Profile Q&A with Tom Webb-Midland Board of Realtors

Tom Webb is finishing up a one-year term as the president of the Midland Board of Realtors. This local trade association is part of the National Association of Realtors. In addition to realtors, the MBOR has other members including appraisers, lenders, and builders. 
Tom Webb is the outgoing president of the Midland Board of Realtors.
Webb is the managing broker at the Century 21 Signature Realty office in Midland. He’s been with Century 21 since 2010. He’s been a realtor since 2008 and has worked in residential construction for almost 20 years. Webb grew up in Detroit then moved to Midland for a corporate sales job in his early 20’s. He eventually transitioned to construction and then real estate.  He comes from a family of realtors including both of his parents and two of his four children. 

Tom and his wife, Sarah, live in the Sanford area on the Salt River. They built a new home and had just moved in three weeks prior to the Tittabawassee River disaster in May 2020. The lower level was damaged but Webb points out they weren’t impacted as negatively as many others and they could afford to fix their home. Despite their own challenges, he volunteered his time to help others in the aftermath.

Q-What’s currently happening in the local real estate market? 

A-The mortgage rate has doubled since January, floating right now between 6 ½ and 7 percent. At the beginning of the year, it was around 3 percent. That’s impacting payments, causing affordability issues for buyers. The other issue is we still have inventory issues. Availability of housing units is still considerably lower than past years. In the city, we had 37% less available houses in September compared to last year. The selection of properties is very low for buyers looking to buy.  

There’s no one answer as to why… Community has changing housing needs, different buyer preferences. The system is kind of locked up. Upward movement is limited both because of the interest rates and inventory. 

We need additional housing units at all price points in the system and that would alleviate the stress and the lock-up. About the only options for new construction at this point are at the top end of the market, $800,000 and above.  

Interest rates and inventory are the two primary factors for both buyers and sellers.

Q-So what’s your advice for buyers?

A-Patience and persistence. Buyers have a higher payment because of the interest rate impact. The median price of a home in Midland is $215,000. The mortgage payment (on a 30 year mortgage) is still lower than a rent payment for a similar property so it’s still a good financial decision to purchase a property. We are seeing buyers giving up if they lose out after a couple of times. But again, I say persistence and patience. You should work with a realtor to search for you and guide you in the process. Also work with a local lender. They can be your coaches in the process and in finding success in the process.  
Webb emphasizes patience and persistence.

Q-Advice for sellers? 

A-The  market has changed a little bit over the past few years. A seller needs to be cognizant of the buyers’ activity at their price point and not price themselves out of a sale. Some sellers are priced too high and are not getting offers. The closer they are to the median price point, the more offers they will get for their property. In the city, again that’s $215,000. As you get further away from the median, you have to be more aware of the buyer demand and those higher price points and price accordingly. 

Q-Are sellers still getting offers higher than their asking price?

A-That peaked in June. It’s dropped marginally over the last few months, but buyers are paying two percent more than list price, on average.  

Q-You’ve been a realtor since 2008 and have been involved in home construction for 20 years. What do you think of the recent market? 

A-It’s cyclical. It’s been accentuated by COVID. I truly believe we will go back to a normal reality. I think the impact of technology is the biggest thing. Buyers are well informed. It’s given buyers and sellers the tools they need to better understand real estate in general and in their neighborhood. With better information and a better understanding, buyers and sellers can make better decisions. 

Technology has made buyers and sellers more informed.
Q-When you are working with a client who will be new to the Midland area, what are your key selling points about the community as a whole?

A- Clients select Midland for a tremendous number of reasons.  Our area offers affordable home prices, a variety of housing styles and easy access to amenities such as shopping, dining and excellent schools.  We have a community that is kind and welcoming and makes for an easy transition for a relocating individual or family.

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Read more articles by Ron Beacom.

Ron Beacom has served as the managing editor of Catalyst Midland since October 2020. He's also a freelance writer for the Midland Daily News and the producer/host of "Second Act: Life at 50 Plus" for WDCQ-Delta College Public Media (PBS). He's the co-producer of two WDCQ documentaries about the Tittabawassee River Disaster in 2020, "Breached! and Breached!2-The Recovery."