Seeing it on Zillow doesn’t make it true

House – sold a couple of years ago.

Last weekend I got a couple of inquires on homes that are shown as being for sale on Zillow. When I looked into our MLS in both cases the homes had offers on them. The data that is in Zillow is fed from the MLS but until May 1, 2017 agents can by pass the data feed and manually input the listing. There are a few reasons for doing this and to many of us, Zillow is just for fun.

There are homes that are for sale by owners in Zillow that are not really for sale. I talk to the sellers and they tell me they are just kind of trying it out. Rather than putting the listing in the “make me move” category which is for “trying it out”, they go ahead and put it in as for sale by owner.

Most of the homes that are for sale in the area are accurately represented on Zillow. Real estate agents who do not like Zillow avoid looking at the site. I like to take a peak once a week or so. The agents with their faces by the homes for sale are paying for a zip code. In most cases they are not listing the home for sale and sometimes they know almost nothing about it.

Real estate companies and agent teams are getting bigger and bigger and it is all about “lead capture”.

Houses that are hard to buy


Highland Park Tudor

Technically all homes are being sold by their owner but some do it without using the services of a real estate agent. They often believe they save money by not paying a commission. I believe they end up making more money by working with a professional, but totally agree that if it is just an expense they should sell without paying an agent.

lately I have seen some for sale by owner type signs here and there but I can rarely find out what the sale price is. I can look up other details using a big national database for Realtors. It seems to me that if a person were going to sell his or her home they should be putting in on websites like Zillow so that the home buyers who are searching for a home for sale will find it.

Having a cardboard sign with a phone number on it is a start but there may be a lot of people interested in the home who just don’t happen to drive down that street.

Yesterday I drove by a for sale by owner sign and called the number on the sign to find out how much the seller wants for the home. I left a message and no one got back to me.

Home sellers should take advantage of the internet and market their home using amazing photography and maybe a little video. Advertising it on a site that is just for “for sale by owners” isn’t the best strategy because it draws attention to the seller rather than the home. Try advertising on Zillow and on Craig’s list too.  Advertise in the neighborhood Facebook group and make some flyers to put on bulletin boards at the local grocery store and/or coffee shops.

Also see:  finding a buyer isn’t the same as selling a house.

Why are my photos yellow?

White balance settings

I have had to photographic entire homes where every room is yellow. I was told the color is called “tuscan”.  Yellow is a challenging interior color to photograph.

Sometimes interior photos look yellow when there is no yellow in the room. I just looked at a bunch of photos of a condo for sale no doubt taken by a Realtor with a phone or digital camera and every room has a yellowish hue.

The yellow is a white balance issue. There are all sorts of ways to determine which white balance setting should be used. One easy way to figure it out is to try a couple of different white balance settings and then look at the picture.

I like to set my camera to RAW and adjust the white balance when I process the pictures. That way I can’t screw it up. Interior photos don’t have to look yellow.


Selling This old house

Victorian house

Most of the houses in St. Paul are not new and many are small. I don’t like to use the word old because old is anywhere from 30 years old to 150 years old.

It is possible to sell a house as is without loosing your shirt so to speak. You don’t have to use the “we buy houses that need work” people. Sure it is faster and easier to do it that way but you also end up getting bottom dollar, rather than top dollar.

Most real estate agents should be able to give you an idea of what your home could sell for as is. Sometimes it makes sense to do some minor repairs to make it more salable. By minor I mean fix anything that leaks or drips. Items like electrical hazards or fire hazards should also be addressed.

It is important to disclose anything that you know is wrong or that needs to be fixed that you have not fixed. An old roof isn’t necessarily a deal killer and neither is an ancient gravity furnace, or a water heater at the end of it’s useful life. Most homes in St. Paul do not have new windows and doors.

Your home will need to be priced accordingly but there is some room between the price you will be offered by one of those companies that buys houses and resells them and what you can get for it from a buyer who will live in it and repair as needed.

The houses on the TV shows and in the magazines always looks amazing and perfect. Most of the homes in St. Paul are not new and few are perfect, but many have character and charm, and wonderful neighbors living next door.

The demand for houses is high right now and interest rates are low. Now might be the perfect time to unload that less than perfect house. 🙂

Spring road trip

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I visit Nebraska every April for a real estate event that is like no other. I enjoy the drive because this is the busiest time of year and it is nice to get away for a couple of days before it gets even busier. Here are some photos I have taken along the way.

More windmills

This year I’ll try to get some pictures of cows.