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Category Archive: ‘Listing Agent Practices’

Hire Jim to Sell Your House!

When a buyer’s agent calls the listing office to inquire about making an offer, the usual response is, “Send it in, and we’ll get back to you.” More questions don’t reveal much else, and the buyer’s agent is left wondering if there is any hope of selling a house.

There is big money being thrown around these days, and how your listing agent operates determines your fate.  Sellers should hire a agent who demonstrates what they do to sell your house for top dollar, not just process your paperwork.

Here’s an example of how I work:

Posted by on Jun 24, 2017 in About the author, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Thinking of Selling?, Why You Should List With Jim | 5 comments

Real Estate Marketing Movies

With so much focus on HGTV real estate shows, it’s inevitable that our marketing will go Hollywood too:

A woman in a red dress twirls with a dark and mysterious man through light-filled hallways. Music flutters and surges in a romantically lit courtyard overlooking the twinkling city. A mischievous coda plays, and then the credits roll.

It’s a classic scene plucked straight from Hollywood. But this eight-minute mini-movie is far from a silver-screen blockbuster.  It’s a real estate advertisement for an $8.5-million, 1.5-acre compound in Encino:

Successfully marketing a mansion now requires much more than panning shots from an iPhone or even expensive videos shot by drone. Real estate agents with luxury listings are now experimenting with full-on property movies — films featuring actors, story arcs, scores and Tinseltown-caliber cinematography.

“The classic old-school walking tour of the house is becoming more and more obsolete — with all the content that’s thrown at us these days, it’s hard to hold someone’s attention with that,” said Kristine May, who directed the Encino shoot and owns If I May Films in Woodland Hills. “People get attached to a story, and they want to stick around and see what’s happening.”

So what if the narrative and performances are sometimes more Razzie than Oscar? Real estate agents contend that movies showcase their properties in a way that helps buyers envision themselves there.

Real estate agent Ben Bacal, an early innovator of high-gloss property films, worked with married clients Ori and Nafisa Ayonmike to craft a $20,000 film to market their home in Hollywood.

The Ayonmikes star in a fictional narrative that begins with Ori skulking through the sleek, contemporary rooms of his 5,500-square-foot, five-bedroom estate. In the next 11 minutes, Ori tells Nafisa he wants a divorce, a passionate fight ensues, Ori gets kicked out and Nafisa chucks her massive diamond ring into the pool.

Amid all the high drama, production company Rafiki captures the home’s 20-foot ceilings, high-tech security system, marble fireplaces and tony Hollywood Hills neighborhood. The video of the property listed at $3.65 million has generated nearly 61,000 views since being posted on YouTube last year.

Online video platforms have become a key component in property sales. Some 36% of home buyers used YouTube, Vimeo or another video hosting website in their search last year, despite only 8% of real estate agents using film in their marketing strategies, according to the National Assn. of Realtors.

Bacal posted another movie trailer-esque listing video last year for a Bel-Air property, in which two children develop Ferris Bueller fevers and spend the day playing hooky. The pair splash in their infinity pool, shoot golf balls over the Los Angeles skyline from their lawn, try on outfits in their generous closets and have a puppy delivered by drone.

The 14,230-square-foot spread sold in December for $39 million.

Typically, the filmmaking cost is covered by either listing agents, sellers or both. Movie-style real estate videos can cost anywhere from $5,000 to upward of $30,000 to make, directors estimated.

Read full article here:

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/hot-property/la-fi-hp-movie-trailer-homes-20170624-story.html

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Realtor Training, The Future | 2 comments

Zillow Hardball?

On May 1st, Sandicor, our MLS for San Diego, began automatically uploading our listings to Zillow in an effort to improve accuracy.

This is how Zillow advertises the pending sales in Orange County, which is how they were presented in San Diego prior to May 1st:

They leave the list price at the top, which is helpful for searchers who knew the house was for sale but didn’t know the how much.

They make it clear that that the home is pending, which is good for their accuracy, and they mention the listing agent, with a phone number, along with the three-headed monster on the right.

Here is how Zillow has been marking our pending sales since May 1st:

If you were a casual observer, you wouldn’t learn much about this home.

  • No list price.
  • No ‘pending’ banner (or anything about it being for sale or not).
  • No listing-agent info (except I’ve learned to put my name in the first line of the remarks).
  • No three-headed monster (three agents who pay for advertising).

If you were told about a new listing on this street and checked Zillow for more info, they now give you nothing!  What’s worse is they have captured my photos and remarks, but now prevent me from editing.

It’s not just me – I checked some of highest-spending Zillow agents, and they are getting the same treatment.

Is it just an oversight in the transition?

