What do these 3 sellers have in common?

I’ve got a busy week coming up. I have 3 people who the only thing they have in common are that they have houses to sell and have picked me to be their realtor.

Two of the clients have used me before. One of them is a family member.

The house in the first block of Kenwick is owned by a person whose mother used me to sell a house in Palomar. I don’t even remember how they found me. They were great to work with. I had lost contact with the daughter. I had often thought of her since she lived in Kenwick, and I did too when I was much younger. One day out of the blue, she calls me and says she is buying and selling. She didn’t think I would remember her since it had been close to 15 years, but I couldn’t forget her. She had to do a little digging to track me down since I had gone out on my own several years ago. It has been great catching up with her and working with her on her new home. She is fun, laid back and very wise.

The house in Beaumont is owned by a very special family to me. They used me to buy the house many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and was very excited when they told me it was time to move again. We found their perfect home within walking distance of their old home. We had quite a dramatic time buying the new place since it was in multiple offers. This family is just so nice and pleasant to work with. It has been one of the highlights of my summer to work with them again.

The house in Landowne Merrick is owned by my cousin’s family. It has served them well but it’s time to move up to something that better fits their stage in life now. I don’t get to see my cousin all that much so it has been a lot of fun to go look at houses with her and her husband. Sometimes my aunt and uncle show up to for the showings so it is like a family reunion but at some stranger’s house.

I’ve got two more listings in the pipeline that should be ready before long. It’s been a great year and an especially great summer. Selling these three houses for these three fantastic sellers will be a nice way to wrap up my summer.

The worst thing you can do in multiple offers

This one always drives me crazy. There are a lot of bad things to do during multiple offers when you are the buyer’s realtor, but trying to rush the listing realtor is the worst.

What I mean here is where a realtor sends you over an offer and puts something like a 2 hour deadline for acceptance. I get it. Their goal in this is to make you hurry up and accept their offer before another offer comes in but I have NEVER seen it work in their interest. It usually backfires.

There are three reasons why:

  1. Do you know what happens once that short time frame for acceptance passes? The offer has technically expired. I don’t know about other realtors but the last thing I want is for the listing realtor to think the offer I sent is dead because the time has past. In this market, I usually do the opposite. I know listing realtors are wanting to get several offers and it is common for a seller to not even review all the offers until 2-3 days after the listing went live. I like to give them plenty of time. Why? Because I know I am not going to get them hurry up. They are going to do whatever they want and I want my client’s offer to be valid whenever it is presented. I also want to come across like we will be easy to work with.
  2. It makes the seller not like you. This is an even bigger one. Nobody likes pushy people. We don’t like it when somebody keeps pushing their grocery cart too close to us in the check out line. We don’t like tailgaters when driving. And in the hottest seller’s market in all of history, we sure don’t like it when buyers try to exert some pressure on us.
  3. It makes you question their commitment. I recently had this happen to me. I got a really good offer on a listing the first day on the market. I told the realtor, who was also the buyer, that we were planning on reviewing offers on the following Monday. She pointed out that she had given us a two hour window. I suggested she extend that until Monday. She fought back and said she didn’t know if she was still interested in the house if she couldn’t buy it that day. That tells me two things about her. She was either bluffing or was serious. Both are bad signs to me. If she was bluffing, it tells me she is going to try to manipulate us through the entire sale process. If she was not bluffing, she probably wasn’t totally in love with the house and there was a greater risk of her backing out of the sale before it closed. I told this to the sellers and they agreed that the only way we were gonna sell the house to her was if her offer was the only one we got. Fortunately we got 3 other offers and I was happy to tell her she didn’t get the house…….and I did it before her precious deadline.

Does location matter any more?

I guess a lot of people think being a realtor is about opening doors and cashing checks. I guess there are a lot of realtors who think the same so that is probably the source of the perception.

You don’t need me to help you pick a pretty house. You don’t need me to be there to tell you what you like or dislike about a house. You don’t need me to find houses for you. You don’t need me to walk into the only room with a chandelier and announce it is the dining room. You don’t really even need me at all…….unless you view spending the most money you have ever spent as an investment that you know you will sell someday and want to maximize the return. Oh, I guess you also need me to make sure you don’t pay too much since you won’t really know if you overpaid until you go to sell it.

So here is a quick lesson on how I go about helping people pick a neighborhood. We have all heard that real estate is about location. It is, but I don’t think people really know what that means. I normally break down neighborhoods into 4 categories:

The “A” Neighborhood-These neighborhoods are the ones people know and love for a variety of reasons. Some might be close to something desirable, some might have a lot of charm, some might have lower crime. Almost all “A” neighborhoods have a good performing school district. These are the ones that people know by name. These are also the ones that will always be easy to sell in even a bad market.

The “B” Neighbhorhood-Is like the “A” but may not be as well rounded. It’s popular, but often viewed as an alternative to another “A” neighborhood that is close by.

The “C” Neighborhood-This is one that no buyer has ever mentioned as somewhere they would love to live. It is just average in everyway. Nothing really is wrong with it. Nothing is really great about it either. It is just a neighborhood full of houses.

The “D” Neighborhood-These are like the opposite of the “A” neighborhood. These are neighborhoods where 16 years worth of buyers have told me they DON’T want to live. It is often because of high crime in or around the neighborhood or due to a combination of poorly performing schools. Let’s face it, if buyer’s are telling their realtors they don’t want to live in specific neighborhoods, there’s your sign that it isn’t the best investment.

Why does this make any difference if you’ve found a pretty house you like in your budget? Shouldn’t you be happy just to have found a house in this crazy market? Isn’t finding a house in a less than popular neighborhood better than not finding a house at all? The answer to all of this is that it doesn’t matter at all when you buy the house. It matters a lot when you decide it is time to move on and you want to sell it.

