Andrew Wetzel's Musings

November 2, 2019

Bright MLS Listing Statuses and What They Mean

There are two primary tools used for conveying property information for buying and selling Real Estate.  While there are literally hundreds of possible ways to communicate this information, except for specific market segments which may use or need a different approach, all but the top two pale in comparison as far as efficiency and effectiveness.  Real Estate agents are the “match makers” bringing sellers and buyers together:  we participate in over 91% of Real Estate transactions.

By efficiency I mean having the ability to mass market information as quickly as possible.  Marketing means exposure and exposure should ensure that a seller achieve the highest possible selling price in a reasonable amount of time.  Whether the value the market attaches to a property meets the seller’s expectations or not is another story.  The fact is that Real Estate needs to be exposed to the mass market, properties have to be available to be shown to prospective buyers and sellers need to believe that the value they are offered has not been negatively impacted by poor or limited exposure.  Sellers are either motivated by time or money so some may be willing to settle for less if they sell quickly.

By effective I mean that prospective buyers and their agents must be able to readily identify all of the options which meet the buyer’s wants and needs.  Buyers need to be able to believe that they are getting the best value for their dollar by being able to compare what is available for purchase and to compare what is available with what has been sold as far as location, features, condition and price.  The concept of “data integrity” means that information is uploaded accurately so that it can be identified by people searching for it.  Of course, listing agents and mortgage appraisers need to rely on the information as well.  No one benefits from inefficient or ineffective means of conveying Real Estate information.

So, what are the two tools?  They are the multiple listing service and the Internet.  Agents use the MLS to research the market, to offer their listings to the masses and to attach a “range of values” to what they are hired to sell as listing or buying agents.  While often not a direct link, generally what is uploaded to the MLS is “syndicated” to the third-party public-facing websites on the Internet.  While information can be placed on the Internet beyond what the MLS offers or without any placement in the MLS, the Internet has its own limitations.  For example, while it provides lots of data and information, it is a static medium which cannot provide the knowledge and insight an agent can.  It also cannot provide up-to-the-minute access to property listings or information about recently settled properties.  As an example, most people understand that the “valuation” models provided by Internet sites are unreliable even if they do not know that the lack of real-time information is a major reason for that.

My point is not to compare the two media although there are significant differences.  The public should not assume that they can “shop online” for property and Real Estate information, delay contacting an experienced, trained, educated and knowledgeable professional and still expect the best possible outcome.  Buying and selling Real Estate are too important and too many are ill-equipped for the process and the decisions that typically will follow.  Both media, while different, need to rely on “data integrity”, meaning that anyone who finds “information” on either platform should be able to trust that it is valid and that is the problem.

One major point of focus is the “listing status” of the property so I will discuss the different MLS statuses and give a brief description.  It has been my experience that some agents and many consumers do not clearly understand what these terms mean.  Misinformation can be costly given that the sale or purchase of Real Estate is typically the most expensive financial transaction a consumer will make.  The cost of mistakes can be high with little chance to recover lost opportunity.  Now, the statuses.

Active:  means that a property is available for showings and for purchase.  This seems simple enough but Bright has a 3-business day rule meaning that status changes, including price changes, must be reported within 3 business days with the date of the “change” counting as day #1.  Good agents will verify the listing status before showing a property or writing an offer.  Failure to comply with the rule may violate rules and regulations;

Active Under Contract:  means that there is an executed purchase agreement but the property is still available for showings.  The real question is why?  Does the seller have the right to terminate the existing contract or are they just looking for “back-up” offers in case something happens?  Whichever is the case should be obvious.  Good agents will ask questions.  The key point here is that showings must be allowed;

Canceled:  means that the listing contract has been canceled;

Closed:  also called “settled”, means that the sale or lease has been finalized;

Coming Soon:  means that the property is not available for showings but listing agents must respond to inquiries whether the property is the MLS or not.  This is a current “hot topic” which is still evolving;

Expired:  means that the listing contract term has run out without a sale;

Temporarily Off Market:  means that showings have been stopped and will resume at some point.  There are no showings but offers can be submitted;

Pending:  means that the property is “under contract” or sold but not settled.  No further showings will be scheduled;

Withdrawn:  means that the marketing has stopped but the listing contract still binds the seller to the listing broker.  The seller may still be interested in receiving offers but there are now showings.

