Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spend money to sell your house in today's market?

In our current market, we have a low inventory of homes, and yet we see some houses for sale that just sit on the market. In most cases, one of two things is happening: 1. the house is way overpriced, or 2. the condition of the house is not great.

Too often homeowners feel like they don't want to put any additional money into their property because they have seen such a decline in value since 2007. Prior to the market decline, people understood that if they wanted to sell their house they needed to get the house in good showing condition.

In today's market, I have seen many sellers refuse to put any money into getting their house ready to sell. I can understand people's hesitation, and I wouldn't ever want people to put money into their house for nothing. But, today's buyer wants to move into a house that is in good condition and looks nice. The mindset of today's buyer is that if it doesn't look great, they expect a VERY DEEP DISCOUNT on price.

What I recommend to my sellers is that they may need to spend some money to get their house in the best showing condition. If the paint is peeling off the outside of the house, that is going to hurt its chances of selling if you are looking for the best possible price. Basic repair and cosmetic work is a must.

Bottom line, sometimes you may need to spend a couple thousand dollars to get the best price for your house. In my experience, homes that show well and are priced appropriately for today's market will sell very quickly. All sellers should go into the selling process wanting to get their homes sold as quickly as possible. Why, besides the nuisance of selling your house, you want to be able to take advantage of low home prices and low interest rates when you are buying your new home.

Curb appeal still matters. A clean house in good repair matters. If you want to sell your home, take a look at your house through potential buyer's eyes. They don't care what your house was worth in 2007. They know today's market, and they want the best house on the market in their price range. Make that house be yours and get it sold!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Real Estate Agents Are Not Equal

If there is one thing I wish I could teach consumers is that real estate agents vary greatly in their skill level, passion for their work, and what they are doing for their clients to get houses sold. So many people mistakenly think Realtors are all the same, and that you can just pick whoever to get the job done. Not so. You can't just rely on them posting it in the Multiple Listing Services to get your house sold.

A few things I have learned since joining the ranks of Realtors:

The Atlanta market is ridiculous in that it offers two different multiple listing services, one being much cheaper than the other for real estate agents, and the other being a far superior product. In addition, the more expensive service gets utilized far more by Realtors than the other service. What does this mean to consumers? If your real estate agent only lists your property in the less expensive option, it is highly likely that your property will not be seen by the vast majority of Realtors in Metro Atlanta. How many consumers would even know to ask whether a potential real estate agent will list their property in both MLS services?

I just spent an hour looking through new, expired, price drops, and withdrawn properties in the Decatur area. I do this routinely to keep up with the latest buying opportunities for my Buyers and to stay on top of market changes so I can best inform my clients when they want to sell their properties.

When going through listings in the FMLS, it is mind boggling how many properties are so poorly marketed. You might expect the real estate agent to be lazy on low-priced properties because they don't make much money on them, but really this is not much of an excuse because there are good Realtors out there who will do a good job regardless of the price of the property (the consumer just has to find them). But tonight, I was shocked at the number of properties that have been sitting on the market between the $500k-$900k range where the real estate agent did the bare minimum. Most importantly, there were very few pictures, and some with photos were very poorly taken and made the places look scary.

The reality is that most properties have their first showing online, and if your pictures don't do a great job at representing your property, you will never make it to a second, in-person showing. I can't imagine how people with high-end property with the most to lose allow their real estate agent to do such sloppy work.

When you are looking for a Realtor, do your home work. You are entrusting one of your biggest assets to your Realtor, so make sure they will do their best to help you meet your goals. As I always say, I treat every client's transaction as if it were my own. Make sure you find a Realtor who feels the same way.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I am now offering video tours of each home I list. This one is a little rough because it is my first and I am still experimenting. Take a look at my listing of my Decatur home for sale at 1650 Hudson Road!

Friday, July 13, 2012

What does low inventory have to do with selling my home?

