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Scottsdale Victorian for Lease

Update: This Home Has Been Leased

This is not your typical rental home. Gorgeous Victorian style home in prime Central Scottsdale neighborhood that you never knew existed. Nestled on a premium, oversized, interior lot, this 2300+ square foot home boasts 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, pebble-tec diving pool (fenced) and 2 car garage. Hardwood and slate flooring in main downstairs traffic areas in addition to upgraded carpeting. Slate covered fireplaces in family and living rooms. Master bathroom completely overhauled in 2008 with travertine flooring & shower surrounds, new vanity w/granite top, new fixtures, etc. Upstairs hall bath remodeled as well with travertine flooring & shower surrounds, new counter top and fixtures, etc. Wide open floor plan with all 3 bedrooms up and entertaining areas down. Kitchen opens to family room and overlooks the backyard. Front yard includes porch, beautiful mature ash trees, lawn and even a white, picket fence. The prettiest home on one of the prettiest tree-lined streets in the Valley. Close (but not too close) to Loop 101 freeway, Scottsdale Community College, parks, schools, golf, shopping, ASU, downtown Scottsdale … everything. Better hurry, these homes are quite rare and lease quickly.

Pool service included at $1895/month.  Landscaping also included at $1995/month.  $1900 security deposit (refundable) and $300 cleaning deposit ($200 non-refundable) due at move-in along with first month’s rent. $500 earnest money required to tie property up. $15 credit check fee per applicant.  Good credit & verifiable income a must. Most importantly, looking for tenants who will love the home as much as we do!

Offered for lease by Owner / Agent, Paul Slaybaugh w/ Realty Executives. (480) 948-9450

Equal Housing Opportunity.

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Houses Are Selling Like Hotcakes! … So Why Isn’t Mine?

Sales are up, inventory is down.  Buyers are here, there … seemingly everywhere.  Matter of fact, I’m getting downright chummy with the agents and buyers who my clients and I keep running into as we troll new listings.

“Frank, how are ya?  What’d you guys think of that last one?  Nice wallpaper, right?”

It is borderline comical how many luxury SUVs and bluetooth-clad agent types can be found milling about outside of the latest foreclosure as the hesitant listing agent shuffles towards the front door to place the combo lockbox.  He is buried under an avalanche of paper as seventeen offers are hurled in his direction before he can escape to whatever underworld chasm in which an REO agent keeps a cubicle.

Multiple offers, bidding wars, thousands over asking price … so why hasn’t your house sold yet?

There it is.

The sum total of a seller’s concern when it comes to the overall vitality of the market is his or her own home.  So bank-owned properties are moving at a record clip, so what?  If there are so many buyers out there, why aren’t any knocking on your door?

The unspoken fact of the matter is that the market is still out of whack.  While the free fall in prices seems to have finally stalled (hopefully at the bottom of the cliff, not just on another ledge), and sales activity has agents excited about going to work again, there is an underlying issue that I have heard little, if any, mention of in the media, or even amongst fellow agents for that matter.  It is self-evident that bank properties are stiff competition for the average home seller, but pricing concerns are only half of the equation.

The soft underbelly of our purported recovery is the lack of move-up buyers.  Not only are the higher priced resale homes suffering from a dearth of financing options, but from the very buyers that should be fleeing the lower end of the market.  When the market is healthy, an entry level Real Estate transaction acts as a domino.  The seller of the entry-level home moves up to house #2, thus freeing the seller of house #3 to buy the dream house, and off we go.  When a foreclosure property sells, however, it’s one and done.  No seller eager to use the proceeds to take another step up the ladder.  Just an institution eager to get an albatross off its books.

Until buyers start turning back to resale homes in the lower price ranges, we will continue to see improved sales statistics …

…. for the banks.

It may not be what sellers want to hear, but it’s where we are.  We need to clean out the glut of foreclosures not only on the market now, but the backlog (rumor has it that banks are sitting on many foreclosures and bringing them to market slowly, so as not to implode their own values by flooding the market) as well, before buyers start purchasing resales with more regularity.  Though the market is showing definite signs of life as of late, your buyer may still be trapped in a home that he can’t sell.

