Austin Realtors continue to disappoint me

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on December 24, 2008 · 9 comments

I just finished entering the last listing we’ll take this year (that I know of) into the Austin MLS. I know, it’s Christmas Eve, but I’m all done shopping and don’t have anything better to do before we have a house full of relatives later tonight.

Anyway, we signed the listing agreement earlier this month, but had to wait for the tenants to move out, then get the home cleaned and touchup painted, then get our stager in and then the virtual tour people. Now that it’s in “model home” showing condition and ready to sell, I’ve entered it into the MLS. It’s really not a good idea to enter a listing before it’s 100% ready for the market, and we try never to do so.

After I enter a new listing, I always do an MLS search for the subdivision and take a look at how our listing sits among the competition with regard to price and presentation – to see it as other agents will see it in a search result. Let’s take a look at how we stand up against the competition on this one.

This listing is in Austin’s Colony, east of Austin. The first thing I notice when viewing the 35 active listings in Austin’s Colony is that only 4 of the 35 have all 12 photos (the MLS limit) being used. There is no excuse for this. Only 3 of the 35 have a virtual tour (all three being listings that also have all 12 photos). 10 of the 35 listings have only 1 photo, and those agents should be ashamed of themselves. 7 of those 10 listings have been on the market longer than 60 days, and still just 1 photo.

Before taking this listing, and determining the best price to recommend to the seller, I previewed a bunch of homes in Austin’s Colony to see what the competition would look like. I went into 6 resale homes of similar size. The best one word I can think of to describe 5 of those 6 homes is “crap hole”. They were filthy dirty, damaged, dirty carpet, unkept yards, no utilities on in most, some still had trash, debris and abandoned furniture.

Who or what is this a reflection of? Is it the owner’s fault or the listing agent’s? the way I see it, it’s the listing agent’s fault for not properly demanding the the seller’s put these properties into better showing condition.

It’s an embarrassment to our profession that we have Realtors willing to list homes in this condition. Sylvia and I would and do simply say “no thanks” to an owner not willing to put a home in presentable condition before listing. Shabby homes attract subpar offers and reflect poorly on us as agents. These sellers are not “saving” any money by not properly preparing these homes and the agents are not building credibility.

So, to the average buyer touring homes in Austin’s Colony, our listing will be the cream of the crop from a pricing and appearance standpoint, and that was not hard to achieve. I expect we’ll have an offer sooner rather than later. At minimum, we’ve put the odds on our seller’s side for that to happen, now we just have to see if the market responds. We are in the best 10% on price for 1800 sqft homes, and the top 10%, if not the very top, in condition.

On this listing I also visited the new builders out there and asked a lot of questions about what is selling and what isn’t. Turns out 5 bedroom homes are all sold. They move quickly, I was told, and they sell before they are completed. Our listing is a 5 bedroom, but I was going to call it a 4 bedroom with an office or 3rd living area. That’s what we’d do it it were in Circle C or SW Austin, because normally the extra living area would be received with greater interest by buyers browsing listings than would a 5th bedroom.

I’m glad I did my homework because it turns out that in this product, at this price point in this neighborhood, these buyers are more interesting in having a 5th bedroom than an “office” or 3rd living area, so we listed it as such. Now we are one of only two 5 bedrooms homes on the market in the neighborhood, and we’re more than $10K lower in price than the other.

Merry Christmas!

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