After a couple of inquiries, a Zillow rep did respond today, and said I should probably check with my MLS to fix it.  Thanks a million.

There is a work-around. Join the CRMLS (which provides the MLS for the rest of Southern California), input your listings there, and then Zillow will reflect them when pending.

Until then, our listing accuracy has gone backwards in San Diego!

It may not seem like much, but listing agents are judged by their online presence. When potential sellers see our listings without prices, for-sale status, or even the listing agent mentioned, they will think that we won’t be doing much for them either.  But it is out of our control – Sandicor and Zillow are running this circus!

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Zillow | 3 comments

‘Craziest’ Markets

From realtor.com:

“With a record number of home buyers out there, this is officially the most competitive, fastest-moving spring housing market in decades,” said Javier Vivas, manager of economic research at realtor.com. “Following a furious start to the season, the median days on market for homes on realtor.com in May is the lowest since the end of the recession, and marks the first time that 1 in 3 homes is selling in under 30 days nationally.”

The median age of properties on realtor.com in May is 60 days, which indicates that properties are selling five days (8%) faster than this time last year, and two days faster than last month.

“The lack of affordable inventory remains a critical issue, particularly for a growing number of first-time home buyers and millennials lining up for starter homes and urban dwellings.”

So where in the U.S. are things the craziest—those places where homes fly off the market the fastest, and buyers are up all hours, clicking on listings? When we pulled together this month’s list of the hottest markets in the country, the top markets were a one-two punch for the Bay Area, with San Francisco (including nearby Oakland and Hayward) at No. 2 and Vallejo, just to the north, at No. 1.

I don’t think a faster-moving market is crazy – instead, the tight inventories have caused us to naturally evolve to quicker pace.  It’s not just the buyers – agents, lenders, appraisers, and inspectors all move faster now, and you could say, ‘it’s about time’.

Words like ‘craziest’ are just headline porn – the market evolution is on track.

Is there a potential benefit to slowing it down?

Agents dig the face pace – buyers and sellers have less time to think, and deals close quicker so we can get on to the next one.

How would sellers and buyers benefit from slowing down the process, and how could it happen?

Imagine if we eliminated the ‘Coming Soon’, ‘Sold Before Processing’, and other ways that agents wrongly tilt the table.  Instead, we adopt an industry-wide standard process for selling homes so everyone has a crack at buying each house.  After all, shouldn’t that be in place already?

If everyone knew that the seller would pick the buyer on Friday afternoon (or some other deadline), then we’d have an open, honest, and predictable marketplace.  If we added a open bidding process at the deadline, the resulting transparency would help even more.

The frantic running-around today is from agents abusing the system, which causes buyers to pull their hair out every time they lose a property unfairly.  They are determined to get the next one, no matter the cost, because they abhor the way they are treated.

You could say that the realtors’ unethical behavior that has helped to create the frenzy does benefit the sellers.  Most will say that as long as sellers benefit, then all is good.

But is it a long-term solution?

We will eventually run out of buyers who are willing to put up with this environment.  Then what, another dip?  Great.

The conversion to The Slow-Down Plan outlined above (adopting a industry-wide process for selling homes) is our soft landing.  If we continue at a break-neck speed with no solution in sight, won’t we crash….again?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor Training, The Future | 5 comments

Price Coaching

A friend is trying to buy a house on the east coast, and finds himself in…..guess what…..another bidding war.

He was hoping the listing agent would give him some help.

He asked, “What will it take to win?”, which is a logical question. But of course, the agent told him that she couldn’t answer that question, and for him to make his best offer and let the chips fall where they may.  We’ll call that blind bidding.

But isn’t it in the seller’s best interest to administer the most effective process in order to achieve a top-dollar sale?  If buyers have a price to shoot at, or some pricing hints, it is more likely they will respond favorably.

An open auction is the ideal solution.  The competing bids are out in the open, and animal spirits take over.  The environment changes from buyers wanting to pay their price, to doing whatever it takes to win the contest.

We have a long ways to go before open auctions become routine.  In the meantime, listing agents can be transparent and help both buyers and sellers.

But agents are only familiar with blind bidding, and just hold out hope that a buyer might go crazy and submit a bid way over the list price – which could happen if the property was deliberately under-priced.  But the vast majority of properties are priced at retail – on those, there are multiple offers submitted due to the lack of other quality choices, not because the price is too low.

With blind bidding, offerors will only bid a little higher and hope to keep the purchase price in line with comps.  If they don’t know what the other offers are, and are bidding blindly, it is natural for them to be conservative – especially when you consider we are probably in the later stages of our bull market. Buyers are miffed at the lack of transparency, and only add a little extra mustard to their original offer.

As a result, with blind bidding, sellers are leaving money on the table.