Right now, let’s say there are 100 buyers in the market. There are 20 houses in each of my categories for sale. That means there are 80 houses for 100 buyers. Oh no! That means all 80 sell for at least full price in multiple offers the first day on the market.

But markets change. I am no doomsday person. I don’t think the market is going to crash. It will however, over time, swing back and forth between being a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

This is what it looks like in a buyer’s market: There are 80 buyers in the market. There are 100 houses for sale, 25 in each of my 4 categories. How do you think this pans out? The “A” neighborhood houses sell first, then the “B” neighborhood houses, then the…….well, you get it. When there are more houses for sale than there are buyers, buyers get pickier. Buyers can’t be picky in today’s seller’s market but they will be able to again. I am sure of that.

My first house was in a “D” neighborhood. I was in my mid 20s and didn’t know anything. Like a lot of first time buyers, I was focused on just finding a house I liked. As I improved my house, I would look out my window and realize that I had no control over my whole neighborhood. Many of the houses around me were owned by investors. There was some crime. I loved the house but not the neighborhood. I sold it for about what I had in it, which meant I didn’t have a lot of equity to carry over to the next house. That is another reason to always pick a winning neighborhood. You will use the equity you’ve built in your old house as your down payment on your next house. You want to maximize that.

So do yourself a favor and always pick the best neighborhood in your price range.

The market wearing you out? Here is an easy way to buy a house!

Let’s face it. A buyer in today’s market is going to pay top dollar for any house. There are two methods of home searching.

The way the home search usually goes for most buyers is like this: They have a search set up on Zillow alerting them when a new listing hits the market. Then they rush out to see it. Also rushing out are the 20-50 other buyers who set up the same alert. You wait in line to see it. You have 5 minutes to make a decision. You write a crazy high offer promising to do anything the seller wants short of naming your next child after them….then you lose the house in multiple offers to the buyer who was willing to name their next child after the sellers.

It is crazy out there!

Part of the reason the market is like this has nothing to do with a shortage of listings. Part of it, a small part of it, is that buyers are so focused on new listings. These days, if a house doesn’t sell immediately it is forgotten. Buyers forget about it and opt to just wait for the next round of new listings and repeat the process.

I recently had a friend looking for a house in the $250k range. We got outbid on every offer we wrote. AND WE WERE GOING WAY OVER THE LIST PRICE TOO! One house sold for $30k over the list price and got 17 offers. For that house, all you were doing was trying to outbid some crazy desperate buyer.

Know what I told my friend to do? I told her to stop focusing on new listings. I said let’s look at houses that have been on the market for at least 4 days. There are plenty of them out there. They are the ones that for whatever reason got passed over as a new listings. Sometimes it is because the presentation sucked. Sometimes it is because the price was high. Sometimes it was because the house sucked. Knowing why it was passed over is why you need a good realtor.

So, the next house we see, she decides she wants. And guess what happened? We wrote a full price offer. We put our preferred closing date on the offer. We were able to do a home inspection. It was a pleasant experience. We were also the only offer so guess what? The seller accepted it!

What’s a Buyer to do in this evolving crazy market?

When the market started heating up, the smart buyer’s agent knew to get an offer in ASAP to try to beat other agents to the punch.

Then we all started doing something like saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date and time.” That was nice because you knew that you had time to show the house. If your client couldn’t break away to see it immediately, you could tell them you could do the next day.

Now it has evolved to the point where we are saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date but the seller reserves the right to accept any offer at any time.” So we are back to dropping everything and rushing out to see a new listing ASAP.

What is a poor buyer to do right now to get a house? Make such a strong offer that the seller will want to accept it immediately. Turn the tables and make the Seller chase you! That usually involves 4 big things: Price, inspection, closing date and possession date.

Obviously for price, that means a stupid high number. I can’t believe after spending so many years blogging about not overpaying in a Buyer’s Market, that I am now suggesting people do this. But in this market, it is the difference between getting a home and not getting a home. Instead of “Go big or go home”, it is “Go big to GET a home.”

Inspection…..waive it totally if you can let yourself do it. Having dealt with probably close to 1000 inspections over the past 16 years, I can tell you that I rarely see a house with a deal breaking problem. Most of the issues that would make you want to walk away from the house are typically visible if you look. If it has old HVAC units, well, you know you will have to eventually replace them. Roof have a shingle blown up or need some flashing around a chimney? That’s not worth losing a house over. Plus, most of the time all you can get a seller to do these days is spend $1000 or so on repairs. Most of the items found on a home inspection will probably also be found where you are living now: Some electrical oddities like reversed polarity or an ungrounded outlet in older homes. Various plumbing leaks. A roof, HVAC units or water heater somewhere between new and needing replaced. Most of what is found on a home inspection is deferred maintenance.

A lot of sellers have already bought another home and know when they will be closing on it. Ask their agent what the ideal closing date would be for the sellers. If you can make it work, you have just made your offer much more appealing to them.

Same with the possession date. It’s a pain in the rear to have to be out of your old place the same day you get in your new place. If the house was in reasonably clean shape when you saw it and you don’t think the sellers are terrible people, ask if they need a couple of days to stay in the house after the closing. Some breathing room is always nice. The worst I have seen when this happens is that you often get left some garbage or a dirty house. Most sellers are eager to get to their new place so you don’t really have to worry about them not moving out.

All of these things are a little risky to a buyer. I know. I get it. But the people that do these things are the ones who are going to be moving into that house you fell in love with and were outbid on.