Coming soon home listings

I have several buyers who are looking for homes to buy. I regularly contact for sale by owners and I look for “coming soon” listings on Zillow.

I just want to say that some of those “coming soon’ listings were sold long ago. They are kept active because they can be used as bait by real estate agents.

There are also “coming soon” listings that have been coming soon for many months. Coming soon is a vague kind of thing. Soon can mean hours, days, weeks or months.Information on Zillow has gotten a lot more accurate since out MLS feeds data to the service. We are required to keep the information in our MLS up-to-date and people who put bad data in can be fined.

Agents who pay for the service can put “coming soon” homes in Zillow that are not part of the feed.

To be fair I also contact homeowners who have listed their home as for sale by owner in Zillow and have found that some of them are not serious about selling but just want to see what happens.

Most but not all of the homes listed in the MLS are really for sale but sometimes especially over the weekend we do find houses that already have offers on them but have not had their status changed.

bad advice on the internet

Like most people, I like to use Google to do a little research when I want to buy something or get a quick answer to a question.

I use it for recipes and for technical support and occasionally for medical type information. There are articles on most topics.

There are many articles on the internet about how to choose a real estate agent. Most of them are fluff pieces written by people who do not have any expertise in the area.

They do some research . . probably on the internet and use ideas from someone else’s fluff piece or maybe from several fluff pieces.

I disagree with most of the questions people are advised to ask agents.

Why would anyone want to know how many listings an agent has? The better question is to ask them what percentage of their listings get sold.

The real estate market is ever changing. If I am asked how long houses I list are on the market it wouldn’t be the same for one year to the next.

If I am asked what percentage of the asking price I get on average for homes that I list, that really isn’t a fair question unless I get to set the price.

If I did set the price in this market I would go low and consistently get more than the asking price for the home.

Real estate agents are salespeople and finding clients is most of what the job is all about.

Hiring the right real estate agent boils down to three simple questions:

  1. Does the agent have experience? 
  2. Is the agent someone I feel that I can trust and work with?
  3. Am I just a “deal” or will the agent give me the time and attention I deserve?

By experience, I mean at least 5 years and it should include working in your neighborhood or the neighborhood you wish to move to. Personally knowing what I know I wouldn’t work with anyone who has less than ten years of experience. Agents with no experience generally charge as much as agents who have decades of experience.

I have a bias toward full-time agents but I can honestly say I have known some part-time agents who do a better job than most full-time agents.

Trust is a big deal. If you don’t trust an agent do not work with him or her. Choosing someone who is easy to work with is also important. You will have to work closely with the agent that you choose.

Ask the agent if they have time to work with you. Are they going to hand you over to a junior team member? Do they sell zillions of houses? Will they care about your sale or purchase?

One of the best ways to find an amazing real estate agent is to ask friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers who they worked with and if they would recommend that person.

The only downside to that approach is people who have had only one experience buying or selling a home might not even realize their agent wasn’t up to par because he or she was so “nice”.

If you think choosing an agent is tough you should try choosing clients. When I mess up it can make my life miserable for weeks or months. I can end up spending money to market a home before I figure out that the owners are not committed to selling.

Also see: REALTOR is not an occupation

Prices are up, everything else is down

table and graph of local home sales
Local market update for February 2018

The report is from the Minnesota Association of Realtors and it shows that in the 7 county metro area new listings and home sales are down. The length of time it takes to sell a house is down. Prices are up. On average sellers got 1.6% more than the asking price in February. That means that prices are rising.

Year to date sellers got an average of 1.4% of the asking price. This shows that prices are still going up.

Some buyers are making offers on houses without looking at them because houses sell so quickly.

Happy house hunting!

For more local real estate numbers please see Local Market Conditions & Home prices

How much is my one bedroom condo worth?

The value of real estate is affected by location, condition, and size. If I take the same one bedroom condo and place it in four different areas the price will be different. Not only will the price be different but appreciation also varies by area and property type.

The table shows the average price of a one bedroom condo in 2018. The percentage is the average amount a one bedroom condo in each of the areas has appreciated since 2013.

Blanket statements about appreciation or real estate values are just a guide. The location and number of bedrooms, size, and condition of the property have a significant impact on value and future value for that matter.

Average value and appreciation of one bedroom condos

Getting ready to sell a house?

Here in St. Paul people who want to sell their house will need to get a truth in housing inspection. TISH for short. The program is run by the City of St. Paul. The inspection is pretty basic and no repairs are required with one exception. Homes are required to have one hardwired smoke alarm with battery back-up.

The city has specific requirements as to where and how this smoke alarm/detector is to be mounted. In most cases, an electrician will need to do it and a permit will be required.

The city has a list of qualified inspectors who can perform the inspection and prepare the report.  The inspection will not be free and is required. The city has a list of common deficiencies.  It is a good idea to make repairs before the inspection if possible.

Even though repairs are not required when a buyer sees a report with a lot of items on it that are hazardous or below minimum standards they may not want to make a full priced offer or any offer at all.

The houses in St. Paul are old. Most truth in housing reports have several items on them that are below minimum standards but it is a myth that houses have to be brought up to code or that repairs have to be made.

Building code is local and it changes over time. St. Paul building code was very different in the late 1850’s when my home was built than it is today.

Also see:

How to find Truth in housing reports

Efflorescence

Real estate teams are not always what you think they are

There are teams in sports. On a baseball team, everyone has a position and each player is responsible for playing his position to help the team win.

In business, the word “team” is used to refer to a group of people who work for the same company, department or office. We like to use sports analogies in business because they are easier for men to understand.

A team is a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal.

In real estate the point of a team is so that team members can get “leads” and so that the team leader can make more money. The leader gets some of the agent’s commissions. For new agents, teams can be a great way to get some hands-on experience and training but to be honest that is what a broker is supposed to provide.

Sometimes the clients of real estate teams get this mental picture of several people working on selling their home or finding them a new one but it almost never works that way. One agent works on selling the house while the others work with other clients or on lead capture.

If I call a team and ask about a home for sale usually no one but the actual listing agent knows anything about the home. In fact, it seems like they don’t even talk to each other. They don’t actually help each other when problems arise and they do not tap into each others expertise. Homes do not sell faster because they are listed by a real estate team.

Some teams do work together. There are a couple of smaller teams where each person on the team knows what is going on. I can call one team member and ask another team members listing or offer. Often these teams are families or couples who work together.

Teams are popular among agents because they are a great way for experienced agents to make more money and a way for inexperienced agents to get some experience.

Large teams operate like a company within a company. Some team leaders end up starting their own real estate company, other teams act and operate like a separate company, within a company.

It gets complicated. In the end, working with a team may not help you achieve your goals.  Sometimes working with a team means that after the team lists your house the only person you will talk to is an assistant because the lead agent who sells the real estate spends his/her time getting new business.

Go, team!