Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stealth Agents

We responded to a Craigslist listing and got a real estate agent … is that legal?

Absolutely not – it’s called a “blind ad”. Real estate agents must disclose their licensed status in all advertising – it’s the law in the State of Nevada. Further, if the agent is a Realtor they are also violating the Realtor Code of Ethics. The public has the right to know if they are being “sold” something by a licensee and not an unlicensed owner representing himself. This is a very basic law and practice, but in this challenging market some agents are desperate … and desperate people do desperate things.

It is unfortunate that some are driven to gain advantage over their fellow practitioners by what they perceive to be cleverness when in fact it is shameful. We are witnessing it with increasing frequency in our local market and we do take action. We first warn the agent out of courtesy. If they don’t change their ad and disclose their licensed status they are reported to the Board of Realtors and the State of Nevada for the appropriate policing action. There are reasons for the existing laws… consumer protection… and they must be complied with. There isn’t a place in the real estate business for scofflaws as evidenced by the widespread lending fraud recently perpetrated by unscrupulous lenders and real estate agents. That practice is substantially to blame for the current loan industry crisis.

The Internet and newspaper classifieds are good tools for buying, selling, lending and borrowing … as long as it is done in the appropriate manner. There are a lot of people trying to get in your pocket these days. Are you getting unsolicited emails? Phone calls? Everybody has a “better mousetrap” to make you money, save you money … something to do with your money. There is a catch – somebody is making money along the way. Be careful – you can make money in this market but you shouldn’t be compromised by unethical/illegal behavior in your effort to do so.

Our Advice: If you find yourself in a situation where you asked for “free” information on your home value, “free” foreclosure information, or details on an offering you thought was a private party, and you are suddenly faced with dealing with an agent … run! Even an agent offering his own property for sale is required by law to disclose his status. There is no plausible explanation for this behavior other than blatant deception against the public … you. It is not how professionals conduct themselves in their business. Stick to professional representation when you need real estate services as this is not a market for amateurs. If you experience a “stealth” agent “strafing” you to do business by all means report them to the Board of Realtors, 775.885.7200, and/or the State of Nevada Division of Real Estate, 775.687.4280. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing. If an agent is unethical and illegal in their initial contact with you, where else are they compromising their integrity and your financial and emotional safety when it comes to buying and selling real estate?

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Decluttered and Lowered Price

Decluttered and Lowered Price

We have packed the clutter and reduced our price and still don’t have action … now what?
Congratulations! By packing your clutter and reducing your price you have made your home market ready – a great first step. Now you need to look with a critical eye at what you are truly offering. Buyers are looking at a lot of property these days. Some will look at ten homes in a day, whereas just two years ago they might not have had ten to select from in total. How do you really stack up?

Did you simply box up the knickknacks, or are you decluttering the entire home and garage? With the majority of your prospective Buyers being visual personality types it is important that you eliminate what they will deem a “visual nightmare”. Cobwebs inside and out, pet “landmines” in the backyard, dirty dishes and clothes, peeling trim paint, must/mold/smoke odors … all must be addressed unless you are priced such that you substantially compensate the Buyer for these deficiencies far beyond the actual cost, or perceived cost, to mitigate them. Most often you won’t have the opportunity to negotiate these deficiencies with the Buyer – they will select another property. If you do, you will usually end up paying dearly for your lack of preparing your home for market. It is best to prepare in advance.

Regarding the price – did you merely take it from 10% over to 3% over market? Are you the very best thing out there for what you are offering, or do you need to adjust it further to compete with properties that are actually offering more for the money, or are in better condition? Buyers are incredibly price-conscious these days … sometimes to their own detriment as it is causing them at times to not act, or to not buy the home they want if they don’t get a pre-conceived discount from the List Price, regardless of how well the property is priced. Be price smart if you are committed to selling in this Market.

Our Advice: Unless your potential Buyer has a specific reason to buy your home, i.e.- their child lives next door, they want to ride their horses on the BLM land next door, your 20 foot ceilings will accommodate the Christmas tree they want, etc., you must continually monitor the competition. Remember, the other homes for sale are your competitors, and they, too, want to sell. They are watching you! They will seek advantage so they, too, can get on with their lives. You and your agent should be watching the market on a regular basis, several times a week. Also, pick up the little things around the place – consciously, or subconsciously, the Buyers will notice what you do … or don’t do. As you know, you never get a second chance at a first impression so make sure your first one counts! With few showings it is important to make each one count.

If you want to sell don’t wait to get your property perfect – get it on the market and start working on it. Your agent will work with you on what is truly important to accomplish before having any market exposure, and what will help to give you an edge as you gain market momentum.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , or email us directly at 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What is the right price in this market?

The home we want is priced right … what should we offer?

Many Buyers are compelled to offer low because they’ve read, or been told, to do so. Others think they have to do it because somebody did it to them in another market. If the home you like is priced right … get what you can and buy it.

Smart Buyers are making offers based on their knowledge of the market and hopes for a good deal. Ultimately they are accepting a negotiated price and getting what they want at a good value regardless how it compares to the listed price. We recently saw an offer 22.2% below the list price of a well priced property. The Buyers had to try it and they did. Fortunately, they knew the market and recognized that the property was well priced. Ensuing negotiations resulted in a price but .7% below the list price, less than a 1% reduction! Both parties were happy and achieved their objectives.

The values are all over the board these days. We recently showed property and found homes three doors apart, the same plan by the same builder, that were priced $30,000 apart. They were essentially the same house. One was priced right – the other deserved a “wake-up” offer. In another neighborhood we experienced a discrepancy of $60,000 between similar homes. In that case the lower home was priced by a very active local agent that had great knowledge of the market. The other agent was from out of town and unfamiliar with the market. Sometimes out of town agents are relatives, but more often they are sought out by Sellers because the local knowledgeable agents wouldn’t tell the Seller what they wanted to hear. Both of the homes $60k apart are still unsold, but which do you think has a better chance of selling?

Sellers and their agents must look realistically at what they are trying to achieve and plan accordingly. It doesn’t matter what you paid or what you owe – market is what market is. If you want, or more importantly, have to sell then get a realistic Realtor. One that will tell you the truth and make a plan that works for you for your situation, not just say what you want to hear so they get a listing hoping one of two things happens: 1. they find a fool and his money – rare in today’s market, or 2. they list high at what you are hoping for, and then beat you up for a price reduction week after week, you concede and their slimy tactics are rewarded … for them.

Our Advice: Because of the great discrepancy in prices in the market place one must be really sure when pricing. If it is priced right … really right … you will sell. What your home was worth in 2005, or will be worth in 2009, is irrelevant. If you want to sell today you can … if you are positioned in today’s market in a today manner. That includes price, condition, showing availability, experience … and intention. If you don’t need to sell – don’t right now.

If you need or want to sell … do it right, price it right, and you will be moving. The days of the uneducated Buyer are over. If you are waiting for someone to come in and pay too much you might as well hunker down for a long winter. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.