I have found showing feedback to be essential and extremely helpful in the sale of my listings. Feedback provides insight into issues or factors that I might have overlooked or not considered important enough to affect pricing. Obtaining good feedback from showing agents takes some preparation and follow through though. Here’s what I do.
First, every listing has a “supra” lockbox. This lockbox electronically records every showing, and sends me an email when it is opened by an agent. The email has the day, time of showing and the contact information for the showing agent.
I then go into my MLS login where I have a standard letter that I send to the agent with a link to the listing. I greet the agent by name and thank them for showing the listing at “specified neighborhood” on “specified address”. I ask if there is anything about the price or condition that they can give me feedback on for this specific home. I think the personalized email is vastly more effective than the robotic auto-requests that so many agents set up. Some agents, including Steve, won’t take the time to complete a multi-question online feedback form sent by a robot, but they will respond to a personal email or phone call from the listing agent.
I ask, “did the buyer’s like it?”, “are they considering making an offer?” I also explain that the seller’s disclosure and survey is online attached to the MLS listing for their convenience. Also, to refresh their memory, I provide a link to the listing. After this I thank the agent for his or her hard work.
Ever wonder what the “We Buy Houses” signs really mean? You see them all over Austin, usually in middle to lower priced neighborhoods, and older transitional areas with a lot of fixers. Often the signs seems homemade and haphazardly placed. The words “fast” and “cash” are on most. If you were to call this sign, would you really receive an offer to close fast, for cash?
Maybe, but probably not.
The signs, called “bandit signs”, are actually a lead generation tool used by real estate wholesalers and flippers. Some of these guys are actually legitimate real estate investors looking for motivated sellers with dumpy homes who want or need to sell fast. Most of the sign placers are “bird dogs”, who find the motivated sellers then turn the deal over to the investor for a finder’s fee.
Either way, the main goal is to make you an offer and get the home under contract at a price that will produce a profit on either a wholesale resell (selling the contract) or a rehab/flip.
What sort of offer will these guys (or gals) make you?
The formula is fairly universal and straight forward. 70% of market value minus repair costs. Market Value, also known in the business as “After Repair Value” (ARV), is the value of the home if it were in retail sales condition and able to sell to a buyer using a conventional mortgage.
So, let’s say you inherited an old junker in South Austin that would sell for $225,000 in good condition, but it has a bad slab, bad roof, major plumbing problems, severe neglect and multiple trailer loads of junk to haul out of the rat infested back yard. And let’s say it would cost $100K to bring the home up to par, including the investor’s holding time costs, interest, insurance, utilities, risk factors, etc.
That home would be worth (0.70*225,000) – $100,000 = $57,500.
I’m over-simplifying the formula, and there are a lot of other components that go into the “repair costs” part, but this is an accurate “quick and dirty” computation. Also, the terms of the deal will often not be “all cash”, but instead some sort of creative financing. And, these deals are very, very hard to find.
Will this investor make money if he can buy such a house at this price, owner financed? Maybe, maybe not. Many don’t.
Sylvia and I have two children. We didn’t want three, only two. So after the second daughter, I visited Dr. Chopp (really his name) and that was that. Although I admire and love my friends with bigger families of 3, 4 and 5 kids, I like having just two offspring. We didn’t want a third, for many reasons.
What’s this got to do with iPads? Well, I don’t want a 3rd digital device to haul around either. I have a laptop and an iPhone. I don’t want a 3rd electronic thing, simple as that. Enough is enough. I have enough digital overload, I don’t need something else to plug in and care for. I refuse to add a third device, period.
That said, the geeky side of me really, really wants an iPad, but I can’t match the emotional desire to have one with any relevant productivity benefits. To me, it would have to prove itself as a productivity tool, first and foremost. I don’t need a toy. Until a tablet can function like a laptop replacement, I have no use for one.
Does this hurt our productivity as Realtors? If you believe all the hype, yes. But as I’ll explain in this article, no, there is nothing that Sylvia and I need to do as Realtors that would get done better, faster or easier with an iPad.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of iPad for Realtors that I see and hear about most often.
Listing Presentations Tool
In the old days, Realtors used notebooks and flipped the pages while sitting with a seller. Later, PowerPoint came along, which required a laptop. And now, agents can dazzle prospective clients with presentations on the iPad. Read more …
Unprofessional and unpleasant demeanor. General lack of realistic market knowledge and trends. Probably better suited as a property manager, but lacks the proper people skills to be effective as either a listing or selling agent. Argumentative and combative.
Definitely would NOT recommend, especially as a listing or selling agent
It’s hard to describe how jarring this was to read at first. Hit me smack in the face. I haven’t felt a jolt like that since the final scene in Boogie Nights. Crossland Real Estate has escaped all such “bad reviews” online until now, though I knew the day would come. After the initial shock and dismay, it settled in that Crossland Real Estate now had a 1-star rating on Yelp, which in turn displays next to certain search results. Not good. Not the sort of visual indicator that motivates a prospective new client to click through to our website from a search results page. For a moment I leaned back in my chair and stared at the ceiling and thought, “it was so much less complicated in 1993”.