So if you want to be a part of those happy, happy, joy, joy reports of increased sales, you can’t rely on the move-up guy.  The market is improving, but not enough to swing buyers to you of its own accord.  You still have to meet it halfway and position yourself to compete with the banks. We may be down to 33,000 listings in the greater Phoenix area, but buyers are really only competing for the most viable 3000 or so (in accordance with rigorous scientific guestimation).

In the “one and done” market that we have become in 2009, it is much better to be the former than the latter.

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Grinding to a Halt: The Art of Killing a Deal

Everyone wants a piranha.

Whether a professional athlete intent on a signing bonus the size of Madagascar, a victim of a vicious fender bender fixated on the 2.8 million dollar legal prescription for a tender neck or a home buyer/seller whose sole purpose on this earth at the immediate moment is to grind as many Ben Franklins as possible out of the guy on the other side of a negotiation, aggressiveness is typically the hallmark virtue in the professional representation that is sought.

The sports super agent, who we are 95% certain has a life-sized portrait of his bare chested self wearing a boa constrictor around suspiciously well tanned shoulders hanging in his posh downtown office, is universally loathed by all.  Secretly, however, we all know he’d be the only guy we’d call if we needed to make a cash withdrawal from the abundant posterior of a team owner.

The weaselly ambulance chaser with the slicked back, Grecian Formula enhanced locks is similarly unlikely to find himself on the guest lists of many Bat Mitzvahs and baby showers.  That narcissistic predator might eat the baby.  When we spill the drive-thru coffee in our laps or stumble over the “Watch Your Step!” sign at a public establishment, though, he’s the guy we call.

Amicable folks are great to have around, but when the conversation turns to business, we don’t want Mary Poppins going into battle on our behalf armed only with a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.  We’d rather employ the services of Dr. Jekyll to go all Mr. Hyde on the opposition and cram that spoon straight down their throats.

Easy, tiger.

There is a time to kill, and there is a time to frolic.  The problem with the constant grinder is that he often grinds himself right out of a transaction.  It is critical that you leave the other guy with some dignity at the end of a tough negotiation, lest all of your efforts collapse under the weight of the other party’s exhaustion.  After you’ve knocked the poor bloke to the ground and bloodied his nose, do the smart thing.  Extend your hand and help him up.

In practical terms, this is akin to finally saying “yes” after repeated “no’s.”  When you win on the key points, you are often in a position to make a small concession on some trivial tangential issue.  Too many times, I see lost opportunities for a clear victor to score easy diplomatic points at these junctures in the waning moments of a deal.  Want the inspection and other critical aspects of the transaction yet to come to go smoothly?  Give up something that isn’t really necessary.  Offer something minor, but unexpected.

You’ve bitten his neck on price, drank his blood on terms … time to give him a transfusion unless you want to carry his Doppelganger the rest of the way to closing.  For the record, undead weight is quite heavy.

Of course, because you are reading my blog, this advice assumes you were on the dispensing end of said treatment throughout the course of the initial negotiation.  If you were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end, go ahead and drive a wooden stake through the SOB’s black heart.

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The Feedback Fallacy

So an unexpected job transfer snakes its way into your idyllic garden of domestic bliss one uncharacteristically blustery evening, and everything changes.  The fertile soils that you have so lovingly cultivated within its confines are to fall under the purview and care of another’s spade.  It’s time to sell your house.

Home improvement and design shows supplant your regular programs as you strive to understand what today’s buyer is looking for in a house.  While you would never think of replacing the charming old world tiled counter tops for yourself, you know you just might have to for your suitors.  The incremental evidence of your little one’s time on this earth will be obfuscated with nothing more than a coat of fresh paint on the kitchen wall.  All such changes both minor and monumental as you prepare to open your doors to the world.