Often times you may hear Realtors or the news media talk about how certain areas around the Metro Atlanta area have a low inventory of homes for sale and how that makes it a good time to sell. Huh? I thought there were foreclosures everywhere and now is a terrible time to sell your home. Not true, especially for the areas in Metro Atlanta that I represent the most.

A low inventory of homes means there are not a lot of homes on the market for buyers to pick from. This low inventory of homes is a common frustration for buyers who are ready and able to move quickly. They just can't find a home to purchase because there are so few to choose from, and the ones that are on the market tend to be run down or grossly overpriced. The ones that are move-in ready and fairly priced go quickly (just look at my 1650 Hudson Rd property--it went under contract with multiple offers in only 7 days).

In my real estate office with Coldwell Banker Intown, there are roughly 80 agents working every day with buyers looking for properties. Sometimes, we find ourselves working for a long time with a buyer because we just can't find a suitable property due to the low inventory of homes to choose from. But, keep in mind, we are all working with buyers everyday, so they are out there.

So, what does this have to do with selling your home?

Many people don't realize that due to the low inventory, now is a great time to put your home on the market. It will sell if it is fairly priced and in good condition. You remember the old days when people fixed up their homes to sell them? Yeah, people who are buying still expect homes to look like that unless they are severely discounted as a distressed property.

How did I sell my Hudson Road property in 7 days? I worked with the owner to get the property in great showing condition, priced it fairly, and developed an extensive marketing plan. We had 6-8 showings a day that first week!

When I work with clients, I believe it is best to be honest about what needs to happen to get your property sold. With the low inventory on our side, I am convinced I can get your property sold quickly if we can price it for today's market and get it in move-in-ready condition.

Today's market is not rocket science. You simply need a Realtor who will work with you to be realistic about your home price, help you get your house in the best showing condition, and offer superior marketing skills so all of today's buyers will have the opportunity to see it.

When I am selling a home, I offer a marketing plan so the homeowner will know what I am doing to get their home sold. In the old days, a Realtor was simply expected to put the home into the Multiple Listing Service, and the home would be found. The world has changed a lot from those days (just a few years ago!). Today's home buyer is using the internet to find their home. Surveys have shown that 90% of home buyers used the internet in their home search, which is why it is critical that you have a Realtor who can offer you a marketing plan with extensive internet marketing.

I advertise homes I am selling on 550 real estate websites so that no matter where a buyer is looking, they will see the homes I am selling. In addition, my properties are listed as a "Featured Listings" on the top sites when I am selling a home. I will do a video and virtual tour, and will include 25 or more photos of the property. In today's market, sellers need every bit of marketing advantage to get their home sold. I make sure my clients have it. Why is this important? Because today's buyer is doing their first showing of your house online. By the time they come to your house, they are on their second showing!

Today, I look around in my zip code (30033) at the homes for sale. If I wanted to move into this zip code for the great schools, I would be very frustrated by the lack of inventory to choose from. There are very few homes in good condition, and the ones that are in good condition, are so significantly overpriced in today's market that no one is even looking at them.

I am looking for some new sellers who have a realistic understanding of today's market and are motivated to get their home sold. If that describes you, please give me a call at 404-808-3350 so that we can get your home sold together!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What I have learned in real estate so far...

My first listing!

What I have learned in real estate so far.....

Don't wear dry-clean only clothes. Yes, I believe in dressing nice to look the part of a successful, professional Realtor, but I had no idea how dirty I was going to get at these houses!

When doing an open house or caravan, always bring your iPad.

Successful Realtors work way more hours than I realized. I thought the big names I see around town just had business given to them and they were on easy street. The truth is the successful Realtors are often at the office at 9-10pm and every weekend trying to get it all done.

It was said to me by other Realtors when I first entered the business that any dummy can become a Realtor, but what I have learned is that you had better be smart if you want to succeed in this market.

