BY JEAN M. STEFANIAK
PEOPLE CONTINUE TO MAKE WAUWATOSA their hometown. The Wauwatosa real estate market remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2021 with home sales.
No one has a crystal ball for what the real estate market will be like in 2022, but according to a recent realtor.com survey, more than a fourth of U.S. homeowners say they plan to sell their homes in 2022, with 65% of those planning to list their home in the first six months.
So if you plan to be a home seller or home buyer in 2022, NOW is the time to prepare.
PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR SALE
First impressions are key, so assess your curb appeal first. Show potential buyers that your home is cared for even before they step foot in the door. You can do that by adding a fresh coat of paint or stain to your front door and touching up any peeling paint on the exterior of your home. Even in these winter months, it can be a good time to prune bushes or shrubs so the yard looks tidy and potential buyers can see the front of your home.
Add a doormat, door wreath or potted plants for a warm welcome. Inside, go from room to room, and take note of how things look. Living in your home is very different than listing your home for sale. We all get comfortable in our homes and keep items out for convenience. But if you are planning to list your home, get your home sale ready! Begin the process of editing items and transitioning your home for a sale.
Make your home clutter-free and airy. Less, is definitely more. Create clear paths around furniture and in hallways so potential buyers can easily navigate during a home tour.
Purge, sell or donate items you no longer use to places such as Goodwill, shelters or Veterans organizations. Consider putting extra items you want to keep for your new home in storage.
Designate a purpose for each room and stage the room as such; avoid the catch-all room where all sorts of things are stored.
Sometimes buyers react negatively to bold colors and dated wallpaper. If you can, remove wallpaper, paint rooms neutral colors, and use soft goods such as pillows and blankets to add pops of color.
Expect that buyers will open closet doors, so organize them. Group like items by purpose and color – like all blue shirts, all dresses, all pants, all jackets, all white towels, etc. Color coordination makes things look organized.
Do a deep clean. Wash the handprints off woodwork and doors. Wipe down baseboards. Wash windows and ledges. After you clean, clean more. Buyers represent a fresh set of eyes, and they tend to notice what we overlook every day. And, if you have pets or a smoker in the house, conduct a smell test and freshen things up!
Make repairs. Take the time to fix loose handles, dripping faucets and cracked windows, and replace burned-out light bulbs. Walk the foundation of your home, and check for and address any leaks. By addressing the condition of your home before you list it, the less you may have to negotiate after a potential buyer’s home inspection. Buyers are willing to pay top dollar for well maintained condition.
If you’ve done major updates, prepare a list of recent updates, such as roof, siding and mechanicals, along with the year and have any transferrable warranties ready to share with potential buyers.
If your home needs major updates, consult a licensed contractor to understand costs and timeframes. It’s all about creating an environment where buyers can envision themselves and their belongings in your property.
LISTING YOUR HOME WITH A REALTOR®
If you are planning to sell, you will need to partner with a Licensed Realtor® to list your home.
Experience definitely matters when selling one of your largest financial assets. Ask for referrals from people you trust, interview more than one real estate agent, and hire the right professional for you.
Your realtor® will be with you every step of the way through listing your home, providing advice on preparing it for sale, marketing your home, attracting qualified buyers, scheduling tours and open houses, negotiating on your behalf, working with a title company and getting your transaction to closing on time.
When you sell your home, you will pay your realtor® a commission. Be sure to understand the services they will provide and if there are any additional fees involved.
PREPARING YOUR FINANCES TO PURCHASE A HOME
Thinking of buying in 2022? Interest rates remain low, so it continues to be a good time to purchase a home. As a buyer, your first priority is getting your personal finances in order now.
Meet with a local mortgage lender – or two – who can help you understand what you can afford. Lenders will check your credit score and review your income and employment. When everything is reviewed, the lender provides you with a preapproval letter. In this competitive real estate market where sellers may get multiple offers, a preapproval
letter with your offer shows you are a qualified buyer.
ABOUT JEAN M. STEFANIAK: Jean M. Stefaniak is a graduate of Pius XI High School and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She is Wauwatosa homeowner and a parent and parish member of St. Jude the Apostle where she helps coach the 7th Grade Girls’ Volleyball Team.
Jean is a licensed real estate broker and partner with The Stefaniak Group LLC, a family of realtors since 1952. She is a member of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors, serves on the Professional Standards Committee (Ethics) and was named GMAR Local Realtor of the Year in 2019. Jean also served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Realtors Association, was 2019 Chairman of the Board and named WRA State Realtor of the Year in 2019. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Metro Multiple Listing Service and is a past board member of the National Association of Realtors.