Archive for April, 2015
One of the most challenging situations any real estate agent can face is working with a couple where each person has different ideas on what their new home should look like, where it should sit, or what amenities it must contain. Personally, I like challenges because they are like puzzles that need to be solved; once I help buyers work through them and we find a home that makes them both happy, it is extremely rewarding for me as well.
Some buyers start out excited to look at homes and quickly realize they are not on the same page; for others it takes longer – they make find a home that one loves and the other could never imagine living in. Or they may see two homes that are very different, or in different neighborhoods, and divide on which one they would like to purchase.
Most buyer couples quickly realize that they may have to compromise a bit in order to find a home that makes them both happy. Here are some great suggestions that will help these buyers find a home that meets most of what both are looking for:
1. Make a list. This is the good-old suggestion that I always throw out there no matter what difficult decision is facing someone – I have taught my kids to do it too and it really does put things into perspective. Ask each of your buyers to make a list of things they must have in a new home, things they would like to have, those they don’t particularly care for but could possibly live with if they had to, and those things they absolutely do not care for. The easiest way to do this is to draw columns so you can compare all these things side by side. It is important that each person who is a decision maker does this along, without the help of the other decision maker(s).
Once the lists are complete, I like to look at them myself and prepare a “report,” that finds the commonalities and the complete differences. It really helps for the decision makers to see what they actually do have in common and what they completely disagree upon. It helps to discuss this together – not to argue or get frustrated, but to understand where the partners are coming from.
2. Encourage an open mind. Conflicted couples know that they will likely have to compromise (whether they like it or not), but they may not know there are other options out there that neither has considered. By encouraging them both to have an open mind, I can go to work to find properties that they may not have even considered. Armed with their lists I can research, visit homes and then report back to them – hopefully getting them to agree to have a look. I have had many couples start out looking in particular neighborhoods, yet end up purchasing elsewhere – somewhere they would never have considered in the beginning.
Similarly, a home that would have been overlooked at the start, let’s say because the yard was too small and both parties really wanted a larger yard, may be a possibility if changes can be made to expand the yard – this of course will take some research but if the outcome is positive it may open up possibilities for the buyers.
3. Decide which items each party is willing to concede. As for the items that are completely opposing in the lists that were created, the couple needs to think about which items they will each concede – in other words, where are they willing to cooperate? If one insists on hardwood flooring and the other loves a home with travertine tile flooring, can one of them live with the flooring that would not be their first choice? If one wants to be in a neighborhood that is walking distance to shops and eateries and the other wants to be more secluded, who is willing to give in and look at conceding personal desires? Of course, with a concession there is the expectation that the other party will give in as well on another point, so it is important to discuss (see number 4 below).
4. Be ready to compromise. If one person likes modern style homes and the other likes traditional, both will want to consider a compromise. Maybe they find a Craftsman home and combine interior design styles so that there are modern and traditional elements.
5. Don’t let your relationship be affected by your design tastes. Keep in mind that buying a home is a big decision, and don’t let your relationship take a toll during such an important decision-making process. It IS possible to find a home that will make you both happy, but you need to be open, willing and ready to make concessions.
Purchasing a home is definitely not an easy process, but that doesn’t mean that it should be made more difficult due to clashing personal preferences. If buyers recognize the needs of their partners and make a plan to compromise and have open minds, it IS possible to find a home that will make them both happy – I have seen this happen many times so I know it is true.
Tax day is over…time to turn our focus back to the real estate market. I have to take a moment to say that I truly admire my accountants, because I could never do what they do – and so competently! Kudos to all you accountants out there for making peoples’ lives easier, and I am glad we all survived another tax day!
How is the real estate market doing? I get asked that question several times daily. My answer: it is HOT! Demand still has not met supply, and properties are selling quickly and oftentimes with multiple offers. It is great for sellers, but not so wonderful for buyers because there is little to choose from and they have to make quick decisions. For those buyers who are well-educated and know where they really want to live and what they can afford, they have to be ready to see new listings right away and ready to draft offers if they like what they see.
The Catch-22 in the real estate market today is that there are many sellers out there who would like to sell, but have nowhere to move to due to the lack of inventory, so they stay where they are and wait. Unfortunately this keeps the inventory tight in a market where demand is great.
Interest rates jumped a little this week, and many buyers are worried about the rumors that they will rise significantly in July. This is yet another reason for them to start searching for homes, which circles back to the low inventory levels.
