In our series interviewing top real estate agents around the country, we spoke with veteran Realtor® Bruno Aropovic, the top selling agent in the Phoenix, Arizona region, closing over 100 transactions January-March, 2020. Within his 14-year career, Bruno has sold $112+ Million in real estate. EffectiveAgents.com (EA): Bruno, thanks so much for joining me and for granting this interview for EffectiveAgents.com. I have a list of 10 questions aimed at providing expert tips for buyers and sellers along with giving us some insight on what to expect in real estate trends for 2021. If you don’t mind, I’m going to jump right in with the first question: What sets you apart from other Realtors—what makes you stand out in your market? Bruno Aropovic (BA): The key is work ethic—being consistent all the time and keeping in touch with my clients, following up with all of the details daily. Everybody is looking for some magic formula. There is no such thing, in my opinion, unless hard work and a good work ethic is a magic formula. If you don't do those things, then you're not going to be on top. Whether you’re fostering lead sources or building your relationship with your clients, it still comes down to those two factors—hard work and work ethic. EA: What do you enjoy most about your career? BA: For me it’s meeting new people and helping them accomplish their own goals. That's really rewarding. I see that reward best when I see the smile on their faces after I’ve helped them buy or sell their house. So, meeting new people and helping my clients accomplish their own goals, that’s why I enjoy my career. EA: What is unique about your city where you work? Why do people love it there? BA: I'm in Phoenix; Phoenix, Arizona. Sunshine is a big deal here; the weather is just perfect. Also, we have the ocean only a few hours away from our community, so that’s a bonus. Plus, there are really no natural disasters, there are no hurricanes or earthquakes, none of that. We have a little bit of heat in the summer. But once you learn how to deal with that, it’s not a problem. People also love Phoenix because it's just very affordable. It’s a beautiful city. Most people think of our town as only a desert. Well, it’s a desert, but it’s so beautiful. We’re seeing a big migration from California coming here because it's just a more affordable city with our cost of living. We have a very active outdoor community with hiking and people going to the lakes, so there’s a great allure there. EA: How should people prepare and what should they expect from their first meeting with a realtor? BA: I try to give people a really good picture about what the market is doing right now and what they can expect from the market during the first meeting. Let's say we're talking about sellers, and if I have a meeting with them looking to sell the house, I'll do my homework. I'll be able to tell them what the market is currently d oing and what they can expect from the sale of their home. At the same time, for instance, it's a seller's market at the moment. Right now, we have a lack of inventory. I explained to them that I can sell their house quickly and for top dollar. But, I also want to make sure that they have a place to go to as soon as we sell, because sometimes people don't understand that they can sell the house quickly, but it’s not always possible that we will be able to find a new h ome very quickly. We can’t do a simultaneous close in today's market under most circumstances; it just doesn't work that way right now. Then, I make sure that I understand fully what they want, not just selling their home. Anybody can sell their home, but I want to fully understand what their goal is so that when I sell the house, I know that they want to buy something right away or if they're looking to rent. I want to truly understand what their goals are. So, then I can figure out how to do that for them. The best way for them to prepare for their first meeting is to be certain they are very clear on their goals so that they can communicate them with me. That way I can get to work for them, getting them what they want. More than anything, I meet with them, preparing them for the big picture, what the market is doing and setting them up for success. EA: What are the top three points of advice that you would give to someone seeking to sell their home in your market right now? BA: One of the primary things in this market right now is as we discussed, when they sell their home, they have a place to go next—whether it’s their next new home to them or an interim place to stay that is well-suited to their needs, meeting their goals. So, being prepared for the next step after you close on your home would be number one. Secondly, in regards to selling the home, pricing it right is key. A lot of people tend to make the mistake when the market is really good, they tend to overprice the houses. Then, they kind of go overboard, which in any market when something is way overpriced, the home sits, which is bad for the seller in a couple of ways—it delays the sale and also the optics of a housing sitting on the market in this climate causes buyers to be skeptical. Pricing the home properly will actually entice the bidding wars into this market, and then we'll end up getting more for their home versus listing it too high and then sitting on the market with terrible optics in this market where everything is just flying off the shelf. If your home is now sitting there for 30 days, people are going to think that there is something either wrong with the home or they will see that it's way overpriced, and then it's just not appealing to