My very first listing

Back to the summer of 2005 on this one.

I had already sold my first house, which you probably read about in my last blog post.

I was eager to list a house and see what that part of being a realtor was like.  Most new agents end up working mostly with buyers.  It’s later in your career when you tend to get more listings.

I had gone to the paint store for a house I was remodeling.  While the manager was mixing the paint, he asked what I did.  I said I was a realtor.  He told me how he was having a house built in Versailles and would need to sell his old house soon.  We made some other small talk.  He helped me load the paint in the back of my SUV.

Just as I was about to put the key in the ignition, I remembered that I WAS A REALTOR?!?

I went back inside to talk to this guy.  He said he was interviewing agents and would be happy for me to see his house.  I was so excited and nervous.

I was scared to death they would ask me how long I had been a realtor.  I was trying to decide if it was more impressive to say just over 3 months or say 96 days.

I was with what was then the biggest brokerage in town.  I had no experience.  All I had to offer was the perceived value of the company.

I got all dressed up and went to their house to meet them.  As they gave me the tour, I noticed there were two calendars from different realtors on their fridge.  That’s why you’ve never gotten a calendar or sports schedule magnet from me.

I sat down with them and showed them everything that had sold in their area.  I took a copy of the previous week’s Homeseller.  I showed them that the first several pages were my company’s listings. I showed them where their listing would be when it was a new listing.  I told them I would do open houses every week until it sells. (And shortly after all this, I realized that NONE of these things help sell a house at all.  Even back then, print advertising was in decline and I learned open houses do much more to help the realtor than they do the seller…..but I was new and I thought all this meant something.)

I did open house after open house after open house.  I met lots of people.  One of whom bought another house from me and has used me two additional times since.

The showing that resulted in a sale happened one Saturday afternoon.  I was working in the basement of that house I was remodeling.  I had drywall dust all over the place.  My phone rings.  I dust it off.  An agent wants to see it.  I tell him to go ahead, it is vacant.

That evening I get an offer.  My first listing sold!

The house gets inspected.  It doesn’t need much.   The buyer noticed some gardening tools in the garage he wanted and proposed we trade repairs for tools.  The buyer’s agent and I worked hard on this.  Finally, we reached an agreement for something like an electric weedeater, a rake and two shovels.

That other agent was new too.  It was his first sale.  We had coffee one day after the closing and he’s been my best friend ever since.  In fact, he is the one that suggested I start blogging.

And once everybody got on Facebook, I found out that this first seller was related to my Dad’s former secretary who is like a little sister to me.

My very first sale

I was so green.

I was 100% dedication and 0% experience.

It was the spring of 2005.  A friend of mine knew I had just gotten my license and he was wanting to buy a house.

We looked at several houses.  It was fun using my electronic key to get in a listing.  This was back in the day when realtors dressed more like bankers, so many sellers didn’t know who was the realtor, since both the buyer and I were wearing shorts and sandals.

I had no idea at that time how seeing those houses and being in those neighborhoods would give me the type of experience I have today.  Every house I go in just makes me a better realtor.

My buyers decided to make an offer on a house off of Liberty Road.  It was late in the evening and this was back in the day when we had to get signatures in ink.  I called the listing agent and told her that I was going to write an offer.  She told me that her seller was an elderly lady in a different time zone, so I could get it to her the next day.  I was so excited.  I slept like it was Christmas Eve and I was 8 years old.  I woke up early the next day to get signatures on all the documents.  I went by the husband’s office on Buckhorn Drive, then went to the wife’s work at Julius Marks Elementary.

I was finally done.  I dropped off the offer at the listing agents office and left her a message that it was there.

About an hour later, she calls to tell me that she had already sold the house because she didn’t hear from me.  I was devastated.  I talked to my managing broker about this.  I gave her all the details of the conversation.  She said that it sounded like the listing agent had both sides of the sale, meaning she had the buyer as well as the seller, and my offer would have ruined her plans of getting a bigger check.  I found it hard to believe that an agent would put their needs over their clients because getting multiple offers is always good for the seller.

I went home, slightly doubting what my manager told me was true.  Then I looked on the PVA to see where the tax bill was sent.  It was sent to the seller in Bowling Green.  When I thought about the listing agent’s comment about the time zone, I began to believe that my manager was right.  Bowling Green is in a different time zone, but it is an hour earlier there than it is here.

I waited patiently until that house sold to see who the buyer’s agent was.  Sure enough, it was the listing agent.  To this day, I have no respect for her.

My people kept looking and finally bought a townhouse.

