City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

House Hunting 101

Realtor Allison Pickell Offers Valuable Advice to Home Buyers and Sellers

Summer is one of the most popular times to buy or sell a home. Schedules have opened up, children are out of school, and there is plenty of time to explore what’s on the market. But before setting out on an exhaustive house hunt, consider some expert advice. 

Allison Pickell has been a realtor with Coldwell Banker RPM Group for 11 years, and helping clients is one of her favorite aspects of the profession. 

She says house hunters should first decide what is important to them, so they will know what to look for as they explore their options. 

“For couples in their 30s, many buying their second and/or what they hope to be their forever home, I recommend considering the larger home that might need some updating,” she says. “Buy the size you want and the location you want and grow into it. It doesn’t have to be perfect on day one. A fresh coat of paint throughout, some flooring updates if needed right away and some inexpensive lighting changes can go a long way.”

Just as Rome wasn’t built in one day, Allison reiterates, home isn’t either. “Live in it a bit and build up some equity. Then remodel your kitchen and/or bathrooms … not necessarily all at once,” she says. “If you work through projects over a few years, you will love your house more and more with each step.” 

When considering a fixer upper, Allison says, it is important to take time to research the home’s issues. “Have a contractor give you a remodel quote. Interview a friend that has been through a remodel and ask them on the back end about their experience. Go check out retail stores that sell materials for the finishes you desire and get centered with how much things cost. In my personal opinion, having a designer or architect involved is worth every penny if you are going to move walls or take a project back to the studs and build it back out.” 

Whether searching for a fixer or a move-in-ready home, Allison says it’s extremely important for home buyers to view homes in person. She says one of the top mistakes new home buyers make is spending too much time looking at homes online. 

“You have to see it in person to know if it is really the one or not. Spend more time driving neighborhoods you like and checking new listings out with at least one drive-by before scheduling an appointment to see it,” she says. “My buyers can often rule out 25% of the homes that interest them just by checking out the area around the homes that interested them online.” 

For many, buying a home is just half of the journey. For those who also must sell a home, Allison has some valuable words of wisdom. First and foremost, she says, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so take the time to properly prepare your home for market.” 

The most common mistake sellers make, she says, is rushing to market without making their homes sell- or show-ready.

“I offer a wide variety of services to my clients to help with this process. I can take on as much as they want me to do, or I can give them a list and they can tackle it themselves,” she says. “Staging makes a huge difference. For some homes, it involves depersonalizing, decluttering and tackling delayed maintenance.

“Staging is different from decorating,” she explains. “Decorating is intended to show your personal style. Staging is intended to neutralize a home to have broader appeal to all.” 

Allison advises home sellers also remedy any delayed maintenance on their home before putting it on the market. “Buyers want to spend their money on the fun improvements and don’t want to buy your problems. And if you need to sell as-is, plan to price it accordingly.” 

Feeling overwhelmed with the process? A realtor can help. 

“Your home is one of your single biggest assets,” Allison says. “You want someone with experience to help you navigate the steps. Professional realtors can help you understand your options at every step of the journey. Preparing a home and marketing the home are very important, but it is even more important to have an experienced agent in your corner from contract to closing.”

To contact Allison or to view available homes in the area, visit

“Buy the size you want and the location you want and grow into it. It doesn’t have to be perfect on day one."

“Your home is one of your single biggest assets,” Allison says. “You want someone with experience to help you navigate the steps."

Businesses featured in this article