Why do we allow this?  It’s because it’s the way we have always done it.

Listing agents should provide transparency to buyers, and let the animal spirits take over.  Buyers would appreciate the candor, and bid with abandon to win the property.

It’s an old wives’ tale that we aren’t allowed to share the other offers with every buyer. But I challenge anyone to show us where it says that sharing offers is forbidden.

This is at the bottom of our required Form PRBS:

We disclose to every buyer that their offer may not be confidential, and they agree.  Why, then, do agents insist that they can’t share the information?

It’s because they aren’t comfortable with conducting a slow-motion auction.

They’ve never done it before, they’ve never heard of it, and it is too easy to just take a blind bid that might be slightly over their list price.  That’s good enough, isn’t it?

No, it’s not.

Of course the sellers deserve top dollar, yet we refuse to employ the best strategy to achieve it. Don’t get me started on how many properties we see that are “Sold Before Processing”, where the listing agent tilts the table to avoid any bidding war.

But it is also not fair to the buyers.

How many buyers have you heard say, “I would have paid that much”, after a sale closes.    Both sellers AND buyers deserve better…..but are agents going to put in the extra effort?

Get Good Help!

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in Bidding Wars, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor | 3 comments

Do We Need A List Price?

There was quite a bit of hubbub this week about the Zillow Instant Offers program being tested in two cities. Seller inquiries are sent to as many as 15 investors plus a Premier Agent, who gets to make their own pitch for the business – and one realtor reported that she has already received 48 inquiries!

LINK

If that is behind the paywall, the article can be summed up by saying that the agent has submitted proposals to the seller leads, but none have responded. She will knock on some doors to see if she can drum up some business, and she is willing to shepherd the sellers through an investor deal for $1,500.

But why restrict the offers to just 15 investors and one agent?

Let’s let everyone have a shot at it!

Everyone could make an offer if Zillow had a ‘Submit Your Offer Here’ button.

They have the Make Me Move feature already, but that’s where the seller states the price they want. If their was no list price, like some of the commercial brokers do (see image at top), sellers could conduct their own price discovery.  Who knows, maybe they would receive an appealing deal or two?

Our list price gives potential buyers some guidance.  But do they need guidance?  And if there was no list price, might they be willing to pay more than the sellers expected?

The result would be a slow-moving auction, with agents having plenty of opportunities to plug in and provide value to buyers and sellers.

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, The Future, Zillow | 0 comments

Real Estate Made for TV

People want to see cut-throat realtors! Video here:

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/05/18/orange-county-real-estate-wars-to-debut-on-bravo-tv-july-6/

“Real Estate Wars,” a Bravo-TV reality show pitting Orange County agents against one another as they try to woo wealthy clients and settle bitter scores against a backdrop of luxury homes, will debut on Thursday, July 6 at 10 p.m.

The show “brings the cut-throat world of real estate in Orange County to life,” Bravo said in its announcement on Thursday, May 18. “With 10 agents, eccentric clients, multi-million dollar deals, old vendettas, and one common goal of winning, all is fair in real estate and war.”

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Realtors Talking Shop | 1 comment

The Future of Selling Homes

The onslaught of new-fangled ways to sell homes is getting bogged down in their own zeal – there are so many choices now, which way do you go?  You have the sexy off-market package driven by celebrity realtors above, or the typical new-age mobile app at a discount below:


Find Home from Reali on Vimeo.

The Winners?

  1.  The widget that spends $100 million/year on advertising.
  2.  Single agency.

The scarcity of sales should drive more agents out of the business, and the those agents who remain will be increasingly focused on putting their own buyers and sellers together.

We have the listing agents who hold listings off-market in order to find their own buyer, but there are also agents who will do ‘sold before processing’ with an outside agent. This happens quite frequently.

If a listing agent isn’t going to round-trip the commission, and instead let a second agent represent the buyer – why wouldn’t you do what is best for your own client (the seller), and expose it to all agents via the MLS?

An old veteran agent told me that he hoped he would sell his new listing before MLS input, and he did – and an outside agent represented the buyer.  The house had been vacant for years so there wasn’t an occupant who held up the showings – all he had to do was install a lockbox, take a few photos with his phone, and spend 15-30 minutes doing the MLS input.

He did input the listing onto the MLS after he found the buyer, so was it the installing of the lockbox and taking a few photos too much of a burden?

Why wouldn’t he do what is best for his seller?

He must either be flat out lazy, or he wanted everyone on the MLS to see that he was the latest to breach his fiduciary duty.  It is like a badge of honor!

The realtor business is slowly eroding right before our eyes.

Save

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Frenzy, Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Realtor, Realtor Training | 0 comments