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Category Archive: ‘Why You Should List With Jim’

No Excuses

Recently a seller (through their listing agent) was justifying their full-price counter-offer with a pending model-match that they said was in escrow at $15,000 OVER its list price.

The pending listing was in an inferior location and had no obvious features that would compel someone to pay over list price.  It had been on the market for almost 3 months, was ‘re-freshed’, and then still took another month to find the buyer.

Last week it closed for $42,000 UNDER the list price.

Three thoughts:

1.  If it ain’t closed, it doesn’t count.  There could have been an excited buyer in the beginning who got suckered into paying over list, but when the market is getting a little crumbly around the edges, buyers are more likely to come to their senses a few days later.  However, that seller had likely told his neighbors about his good fortune by then, and the braggadocio spreads quickly.

2.  There are a lot of new agents.  Since the frenzy began, over 50,000 real estate licenses have been issued in the state.  These agents have only known a frenzy condition, and are used to telling their buyers to offer over list.  But they haven’t had much experience with keeping a deal together.

3.  Revelations about the sale are not required to be disclosed in the MLS.  There is a ‘Concessions’ box in the MLS for listing agents to complete when marking a listing sold, but it’s a suggestion, not a requirement.

Regardless of what actually happened, once the sales price is published, it becomes the #1 fact that buyers will use to make decisions about what to pay for the next house.  Zillow and the other portals don’t have an ‘excuse box’ for anyone to clarify what happened in a sale – and if they did, buyers would still want to shrug them off.

Putting a value on an house is an inexact science, and everyone has a different opinion.  Future buyers will always look to skew down the value of the comps – even if there was a good explanation for a low sale, it won’t get full traction.

Get good help!

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 3 comments

National MLS and The Future

There has been a movement within the industry to create a broker-owned MLS to compete with Zillow/Trulia.  I’m not sure they see it as competing with Zillow/Trulia – but that will be the eventual contest, unless they can co-exist.

The cost to create and maintain such a website is one issue. But the other is the advertising of other agents on my listings.  Unlike Zillow, the new National Broker MLS website will only allow the listing agents to be displayed on each listing – see the discussion here:

Whether the big brokerages recognize it or not, buyer representation is being elbowed out, and we are barreling towards single agency.

Eventually there will just be the big listing teams that dominate the portals, and buyer inquiries directed to the in-house ‘buyer agents’.  But with those being mostly newer agents who work for the listing agent, there won’t be much actual ‘representation’ delivered to the buyer.

Buyers will be instructed to pay the seller’s price, or hit the road.  The end result isn’t much different than it is now, with so many sellers today willing to wait for their price.

With less-rigorous pricing and agents pulling for the sellers only, buyers will be left to their own devices.  Will the National MLS, Zillow, HGTV, or other sources give buyers enough to be comfortable without representation?  Probably, because buyers don’t know what they don’t know.

Zillow and the other portals are helping to take the place of real buyer agents.  As a result, buyers will just hunt for houses that make them feel good, confirm online that the price is within a reasonable distance of the last comp, and place their order with the listing team.

The environment will favor the flippers, and anyone else who pours fix-up money into their house before selling.  How many times do you see a flipper or a turn-key property get an extra bump in price just because they look so good?  It happens a lot today, and it should keep going in that direction.

In the meantime, the buyers will be under-represented, if at all.

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Listing Agent Practices, The Future, Why You Should Hire Jim as your Buyer's Agent, Why You Should List With Jim | 5 comments

TDS Exempt


The phrase ‘TDS Exempt’ is seen in listing remarks – what does it mean?

TDS stands for Transfer Disclosure Statement, which is our regular form used by sellers to disclose everything they know about the property and neighborhood.

The most common example of who might be exempt from using the form are sellers who have inherited the property.  The common belief is that those sellers are exempt from disclosing, but that is not true.

All sellers are required to disclose anything they know about the property.  If they happen to be TDS Exempt, it only means they don’t have to use the form.

It doesn’t make much sense, but it is, what it is.

The form does ask probing questions to jog the memory and elicit a response, so all sellers should review it and decide if they have anything to disclose.

Agents are never exempt from disclosing what they know, or what they would find during a normal visual inspection.

