Anyone trying to buy or sell a home in the last two years has faced extraordinary circumstances. Neither a pandemic nor a struggling economy could slow the real estate marketplace in Pittsburgh or nationwide.
Favorable interest rates and historically low levels of available inventory drove up competition. Buyers engaged in bidding wars to get their hands on new listings within hours of their debut on the real estate marketplace. Having a trusted real estate professional in your corner to advocate for your best interests was the key to success in these situations.
“Buying a home can be an overwhelming process, particularly when you’re buying a first home. Choosing the right real estate agent to represent you is vital. An experienced agent will listen to your goals and needs and can navigate the current market and inventory to meet those goals,” said Zita Billmann, a full-time Realtor® since 2008 who specializes in the communities north of Pittsburgh.
Billmann understands that buyers feel worn out by the market conditions of the last couple of years. “It was a strong sellers’ market where buyers were fiercely competing for the limited inventory of homes, so it wasn’t unusual for homes to sell within hours of being listed for sale and ultimately selling for thousands over asking price,” she said.
While the market has calmed, the low inventory of homes available can still pose a challenge when looking for a dream home. Higher interest rates have caused some buyers to pause their searches, so for sellers it is more important than ever to effectively prepare the home for sale and to price it right.
Born and raised in the North Hills, Billmann—whose total career sales are over $550 million—knows the communities she serves, making her the perfect partner for buyers and sellers in western Pennsylvania. West Penn MLS has ranked her as its top agent in the Pittsburgh region for six years running. She’s sold 89 homes valued at $50 million, helping 37 families find their dream homes in 2022.
Tips for Homebuyers
Billmann understands the reluctance of some to wade into the local real estate marketplace given the volatility over the last couple of years. However, she predicts an easing of some of the conditions that have tried the patience of even the calmest home buyers.
“The market where sellers were getting 10 or 12 bids over asking price is behind us,” she said. “Now, it’s more about preparing and pricing your home correctly if you want it to sell quickly.”
That’s good news for buyers, but not necessarily bad news for sellers. “It’s still a strong market,” Billmann said. “Pittsburgh is a safe and affordable place to buy. That’s what continues to make it attractive to buyers.”
An experienced agent who can provide solid guidance on the real estate marketplace is a must for first-time buyers, cautioned Billmann. “First-time homebuyers don’t always know what to look for, the right questions to ask, or how to get a quality home inspection,” she said, noting that experienced real estate agents can provide recommendations for home inspectors, lending options and trades professionals.
Before seeking out an agent’s help, Billmann recommends that first-time homebuyers make a list that includes which features they want in a home, the price points the budget allows, and how long they plan to stay in the home.
“These are critical components of finding the right place that fits your long-term goals,” she said. “For many, buying a home is the largest financial decision of a lifetime and plays a large part in their financial security. Making the right choices that are in line with the short-term and long-term goals is key to reaching those real estate goals.”
Move-up homebuyers can benefit from creating the same list as first-timers, but must focus on the timeframe to build equity in their home. “If you move every couple of years, it digs into the investment and profits on your home,” advised Billmann. “The equity in the current property is a large part of what allows homeowners to move up to the next desired home size or neighborhood or school district.”
For those living in the same home for 20 or 30 years, it can be eye-opening when they decide to put their property on the market. “People are often taken by surprise that the home they want to downsize to is more expensive than what they can get for their current home,” said Billmann. “Most retirement communities and properties catering to retirees are newer construction and feature more of today’s smart technology and amenities, so they generally come with a higher price tag.”
Tips for Home Sellers
The key to success in the 2023 local real estate market is to price your home right and to prepare the home appropriately to appeal to today’s buyers. “Inventory is still historically low here. We have people who want to move into the area, but there are very few options on the market,” said Billmann. “That makes it an amazing time to sell.”
According to Zillow, Pittsburgh is number three in the top 10 real estate markets for buying or selling in 2023.
“Price your home to sell the first time,” said Billmann, “and clean out, clear out and minimize everything. People want to see the space. They want to be able to envision themselves living in the home, so depersonalizing the property is one way to help them see how the home will work for them. And if something is broken, be prepared to fix it.”
Interior renovations with the biggest return on investment include kitchen and bathroom remodels and enhanced outdoor living spaces. But don’t forget about the exterior.
“Curb appeal goes a long way with buyers,” Billmann said. “That saying of not getting a second chance to make a great first impression holds true for homes as well. Consider refreshing the landscaping if it looks overgrown and stage the front porch area to create a warm, welcoming feeling.”
Tips for Finding an Agent
Doing your research is the best way to find a real estate agent who aligns with your homebuying or selling goals. Make sure you read reviews on Google, Zillow and social media. Don’t hesitate to ask for references from past clients.
“Whether buying or selling your first home or your fifth, ensuring your agent has your best interests in mind is essential,” said Billmann, who prides herself on being honest with her clients. “Advocating for my clients’ best interests is at the forefront of everything I do, so taking the time to ensure that I understand what they want is paramount to helping them reach their real estate goals.”
Billmann comes highly recommended by customers and professional organizations. Among her awards and recognitions include:
#1 Individual Agent in western Pennsylvania since 2018
Accredited Buyer Representative
Five-star rating on Zillow and Trulia
Certified Relocation Specialist (CRS)
e-PRO internet marketing expert.
Licensed Real Estate Agent since 2008
Named company leader 2013 to 2016 and 2018 through 2022
Recognized by the International Society of Excellence for 2018 through 2022
Top agent in listing, sales, and volume from 2017 through 2022 by Coldwell Banker
To reach Zita Billmann at Coldwell Banker Realty, call 412-310-7812 or 412-366-1600. Or visit her website at https://zitabillmann.com.