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Realtor Roundtable 2021: How to Improve Your Chances of Buying or Selling a Home

a couple enters a new home wearing hopeful expressions

Reading time: 6 minutes

The real estate market has been in flux since the pandemic hit last year. Home seekers flooded the market, wanting wide open spaces and larger living areas. Though the market has slowed, there's still low inventory, low interest rates, and high prices.

How can you hope to navigate the intense landscape? We went to the experts to find out! Recently, Lisa Rome from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago and Kyle Crawford from Century 21 New Millennium in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area stopped by the vipHome Podcast with tips to improve your chances of scoring a new home or selling your current one. 

Essential home buying tips for 2021

"Make sure you're using a really great agent who's familiar with the area," says Lisa, a real estate expert who has been helping Chicago homebuyers and sellers for more than three years. "Don't try to do it on your own."

A real estate agent offers expertise in the area of your desired neighborhood and tips to make the process run smoothly, especially during this time of (brief) reprieve from the recent chaotic market.

"Home buyers [may] have the luxury of time right now," adds Lisa, "but you should have everything in order and be ready to act [swiftly] if you find something."

Though acting quickly will help you in this intense market, home buyers need to pay attention to the process.

"My advice to buyers is to please sit down with your agent and read the contract," says Kyle, an expert real estate professional for more than seven years.

Since many homebuyers lost on multiple properties, some began waiving protections in their contracts, which led to cases of buyers' remorse.

"If something is not clear, ask your agent," says Kyle. "In this very digital world, it's very easy to just receive a contract through DocuSign, click through it on the initials, and not know what you're getting yourself into."

Take that extra hour or two with your agent to understand the terms of the offer and what to expect throughout the home buying process.

Before you buy the home of your "dreams," check out What You Need to Know Before Falling in Love with a House

Making your dream home even more dreamy 

Decide what you can live with - for a bit.

Many homebuyers may settle for a less-than-perfect dream home and strive to finish several home improvement projects; however, in this market, it's important to be realistic. Lisa recommends meeting with a contractor to understand the scope of the home improvement projects and your budget.

"If a buyer is very interested in a house, but in order for them to live comfortably, they really want the kitchen redone or the bathrooms redone – then before we even put in an offer, I'll bring a contractor through to give them realistic expectations and ballpark numbers."

This is especially important for first-time home buyers, many who are millennials and may not understand the process.

"Someone who has bought and sold multiple homes knows they can move in and live with that outdated kitchen until two years down the road," says Kyle. "With first-time homebuyers, there's a greenness to it where they're going to try to do everything in the first six months."

Make a list of your home improvement projects.

Kyle suggests homebuyers make a wish list that encompasses several years' worth of home projects, so buyers know which projects to prioritize.

"Depending on your down payment and how you're financing the purchase, you really need to know where you're going to put the cash into and what's important."

With inflation, lumber has tripled in price, and other items, such as sinks and faucets, may be stuck offshore for some time.

"You might not be able to live comfortably without the new kitchen and bathroom and whatnot for another year," says Lisa. "If that's going to break the deal, maybe we keep looking."

Learn the latest mortgage programs and deals now in Mortgage Market Monitor Q3 2021 - Current Mortgage Trends.

Essential home selling tips for 2021

Outdoor living spaces help a property to stand out.

Despite homeowners seeking more outdoor living space, the inside of the home still takes priority for many home buyers.

"For our area – homebuyers expect the interiors to be updated," says Kyle. "Even the little things like door handles."

Kyle finds that most home sellers are taking this advice and updating their homes, so in his area, the outdoor living spaces increase a home's value.

"What I find is really setting apart the properties for our market is the ones that extend out to these gorgeous outdoor amenities – the patios, the decks and everything."

However, the need for these outdoor amenities could be temporary along with the pandemic, so home sellers may want to focus their renovations and updates on a home's interiors.

Spruce up your home's interior.

"The interior is a little bit more important than the exterior," says Lisa. "As long as there's a yard, they can do with that what they want at some point, but that's more attainable than having to gut the bathrooms and the kitchen."

Lisa brought home buyers to the "most incredible backyard" with a pool, a water fountain, and a built-in kitchen. Unfortunately, the interior of the house needed to be completely gutted.

"There was no way anybody I would bring to that house would buy it just for the backyard," says Lisa. "If it's broken, fix it. If it's about to break, replace it. Just have things buttoned up."

Looking for ideas to up your home's value? Check out Top 10 Home Improvements That Add Value

Upgrade your home management game

vipHomeLink can help!

Once you're in your dream or forever home, then you need to take care of it. vipHomeLink can help! Our home management app helps homeowners know what to do and when to do it around the home by providing personalized reminders for home maintenance and tailored recommendations for home improvement. From changing batteries in smoke alarms to updating your single-pane windows, we've got you covered.

Stay on top of home maintenance with vipHomeLink! Downloaded the app today from Google Play or the App Store.

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