Tag Archives: what sets me apart from other Realtors

On preparing a Market Analysis and the importance of viewing the homes in the report

When I meet with seller clients in discussing listing their home for sale, one of the many things that we discuss is determining an appropriate listing price. I will almost always generate a report called a Market Analysis to help aid our discussions. Most, but not all, agents provide such a report (some agents just give a number, with no evidence supplied on how it was determined).

I feel that it is imperative that clients understand how the recommended price was generated.
One aspect that is rarely discussed in our industry is the importance of driving by properties that are used in the report evaluate the exterior, if the agent has not already seen them.

Yes, this adds literally hours to my process for generating an analysis. But, this gives me SO much more information than relying on the information that is in the database alone, and gives me peace of mind in knowing that I’ve done as much research as possible.

Examples of the information that I obtain from viewing the properties listed in the report: 
-I can see if any major power lines are passing through the property or over the home directly.
-I can determine how busy the road is.
-Similarly, I can determine how much road noise there is from nearby busy roads.
-I will be able to evaluate the entrance to the neighborhood.
-I can see the grade of the driveway to the property.
-I can view more closely neighboring properties.
-Sometimes the condition of the home is more evident in person. I can see paint peeling off the siding or the roof shingles peeling back.
-I can evaluate the house-to-street orientation. Is the home sitting only a few feet back street?
-I can better gauge the distance into town.
-I can view the parking better – is there a good spot for an RV?
-Sometimes the photos that the agents submit are terribly poor in quality and there is no way to know what the home looks like without seeing the home in person.

All of these factors have a tremendous impact on property values. 

For more information on the services I provide to my seller clients, please see my page outlining my Services for Sellers.

How My Marketing Differs From My Competitors’

downloadLast year, I listed and sold 5 homes that  were listed with previous Realtors. The following list is just a sample of data sheets of homes I marketed after being previously listed, showing how I use every tool at my disposal to highlight all features possible.

The most important piece in my marketing plan is making your listing as appealing as possible on the data sheets, which are fed to all the major real estate websites. Viewing the home on the internet is the buyer’s first impression of the property, and having hardly any information filled out, inaccuracies, or having blurry, distorted, or dark photos is a disservice to you. Moreover, most buyers have a “Buyer’s Agent” they are already working with who will be showing the home, and this is my way of pitching your home to them without my actual presence. This is the number one job of a Listing Agent.

In each of the following examples, you will see two (or more) listing data sheets. The first listings, showing a status “EXP”, are the data sheets from when the home was listed previously with another Realtor. The next data sheets showing as “SLD” are the data sheets from when I actually sold and closed on the property.

This home, located at 15095 Glen Oak Road, was listed previously with another prominent agent in the area. Note that the square footage is incorrect, the listing does not include a major addition, and many misc details are not filled out on the listing.

This home that I recently sold on Seal Court in Oregon City went on the market over the summer and I received two full price offers within a day of going on the market. Note the differences in the two listings: the photo of the front of the home is much better, I sold it for $100,000 more than it was listed for a few years prior, there are many data fields that are not filled out, and my comments on the property and room descriptions are much more revealing. In addition, you’ll note on the second page of my data sheet, I used an additional page in our database to highlight some features that I could not find room for on the main data page. The review on 9/25/2015 on my Zillow review page is from this client.

This acreage home on Neibur in Oregon City had been recently listed with another Realtor for 6 months. The photos are the same on these two listing reports because the seller wanted to use his own photos. As you can see, there are many errors on the first report. First and foremost the square footage breakdown and the overall total amount of square footage is incorrect. The listing says that “tax credits” are available when the property taxes are “deferred” which is different. Lots of other little errors, such as mentioning cedar siding and slate floors – neither of which were present on this home. I listed this property during the slowest party of the year, two days before Christmas. It received an offer after 60 days on the market. The review on 4/10/2015 on my Zillow review page is from this client, and further outlines the differences that my client experienced with me versus another broker.

This home on Glen Oak Road, also in Oregon City, was previously listed for 214 days. When I put the home on the market, I received four outstanding offers within two days.  Note the difference quality of the photo, substantial price difference between what it sold for and what it was listed for previously, how much more descriptive the details are, utilizing every field possible. The biggest disservice to this listing was not saying much about the shop. That shop was one of the most exciting garages I had ever seen! I made sure to outline all features of the extensively wired and spacious shop which is hardly mentioned in the first listing. I also utilized more pages at my disposal, and even attached another PDF for Realtors to download for their clients, showing even more outstanding features on this home.

This home on Wake Robin in Oregon City was listed just a few months prior as a For Sale By Owner and then by another Realtor for 113 days. I sold it for slightly more than the previous broker had it listed for and got a full price offer within two days of hitting the market. Note that the square footage is incorrect on the first listing, and again the differences in how descriptive the listings are.

