5 Pieces of Retro Real Estate Advice That Don’t Hold Water Anymore

published Aug 14, 2021
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Things like fashion trends and music genres tend to come back in style after a while, but the same doesn’t hold true for real estate advice. And yet, retro advice is exactly what most people get when they (understandably) go to family and friends for tips about home buying and selling. 

No matter what stage you’re approaching in this fast-paced housing market, it’s important to know what tips will stand the test of time and which advice is so outdated that it’ll set you up for failure. Here are five pieces of retro real estate advice that could be costing you the sale or home of your dreams. 

The retro tip: A great open house will seal the deal.

The open house has long been known as the main driver of house sales. However, a hybrid of marketing efforts is what sells a house today. “Buyers prefer the opportunity to consider a home in comfort, which usually means without crowds of people,” says Collin Bray, vice president of sales for Century 21 Cityside. “They’d rather not see their competition.” Individual appointments and private video tours are part of the process these days.

The retro tip: Good copy is golden.

While it’s always a good idea to use catchy, descriptive words in ads to sell a house, a good video is really what garners the most interest. How you describe the property is important, yes, but that was more relevant when homes were only found when listed in the newspaper years ago, says Bray. Now, a virtual tour to help buyers experience a place is becoming a necessity. It’s one of the best ways to make a good first impression before they even step foot inside the home.

Credit: V J Matthew/Shutterstock

The retro tip: Sell the house as-is and attract people who truly love its character.

Years ago, it was common for sellers to not put as much effort into designing their home ahead of an open house. The assumption was that people will fall in love with the natural appeal (the bones!) of the house. Why spend time zhuzhing up a room if that time could be spent at the negotiating table?

According to Bray, real estate agents now say it’s imperative to make a home look its best through staging. Decluttering, decorating, landscaping updates, and small renovation projects are now baseline considerations for attracting buyers. 

The retro tip: You need to have 20 percent down to buy a home.

“This advice was true for our parents and parents’ parents, but now 20 percent down isn’t necessary,” Bray explains. Plus, it’s really hard to save that much.” (No kidding.) Buyers can now find reasonable financing options for down payments of 3.5 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent, and 15 percent. There are more mortgage options available, too.

The retro tip: Only call the listing agent about a home that catches your interest.

In the past, it was common for only one agent to facilitate an entire transaction, meaning if you were buying a house, you’d typically work with the sole agent who represented the seller. Rather than having your own real estate agent scout homes with you, you’d simply call the listing agent on a property you liked.

“There was no agent cooperation back then,” Bray says. “Now, even if another office and agent represents a house, you would call your agent who has your best interest in mind [to reach out to them].”