Image courtesy of Go Brent Realty.
This is the most frustrating Catch-22 in today’s real estate market: The inventory of homes for sale in Washington is ridiculously low. But many would-be sellers are too scared to list their homes because… the inventory of homes for sale is ridiculously low, and they very likely could end up with nowhere to live. Unless a homeowner is wealthy enough to buy a new home before selling the old one, the risk of entering the market often seems too high.
“A lot of homeowners feel stuck,” says agent Liz Brent, founder of Silver Spring-based Go Brent Realty. As this problem kept coming back to her clients, Brent says she started trying to think of creative ways to help solve it. Thus, the idea of its new site, I would move if I could— much like Match.com for sellers and buyers — was born.
Here’s how it works: Anyone in the DC area who would sell their home if they were only guaranteed to find a new one can register on the site, which is free. A questionnaire asks what type of house you are looking for, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you want, the desired location and the distance to the metro, etc. Users can include as much or as little information as they wish and edit their submissions at any time. Brent, meanwhile, will be looking for potential matches, for example, the young family hoping to move from their condo to a four-bedroom home, and the empty nests looking to move from their four-bedroom home to a condo. If Brent sees a potential match, both sets of owners will be notified.
The site is obviously a possible source of business for Brent, which could end up representing half of the transaction (Maryland law prohibits agents from representing both sides of the same transaction). But she stresses that a landlord doesn’t need to work with her to use the service. She also says she wouldn’t advise a homeowner to use the site if they have the option of just listing their home now, not knowing where it will end up next. “If you do it that way and you’re successful, you won’t know what the property would have received on the open market,” says Brent. In other words, the service is only for people who would otherwise not enter the market at all.
Brent also says she has a secondary goal: to learn more about the types of housing people want. For example, in downtown Silver Spring, she says it’s hard to find condos with large living spaces — a common request among people downsizing single-family homes. If it can collect data showing that there is a strong demand for these types of units, it envisions being able to use it to convince developers to build them.
Sure, I would move if I could won’t make a difference if no one signs up. “The more people who participate, the more we can tell if it’s working,” says Brent. “We’ll see.”
If you are interested, click here.