Agents and the public must understand what the different statuses mean and agents must use them properly.  Few things frustrate a prospective buyer more than feeling that they are being excluded from a property especially if they think that the listing agent is the cause.  Our REALTOR Code of Ethics requires that we protect and promote the interests of our client and be honest with the public.  Failure to do either can and has hurt how we are perceived.  Sellers and buyers should feel comfortable asking questions about the process and deserve to be given honest and complete answers.

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

 HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

October 22, 2019

Bright MLS Quarter 3, 2019 Housing Report

Bright MLS has released their Residential Market Statistics for single family homes for the third quarter of 2019.  In today’s podcast I will discuss YTD results through September 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 time period.  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 can provide the knowledge and insight to help you decide what works for you.

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, 5312 properties were settled through September with an average “selling price” of $293,033 and a “median” selling price, meaning that half of the sales were higher and half were lower, of $230,000 compared to 5468 settled last year at an average price of $272,624 and a median price of $210,000.  The year-to-year change in average selling price is up 7.5% while the number settled is down 2.9%.  The DOM or “days on the market” for settled properties was 42 days compared to 51 one year ago.  The “inventory accumulation” ended at 1.8 which suggests a seller’s market overall with 3 months being generally considered a “balanced market”.  The underlying data shows a wide range of results in all categories among the 49 different municipalities in Delaware County.

We can debate whether averages or medians are more important 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 even known that a house was 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 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.  I will happy to discuss specifics with you.

The overall economy is doing well with some adjustments here and there.  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 or planning to move within a short period of time.  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!

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

New Bright MLS Listing Policy (October 2019)

This week Bright MLS announced a new policy regarding property listings that are “advertised”.  The policy begins with the following language:

“The MLS system encourages competition in the marketplace while also ensuring cooperation and compensation among real estate professionals.  Full participation in the MLS ensures the seller has the largest possible marketplace, and the buyer has the widest possible selection.  This policy will help provide transparency and access to information in the real estate marketplace”. 

The reaction on Facebook was as swift and voluminous as I have ever seen in my years of engaging in social media.  I called the response “nuclear”.  While many, including myself, agree with the thought behind the policy change, a majority found it objectionable, questioning the ability of the MLS to interfere with how they conduct their business.  Let me add some history and context to the situation.

Bright was formed in 2018 by the merger of multiple MLS systems.  It covers several mid-Atlantic states and serves almost 100,000 Real Estate licensees.  Before Bright, our local MLS was called Trend and it served about 30,000 agents.  Until this new policy, there was a “3-day rule” that stated that any change in the status of any property had to be reported to MLS membership within 3 business days.  It excluded weekends and national holidays and the date the change was made counted as the first day.  The changes included new listings taken, price reductions and status changes.  The rationale was transparency.  The rule still applies with the one exception covered by the new policy.

For sellers, it encouraged full-market exposure for their properties which should result in more competition and the sellers attaining the highest value.  For buyers, it meant they could access all property listings that matched what they were looking for so that they could make an offer knowing they had considered of all their options.  For agents and their clients it meant having the ability to evaluate the market for comparing and attaching values to properties offered for sale.  All that being said, allowing 3 business days created problems even when agents complied with the rule.  What could happen in 3 business days?

New listings could be shared with segments of the market before receiving full exposure.  Sellers might not get the benefit of full competition.  Buyers might put a house under contract without seeing all of the possibilities.  Agents might show houses that were already “under contract”.  Will any rule change any of these?  Probably not but trying to minimize the problems we have dealt with might add to market efficiency and effectiveness and enhance our image as professionals.  One can only hope!

In my various roles in addition to listing and selling houses, I have heard many complaints over the years from agents unable to get information about houses not yet uploaded to the MLS.  Their buyers saw “For Sale” signs and some information online and wondered why their agent was unable to provide additional information they needed to make an informed decision about property.  Even if the information is in the MLS, some listing agents are the point of contact for scheduling showing appointments and some do not respond to inquiries in a timely manner but that is a separate issue.  What good can come from keeping property information secret?  The general presumption is often that these listing agents do not want competition and that they are trying to sell their own listings.  That may or may not be fair but their actions create those feelings and those perceptions taint all agents.

