The year was 2005. The market was hot. White hot. Jump up and down, and yell I’m a pony! hot. Everyone within the city limits of Scottsdale AZ had or was in the process of obtaining their Real Estate license. By July, I had lost former clients to chiropractors, dentists, doctors, doctors’ spouses, doctors’ spouses’ doctors … I thought I had experienced it all. Mind you, the prevailing thought at the time was that a chimpanzee with a business card could sell a house. And he probably could have with a Multiple Offer Addendum and a cell phone, but I digress. One day while running my daily search of the new inventory in McCormick Ranch, I see a suspiciously familiar address. I pull up the listing and do the whole Is that …? No, can’t be. But it looks …? NOOOO!!! bit.
Sure enough, it was the lovely couple I had sold the home to a few years back and had only recently visited over the holidays. My mind raced.
What did I do wrong? Are they upset with me? Did I fail to keep in touch? Did I keep in touch too much? Is it because I mangled their son’s name that time we ran into each other at the coffee shop?
After letting my stomach churn over the myriad ways I could have potentially brought this upon myself, I finally picked up the phone. After two rings, a familiar voice answered. Mindful to make sure that I did not say anything that could be construed as tampering with another agent’s listing, I simply blurted out, “What happened?”
Long story short: The wife’s hairdresser had recently gotten her Real Estate license to use on the side. Now, in my opinion, the words “hairdresser” and “Realtor” should never collide in the same sentence, but apparently not everyone agrees. No one would ever in a million years sit down at a chair and let me go to town with a pair of clippers and #2 attachment, but my highly educated clients made the decision to help her out by listing a $500,000 asset for sale and purchasing a million dollar property with her.
Now, I will not pretend that I did not first take the news personally and selfishly. That is a big chunk of business to lose to a hobbyist, and it stung. The value proposition of hiring a full-time, active agent did not outweigh the desire to help a friend get started in the industry. That is not an easy pill to swallow. What’s worse and ultimately paramount, however, is the disservice such a choice can do to the consumer him or herself. When you don’t engage in the practice of selling Real Estate but once or twice a year, if it all, you put the people you represent at an immediate disadvantage. You simply don’t know what you don’t know.
And sadly, in this case, my former clients … ultimately got a bad haircut.
It serves as a reminder that it doesn’t go without saying to the general public that all agents are not interchangeable. The effect of the misconception that we are can have a monumental effect on your bottom line and long-term satisfaction. As such, I try to use such experiences as teachable moments.
Remember, folks. We all want to help our friends and family members when and where we can, but think carefully before employing someone to guide you through a home sale or purchase if it is just their “side hustle.” This is not a profession that requires an advanced degree or special skill set over and above modest intelligence, tenacity, and a willingness to leverage your knowledge and experience for the benefit of your clients, but it does require practice. Experience. Repetition. Like any other human endeavor performed exceptionally, if never perfectly.
I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a little extra money in their spare time, but I firmly believe there is value to hiring someone who is working in their primary field of expertise. Hire your neighbor’s kid to pull your weeds. Hire your nephew’s girlfriend to walk your dog.
But when you have a major service need, I would advise the following:
- Need roof work done? Hire a roofer.
- Need your transmission serviced? Hire a mechanic.
- Need a haircut? Hire a barber.
- Need to buy or sell a home? Hire a Realtor.
And not a moonlighter. An active, full-time Real Estate professional who has been there, done that, and won the cheesy t-shirt in a home tour group raffle.
After all, if you don’t want me fixing your fade after spending my evenings learning the craft via YouTube, you probably don’t want your hair stylist selling your house.
Paul has been selling the greater Phoenix area as a full-time Realtor for over 20 years now. For all of your Scottsdale AZ Real Estate needs, please visit him at www.scottsdalepropertyshop.com
Moving day is never easy. Keepsakes overwhelm boxes. Boxes overwhelm trunks. Memories overwhelm hearts.
Leaving a house is simple. Leaving a home is sacred. It is something that demands reflection and resolve, whether the circumstances surrounding the upheaval are chosen or forced. Happy or sad. Not everything fits neatly into a box. Not everything is meant to. Hopes, dreams, smiles and tears stay behind, etching one’s passage just as clearly as the jagged initials carved into an old ash tree in the front yard. As deliberately as the carefully penciled height marks that chase each other up a kitchen door frame. Though you leave, you are never entirely gone. Your footfalls never forgotten.
Moving day comes for us all. And it is hard.
As your agent, I understand this. It is my distinct honor and privilege to guide you through this momentous transition. It is also a great responsibility. I thank you for your trust and vow not to squander it.
This is my pledge to you.
As of this morning (2/24/12), there are 16,589 properties actively listed for sale in the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, well below our peak inventory levels in the 50,000+ range at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Moreover, there are currently more homes under contract (19,962) across the Valley than currently available to purchase. 7486 properties closed escrow in the last month. At this rate, our market has just over 2 months of inventory. The supply of quality homes is anemic to the point that multiple offers and bidding wars are erupting across the greater Phoenix area on new listings. By any reasonable measure, we have stumbled into a strong seller’s market early in 2012.
