The worst part of being a Realtor

I bet you are thinking I am going to talk about being on call 24/7 and other things realtors complain about.

Not quite.

To me, the worst part of being a realtor is seeing your client make a mistake you know they will regret later.  It is easy to do.  I mean, no buyer or seller really know the market like a realtor.  They only know what they read in the paper or hear their friends discuss.  Often buyers and sellers don’t totally trust their agent.  I recently told a client a truth about our market.  This client said none of her friends believed me.  I asked if any of them had recently sold a house in our area.  None of them had.

Here are the biggest ways clients can make a mistake:

Buyers:  There is nothing worse for a buyer than the first house they see being the most totally amazing house that has come on the market all year.  When this happens, buyers often assume every house is just as good.  They often decide to wait for a better one.  When they do this, they quickly realize the house they passed on was so much better than the other houses in their price range.  I dread it when this happens because I know that the buyer is thinking I am just trying to get them to buy the first house they see to make it easy on myself.

Another big buyer mistake is wanting to negotiate in multiple offers.  I often have buyers tell me they want to come in low and let the seller counter.  I tell them that if they had two offers, and one of them was lower than the other, which one would you counter if you were even going to counter at all?  When you are in multiple offers and you make the weakest offer the seller got, they simply do not counter your offer, even if your agent tells their realtor you are open to a counter.  I mean, they already have other offers that are better than your offer, they have no need to counter.  Always come in with your best offer in multiple offers because  you only get one chance at getting the house.

Sellers:  I feel for sellers.  I think they have it the worst.  I mean, they see in the news that prices are going up.  They know their neighbor got 5 offers the first day on the market.  They see what their Zestimate is on Zillow.  They often think their house is worth more than it is.  Like in any market, the most you can get out of a house is what a buyer will pay.   You can never get more than market value for your house.  It is just in a hot seller’s market, you might have 5 people all willing to pay market value for your house instead of hoping and praying that just 1 buyer will in a buyer’s market.

When a seller overprices their house, they lose the frenzy of having more than one buyer wanting their house.  When a house hits the market, all the buyers in that price range rush out to see it.  Buyers are afraid of losing it.  Once the house has been on the market for a bit, buyers are no longer afraid of losing the house, so they make less than full price offers.

Sometimes a seller will think the realtor isn’t doing enough to market the house.  Exposure is never a problem these days.  Houses get thousands of views on just zillow.  Once a house is listed you can google the address and see several pages of places the listing can be found.  There is no way there is a buyer out there for a specific house who does not know it is available unless they don’t have internet or don’t have a realtor.

So, those are some of the worst parts of being a realtor.  The 24/7 thing is something you get used to after a while.

Will Realtors be replaced with an app?

Yes, they could.

The app would need to be able to tell a seller that their house has a pet odor and that is what is keeping it from selling.

The app would need to tell a seller to rearrange their furniture because it currently make the living room look very small compared to other houses for sale in it’s price range.

The app would need to tell a buyer the house they want is worth less than other houses in the neighborhood that are the same size due to an unusual floor plan.

The app would need to be able to tell a buyer when the home inspection repair list is big enough to walk away from the house.

All this app would need is a way to download all the experience that only comes from being out there, seeing houses, writing offers, knowing the current market, and dealing with people.

So no, Realtors are here to stay.

I sold a listing of mine that did not inspect so well.  Before we put it back on the market, we have to make some repairs.  I have spent a lot of time advising my client on which repairs we need to do so that the next buyer won’t want to walk away.  We don’t want to fix everything little thing because we don’t have to do so.  The goal is just to do the big things so the next buyer still wants the house after their inspection.

I recently had a standoff with a listing agent when their seller did not do a few repairs they agreed to do.  The listing agent drew a line in the sand and told me my people had to take it or leave it.  Knowing that the seller had moved out of the house and was closing on his new house the next morning, I called his bluff by saying we would postpone the closing and go to mediation since that is how the contract says disputes are to be settled.  A couple of hours later he was asking me what my buyer wanted to have done in order to close on time.