Coming Soon! houses seem to be on the rise. I mean homes that have signed listing agreements but are not yet on the MLS. Agents put “Coming Soon!” signs in front to alert neighbors and those who drive by, creating excitement. Since I just had clients sign a listing and the tenants won’t be be out for about a week (and then another week for new flooring and paint)…I thought “what a great way to let the neighbors know this home will soon hit the market!” so I tried it. We’ll see what happens.
The bottom line is that the real estate market is strong in most areas, from what I have heard and read lately. Of course, as always I advise you to consult with a local area real estate agent before buying or selling a home. It seems that we have definitely climbed out of the doldrums and that the market has sprung back, so if you are thinking of purchasing or selling a home you should be in a good position to make that decision.
Dear Listing Agent,
Have you asked yourself whether you are truly representing your sellers to the best of your abilities? There may be other agents who would argue that you are not doing so. Maybe you do not like your job or are overwhelmed (in which case, you need to make some changes, get some help, or get out), or maybe you just need a little advice. The most important way to get that home sold is to make sure you do the following:
1. Be courteous to buyers’ agents. This is a business built on COOPERATION. In fact, without it no homes would sell. With that in mind I have to tell you that you need to be nice and respectful to buyers’ agents. If you are rude, non-responsive, curt or make snide remarks to other agents who may sell your listing, then you are not adequately representing your seller.
2. Answer your phone/return calls. If I had a dollar for every time I have called a listing agent and that person did not get back to me for a long time, I would have a lot of money saved. Many agents do not answer their phones on the weekend (hello? Does your seller know this?), which is precisely when many buyers are out there looking at homes. I have had buyers want to write offers but needed questions answered, and the listing agent was nowhere to be found. If you cannot answer your phone then you need to forward the calls to someone who can.
3. Make buyers’ agents and their clients feel welcome. This may be similar to #1 above, but there are actually agents who come to the showings and hang around, making buyers feel uncomfortable. I recently had this happen. When we came back for a second showing the agent stepped out, but made some comments to me later about how long my clients stayed at the property that I felt were rude. (Obviously they were deciding whether it would work – the property needed a lot of updating and was over priced, but they liked it and wanted to be sure. I would rather that happen then instead of once we were in contract).
4. Make sure your listing is easy to access. I know it can’t be helped sometimes, but listings that require 24 hours notice or have crazy viewing times make it difficult for buyers. Many buyers work during the day and want to see properties after work or on the weekends. The easier the home is to see, the more opportunities for your seller.
The bottom line is that listing agents need to be present and involved with their listings. I am sure sellers in most cases are not aware when their agent is not cooperating/being rude, etc. I am also sure that if sellers knew these things, there are a handful of listing agents who would not get many listings.
The most important thing to keep in mind when listing a property is that you owe a FIDUCIARY duty to your sellers – if you are not representing them in the best capacity possible then you are breaching that duty. Please, consider your actions and always remember to treat other agents with the respect they deserve. It will benefit all parties in the long run and you will have a solid reputation (within the community and with other agents) as a listing agent.
For the last few years buyers have been able to search on their own for properties for sale in any area via third party websites – the biggest being Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, among thousands of others. Recently Zillow and Trulia merged (Zillow acquired Trulia), and that set in motion some big problems with MLS downloads to such sites (Realtor.com is NOT affected, as it is controlled by the National Association of Realtors).
How third party sites get listings from the many MLS sites has always been an issue, and there are even brokers who choose not to have their listings advertised on such sites (a shame though, because the consumer likely is not aware of this and may be missing out on some active listings…a very good reason why all buyers should have an agent representing them – but I digress).
One of the largest suppliers of information to the third party websites was not able to negotiate with Zillow and therefore will no longer be sharing syndicated MLS information with Zillow and Trulia starting April 7. There are other means by which brokers can have their listings shared on these sites, but they have to opt into them and many are either not aware or have not done so.
What does this mean to the millions of people who use these sites to search properties? It means that searchers may not see ALL the listings in the areas they are searching…which means that they may miss out on properties that they may have been interested in seeing and/or purchasing.
This mess might work itself out in time. But the best advice I have for anyone shopping or following the real estate market is to HIRE A LOCAL AGENT. He or she can set up a search for you directly through the corresponding MLS, so that you get listings sent to you directly from the MLS as soon as they list (which will be quicker than you would receive them via any third party site anyway). If you want to search the MLS listings yourself, make sure to use either your agent’s website (they usually sync directly from the MLS), or Realtor.com – that way you won’t miss out on seeing any listings.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Passover and Easter! Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, my wish for you is that you are surrounded by those you love. Enjoy!