Here is the new policy:   Within one business day of marketing a property to the public, the Participant must submit the listing to Bright MLS for cooperation with other Bright MLS Participants.”

Let’s break this down.  “One business day” apparently means 24 business hours.  I would prefer that it really meant a “business day” as that is easier to monitor.  “Marketing” should be easy to define but it apparently isn’t.  For example, putting up a “For Sale” sign or uploading property information to the Internet is considered marketing but, as was explained in a Bright MLS video intended to clarify the new policy, “marketing” in emails seems to be correlated with how many people are included in the communication which makes this awkward to say the least.  I like definitive rules and regulations.  Regardless, I believe the intent is good and, if followed, will allow agents to answer questions about price and features and should help the overall Real Estate experience.

I have followed the developing reactions online and have read a number of reasons why some agents seem to feel this new policy is wrong.  One specific concern that makes sense is that agents who use a third-party to install their “For Sale” signs may not know exactly when the sign has been installed.  The easy answer is to upload the listing to the MLS before placing the sign order.  Frankly, while I am certain that some agents have valid concerns that needed to be discussed and addressed, most of what I have read seems to be complaints that some listing agents will not be able to control activity which makes me wonder whose interest they are serving.  A number have mentioned wanting to restrict needless showings to minimize their clients’ inconvenience.  I wonder how they do that while complying with the various laws affecting Real Estate.  Frankly, I empathize with the thought but, as I have opined before, this is not a retail transaction:  showings are generally required to allow buyers and agents to assess Real Estate and they will be inconvenient but that  inconvenience will end once an agreement is signed.  Trying to manage showings and control the marketing might make people wonder who is being restricted from viewing a property and what the real intent might be.

I saw one interesting comment from a buyer’s agent:  they said they had a client who wanted to buy a house that had not been in the MLS or on the Internet to avoid any privacy issues after settlement.  Again I empathize:  listed properties stay online after the sale closes or after the house is taken off the market and anyone can see interior photos even if they reflect prior ownership.  The Internet has affected privacy and I am not sure how to change that.  In my opinion, only active and available properties should be online and properties that sell or come off the market should be removed.

Time will tell if this new policy works.  Will it be modified?  Will deviation be allowed?  What will happen to those who violate it?  There is a heavy fine proposed for non-compliance.

As an experienced, educated and knowledgeable professional, I embrace the efficiency of the MLS.  Prior to our having an MLS, trying to get property information out to the broad a market was tedious, time-consuming and expensive because it was so inefficient.  As someone who bought a personal residence prior to there being an MLS, I remember all too well the hardship we faced identifying every possibility to consider.

Buying and selling Real Estate are infrequent acts that typically involve our biggest asset so the processes deserve all the attention and respect we can give them.  Article 1 of our Code of Ethics requires us to promote and protect the best interest of our client above all else.  While some may think that that means keeping information off the MLS, my best guess is that an overwhelming majority benefit by getting information published as quickly as possible.  We need to make sure our clients fully understand the benefits of using the MLS and our services even if that means we lose a little control.  I certainly hope that it isn’t all about the commission!

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

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

October 4, 2019

Selling Real Estate Without Representation: Reward vs Risk

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently ran a Real Estate story that made many people angry.  REALTORS were not involved.  What has happened and will undoubtedly continue to happen is sad and, perhaps, entirely preventable.

The article talked about people buying Real Estate, such as vacant land, from people with a high level of urgency or people with limited information.  The article described many as being poor which adds to the emotion.  The buyers either searched for people they thought would want or need to sell property or responded to owners looking to sell quickly.  In many cases the buyers “flipped” the properties for huge profits, often without making any repairs or little added cost to themselves.  Now the sellers and others are blaming the buyers, saying the buyers took advantage of the sellers.  But did they?

Would I like to have this done to me or someone I know?  Absolutely NOT!  So, what is the answer? Assuming these transactions were not coerced, who is responsible for this?  Whether the sellers were misled about the “market value” or worth of the Real Estate is a separate issue.  What is the seller’s responsibility as far as learning the “market value” of what they want or need to sell?  What should the buyers have done differently?  What is society’s role:  do we want to require a third-party to review and evaluate sales to protect whomever we think “vulnerable”?  That would seem excessive.

