Moving Day!

It’s finally here. Moving day. Well, almost. It is this weekend. The day I have been looking forward to for the past 5 months. I had no idea something I was so excited about could be so stressful. I spent a lot of time daydreaming about what it is going to be like living in my new home. Now I am daydreaming about what it will be like when my old house is empty. I haven’t moved in 9 years. I had no idea how crazy it is to try to put everything you own in boxes and take it somewhere else.

In case you are just now seeing this, I bought a small home on 15 acres about 20 minutes from my old house. We have spent the past several months renovating the inside. It is going to be a huge change for me and my family. One we are excited about. It has been done for about a week and I have been busy doing several small things like getting appliances in and working on some items from the home inspection. In all reality, I have really wasted a lot of time trying to fix things and leaving them in worse shape than I found them. LOL, this house has reminded me how bad I am at those type of things.

This experience has put me in the shoes of my clients. I’ve had to find a house, buy a house, get through a home inspection, close, pack, schedule movers, get utilities changed, prep my old house to sell and still be a realtor to my clients. This makes me even more empathetic to the stress my clients are going through when they move.

My superpower is……

I really wish it was something like mind reading, predicting the future or the ability to move slow drivers out of the left lane, but it isn’t any of those.

Yesterday, I showed a massive house in Beaumont to a family. Well over 6200 square feet with the unfinished basement. As they asked me questions about the house, part of my answer was explaining what room was above, under, or beside where we were. After a few of these, their oldest son asked if it was part of a realtors job to know the floor plan of every house.

Before that, I had never thought about my ability to walk through a house and build a 3-D floor plan in my head, or visualize what a house will look like from just the floor plan. I just thought everybody could do that?

I used to draw floor plans of houses when I was a kid. Then I took a lot of architectural classes in college. Then I worked as an estimator with a construction company where I would have to build the plan in my head to figure out how much material was needed.

I don’t know what to call this superpower? Any ideas?

When it seems like it was meant to be

I sold a house this week that I wanted to tell you about.

The buyer is a first time buyer who was sent to me from two separate past clients. She works with a client who has become a friend of mine…..Thanks David! Her mother works with another friend who has used me before too……Thanks Doug! I don’t have this happen often when somebody is asking for realtor references and I get mentioned twice. It always makes me feel twice as good that somebody would take their time to connect two people they care about. Close to 100% of my work is getting referred to new people or people coming back to use me again. That is why I don’t ask for reviews and don’t advertise. I just don’t need to do either to attract new work!

The buyer was going to be in the super tight $150ish market. There is almost nothing ever for sale and when something hits the market, you are competing with cash buying investors who sometimes don’t even look at the house before making an offer. This was going to be a tough one.

Right after I started working with this buyer, I get a text from another client who was wanting to sell their house.

The sellers are past clients who I have thoroughly enjoyed working with several times. They bought a house to rent many years ago and it was time to part with it. The sellers did a lot of work to it themselves and it looked really good. The price point was going to be around $150k, which is very hard to find in the current market.

I just knew this was the house for my buyer. I mean, I had recommended it to the sellers when they bought it so I could certainly recommend it again to my buyer!

I told the sellers what I thought it was worth. I told them that I had somebody that was interested in it. I also told them that they could put the house on the market and possibly get a little more than the price range I thought it would sell within since you never know what a desperate buyer will do in this market. They liked the idea of me managing the entire transaction and keeping it simple, so I showed it to my buyer. Of course she wanted it. It was a gorgeous home in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in her price range.

The buyer is happy she didn’t have to frantically make an immediate decision and that she got a great house. The sellers are happy because they know I am managing the whole transaction and made it so easy for them. A win for everybody.

I seem to be having this happen several times a year now. A seller will tell me they are wanting to sell soon and then shortly afterwards I have a buyer tell me what they want and they describe exactly the house my seller has. Happens the other way too. I will have a buyer tell me what they want and then I will have somebody tell me they are ready to sell the exact house the buyer described. It’s sort of cool when this happens. It makes me feel like I am a small part of a bigger story.

What is being a realtor really about?

You’d think it would be about houses, but it is not.