Don't take it personal when someone in the neighborhood takes down your directional signs with your pretty name on it. There are a lot of hostile, self-appointed neighborhood police who feel it is their duty to take down signs regardless of whether you are violating the law or not. Apparently, it is just part of the business.

There is a lot of work in real estate that doesn't yield any income. It is important to try to minimize that type of work.  I am learning every day how to be smarter about the work I do.

Finding a rental property for someone in today's market can be more difficult than buying a house. Rent prices are sky high and most properties are snapped up immediately.

Though it is true that real estate will typically allow me to have a flexible schedule so I can attend my kids' events, there is an endless amount of work that needs to be done to make my business successful. One of my favorite things about real estate is that the better I get at my job, the more it correlates to my financial success. As a former social worker and nonprofit manager, that was not the case.

To be successful in real estate, it is not about the number of hours you put in, but how well you master the game. If you master the game, you will be putting in a lot of hours.

Technology is a very interesting topic in real estate. As you might imagine, there are lots and lots of options for Realtors to use technology. However, there is a lot of resistance by old-school Realtors to take advantage of the technology available. I embrace the technology available because it certainly can give you an edge in the business. Though, this business is still very much about people and relationships.

New Realtors are told that cold-calling people is the key to success. From what I have observed, some people are naturals and will succeed down that path, while others will never succeed on that path no matter how many calls they make. I am not sure which path is for me yet.

The biggest challenge I see is that consumers have no sense that real estate agents are not created equal. Often times they have no idea how a Realtor will market their home other than the sign in the yard, and they may or may not hear from the Realtor again once it is listed. I can market your home on over 550 websites as a Coldwell Banker agent, but someone from one of the small mom-and-pop firms certainly can't say the same.  Why is this important? Almost 90% of consumers begin their home search on the Internet, plus, it is the best way to reach an international audience.

My competition for listings will tell people their home is worth more than it is just to get the listing. I am committed to telling my clients the truth, even if it means I don't get the job. This will probably be a point of frustration for me, but I hope my clients appreciate my honesty.

So many people think this is a terrible time to sell your home. Truthfully, there are many buyers out there if your home looks good and is priced correctly. In fact, when a home is priced properly and move-in ready, many are seeing multiple offers and are selling for more than the list price. There truly is not a lot of inventory of homes priced appropriately and are move-in ready.

No one seems to be able to tell I am a new Realtor. Even very seasoned agents think I have been around a while. This makes me realize that I don't need to worry about being new getting in the way of my success. I just need to keep learning each day what works and doesn't work.

One of the hardest lessons I have learned is to try not to take it personal when friends use other Realtors instead of me. This will likely be an ongoing struggle for me because I take such pride in my work and it means a lot to me. I will need to keep figuring out how to earn everyone's business.

Facebook has been a blessing and a curse. It has been a blessing in that I have received many leads and even a listing from it, but it is a curse when I see people post about their real estate transactions without me(back to trying not to take it personally).

I learn new stuff everyday. The learning curve is huge, but actually enjoyable. I have wasted many hours learning, but I realize it is all part of it.

I never would have thought a career change at this point in my life would have been fun, or even possible. I am so glad I did it because one of the biggest surprises to me is how much I enjoy working in real estate!

Most people have said to me why would I go into real estate in this challenging market? I have always enjoyed a challenge, and for some weird reason, it inspires me to work even harder to prove that I can succeed. I do like to prove the naysayers wrong :-)

At this point, more money is going out the door than coming in with this career change. I am very hopeful this will soon change because with each day that goes by I am learning how to master the real estate game just a little more.  I am also hopeful that my sincerity and hard work will pay off in the end.

Until next time!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Off and Running

Well, I am a few weeks into my new real estate career and I feel like I have hit the ground running. In fact, there are moments when I am running in so many directions I am not sure which was is up!

