“You should have bought my house”

I just sold a house to a past client that reminded me of something that happened almost 20 years ago.

The house this client bought was a good solid house. The current owner built the house and took good care of it. It really just needs some updating, fresh paint and new flooring. The seller sold the house for less than they could have gotten had they done these improvements. They passed on the savings they had to the buyer who was happy to get a good deal on a good house and use the savings to update to his own taste. This really worked out well for both of them.

There was a little gap between what the seller wanted and what the buyer wanted to pay. Not a huge gap. I told the buyer that I knew he would end up renovating any house he bought. He enjoys working on houses and has improved every house he has owned. I told him the story of two houses right across the street from each other that were essentially the same house.

Back in the early 2000s, there were two houses for sale on the same street. Both were split levels of similar size and floor plan. One was pretty nice and was $150k…..which would be like $250k today. The house across the street was $118k and needed everything.

I bought the $118k house because that was all I could afford at the time, but I secretly wished I could have bought the one across the street for $150k because I liked the yard better.

I bought my house for $118k and over the course of several years, ripped out all the old, tired, worn out finishes and replaced them with new materials.

The house across the street that sold for $150k closed shortly after I closed my house. I met the new owners. Great people. Over the course of the next couple years, I saw them rip out and haul off everything that made that house worth $32k more than my house. They ripped up perfectly good carpet because they wanted hardwood. Understandable. They didn’t like the looks of the kitchen counter top even though it was in excellent shape. This continued for quite a while.

One day I was talking to the husband and I finally said what had been on my mind for quite some time. I said “You should have bought my house instead. You have thrown away everything that made your house worth $32k more than my house.” He paused for a second and had a deep thought look on his face. Then he said he had never thought of it that way. He saw materials he didn’t like and was excited about fixing up his house. I saw $32k going in a dumpster.

He probably walked in to my house when both were for sale and was turned off by everything being worn out. That is understandable too. But if you know you are going to renovate a house to your taste, it is better to start with one where you are paying less and ripping out worn out materials.

I can’t wait to see what this buyer does with his new house. And I would have never guessed something I learned that long ago would still be benefiting my clients today!

The one thing this agent did that got his buyer my listing

He called me.

That’s all it took.

I put a listing on the market yesterday that I knew would get a ton of showings. It was priced at $155k and there just isn’t much for sale in that price range.

The agent called me before his showing and asked what type of terms my seller was looking to have. He also told me that his buyer had tried unsuccessfully two times to buy a house in this particular neighborhood. He has friends/family in the neighborhood and really wants to be there. I really wanted to hear that because I knew that his buyer would not walk away after a home inspection since he not only needs a house in a tight market but really wants to be in that neighborhood. His only option would be to wait for the next house to come up in that neighborhood. This buyer was committed. I asked who the buyer was using for his mortgage. It was a local company that is well respected. Icing on the cake to me.

Some of you might wonder why an agent would tell me this? Isn’t it compromising his buyer’s position? In today’s market, everybody assumes they will have to pay full price. Everybody is electing to do the inspection type where you will have an inspection but not ask for any repairs. Since everybody is doing pretty much the same thing, the decision on who gets the house often comes down to minor things such as what type of financing the buyer is doing, if they are using a local lender who can be trusted to get the loan to a closing…..and even to little things like letting the listing agent know the buyer really wants to be in the neighborhood.

Being a buyer’s agent today is not about negotiating since buyer’s have no power right now. It is about advocating for your clients. It is about finding out what is appealing to a seller and what will make them pick your client. That is exactly what this agent did. In an era where you get a random text from an agent that they are sending you an offer, making a quick phone call can really make a buyer stand out. The actions of this agent is what got his client the house.

7 houses sold in 6 days!

It’s been a busy few weeks. After sitting on the couch for most of March and April, the market really came back strong. I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would happen so fast. I now have 14 pending sales. I sold 7 houses in 6 days last week…..which is why I haven’t blogged in a while. LOL, I went from having nothing to blog about to having no time to blog.

As expected, most of those sales were in multiple offer situations so I thought I would tell you how I won some of them for my clients.

These buyers were friends of mine who had been living out of the country for several years and were coming back home. Typical thing where the house had just come on the market. I knew the listing agent well. We have worked together multiple times. My buyer was preapproved with a local lender that the listing agent also knew. I was familiar with the house since I own one that is the exact same model. I don’t claim to be a home inspector, but I have been on probably 400+ home inspections and own enough houses that I can usually spot any deal breakers. I told my buyers, who REALLY wanted this house, that I was sure a home inspector would find the usual laundry list of items found in any house. I also told them that most sellers these days will only spend $500-1000 for repairs. I suggested we buy the house totally “AS-IS” without a home inspection. I know that can be scary for a lot of buyers but these clients were good friends who knew I wouldn’t steer them wrong. Since there was no huge issue that would cause somebody to walk away, all they were risking was losing out on the $500-1000 in repairs that a seller would do. We got the house!

