Friday, April 24, 2009

Hey Real Estate Dude! You need to Work HARDER!

My rambling today is centered on a remark I heard a friend exclaim, as he is frustrated with the "non-results" of his engagement of another real estate agent to sell his home. He questioned, "Why can't these real estate people just work harder?!!" .... (to get his home sold). He declared that his agent had agreed to list his house at a certain price and now all the agent is doing is trying to get him to reduce, reduce, reduce!

And I thought about this for a while. I thought about the 22 or so agents that work out of my office. And I thought about the hundreds of agents I have known and met in those years. I know they work hard, because I've watched them. They put a ton of effort into helping buyers and sellers alike. They perennially do whatever they need to do to get the job done. Sometimes it's draining. And sometimes it almost breaks them!

But I kind of knew where this guy was coming from. In a previous life, the real estate agent could hustle. They really "worked" a buyer over.... convincing them that this real estate was a screaming good deal! They could get the buyer to believe that this deal was so hot that they had better jump on it or they were going to lose out! They seemed to be able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!

And they turned over every stone to find a buyer! Sometimes going door to door. Talking up their listings everywhere they went.

Enter the computer. Enter new technology. Enter public access to records and statistics. Enter , get this... buyer representation!

In today's real estate arena, you can't put a higher price on a property and realistically hope that some "rube" will come along and pay it! The buyers have SO much information available to them! They have an agent to counsel them. And even if they did cruise in and pay more than market value, the bank will probably stop them, either by way of the appraisal, or terms that the buyer can't meet! Not to mention an attorney might be reviewing the contract and ask their client if they researched the market, or at least ask them how they came about that price!

So what does an agent need to do to make a seller like I mentioned earlier in this blog, happy? They need to work hard in the beginning. The first and most important thing they need to do is they need to work hard in counseling their clients in proper pricing. A good agent knows this and does this right out of the gate. And they need to be frank with the seller about cleaning up and getting the house ready for the market.

But let me tell you what a weak agent does. A weak agent visits the client and has not developed the confidence it takes to tell the client what they need to hear. The weak agent falls victim to allowing the seller to dictate the asking price based on what they want... not on what the market will bear. Now a weak agent may go into the listing opportunity fully aware of the market, but wants , so desperately, to get the listing, that they will agree to any number the seller puts up. They have not learned, or don't have the guts to explain the facts and be prepared to walk away from an impossible situation. They might even think, "I'll take this listing at this inflated price because I know the sellers will eventually reduce to find the true market value." But what does this do? It does a lot of things, and most of them are bad. It misleads the sellers. "Sure, we can put it on for that figure." They hear, "We can sell it for you." It puts an impossible task on the shoulders of the agent, and costs the broker a lot of money in advertising and carrying costs. It keeps in-the-know agents from even bothering to bring good buyers to the house. And after a house has been on the market too long, it becomes stigmatized and the buying public begins to think that there is more wrong with the house than just the price... hence it may never sell... EVEN BELOW market value!

SO, I agree... work hard! But work hard where it makes sense and can get the job done!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wanna sell your house? CLEAN IT UP!

You know what houses are selling these days? The ones that shine!

I'm going to be pretty blunt here... I have seen some houses recently that don't show well. Reason is that the people who live in them are living like pigs! I mean, if you are not selling your house then you have the right to live how you want to. But if you have asked a Realtor to help you sell your house, you have to do your part. And that means cleaning it up. Seriously... underwear on the floor of the bathroom?! Wastebaskets chuck full that should have been emptied days ago! Smudge marks by light switches and cabinet handles. Toilets that look like Attila the Hun and his crew stopped in for a potty break! Dirty dishes on the counter and in the sink. Carpet that looks like it was installed when Henry Hudson sailed up the river! Windows that need Mr. Clean's attention. I've seen entry ways like porches that look like there had been an earthquake there! Kitchen drawers that won't open or close properly, or a hinge on the kitchen cabinet that is just barely hanging on. The seal on the kitchen refrigerator has so much gunk and mold in it that it actually stinks! Here's an easy one: a lightbulb out! Hard to fix?

