I've been careful over the years to educate you, my dear reader, about the perils of listening to any sort of real estate news that is not rooted in a local source. While you may read or hear things about the market, nothing is more true than what is happening on your street, in your neighborhood, or in your town.

National trend headlines are just that; a massive pool of buyers and sellers across a handful of cities intended to sell magazines and clicks on a website. Don't buy the hype.

Just about everyone likes to talk about real estate. It's something almost all of us will be involved with in some way or another. Whether you are buying, selling, renting or couch-surfing, you are interested.

My advice for today is to simply not believe everything you hear. This has been a pretty strong seller's market and just about everyone has a story to tell. "My neighbor got $200k more than he paid just two years ago." "So and so sold their house in 10 minutes." "My uncle sold his house before he decided to sell." All fun stories to tell and hear over a beer but all of them, especially the last one, need to be taken with a grain of salt. Let's take a peek at a few others.

"You don't need to renovate, buyers will take anything." In a market with such high demand, sellers can think they don't need to "present their best" when selling. This is simply not true.

While the demand is certainly high, buyers still do not want to purchase (and certainly not overpay for) a home that is not "move-in ready." Chipped paint, broken fixtures, broken light bulbs, shoddy landscaping and even just a dirty home are all going to be huge turnoffs regardless of the market. You know that those buyers are seeing a relatively limited number of homes. I strongly recommend that you make the extra effort to ensure yours stands out as one of the best.

"You can ask for any price you want and you will get it." I have to admit that some of the sales around here have forced a double-take on my part. But if you've been paying attention to the local trends, you know that sanity is starting to be restored and buyers are starting to push back.

I think we've all heard a story about a friend's neighbor getting double what they paid for the house or some other massive return on their home sale. I'm quite jealous of those people and I wish I would have gotten in on the action. But that doesn't mean it's happening every day on every sale.

Throwing out a sky high price has never been an intelligent strategy for selling a home. You really do need to be educated on the market demands specific to your neighborhood, your style of home, and your home's condition. I liken that strategy to gambling. Of course you could hit the jackpot and be the subject of the story your friends tell their friends.

But the vast majority of us will simply keep feeding nickels into the slot machine. Your home will sit on the market for an indeterminate amount of time and you will inevitably swallow your pride and remove the listing or bring your price back down to reality. I encourage you to have an honest conversation with your local real estate professional and list your home to sell.

"You don't need to market the home, it will sell itself." We all know that everyone, literally everyone, starts their home search online. It is, without question, the most convenient and efficient way to become educated about the area, the listings, and the current real estate prices.

If that buyer sees two homes they are targeting and one has crappy (read: lazy) pictures taken from someone's phone and the other has a full gallery of professional images, a virtual tour and loads of information about every nook and cranny, which one do you think they will pay more attention to? Yes, it's a seller's market, but you still need to put on your Sunday best.

Take the time to stage your home. Remove all of the personal effects from around the home while the photographer is taking photos. Clean like you've never cleaned before.

"It's no secret a decent percentage of our buyers are from out of town," Badger Realty agent Amy Rogers said. "I strongly encourage my sellers to take the extra time, spend the extra money, and ensure their home stands out among the rest in the online marketplace."

"It's a bidding war, just pick the highest offer." I can certainly appreciate this sentiment, but it doesn't always play out as well as intended. My only real suggestion here is to just look at all the factors when considering your offers. The terms of the offer are super important and just because there's a higher priced offer does not mean it is better.

Financial contingencies are always a consideration and I would certainly favor an all-cash deal over a financed one. Of course the terms need to be close, but taking a lower amount (likely still close to or above your asking price) in cash simply lowers your stress and speeds up the process. Just consider all the factors of the offer before jumping in.

Happy selling.

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