An app can’t do these things.  An app can open doors.  An app can provide paperwork to be filled out.  An app can’t solve these types of problems.  People are always going to want help from somebody who knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Coming soon: Hype or not?

I say hype.

I think it is more about winning listings than getting top dollar for the house.  It’s something you tell a seller in a listing presentation to make them pick you over another realtor, who isn’t going to sort of put your house on the market but not let anybody see it for up to a week.

The thought is that during the time between posting that the listing is coming soon and when it is available to show, you will be building a frenzy of buyers who will all see it the first day on the market and it will sell in multiple offers for top dollar.

Sounds good, right?

Well, that is already happening with just about every house that is appropriately priced.

In a hot market where there are more buyers than sellers, the “Coming Soon” approach is sort of like telling a bunch of piranhas that you are going to throw raw meet at them next week……whether you throw it now or later, the results are the same.

I think the “Coming soon” thing would work best in a slow market when you need to create a buzz around a listing to make it stand out.

Two things I will never do again

I’ve been at this for nearly 15 years.  Never had an issue with either of the things below.  Until recently.  Both were so bad that I am just not going to ever do them again.

1.  A Post Closing Occupancy Agreement.  I don’t like these at all.  Never have, but in some situations they can help you get the house in multiple offers.  There is always risk though.  I’ve had dozens go okay.  They usually do.   But not this time.

I had a buyer for a townhouse.  We had agreed to possession with deed, meaning the seller is out by the closing.  About a week before closing, the listing agent tells me that the seller doesn’t have the cash to move.  This seller has equity and will be able to pay movers after the closing.  As much as I didn’t liked being boxed into a situation, if the seller didn’t have the money, they don’t have the money.  We agreed to let the seller stay for 2 days.

The seller was supposed to have been out.  They moved out on time.  That wasn’t the problem.  The problem was that they left about 20% of their stuff at the house.  NEVER AGAIN!

2.  A contingency to sell contract.  I have never liked these either, but sometimes, especially in a slow market or with a house that is tough to sell, you’ve gotta entertain them.  The problem is that most are written in a way that assumes once the buyer’s house sells, it will remain sold.

I just had a situation where we had a buyer who wanted one of my listings but needed to sell their old house in order to buy.  The buyer’s house sold.  We thought we were in good shape.  Then it fell apart.   Even after involving a really good real estate attorney, it was unclear what needed to happen next.  Did we still have a contract?  Did we not?  Nobody knew.  What made it worse was that the buyer still reaaaaaaally wanted the house and was trying to hold it hostage as they grasped at straws to find a way to get it.

If I ever have to take one of these again, I think I will add some verbiage that says something like if the buyer’s sale falls apart prior to closing, the seller has the option of voiding the contract immediately.

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I wish my dog was an appraiser

This time of year is always tough for comps…..which is the term we use for recent comparable sales used to determine the value of a house.  Realtors use comps to determine a list price.  Appraisers use them to justify a contract price.  The thought is that the recent past will tell you what the market is doing now, but it really doesn’t work that way in a really good or really bad market when prices are either going up or down.

This reminds me of my old dog Julie.  She was a beagle.  She loved to go out in the yard and sniff around for critters.  I remember one time she was on the trail of a rabbit.  She had her nose to the ground and was on the trail of where that rabbit had been.  What she didn’t know was that the rabbit was right behind her.  That is how appraisals work.  They always know where the market used to be and never where it currently is.

Part of what makes this time of year tough is that the market for the new year is kicking off and we are looking back at late fall and all of the winter to determine value.  Sales are usually down in the winter and most of what sells are the leftovers from last summer.

So, we are looking at the worst times to sell to determine a value during the best time of the market.

I personally have a house that I sold for $200k.  It only appraised for $185k.  The best comps for my house were from 6-12 months ago.  So we have a big gap between what a real buyer with money will pay for a specific house and what an appraiser, whose job is to determine market value, says it is worth.

My current dog Sherpa is a dachshund-Jack Russell mix.  She has no problem keeping up with critters in the backyard.

I wish we had a system of determining value more like Sherpa than Julie.