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Tips for Buying and Selling a House in Metro Detroit By Kyla Heat

With the resurgence of the Michigan economy and Detroit becoming a sought-after city, more people are buying or selling their homes. But is now the best time to sell or buy a house, and if it is, what’s the best way to do it?

Erik Burt, real estate agent for Real Estate One based in Southfield, says it’s a buyers and a seller’s market right now, but one has more of an advantage.

“There are more people that want to buy homes than there are for sale right now,” Burt says. “We just came out of a bad recession, so people that may have wanted to move, stayed put. Now, home values have increased and people are looking to upgrade their space since the economy has improved.”

Currently, Burt says there are fewer homes on the market compared to 2015.

In today’s economy, more people are looking for mid-priced, single-family homes they can actually afford, real estate agents say. The fastest-selling homes are under $250,000. Houses worth more than that usually stay on the market longer.

“Know the value of your home. Ask your real estate agent to perform a comparative market analysis,” Burt says. “You don’t want ask for too little or too much.”

As new businesses and restaurants pop up around downtown Detroit, many people find themselves wanting to live close to the action.

Donny Wilson, 35, purchased his first home last July. It took five months before his Realtor, Lindsey Shobe of RE/MAX, found him a three-bedroom house in Oak Park.

“Probably the most important thing for me was location. I wanted to be close to work, but I also wanted to be very central,” Wilson says. “The center of it all is 8 Mile and Woodward, so I wanted to be within a 5-mile radius of that preferably going north and west.”

Building v. Buying a House

In the past 10 years, Burt says building companies have pulled out of Michigan because there wasn’t enough funding to finish projects. Development subdivisions that were originally slated for 25 homes, sometimes only have 10 or 15. Now, homeowners are seeking to build again.

After scouring several cities in Michigan, Nadina Martin, 46, finally decided on building a house in a newly developed subdivision in Romulus.

“When looking, the house either didn’t have what I wanted or something was missing,” Martin says. “After two years without much success, I decided to build and design my own house. I’m newly divorced, so this will be my first home purchase by myself. I’m excited because I know the home will have everything I want.”

Real estate agents say the biggest request they hear from clients is to find a house with two or more bathrooms.

“In the last two years,” Burt says, “most of my clients want to move toward downtown Detroit, but a lot of the older homes only have one and a half baths and that turns a lot of people off.”

To help stand out among the buyer and seller competition, Burt gives a few tips:

Selling a House

  • Update the basics. Make sure the home has a working furnace, water system and updated roof. You can’t have a shiny new kitchen and a bad roof.
  • Modern appliances help sell homes faster. Stainless steel appliances, new cabinets, countertops and hardwood floors are always big sellers.
  • Do your homework. Research your area and know the value of your house.

Buying a House

  • Know your budget. Decide how much you want to spend and factor in your down payment.
  • Don’t try to do it yourself. Enlist a real estate agent who can help you navigate through the process.

“Buying or selling your house is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life,” Burt says. “There isn’t a right or wrong time to do it. The time is when you are ready.”

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