OK.... do you get the point? You really need to clean the place up. You might even have to repair and/or replace things like broken closet doors or blinds ... Buck up! I'll tell you what. I feel so passionate about this that if you email me at and ask for it, I'll send you tips on things to do to get your house ready for showing. I mean it!

I'm telling you... the house needs to shine! Be tough on yourself! Clean it UP!

Cheers! -Steve

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Off the REAL ESTATE Topic

I know... I know... this is supposed to be about real estate. But I need to get this off my chest!

If you are under 40 years old, please think about this. Heck if you're over 40... please think about this!

We are in a new era. We fax. We email. We leave voice mails. We text. We IM. We Facebook. We Twitter. We blog. We put on out earphones and dig our iPods or MP3 players. WE close out the rest of the world.

Please don't forget how to interact with each other in person. Please don't forget how to look in each other's eyes. Please don't forget how to speak eloquently when it's appropriate. Please don't forget how use common courtesies. Please don't forget how to spell. Please don't forget how to read body language. Please!

I see folks reading text messages in the middle of a conversation with their friends. I see people taking phone calls while engaged in conversation with friends or family members... or worse yet, customers and/or clients.

By NOT taking a phone call, or by NOT texting right back, or by paying someone close attention you are sending a message. The message is, "You are the most important person to me right now. That other person may be important to me as well, but right now you and I are talking and they can wait their turn. It's the polite thing to do."

Personally, with clients, I tell them that my phone is on vibrate. I will only respond to the phone if I see it is a family member. And I will check to be sure there is no emergency. No emergency? Then I am right back with them. If I do not recognize the number as a family member, I will not answer it. That is what my voice mail is for.

Think of a ringing phone as a rude child tugging on your sleeve saying, "I want your attention right now! I don't care who you're talking to!" It is a rude instrument in nature. Weren't we raised by our parents to understand that it is not polite to interrupt? Let's not tolerate it!

Also, remember the power of person to person contact. Not an email. Not a text. Not leaving a message. Especially bad news! NEVER deliver bad news any other way than in person. If it has to be by phone, so be it... but do not leave a message and do not text or email!

OK... I actually probably have more crazy ideas in that department, but that's my beef for right now!

Wanna talk to me in person? Call me! 518-423-3808! But, if I don't answer right away, it's because I'm with someone else right now.... I'll get back to ya!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is a Home Warranty ?

You know, in New York, if you build a house there is a state imposed thing called a Home Builder's Warranty. Essentially what it does is protects the consumer from any defects in materials and/or workmanship for up to six years after the home is built. The buyer does not pay extra for it... it's a state imposed warranty.

But, if you are buying a re-sale, what can be done? Many firms, such as mine... RealtyUSA.... offer a home warranty program. The arrangement varies from firm to firm. It might be automatically offered on every home listed by some firms. It might be "available" for a fee to a seller to entice buyers to consider their home over anothers. Often the buyer's are offered the policy once their offer is accepted. Some sellers might even offer to buy the policy for the buyers if it will help a skittish buyer to make a decision.

Another variance is, of course what is covered. Many warranty programs will not cover such items as pool equipment, etc. Some may require an inspection, some may just require filling out an application.

The great thing about these policies is that a buyer can feel comfortable about having help with any unforeseen expenses in the first year of ownership. A seller can leave the closing knowing that if something does happen, it will be attended to. It's not uncommon that a buyer's agent offers to buy the policy as a house warming gift or a showing of their appreciation. AND, often the homeowner may be able to renew the policy indefinitely!

So... bottom line is... ask the question. Of your agent or the other agent... "Is there a home warranty program?" If there is, get a copy of the application and read it over. Could be a real smart move on your part!

Happy Housing!!!!!!!