One of the more-accurate forecasters is predicting that home prices will start dropping:
Strong home purchase demand in the first quarter of 2020, coupled with tightening supply, has helped prop up home prices through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. However, the anticipated impacts of the recession are beginning to appear across the housing market. Despite new contract signings rising year over year in May, home price growth is expected to stall in June and remain that way throughout the summer. CoreLogic HPI Forecast predicts a month-over-month price decrease of 0.1% in June and a year-over-year decline of 6.6% by May 2021.
Unlike the Great Recession, the current economic downturn is not driven by the housing market, which continues to post gains in many parts of the country. While activity up until now suggests the housing market will eventually bounce back, the forecasted decline in home prices will largely be due to elevated unemployment rates. This prediction is exacerbated by the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Expecting prices to fall that quickly is flawed, however.
They are ignoring that for home prices to go down, we would need a load – probably a majority – of sellers who are willing to sell for less than the last guy got. In addition, it would take realtors who recognize what’s needed, and be able to properly advise their sellers on lower pricing.
It ain’t going to happen.
Listing agents only have one pitch – to berate the buyer agents into paying the seller’s price. If we ever get to the point where buyers object to the constantly-rising prices, and/or we run out of buyers altogether, then there will be a long stall before sellers and agents re-calibrate.
Recognizing that a shift in pricing is needed will be hampered by all the usual excuses.
The seller retorts of “I’m In No Rush”, “I Don’t Need to Sell”, and the classic, “I’m Not Going to Give It Away”, will be doused with coronavirus blame before any sellers – even the desperate ones – would consider selling for less than what they think they deserve.
Sales will slow first, so keep an eye on them – but it would take 1-2 years of stallout before sellers and agents start believing that they might not get their price.
This is one of the better options I’ve seen for touring a home remotely.
The live tour would be similar to showing the home in person because of the open discussion between buyers and agent, and the recording of the event is especially helpful for reviewing later! https://www.homeroverapp.com/
Are we at the point where buyers only tour the homes in person that are the real contenders? Yes!
Our MLS is going to provide a Coming Soon feature, which will fluster the agents who say that the Coming Soons build anticipation (like a movie trailer) and test pricing, but who then use the concept to circumvent the MLS and instead advertise directly to the consumer in hopes of double-ending the commission.
The Coming Soon status launches in San Diego Paragon Tuesday, May 19th. From that day forward, when entering listings for sale in San Diego Paragon, you may choose between Active and Coming Soon.
To prepare for this launch, Paragon will undergo scheduled maintenance from 10:00 PM PT Monday, May 18th to 6:00 AM PT on Tuesday, May 19th – a total of eight hours. Paragon will be unavailable during this time. Below is a brief video to help you understand the details of this status.
How does Coming Soon work?
Coming Soon allows listing agents to take up to 21 days to stage the property, take interior photos, prepare it for showings, and so on, without Days on Market accruing.
How is Coming Soon similar to Active?
– Marketing is allowed in both statuses, so long as Coming Soon listings are clearly marked as Coming Soon.
– Both Coming Soon and Active listings are fully displayed to other professional users of MLS systems.
– The listing agent offers a commission on both Coming Soon and Active listings.
How is Coming Soon unique?
– Coming Soon listings have limited distribution: they will not go out from the MLS to portals like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, or to IDX broker and agent websites.
– Showings are not permitted in Coming Soon.
– Because of these limitations, Days on Market do not count in Coming Soon.
We’ve touched on two differences that the coronavirus is causing in residential real estate sales; the cumbersome arrangements now required just to see a house for sale, and how wearing masks will help buyers hide their interest in a home.
What else is changing?
The real estate flyers are gone now, and public open houses are heading for extinction too – and the 3D tours are being heralded as a worthy substitute. It’s too bad too, because the industry never fully grasped the biggest benefit of open houses – helping to create urgency in the buyers, especially when the home is fresh on the market.
The 3D tours are very crafty, and buyers should love them for offering maximum convenience within minutes – or seconds. Sellers don’t have to leave their house every Sunday afternoon, and agents won’t have to work weekends any more.
What’s wrong with that?
Have you ever seen a perfect house? Me neither.
The 3D tour allows the viewer to scroll around the home at their own pace, which is a plus. But it’s too easy for viewers to give up when they see something unusual or have trouble navigating.
You gotta give the house a chance.
Rather than relying on a thorough walk-around with an agent who is explaining every nuance, the home-buying decisions will be based on fancy imagery on a computer screen.
