Real Estate 101: Win at buying, selling in today’s market

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4Jax wanted to dig deeper into the topic of real estate to help you with tricks and hints – whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home.

News4JAX’s Morning Show Anchor Staci Spanos has her real estate license and has been learning a lot about the housing market in Jacksonville.

What does 2022 hold for the local real estate market?

The sizzling real estate market is such a hot topic, you may have noticed it even made its way into a Super Bowl Sunday commercial from Rocket Homes – using humor and the iconic “Barbie” wanting her “Dream House” and getting into a bidding war.

Mark Rosener, the president of Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, got a kick out of the commercial and agrees, the seller’s market we’ve been in has been a boon to sellers -- but a blow to some buyers.

“Many buyers have had to make offers on property after property and they’re losing out to, in many cases, a cash offer,” said Rosener. “Homes are selling over list price, and that’s a whole mental shift buyers have to be able to make -- just in their psyche.”


No one knew what would happen to the housing market when the pandemic hit. But, after shutting down for a couple of months, the market took off like a racehorse. And with it, prices!

According to NEFAR, in January 2022, the median home price in Northeast Florida was $345,000 – up 24% from January 2021.

“No one has a crystal ball, but do you have any indication what 2022 will bring for buyers and sellers?” Staci Spanos asked.

“I think 2022 will be a more normalized market,” answered Rosener.

He and other analysts use several data points to try to figure out where the market is heading. One indicator they look at is how long a home is on the market before it goes under contract. And last year, some homes were selling almost as fast as they were listed.

“In the peak of the frenzy in the spring, days on market was almost measured in hours, not days,” said Rosener. “We’re beginning to see days on market creep up 25 to 30 days which will stabilize, normalize the market a little more.”


But the indicators also show a mixed message because the supply of homes is still dramatically low.

“In other words, it’s still a seller’s market,” said Staci.

“Absolutely,” said Rosener. “And I anticipate it’ll stay a seller’s market. A balanced market typically is five to six months of supply. We’re at 1.1 months of supply through December. A severe seller’s market.”

If you are looking to buy a home, there are some things you can do to try to sweeten the deal when you make an offer on a home – if you get creative:

Home staging

When it comes time to sell your home, you want to make sure you get top dollar for it. Experts say there’s something you can do that could decrease the amount of time your home sits on the market and increase the price you get by 1% to 5%. It’s called home staging.

You hire a company to bring in furniture, wall hangings, even knickknacks and “dress it up” like it’s a model home. But there is a cost. However, people like Jacksonville resident Steve Cobb say it’s worth every penny.


Cobb was ready to sell his mother’s 1964 Arlington home last year, but it was empty inside. When it was recommended to him to stage the home – to take the empty spaces and make them feel homey – he did it.

Real Estate 101: Win at buying, selling in today’s market

“Actually, the house looked better after we had staged it than with my mom’s furniture in there. Really a nice modern look,” said Cobb.

The home had great bones but needed a little updating. When the staging was complete, the house had a more contemporary look -- one that appealed to more people.

Cobb says he received several offers right away.

“Well, gosh, within 24 hours of listing it, we had eight offers. A good part of that is the overall strength of the market then -- as it is today -- but staging allowed the vision of how the home could be utilized,” he said.

Lea Hudson works with a staging company and says home selling is all about appealing to people’s emotions.

*You want to pull on the heartstrings,” said Hudson. “Selling houses is a lot more emotional than people think, and if you’re walking through and there’s no personal stuff, it’s a little easier to envision yourself there. People get more excited about it, and we like to say it helps it to sell for more and faster. So that’s really the goal.”


The National Association of Realtors surveyed buyer’s agents about home staging:

The home staging worked for Cobb. In the end, he says the house sold for more than the asking price.

“So, for you, you felt like it was worth it?” Staci asked.

“It was absolutely worth it to stage the house,” Cobb answered. “The value was there, and I firmly believe staging helped it sell quickly.”

It’s important to note, the seller usually pays for the staging – not the agent. And different home staging companies have different prices. Some charge 1% of the listing price while others charge a one-time setup fee – in addition to a monthly fee. For example, Lea Hudson’s company charges $375 per month.

If a home is not vacant, you can have a home stager do a consultation and supplement what you have – or they can recommend things to do to make it more desirable for potential buyers. Hudson suggests you:

Good photography

One of the most important things you can do when trying to sell your home is to capture your home with good photography. In fact, Staci Spanos compares good photos of your home to online dating because it all boils down to the pictures. Bad pictures make a potential buyer skip right past your perfectly good home.


Professional real estate photographer Tina Casto says good photography is meant to highlight your home and can be the spark that ignites interest from buyers as they scroll through home after home during online searches.

“What type of bad photography have you seen?” Staci asked Casto.

“Anytime you use cell phones, that can be a little sketchy. Not all phones are created equal,” she answered.

Casto has been taking pictures of homes for five years and says yes, sometimes do-it-yourself photos turn out okay, but not usually.

“When you don’t have professional photography, you’re probably losing out on some potential buyers because that first impression is what they see on whether they see -- the qualities of that house,” she said.

So, what’s the cost of those pretty pictures? Professional photos can cost anywhere from $100-$300 plus per session. Drone photography, floor plans, and videos will cost more.


And who pays for it? If you’re listing with a real estate agent, usually the agent does. If you’re selling your own house, you’ll pick up the tab.

When Steve cobb helped sell his mother’s house in Arlington’s University Park neighborhood last year, not only did he pay to have the home staged, but he also hired a professional photographer to take photos to post online.

The man who bought the house never saw the home in person before he closed on it.

“The buyer was overseas when he bought the home,” said Cobb. “All he had was the pictures of the home with the staging and the word of his real estate agent.”

Casto says before you take any photos of your home, you need to remove the following: