Thursday, July 27, 2006

How to Sell Your Home when Prices are Falling

I guess it's now official. The real estate bubble has burst. When the inventory figures for homes show they are going up nationwide AND it's in the national media, you can be sure that it's already been happening for a few months now. The NY Times and Jouranl and just about every other news outlet decided today that it was a story - so I guess it's official.

Those of us in the real estate business have known it for the last 3 months and we could have told you so. We have sales figures and "time on market" statistics that can back up our claims. We have been telling successful sellers what's happening and how to price their homes accordingly. Now - 3 months later, the media is catching on.

The story is that the supply of homes on the market is rising and the number of buyers isn't. What that means to you is that your home will sit on the market longer without selling. In fact, two of the articles I've read state simply that it would take over 6 months to sell all the homes currently for sale. What they leave out is that more homes come on the market every day, further increasing the glut.

As the number of homes on the market increases, it takes further price reductions to get some of those homes to sell quicker, which, in turn, lowers the reflected market price of all homes. Sellers will wait and wait and then lower their price - too late. What they don't realize is that they are chasing the market down.

The market price of their home goes down and then they lower their price just above the market price and wait. While they wait, the market price goes down further, putting them farther and farther away from the market value, until they lower the price again.

So, as a seller, what should you do right now?

Simple, lower your price to a point that is BELOW the current market value. Ask your agent to take some time and do a good market analysis to get a feel for what your home is worth right now. Then, price it below that number. If you do this, you will have hungry and willing buyers lining up to make offers on your home... but only for a short time in a falling market. If you wait too long, and the market coninues to drop, then you will be priced above the market again and have to reassess the situation.

The smart thing to do is price your home low and let the market come to you, rather than chasing the market down. One strategy results in buyers, the other results in foreclosures. But you have to decide which strategy to persue.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Can my Agent Give me a Rebate?

I hear this questions a lot in the daily real estate game, "can you give us part of our fee back after the closing?"

The answer is yes but only if done in a certain way.

RESPA, the Real Estate Settlement Procdures Acts, requires a couple of things that need to be mentioned. The first thing is that payment cannot be made for services not performed. The second one is that if any payments are made, they must be disclosed on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement.

Futher, Alabama License Law, and most states License Laws, require that no "rebate" be made to any party in a real estate transaction from another party. Another section of the code also requires that the TRUE terms of a real estate transaction be diclosed to the lender or lending institution.

What does all this mean? For starters, if your agent says they can give you cash back after the closing, in nearly every case, this is both against case law and the license law governing the licensees in your state. So - in short - don't do it. If you are a participant in a transaction and you recieve cash back later, after the closing takes place, then you are participating in loan fraud. Fraud is a crime. Because the lender didn't know that you were receiving additional cash proceeds from the sale, they are not aware of the TRUE details of the transaction. Alomst every loan program for the purchase of a home has the provision that the buyer cannot receive what is called "cash out" - that is - get money back when they make a purchase. This, in essence, would be overfinancing the home. on a refinance, however, this is okay.

The way to get a credit back from your agent is to have the credit put on the settlement statement as a CREDIT to you and then the credit is applied to any costs you have to pay at the closing table. This applies whether you are buying or selling.

Basic Rule of them: If you can put the cash payment on the HUD-1 settlement statement so that it is disclosed to all parties, including the lender, chances are it's AOK to do it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Which Agent will YOU choose?

Almost any source you looki at will tel you that between 80% and 90% of For Sale By Owners will eventually list their home with a real estate agent. There are a myriad of reasons why this happens but it all boils down to this: agents have the inside track on attracting buyer traffic to the home. They also do it full time so that even when the seller is gone to work, the house is still "for sale" and can be shown.

So, if you find yourself thinking of hiring an agent, which one should you hire?

First of all, consider paying the highest price for a good agent. Interview several of them and then ask them to cut their fee. The one that refuses to is probably your best bet. Why? When it comes to selling your home and getting your proce, you want an agent who is NOT a noodle...someone with a little back bone. If they won't cut their fee and they promise a higher level of service and service quality, then they will also negotiate the hardest in the trenches when people are trying to cut your price on your home.