So we get to the closing day.  I am a nervous wreck.  I go to my office to pick up the buyer’s earnest money deposit and am told that they needed a 48 hour notice.  LOL, they rushed to get it to me.  Something else I learned quickly.

We go to the closing.  It was one of those 5:30 on a Friday closings where everybody is in a hurry.  Once it was all done, I was so relieved and proud to have closed my first sale.  As I sat in my car going through the paperwork to make sure I had everything I needed, I realized that the closing attorney did not give me the commission check.  She also did not take my buyer’s check for the down payment.

It’s been over 13 years and several hundred sales since all this happened.  I’ve learned a lot about neighborhoods, negotiating and human nature.  It’s given me the gut feeling that only comes from experience, just like my manager had.  Her name was Susan. She was a huge help to me when I was a newbie.  She always told me I had what it takes and was always available for advice.  I learned a lot from her.  She passed away from an aneurysm several years ago.  I still miss her.

I feel a little vulnerable sharing how green I was back then, but I was just sitting here thinking about how far I have come.  When I work with a new agent who is just as green, I think back on this time in my career.  It gives me the patience to let them learn the same way I did.

My best and worst day as a realtor

Real estate isn’t really a job or a business.  It’s more of a lifestyle.  The good days are fantastic and the bad ones are terrible.

Here are two of my stories (insert the DUN-DUN sound effect from Law & Order.)

My best day was at a closing in the spring of 2011.  The events that lead up to that day actually began at a closing in the spring of 2010 for the same house.

I had some great clients that bought a cool house.  Immediately after buying it, the basement flooded.  The entire basement was gutted.  Shortly afterwards, the husband’s company downsized.  This was when the economy was terrible and people were getting laid off left and right.  They decided to take a job out of state.  I listed the house.  Only the market was worse than it was when they bought it and the house no longer had a finished basement. 212 days later, it finally sells for $16k less than my people paid for it a year earlier.  Now, if you’re reading this and wondering how that could happen, trust me, the market was totally the opposite from where it is now.  There were tons of houses for sale and values were decreasing.  I hope we never have to live through times like that again.  I don’t think all of my listings from the past year have been on the market for 212 days combined.

I really really really liked this family a lot.  Still do.  I was happy to waive my commission to make the sting of losing money hurt a little less.  It was harder to sell a house back then.  I felt very good about getting it done for them so they could move on with their lives.

I get to relive that day every once in a while because that family occasionally, out of the blue, thanks me for my help.

I think of this family when I have a day like the absolute worst day I’ve ever had in real estate.

That day happened around the same time.

Back then, probably half of my work was random people who would find me or were found by me.  Today, almost all of my work comes from past clients, friends, or referrals from past clients or friends.

Another agent in my old office gave me what we call a “Lead.”  I contacted this buyer who said they had just gotten some giant settlement from a drug company and wanted to buy an expensive house in Scott Co.  I was skeptical at first, but the agent who sent me the lead would get a 25% cut of the commission, and I knew she really needed it so I agreed to work with this buyer.

I scheduled several showings for rural houses all over Scott County.

As I spent more time with this buyer and his family, it was clear to me that they were not really buyers, but were dreamers.  Probably liars too.

The husband supposedly owned all my favorite cars while he was in Germany.  He just got millions of dollars in a settlement but would be doing a VA loan, and he didn’t want to tell me who his loan officer was.

It was a strange day for sure, but it got even stranger.

When we arrived at one vacant house, there was somebody walking around out front.  I thought it was the seller at first.  It was somebody who had stopped to see the house.  He said he wanted to see the house.  I told him that I had scheduled a private showing for my clients and that we had a schedule to keep.  He should call the listing agent to schedule his own showing, who would be very happy to show it to him.  I thought that was over and he would get in his car and leave.  No, he tried to follow my clients into the house.  I stepped in front of him at the door and said the same thing again.  He said he tried calling the listing agent and she didn’t answer.  I told him again that I had scheduled a private showing for my client and that this wasn’t an open house.  I surely didn’t want to let him in after all this.

He walked away.  I watched him out a window.  He keyed my car as he walked past it.

We ended up staying at the house forever waiting for the police to show up, which made us really late to the other showings.

When the police arrived, the buyer’s account of what all happened was a little more dramatic than mine…..turns out that the buyer had also been a bounty hunter too, or so he claimed.  I think the buyer thought he was helping me by embellishing the story a little.  The policeman needed my registration for the complaint.  Turns out my registration had expired.  This was the first car I had ever leased.  The leasing company doesn’t send renewals in your birth month like they do for cars you own.  The policeman didn’t care, but the buyer and his family acted like I was driving a stolen car.

