Buying or selling a home? Try these tips

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High demand for low- and mid-priced homes continues to drive the Lowountry real estate market, especially on the mainland.

Here are some tips for navigating today’s real estate market:

1. First-time buyers: Get that starter home now!

Competition is fierce for newer starter homes. With rents high and continuing to rise, it’s definitely a good time to become a home owner if you can swing it.

2. Sellers: Hire the right agent

Oftentimes, the best investment a seller can make is time spent researching agents.

Look at an agent’s online marketing materials and listings. Is there good photography or video? Are descriptions accurate without seeming exaggerated?

Check the agent’s LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media. What kind of vibe is she or he sending out?

Interview three agents, ideally in person. Ask for sales-activity reports, existing listings and time-on-the-market averages, plus the requisite local comps. Never consent to a listing contract of longer than 90 days.

3. Sellers: It may be a seller’s market but …

Sellers can do several simple things to enhance their home’s appearance:

  • Renew selectively: Wholesale renovations recoup up to 60 percent on investment. Instead, do light makeovers on the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Clean, clean and clean some more.
  • Depersonalize, declutter:  Box up family photos, store worn furniture and excess art.
  • Illuminate:  Open drapes and add brighter light bulbs.

4. If you’re a buyer, don’t believe the house is yours

Strategies such as preapproval (versus prequalification), proof of funding, and closing flexibility can help sway sellers. Some buyers to write a letter to sellers, telling them how much the home will mean to their families.