Second: if the agent you call doesn't answer their phone or call back within a half hour - stop trying to get them. If they don't answer or call back when you try to call them for an interview, what makes you think they will answer calls from buyers for your home?

Lastly, when you are doing the interview and listening to the agent's marketing plan, look for the things that are different. If you talk to 2 agents and they pretty much do the same things... a sign, MLS, and a few ads... keep talking to more agents. What you are looking for is the agent who has a unique approach or ads value by adding unique tools. Agents that use the talking house transmitter or a 24 hour hotline system are some examples. If the agent you hire isn't doing extra things to make your home stand out in the marketplace, you are just going to get the same ole, same ole. Look for something different.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Generating Online Interest in Your Property

The internet is all the rage when it comes to real estate. According to the National Association of Realtors, when a buyer starts thinking of buying, the first place they turn is the internet. Just 10 years ago - it was getting in the car and driving around.

With gasoline prices approaching $3 a gallon, more and more people will search online first before they do any driving.

So - if you are an agent or a seller, how do you get your property noticed online?

Let's talk about being an agent first. If you are with a national franchise and/or your company is affiliated with the local board of Realtors, there is a good chance that your listings will get streamed to is the #1 property search engine in the world and just keeps getting bigger and better. The site is ranked by as the #8 site - in the WORLD. That's pretty big. Real estate agents already have this site in their favor.

As a home seller, you do not have such an advantage. You can either buy into one of the FSBO (For Sale By Owner) products out there that will put your home on the internet for you, or you can put up your own site and sales page for your home. Of course, if someone is searching for a home in your area, and your site doesn't come up on the first page or two of the major search engines, no one will ever see it.

With people shopping more online and doing less driving around, it puts todays home sellers (those selling without an agent) at a pretty big disadvantage. If they would list their home with an agent whose company has a popular internet presence, their home would sell a lot faster because of the increased exposure.

Our company site is such a site. If you go to Google and search on "Birmingham Alabama Homes for Sale", you will see that the Access Realty site comes in at #3 or #4 on the first page. That's a huge advantage for anyone who wants to sell a home in Birmingham.

One other way to sell a home is to generate a large roster of interested buyers. This can be accomplished online by setting up what are called mini-sites designed to capture llists of people who are currently in the market for a home. This works great for real estate agents but may not work so well with a seller of just one home. You can get more information on these mini-sites and how to accomplish this HERE. As I said before, this type of buyer generation works extremely well these days because almost everyone shops online before getting in the car and driving around looking for homes.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Is it a Buyer's Market?

Times have definitely changed in the last year in most parts of the country. I'm in Birmingham, Alabama and we are lucky to have 3 new automoblie maufacturing plants located in a triangle around our city.

But - if you are in an area that doesn't have commodities or heavy industry (two sectors that are doing well right now), what is your market like?

Chances are - you're in a "Buyer's Market".

What does that mean exactly? It means that there is more inventory than there are potential customers for that inventory. just like in the stock market - when almost everyone is selling and few are buying - the stock price will go down.

Many seller's think that because they paid a certain amount for a property, they can get at least that amount when they sell. Sadly, this leads to overpricing and a long, long wait until they sell much later at a lower price. My best advice is to find a real estate agent who will tell you the truth about market conditions and back it up with recent sales prices of similar home.

Last week, I was driving around Destin, Florida. Every third home was for sale. Auctions were common. Prices escalated in the area for 5 years and then they reached a top. What's happening now? The seller's are "holding out" for their price as more and more homes come on the market at significant discounts to what they are asking. The bottom line is that the sellers who put their homes on the market first are going to take a big hit.

As time goes on and the market is flooded with inventory, prices will go down and down and down. A smart seller would realize this and take the loss now before any further reduction in prices happened.

Is there anything you can do if you are trying to sell into a buyer's market?