So, by the end of that day, I had wasted a lot of time with a crazy fake buyer and had to get some of my car repainted.  Shortly after this, the agent who sent me these fine people unfriended me on facebook.

I’ve had plenty of other rough days.  When I have them, I try to think about all the great people I have met throughout my career.  The good ones far outweigh the bad.

 

 

 

Winning in multiple offers

Two of the three houses I sold last weekend had multiple offers.

I’ve always said that what often wins a house in these situations has nothing to do with price.  It is even more true in today’s market where almost every house sells for full price or slightly above.  I know when I get multiple offers on my listings, it is amazing to see several different buyers all offer roughly the same amount, especially when it is over the list price.

The first one I sold was a for sale by owner townhouse.  I knew the seller probably didn’t know what to do once he got an offer, and probably didn’t know how to determine which buyer was the best.  So, I told him that I would handle everything for him and keep him in the loop on the progress of the sale.  I also pointed out that my buyer had 20% down and was doing a conventional loan. I told him all the things that could go wrong with any sale, and that short of a cash buyer, my well qualified buyer would be the best one to pick.

And he did.

The other one was a hot new listing near Hamburg in the most competitive price range in Lexington.  There were 9 showings the first day on the market.  My buyers needed to roll their closing costs into the offer, so I was a little worried.  I knew the only chance I had of getting this place for my buyers was to find out how to make it easy on the sellers to say yes to us.  I asked the listing agent if the sellers knew where they were moving yet.  If they did not have a house yet, my people could have rented back to them after the closing because they had several months left on a lease.  The sellers have a contract on a house in a surrounding town.  I got their closing date.  I remembered that they had two small kids based on the way two bedrooms were decorated.  No seller who is going to be a buyer likes the idea of moving out of their old house, closing it, closing their new house, and moving in….all in one day.  Especially with kids.

We wrote a strong offer.  I put our closing date the same day that the sellers are closing their new home.  We also offered to let them have their old house for 48 hours after the closing just to make that process easier.

Later that day, the listing agent called me.  She said both offers were practically the same.  So much so that her sellers jokingly asked her if she had told both buyer’s agents what to offer.  They couldn’t decide which offer to pick, so they asked their agent what to do.   She advised them to accept our offer because she thought I was so nice to work with and for my concern in making the process easy for her sellers.  Well, I am a nice guy, but my goal was to get this house for my buyers more than it was to make it nice for the sellers.  That is just what we had to do to make our offer the most attractive.

So, both of my buyers got the house they wanted in multiple offers.  Like I’ve said before, it isn’t always about price.

I thought it was a seller’s market?

It’s been an interesting week.

I wrote an offer on a house in Frankfort that was listed at $159,500.   Looked at the comps.  Thought it was about a $147-152k house.  Seller wouldn’t budge from $156,950.  It’s been on the market for two weeks now, which is a life time in today’s market.  Even at $152k, it will be the most expensive house to ever sell in it’s neighborhood.

I showed a house last night that is listed for $187k.  The exact same model house sold 6 months ago on that same street for $180k.  Sure, lets add 2% or so for appreciation and subtract a bit because that house that already sold had granite and was nicer.  Oh, the house I showed had a 22 year old roof.  The shingles were the 3 tab kind, which usually are good for about 15-20 years.  It needs a new roof like now.  So, this one is overpriced and needs a $7k roof.  That’s a hard pill to swallow for the first time buyers in this price range, which is why it is still on the market.  BTW, in Lexington, a house in this price range would normally get multiple offers, possibly over the list price if the list price were anywhere near realistic.

I showed another house that was super nice, super pricey and only had 2 bedrooms.  I think the listing agent expected lots of offers since most houses under $200k in Lexington go fast.  The agent even put a deadline for submitting offers.  About 20 minutes after that deadline, that statement was removed.  The house is still for sale, so I guess no offers came.

So, we have 3 listings that aren’t selling in the hottest price range in the hottest market ever.

Why?

Price.  Even in a great market, you can only get market value for your house.  Market value is what a ready, willing and able buyer will pay for a house.  You can’t get over market value, which is exactly what these 3 sellers are wanting to do.

I am sure all 3 of these sellers are thinking “But I thought this was a seller’s market??”  It is, but when your price is above market value, most buyers opt to just wait for the next batch of new listings.  Dear sellers of these 3 houses, you are not drunk with power, you are just drunk.