How to: Stay competitive in a balanced market


Let’s start with the definition of a balanced market since sometimes this can be confusing. The objective answer is the market is balanced or neutral with about six months of inventory. At this amount of inventory, there is enough housing to meet buyer demand, and conversely there is enough buyer demand to keep things moving.

So now the real question: do we want a neutral market? Is it good for everyone? Or are buyers AND sellers struggling in a neutral market?

For us, it’s all about staying competitive, both for buyers and sellers. The market will do what it may, but it is our job to be the steady hand through it all. Here are a few of our best tips:


Do your research! Start your search by identifying examples of recently sold homes that meet your list of criteria. Get a feel for home values, average market time, square footage—all of the factors that will help you when it comes time to write an offer.

It’s still all about location: A good location is like a fine wine, it only gets better in time. If you are worried about a property appreciating, finding a strong location is the best insurance policy possible.

Always be prepared: In a city like Chicago, there are always people looking to move in, which means even in a neutral market, there are always a certain number of serious buyers. Set yourself apart by preparing in advance. The number one way to prepare? Get pre-approved! It’s fast and easy, and proves to sellers that you are ready to go.


Never say no: When we hear sellers say that they rejected an offer outright, we truly never understand why. We encourage all of our sellers to at least try to negotiate every offer they receive for one simple reason: why not?! It takes very little time and energy to politely respond to an offer, and you never know where things could land.

Maintenance is crucial: In a faster seller’s market, you can get away with your home being less than move-in-ready. However, when the market slows, buyers quickly become more picky and scrutinizing. Fix what needs fixing, paint what needs painting, etc.

Your home is only worth what someone will pay: You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating. The value of your home doesn’t take into account your personal situation or love for your home. If you base your expectations on fact, you will be much happier in the end!