Posted by on Apr 25, 2015 in Why You Should List With Jim | 0 comments

‘Coming Soon’ Effects

2015-04-24 08.31.32

Realtors aren’t known for being longheaded – they just do what they see everyone else doing.  In an industry that is virtually unregulated and has no leaders, we are left with a full assortment of real estate practices – AKA the wild, wild west.

Recently, a client called me about a house that had a ‘Coming Soon’ sign in front.  I called the phone number on the sign, and of course had to leave a message.  The listing agent did call back, and said that the home wasn’t able to be seen for two weeks.

I called my potential buyers back, and here’s what we covered:

1.  We googled the address, hoping the agent would have uploaded the listing with vivid new photos to Zillow, or perhaps we’d find it on the company website.  But no new listing was found.

I checked the address in the MLS, and found that it had been sold just a few short years ago – and previous photos were still available.  They were the typical photos, done with an instamatic camera on a dark day with lights off.  The photos mostly featured bedding fashions from 15-20 years ago.

My buyers’ initial enthusiasm started to fade.

2.  We then hit Google Maps to gather as much intel as we could from the sky.  But as usual in tract neighborhoods, it looked like there wasn’t much yard, and neighbors were close by and imposing.  By now, I could hear their high hopes flying out the window.

3.  The new list price seemed to be in line, but, as usual, our conversation steered to the six-figure gain above what the sellers paid for it.  Did they do any major improvements to warrant such a jackpot?

If the price is the same as others nearby, chances are that no improvements were made – otherwise the sellers would insist on pricing higher than everyone else.  So we came to another logical conclusion – in two weeks we are going to see virtually the same house as when the sellers bought it, at the higher price.

4.  Annoyed and disappointed, we wondered why an agent would be so casual about throwing out a ‘Coming Soon’ sign.  The frustration in the marketplace turns people into skeptics quickly, and the obvious conclusion was that the agent’s intent was to find their own buyer, and double-end the commission.

The end result? My motivated buyers talked themselves right out of buying this house.  We’ll probably check it out eventually, but we already expect to find an original-looking house with small yard surrounded by neighboring houses being offered by greedy sellers and an agent we don’t know if we can trust.

Buyers prefer to see a house right away, but are used to having to wait a bit.  Thus, the Coming Soon sign should go up 1-2 days before showings commence, not two weeks – all that does is encourage buyers to forget about it.

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Why You Should List With Jim | 4 comments

Silent Lowballs

We talk about how hot the market is, but not every seller is enjoying the benefit.  Of the 850 NSDCC houses for sale, 41% of them have been on the market for 60 days or longer – and that’s not counting those that have been ‘refreshed’.  These are ripe for a lowball offer.

But we live in a very polite marketplace, where buyers and agents alike are so concerned about offending people.  You rarely see an offer that is more than 5% under list price, and it’s because buyers just figure that the seller wouldn’t take it, so instead they keep looking.

The agents working with buyers tend to be newer agents, and they don’t want to offend any of the seasoned listing agents either.

But lowball deals happen.

Have you seen a sale close for a price well under the list, and say to yourself, “Dang, I would have paid that amount”.

It’s usually a home that has been on the market for a long time and been forgotten, usually because the seller was reluctant to lower the price.  Finally a lowball offer comes in and, well, heck – they just sign it out of frustration.

Many times the lowballer approaches the listing agent directly.  The agent, motivated by the double-commission, then has to coax the seller down in price.

The sellers, who haven’t seen any other offers and are left to their own devices, make the deal – convinced it’s all they can get.

Note to Sellers:  If you have a lowball offer on the table that you are thinking of taking, pause and take a breath.  Then lower your price to the midpoint between your current list price, and their offer price for 24 hours, to see if any other bidders emerge.

There might be some polite buyers who would be happy to pay more than the lowballer, if they only knew you might take less!

Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Why You Should List With Jim | 8 comments

JtR Back in the Ranch


Recently improved with over $80,000 in upgrades, this 4,952sf Tuscan estate on 2.11 acres in Hacienda Santa Fe has the master suite downstairs for easy living, plus four other bedrooms and den.  The backyard is ideal for kids, with a huge grass area surrounding the pool with waterfall – and you can have a horse too!

We will be open Tuesday from 1-4pm – stop by.






Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Jim's Take on the Market, Listing Agent Practices, Rancho Santa Fe, Why You Should List With Jim | 1 comment