This home that I sold on Talawa Drive in Oregon City was listed once in 2011, again in 2013, and finally sold by me in 2015. The biggest differences in the way the first two listings are presented and my listing is my much more descriptive comments and utilizing all fields possible to highlight as much as I can on the property. Also note that I sold the home for $389,900 whereas it failed to sell at much lower prices previously. When I listed the home, it received a full price offer in under 30 days.

As always, feel free to email or call with any further questions, and I look forward to helping you!

15 Imperative Questions to Ask Your Prospective Real Estate Agent

The following questions should help you in your selection of a Realtor.

1. What is the commission amount that you charge? Do you charge any fees in addition to the commission amount?

Commission rates are negotiable and variable from one agent to the next. Make sure that you are getting a competitive rate and verify that there are no other additional fees than the commission rate. If an agent is attempting to charge you a higher fee than what a competing agent wants to charge, ask them what services are included to justify the additional cost.

1. How much experience do you have?

Experience matters. An active agent is likely to be more knowledgeable about the entire business – especially current market conditions and regulations. Ask your Realtor whether or not during their time as an agent they have ever been an assistant to – or partnered with – another Realtor. An agent who has worked with another Realtor in the past has accumulated tremendous amounts of experience (and actually, most assistants make more money and work more hours than most Realtors!). This is because, from day one, he or she has been completely immersed in real estate full-time, versus an agent who may struggle along by themselves – sometimes going many months without a sale. An agent who has actually hired an assistant can be an indicator of a busy agent, but sometimes it also means that they aren’t good at computers and need another person to do this for them. This could mean that the agent will not respond to your emails in a timely fashion and may not be great at using the MLS database.

3. Why is it especially important to spell the name of the neighborhood correctly in the MLS database?

The answer to this question will give you a good feel of how technically aware they are of the tools at their disposal. Some Realtors aren’t great at working with computers and this can be to your detriment. For example, if you live in a neighborhood called “Willamette” and the agent enters in the word “Willamete”, the other agent who is searching for houses in this particular neighborhood for a buyer-client will not be aware that your home is listed. It is very important that your Realtor is aware of all these technicalities.

4. If you are vetting an agent to list your real estate for sale, make sure that they have a marketing plan in writing and review it thoroughly.

Make sure that you are aware of all of the ways that the agent is going to market your home. The marketing aspect can vary considerably with one agent to the next. Some agents are evasive about what they will and will not do in marketing your home. When you review the marketing plan, you are looking for DETAILS. Is the agent going to put a flier box on the sign? What is the plan to verify that the flyer box does not run empty? How often will open houses be run and what periodicals will they be advertised in? Etc. Make sure that whoever you hire is clear and provides their marketing plan in writing.

5. What are your hours of availability? Is this your only job or do you have another?

Contrary to popular belief we do all take time off – it is impossible to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is important that you know generally what the hours of availability will be so that you know if your schedule is going to mesh with theirs or not. Some agents actually refuse to work outside business hours – which may or may not work for you. If the agent isn’t clear about when they might not be available and how business is handled when they aren’t in the office you might want to look elsewhere. I’ve heard people say on so many occasions: “I just can’t get a hold of my agent!”

6. What are your personal feelings about in-company transactions and Disclosed Limited Agency? Please see this previous post if you do not know what these terms mean.

If a situation arises where the agent may represent both you and the other party to the transaction, you want to make very certain that you are comfortable with this potential agent in such a role. And you may even want to ask them specifically – what are the ways in which you think an in-company transaction might not be to my benefit and how to you plan to verify that I am represented fairly? The answers to these questions are very important.

7. Do you have any references from clients you’ve represented in the past?

An agent who provides letters of recommendations with emails and phone numbers from previous clients is a good indicator of a quality agent.

8. What separates you from your competition?

Look for answers such as: integrity, honesty, trustworthy, up-front, ethical.

9. Do you have related industry professionals that you can recommend?

Having relationships with quality loan officers and inspectors is a must. Loan officers and home inspectors vary considerably in experience and you want to know that whoever you hire, or whoever the agent puts the buyer for your home in touch with, are business professionals who thoroughly know their business.

10. Make sure that you obtain a Comparative Market Analysis and review it thoroughly.

A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA for short) is a report of homes that are similar to yours (or the house you are considering purchasing). Included in this report will be homes that have either sold, are active on the market, have a sale pending, or are expired listings. This report is indicative of value. A CMA is most often used when a Listing Agent makes a presentation to a home-seller about putting their home on the market, but they are also used when a buyer has found a property that he or she wants to put an offer on. Here are some tips in reviewing the information:

Does the data provided make sense to you? Did the agent personally see any of the homes that are currently on the market and tell you how they relate to your home or did they just rely on the data in the computer?

