Andrew Wetzel's Musings

April 24, 2019

Why is the Initial Marketing Time so Critical?

Your house just hit the market after weeks of planning and cleaning and dreaming about how it would all turn out!  Would you get full price, any unusual requests or conditions, would you be able to find a new home that made leaving your present home easier to handle?  Everything seemed possible.

Then NOTHING HAPPENED!  The market essentially yawned.  What does this mean?

Even though getting your home on the market created so much anticipation and disruption in your life, let’s look at the other side of the equation.  You dipped your toe into an already churning market with however many prospective buyers already looking and evaluating and making decisions.  Whether you are in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, there is a good chance that you will not see every prospect looking for a house like yours but you would like to see as many as possible.  Of course there is no way to know how many are looking right now so let’s take a broader look at what is possible.

How many buyers will enter the market tomorrow?  How many have already decided to make an offer on a specific house or are currently negotiating one?  How many have given up, deciding to wait for whatever reason?  You may be able to appeal to any of these, including buyers already “under contract”, as long as they like what you have and they have a way to end their current process.  However, your listing MUST be able to be found in their search results or they will not even know it is For Sale.

Let’s go back to my original point.  I would argue that the current number of prospective buyers is greater than the number who will enter the market in the next few weeks.  So, if none of them makes an offer, what do you do?  Perhaps some will come to see your house and do nothing.  They could change their mind later if they were getting their finances in order and/ or evaluating the overall market before taking action.  Or not.  Perhaps one of more will make overtures that could become promising if your agent knows how to handle that opportunity.  Or not.  The real question is how long do you wait before taking action to increase your odds for succeeding?

You can wait for the market to re-form or you could attempt to hook a buyer already looking but not committed to a house.  How do you do that?  If you are satisfied that your house is being properly marketed, meaning that, other than the price, it will come out in the proper search results, the price has to be a concern.  If you think that your competition has more to offer than your house you could wait until they all get contracts.  Of course, new competition will present itself.  It always does.

Patience is a wonderful thing and I respect sellers who are patient but, at some point, unless a seller decides to remain in their present home, something has to change.  You cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.  A seller has two controllable variables:  the agent they hire and their asking price.  Sometimes changing agents is good as it provides a different perspective.  Changing your price requires a strategy and it may affect your overall plan, especially if you are buying another house.

A price reduction has to accomplish one of two things:  it either has to motivate a buyer who knows about your house but has not made an offer OR it has to re-position your house to a new group of buyers.  Pricing is important and taking a reduction just for the sake of taking one, especially if marketing is THE real problem, only serves to lower your proceeds and perhaps impact your options.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations!

Remember:  HIRE WISELY!  We are not all the same!

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Why I Enjoy Being a REALTOR®

After working in retail for a number of years I decided to make a change.  Like many, I was fascinated with Real Estate and made plans to get my license.  I did three things to prepare myself for the adjustment.  First, I started reading books about sales and then about Real Estate.  I read 12 books on sales and then 4 about working in Real Estate.  I stopped when the books got redundant and I felt that I knew enough to move forward.  Second, I selected 4 different Real Estate companies to contact and interview.  I found two of them interesting even though I was not yet ready to make a commitment.

The third step was time consuming but critical:  I wanted to try a sales position to make sure it was something I could enjoy before pursuing a career in Real Estate.  While many of us think it too easy to get licensed, it does require investments in time and money so I wanted to be prepared.  After becoming comfortable in sales, I was ready to commit to a Real Estate company.  The rest is history.

I took an extra step and became a REALTOR® which means that I belong to local, state and national REALTOR® Associations and subscribe to a formal Code of Ethics.  I have also taken many courses and earned several designations and certifications to improve my knowledge so that I can better represent my clients.  I consider myself an advisor or consultant rather than a salesperson.  As an Associate Broker I am allowed to call myself that whereas a basic licensee is not.  I work for sellers and for buyers, advising them and helping them reach their goals.  I view our relationship as a partnership although they get to make the decisions.

Like many, I had a mixed perception of “sales people” and did not want to use persuasion to convince people to do things that were not in their own best interests so that I could earn a living.  Sadly, I see people in different sales positions whose only goal seems to be to make money.  This can be especially problematic in Real Estate given the costs involved and the impact on people’s financial situation.

As a seller agent, I have enjoyed helping sellers move on in their life, many times helping sellers who had tried and failed to sell with one or more other agents.  Listing contracts typically “expire” as a result of over-pricing and/ or poor marketing.  People move for a variety of reasons and they need to determine whether the selling price or the length of time before selling is more important to them.  I have helped sellers who wanted larger or smaller homes, wanted a better neighborhood or school district for their children, were tired of dealing with tenants, who were selling estates of family members as well as other reasons.  I can assist a seller with the preparation generally required before we market a home and make it available for showings and offers.  There are many more details along the way than most sellers realize just as there are a variety of reasons for selling Real Estate.  All agents are not the same!