Please do NOT misunderstand me:  the article did not accuse the buyers of fraud and I would certainly NOT condone that.  In fact, the buyers say they do a lot of work to put these deals together and provide a benefit to sellers.  Frankly, what we have are two parties with their own interests and motivation as well as two different ideas of property value.  The same thought applies to a sale where both parties are represented by professionals although they would have an added layer of “protection” if their agents performed as we are supposed to.

In Real Estate there have always been a number of “private sales”, meaning there are no agents involved.  About 8% of national transactions do not involve agents although many of these involve parties who know each other.  Sadly, many who buy or sell Real Estate without professional representation come to realize there was a problem AFTER the sale closed and those sales tend to result in lower proceeds even when you consider that the Real Estate fee was not charged.

While the article has several very sad stories, absent fraud, many of these sellers need to look at what they did and what they expected to happen.  They took a risk by not hiring a professional.  Could they really have gotten “top dollar” on their own or did they have the resources to maximize the “highest and best use” of the Real Estate?  Again I ask:  whose job was it to protect and promote their interests?  They had choices, even if somewhat limited, and now they have the consequences of what they did.

While anyone can make the decision to buy or sell Real Estate without an agent, what is the TRUE co$t of trying to save the fee?  If the issue was a matter of time, trying to sell fast usually comes at the expense of profits since the market was not allowed to function properly.  Absent hiring a professional, please, at least pay an attorney to review any documents involved and/ or hire an appraiser to determine the true “market value” of your property.  While doing either may not get you what you think you are due, at least you will know your options.  Certainly do NOT trust random online property valuations and, respectfully, do not rely on friends and family.  Business is business!

In the event there was any fraud or misrepresentation, pursue that through legal channels.

When Real Estate (or anything of value) is involved:  there is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations! 

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

August 30, 2019

Have You Really Decided Not to Sell Your House?

I have been helping frustrated owners sell properties that other agents could not sell since 1996.  What does this mean?  I use the multiple listing service to monitor daily residential and multi-family properties.  I look for property listings that might appeal to my buyer-clients, that compete with properties owned by my seller-clients and those which come off the active market without selling.

During the course of any year a number of property listings are canceled or their contracts expire before there is a sale.  Some of these properties will come back on the market with the same agent, perhaps at a lower price, some owners will hire a new agent thinking that will solve any problems they had and a significant number of properties will remain off the market for months or longer!  I always wonder what happened with whatever plans those owners and families had.

While some owners may resort to renting their houses so they can move, many seem to either give up or delay their plans, perhaps waiting for what they think is a better time to sell.  Those looking to buy another home need to know how waiting will affect a purchase.  Either way, the fact is that buyers look at houses all year long and they can only see and buy properties that are on the active market so waiting to try again may be counter-productive, especially in areas that tend to move more slowly.

I understand and empathize with people who feel frustrated by the harsh reality of the Real Estate market.  Any optimism they felt can lead to frustration:  why aren’t people coming to see their house?  Perhaps they had many showings but no one made a good offer.  Many probably wish that family, friends and neighbors would stop asking them questions.  I do have one serious question:  what happens if you do not sell?  If anyone really wants or needs to sell, why not restart the process now or start planning for next year?

I am a full-time agent, a REALTOR®, an Associate Broker, an Ethics Instructor and a Mediator.  I have listed and sold Real Estate in Delaware, Montgomery and Chester Counties and in Philadelphia.  Many properties that sell were “previously listed” and most of them sold only after something was changed with the way they were being marketedPrice is not always the issue.  In fact, many sellers take unnecessary reductions.  For anypreviously listed” property to sell, something must change.

The most effective choices are marketing (meaning “exposure” or awareness of your property: your MLS sheet is your property resume.  How accurately did it represent what you were selling?), pricing strategically and/ or hiring a different agent.  Changing agents can bring a new perspective and a different philosophy that might provide the advantage you need in a competitive market.  What would your last agent do differently this time (other than a price reduction)?  Will doing the same thing over again even with a new agent produce a different result?  Change for the sake of change can be a mistake.  You may be adding days on the market without increasing your odds for success.

