The spring real estate season has arrived. So if you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, you may have more than a few questions.
Jennifer and Michael Schiff, co-founders of the Schiff Home Team of Keller Williams Legacy, have the answers. Since launching in 2011, the Schiff Home Team, based in Owings Mills, has grown from five core agents to more than 450, serving more than 3,000 families, investors and developers.
“Our mission is to transform lives and communities through real estate, and we take great pride in serving and giving back to our community,” says Jennifer Schiff.
The Schiffs say they thoroughly enjoy the entire real estate process. “Buying and selling a home are often the most significant life transactions, and we pride ourselves on the ability to provide the knowledge, resources and expertise to help people achieve their goals,” Michael Schiff says.
Jmore recently spoke with the Schiffs to get some pointers for those of you who are getting ready to buy or sell a home.
Jmore: First question, of course, is it currently a buyer’s market or a seller’s market?
JS: With an average of just over two months of inventory on the market in our local market, we are in a seller’s market. Homes that have been updated, staged and priced to the market are getting favorable responses from buyers and going under contract quickly, often with multiple offers.
However, with interest rates back at a seven-year low — 3.25 to 3.75 percent, depending on credit and program — buyer affordability is at its highest, which makes it a great time to buy, to get the most bang for your buck, if you can find a home.
What do homebuyers need to be aware of when they begin looking?
MS: The buyer needs to be aware of current market conditions and how that can impact their process. In today’s market, buyers need to be prepared to act quickly. The home a buyer wants to look at today and think about until tomorrow is the home someone saw yesterday and is putting an offer on today, so preparation is key.
Getting pre-approved for a loan with a local mortgage professional before you begin looking will provide clarity regarding the payment and closing costs to determine what home price range you feel comfortable in.
Furthermore, pre-approval will help you be competitive when it comes to submitting an offer the same day you find ‘the one.’
When it comes to home shopping, we suggest that buyers remain open-minded when deciding what homes they see or their realtor recommends. We can’t tell you how many times we recommend a home our buyer doesn’t pick as an online favorite, and after reluctantly previewing it falls in love. Online photos and video don’t always give the home justice, so go out and visit the homes.
What do sellers need to be aware of before putting their house on the market?
JS: There are different advantages to selling during different times of the market. Most sellers may think springtime is the best time to sell. However, there is significantly more inventory competition on the market compared to the fall or winter.
When selling, you have to take into consideration what is known at ‘the moment in the market’. For example, with rates being at all-time lows, we know there are more buyers who can afford more. When rates go up, which is inevitable and more probable than going down, then buyers’ affordability goes down, which means prices will go down as well.
When it comes to getting your house ready for the market, it’s important to know it’s a ‘beauty contest’ and ‘price war’ out there, and you have to win both. Our advice is to declutter and depersonalize as much as possible. Remember, less is best.
Buyers want to walk into your home and be able to see themselves living there. When it comes to deciding what improvements to do for the best return on investment, neutralizing paint colors goes a long way. Other improvements that make the house more marketable to buyers are updated appliances.
What are the benefits of using a realtor?
MS: Working with a professional realtor gives you the ability to get expert advice on the latest market activity and trends. In addition, realtors are held to the [National Association of Realtors’] Code of Ethics that ensures the client’s interests are being protected and put first.
When choosing a realtor, look for ones with longevity or who are affiliated with a reputable team. These individuals usually have the resources, relationships and experience behind them to help you navigate and advise you through one of your most significant financial decisions.
For information, visit schiffhometeam.com.
Carol Sorgen is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.