Once fully prepped, your venerable old home is a lot less old and venerable than modernly stylish.  You’d buy it all over again, and that makes the forthcoming transition doubly tough.

For every showing, you light your strategically placed oatmeal raisin cookie scented candles and illuminate just the right number of lights.  Light jazz emanates from the surround sound stereo system.  No buyer can possibly navigate your well laid maze of hugs and snare traps without signing on the dotted line.

And yet, inconceivably, they do.  The first buyer puts up a fight, and somehow manages to wriggle free.  The second showing yields a prize relo catch who is lost to the sea of competition when the line snaps just as he breaches the water.  The third candidate hops away on his one good leg after gnawing through an ensnared limb to escape your clutches.  One after another they come and go.

You know there can be no possible objection to the condition of your home.  You also know there can be no objection to the price.  Though a bit higher than recommended by your Realtor, you are well aware that your home is vastly superior to anything else on the market.  And the comps?  What a joke!  Sure the Johnson’s home sold for 100k less last month, but they didn’t even have a pantry!  Something is rotten in Scottsdale, and you demand to know what it is.

You ask your agent for feedback from the buyers and agents that have viewed the home.

Which brings me to my serpentine point.

Showing feedback is not to be trusted.  While I routinely solicit input from those who have shown my listings, I do so more as a means of keeping my properties top of mind with the buyer’s agent than as an honest assessment of our positioning within the market.  It’s a tricky business to seek the opinion of the person to whom you would sell something.  For starters, if I am working with a buyer, and the listing agent calls for my showing feedback, he or she better be prepared for the forthcoming diatribe about how horrifically overpriced they are … especially if my clients are interested in the home.  Further, if the listing agent calls me multiple times, emails me and sends a carrier pigeon to my office with a note pleading for feedback, you better believe this mako smells more than a drop of blood in the water.  You can only push so hard before the obvious desperation cedes all negotiating leverage to the other party.  Not a good way to start a dialogue.

I understand the frustration that accompanies a non-selling home.  Believe me, it frustrates your agent, too.  However, you have to tread carefully when chasing down every prospect like they stole the good china.  One of them might actually be your buyer, so you have to maintain some sense of decorum.  Even the mangiest house on the market could do well to play slightly hard to get.

As I sit here typing this, I have received a second voicemail and another email from the listing agent of a property in which a client of mine has expressed an interest.  I have pointedly ignored the first correspondence attempts just to see how hard I will be pursued.  Every subsequent call will result in a 10k reduction on what I ultimately advise my clients to offer.  Believe that.

Ain’t nothin’ but the shark in me.

Besides, the most vociferous feedback seekers don’t seek feedback at all.  They seek affirmation.

Oh yes, it’s wonderfully appointed and wonderfully priced!  It has been on the market for 150 days because buyers are obviously blithering idiots!

You already know the answers to the questions you pose, even if you are not ready to admit it.  No need to run the gauntlet of buyer agents to decode this self-evident truth:

Are you getting offers?

No?

Drop your price.

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I Am A Realtor. The Fate of the Planet Is In My Hands.

We Realtors are a self-important bunch.  Just ask us, we’ll tell you.

“I don’t only sell homes.  I sell dreams!”

“You need professional help for the most important investment of your life!”

“I have planted more behinds in houses than McDonalds has in cardiologist offices!”

In most any arena, quiet confidence is the hallmark of ability.  The lowest common denominator of puffery, in turn, is an underlying insecurity about the quality (or need) of the service being rendered.  You sometimes can’t help but wonder if the egocentric assertions are for the benefit of the braggart’s audience or the braggart’s own sense of worth.  I, for one, would sooner enlist the legal assistance of my two year old than the “experienced, aggressive” attorneys who snarl their ways through 30 second local TV spots.  Is it too much to ask for a “smart, competent” one?