Why should you call me?  My background in Client Service Management combined with my Real Estate experience, training, education and knowledge will help me to assist you.  Real Estate is not “rocket science” but it requires a thorough knowledge of the “process” and a proven strategy.  I have a common sense, client-centered approach.  You can learn more about me by listening to my podcasts, reading my blog and by visiting my website.  I have a lot of material available.

Effective marketing allows buyers and agents to find properties like yours in their search results (think “Google search”).  If they could not find your property in their searches, the odds were against you perhaps causing your property to sit on the market!  Many sellers are asked to reduce their price (and their proceeds!) when marketing was THE real problem.  Reducing the price will NOT always solve a marketing problem.  I NEVER ask for a price reduction without justifying it.  Every house has a price at which it will sell; my job is to get my clients the highest price possible.

If I earn the opportunity to work for you, you will receive the highest quality service, attention to detail and effort.  Communication is critical:  my job is to keep you informed so that you can make the best decisions.  Most of my clients never had any ongoing contact with their agent!  I work for my clients.  In addition, I offer the following guarantee that I will do what I promise:  if I don’t, call me to discuss your concerns.  If I cannot satisfy you, you may cancel our listing contract unless your property is under contract with a buyer!

Thank you as always for taking the time to read my blog and/ or listen to this podcast.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss this further.

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

HIRE WISELY:  We are not all the same!

June 15, 2019

Summer is Coming: What are your Real Estate Plans?

Everyone knows that Spring is the best time to sell Real Estate.  It came and went.  Were you planning to make a move this year?  Every year around June and October I see and hear the same thing again and again and recent history was no exception.  Many sellers take their homes off the market, apparently adjusting their plans:  some delaying them until Fall or next Spring, others perhaps giving up entirely.  That is obviously their choice but I always wonder why so many owners decide to remain in a house they were willing to leave.  Many of those properties remain off the market, unavailable to see and buy.  What is the cost of not selling or delaying your plans?  Let me offer a few thoughts.

Some owners think they cannot achieve their financial goal so they give up even if only temporarily.  Price is NOT always the issue when a house sits on the market unsold.  I have seen and helped many frustrated owners by simply adjusting the marketing.  I use the term “Google search” to demonstrate this point:  buyers and their agents must be able to find YOUR house in their search results.  Unfortunately many MLS listings are inaccurate or, frankly, so pathetic that people cannot identify all of the houses that match their needs.  Even worse, the listing agent may not realize what is really going on and ask for a price reduction when one is not needed.  How much does that cost?  How does that impact your plans?  Keep in mind that if the MLS is inaccurate, the Internet will likely be wrong as well.  Sellers should look at their MLS printout and search for their own house online!

Buyers are out looking every day of the year, even if only online.  While there is no guarantee that your house will sell if it is on the market, it will not sell if it is not.  If buyers and agents cannot find a house in their search results, they will not know it is available so they will be unable to schedule a showing and it will sit unsold.  Sellers who keep their houses on the market when others do not will increase their odds even though fewer buyers may be looking at any particular time of year.

I fully understand that selling Real Estate can be inconvenient even if a property is vacant.  Agents you do not know bring buyers they may not know (and who may not be qualified to buy) into your house and look at your stuff.  They come when they want, perhaps late, and impose on your lifestyle.  Showings are a must but we can do a better job managing them.  It gets worse if you have a lot of activity with no offers or low offers but showings are a vital part of the selling process.

The two busiest selling times are Spring and Fall.  Of course the reasons people buy their first or next home are varied but these are the best times in terms of inventory level so frustrated sellers often take their homes off the market until the next “best” time comes which is also when they will have the most competition.  Why not start now?

When June arrives many of us assume the market will stop so they think about vacation and wanting to enjoy time with their families.  Many sellers do not want to deal with showings during these months which is a shame because a house can sell any day of the year!

Whether you are thinking about selling for the first time or if you have taken take time off, I encourage not to wait too long to resume the process.  The earlier you start the better.  My suggestion, if you have not already committed to an agent, is to call me so we can discuss the market, your house and your plans.  I will give you honest advice with no obligation.  If you plan to buy another home I can also provide information about areas and houses that may interest you.  All I suggest, respectfully, is that you make a decision that works for you.  I can help you now or in the future, whichever works for you!

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

We are not all the same!

