Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Huge Signs and Banners don't sell houses ... Agents Do

We see huge signs and banners on some homes but our agent won’t get us any.

Congratulations on choosing a moral, ethical and legal agent to work with. Your agent knows that you can only have “big” signs on certain sized parcels per the County regulations. “Permanent” banners, too, are not legal, and should not be strung up on your garage.

When you see this type of “selling” action, things are revealed and none of them are any good for the Seller. The first is the obvious desperation – either of the agent, the Seller, or both. Unless temporary for an open house, streamers and banner signs only show desperation. Home sellers in the Tahoe part of our County have been limited to signs not much bigger than a postage stamp for many years with no effect on home sales. It isn’t the size of the sign, it’s the price of the property and the quality of your agent that will sell your house.

You should be aware of the agent that will knowingly break the sign ordinance. Did you get promised a gimmick to get your house sold? If it was that easy, and were truly productive, wouldn’t every agent get bigger signs and longer, brighter streamers? Think how our neighborhoods would look with all the resulting signage and visual clutter vying for the attention of prospective Buyers. That is why there are ordinances and why they must be complied with.

Is your agent running blind ads on your behalf? It is just another gimmick that isn’t allowed. Consider the following two items from the Realtor’s Code of Ethics: • Standard of Practice 12-5 REALTORS® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that REALTOR®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. • Standard of Practice 12-10 REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from: 1) engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites; 2) manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result; or 3) deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers. Just putting the word “agent” doesn’t qualify any more – they must identify themselves in an ad. If they aren’t marketing your home in a legal manner, what will they do when it comes to negotiating an offer on your behalf?

Our Advice: Maintain your and your neighborhood’s integrity. A serious Buyer will know which homes are available that suit their wants and need. They are typically working with a knowledgeable agent, have spent time shopping on the Internet, and often drive around the neighborhoods they like. They will know your home is for sale before they see the gaudy decoration pleading for an offer. They will recognize such signs for what they are – an invitation to submit an offer … a low offer to match the Seller’s exhibited motivation. You might as well put “or best offer” in your ads like you’re selling an old refrigerator. Want to get your home sold? Price it right. Match your expectations to reality and your life will move forward.

Gimmicks don’t sell houses – hard working agents do. If your house looks like a used car lot get ready for wheeling and dealing, or, more appropriately, dealing and reeling.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We can't get "Our" price ... what can we do?

We can’t seem to get the price we need … what can we do?

We’re glad to see that you said “…the price we need”. Most Sellers get in their head a price they want and they are reluctant to come off of that price. Given that you have a need, the first thing to do is understand why you need your price. Is your loan such that you would have to write a check to close escrow if you sold at market price? Is it due to buying too high, or did you refinance in the past couple of years and take your profit? If you’ve already taken your profit via a refinance then your “need” must be interpreted with a dose of reality. If you can’t pay to close then you might consider waiting for the market to catch up to where you need it to be. You can rent in the interim to assist with the cash flow while you get on with your life.

If your need is based on looking at the market where you are going and determining what it will take to buy the home you want there then you should consider other factors. What is the difference in pay you will receive? The difference in the cost of living? The size and quality of the home you can afford or want, etc.? Someone moving here from Mississippi has as much “sticker shock” looking at property as you would have moving from here to downtown San Francisco. Real estate should be a factor when deciding to move to a new area – whether you are moving for a job, retirement, or to be closer to family – your real estate ownership should be assessed from the outset.

Our Advice: Market value is what a willing Buyer and willing Seller will agree to. To get a higher price for your home you must find ways to have a Buyer pay more for it. This can be done in several ways. The first is to have absolute quality, maintenance, design, amenities, and feel. Some Buyers will pay more for quality. If you can’t reasonably be the best product on the market, then offer terms that will appeal. You can offer to carry a part of your sales price for up to six months without interest and not have a negative tax consequence (see your tax advisor). Some Buyers will consider the interest savings and offering accordingly.

A lease/option is a good way to get a higher price with interim cash flow if you don’t need your equity immediately. You agree to a price today that they will pay in 12-18 months. Option consideration is paid up front, the property is leased for a fair market value … or more. Each transaction is unique, but the benefits can be good for both parties. You will get a higher price with a lease option as both parties are looking at a future market price to agree on with their negotiations. A lease option is actually a lease and an option, two separate agreements. Your real estate professional can help you with this process as it is complex and must be done correctly for the benefit and protection of all parties.

The basics always apply: remove the clutter, remove the barking dog(s) for showings, open the blinds, turn on lights, remember aroma-selling techniques (remove the fish dinner garbage and replace with pleasant smells), clean your house, and pick up the dirty underwear.

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

Monday, March 12, 2007

We waited for hours for the agent to show!

We waited for hours for the agent to show … is this normal?

It is highly unusual in these high tech times. Agents set up schedules when they show homes that take into consideration many things: day sleeper, dogs have to be vacated during showings, distances between neighborhoods, etc. Despite their conscientious efforts to make a schedule that works efficiently and places them at each home in a timely manner, things come up. Some Buyers will look at a home for five minutes while others may take a half hour, or more if they really like it.

Agents will usually ask for a range of time during which to show your home. The range will vary according the size of homes being shown – it is much harder to calculate showing time of a 3,500 square foot home with accessory buildings than it is a 1,400 square foot home. Its just harder to absorb all the details of the larger property, and people vary in how they process the viewing data. Most agents will request an arrival time bracket of 15 – 45 minutes. If an agent asks for a 5 hour window feel free to ask why the extreme time variable. Agents aren’t utility company installers – they should have a pretty good idea of where they will be and when they will be there.

Occasionally, there will be traffic delays, or the buyers arrive late to the office and the whole tour is thrown off. When Buyers find “the” home, they tend to linger, place furniture, and visualize themselves occupying the residence. You hope that the “lingered” property is yours, but if not your showing appointment could be affected. Ideally then, they linger at one home, and lounge at yours.

When your house is presented by an agent it should be left as they found it unless otherwise instructed. If they open curtains for light…they should close them. When leaving: lights; doors – locked/unlocked; pets – in/out, etc., should all be left as found. As simple standard of practice that some seem to be forgetting. You shouldn’t tolerate such ineptness and inconsideration.

Our Advice: Be flexible, within reason. If you have a dinner party you certainly don’t want the agent to arrive two hours late … greeting your guests as they arrive contemporaneously. Most agents have cell phones and will call, or text, if their tour is getting out of control. They will usually call your agent, or your agent’s office to advise them of their dilemma. Make the best out of such situations - its life. Be concerned about absurd time requests at the outset, not something that is the result of extenuating circumstances. You should and can expect common courtesy when your home is for sale.

If an agent has been in your home you should find their business card disclosing their presence. This basic common courtesy has been lacking for some reason of late, but there is no excuse for it. Insist that agents leave their cards when showing your house to Buyers, inspectors or appraisers … demand it! They should know better than to leave you wondering if they were there … or worse, who was there.

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 or 800-814-8777.