As a buyer agent, I have helped many purchase their first home, their next home or an investment property.  This can be very interesting if they are selling one property to buy another.  I enjoy showing people houses where they can begin a new chapter in their life or continue on their path.  Having children involved can make it more fun.  There are times when their children do not want to move and there are times when seeing children excited about their new adventure makes the process very fulfilling.  When people buy a home they are buying a lifestyle, making it a very important decision.

Helping clients these days is more complicated than it was during my first few years.  The Internet has changed things and it often adds confusion to the process.  It helps sellers by exposing their properties to the public and allows buyers to shop online for houses to consider.  It can be a great tool but it has its limitations, primarily for buyers.  Many buyers start the process by searching online to identify houses to consider buying.  That can be fun but it can lead to their paying less attention to the preparation required to make a formal offer to a seller.  Some buyers start by contacting a number of listing agents and looking at a number of properties.  Many can get overwhelmed.  Choices are great but can cause confusion!  A serious buyer needs to “position” themselves to be able to make a formal offer to a seller.  This is especially true in a competitive market.  Timing can be everything.

A buyer needs to get pre-qualified with a reputable lender to arrive at a price range for them to consider and determine their wants and needs, including locations.  Their plans will likely evolve but there should be a starting point.  If their market is competitive, any delay in preparing to make an offer could pose a problem.  Some buyers will find themselves unable to obtain the financing they need to make a purchase; others may need to do some work to get financing.  If they find out either after falling in love with a house that can be devastating not to mention being a waste of their time.

Even if there is only a slight delay in getting financing, that may allow a competing buyer to close an offer before they are even in a position to make an offer that a seller will respond to.  My best advice is to get pre-qualified and hire an exclusive agent before spending too much time “shopping”.  I also tell my clients that it may be best to ignore most of what you read online as most information is very general in nature and may have little relevance to any individual house search.

As with retail, I enjoy interacting with people and helping them navigate an endless variety of circumstances.  Unlike retail, selling Real Estate requires a longer interaction.  We establish deeper relationships with our clients than with a retail customer.  That being said, too many confuse the two types of purchases:  buying Real Estate is NOT a retail transaction.  Even if financing is not needed, a Real Estate purchase may take a few weeks and will generally include a number of “contingencies” that must be met to keep the process moving forward.  There are typically several points where either party may change their mind.

I believe that, despite the influence of the Internet or perhaps because of it, our role is more important than ever.  A professional, ethical and knowledgeable Real Estate agent was always expected to educate their consumer.  Today, I find that I often have to uneducate them as far as showing them that what they think they know may not be accurate and could be holding them back.  So much of the information the public relies on is incomplete or wrong.  While they may have access to date and information, I can provide knowledge and insight.  This does not always sit well with our clients.

I have seen a lot over the years.  In addition to working with buyers and sellers, I also teach other REALTORS®, I mediate disputes between agents or between buyers and sellers and I sit on hearing panels making decisions about possible violations of our REALTOR® Code of Ethics.  You cannot make up the things I have seen.

I have been protecting and promoting the best interests of my clients since 1996 and always tell people that, when you are planning to sell or buy Real Estate, there is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations!

Remember:  HIRE WISELY!  We are not all the same!

Bright MLS Quarter 1, 2019 Housing Report for Delaware County PA

Bright MLS has released their Residential Market Report for single family homes for the first quarter of 2019.  In today’s podcast I will discuss the results for Delaware County Pennsylvania.  If you would like information about this or any other County in the Delaware Valley, please contact me.

The report compares the current results to one-year ago, same quarter.  As with all Real Estate statistics, two things are true.  First, the performance within individual zip-codes can and will vary significantly from the overall County.  Real Estate is local and results can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and even block to block.  There is no such thing as a “national” Real Estate market so, whether you may be looking to buy or sell, please contact me for details about your areas of interest.  I can provide current information and keep you informed about the evolving market.  Deciding whether it is the right time to sell or buy is a personal decision typically involving a number of variables.  I posted an article on that topic on my web site AndrewWetzel.com that offers several ideas to consider.

My second point is that, unfortunately, all Real Estate statistics involving sold data is stale.  While a sale may be settled or closed today, the real question is when was the offer negotiated?  Typically sales take 45 to 60 days to close so the market today may be different.  Up-to-date information is important!

