Something I wish sellers understood

It happens a lot with sellers.

They have a house that isn’t getting much attention from buyers.  It could be due to price, an odd feature of the house, the time of year, competition from new construction, or anything really.  They get a lot of showings and all of the feedback is the same, resulting in no offers.

Then all of the sudden they start getting more and more showings.  Buyers seem more interested in the house than they have been, but still no offers.

The seller finds this time exciting.  They are thinking “Wow, with all these new showings and better feedback, surely my house is about to sell!!!!!

Sellers assume this will last forever but it is a temporary thing.  It lasts until other sellers with better houses put their homes on the market.

And here is the lesson to be learned:  The market changes every time a house sells and every time there is a new listing.  Once the best house in it’s price range sells, it makes every other house look just a little bit better.  That is why your house that hasn’t been that interesting to buyers is all the sudden on their radar.  Once a new listing hits the market, it has to fit into the hierarchy of all the houses available.   If you have one of the better houses for sale, then a house better than your house hits the market, it makes buyers less interested in your house.

When you find the market has it’s eye on your house and you still haven’t gotten any offers, the best thing to do is reduce the price while you have the attention.  If you wait, most likely what is going to happen is the market will move on to other houses and you will be right back where you were.

What’s it like being a realtor?

It is EXACTLY like you see on HGTV.

Hahahaha.  No.  Not really.

I can’t speak to what it is like for most realtors, only myself….so here goes.

What is a typical day like?

There really are no typical days for me.  Some days I have more things to do than I have time.  Other days I have little to do.  Some days I am running all over the place.  Other days I am sitting in front of a computer all day.

What is the busiest time of day?

It has always seemed like 3-5 Monday through Friday is when my phone blows up.  Clients, other realtors, appraisers, etc.  I guess people are trying to finish their to do list for the day or are just getting off work and ready to talk real estate.

What have you done today so far?

This is usually a slower time of year for me.  I tend to do most of work in waves.  This is the between waves time.  I just closed the most work I have ever done in the past 8 months and am waiting for the next wave to come.  I used to get nervous during these times, thinking it would never come back, but it always does.  I am trying to enjoy it.  I guess I still haven’t answered the question?  Today I slept in a bit, drank some coffee, sat with my dog while scrolling through Facebook.  Then I ran some comps for an upcoming listing, cranked out a few emails, and started this blog.  Unless something changes, my plans for the rest of the day are to wash cars.  However, what often happens with any slow day is that you wake up with little to do and suddenly you have a lot to do.   It can change in a heart beat depending on if you have a problem with a transaction of if a cool houses hits the market and you have to show it to a client.

What is the best part of being a realtor?

Helping people and being trusted.  Most of my work anymore is from people who have used me several times.  They know I am giving them the best advice possible to serve their interests.  The second best thing is getting to drive around in cars I love.

What is the worst part?

Not having much free time.  I have taken one full day off in the past 15 years.  Sometimes I have very little to do, but there is always something that needs done, plus you never know when the right house is going to hit the market and you need to get one of your clients in to see it.  It is sort of like being on call 24/7.

How has it changed in the past 15 years?

When I got into this, realtors dressed up a lot and hung around the office.  I didn’t see the point of either.  Now it is much more casual and realtors work from home more often.  We used to present offers to sellers or fax the offer to the listing agent’s office.  Then we quit presenting offers (THANKFULLY!) and used PDFs.  Today we use electronic signatures and the actual document doesn’t even physically exist unless somebody prints it.  I used to spend hours a day talking on the phone.  Now everybody texts.

What will the next 15 years be like for you?

I hope pretty much the same.  I enjoy working.  I hope my streak of working with people who have used me in the past and people that were referred to me continues.  I never had to advertise or do any marketing to attract work and I sure hope I never have to do that…..mostly because I am no good at it.

Is it time?

I’ve been saying for several years that people don’t have much of a reason to move.

Yeah, everybody knows they can sell their house fast but where would they go?  Everybody knows their house is worth a lot more than it was a few years ago but so is the house they’d want to buy.   And then there are the interest rates.  It is sort of hard to think about giving up your 3.25-3.75% rate and signing off on a new loan at 4.25-4.5%….even though I remember bragging about my 6.5% rate on my first house when all my friends were paying 7.25%.

Rates are back under 4% now.

I am thinking that we might start seeing more houses come on the market as people move on to bigger and better things.  If there is one thing I know about real estate in America, it is that we all love to move to a bigger and/or better home.  I mean, as soon as the economy picked up after the Great Recession, we flipped from a Buyer’s Market to a Seller’s Market overnight as people felt comfortable to buy the home they had been wanting for a while.

If that happens in the next few months, the headlines will read that it is a seller’s market fueled by the threat of a recession, but you and I will know the real reason.  It’s the rates.

How to pick your first rental house

The first thing to know is that you want an exit plan.  You want to buy something that will be fairly easy to sell when that time comes.  That is why I usually suggest a single family home in a decent neighborhood.  When you sell it, your buyer pool will be owner-occupant buyers who will happily pay a full retail price.

The second thing to know is that you pick your tenants through them picking your house.  You have a crappy worn out rental, guess what type of tenant is going to be willing to live there?  You make your house one of the nicest ones in it’s price range and you will attract the best qualified tenants out there.  Also, if you have one of the best houses they could ever afford, why would they move?

Here are some things that I think make a house a good pick:

1.  A ranch house.  Who doesn’t like one?  They are suitable for buyers/tenants in all stages of life.  They are easier to paint by yourself since there is no staircase.  You can clean out gutters with a step ladder.  They are just easier to work on period.

2.  A house on a slab.  When the wax ring around the toilet fails and when water gets splashed out of the tub, there is no wood to rot.  Also there is no water to collect under the house and grow mold.

3.  A smaller house.  Fewer people can live in a smaller house.  That means less wear and tear.  While a 2 bedroom house has a little more limited market when you sell, tenants usually don’t care if a house is 2 or 3 bedrooms.

4.  A simple roof line with not much of a pitch.   The fewer ridges and valleys the better.  Not only are they cheaper to replace, there are fewer places to get a leak.

Here are some things I try to avoid:

  1.  Basements.  They all have the potential to leak.
  2.  Sheds.  They are just one more thing to maintain and tenants usually leave you stuff they don’t want when they move out.
  3. Huge yards.  When they get out of control, it takes a lot of time to bring them back.
  4. Big garages.  I’m talking more than a regular two car garage.  Usually tenants who are attracted to a huge garage have a lot of stuff to store or hobbies that need the space.  Either one means you might need a dumpster when they move out.
  5. Fireplaces.  Do you really want somebody starting a fire in your house?

Now a lot of this is based on paying retail.  If you get a great deal on a house with a huge lot or a basement, take it.  A good deal can make up for potential future headaches.

My ideal house would be a smaller ranch on a slab built after 1960.  It would be 2-3 bedroom and have 1-2 baths.  A normal sized, flatter yard for good drainage.  On the lower end, no garage is okay.  If the house is worth more than about $150k, I would want a garage more for resale than to make a tenant happy.

 

 

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.