When you review the CMA, make sure to ask yourself what YOU think of the comps that the agent is using. Do you think the homes are similar to yours? Why or why not?

One thing you can do to double-check how fastidious this particular agent is, is to search the MLS database yourself (in Oregon and some Washington this is RMLS). Unfortunately for you, the only listings that are public are those that are currently available or have a sale pending (closed and expired listings are only available to Realtors). Still, you will want to search around for homes that are similar to yours in neighborhood, bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, lot size, garage, etc. Are there homes that YOU think are good comparables to yours, and were they included in your agents’ CMA? If they were not, ask them why the particular homes weren’t included. Perhaps the agent genuinely thinks the houses that you see do not compare to your home, but the other reason they may not have been included is that the agent wasn’t as thorough in their research as you would like them to be.

Some agents, believe it or not, refuse to do a CMA on your home until they’ve acquired a listing agreement signed by you. The reason for this is twofold: one, they are looking for the easiest clients to work with, and two: they don’t want to do a bunch of work for someone that is only fishing for a price opinion. While I can respect the motivation behind the latter, I do not think this approach serves you any purpose. You need to see, in a written report, which homes they will be comparing yours to. How would you know, if you don’t see it in writing, that the agent is going to use homes that are truly comparable with yours? How do you know they aren’t going to try and get you to list your home below what it is worth? You wouldn’t have any way of knowing, and would have to rely solely on trust – not a good idea.

11. What price do you think I should list my home?

The answer to this question is going to be a good indicator of an honest agent who’s willing to work hard for you.

If the price seems way higher than what you expected, the agent may be attempting a sales tactic called “buying the listing.” This is where the agent tries so hard to impress you with a high number that you are compelled to sign a listing agreement so that you can obtain the highest amount for your house. Unfortunately, pricing your house really high is likely to not result in many showings. Even if you drop the price considerably at a later time, it can result in a “market-worn” home – a home that was so high that no one looked at it, and now everyone assumes that something is wrong with the house because no one bought it. Don’t be fooled – everyone judges a house partly by how long it has been on the market. And, if a Realtor tries to tell you that they can just “refresh” the information in the MLS database – beware of that answer, because there is no way to truly refresh the information. Even expired listings show up easily when an agent searches for them – and a quality agent WILL.

Conversely, if the agent comes to you with a price that seems way lower than what you think the house would sell for, this agent may just be looking for an easy transaction. Low-priced homes sell very quickly.

12. How quickly do you think we should drop the price, if the house has not sold?

In my experience, the answer to this question largely depends on how many showings the house has received, whether or not I think the house has been priced competitively, whether or not there is much competition, etc. Many agents will give you a line such as: “If the house has not sold within 30 days…” If the agent has a “canned” answer to this question, I would be wary.

13. Did the agent provide you with an Initial Agency Disclosure Pamphlet?

Here in Oregon, the Oregon Real Estate Agency requires that we give this pamphlet at the first substantial contact (essentially, the first time we meet). If the agent did not provide this, you should question what other laws they are breaking and what other disclosures you will not receive in a timely manner (trust me, there are many!).

14. If you are interviewing a Buyer’s Agent: What is your plan in finding me a home? What criteria will you use in the database? And, how often will you search for new listings for me?

A Buyer’s Agent should be very transparent about how it is they plan to go about finding you your home. A simple answer such as: “I will search the MLS database” doesn’t tell you very much. You need to know what criteria they are going to use to make sure that you are on the same page. I’ve heard many complaints from buyers in the past of agents who show them houses outside of their price range! The agent needs to be clear that when you say you cannot afford more than $250,000, you really mean that a house more expensive than this isn’t going to work. Looking at homes a little higher than this isn’t going to hurt, because often times the price can be negotiated down a bit, but looking at homes over $300,000 is likely going to be a waste of your time.

Likewise, you need to know that the agent is well informed about what neighborhoods, school districts, number of bedrooms, square footage, lot size, etc., are acceptable to you.

In addition – and this is a really important point – you need an agent that is looking for new listings for you on a daily basis (if not multiple times a day). Some houses, especially if they are priced really well and very nice, sell very quickly. You need to know about houses that match your criteria THE DAY they go on the market, not a week or several days later. This market is very competitive and you need your agent to be on top of it.

15. Have you ever had an adverse decision made on an ethics violation or complaint filed with the Oregon Real Estate Agency?

The Oregon Real Estate Agency publicizes all adverse decisions. Through the years of reading these decisions I’ve seen multiple repeat offenders. Yikes! Make sure you are hiring an agent who follows the rules.

I hope these questions help you find a respectable agent and that you find an amazing house or sell your home with relative ease.