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By now pretty much everybody in the real estate market has read or at least heard that the market is changing. For sellers that will mean that their houses need to be priced more competitively and – at least equally important- need to be impeccably marketed. No more “it will sell tomorrow with 10 offers regardless of poor pictures and shoddy marketing”.
Every seller should interview a few agents and compare their services. As usual it is often “you get what you pay for”. If you are looking to find the cheapest agent you might just end up having your house sit on the market for the duration of the listing without being sold. At the end you will have spent more than the money you thought you would save by paying property tax, utilities, maintenance and maybe mortgage interest for the duration of the listing. That money will never come back to you. In the meantime the listing has grown stale and buyers are starting every inquiry with “I wonder what it is wrong with it…”.
So what can you expect from a broker you entrust the sale of your biggest asset with?
Your broker needs to have deep knowledge of the market overall, your neighborhood, recent sales around your house, how those compare to yours, the development of the market in the last 6 months and how to assemble a quality market analysis, showing you not only what has sold but also what is in sale pending, how fast it got there and what your current competition is. Your broker needs to have competent answers to your questions and be prepared to solve any problem arising. You should be able to trust your broker and should adhere to competent advice. Listen to their pricing advice carefully and don’t think you know it better because you looked at Zestimates. If you overprice against your broker’s advice you will not sell, at least not within a reasonable amount of time and at the end most likely for less than what you were advised to price at to begin with.
Punctuality, Organization, Proactive Engagement and more are a good sign your broker is actually interested in you and your listing. A well prepared, ready to go plan, that can be implemented fast will give your listing the steam it needs to appear on the market, generate a lot of interest and be in contract fast, preferably with multiple offers and once in contract with a viable back up. Putting up a sign, entering some data on MLs and leaning back, waiting for results will not cut it.
3: Professional Services
I know I am a good broker but a lousy photographer. Why would I not engage somebody who is a pro in their field and will handle the job significantly better, faster and more efficient than I could ever do myself? Professional photography and staging should be a staple in every good broker’s arsenal. Staging helps a buyer envision themselves in the home, it adds warmth and color and gives the camera something to focus on. Average empty houses sit on the market longer! Inspecting a home before it is going on the market will help preventing a sale fail. You get the chance to repair, disclose and prepare.
If you are like me you severely dislike talking to voice mail. Your broker should pick up their phone and reply to text and email fast. Being available for you should be the highest priority. A quick text or a recording why your broker is not right away available helps!
5: Problem Solving
Nearly every sale hits a road block or two at one time during the transaction. Staying calm, knowing a way out, helping with a transition, knowing alternatives, and solving problems is a main task for a broker. Experience and flexibility are required to find the best way forward. Not involving their own ego helps a lot. A drama free transaction, geared solely towards the common goal is ideal.
6: Follow up
For me, a sale closing is not the end of it. Developing a relationship with a client means to be there anytime forever after the closing for any kind of support I can give. So if you need something after the closing and you can never reach your broker, that is an issue.
In summary: ask questions, compare, do not settle for second best, do not try to get the cheapest and have expectations!
“Price is not always the problem but always the solution”.
I don’t know who said this first, but it is just perfect. There is a right price for every single property. Some prices are easier to find, for instance in a development with lots of similar homes. Some properties are very difficult to price for their uniqueness, condition, updates, features and location.
The goal of pricing when a property is being listed is hitting the nail on the head, either finding that one perfect buyer who is ready, willing and able and just buys it, or pricing in a way the market finds very enticing, resulting in multiple offers and a true market price at the end.
I always find it rather fascinating when a multiple offer situation results in at least three or four offers very close together, thus showing that a multitude of buyers came to a very similar conclusion about the value of a property. Markets working at their finest!
To find a price you can take 4 approaches:
Properties that are sold, I usually take the last 12 months and brackets like size, age, lot size, location.
Properties in contract, to see how fast a comparable property was accepted by the market and at what price and waiting time frame.
Properties that are expired or are on the market for a long time without an offer
Properties that are currently on the market and are direct competition for the property you want to sell
Interestingly these 4 approaches lead to similar results and very quickly you will see a cluster of potential prices.
I often hear the idea of pricing higher to have “wiggle room”. In my opinion this never leads to a good outcome. The market knows when a property is overpriced. You will see less showings and the goal of good pricing -to entice as large a buyer pool as possible- will be missed. The best offers are coming in during the first 2 weeks from listing. If your house is overpriced it will sit and you will ultimately get less than if you had priced it correctly to begin with.
Sometimes sellers had their house on the market before and encountered a buyer who actually made an offer at their (too high) price. Those sellers then see this offer as validation for their price, after all there was somebody who wanted it at this price. A buyer needs to be ready, willing and able.
If your former buyer was willing, but neither ready, nor able, it was not a true buyer. So move on and trust the data. It usually tells the truth.
2019 started with a vengeance and we are looking at a different yet still very active real estate market. One should never forget to look back though and reflect on last year. Often I get lovely reviews from past clients but there is no way I can ever write a review for them. So here is a big THANK YOU to the 63 parties I was honored to help buy and sell in 2018!
Clients and brokers who think alike find each other somehow, it is rather rare that during a transaction it turns out that this was really not a great fit. In the absolute majority of the cases it is a warm, humorous, steady and enduring relationship that does not really end after closing. Lots of my clients still call even after years and I strongly encourage them to always do that if they feel I can even remotely contribute to solving a problem.
It is the cards when a baby is born, somebody gets married, the Christmas letters that update on the happenings of the past year and photos of the growing families that make this work so worthwhile. It is the personal relationships, the funny quick text when something reminds us of each other, the hug when running into each other in the grocery store.
Dealing with someone in real estate is so personal that it shows you the true person, the integrity, the ethics, the character and the way somebody behaves under stress. It shows you if somebody always tries to find a way to squeeze out more to the other side’s clear disadvantage or if it is more important to find consensus and “good karma”. It shows you the good, bad and ugly in people. Fortunately the absolute majority of my clients are great people, many of whom I call friends now and care for deeply.
So to all those wonderful people I met and continued to serve in 2018, THANK YOU! for choosing to work with me, for coming back to me, for trusting and following my advice, for staying in touch, for sharing laughter and solving problems together. There is nothing I rather do than do it again and again with you.