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Seller's market success tips for buyers and sellers

(BPT) - Key indicators point to conditions for a seller’s real estate market this spring. With fewer homes on the market, low interest rates, rising home prices and lower unemployment rates, there will be increased competition for buyers and faster sales for homeowners looking to move. With some planning and understanding of the market, it’s possible for both groups to make the most of this evolving marketplace.

“Dramatic increases in both sales and prices are bringing homebuyers and sellers back to the market, indicating the worst of the housing crisis is behind us,” says Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, LLC. “The market ended 2012 on a positive note and there’s every reason to believe 2013 will be even stronger.”

Whether you’re planning to sell your house or are in the market to buy one, here are some tips for succeeding in the emerging seller’s market:

If you’re selling

“Some rules of smart selling never change, no matter what the market is like,” Kelly says. “Even with improved home prices and fewer homes on the market, sellers must still work to make their houses appealing to buyers who want to be able to envision themselves in the home.”

Curb appeal is vital. Keep landscaping neat, well-groomed and appealing with bright flowers, cut grass and well-trimmed shrubs. Sidewalks and paths should be clean and free of debris, and entryways well-lit. To really spruce up your entryway, consider a fresh coat of paint on the front door.

Inside, repaint. Painting is a cost-effective way to freshen decor and gives you the opportunity to create a neutral environment that buyers will be able to picture themselves in. Declutter throughout the house, including closets, and remove personal photographs.

Choose a real estate agent who knows your area. A well-priced home sells quickly and helps ensure you get the most for your house. A knowledgeable agent can help you set the right price – one that attracts buyers and maximizes your return. Agents also handle the legwork involved in selling a home, from effectively marketing your house to negotiating with the buyer’s agent and facilitating the closing.

Finally, be patient. "We’re again seeing cases of bidding wars in some markets," Kelly says. "With fewer homes on the market in many areas of the country, it’s possible you could receive multiple offers. It may pay to take a "wait-and-see" attitude toward the first offer. Patience may garner you multiple offers and a better chance of getting your asking price."

If you’re buying

Greater competition in a seller’s market requires buyers to be able to move quickly and decisively. Before you begin home shopping, make a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. This list will help your agent narrow down the homes you’ll be looking at.

Also, get pre-approved for a mortgage. "There’s no worse feeling than watching your dream home slip through your fingers because your financing fell through, or because another bidder had a guarantee of financing and you did not," Kelly says.

While no one wants to pay more than they absolutely must, remember that in a seller’s market homeowners may receive multiple offers. If your initial bid is too low, you may find yourself quickly out of the running.

Also, be flexible on closing dates – often, sellers like sooner rather than later. And avoid placing too many contingencies on an offer. Working with a buyer’s agent can help you tailor an offer that will appeal to the seller as cost-effectively as possible. An agent will also be able to help you secure information on schools, entertainment, amenities and safety in communities you’re considering.

For more advice on buying and selling homes, finding an agent, and listings of homes in your area, visit

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