Choosing your Realtor. Part-Time Friend or Full-Time Professional?

Whether you are selling or buying a home, it is likely to be the largest dollar transaction you will ever be apart of. With it being such a large chunk of change, who you choose to navigate this process is essential. 

The reality of the Real Estate industry is that it is a fairly straightforward process to get your license inorder to call yourself a Realtor, hence why so many people do it part-time. With so many people available to help you with your transaction how do you pick your Realtor? Scott, a member of our team says “Realtors are like hair stylists, everyone knows one” and he is right! The initial reaction of most people is to go with a friend who has their license no matter their level of experience, area of focus or standing within the profession. This selection does make sense though, they already know them personally and they feel comfortable with them. However, using a friend who has their license and is part-time has its drawbacks.

Does their other employment impact their ability to help?

This past year I’ve met individuals who started out their property search or sale with a friend. The initial part of the process is great, no awkward ice-breaker or getting to know you period, but it becomes tough when the Realtors alternate employment schedule starts to hamper progress. One lady was searching in midtown Tulsa, a hot, fast paced market. She was missing out on multiple listings because the market moves so quickly and you had to view the homes the day they list. Her agent couldn’t show because she worked out of the city in Claremore and could only show after 5:30.

Had this lady been working with an agent who was able to show her a property as soon as it hit the market she may have been in her dream home sooner than later. 

It should be pointed out that part-time agents on a team are able to count on their teammates to cover for them should they ever need it. If the agent is part-time it’s worth checking whether they’re apart of a team who can help out when needed. 

Are they putting the reps in?

A good Realtor is the Quarterback of a transaction, and like any good Quarterback they need the reps to get better. The benefits of doing multiple transactions are extensive. They know what to do if a deal starts to go sideways. The more contracts they write the more adept they will be at using a contract to their clients benefit. Attending more inspections mean they’ll see more things that can be wrong with a home and know how to forewarn clients about them in the future. On the listing side the more homes they sell, the more appraisal packets they’ll have to produce to help an appraiser understand their rationale behind price, therefore helping reduce the risk of a home not appraising for sales value- a huge problem!

How to choose your Realtor?

If you are someone who is looking to buy/sell a home choosing between a friend who does real estate on the side and a full-time professional can be tough. Ultimately doing what is best for you is what needs to be done. We’ve talked before about the Realtor selection process and for this the advice remains the same.

Take a moment to review their past sales and transactions. You need an individual who knows the market well where you have interest and has a proven track record. Have they transacted there in the past? If they haven’t but they come recommended to you, meet with them in person. Interview them and read up on them online. They will have a Zillow profile, maybe a social media account so you can see how they market. 

Buying or Selling a home is one of the most stressful things you will ever do, be sure to use someone who will be able to help you navigate the ups and downs of it to ultimately achieve your property goals.

Beware of the “Social Media Realtor”

Image result for social media

Let’s be honest, in today’s day and age social media makes it incredibly easy for us to pretend to be something we are not. Anyone can create a lifestyle via images and posts that lead their followers to think all is well. A friend of mine recently described social media as a place where we play the highlight reel of our lives. Realtors are no different. 

Anyone can create a Facebook business page, start uploading pictures and generic Real Estate stats. It creates the illusion they are busy and a top performer. Who would doubt otherwise? They are always sharing pictures of $500,000 homes with the caption “today’s showings”. How can you tell if this real? How can you tell the person you know on Facebook or Instagram is going to be able to help you? Do they only sell that type of home? Do they sell any homes at all?! You know them virtually, but this is buying/selling a house. It’s the largest purchase/sale you are likely to ever make. You need to use someone who knows the contract, knows what to do when things get tricky, has a strong network and will help you avoid making painful mistakes. 

Vetting a realtor

  • Ask around– Word of mouth is how we get most of our clients referred to us. First and foremost ask the person who suggested a Realtor to you if they used them! It’s amazing the amount of times I hear someone say “our friend recommended their Aunt to us, she does a bit of Real Estate on the side”. PEOPLE, STOP. WOULD YOU TAKE YOUR CHILD TO SOMEONE WHO DOES PEDIATRICS ON THE SIDE?!
  • Check out their Zillow history– For Realtors, Zillow is a love hate relationship. Zestimates in the bane of most of our existence, but the website does provide us with an easy platform to showcase our previous transaction history. With that you can see what sort of homes they’ve sold in the past. Take some time to read previous clients reviews while you’re there too. 
  • Is the Realtor full-time?– I recently spoke to a lady who had been looking to downsize from her 4,000 SqFt two story where she lives alone to a single story 1,600 SqFt home. She told me she kept missing out on the homes she wanted to see because she had to wait for her Realtor to get off work. Get off work?! There are many full-time realtors out there who make a full-time living from the profession and they’re good at it too! It’s a performance based industry so find a Realtor who performs.
  • Interview them-A simple straightforward method that is totally under utilized by today’s buying/selling population. Sit down with a potential agent and ask them questions about their market, history, experience, etc. Find out if they fit what you’re looking for and if they understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Most importantly of all, make sure they listen to you. 

Don’t Waste Money Before Trying to Sell Your Home

I’ve mentioned a lot lately about how lower interest rates are driving Buyers. People are wanting to lock in and they are being aggressive in order to do so. With that being said, what can you do as a Seller to avoid missing out on making the most of this market? 

When we meet with clients to discuss listing their home we focus on two things, time and money. Do you need to sell ASAP while sacrificing some return, or do you have a price in mind that you are willing to wait for? Not an easy decision for a Seller to make and this can only be made harder by a common mistake. The dreaded “we need to do a lot of work to be ready to list” comment is (in my opinion) one of the most misused lines in Real Estate. A touch of paint here and there wouldn’t go amiss, but refinishing your floors? Replacing the old kitchen cabinets and counter tops? Spending a fortune on professional landscaping? PUTTING IN A POOL?! No, no, no, no! Save your money! 

