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Your Biggest Investment

Expert Tips for Homeowners, Buyers, and Sellers in Today’s Market

For most people, your home is the largest investment you will make in your lifetime. We sat down with Melissa Herdman, a realtor with Kirk & Cobb Realtors, a family-owned company that has been in business in Topeka for over 70 years. We asked her what homeowners need to know about owning, buying, and selling in today’s real estate market.

Herdman has been working in real estate since 2012. “My background is in nursing,” she said. “But after I became interested in real estate, I was excited to find that it fulfills my need to help people, just in a different way.” Sitting down with customers and getting to know them is her favorite part of the process. “Helping people get from where they are to where they want to be and feeling confident in the process is my goal,” she shared.

One of her first pieces of advice is: If you own a home, get a real estate review. Homeowners are sitting on a lot of equity. It’s a large investment. “We won’t pressure you into selling your home,” she said. “We’ll help you decide what makes the most financial sense.” For instance, if the bank owns 80% or more of your home, you must have private mortgage insurance (PMI). You may find out that you have built enough equity that you can drop your private mortgage insurance payments. That’s money in your pocket. If interest rates are low, it may make sense to refinance. If your home is outdated, a home improvement loan may be the best move. You may want to invest in a second home or put the money into other investments like the stock market. The point is that you have options and ways to use your money to your advantage. A real estate agent can help you identify them.

Whether buying or selling, Herdman says it can be an emotional time often precipitated by change and people don’t typically like change. “When I talk to customers, I listen for their why.” Herdman explained. “People buy for their why not for their what. For instance, I’m building a home right now. Why? We wanted space for our family to be able to gather and we wanted to be out in the country on a blacktop road. Everyone’s why is unique to them, but it’s always rooted in emotions, not logic.”

Besides knowing their why, keeping in touch regularly with updates and feedback keeps everyone on the same page. Herdman shared that communication is critical to keeping customers happy. She encourages customers to ask a lot of questions. “I tell them if they don’t have questions, I worry about them,” she laughed. Here are some of her top tips:

●       If you have questions, don’t listen to the national media. Talk to someone local. You’ll get a much better feel for the market you are in.

●       If you are on the fence about buying, selling, or both, call a real estate professional. Realtors can answer many questions and provide the information you need to make the smartest decisions with your biggest investment.

●       Buying or selling a home is a big decision and it needs to be done on your timeline.

●       We can show any home on the market, not just those with our sale sign on it. You don’t have to call that specific listing agent to see that house. 

●       Ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent anything. The real estate industry has a lot of moving parts. Most people don’t buy or sell a home more than a few times in their lifetime. Real estate agents know the details because they are immersed in them daily.

●       It’s important to find a real estate agent who fits your style. Ask questions about their communication style/preferences. Make sure your personalities mesh well and you feel comfortable.

As their slogan says, Kirk & Cobb has been matching hearts and homes since 1947. “If you have questions, give us a call. Knowledge is power,” Herdman said. “We know this industry and this local market. Whether you use our services or not, my goal is that you feel more empowered after talking than when we started the conversation.”

Kirk & Cobb Realtors can show all Topeka area MLS listings. You can also search all Topeka area listings on the Kirk & Cobb Property Search page. You can even have new listings that meet your criteria automatically sent to your email account. “We make it easy to get you from where you are to where you want to be,” Herdman said. For more information, visit

“When I talk to customers, I listen for their why. People buy for their why not for their what.”

“Knowledge is power. We know this industry and this local market. Whether you use our services or not, my goal is that you feel more empowered after talking than when we started the conversation.”