Won’t the interested parties pursue an in-home visit? Yes, and they are the most likely real buyers.
But it’s the internet viewers who click out too quickly who will miss out – and fewer buyers relying on less information isn’t a positive for home sales. Instead, the sales process gets dumbed down further, and those who support the 3D tours as an adequate substitute for agent advice are contributing to the downfall.
It’s all going that way anyway, but at least you can say you saw it coming!
One of the most insane MLS rules prevents agents from including videos in the remarks. The MLS police is afraid that agents will slip in their contact information, and buyers will rush to purchase direct from the listing agent – but they can do that anyway. How hard is it to find a listing agent’s phone number in 2020?
Our MLS is temporarily allowing virtual tours and virtual open houses, but let’s hope it will be a permanent change. The real estate world is well on the way to eliminating the buyer-agents that provide no value, and those that give good advice don’t have to worry about losing a client to a video message.
In addition, allowing video tours in the remarks would cause more agents to do them!
The California Association of Realtors published their coronavirus addendum/amendment today.
Those with an existing contract aren’t obligated to sign it, but they mentioned the ‘Force Majeure Clause’, which is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, plague, or an event described by the legal term act of God(hurricane, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.
I did whip through our standard contract, but didn’t find the words “force majeure” anywhere in the text, but it is probably in the Civil Code. In practice, most force majeure clauses do not excuse a party’s non-performance entirely, but only suspend it for the duration of the force majeure.
The CAR form suggests a 30-day extension, but whatever works for you. If the good-faith deposit is at risk, they are asking the sellers nicely to give it back to the buyers if they can’t qualify due to COVID-19 issues.
Glad to see the NAR promoting this point – considering what other agents think of you:
David Weldon empathized with his client’s growing desperation to sell her home, a three-bedroom house in Southern California’s Riverside County. But he was uncomfortable about her suggestion for boosting the listing’s appeal.
The seller listed the home with Weldon last July at a list price of $600,000. After nearly 70 days on the market, the property hadn’t received an offer she would accept. She also was under contract to purchase another property contingent on the sale of her home, which added to the pressure. The seller asked Weldon, a broker-associate at RE/MAX One in Moreno Valley, Calif., to take steps that sounded to him like “gaming the MLS” to draw more eyes to her listing and get it sold faster.
She had learned from another agent in a prior transaction that there are ways to manipulate MLS data to the seller’s advantage. Loopholes in many MLS systems make it possible for real estate professionals to reset a property’s recorded days on market—making a listing appear newer than it is—or surface a home on an MLS’s “hot sheets” with, say, a $100 reduction in list price. While these practices can help raise the visibility of listings in the MLS, they’re also deceptive marketing techniques that have the effect of skewing real-time MLS data—a problem the real estate industry is working to solve—and cast a poor light on agent professionalism.
“The MLS platform is not the tool to refresh a listing,” says Rene Galicia, director of MLS engagement at the National Association of REALTORS®. “You’re not treating the underlying issue—perhaps you need to revisit your pricing strategy, for example—if you’re relying on gaming the system to get action on your listing.”
Weldon says it’s not uncommon for agents in his market to inappropriately cancel and resubmit a listing to the MLS with an inconsequential edit to the property’s address—such as changing “Street” to “St.”—which resets days on market in the system. That’s the type of action his seller was requesting.
“There’s no way to do what the seller was asking me to do that I’m comfortable with,” Weldon says. “I said, ‘You want me to cancel the contract and start over after I’ve put in a considerable amount of time marketing your property.’?” When his client was unrelenting, Weldon decided to end his professional relationship with her. The seller relisted with another agent, and as of mid-January, the property had been on the market for 106 days—more than a month longer than Weldon had the home listed.
Your Good Name Is on the Line
While not necessarily a violation of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, these types of tactics may “work against the duty of honesty in Article 1, and the ‘true picture’ mandate for all advertising, marketing, and other representations in Article 12,” says Rodney Gansho, NAR’s director of engagement and staff executive to the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee.
Not all practitioners see it that way, though. “In some markets, people consider these practices to be wrong, while in other markets, it’s tolerated,” Gansho says. “Most agents can look up a property’s history to see exactly what’s changed or when it was first put on the market, so gaming the MLS is a limited strategy anyway.”
Galicia takes particular exception to the idea of lowering a list price by a minuscule amount to boost its standing on MLS hot sheets. “Most MLS technology will display the dollar amount of the price reduction, and savvy consumers can see that a $100 price drop is not a legitimate strategy,” he says. “If a listing shows up on a hot sheet all the time, that could be a sign of data manipulation rather than true changes to the terms of the listing itself.”