buyers. The third point I’d advise is in de-cluttering, cleaning, minimizing everything, depersonalizing, cleaning up your front yard, backyard, have everything squeaky clean and ready to go. Sellers truly want their look to be that model home image. EA: What top three tips would you give to a buyer in your market now? BA: The three tips I’d give to a buyer in this seller’s market are: be patient, be prepared and fully qualified. Being patient includes – don't get emotional, and by emotional I mean a lot of times people will get into bidding wars, and they will end up overpaying for the home. So, my job is to step in and explain to them that if you want to purchase this home, perfect, but know that these are the comps and this particular home is listed now at ten thousand over the asking price with multiple offers. People right now are waiving the appraisals, they are buying it “as is”, and they are offering very high prices for the home to the point where I don't think it would be appraised, and I don't think it would be beneficial for my client to purchase that particular home under those circumstances. So, I explained to them where this deal really stands within the big picture. That’s where the emotions come in, and I try to bring them back into the logical side of the deal. I can tell them I don't have that emotional attachment to the home, so I can objectively look at that particular deal of a particular house and tell them that it's priced well or that it’s not the best investment where it stands. No matter the market, deals are either good or it's not. EA: What should a buyer consider when making an offer? BA: If they like the house and that truly is the home where they can see themselves and their family grow and live for a long time, they should definitely submit strong offers. I have also been putting escalation clauses in there. Assuming a home is priced appropriately and there's some room to maybe be a little more aggressive on the price because the market supports or the community supports it, we add in escalation clauses. This is where the client is submitting an offer, but they're willing to go up to X amount to address those bidding wars that are happening. When there are multiple offers on the table, escalation clauses would give them a best advantage. EA: What are some costs that clients should consider when buying and selling the home? There are some transfer fees and some home warranties, in addition to closing costs. Some buyers are asking for the seller to pay closing costs for them, also in some deals. So, that's something that's negotiable. You don't see this much in today's market because it's a seller's market, but I always bring it up to sellers to make them aware. That's something that the buyers could ask for. In addition to that, buyers have the expense of the inspections, and the buyers then have an option during the inspection period to ask the seller to do certain repairs such as roofing or the pool, plumbing, etc. The seller doesn't have to agree to it, but those repairs recommended by the inspector could be an expense for the seller. Typically, the buyer will also pay for the appraisal. EA: What notable current trends in real estate should people know? BA: Bottom line right now as we’ve been discussing, it's a seller's market, and I think awareness of what that means in the process of buying and selling real estate is key. People, whether you will buy or sell, you need to be aware of what the market is doing right now, so interest rates are very low. Inventory is extremely low. It's a seller's market. If you're a seller, you need to position yourself properly and price your house competitively but try not to overdo it, or you could miss out on stimulating a bidding war, which is common right now. At the same time, if you're a buyer, you need to position yourself properly to be 100 percent prepared, 100 percent prequalified. Everything needs to be ready to go so that when you see a home that you love, you're ready to submit an offer right away. EA: What can homeowners do with renovations and upgrades to improve the value of their home for sale? BA: If you're a seller, there's a lot you could do, but I think the basics that you can do that would give you the most benefit are simple things such as fresh paint and carpet and good cleaning. Paint the interior of the house, maybe exterior of the house as well if the paint is fading. Carpet in the bedroom, especially if you see a stain or ripped carpet. It doesn't cost very much to do it, but I think that gives you the most yield for your investment. Other more expensive upgrades would be the kitchen and bathrooms—new appliances and fixtures, maybe cabinet refacing and those things are a higher investment but could be worth it to help sell the house faster and potentially at a higher price. Also, making any repairs that you know that are needed such as repairs to the roof, pool, plumbing, electrical—these are most likely going to be discovered in an inspection, so if you don’t want the hassle of it holding up a closing, being proactive could be beneficial. Still, we’re in a seller’s market, so take that into consideration before investing in a home you’re not going to live in much longer. EA: What do you anticipate for the market in 2021 that you think people would want to know? BA: I expect the interest rates to stay relatively low, all forecasts are indicating this. So, I think we're going to have a prosperous 2021 for the real estate market. EA: Thanks, Bruno. I really appreciate you taking your time with me for this interview and providing valuable information. Have a great day!