There is so much to learn and do to get one's real estate career started. I truly believe things will settle down in a few weeks, but for now, I am spending my time actually trying to build my real estate business, while at the same time, attending trainings 3-4 days a week on various topics a new real estate agent needs to know. I have about 5 more weeks of this training to complete.

I am happy that Coldwell Banker is providing me with this learning opportunity, but jeez, it is hard juggling it all. I am fortunate that someone in "my sphere of influence" referred a friend to me for a possible listing. I haven't gone on the actual appointment yet, but I have learned a lot just preparing for the appointment.

In preparation for my listing appointment, I have done a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to get an idea of what the pricing will look like for this property. It was very interesting to see some comparative properties sold for more than I had expected, and a few were low as I expected.

One thing is clear, there are not a lot of properties on the market at this time. I know the big overall numbers say there are, but it was actually quite difficult to do the CMA for this property because there were so few current listings and recent sales in this area of town (North Decatur). I am guessing that more people are holding onto their properties hoping that the market will improve.

On the plus side, if you are a seller and you have a decent property, you probably have a good chance of selling it if your price is reasonable. I have seen a few nice homes in North Decatur that are about $100,000 overpriced. I have no idea what the owners are trying to accomplish. As for houses that are reasonably priced, there just isn't a lot of inventory for buyers to pick from.

So, if you have been on the fence about listing your property, I would encourage you to give it a try. I would be happy to do a free CMA to give you an idea of the price your home could get. Let me know if I can help.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On Becoming A Real Estate Agent

I feel like I should begin by revealing I grew up with a mom who was a successful realtor, both residential and later commercial. I can still remember days in my childhood when I was hanging out at an open house waiting for my mom to finish what I considered her boring work. I mention my mom because I feel it is somehow relevant to my story. Relevant because despite her very successful career, and the similarities in our personalities, it never occurred to me when I was younger to choose real estate as a career.

Never one to do things the easy way, I smile to myself when I think of how I have entered the real estate profession during one of the most difficult housing markets Atlanta has ever seen. Back when everyone was making money hand over fist, it never crossed my mind. Probably because it felt like there was no shortage of real estate agents in Atlanta.

In contemplating this career decision, it did not go unnoticed to me that many of the real estate professionals I had known for years had left the business because they felt like this market was too tough to make a living. At the same time, I was very curious as to why there were some real estate professionals who were having their best years.

I thought back to last Summer when we listed our house for sale. I had interviewed several realtors, and I was struck by how vastly different their competency levels seemed to be. One realtor wanted to list my house for $50,000 less than any of the other real estate agents I interviewed. Fortunately, I had enough sense to interview other realtors, but I imagine some people would have just trusted the realtor and gone with that bad advice.

I bring up last Summer's experience because I couldn't help but think that I could do it better than most of the realtors I interviewed.

I work hard. Probably harder than a lot of folks, which is why the challenge of this current housing market doesn't scare me. I am good with customer service--probably a genetic thing from my mom because I have always been good at it since I was a kid. I like working with people and helping them with their goals. I am reasonably intelligent--I have an undergraduate degree in Accounting and a Masters degree in social work. I like the housing market, and I love a challenge.

I also believe I understand and have compassion for today's homeowner. This market is tough on all of us who currently own a home. It is frustrating and at times overwhelming to face the losses we have seen in the Atlanta market. Many financially conservative people currently owe more on their house than it is worth. I believe they need a real estate professional who can really appreciate that difficulty, and also one who will do their best to market their house to get the best price if they decide to sell.

I have heard from more than a couple of people that I must be crazy going into real estate in this market.  I believe real estate is probably a more challenging career at this time, but the truth is, there are still lots of people buying and selling. It just takes more work for today's realtor to earn their paycheck.

I am not exactly sure what it will take for me to "win" in today's market, but I am bringing my A game, so bring it on Atlanta!

Subscribe to my blog, and I'll keep you posted about how my career is going, interesting experiences, and my take on the real estate market in general. Stay tuned!