Another buying family was referred to me by a past client who had used me twice before. I knew that listing agent too. An art that seems to be lost on younger realtors is calling the listing agent and letting them know some things that aren’t on the offer. I told that listing agent that I had been working with my Buyers for a while and how sensible and reasonable they are. I also pointed out that they would be doing a Conventional loan and had 20% down and would not be asking for the seller to pay any of their closing costs. I did this because I was sure the price point of this house probably meant that the other offers were FHA/VA with little money down and asked the seller to pay some of their closing costs. Get this, the listing agent countered our offer because we did not have the highest price. He said if we could match the highest price, my people would get the house because their loan type and huge down payment seemed more of a sure thing than the other offers. We got the house!

I sold a really amazing townhouse downtown to a friend. That was not in multiple offers since it was under construction. Another buyer who was referred to me from a friend bought 5 acres in Jessamine County. We did an escalation clause on that one to get it. The rest were listings.

It has been a busy two weeks but it felt good and overwhelming to be thrown back in the deep end of the pool after the COVID-19 Staycation.

LEXpert Perspective: Today’s Market

It’s been an interesting spring market. I won’t get into why it has since the reason is all over the news and on all of our minds.

The market goes on though.

Both buyer and seller activity has greatly decreased. However, there are still more buyers than sellers so the supply-demand thing means any decent house that is priced in the realm of reality is going to sell very quickly. There has been some speculation that there will be more listings on later this year as sellers put their houses on the market after waiting this out. Yes, that will happen, but there will be just as many buyers out too so it won’t get any easier to get a house. Bottom line is if you are ready to sell, then do it. If you are ready to buy, get out there. Waiting is not going to change much.

One good thing I am seeing lately is more and more houses under $200k. Last year there just weren’t too many houses hitting the market under that price. I scroll through the new listings every morning. They are sorted from lowest price to highest price. Seemed like last year after the first few houses it quickly got over $200k. This year it seems I am seeing many more under that affordable threshold. I think this probably has to do with the low interest rates. A lot of those buyers with $150-200k houses are stepping up to the $250-350k range. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you have heard me say that first time buyers are what greases the gears on the real estate market. They are usually the only people who don’t need to sell a house before buying one. There have been plenty of them out there the past couple of years, but there haven’t been enough houses for them. That is why a house that was $140k a few years back is now a $180k house. If you are going to be looking in the sub $200k range, NOW is the time to get out there. Don’t worry about the sky falling. Just do it. I’ve had several people who were always worried about buying at what is perceived as the top of the market. All of the houses they thought were too much back then are all worth much more now.

Always think about selling in a Buyer’s Market

I am always sad when I see a house sell that has been sitting on the market forever.

Sometimes a house will stay on the market for a long time because the initial listing price was too high, or the house didn’t show well.  Both of those can happen to perfectly good homes.  The reason those don’t sell is because of the seller, not the house.  Often these houses sell once the list price gets reduced into the realm of reality, or the seller does some cosmetic repairs that make it easier for a buyer to want the house.

Any time I show a house like this, my client usually asks me why the house hasn’t sold yet.  If I check the listing history and see that they started out asking a crazy high price and have reduced it, I tell them it is okay to buy it.  If I look through old pictures or see fresh paint, new flooring, etc, I tell them it is okay to buy the house.  Sometimes sellers just need to learn how the market works at the expense of their days on market.

Then there are those houses that don’t sell because of the property itself.  Those are the ones that I advise my clients to not buy.  These houses usually have some odd feature like a crazy floor plan, a poorly done addition, a neighbor whose yard is full of junk or has a dozen dog kennels in their backyard, the house backs to commercial or industrial zoned properties, etc.  These houses eventually sell to somebody who doesn’t mind that particular negative.  Whenever I show one of these houses, I like to tell my client that while they might not mind the negative feature that has kept the house from selling, it will be extremely difficult for them to sell it when it is their turn.   The past 8 years have been a pretty strong Seller’s Market.  If a house took a long time to sell in a hot market, can you imagine how long it would take in a Buyer’s Market?

I have lived through lots of markets.  I have seen seller’s who paid too much in a hot market lose money when they needed to sell.  I have seen people get their dream job and move out of town, only to have to make two mortgage payments until their old house sells.  I have seen people who felt lucky to have gotten their house in multiple offers struggle to sell it in a Buyer’s Market.

I don’t want to see any of my clients go through any of this.  In real estate, you often don’t see the consequences of a mistake until years later when you go to sell.  Helping people avoid this mess is one of the greatest joys of my career.