You’d think it would be about the market, but it is not.

You’d think it would be about knowing what a house is worth, but it is not.

You would think it would be about marketing a property for sale, but it is not.

You would think it would be about showing houses to buyers, but it’s not that either.

All of these things are important, but they are not what being a realtor is really about.

It is about guiding people to make a good decision using all of the things above. I often describe my job, when asked, as “Talking people into making a good decision and talking them out of making a bad one.”

In the future, realtors might not even be needed for a buyer to view a house. People may end buying real estate like they do anything else online, or there will be an app to open the lockbox on the front door without a realtor. In the future one of two things will happen: Technology will make tools like Zillow’s Zestimate more accurate, or people will broadly accept them as being accurate. Either way, realtors won’t be needed to determine market value.

It all comes down to helping people make a good decision. There are tons of tiny decisions in buying or selling a house that can have huge consequences. Money can be lost. Time can be wasted. Stress can be compounded. Since most people only buy or sell a house a few times in their lives, often they don’t know the difference between a good decision and a better one. It is easy to make a good verses bad decision. Good verses better requires some knowledge and experience.

A realtor friend and I often chat about what we having going on. It makes us both better realtors I think. He had a situation where he had two offers on a listing. One was slightly better than the other, but the people with the slightly worse offer really wanted to live in that specific neighborhood. Do you go with more money and risk losing those buyers if the home inspection didn’t go well? Do you go with the slightly less offer where you know the buyer is less likely to walk away because they have to have that specific neighborhood? I told my friend to go with the higher offer. My thinking was that if the higher offer people walked away after the inspection, which is usually within 10 days, the other buyers who wanted that specific neighborhood will still be around. Best of both worlds.

Since the market is so hot right now, I am seeing lots of sellers saying a neighbor or a somebody they know is interested in buying their house before it gets listed. My advice to anybody today is to put the house on the market and try to get at least two offers. Today’s buyers are used to fighting to get a house. Get two or more buyers competing for a house and YOU as the seller will always come out the winner. Also, a buyer wanting your house because their parents or grown children live on the street will ALWAYS be there too. That buyer is not just looking for any house in your price range. Being close to mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or grandkids is what makes them want your house. They may or may not pay the most for it, but they are not out actively looking for any house in your price range all over town.

Another thing I am seeing more of is the opposite end of this where a buyer thanks me for my time and tells me they have bought a house from a friend. I had somebody this year with a friend who was selling their house by owner. My client bought it. The house had been on the market for quite a while. In today’s hot market, not selling fast is a sure sign that something is wrong. When buyers decide to wait for the next new listing and pass on your house, can you imagine how difficult it will be to sell the house in a cooler market? This is where the whole good verses better decision starts to have big consequences. People who make poor choices as a buyer typically don’t realize they made a poor choice until they go to sell the house. I saw plenty of that from Great Recession sellers who told me they went over the asking price in multiple offers when they bought the house that they were now selling for less that they owed on it.

So, being a realtor is really about using your experience and knowledge to help people make the best decisions possible. There is nothing that feels better than knowing your seller got the best deal possible, or that your buyer landed a house that will always be easy to sell when that time comes.

How COVID will affect what people want in a home

It won’t change a thing.

I don’t know about you, but all the news I have been reading is saying buyer’s wants have shifted due to quarantining. They say people are wanting a place to work from home, wanting bigger houses, wanting great outdoor spaces, and a less open floor plan.

I personally think that writers of such stories don’t know much about real estate and just have to write something because that is their job.

When have people not wanted a bigger house? When have they not wanted a better backyard? When have they not wanted a home office? Okay, the wanting a less open floor plan is something that has been emerging for the past few years but isn’t really possible in a smaller house. To do a less open floor plan you need a big enough house so it doesn’t feel like you have a bunch of super small rooms. People may covet these features a little more right now, but it definitely is not a new trend in housing.

I think the biggest effect COVID has had on what people want in a home is simple……..to just find one they like, pay at least the full list price, possibly waive inspections, and take advantage of incredibly low interest rates. Beyond that, the buyers of average priced homes are not all that picky.