Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We’ve been waiting to sell … when should we list our home?

We’ve been waiting to sell … when should we list our home?

It’s certainly been an interesting market so far this winter, and you’ve picked an optimum time to ask your question. The recent extended cold hasn’t slowed our market as much as the incessant snows and rains did last winter, but other factors certainly have been at play… until now.

This is the time of year when many home owners think of listing their home for sale “in the Spring”. In a “normal” market such thinking is often an agent recommendation. These times are different. A large contributing factor in the reduction of values in the local market was the huge number of homes offered for sale after the market started turning The glut on the market fueled value reductions because of the vast competition. Now that most of the “must sell” properties have been sold, the market has stabilized. Many Sellers have been holding off so as to not be caught in the frenzied attempts to sell that we witnessed a few months ago, but their desire to sell has not diminished.

The market may be brisk now, but it still takes longer to prepare your home for market and to get it sold than it did a couple of years ago when Buyers were buying properties “as is”. Now your home must be in good condition and quite presentable to prospective Buyers just to be in basic market condition. Buyers are generally overwhelmed these days by the number of homes they can look at… as are their agents. Only the best properties are being shown and purchased.

Our Advice: When the Spring wave of listings hits it well could be a Tsunami due to the pent up supply. To get as much separation in the market as possible it is highly recommended that you get a jump on the market – take action now. If you have any thoughts of selling you should call your agent for a consultation on your home, its condition, the timing for the demographic buyer-types for your home, existing and anticipated market competition for your home, and what results you can expect with a proper marketing program. Don’t rely on what you are exposed to in the media, what you hear in your travels, or the illusions created in real estate advertising. Your agents will help you determine where you, your property, your circumstances, and your wants and needs stack up in the market. Some home owners will be advised to wait to list, others should be on the market immediately. Take positive steps to control your own destiny. Don’t get tossed around by market conditions that you don’t have to be affected by.

This exhilarating market requires expertise, compassion and hard work. Your agents can help you with the perspective of your circumstances that you need to make a good decision. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless!

Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sex Offenders and Agent Disclosure

Sex offenders and agent disclosure

Sex offenders dominate the news … what do agents have to disclose?
The news sure is full of sex offender stories these days, and many crimes are being committed by registered offenders. Part of their registration process is to disclose where they live. Their presence in a neighborhood can, of course, impact neighborhood harmony if the information were widely known. Real estate agents constantly work in many ways to make their community a desirable place to live. When it comes to disclosing the homes inhabited by sex offenders they are walking the razor’s edge of social responsibility and individual rights.

The Nevada Legislature recognizes that and absolves real agents and sellers of needing to disclose such information. NRS40.770 states: In any sale, lease or rental of real property, the fact that a sex offender, as defined in NRS 179D.400, resides or is expected to reside in the community is not material to the transaction, and the seller, lessor, or landlord or any agent of the seller, lessor or landlord does not have a duty to disclose such a fact to a buyer, lessee or tenant or any agent of a buyer, lessee or tenant. It further states: In any sale, lease or rental or real property, the fact that a facility for transitional living for released offenders that is licensed pursuant to chapter a449 of NRS is located near the property being sold, leased, or rented is not material to the transaction.

So what do you do to protect your children…or yourself? Do your own investigation for your own peace of mind and protection. This information is now publicly available, but remember that there are responsibilities that go with your information gathering. The release of the information to the public is meant to assure public protection, not to punish the offender. It is illegal to use information obtained to commit a crime against a registered sex offender or to engage in discrimination or harassment against a registered sex offender. To do so can subject you to criminal and/or civil proceedings.

Our Advice: There is no specific neighborhood with a greater propensity for harboring such offenders as there is no financial link to this type of criminal…they can be rich or poor. They can be…and are… anywhere. Don’t condemn people for their past actions, but do be cautious with this type of convicted individual if they are in your neighborhood. Investigate online at There are other websites that you will find with a little effort that will assist you further. Take the time to check out your street and those around you. If you have a neighbor with a troubled past then consider yourself forewarned and therefore… forearmed. You might want to lock your doors and monitor your kids at play, but don’t panic over someone that has done time and is trying to put a life together. Unusual contact or behavior is another matter in which case you should call the Sheriff’s office for consultation.

Don’t put your agents in jeopardy of litigation by asking them to provide this information. Take responsibility and investigate your neighborhood or prospective neighborhood to your own satisfaction. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Technology vs. Service

With all the new technology are agents still offering people a service?

There is an abundance of new technology that agents are now able to use to increase their efficiency. There is a fine line that agents must walk to make sure that they don’t get absorbed by the new systems and products available to them and lose their personal touch with their customers. It is important for agents to maximize the use of their time, their most precious asset. Most new products have enabled them to do just that with the cell phone being the best example.

Before the cell phone there were awkward moments when a prospective Buyer asked to see a house they were driving by. What to do? Knock on the door without warning? …Find a pay phone? …Hope that the Buyer will wait to see it later? All the while wondering where that sign came from knowing that your Buyer is wondering why it wasn’t on their tour to begin with. With cell phones agents are always able to communicate, and to be communicated with.

The new cell phones offer the agent even more capabilities. Not only can they receive text messages, they can send and receive regular email. They can send photos instantly – a wonderful way to keep your customer up to date in a competitive market. They can also receive notices of showings – a message from the central computer that updates lockbox keys telling them who showed a listing and when they did it.