Yes - make sure your home is:

#1) Priced very competitively with TODAYS prices (not what you paid 2 years ago)
#2) Make sure that your home looks like NEW (and I mean new - not just "touched up")
#3) make sure you get PLENTY of exposure.

The rpice, the condition, and the exposure are everything when it comes to selling into a down market. Good Luck!

by Mike Carraway,

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Top 3 Dangers of Overpricing Your Home

by Mike Carraway, Access Realty, Birmingham, AL

A LOT of sellers want to price their home above the market value and they do it for a variety of reasons...

Some say they want to have "negotiating room". Some say, "we can always come down later". And others say, "we just want to see what we can get - you know - test the market."

Theses are all good reasons from a seller's point of view. They aren't, however, from a property marketing standpoint. When you put a property on the market, you want to generate the highest traffic and demand in the shortest time possible and all of these so called reasons to overprice just hinder and impede the marketing process.

Danger #1

Pricing a home above the market value usually results in people going elsewhere and buying. They may love your home but if you have a similar product in your market for a lower price, they'll buy it - not yours. In effect, you have missed your buyer and now you will have to wait and attract another one at a later date.

Danger #2

Traffic and lots of it is what sells a home. Without human bodies walking through your home, it doesn't matter if it's the best deal around or the most beautiful in your neighborhood - it still won't sell. In order to get the most traffic possible in the shortest time, the price must be right from the very beginning. If the home is priced very near what you actually think it will sell for, you will get the most traffic - and offers.

Danger #3

Your home will sit on the market while YOUR buyers go buy other homes. You will have lower traffic due to the higher price and fewer people will be exposed to it. What happens when you finally decide to lower the price? People see the price reduction and it causes a couple of thoughts...

1) I wonder how much further down they will come?
2) I wonder if something is wrong with it?
3) I wonder how long it's been for sale?

Just these three will cause you more suffering from low offers and constant questions about whether you will carry part of the financing or not. You will soon grow tired of it.

The best way to avoid ALL of these problems, especially in a buyers market as we are in right now, is to price your home AT the market. Not a little over but right at the market value.

Want a secret? Price your home slightly UNDER the market value. You will have people fighting over it and will probably receive multiple offers. When you do - you can actually start a bidding war of sorts over your home and may even realize MORE than the market value.

by Mike Carraway, Broker, Access Realty, Birmingham, AL 800-840-0165

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Access Realty Fast Start Training

by Mike Carraway

It happens almost daily in this great country of ours. A new real estate agent gets thier license. Then, they set off on a journey to learn how to get customers and how to do business.

Unfortunately for most of them, they try for about 3 to 6 months, don't get any business, and quit. Why?

Well, look at it this way - if you opened up a new business and had no customers in your first 6 months - what would you do? I know that I would be questioning my own abilities at getting cusomters, wouldn't you?

Having seen this happen so many times with new agents, I knew that there had to be a way to give new agents the tools and techniques they needed to succeed quickly. Over a 5 year period, I deveoped what I call our proprietary "Fast Start" program.

This program takes someone with zero sales experience, with no knowledge of marketing and teaches them the basics of response generating advertising and marketing. Most real estate agents have no idea why people call on an ad. When the students in Fast Start complete their training, they not only know why, but they can accurately track their ad performance and cost per call. They can also measure conversion rates. All of these things are a must for any business.

The second big part of this program is how to manage those leads that are generated and follow up with them so that they actually become customers or clients. The students are taught to set up a simple follow-up system and several different "action plans". Combining this foolow-up system with the lead generation is the cornerstone of the Fast Start program.

Most of the students who apply what they learn in the real world ususally have a real estate transaction pending within their first 30 days. That's how good the program works. Not everyone who goes through the program is successfull. Some students learn the information and then do not apply it. Why? Hard to say. I think one of the biggest reasons is fear of success.

They know that if they are successfull, they'll have to work. They also know that if they are successfull, most of their problems will go away and they won't have any excuses any more. Of course, it's just my opinion.

If you are in the real estate business and actually WANT success - you should take our next Fast Start training class and get on the fast track to success.