The 3 Very Best Tips Real Estate Agents Shared With Us This Year

published Dec 19, 2020
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This year has been a unique one for home buying and selling, complete with virtual showings, no-touch tours, and record-low interest rates. Real estate agents have been there to help us through the entire process, even with steadily increasing price tags and plenty of uncertainty. Ahead, find the three best tips they shared with us in 2020.

Try selling your home vacant rather than staging it

Furnished spaces have always tended to sell pretty well. Furniture makes a space looks bigger, and gives a buyer an idea about how to use the space. But during the pandemic, furniture might mean more potential exposure to the virus. Gerard Splendore, a broker with Warburg Realty in New York, told us in August, that means right now it’s smarter to forgo staging and show an empty home.

“An empty apartment is much more convenient to show due to the agent not having to work around the schedule of the occupants or resident,” Splendore said. “It also eliminates the need to clean bathrooms or the kitchen, making beds, or stashing clutter. Essentially, a vacant apartment can be shown at a moment’s notice 24/7.” Plus, no potential exposure to viruses.

Don’t lowball your offer—it won’t get you a deal

Some buyers thought that homes selling during the pandemic would naturally be cheaper because people struggling would try to unload their homes quickly. Not the case, real estate agents told us.

“Crisis does not bring down property values, high interest rates do,” Michelle Mumoli, CEO of the Mumoli Group and a realtor with Triplemint in Hoboken, N.J., told us in May.

Katrina DeWit, a real estate advisor at Engel & Völkers in Minneapolis, agreed, and noted that a lowball offer could actually kill the sale immediately.

“Starting out too low can risk offending the seller to the point they won’t continue to negotiate with you even if you are willing to increase your price, as they likely have both financial and sentimental value accrued into their home,” DeWit said.

Make sure the homes you’re viewing are pandemic friendly

Being stuck at home all the time has taught us all something important: We generally need more space than we thought we did. Real estate agents told us this year that buyers were gravitating more toward homes that are pandemic-friendly—in other words, homes where you don’t have to use your bedroom for an office, or your dining room for a Zoom Room.

“Most prospective homebuyers are looking for homes that include a dedicated home office space, as opposed to repurposing a bedroom or basement [or] attic,” John Romito, the founder of Heart & Home Real Estate in Eugene, Ore., told us in November.

Buyers are looking for some other unique pandemic-friendly features, too: a room just for packages to keep the shuffle of constant deliveries out of the main living space; a half-bath just for guests; a home theater or dedicated playspace for kids; and for the super posh, in-home salons.