Phone messaging technology and computer services have also advanced and proliferated lately. Agents can subscribe to services that alert them to For Sale By Owner properties in their area, Expired listings, and even a program that calls ahead to determine if somebody is home before they call to solicit business thus saving them precious seconds in their day. Most of these services are employed in the fast paced competitive world of the urban markets, not so much in our local market, but it is good to know of their existence.

Our Advice: Your agent must be able to wean himself from his computer to show you a home. If they are all “teched out” to be in constant touch with … who knows who… and aren’t focused on you and your wants, they are not offering you the personal service that you need and deserve. When they are with you they should be focused on you. The real estate industry inherently involves problem solving, and there are certainly times when real problems with time deadlines must be addressed. In those instances, your agent can explain his predicament to you and handle the matter discretely. Remember, the next crisis could be yours and you would want your agent to be available to solve it in a timely manner for you.

It is important that your agents be current with technology and its benefits – most of it is beneficial to you, the consumer. The agent that prides himself on not being able to turn on a computer isn’t keeping up with the industry and won’t be current with the information you will need to make your buying/selling decisions. There must be an understanding, however, as to what is important, you the customer who the agents worked so hard to connect with and to serve, or their constant availability to others while with you. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New SAFEMLS System

New SAFEMLS System

How do I know my information is safe in the Multiple Listing Service?

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has a lot of data that is not for public knowledge. To gain access to the MLS information one must belong to the MLS, have an access identification number, and a password linked to that identification number. That gave a great sense of security to the agents and property owners … until recently.

In this day and age of information harvesting and mass marketing, vendors have been going to great efforts to get information that they can profit from. It was noted recently that carpet cleaning and moving companies were calling property owners when their home went in to escrow. It turns out that they had acquired an agent’s identification and password and were accessing the MLS to see when homes were being sold. Others were accessing the information for ill use. In one case the teenage son of an agent searched for vacant homes. Finding the vacant ones, he selected the best, and invited 300 of his closest friends over for a party. The agent is still paying the bill for the repairs.

The new SAFEMLS system rolling out this month in the local MLS will offer the utmost protection of the data in its system. Produced by Clareity Security, the system involves each user having a SAFEMLS token. To access the MLS online the user must get a one-time number from the token and use it in conjunction with the identification number and password used historically. This is similar to needing your card and PIN number when using your ATM. You can’t get in without both. The SAFEMLS token has 16 million number variations and is nearly indestructible. If lost it can be nullified immediately when reported to Clareity Security. The SAFEMLS system is a professional security system similar to those used on Wall Street, in banking, by the Dept. of Defense, etc. This new system offers home sellers and real estate agents the best in data protection that is available in the private sector.

Our Advice: There is a plethora of information in the MLS, both that of customers and agents. It is imperative that it be protected. As you’ve likely seen in the news, even banks and the IRS have problems protecting their data. The local MLS now has a world-class protection system to protect our data. Be careful, however, about the information you give your agent. If your children are home unsupervised from 3-5:00 after school be sure to tell your agent, but it shouldn’t be written where predators could see it. If your fierce-looking Doberman is truly a marshmallow, make sure your agent knows it, but don’t defeat your protective illusion provided by your dog’s looks. The new system will protect your information very well, but it is still a good idea to be cautious with the information you actually disseminate.

The real estate industry is constantly striving to work better for the public in both performance and protection. The SAFEMLS system is a great example of a flexible, caring industry adapting to better serve its customers. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Realtor Code of Ethics Changes

I keep getting misdirected when looking for property on the Internet … what can I do?

There is little more frustrating in our contemporary lives than getting misdirected, or getting unwanted solicitation and contact, when searching the Internet for something important to us such as real estate. This is quite prevalent in real estate related sites, ie.- “free” home valuation or listing sites, where you request information only to have a local agent call you. It can be really frustrating to search for an area, such as the Carson Valley, and come up with only one company. It is maddening when you search for a particular company or agent and are directed elsewhere. That is not the fault of the search engines, but of the website owner and their actions.

Those actions can include putting the name of your competitor in your metatags, the group of select words that the search engines see when looking at your site to determine if it meets with the search criteria. If you search for ABC Company in Carson Valley and you get XYZ Company then you know you are dealing with somebody misrepresenting themselves to the search engines. The National Association of Realtors has recognized this consumer frustration and the questionable moral and ethical integrity of those that partake in such activities and made significant changes to the Code of Ethics that all members subscribe to.

Among the new changes that take effect January 2007, this month, are Standard of Practice 12-8, which mandates keeping website information current; SOP 12-9, requires firm name and state of licensure to be readily apparent; SOP 12-10, obligates Realtors to present a true picture in their advertising and representations including the URL’s and domain names they use. Prohibited here are deceptive framing of brokerage websites, manipulating listing content in any way that deceives or misleads, and “deceptively using metatags, keywords, or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers.” SOP 12-11 states that “Realtors intending to share or sell consumer information gathered via the Internet shall disclose that possibility in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.”

Our Advice: If you find that you are being mislead in your electronic real estate commerce contact the Board of Realtors to learn how you can file an ethics complaint against the offending party. Report transgressions to your Realtor if you don’t want to file the complaint yourself. All Realtors are obligated to maintain the integrity and honor of the industry which involves bringing forth Ethics complaints when made aware of violations. Not all web activities are immoral or illegal even if you get the same agent in response to your searches. Some agents subscribe to a “click” service, or other web services that work to keep their website in the forefront of the search engines results. More information on the Realtors Code of Ethics is available at where you can see the Code of Ethics in its entirety.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs ... Experience is Priceless!