Such a pricing strategy also could damage your reputation with other agents who find it offensive and could ultimately hurt your ability to find a buyer. “I’ve seen properties reduced by $1,” says Dan Halperin, GRI, an agent with Gagliardo Realty Associates in River Forest, Ill. “It’s just a waste of everybody’s time. It irritates clients, and it doesn’t leave a good impression on the public.” Halperin adds that many of his buyers feel an urgency to be among the first to visit a new listing, so he keeps a watchful eye on turnover in the MLS. “I want to be able to tell my clients whether it’s been listed six times or had several price drops in the past,” he says. “I want them to know when it’s not the hot property they think it is.”
So what’s a smarter approach? Instead of resorting to MLS gaming tactics, focus on using professional listing photos from the start and adding virtual home tours and floor plans to listings in order to refresh them, Galicia recommends. Gansho encourages agents to revamp listing descriptions as a way to capture interest from people who may have previously overlooked your listing. These changes won’t appear on an MLS hot sheet, but sharper marketing may get buyers to pay closer attention.
The new C.A.R. forms for 2020 are available, and the most interesting is the MLS-exclusion form in light of the NAR Clear Cooperation policy that begins on May 1st.
Last year I asked the C.A.R. lead attorney about their stand on Coming-Soon and off-market listings, and Gov said it is up to the brokerages. Their new form reflects it too – they have left it optional for agents sellers to choose to comply:
The form does a better job disclosing the listing-agent shenanigans, and makes them a choice for the seller. But will the listing agent discuss the choices? Or just write it up and send for sigs? The sellers just want their money – they assume their agent will be implementing the best ideas to achieve top dollar.
On May 1st, the Clear Cooperation policy will be in effect, which was intended to discourage off-market sales. But in paragraph 9A you will see that office exclusives are permitted, which will legitimize selling properties in-house. The realtor shops with the most listings will prosper if they pitch them hard to their fellow agents – and most already have an internal marketing system to facilitate.
There is an argument that off-MLS sales are good for the seller because the buyers are pressured to pay all the money before the property goes on the open market.
But off-MLS sales add some uncertainties:
Did the buyers steal it, or did they over-pay?
Were there other buyers that would have paid more?
Are the off-MLS sales legitimate comps for the next guy (seller or buyer)?
Are we still committed to sharing our listings with other agents?
The MLS will still exist, and be the market of last resort because the best properties with the best prices will be sold in-house, or to the aggressive, professional salespeople.
Richard just procured a new sale for his investor client by calling agents who had sold similar properties recently. One told him that he did have a Coming-Soon that was a 6-cap, and gave him the address. Richard hustled his buyer over to the property and promptly submitted an offer, which got accepted yesterday!
Why are Coming-Soon/off-market sales attractive to listing agents? Because they can save time and money on marketing, and hurry up to the next deal. But that selfishness will change the landscape for buyers and buyer-agents, and both will need to be well-connected to succeed.
The National Association of Realtors is attempting to regulate a change in the Coming Soon environment – see above. The way it is written, however, will just take us back to the days when off-market deals were done behind closed doors because they are permitting the ‘office exclusives’.
Coming Soons were the industry’s public admission that we do off-market deals, and to give you a chance to get your piece of them. But now the N.A.R. wants brokerages to pick a lane.
1. Comply with the new rule, and change the name of your off-market deals to ‘office exclusives’, where no one can see them.
2. Don’t do anything, and pretend that off-market deals aren’t happening at your shop.
3. Declare publicly that off-market deals are a vital part of your business, and keep marketing them as Coming Soons to the public, in spite of any changes in the N.A.R. rules. What are they going to do?
Numbers 1 & 2 above are the less-transparent choices, and the easier way to go for the agents who justify their off-market deals by saying the seller got what they wanted.
Number 3 is the fully-transparent admission of the truth – agents like to pad their wallets with off-market deals, and don’t see anything wrong with that.
Off-market deals aren’t going away, regardless of the rules. The existing rules already state that all listings are to be inputted onto the MLS within 48 hours, but it gets ignored and there is no policing or penalties.
It’s better for everyone involved – agents, buyers, and especially sellers – to put every listing onto the MLS to ensure full exposure so everyone can compete. Buyers would feel they had an equal chance to buy, sellers get top dollar, and all agents get a fair chance to earn a paycheck.
But N.A.R. and the industry’s upper management looks the other way. It will take a class-action lawsuit or new regulations from the federal government to bring real change.
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