11 Tips for Going to Market, Whether You’re Buying or Selling

Local real estate experts weigh in.

Illustration courtesy of filo via iStockphoto

If you’re ready to unload your home — or are looking to snag one, check out the expert-approved tips below:

If You’re a Seller:

1. Declutter!
Less is more. Decluttering is the single most important thing you can do to sell your home.

2. Invest in some upgrades.
You get back 100 percent of your investment on neutralizing your paint and carpet before you show your house, says Marlton-based realtor Mark McKenna: “If I did a study on houses that have wallpaper, their days on market are probably 100 percent higher than average.”

3. Find a photo-savvy agent.
“If your house doesn’t look good and you don’t have professional photography, that’s criminal of your agent,” says McKenna. “If the agent is in the mirror taking the picture in the background, it’s a telltale sign you made a bad decision. If they come through with their iPhone and start taking pictures themselves, cancel the listing on the spot.” With eight in 10 millennials using mobile devices or apps to assist with their search process, your home needs to shine.

4. Work the first 21 days.
You’ll see the most activity on your listing in the first three weeks. If you overprice your house, you’re going to miss that window of opportunity. No one wants to buy old meat; don’t be old meat.

5. Reconsider the calendar.
Statistically speaking, the spring market starts the Sunday after the Super Bowl, realtor Lauren Leithead says. So she encourages sellers to list in January, to get ahead of the competition: “There are fewer buyers, but there are also way fewer sellers, so you’ve got less competition.”

If You’re a Buyer:

1. Start early.
Many a soon-to-be buyer surfs Zillow-porn for months in advance. But, says Joanne Davidow, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach in Center City, you should also be walking the neighborhoods and going to open houses. Lauren Leithead advises clients to start their search six months before they’re thinking of buying.

2. Choose an agent wisely.
A personal referral from someone who’s had a good experience is tops. Short of that, find someone with a consistent record of sales who knows the nuances of the neighborhoods you’re considering.

3. Clean up your act.
Talk to a financial planner and really zoom in on what you can afford. Think about the down payment, the closing costs and the monthly payments. Get preapproved for a mortgage from a local, reliable company. Have as few contingencies as possible.

4. Be prepared to pounce.
Get ready to drop everything to see a listing after work, midday, whatever it takes; don’t expect a desirable listing to still be available on the weekend.

5. Watch more HGTV.
People: You can change the carpet and the paint!

6. But not too much HGTV.
“Everybody watches those dumb shows on TV where you walk in and everything’s perfect,” says McKenna. Stop expecting perfection.

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Published in the April 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.