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Won’t Appraise, You Say? Then Bring Me a Cash Buyer!

Won’t Appraise, You Say? Then Bring Me a Cash Buyer!

If only it were that simple. I’ve had this pearl lobbed across the kitchen table by a would-be Scottsdale home seller in denial more times than I can count, and I can count all the way to eleven, thank you very much. After all, it’s self-evident that the single most effective way to combat the potential deal-killing reality of a third party evaluation is not to have one. Thus, it never comes as a surprise when a homeowner objects to the recent sales data by flipping the script on my argument that there is no way on God’s green earth that the home would appraise for the lofty number in his/her head, even if some foolhardy buyer would prove willing to plunk down greenbacks well in excess of true market value.

“You need to find us a cash buyer so there won’t be an appraisal, then.”

While rummaging through my briefcase for the ready supply of cash buyers I keep on hand in case of emergency, I’m dismayed to find that there appears to be a hole in the bottom. All those investor whales who bleed money from their blowholes must have fallen out as their portfolios shrank to guppy size over the past few years.

There are cash buyers out there, but times have changed, people. This is not 2005-2006 where many “cash” buyers were actually relying on draining a HELOC to close. Or those others who have been bounced from the pool by decimated 401k’s and suddenly nonexistent pensions. The cash buyers who are still around in 2010 are genuine Daddy Warbucks types and professional investment syndicates.

Genuine. Cash. Buyers.

And you know what? Those with the coin to be players in the current market are not interested in overpaying for your, or any other, property. The only people buying homes at present, regardless of whether the property is a need or a want, are those intent on a modern day train robbery. When even the value-priced properties linger on the market as the slap-your-momma-value-priced properties are the ones being snapped up, the game plan is to grossly overprice your home in hopes of landing one of these cash buying makos? Seriously? Because they are so darned cute and cuddly, I gather?

As strategies go, I’d sooner advise trick or treating at Dick Cheney’s house as a pheasant hunter.

Happening upon a cash buyer is one of those fun eventualities that is largely determined by price point and fate. Those fortunate enough to have such a creature fall in their laps quickly learn that the cash comes with a steep price: negotiating disadvantage. If you are overpriced, your home won’t even be a blip on Mr. Moneybags’s radar. If you are priced in line with values, he will lowball you. If you are priced significantly under market, he still might attempt to haggle a little. After all, he has cash, and cash is king, right? You aren’t the only one who knows it.

While a cash offer may represent the panacea to the appraisal conundrum, the actual cash buyer is not a willing participant in the “I’m willing to spend whatever it takes, because I simply must have THIS HOUSE” game. He goes across the street and buys the ugly one for 100k less.

Don’t believe me? Let’s try a quick role-playing exercise.

You are a homebuyer in 2010. Through shrewd investment strategy, you have managed to not only hang on to your capital, but to actually amass a larger fortune during these lean economic times. Sensing that opportunities abound in Scottsdale Real Estate at present, you are in the market for a house or two. You might even live in one when you are not at the penthouse in Manhattan, the chalet in Brussels or the flat in London. You’ve studied the market, read all of the stories and spoken with your most trusted advisors. Putting to work the analytical mind that has served you so well in critical financial decision-making to this point … what are you going to buy?

Are you going to spend all day making doe eyes at some overpriced turkey playing hard to get, or are you going to fill your tag by blasting the one with a limp?

Thought so.

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Spontaneous Budgetary Combustion and the Quest for Marketing Fire

Never confuse activity with production.

As powerful a five word mantra that a salesperson will ever encounter.  When it comes to managing one’s business, the seductive powers of activity are often enough to lead a good REALTOR astray.  While the carefully laid out marketing campaign gets left at home, the erstwhile agent steps out with every new expenditure and panacea that gives him a “come hither” glance.

Ignoring another haggard, old saying, “Never sell a salesman,” we are an easy mark.  Highly susceptible to the allure of the next great promotional campaign or sales technique that is going to set us apart from the competition, we are prone to affairs of the wallet that stand to disrupt the matrimonial bliss of a productive agent and his lovely business plan.

A forgiving bride, we crawl back to her after every unsuccessful tryst.  Whether just looking to spice up a meat and potatoes strategy or a full-fledged case of advertising lust that leads to the delusion that this could be “the next one,” our fundamental methodology will greet us with open arms when we come slink home with tails between legs and hundreds out of pocket.  Jesse James and Tiger Woods could learn a thing or two from a salesman.

What does this confessional mean to you as a consumer?  In short, everything.

The longer you hang around this industry, the better equipped you are to separate the effective marketing wheat from the gimmicky chafe.  Rather than bouncing from product to product in search of an oil strike, we learn to distinguish what works and can be effectively rolled into an existing marketing campaign, and what is an overpriced tramp that has been around more blocks than Heidi Fleiss at Lego Land.