Bright MLS May 2019 Housing Report

Bright MLS has released their Housing Report for single family homes in Delaware County PA covering year-to-date statistics through May 2019.  If you would like more information about this or any other County in the Delaware Valley, please contact me or visit AndrewWetzel.com.

As with all Real Estate statistics, two things are true.  First, individual zip-codes can vary significantly from the County.  Real Estate is local and results can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and block to block.  There is no “national” Real Estate market so, if you are thinking about buying or selling, please contact me for details about your areas of interest. Deciding the right time to make a move is a personal decision involving a number of variables.  The Internet can provide information and data but I have the experience, training and education to provide knowledge and insight.  I can also provide current information and keep you informed about the evolving market.

Second, all Real Estate statistics involving sold data is stale.  A sale may be settled or closed today but the real question is when was the offer negotiated?  Sale typically take 45 to 60 days to close so the market may be different today.  Current information is important!

As far as the report, 2196 properties have been settled this year with a current average “selling price” of $282,000 and a “median” selling price, meaning that half of the sales were higher and half were lower, of $237,000 compared to 2384 settled last year at a then average price of $260,000 and a median price of $210,000.  Both prices have trended up while the number of settled properties is down 7.9%.  However, the number of pending properties is up 4.7%, suggesting that some buyers delayed making offers or settling them compared to last year.  Inventory levels are much lower than last year which affects demand and pricing.  Again, there is a wide range of results within the 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 still remain unavailable.  Houses may get showings without generating offers unless buyers think they are priced within the range of their perceived “worth”.  While sellers set the asking price, buyers determine the value.  If a market has a lot of inventory, some buyers will not even consider houses priced high compared to the rest of the market.  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 and their agents may not have known that they were “For Sale” because they were not in their search results.  While sellers may be open to negotiating their price, they may never get the chance if  buyers do not know their house is “For Sale”.  Of course there is more to this than time permits.  I will happy to discuss specifics with you.

The overall economy continues to do well with some adjustments here and there.  Are you or someone you know thinking about buying or selling?  There are always 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 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.

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

We are not all the same!

May 11, 2019

Flipping Real Estate: A Different Form of Investing

“Flipping” is a trendy way to “invest” in Real Estate.  TV shows and infomercials advertising FREE SEMINARS are everywhere!   I suspect that many people are making lot$ of money telling others how to flip houses and wonder how many of these “coaches” have done even one flip.

Flipping expands on the old mantra: buy low; sell high and adds a critical “make it or break it” step.  Unless you are lucky and can buy something below market value and then sell it without doing any work, you have to renovate flips to make money.  Therein lies the unknown.  You paid a specific amount and there is likely a ceiling on your eventual selling price:  you have to fill in the blanks!

The old-fashioned way of investing, buying rentals and becoming a landlord, has lost some of its appeal to many for a variety of reasons although there are still opportunities.  Flipping allows you to get in and then get out, hopefully with a return that justifies the investment and risk.  Some flips will be homeruns while others will be singles.  Serious flippers do volume and can handle the ups and downs.  Many stop after trying one.

Flipping is a multi-stage, interconnected AND interdependent process. You have to check all of the boxes to make it work.  Success requires hiring a competent agent to identify, negotiate and acquire opportunities, access to money, the ability to properly evaluate what a property needs to maximize interest, the ability to complete the work in a cost-effective manner, the ability to RATIONALLY assess an eventual selling price and patience if the rehab and/ or the marketing take longer than expected.  If you use your own funding, this may be easier than paying someone else although using an equity loan as some do has inherent risk.

While many have done quite well, others have failed, some miserably.  If you overpay, under-evaluate what is required, overspend on the rehab, over-estimate a selling price and/ or pay too much for your “seed money”, you will have issues.  The market itself introduces a degree of uncertainty so timing is important although not a science.  A number of incomplete renovations always end up on the active Real Estate market looking for someone to finish the job.

This is truly NOT the time for inexperience, empty promises OR false expectations!

HIRE WISELY: we are not all the same.

May 4, 2019

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 (meaning that they cannot go back-and-forth).

One of my favorite analogies is comparing buying and selling Real Estate to “playing poker”:  each party wants to know more about the other than is readily obvious.  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.  Absent a signed “confidentiality” agreement, the terms of an offer should not be considered confidential.

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 information 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 expectations!

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

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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