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Inside Gig Harbor Real Estate: Let’s talk about first-time home sellers

Posted on April 5th, 2023 By: Alison Paoli and Paige Schulte

Alison Paoli

Paige Schulte, founder of the Neighborhood Experts Real Estate office in Gig Harbor, writes a monthly column for Gig Harbor Now about the local real estate market. This week, she is joined by Neighborhood Experts agent Alison Paoli.



When we think of first-timers in the real estate market, we often think of first-time home buyers. After all, they are jumping into real estate for the first time, and there is a lot to learn.

But at some point, those first-time home buyers become first-time sellers. And, according to a recent survey conducted by Zillow, more than 80 percent of sellers wish they had done something differently that may have netted them a better return on their investment. First-time sellers should heed the warnings of past first-timers and not make the same mistakes. 

Pricing incorrectly

The top regret in the first-time seller survey was pricing incorrectly.

Pricing a home is both an art and a science. Your strategy can, and often does, change from week to week depending on the market. Sellers want to get the most for their home, but pricing it too high can lead to death by a thousand price cuts. Sellers often end up netting less than they would’ve received had they priced it correctly off the bat. Holding onto the property longer also adds costs and stress.

Conversely, pricing too low can limit your buyer pool. Over the past month, we have seen more bidding wars popping up in Gig Harbor. That’s especially true for homes under $740,000, the median sale price for homes within Gig Harbor city limits.

Some buyers will see an underpriced home and know it will go into a multiple-offer situation, possibly with waived contingencies. Potential buyers will just not want to play ball, actually decreasing the number of buyers interested in your home.

Pricing strategy changes and evolves with the mix of buyers and seller in the market, the time of year and the type of home. The best way to ensure sellers go to market at the right price is to work with a full-time real estate agent who deeply understands the market and the behaviors and motivations of the buyers shopping in the market today.

When selling a home, make sure your real estate agent is giving your house the best possible online curb appeal.

Online curb appeal

Another regret of first-time sellers is not paying attention to how the agent markets the home online, an oversight that can result in less-than-stellar curb appeal. One in 4 homeowners believe that a virtual tour could have helped their home sell for more, and they are right! 

According to the National Association of Realtors, 97 percent of home buyers use the internet to shop, making it all the more important that your home shows well online. Quality online curb appeal includes virtual tours, video walkthroughs, floorplan maps, drone footage and professional photos taken in a professionally staged home. There is really no excuse for not having this done considering many agents offer this service for free. 

When selecting an agent, make sure to look up properties they have recently sold to see their marketing in action. When interviewing agents, ask what their marketing strategy entails and make sure you are getting the complete package of tactics as part of your contract with them. This will help you actually see if they do the things they say they will do in their listing presentation.

Skimping on home prep

Finally, more than one-quarter of sellers say they think they could’ve gotten a higher sales price if they had spent a little more time sprucing up or remodeling their home. While they might be right, there is a fine line between what sellers will get their full return on, or not. 

According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2022 Remodeling Impact Report, major interior remodeling projects that saw the highest return on their investment were hardwood floor refinishing, installing new hardwood floors and upgraded insulation. All of those saw a return on investment greater than 100% (i.e. sellers recouped more than the cost of the work when they sold their home). Adding a new primary bedroom, a new bathroom and a kitchen remodel saw the least return on their investment. 

Exterior projects that saw the highest return on investment were new roofing and a new garage door. Changing out the front door to a fiberglass or steel door saw the least. 

Cleaning up outdoor areas — putting down fresh bark or mowing — can be a cost-effective way of improving your home ahead of a sale.

But what about smaller projects? 

With rising interest rates, buyers have less cash in their pockets for upgrades, leaving many buyers searching for homes they won’t have to do a lot of work to. Homes that are move-in ready and clean attract more buyers. Simple, projects like deep cleaning the grout between tile, re-caulking a bathtub or giving your outdoor space fresh bark and a clean mow can go a long way.

If a seller is not sure what projects, big or small, would be the best use of their time, energy and money, they can connect with a real estate agent well in advance of their anticipated sale who can advise them on what to do and when. Often a simple conversation can eliminate the analysis-paralysis of knowing what to do (and not to do), netting the seller more money.


Paige Schulte

Paige Schulte is founder of the Neighborhood Experts Real Estate office in Gig Harbor. In 2020, she was recognized by the Wall Street Journal for her use of virtual tours and digital media for buyers during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. She was named 2022 Finest Realtor in Gig Harbor by Gig Harbor Living Local. Schulte also sits on the board of her foundation ChelseaPaige Foundation that donates funds back to non-profit organizations in the greater Gig Harbor area.