Here at the Scottsdale Property Shop, we won’t gamble with your money.  What, you didn’t realize that it was your coin at stake?  Now we cut to the quick of it.  As all costs of doing business are factored into the fee your chosen professional, in any endeavor, charges, it is an often overlooked component of the value added to the service.  We trot out the advertising we will employ to get your home sold, but seldom do homeowners question what is effective and what is superfluous.  The more the better, right?

Not necessarily.

As the new world order has proven over and over again, print media has been relegated, by and large, to the realm of the ineffective.  Certain exceptions apply, and certain properties must be marketed via publication, but for the most part, newspaper and magazine advertising has become a sinkhole for marketing dollars.  Recognizing this, most sharp agents have directed those dollars to more productive venues:  websites, blogs, social media, etc.

Some, however, continue to throw big money at both defunct media and unproven new products solely to demonstrate to clients that they are spending money.

See, I’m doing my job!  Just look at this splashy front page ad in the Sunday paper!  I also just signed up for a program guaranteed to produce more hits on my website (from non-buyers) to increase your home’s exposure!

Super duper.

All of this activity and all of these expenditures are factored not only into the fees you are charged, but come at great opportunity cost.  There are only so many dollars in every advertising budget.  Those dollars should be spent in a manner that is most likely to produce a buyer for your home.  Only experience gained through ample trial and error will procure a buyer in the most direct and inexpensive manner possible.  The result?  You are not charged exorbinant fees, and your home actually sells.

While it’s true that even the longest tenured agent will look for a little extra-curricular excitement now and again, it shouldn’t be a drunken weekend spree that leaves him devoid of his marketing budget and equilibrium.    Those slots and roulette wheels will eat up your sale in no time.  New tools are brought into the fold, but only as adjuncts to the old standbys, not at their expense.

Traditional networking and sales techniques married to a strong web presence.   And her sister.

Consider it Real Estate Big Love.

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Selling Your Home in a Down Market

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You’ve been married so long that you’ve forgotten how to be single.  Your t-shirts all have holes in them, you don’t shave on the weekends, and you haven’t consumed a “Diet” anything in years.

While your spouse may love you despite the fact that you have completely let yourself go, you are in for a rude awakening if you ever find yourself back on the market.  Flaws are only endearing to loved ones, not strangers.  Before you hit those nightspots, you’ll need a new wardrobe with the latest fashions.  You’ll need to cut that hair and clean underneath those fingernails.  Don’t even get me started on the unibrow.  You need to put your best face forward if you are to attract one of those cute, little minx.

But what about when it’s your house that you are divorcing?

You look at your home, and you know that things just aren’t working out.  Either you have lost that loving feeling or it’s simply time for a change.  It may be amicable or there may be irreconcilable differences.  Maybe you’ve always known that this house was only “Mr. Right Now.”  Regardless of the reasons for your split, it’s time to move on.  All of those things that you have lived with over the years?  The creaky front door hinges?  The balky A/C unit?  The old, pale yellow linoleum that you originally detested, but grew to loathe?  It’s all gotta be gussied up.

Now you can’t take every middle-aged home and turn it into a supermodel overnight, and that’s okay.  You don’t necessarily have to be the best looking house on the planet, just the hottest little number in the club.

When you are elbow to elbow with competing properties, you don’t want your fly to be down.  That’s not how you drag home a buyer of which your mother would approve.  No, that’s how you pick up that other kind of buyer.  You know the type.  Offers you a hundred thousand off of list price and demands umpteen thousand dollars to repair things that cost a couple hundred.  That is one coyote ugly buyer.  Keep such buck-toothed, cross-eyed suitors at bay by using the right bait.

Trolling for a trophy buyer? Change out those tired carpets, paint those grimy walls, oil those squeaks.

Fishing for carp?  Throw a big wad of Velveeta around your hook and toss it out there.

We have all heard the reports about the overwhelming levels of housing inventory.  Vastly more homes for sale than qualified buyers.  It can be quite discouraging to a seller.  I have been through a great many of these properties, however, and the poor showing condition many of them display never ceases to amaze me.  There may be a glut of houses for sale, but in my own myopic view, there is a whole lotta rough for every diamond.  If I had to speculate, and I will, I’d hazard that many sellers have either given up hope or refuse to spend any money that they don’t expect to recoup in full.

Don’t fall victim to this mindset.   Now, more than ever, you need to get your home standing tall if you plan to sell it any time soon.   I know that these are lean times, but if you can afford to carry a non-selling house for months on end, you can afford to stage it properly to expedite the process of finding a new beau.  After all, the sooner you find the next Mr. or Mrs. Right for your home, the sooner you can stop writing those alimony checks.

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