Whether you are selling or buying a home, the real estate agent you hire is critical to guaranteeing you make the right decision. Most agents can walk you through the process and explain the industry ‘lingo,’ but you should expect so much more than that.

The housing crisis made everyone aware that truly understanding the real estate market is more complicated than it seems. Today, there are many questions your real estate agent must be able to answer to ensure your family is making the right decision.  When you are interviewing an agent to represent your family in your next real estate transaction, make sure they can intelligently answer all your questions, while simply and effectively explaining what is happening in the current housing market in your region.  We searched for advice from a few local professional that may shed some light on topics of interest as you navigate today’s real estate market.

Tips for Buyers

Get pre-approved for a mortgageHave you finances ready.  Be willing to bid on the house you want. The market is competitive, Lisa Waldorf of Real Estate of Winter Park pointed out “Now through Christmas is the busiest time of the year”  The market is tight and buyers need to have a good idea of what they want and can spend.  Waldorf added, “Do some homework, know the locations that are appealing” It is helpful to understand Homeowner Association fees, amenities, your budget and expectations so when a property becomes available you are ready to pull the trigger.

Get real with expectationsUnless you’re bringing an all-cash offer to the table, you will probably lose out on houses you want. Waldorf said, ”it’s just a fact of life in highly competitive markets, and it’s important to understand that going in.”  even people that have everything in place and are ready when a property becomes available, may not get what they want.

Be open and check as many boxes as you can but, compromise is important. Waldorf made some good points for buyers to keep in mind, “If at all possible, try not to fall in love with the homes,” It can be so draining to go through that process — I love this home, I want it, I didn’t get it. I love this home, I want it, I didn’t get it — it can be an extremely taxing process. Waldorf added, “It helps to stay a bit more emotion-free” and be open to other areas and other types of homes.

Being realistic about your wish list helps, too. Sometimes agents get blamed when buyers don’t find what they want . According to Julie White, President of the Grand County Board of Realtors. often that’s “because what they are looking for doesn’t exist in their price range or at all”

There is no perfect house out there. White offered, “You have to make compromises on things.”


Grand ParkInvestment Properties
Robert Blay, Stay Vacations and CMC Property Management in Winter Park, “One thing people overlook is the actuak usage and maintenance needs.”  It can be helpful to talk to a property management company and get opinions on rental market and some advice on maintenance and other aspects of owning a mountain property. ” A property management company can make owning an investment property much easier on the owner.”  A full service management company can include a full spectrum of services:  Rental management for nightly rentals; certified HOA services for association property management and business services for basic to advanced accounting needs. Blay added, “I highly recommend talking to a property management company when buying an investment property”


Real Estate Trends Last Year

  • Listings were up 11.1 percent for single family homes and down 30.8 percent for townhouse-condo properties. Pending Sales landed at 15 for single family homes and 14 for townhouse-condo properties.
  • The Median Sales Price was up 16.3 percent to $418,500 for single family homes and 26.7 percent to $220,000 for townhouse-condo properties.
  • Days on Market decreased 12.9 percent for single family homes and decreased 26.9 percent for condo properties.


Find a Pro
Whether you are a buyer or a seller, a message resonates throughout the industry; Find a quality real estate professional to help you navigate the market. Don’t try to go it alone — especially in today’s hyper-competitive market.

Even Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist, worked with a real estate professional when she was in the market for a home.  “Frankly, I work in real estate, I can do this myself but, you very quickly learn to appreciate how useful it can be to have an agent or another professional by your side who knows the ins and outs of what it takes to buy a home,” Gudell said. “It’s absolutely key to be an informed consumer, but it’s also nice to rely on an agent along the way.”

The best way to find a broker is by asking for recommendations from friends, family or coworkers who have had success locally, Schafer said. The ideal candidate will be active in the Grand County market, look for someone who does at least six deals a year, she said — but also someone who you get along with and feel like you can trust.

The overwhelming feeling about prospects in residential real estate for the immediate future is optimism. Real estate professionals throughout the mountain communities are expressing that they are as busy as ever. There are certainly challenges in this market, like continued low inventory and higher competition for those fewer properties, but opportunities abound for creative and diligent agents prepared to put in the necessary amount of work.



Tips for the Seller

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #5: Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. Erica Kalkofen, EK Kitchens and Design, shared some real world thoughts, “The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style.” It is not always necessary to remodel a kitchen for the sell unless it is in dire need. Kalkofen, “Many buyers will come in and rework the space for their taste anyways”   If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house.

Matt Bailey Alpine Landscaping with some insightful thoughts,  “Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. Clean up the yard, get out the weedy whacker.” You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Bailey added, If you are in need of serious upgrades “get with a professional early”  it takes a time for a big project to mature. Many times homeowners call the landscape team as an after thought, “Outdoor liveable spaces are high on our client wish lists.”  Invest in a patio area or decking that “really enhance the outdoor lifestyle”, you will see a return on those investment dollars.


Sources.  Grand County Board of Realtors, Real Estate of Winter Park, HGTT.com