To add insult to injury, Yelp has “filtered” the two legitimate 5-star reviews and the 4-star review written by actual past clients of ours because the reviews are deemed “suspicious”. Yelp considers those reviews “suspicious” because they are the only Yelp reviews written by those reviewers. I actually talked to a Yelp rep about this last year and he said that the automatic “filtering” system hides solo 4 and 5-star reviews to prevent abuse. That makes sense, but these are actual client reviews, not bogus made up reviews. Yet, since Paul B from Round Rock has written 12 reviews, he’s considered a valid Yelp reviewer, even though, as I reported to Yelp, he’s never been a client of ours and we know not who he is or why he wrote what he wrote.
So, determined not to let a 1-star review from Paul B of Round Rock stand as the only visible Crossland Real Estate review on Yelp, I decided I needed to somehow dilute Paul B’s opinion with some rebuttal reviews more reflective of the truth. But this needed to be done without running afoul of Yelp’s rules. Here’s what I did.
If you’re currently searching for a home in Austin – not online but physically touring homes with an Austin Realtor – you know that one of your biggest limitations is available daylight time. That’s about to change over Spring Break as we move to daylight saving.
Starting in Early November each year, sunset happens before 6PM. That makes looking at homes on weekdays after work nearly impossible. Buyers don’t like looking at homes in the dark. Tonight, sunset will be around 6:30PM but, starting tomorrow, you’ll have an extra hour of daylight to view homes with sunset after 7:30PM. By mid April, sunset moves to around 8PM and by mid-summer you have until 8:30PM.
We all know the real estate market in Austin is better in the Spring and Summer. The accepted reason is that Spring/Summer is a more convenient time for making moves, especially for families with children in school. But I also think there are secondary factors.
One of the main secondary factors is the notion of “daylight shopping hours”. It’s just easier to buy a house when you have more daylight to work with. Also, I think buyers actually feel more like buying in warmer weather with longer days.
Below is a chart breaking down the 2010/2009 sales comparisons by MLS Area for the Austin real estate market. This time I’m adding a couple of new things. First, there is color coding on each of the summary rows for each area. A green shade indicates “improvement” in the measured metric. I put “improved” in quotes because it’s debatable what that means, and for whom, so perhaps a better word to use would simply be “increase” toward seller’s market. Note that a decrease in Days on Market is an “improvement”, however, as it means homes are selling faster, so a negative number on DOM is coded green and vice-versa, whereas the other negative numbers are red. Confusing enough? I hope not.
Next, I added a new column called SP/OLP which is the Sold Price divided by the Original List Price. I think this is a useful metric to observe as it informs us of the gap between the original list price a seller was hoping to obtain and the ultimate sold price achieved. This is more useful to know than the more commonly reported metric of SP/LP (Sold Price/List Price) because it doesn’t disguise the price drops that occurred before the home eventually sold.
In other words, a home that started at a list price of $300K, was eventually dropped to $270K, and then sold for the $270K list price, would produce a SP/LP ratio of 100%, but a SP/OLP of 90%. The 90% is a more accurate measure of market strength or weakness in a given area. You’ll see below that some areas are right at 95% (which is pretty good) and some are below 90%, which is a tougher market requiring bigger price drops.
OK then, let’s take a quick look at the new format using the cumulative sold data for all of 2010 compared to 2009.
|All MLS||# Sold||Avg Sold||Med Sold||Avg SQFT||Avg PSF||Avg Days||Med Days||SP/OLP|
So, with the color coding, this allows a “quick glance” gleaning of which areas saw increases/decrease in the measered metrics across the board. We can see above, looking at the entire Austin MLS market as a whole, that the average sold price increased 3.78%, median sold also increased, by 2.63%, Sold Price Per Square Foot increase 2.04%, and homes sold faster when looking at Avg Days on Market. But we also see that 5% fewer homes sold (lower demand) and that the median DOM and the SP/OLP ratios worsened. This “mixed” market is in fact what most areas produce.
One last aside, if an MLS Area is mostly red all the way across, such as Area 10S, does that mean buyers should avoid that area? Absolutely not. This is a look in the rear view mirror and doesn’t necessarily predict the future or indicate a trend. Same with areas that did well in 2010. This is just a snap shop of what happened in the given year 2010 compared to the year prior. If you own a home in an area that had a dog year, your particular neighborhood or size/price of home may have perfromed differently, and that won’t be reflected in this type of macro analysis of area-wide stats.
OK, the entire Austin MLS is broken down by MLS Area in the chart below. As usual, questions, comments, observations are welcome.