too.)

If a ranch has 3 bedrooms, 1.5+ bathrooms, a partial basement and a two car attached garage, it can be sold quickly in my community.  Oh, the HGTV junkies would like to have the trendiest kitchens, finished basements and spa-like bathrooms, but some like their own colors and designs. In fact, that new green glass backsplash tile you just put in might be replaced with white subway tile and the carpet might be taken out in favor of wood floors, so don’t let your feelings get hurt.

Our community is in desperate need of home listings under $300,000 for young families who wish to locate here, primarily for our award-winning schools, safe neighborhoods, easy access to expressways, shopping and dining.

Think of your first home.  You were excited to purchase it and you had grand visions of what you would do with it.  Now, buyers want well-maintained furnaces, newer roofs, good windows and a private yard with a deck or patio.

Buyers will supply their own dreams.



Ruth Berklich’s “community” in Michigan consists of Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Lake Orion, Shelby Township/Utica.

Ruth Berklich is a Realtor with Keller Williams Rochester – Troy, Michigan.  She can be reached though her webpage




So where is my next house?

My son graduates from high school this year. It has snuck up on us because we are not ready.

My husband and I planned years ago that we would sell our large house and downsize when our son graduates.  Our goals were 1) pay cash for my son’s college education, 2) buy a small house for its little maintenance (ie me to clean), and 3) find the house with the workshop or pole barn of my husband’s dreams.

So here we are and we have not replaced the upstairs carpeting, updated the master bath or painted the house exterior yet.  This is the third spring that we swore we would do these things.

Just for grins, I have started house hunting for us.  Not only to see the prices of what we want, but also to hold it over my husband’s head so that I can say “I told you so” when the right house comes along and we are not ready to sell. But I cannot find his dream workshop or pole barn.

I have two clients that are ready to list, but we cannot find homes for them either.  One wants a small ranch condo with a garage in a specific area that is also within a senior’s living budget.  The other is for a newer ranch with a three car garage under a specific price but with broader commuting options.

Why don’t more ranches have three car garages? We live in snow shrouded Michigan for gosh sakes!  We need one garage just for the riding tractors with plow attachments or jet skis! Why haven’t builders erected more senior living condos for purchase instead of building so many senior rentals – and at such high rental rates?

We’ve been searching, and I have driven the neighborhoods requested because if I see what my clients want, I will find myself knocking on doors to see if the owners would like to sell.

Because our area has been in a sellers’ market for so long, sales prices have been nicely increasing, quite noticeably in the last five years. So of course, what my buyers’ want is often above their budgets.  Mine too.

A broker in my office could not find houses for two of his clients last year, so he looked up old expireds that fit his clients’ requests and approached the homeowners to sell. When he told the owners that he had buyers for their homes, they practically closed the doors on this face because they had heard that line before from marketing real estate agents. However, his plan worked because he was able to give the sellers actual attractive offers from his clients.

It used to be that a seller could put his house on the market then pick out his next home when his property sold because there were a lot of available options out there.  Now, prospective sellers don’t want to list unless they can find what they really want in their price range.

Or they have refinanced and have decided to stay.

Oh, and it’s an election year .

So, this is going to be an interesting year for home buyers.


SDRandCo 141

Ruth Berklich is a Realtor with Keller Williams Rochester – Troy, Michigan.  She can be reached at or (248) 609-8000.

There is poo everywhere, but not here

So much to be thankful for this coming new year


At Christmas Eve service, where each member in the congregation holds a lit candle, hushed, listening to “What Child Is This” sung by the choir, enters a small girl, running down the aisle with her dress flying up around her knees,  whisper-yelling to her mother, “Mommy, come quick!  Daddy needs your help!  There is baby poo everywhere!”

Congratulations to most of us as we survived another family holiday season consisting of extended family, party crashers, in-laws and out-laws, crazies we brag about and people we have never seen before, wondering just who invited them.

When I was very young living in Michigan, I just assumed everyone was a Christian.  We would drive along the neighborhood streets of snow viewing glorious holiday decorations, but came across some homes without lights.

When we asked my mother why the houses did not have beautiful Christmas lights,  as children do, we would remember only her first explanation and the last.  “Well, some people cannot afford lights, some people live down south during Michigan winters, some are older people who cannot put them up alone  and some may be other religions like the Jewish.” (We did not know anything about Hanukkah.)

As we grew older, we would pass homes without lights, feel sad for those people living in the house, then say, “They must be Jewish.”

This season, I roamed from party to party, flew halfway across the United States, saw third cousins newly born and held them just to have that new baby smell on my clothes, snapped at my husband for licking his fingers in public, berated my grown son for eating dessert first, tolerated repeated Christmas songs on the radio and in stores, and listened to the teens who knew it all who will someday change the world.

But in that single moment, when Mommy ran to help Daddy with the baby’s poo,  I realized that I live a blessed life, and not because my kids are out of the diaper stage, but through the Grace of God.

Though we are not considered financially well off, we can pay our bills, enjoy good health, have food on the table, cars that run and grown children in a good school systems. There are soldiers fighting evil for the world for me since I cannot fight next to them, I do not have any cancers that have slowly decimated so many of my family members, and no one is in the hospital or on the 11 o’clock news.

So much to be thankful to start 2016!

To my family, friends, clients, pastors who keep us in Remembrance of Him, and soldiers wherever you are, I hope your 2016 will be everything you wish for!

Happy New Year!

Ruth Berklich


Ruth Berklich enjoys her career as a Realtor with Keller Williams Rochester – Troy, Michigan, and mother of 2, or 3 if you count her husband.