As far as the statistics, 1099 properties were settled this year with an average “selling price” of $264,674 and a “median” selling price, meaning that half of the sales were higher and half were lower, of $200,000 compared to 1224 settled last year at an average price of $247,389 and a median price of $190,000.  The CDOM or “cumulative days on the market” for settled properties dropped to 81 from 85.  The underlying data shows a wide range of results among the 49 different municipalities in Delaware County.

Which number is more meaningful, median or average?  We can debate that but what really matters is how your property or one that interests you compares to those appraised and settled with similar location, features and condition.  Appraisers rely on nearby settled properties so average or median pricing loses some validity but may provide insight for both the short term and the long term.

What about the properties that did not sell?  Many came off the market and remain unavailable.  Houses may get showings without generating offers unless buyers think they are priced within the range of their perceived “worth”.  Most property listings whose contracts are canceled or allowed to expire have asking prices considered high for their market and/ or they were poorly marketed, meaning that some buyers may not have known that a house was even available to purchase.  Of course this may well depend on the ratio of buyer and sellers so there is more to this than raw statistics.  If a market has a lot of inventory, some buyers may not be willing to even look at houses priced high compared to the rest of the market.  While sellers may be open to negotiating their price, many never get the chance to do so.  I will happy to discuss specifics with you.

It is worth noting that the weather, despite minimal snow, was somewhat harsh early in 2019 which slowed activity although that has changed in many markets.  The overall economy is doing well with some adjustments here and there.  Pushing statistics aside, what are you planning to do?  Real Estate is generally a long-term investment unless you are looking to fix and flip it.  There are opportunities out there.  As with the stock market, it is very difficult to pick the best time to make a move.  All you can do is get the best available information, determine what is in your best interests and then start the process.  I am a phone call or email away and getting started is easy once you take action.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations!

Remember:  HIRE WISELY.  We are not all the same.

Multiple Offers: To Disclose or Not?

Real Estate offers many opportunities to peer into the personalities of people with whom we work.  Sometimes what we find is not what we expected.  As a professional I have laws and a Code of Ethics to guide me as well as my integrity and value system.  My clients have the same except for the Code of Ethics, of course.  One topic that brings this into focus is that of “multiple offers”, meaning that more than one buyer is actively interested in buying the same piece of Real Estate.

Some buyers are so interested in a specific property and so willing to compete for it with others that they will plunge into the deep end of the pool to do whatever they can to win.  They may start with their “highest and best offer”.  Others, despite being interested, are either risk-averse or perhaps distrusting of others when told there is competition.  Some may wish to avoid competition to prevent over-spending or they may need to meet a deadline for finalizing a move.

One of my favorite analogies is comparing buying and selling Real Estate to “playing poker”:  each party wants to know more about the other.  Buyers may want to know whether there is competition for a specific property.  Some people, including licensed agents, may think the answer a matter of courtesy or simply being honest.  However, the PAR listing contract is the governing document.  The language in paragraph 13 (“Additional Offers”) states that “Unless prohibited by Seller, if Broker is asked by a buyer or another licensee(s) about the existence of other offers on the Property, Broker will reveal the existence of other offers”.  A separate matter is whether the actual terms are confidential or not.

Let’s assume that the word “existence” means written, executable offers and not the mere expression of interest from someone.  If the seller permits this disclosure, the listing agent must say “yes” or “no”:  they have to answer truthfully!  If prohibited from answering the question, the agent must respond with words to the effect that they are not authorized to answer the question.  Is providing knowledge about competition in the seller’s best interests?  How important is the “if asked” aspect?

One of the primary reasons that a seller should hire a professional is to rely on our knowledge and insight.  The Internet and your friends and family may or may not provide a great deal of data and knowledge but a professional can put it all together.  I tell my seller-clients that I assume that I AM PROHIBITED from making this disclosure and discuss my thinking with them.  I may ask them to change that later but I have never had a seller disagree.  Which is more likely:  a buyer will make an offer when they know there is competition OR a buyer will walk away when they do not know?

Taken literally, if not prohibited from answering the question, a listing agent would have to disclose the existence of low offers which may not interest their seller-client.  Does that make any sense?

Unfortunately, many buyer-agents do not even ask if there is competition.  I am told that many listing agents are allowed to disclose the existence of other offers and think it a great strategy but should they disclose that without being asked by the buyer’s agent?  Many buyer-agents do not even make the effort to confirm that a property is still available.  Bright MLS allows listing agents 3-business-days to update the listing status so an “Active” property may not really be available.  Can a buyer be harmed by their not knowing that someone else purchased the property?  At the very least, time was wasted preparing an offer.  Even worse, perhaps their showing should have been canceled!

Strategies may differ but it must be noted that the seller is the boss and makes the decision about disclosing.  An experienced agent can advise but is compelled to abide by their client’s wishes.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectation!

Remember: HIRE WISELY!  We are not all the same.

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