Remember… every dollar you put into a listing is a dollar you need to get out. 
More dollars in, means fewer Buyers through the door! Keep your potential Buyer pool as large as possible.

Image result for christmas vacation pool scene
Putting in a pool is great use of a Christmas bonus, but probably not the best way to help your home sell.

What is Driving Buyer Anxiety in a Strong Market?

The current Real Estate market in Tulsa is moving fast and we are seeing many competing bids for Brown & Co. Listings and our inventory of homes is strong. With that being said, why is it in such a great market for Buyers they are feeling anxious? 

In a recent article on the National Association of Realtors website, Chief Economist Lawrence Yun explains. “Rates of 4%, and, in some cases even lower, create extremely attractive conditions for consumers. Buyers, for good reason, are anxious to purchase and lock in as these rates.” 

The competing bids are from Buyers aware that rates in and around the low 4% mark are too good to pass up! Some of my clients have been able to buy $30,000 more house for the same payment as what they budgeted for last year due to lower rates.

If you’re looking to buy, be active now! Call me and we can set up a time to see what is currently available. 

How does a Trade War and Brexit make buying a home great right now?

At the beginning of the month mortgage rates had dropped to a 16 month low. Across the board whether it’s a 15 year or 30 year fixed rates dropped. The current trade war with China and unclear future of Europe with Brexit has created an atmosphere of financial uncertainty. This two factors coupled with slow global economic growth has produced a steady decline in rates. 

What does this mean for you?

Buyers
For Buyers this is great news, make the most of the low rates and lock into something for the next 30 years. Review your buying power with your Loan Officer. If you had discussions a 4.3% interest but now can get 4.05%, that increases your buying power!!!
Sellers
If you’re looking to sell your home hopefully you’ll have an increased Buyer pool to draw from. If you’re thinking of selling, now is a great time to explore your options. You may also be able to refinance and get your mortgage at a new lower rate. 

No matter what you’re looking to do discuss options and explore avenues to get the most from this current economic climate. Things can change quickly, as I type this I just received an email from a local lender highlighting activity from global banks indicating their faith in a growing global economy. THINGS CAN CHANGE QUICKLY!

Happy House Hunting

Explanations for One of the Most Misunderstood Stats in Real Estate

Real Estate information and data is provided to Buyers and Sellers in vast amounts. Facts, figures and guesses of property valuation are all over the internet. While some of this information can be useful (I personally am yet to see an accurate Zestimate) one piece of data that should have no major bearing on your decision to pursue a home is days on market. 

There is a misconception amongst buyers that if a home has been on the market a while something must be wrong with it. Firstly, if there is a known problem with the house you would see it in the disclosures. Failing that your inspections should catch any other red flags. 

With that being said, why do some homes sit on the market longer than others?

  • Determined Seller- In some instances a Seller has a number in their head they’d like to get for their home and they won’t budge. 
  • No Mortgage Owed- Similarly we have had clients who own their house outright so can sit on it and hold it until they get the sales figure they’d like. They’ll pay their property taxes and insurance because they don’t need to sell. This is a common situation for a home inherited by family members. 
  • Marketing- Poor marketing of a property can sometimes leave it on the market for a while. If pictures don’t reflect the quality of the home it’ll be harder to get buyers to see it. 
  • Competition- if you’re looking for a four bed, three bath home in an area with lots of four bed, three bath homes, it’s very likely there will be some with longer list periods. A house may have to be the Bridesmaid a few times before it gets to be the Bride!
  • Not Found The Right Buyer- It may sound like a cliche but some homes sit a while because they haven’t found the right Buyer. The property may appeal to a Buyer in a certain market niche with a small amount of suitors. Small gated communities, compact condos and large homes are an example of this.
  • Missing the Window- In my opinion this is one of the easiest reasons to explain why a house has a long list period. I’ll use a real example from Brown & Co at McGraw Realtors. We took on a listing last year in a neighborhood that has a great school district and is predominantly occupied by families with children still in said school. We listed the property at the end of summer as school starts. The chances of families moving then is low. Fast forward to after Spring Break this year. The first showing we had was a family and they purchased the home for full list price! In the week after we went pending I had four calls about the home. This was after six months with just one showing! When looking at days on market think about who would be looking at that home. Would that type of Buyer move during that period? 

Happy House Hunting!

Stephen

Are we seeing a new trend in Real Estate?

As of late I’ve started to notice a new trend in Real Estate transactions. When I started my career the more experienced agents used to say you rarely saw, or asked for Closing Cost Assistance (CCA) for transactions over $300,000. As of late though that seems to be changing. Recently I’ve seen contracts for as much as $428,000 ask for and receive CCA.
So why is that? My thoughts are we are seeing a new Buyer thriving in the market. The profile of this Buyer is as follows;  

  • They are aware of the threat and rumors of rising interest rates.
  • Their parents or colleagues have told them about “back in the day” when they bought at an interest rate of 15-18%.
  • This Buyer has saved enough to cover a 5% or maybe 8% of their downpayment but they come up short of the extra $7-$10k to fund closing costs.
  • Their only option is to ask the Seller for them. In some instances, I am seeing Buyers increase their offer to offset the required closing costs because an extra $10,000 on their mortgage is only around an extra $60-70 a month on their payment. 

I’m curious to see how long this trend goes for and whether more Buyers adopt this strategy to make the most of low rates and look into their dream home now!