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Archive for January, 2009

Offers skyrocketing

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Saturday, January 31st, 2009

One thing appears obvious as we close out January, buyers are writing offers frantically. Our brokerage alone has received more offers on properties we have listed in January than we did all fall 2008. Arizona, Nevada, and California have seen the biggest jumps, but even Texas has seen a mild surge in activity. Low rates coupled with investor uncertainty in the stock market has made it easier for buyers to stomach getting back into real estate. During the next 5-7 days I will publish data from various MLS’ s showing that these January offers resulted in a drastic increase in pending numbers for the majority of west coast markets.

Austin Condos

Donald L. Plunkett, Jr. Donald L. Plunkett, Jr.
Thursday, January 29th, 2009

There are still many cranes in the sky in downtown Austin, Texas.  I am sure that a lot of buyers won’t close on these units, but I still see the real estate boom/bust as being positive in terms of some really cool construction that has gone up in various downtown areas that would have never been funded in today’s economic climate.

Austin condos
Austin condos

I heard Realtors(R) cringe at the word short sale… Why?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

This is a great question and one that I get often. Basically, most sellers have heard this exact comment before and may not understand why. Realtors(R), as with most other Americans, worry about getting paid. The problem with a short sale is that even if the Realtor(R) brings a willing able ready buyer at the listed price, there is a very small chance the lender will ever accept the offer, let alone close the transaction. Adding to this, a response to the buyer’s offer can take up to 3 months to receive. Many Realtors(R) have the attitude of why bother? (Especially with thousands of other available properties that they can earn a commission by bringing a ready buyer)

I have a couple of opinions on this issue myself. A Realtor(R) should show their buyer everything out there that matches the buyer’s criteria. If the buyer doesn’t wish to see short sales, the Realtor(R) should scratch these off the list. On the other hand, if the buyer would like to test the short sale market, the Realtor(R) should explain upfront to the buyer that this is a long and grueling process that takes great patience. On the other side of this, I have no sympathy for the lenders in this situation. Lenders make this process miserable on everyone by being understaffed and employing individuals with no experience in short sales. I’ll give you an example,  call your lender and ask about the short sale process and what their procedures are, hang up and call back 10 minutes later, you will receive an entirely different answer to the exact same question. In the next few weeks I will be publishing a handful of articles on how to get your short sale approved by your lender and avoid these pitfalls.

How to improve your MLS listing

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Directions – give very clear simple directions to the property. Use major streets and intersections as reference points. Use N,S,E,W instead of left and right for turns. Nothing frustrates an agent more than being in the car with a client and not being able to find the property.

Remarks – Use these to your advantage. Do not leave the remarks blank. This is an area where you can describe what makes your property unique from the others on the market.

Subdivision – This is a very popular search field for agents. Be certain you are using your correct subdivision name in this field.

Lot Sq Ft- always give the # of acres or lot sq footage of your property. This is commonly left off of many listings.

Photos – Each listing from Congress Realty comes with a min of 4 photos. Use these to your advantage.  Buyers love to see color photos of the exterior, kitchen, master, and backyard.

Property Taxes – Countless listings leave this very important information off of the listing. If you have the most recent tax statement, be sure to include this on your MLS listing.

The more information you can give the MLS, the more likely your property will be returned in a search.

Showing Instructions

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, January 12th, 2009

Each MLS listing has an area entitled showing instructions. When a Realtor(R) pulls up a listing, they will always go straight to this area of the listing to view how to show the listing. It is very important that you mark this area of the listing correctly. Below is a quick breakdown of various abbreviations for MLS showing instructions.

KeyAny – Property is on Electronic Lockbox and can be shown anytime w/out a prior phone call

KeyCall – Property is on Electronic Lockbox and the agent must call before showing.

Appt Owner – Agent must call the owner to schedule an appointment.

Showing Service – Agent must call CSS to make appt.

Ten Rights – Agent must secure permission to show from the tenant or owner who has permission from the tenant.

KEYLA – Agent must make appointment with listing agent.

What is a sliding scale commission?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

First, I don’t recommend offering a sliding scale compensation system through any MLS listing. (The only possible exception would be an auction) Sliding scale commissions base the commission amount paid to the buyer broker upon the final agreed sales price. Here is an example, if the listing price is 500k, the seller might offer 3% to the buyer broker for a closed sale at 480k and up, 2.5% to the buyer broker with a sale of 460-480k, and 2% for anything below 460k. Basically, as the price goes down, so does the buyer broker’s commission.

Here is the problem with this system. The buyer broker has an obligation to try and acquire the best possible price for his client, not the seller. By offering a sliding scale commission, the seller is putting the buyer broker in an awful situation. Essentially, if the broker tries to do what is best for his client, he/she hurts himself.  The risk the seller takes in offering a sliding scale system is the broker may simply skip the property in order to avoid the future potential problem.

American West in Las Vegas brings in the New Year with a price drop

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, January 5th, 2009

American West currently has 9 Las Vegas communities throughout the Southwestern Valley and Henderson available for purchase. Entry level prices have been dropped to a staggering $89 per sq ft for the New Year.  In addition, American West New Home Construction purchases are free of Lids and Sids, including locations in Coronado Ranch, Highland Ranch, and Silverado Ranch.

Potential buyers should keep in mind that listed prices are not set in stone. Buyers can attempt to negotiate better pricing or better incentives. Historically, buyers will have more luck negotiating additional incentives rather than price. Builders want to protect other buyers they have in escrow from a loss in equity. Incentives to considering negotiating  include landscaping packages, upgrades such as granite countertops, carpet upgrades, etc… You can even discuss financing incentives, such as closing cost, buy downs, etc…

Centralized Showing Service in Texas

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Centralized Showing Service, commonly referred to as “CSS” is an extremely popular showing service used by most agents in the state of Texas. The 3 most popular areas for this service are Dallas/Ft Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Almost all full service brokerages set their listings through CSS. Basically, CSS is a 24/7 manned phone line that is always answered. When an agent calls, they give the operator their showing ID. Next, they give the operator the MLS # of the property they want to see. CSS will either call to set up the appt with the owner or give the agent whatever other instructions are needed. (such as lockbox, pets, vacant, etc..) The value of CSS is that they always answer the phone. It gives the buyer agent one point of contact they can rely upon. All in all, the real value of CSS is that it makes life easier on the buyer agent, especially when they are tackling multiple showings in one day. Congress Realty is proud to have contracts with CSS in all markets they cover in Texas and Colorado. If you are interested in adding your listing to CSS or have questions, give us a call anytime to discuss.