Broker Melissa Frank Lutz of Douglas Elliman Real Estate knows a thing or two about real estate. Here, she offers up some sound advice whether you’re buying, selling, or thinking about either.
What are the biggest mistakes buyers and sellers make in today’s market?
I’d say the biggest mistake I see my buyers make is not moving on the home they initially align with the most, they feel something better will come along but inevitably they continue to compare every home to the one that got away. As for sellers on the other side of the table, they often feel a bidding war will be provoked or a considerably higher offer will come in and want to wait it out, but usually the best offer comes sooner rather than later which is why I always educate my sellers on the comps so we are prepared to negotiate when the offers come in.
How much should a seller stage their home before putting it on the market?
I believe staging is one of the most important things a seller can do to get the best possible price, whether that be hiring a professional stager or not, staging is a must. It goes beyond removing clutter, it is really about making the home as appealing as possible to the buyers and letting them walk in and feel like they want to live there.
We’re heading into winter, should a seller stay off the market until better weather?
I work with my sellers to advise them in what makes the most sense based on their individual situation and needs. In some cases it clearly makes more sense to wait until the spring. That said, there are often instances, particularly if inventory is low, that listing in winter has its advantages.
What projects would you recommend starting and completing before putting a home on the market?
It really depends on the individual situation. We need to assess exactly how much money it is going to cost and whether that will come back to them. Painting is a no brainer but each situation does require its own assessment.
Is it a buyer or a seller’s market right now?
It’s a good time to be a buyer, rates are low and there is a lot of choice.
What are some of the hottest towns to buy in Westchester right now?
I have a strong mix of buyers who insist on a short commute to the city, in which case Larchmont, Rye, Scarsdale, and Edgemont have been high on buyers’ lists this year. I also have a lot of buyers looking for a mix between a good commute and more property when Chappaqua, Bedford, and Katonah have been high on my buyers’ lists as well.
What are some things to consider before putting your home on the market or buying here in Westchester?
Westchester has so much to offer, I work with my buyers to educate them on all the different towns to consider. For many the commute to NYC and top schools are the highest considerations so I begin there. For sellers I prefer to time the market to what works best for their situation as well as guiding them on what time of year is best to sell their home.
Predominantly who are your clients these days: empty nesters or young couples moving from the city? Why do you think this area is so attractive to these buyers?
I may be in a unique situation having grown up in Westchester but worked in New York City Real Estate for over ten years prior to transitioning here. My clients often relate to my story, they are often going through the similar journey of looking for a quality of life change away from the city. I work with a lot of weekenders as well as handle relocations for a few very large corporations, working with them to find homes for their employees moving from all over the world. This past year my clients moved to Westchester from Dubai, Hong Kong, London, and Australia to name a few.
What are some of your best real estate tips for buyers and sellers today?
When you are dealing with someone’s home it is in many cases a person’s most valuable asset. At the same time it is also a place that has tremendous emotions attached to it. We put all of our hopes desires and reflections of ourselves into what we want our home to be. It is hard to see clearly through all these conflicting issues. My advice is to seek out someone that you trust, someone that can help navigate all the obstacles so that the process informs them in such a way that makes them feel confident in the decisions ahead.