6 Things We Learned About Selling a Home in 2021

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

The last year in the real estate market has been, well, something.

Home prices have skyrocketed across the country, and homebuyers have been paying an average of $50,300 more for a typical single-family home, according to the National Association of Realtors. As a result, this market has produced some profitable opportunities for a lot of homeowners.

To say it’s a “seller’s market” is an understatement. So, with that, what have we learned about selling a home in 2021, and what can homeowners looking to sell in 2022 expect?

1. iBuying Is Here to Stay

Senior couple at a computer
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Not interested in all the hassle that comes with staging and open houses and waiting to close before you buy another home? If so, iBuying might be for you.

Selling to an iBuyer is a simple way to sell your home, as is, at a “fair market price.” They take it off your hands and take care of the rest. This concept has been around for years but now larger real estate companies, like Redfin and Open Door, have made it a competitive industry.

Though Zillow Offers closed up shop this year, selling to an iBuyer is a legitimate way to unload your house at a decent price.

2. Virtual Staging Is a Big Deal

Blueprints and architect designs
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Making your house look pretty in an online listing is nothing new. But, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic over the last year and a half, it’s become more important than ever.

Virtual staging isn’t just taking a photo of your sun-lit room. Virtual staging software allows you to add and move around furniture in an empty room. It gives a potential buyer a better idea of what the room could look like.

That means no heavy lifting on your part. And even better? It’s much cheaper than traditional staging.

“I paid $1,200 to have one room traditionally staged for a three-month term, versus $100 for three virtually staged rooms,” says real estate agent Shea Adair of Sell Raleigh Home Fast. “The price difference is astounding, and you literally can’t tell that those rooms were staged virtually.”

3. You Still Need a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent posts a for sale sign in front of a brick house that is under construction
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In some cases, you might consider a “for sale by owner.” But, for the most part, hiring a real estate agent will save you time, effort and money.

In 2017, the National Association of Realtors found that the median selling price for homes sold by agents was $60,000 to 90,000 higher than those sold by owners, which, in most cases, will more than make up for the commission you’ll pay.

The great thing about hiring a real estate agent: They’ve been there before and have the experience. They will take care of negotiation and paperwork. And they have the connections you might need to hire a handyman, photographer or stager.

The real estate market can be unpredictable, but real estate agents aren’t going anywhere.

4. Negotiation Is as Important as Ever

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In normal times, buyers usually have the upper hand when it comes to negotiation. But as we know, these are not normal times in the real estate market.

In a seller’s market, the seller has the advantage. That’s incredibly important to know when you’re negotiating a home sale.

Everything from setting a smart price beforehand and knowing the unique, marketable aspects of your home to knowing what your buyer is looking for and counter-offering over the right things plays into a good negotiation.

All of this can be stressful, and that’s why hiring a real estate agent, again, might be a good idea.

5. Home Inspections Still Matter (a Lot)

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If you’re selling, you know the inspection is coming so it’s important to get out ahead of it if you want to get the maximum amount for your home.

Of course, you may balk at replacing an entire HVAC unit, but you need to know that will factor into the price eventually. The important thing is to know what the inspector will be looking for – whether it’s structural components, electrical and plumbing issues or insulation and dated appliances.

All of these things will affect your home’s sale price. Be strategic about what you want to fix or replace and what you are content with leaving as is.

6. Fair Market Value Is Usually Fair

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A home’s “fair market value” (FMV) is the value at which the house would sell under normal market conditions.

Everything from its location, condition and comparative houses in the neighborhood will factor into your home’s fair market value. Many people think their home is worth more than it is, so the FMV is an objective way to view your home and, again, that’s where a good real estate agent can help.

If you put your home on the market at an unrealistic price, you could risk losing dollars on the sale down the road. And, on the flip side, if you go to conservative with your listing price, you could miss out on making more on the sale, which could impact what you offer on your next house.

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