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Two Traverse City real estate agents share how to thrive when buying or selling Up North. Join Abby Sierzputowski and Matt Hodges for eight helpful tips for home sellers and buyers in Northern Michigan.

Real Estate Agent headshot.
Real estate agents Matt Hodges and Abby Sierzputowski recently celebrated the opening of Kultura Group, a luxury real estate boutique in Traverse City. Matt and Abby, who own and operate Kultura (Polish for “culture”), have spent nearly two decades combined in the business and are seeing the North emerge as an increasingly hot market.
“Northern Michigan is currently a sellers’ market. With inventory at an all-time low and a flush of new buyers to our region from all over, we are seeing properties sell for well over asking price in this already competitively priced market,” Abby says.
“New money is flowing into our region at record speed. Since the pandemic, we are seeing more and more out-of-state buyers from areas around the country who have the capital, can work remotely and crave the lifestyle we all love here in Northern Michigan.”
In Grand Traverse County, Matt says the volume of waterfront homes over $600,000 rose 36 percent from 2019 to 2020, and those homes spent an average of 97 days on the market with an average sales price of $968,000. Based on current numbers for 2021, that average sales price is up 9 percent to just over $1 million, and average days on the market dropped by 20 percent to 2.5 months.
“Pacing is slightly lower on total sales, but this gives those who want to sell in that luxury market an advantage right now,” Matt says.“We are seeing similar numbers in Leelanau and An- trim counties as well.”

Here, Matt and Abby offer tips for navigating the current hot market in Northern Michigan.

Real Estate Agent headshot.

4 Tips for Northern Michigan Home Sellers

Tip #1: Find the right real estate agent.

It takes the right person to get you to the closing table and into your new home. Many agents are not trained on how to get an offer accepted. Some real estate agents don’t reach out to see what the seller is looking for or make those necessary connections with the other agent; instead, they just send over an offer and cross their fingers. If you’re not getting results, don’t hesitate to find someone new. In most cases, it’s not the buyer who pays for the real estate agent’s service, it’s the seller.

Tip #2: Have a local lender pre-approval ready.

Most sellers in this competitive market won’t look at an offer if it’s not accompanied by a pre-approval letter. Do your homework and create a relationship with a local lender before you view properties and are 100 percent ready to make offers. With that being said, think of them as a part of your real estate team. The agent you choose should have a standing relationship with your lender, as pre-approvals can be specific to a property and time-sensitive in this cutthroat market we are approaching.

Tip #3: Be creative with your offer.

Cash is always king; however, throwing in something of value just may give you the edge when sellers are reviewing offers. For example, if your real estate agent has made a connection with the other agent and finds out the seller loves a certain type of cuisine, go get them a gift card to their favorite restaurant and gift it at the closing table. Or if you find out the seller has never seen the Northern Michigan shoreline from a plane, give them that adventure they seek.

Tip #4: Be the backup offer.

Don’t be afraid to look at properties that are under contract. We have seen on numerous occasions backup offers becoming the first offer. Some people may have buyer’s remorse, so don’t give up if you think your dream home is gone.

4 Tips for Northern Michigan Home Buyers

Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to list.

You may be scared to list in this market and think you won’t find your next home, but you, the seller, are in the driver’s seat! Statistics show it takes 30–45 days to close, and with that, you can ask for an additional day’s possession after closing. Or make it contingent on yourself finding and closing on your new home.

Tip #6: Talk scenarios with your agent.

There are many unique ways to market your property that will fit your needs and get it sold on your timeline. Yes, it’s a seller’s market, but standing out can still make the difference on how much you get in the end.

Tip #7: Pick a strategic list date.

Once you are ready to list your home, be prepared for multiple showings and requests right off the bat. If you are priced well in the market, the first 72 hours are generally the heaviest. Take a mini-vacation over a weekend or look at your calendar for days you’re able to be gone. This will create a less stressful atmosphere for you.

Tip #8: Use a professional.

You may be thinking, “I don’t need an agent in this market!” But statistics show a “for sale by owner” will get 20 percent less than if you utilize a professional. Talk to some agents; if you’re still not convinced, try it yourself.

View this article and more in the digital July issue of MyNorth Real Estate & Home Services; or subscribe to Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, delivered to your door each month.

Photo(s) by Dave Speckman