Thinking of moving right now? Maybe you feel your family needs more space.
Or the opposite, you just dropped off your last child at college and you’re now an empty nester.
Or, you fortuitously spotted a house you adore and there’s a “for sale” sign in the yard.
If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, this is the time to do it, according to suburban real estate expert, Missy Jerfita.
“What I’m seeing right now is it’s definitely a sellers market,” Jerfita said. “There is very little inventory out there.”
According to Realtor.com, the number of homes listed in Chicago and the ’burbs is down almost 8.5 percent from last year at this time, which I interpret as slim pickins! If you’re a seller, that’s great, but if you’re buying, as well, you could find yourself either in bidding wars, settling for a home out of desperation, or the worst one, ending up with no place to live
With the help of Jerfita, I composed a list of tips for buyers and sellers:
1. The first impression of a home is its yard. So, it’s got to have curb appeal, which means the landscaping needs to be clean and neat, the lawn mowed and edged, and the bushes trimmed. Jerfita said she’s had clients who have pulled up to a home, and because of their dislike of the outside, immediately dismissed it, and wouldn’t even go inside.
2. De-clutter and de-personalize the home. It should be “Q-tip clean” and free of any bad smell that includes dogs, smoke or food, with the exception of freshly baked cookies. Put away picture frames and nick-knacks. The potential buyer wants to picture their family there, not yours.
3. Invest a little money in having carpets cleaned and paint touched up.
4. When showing the home, the blinds should be open and all the lights should be turned on.
5. Price the home right. According to Jerfita, this is the most important tip. Look at the comparables, also known as the “comp values” of homes that have sold in your neighborhood in the last three months, and price similarly. If it’s priced right, it will sell quickly. If it’s priced too high, it will sit.
1. If you like a house, before you make an offer, make sure you get comp values to find out if it’s priced fair.
2. Before closing on the home, get an inspection. However, beware. Sometimes an inspector can turn out to be an alarmist, meaning he or she will make a big deal of something that isn’t a big deal, such as a cracked tile or a slow drain. According to Jerfita, the purpose of inspections are for safety and for structural issues, not for cosmetic things or imperfections.
3. Get a radon gas test during the inspection. Radon testing detects if there is any radon gas coming from the ground below your home. If there is, it’s a simple solution to fix, and safer for your family.
4. Buy smart. Think long term. Will I be able to sell this in 5 years or 10 years? In that regard, location is extremely important.
5. If you get into a multiple bid situation, think carefully and pick a final number, meaning figure out the highest you are willing to pay. Then, you have to be OK with losing it. Give it your best shot, and if you’re going to kick yourself for not going up a couple thousand dollars, then go up, but no more than that.
Is it better to buy first or to sell first?
Even in this market, Jerfita feels it’s better to sell first because you have more negotiating power. Then again, if the seller knows you’ve already sold your home, that gives them an edge.