So it’s time to throw your house on the market, right? As in all matters, it depends.
The case for selling
You have been trapped in a home you couldn’t sell for the past several years. Eager to downsize, upsize, relocate, etc, you’ve put your plans on hold while the market languished. Not convinced that this break in the clouds isn’t just a temporary mirage versus a sustainable recovery, you aren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Buyers are buying, and climbing over each other to do so. With the summer coming up, you are going to cash out what’s left of your equity so that you can finally get on with the next phase of your life before the winter/spring visitors leave, gas prices shoot through the roof and the market returns to its regularly scheduled slump.
The Case for Waiting
Yes, the market is changing. The Real Estate signs that once lined your street are disappearing. The last house on the block sold in a day for 10k over list price. It reminds you of the market conditions from 2005 that temporarily shot your value through the stratosphere. Now your house is worth about what you paid for it in 2002. You are tempted to throw your place on the market now that there are buyers for it, but you won’t have much left over for a down payment on another place. Further, you know this is the beginning of the recovery. Why sell at the low point when values should continue to climb for the foreseeable future? You’d like a new home that more closely reflects today’s needs, but aren’t willing to dump the current one at a price that might look low with a year’s hindsight.
The Case for Compromise
Can you cover your current mortgage by renting out your house? If so, and you have the financial means to qualify for another loan without selling, you might consider that route. For those who are optimistic that the current market is a sign of better things to come, this tactic covers two bases: 1) Secures the new property at today’s prices before appreciation takes further hold, and 2) Allows for holding on to the former property for another year or two of market gains before selling for a better price.
Which Road is Right for Me?
There is no one-size fits all equation for the buying or selling of homes. In addition to the financial variables at play, there are personal and emotional considerations that don’t fit neatly into a spreadsheet. The best advice I can offer is to take a close look at your chief objectives before deciding whether this is a “good” or a “bad” time to sell your home. Real Estate sales do not take place in a vacuum. The sale of a home must be considered in tandem with the subsequent purchase and vice versa.
It is a good time for sellers, in general, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an even better time coming, or that it’s the “right” time for you.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for a complete review of your unique circumstances to determine if now is the ideal time to take the Real Estate plunge. We pledge objective analysis and honest opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.
Contact Us | Our Listing Services | What’s My Home Worth?
Surely, they won’t blow the deal up over THAT?
A refrain familiar to any working Realtor. Be it a frozen shut-off valve under the kitchen sink, a double-tapped breaker in the main electrical panel, a wobbly ceiling fan or a stubborn sliding glass door, there is a minor nit or five in most every list of buyer repair requests that follows a home inspection. A seller’s response to a list comprised of such nuisance items typically goes one of two ways.
1. The seller exhales deeply, thanking his lucky stars that the inspection gauntlet has been navigated with minimal carnage. The roof passed without mention and the balky A/C somehow managed to attain the proper temperature split, so he doesn’t look the gift report in the mouth. He signs off on the couple hundred dollars worth of repairs before the buyer changes his mind, thus closing the window for withdrawal from the transaction based upon physical defects with the property.
2. The seller goes ballistic. Enraged by the unmitigated gall of the buyer to bust his stones with inconsequential repairs on a multi-hundred thousand dollar transaction, he agrees to correct every item on the repair list EXCEPT the loose toilet tank.
This isn’t a brand &$%#ing new house, he rages. Besides, is the buyer really going to walk over something his worthless a$$ can fix with thirty seconds and a wrench?
The pragmatic seller opts for door number one. He signs off on the repair agreement, thus slamming shut the buyer’s dual-pane inspection window. At this point, unless the buyer’s loan falls apart, the appraisal goes awry or the buyer breaches the agreement (thus forfeiting his earnest money), the sale is going through.
The saucy seller kicks in door number two. Of the ten requested repairs, he agrees to nine, omitting only the most trivial bit of ridiculousness that pisses him off on general principle. He knows the buyer isn’t going to walk over a creaky door hinge, and his written response indicates as much.
What the seller may not be aware of, however, is that by denying any of the buyer’s repair requests, he has essentially prolonged the buyer’s “free look” period by another five days.
What? How did that happen?
Yep, it’s true. Stated right in the original contract (assuming the boiler plate language of the standard AAR purchase agreement was unaltered during the course of the negotiation), the buyer has ten days from the date that the contract is fully executed by all parties to perform any/all inspections. Before the 10th day elapses, notice of any defects that the buyer wishes the seller to correct must be provided. The seller then has five days to respond (no response indicates seller’s refusal to make repairs). If the seller agrees to repairs, the inspection period is over and a major walk-away contingency for the buyer is removed. If the seller does not agree to ALL repairs, the buyer has five more days from the receipt of the seller’s written response to decide whether or not to proceed with the transaction.
That’s right, ANY repair. No matter how trivial.
And while the buyer is unlikely to torpedo the transaction over a leaky sprinkler head per se, it does provide additional time and impetus to rethink the entire endeavor, for buyer’s remorse to take up occupancy in a fickle mind … for a superior property to enter the market and attract the attention of the buyer, YOUR BUYER, while he still has a transactional out.
