Here’s some advice from those who sell real estate to help buyers and sellers.

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Mark Stahly, broker/owner of Big Sky Brokers

For buyers: 

• Get a good agent. Check the websites daily for new listings and use your agent to hear about properties.

When he got into real estate, few individual businesses had websites, he said, adding that Multiple Listing Service listings are now on everyone’s website.

An agent will help a buyer get a home under contract to prevent it from going to someone else, he said.

Most buyers have a buyer’s agent and that’s important, he continued, adding that the real estate market “moves quickly and it’s more complicated than it used to be.”

• Get prequalified for a loan.

• Be ready to move quickly. “Right now if I list an average priced home and it’s priced right, I’m probably going to get more than one offer in, within a day or two, depending on what it is and where it is.”

If you’re a first-time home buyer, it takes a while to get a comfort level, he said.

For sellers: 

• Price the property appropriately. You want to make the best impression you can when you first go on the market so get it spit-polished and decluttered and present it initially as well as you can. “That’s the most interest you’re ever going to get in it, when you first go in the market.”

• Get a good agent and listen to the advice on pricing, staging and presentation.

Pricing a home appropriately is based on the agent’s researching comparable properties that include type of home, size, condition and location of the home as well as the inventory on the market, Stahly said.

And that initial impression on the web seems to be more important now, he noted.

“The online presentation, that’s your first impression anymore. It’s not when somebody first walks in. It’s when they see it online.”

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Andy Onushco, a broker and Realtor with Keller Williams Capital Realty

For buyers: 

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• Interview agents and find one that will hustle to help the buyer get into the house before it’s under contract to someone else.

• Start the search for a home two to three months before planning on buying. That way, by the time the right house comes along, the buyer will already be familiar with the market and ready to make an offer.

“If your perfect house comes along and it’s the first one you’ve looked at, you’re not really going to feel confident that it’s the perfect house unless you’ve seen five or six or eight others before that.”

• Get prequalified now. If you find a problem with the credit score, from 60 to 90 days may be needed to correct it and the buyer could miss out on that dream home.

For sellers: 

• Accurate pricing is critical. A good real estate agent will take into consideration how well maintained a house is and how efficient and desirable it is in addition to its location.

Comparable sales will be evaluated with what’s currently on the market and that’s all woven together to determine a listing price.

Onushco cautioned against relying on online sites that try to predict home values nationwide because sales prices in Montana are not publicly disclosed.

“We are experts in valuation and we’re experts in marketing. And those two things are critical parts of the home sale process.”

• Curb appeal and staging matter. A good agent can tell you how to prepare your home for sale. Some repairs and upgrades help the sale price but others don’t.

• Understanding the timing and process of selling can make it go a lot more smoothly. Showing a home can be a disruption to a lifestyle, so experts can consult on how to best present a home to make it marketable and attractive.

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