Look at the business cards we agents pass out with palsied fervor.  You have to wade through 6 lines of superfluous designations and production awards before you can even find a phone number.  I have been sporting the same cards for the past seven years with much the same obnoxious verbiage.  The deeper I get into my Real Estate career, the more I realize that performance is the only thing that matters.  No longer in a position where I feel the need to stand on a bar stool with a megaphone to capture my share of the market, it is a liberating thing to let go of the pompous demand for respect for simply selling a home.  Certainly, ours is an important job, but then again, show me one that isn’t.

When challenged on the role of the Realtor, and whether we really are the drain on society that most public surveys reveal us to be, I no longer attempt to shout down the vocal detractors.  My clients respect what I do and the assistance I provide, and that is all I require.  We aren’t curing cancer.  We aren’t utilizing an unparalleled skill set and education to launch unmanned crafts on Mars.  Assessing value, assisting with purchasing decisions, marketing a home, navigating a Real Estate transaction … all are skills that can be readily learned.  It outwardly seems like an easy gig.  Show a few houses, collect a fat check.  That is why there are more licensed Real Estate agents than 6 foot tall Cher impersonators at a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

While there are few intrinsic skills that the average non-drooling citizen can’t acquire and ply successfully in the realm of Real Estate, the real value of working with a professional is the “been there, done that” factor.  It’s all about the learning curve.  Most everything in this world is doable, but more to the point, done well through practice.

Two very good cases in point occurred just yesterday amidst a very long day of showing property to two sets of buyers.  My first set of clients were highly intelligent buyers relocating from Northern California.  Tech savvy and coming to me with a month’s worth of research on the properties they wished to see, along with a spreadsheet full of notes, pros & cons, online value estimates, etc for each home.  This couple was fully dialed in and very capable of successfully purchasing a home with or without my assistance.  Much to their credit, they recognized where their knowledge gaps were, and allowed me to fill in the remaining 10-20% that can only be gained by doing something day in and day out.  Armed with their research and my local acumen, where we deviated from script was when we stopped in to look at a house that wasn’t on their list.  Brand new on the market, and an exceptional value for the school district, size and condition, it was a home that would have slid under their radar because of a few discrepancies with their original criteria.

We submitted an offer on that home and are awaiting a response.

My second buyer was another sharp, and highly educated guy.  We had been looking at property for about a month somewhat laconically, but have now really dialed up the urgency as he recently received notice that his Naval reservist status is about to be bumped to active duty.  He deploys in late July.  Highly motivated to secure a home for his family before he shoves off, we have been hammering new listings in the Southeast Valley virtually every other day for the past two weeks.  He mentioned to me last night how many part time agents he works with in the medical field that have solicited his business (are you happy with your current agent?).  What a commercial I could have made out of his quote.  Paraphrasing, he essentially brushed off the come-ons with the response that not only was he happy with my performance, but that I have done this all day, every day for the past 10 years.  In the area where I was born and raised to boot.  With the short fuse he has to get his family situated, he requires the attention and knowledge of a full-time Realtor.

You the man, Mike!

See, I told you we Realtors are a self-important bunch.  Even this purported piece of anti-puffery has morphed into a promotional effort … but I digress.

When you scythe through the hyperbole that thrives in the fields of Real Estate marketing, the underlying value that a solid agent provides is readily evident.  We simply obscure the benefits at times via the bombastic claims that occasion the rolling of eyes and heavy groans from those whom we would deem to impress by overstating our linchpin status to Western civilization.  A good agent is worth far more than his/her fee, but a poor one is worth a great deal less.  The trick is deciphering the difference between the two.

As you contemplate that sobering thought, I’ll get back to my task for the day of adding the following accomplishments to my already bloated business card.

Outstanding Achievement in Reading” – Cochise Elementary School: 1980-1982, 1984  (I was shafted in ’83).

Super Citizen Award” – March 1982, September 1983

Blue Ribbon in Long Jump” – Field Day 1985

Eating All of My Crust Award” – Grandma Slaybaugh, 1983

Junior Assembly, Fox Trot, 1st Place” – 1987

Hmm … I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat card.

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