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As decorating trends shift toward more contrast, consider whether it might be smarter to remodel or sell 'as is' and build a new lake house

It is time to prepare to end one year and begin anew. So much has changed in 2020. This year has been so wrought with changes and difficulties; it is hard to see opportunities through the fog – yet they do exist. How people buy and sell homes is not immune to such change. The local Lake Martin community has and is continuing to see many sales and resales taking place. A good bit of the local and national buying and selling is due to the pandemic and subsequent work and lifestyle shifts.  

If you pay close attention, you might see that there are many great opportunities. The best of these opportunities is coming from lowered mortgage interest rates; therefore, it is no wonder that people are taking a fresh look at how they are housed, considering the massive implications of COVID-19. Some people are upsizing or downsizing; some are moving out of crowded cities and suburbs; some are adding secondary homes in peaceful settings; all while others are taking advantage of lower cost remodeling monies or selling for profit. There are owner, construction trade, builder and developer wins everywhere in this specialty local economy. The rare uptick in certain markets will probably have residual effects well into 2021.

According to local Lake Martin area real estate agent Lacey Howell, the lake is abuzz with regular sales and bidding wars, and inventory is often limited. This presents several exciting and thought-based advantages for sellers and a bit more preparedness on the part of buyers.

The Market

If you are a seller, you should be concerned with competitiveness. If you are a buyer, your purchase methods begin with strategic compromises and future considerations. No one should enter a strong market without a plan for the best personal outcome.

The sellers need to know what makes their properties more competitive. Is it the “As Is” sale to capitalize off the demand without the extra expense? Is it the strategic upgrades that will improve positioning and higher net sale amounts? Where is the best placement of properties for the best value proposition to the buyers?

The buyers are either entering the highly competitive market or upsizing or downsizing to stay within a market they have come to love. But what is the best new house scenario for their current and future needs? Can a house that needs upgrades suffice for a period? Will a fixer upper net a higher value later? Is the best way to enter the current market a new construction home?

These are only a few of the questions that buyers and sellers need to consider as they navigate a market that could have short-term or long-term financial and personal implications. Figuring out the best-case scenario is not like gambling or choosing from a dinner menu.

The Influences

Certainly COVID-19 has influenced some people, but no one factor causes change for a large group of people. Many are seeing health and financial benefits, while others see the chance to change their lifestyles. How and why each person makes these decisions is not as important as the overarching aftermath of the sale or purchase.

Are you selling a home for the benefit of profiting and moving upward or downward in housing type? Is that decision only based upon opportunity, or have you made a strong list of what the next step looks like for you and your family?

If you buy a home based upon COVID-19 and future health considerations, have you had enough time to really consider the community you are swapping for gain?

If you are a tandem seller/buyer, you have double the planning process. This is especially true if you are coming from a completely different type of market. How do you prepare for both when each has its own set of needs assessment, including timeliness? Just because you want to sell and then buy doesn’t mean you will not end up buying and then selling (hopefully). Strategies and compromise are particularly high in this situation.

The Plan

While these are big thoughts, they are not impossible to realize if you plan well. After all, 2020 is the year of new strategies and pivoting in nearly every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. But again, we must account for the specific markets and the right influences:

Even if you plan to pay cash, call a financial professional (CPA, banker, mortgage broker) or collect in-depth researched information about your sale/purchase subject matter. Make sure the information relates to your exit and entry market segments.

Ask the right experts (Realtors, chambers of commerce) about the local economy and stability of housing in your current and planned markets before committing to staying or leaving an area.

Ask the right experts (architects, designers, structural engineers, appraisers) about what you should and should not do to prepare your home for sale or when buying one that requires updates or repairs.

Once you have the feedback of one or more of these experts (not entertainment television or online sources), move on to contractors or builders you are interested in seeing if the considerations match across the board.

Never update a home or buy according to fads and trends unless you are willing to live with the changes you’ve made for five to seven years or more, just in case sale plans are sidetracked. Never buy a home that will require a bigger investment than you can plan to absorb or benefit from within two to five years after you have purchased it.

These are exciting, scary, life shifting and critical times in world history. Plan accordingly.

~ Stephanie Simon is a certified design and construction professional with more than 22 years of multi-discipline experience. Follow her on Instagram Scenario_Design, on Facebook@scenariodesigninc or contact her by email at