Time kills deals. You don’t want to cede any more of it than absolutely necessary. What starts as a dispute over a teeny, tiny physical property deficiency can morph into a referendum on the purchase itself.
Is this really where I want to live?
Can I really afford home ownership?
Maybe a townhouse would provide less ongoing maintenance?
Big ticket items always need to be reviewed carefully, but don’t sweat the small stuff. I urge you, as a seller, to think twice before rejecting repairs that cost you little more than aggravation.
It might end up costing you a whole lot more.
“So what do we think of Toots?”
Rochelle Laraway waited the three seconds it took for her husband to look up from his notes.
“Toots,” the software engineer questioned, pulling his keen eyes from the meticulously organized data on the yellow legal pad.
“Mr. Bartowski,” Rochelle replied. “Don’t pretend you didn’t notice.”
She pinched her nose and waved a hand in front of her face; her flawless skin scrunched up against an imagined stench.
“That’s just mean, Ro,” Shane scolded, unable to suppress a smile. “It could be a medical condition.”
“Yeah, gluteous halitosis,” Rochelle countered with a laugh. “I’m sorry, but he smells like rotten eggplant.”
Shane threw his hands in the air; exasperated, as always, by his wife’s unparalleled aversion to pragmatism. Who knew choosing a Real Estate agent would be the first real test of their young marriage?
“We’re not getting anywhere here,” he declared, focusing on her thick eyelashes as they batted once, twice, thrice.
“Really? I think we are making some progress,” Rochelle argued.
“Progress,” Shane wondered. “Thus far, we have determined that Mrs. Dahl has a voice like shrapnel and reminds you of my mother …”
“Grr,” Rochelle growled.
“… Mr. Shroeder, or should I say, Jerry Maguire,” Shane continued, “is too slick.”
“Show me the money,” Rochelle squealed.
“And now poor Mr. Bartowski is a touch malodorous,” Shane finished.
“A touch malodorous,” Rochelle gasped. “The man is a walking septic tank!”
Shane bent back over his notes, tugging on the sleeve cuff of his lightly-starched cotton button-up exactly three times before picking up the pad.
“I knew it would come to this,” he confided. “So I went ahead and compiled a list of pros and cons for each candidate.”
Rochelle slouched back in her chair with arms crossed. Her dark eyes brimmed with skepticism. She was stunning.
“To take emotion and irrelevant personality quirks out of the equation, I assigned each one a number at random,” Shane said. “Remember, Ro, we’re selecting a Real Estate agent, not a travel companion.”
Rochelle remained silent.
“Agent number one is a twenty year veteran of the business. Strong interpersonal skills, strong sales record,” Shane began. “Numerous productivity awards and industry designations. Works for a boutique brokerage that specializes in both our area and the luxury market.”
“Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain,” Rochelle deadpanned.
“Negatives,” Shane continued, ignoring her. “Unimpressive web presence, including a non-user friendly website. More emphasis on print marketing than internet advertising. High commission rate.”
Shane waited a beat, expecting another retort from the resident smart alec. When he didn’t get one, he continued.
“Agent number two is a sixteen year vet. Decent web presence. Equal emphasis on online marketing and traditional methods. Not as many sales in our neighborhood as Agent One, but more total sales in the last twelve months. Works for a large brokerage with a national buyer referral base. Slightly better commission rate.”
“Go on,” Rochelle prodded, warming to the analytical approach despite herself.
“Chief negatives include a high volume of listings, and being slightly out of area. Will our home receive the attention it requires? Will we get passed on to an assistant?”
“Agent number three is the most tech savvy,” Shane continued. “Amazing website, near the top of virtually every Google search term for our area. Very user-friendly. More reliance on tech than traditional marketing means less intrusion from tour groups and open houses. Best commission rate of the bunch. Very aggressive.”
“Negatives,” Rochelle prompted, now leaning forward with elbows on knees; the palms of her hands supporting her delicate chin.
“Only four years in the business,” Shane obliged. “Fewest total sales, none in the immediate neighborhood. Never heard of the brokerage.”
“Number two,” Rochelle announced.
“Just like that?”
“Yes, just like that,” she confirmed. “And that’s your choice, too.”
All Shane could do was smile. Married less than a year, and she already knew him inside and out.
“See, babe,” he crowed. “Logic and reason. It’s all about choosing the right tool for the job, not a best friend.”
“Shall we meet our agent,” he asked with a wry grin, tapping the notepad three times before flipping the page.
“Drumroll, please,” he requested.
Rochelle obliged by rolling her tongue and patting her designer blue jean-clad knees.
“And the winner is … Hans Bartowski!”
Rochelle groaned and buried her head in her hands.
“Reshuffle the deck,” she instructed through her fingers. “We are not listing with Captain Flatulence.”
“You mean Toots,” Shane corrected as he tore the sheet of paper from the pad, folded it three times and set it aside.
“So now what?”
“We tried it your way,” Rochelle advised. “Now we try mine.”
Now it was Shane’s turn to groan as he emptied his mind of reason and held on for the ride.