The internet has changed agent networking

The internet has changed almost everything. I remember back in the day when real estate agents used to travel in packs and view houses that their company

Historic home

had on the market. Agents networked amongst themselves in their offices and sometimes only with other agents under the same brand.

There are a couple of large companies in the area that really advertise their internal agent networking skills. Internal networking promotes dual agency and it can lead to fair housing complaints.

Most agent networking happens on the internet. We can see which agents have buyers looking for houses like the one we just listed through the MLS. We put information about homes for sale on the internet so that the information is shared with everyone.

Homebuyers have more choices than ever or they would if we had more homes on the market and home sellers can count on drawing from the largest pool of buyers when they list their home with a Realtor.

Technology has leveled the playing field as leveled the playing field and has made it easy for agents to network with a much larger group. Homebuyers also benefit because they have quick free access to information about homes for sale with pictures.

When choosing an agent to sell your house, ignore the song and dance. Choose an agent who knows how to leverage the internet for networking and marketing.

Also, see Broker Reciprocity

Real estate commission mythology

When I meet with clients they often tell me what the going rate is for real estate commissions is. The number seems a bit high but if people are willing to pay it I won’t turn it down.

We are not allowed to discuss commissions amongst ourselves and there are no price lists out there. If two brokers discuss how much they charge they can be accused of price-fixing.

People who believe that all real estate agents always charge a certain amount probably end up paying more. Real estate commissions are always negotiable and there is no “going rate”.

I don’t have a problem with being paid more than I had planned on asking for and will happily accept it when it is offered and I suspect that my peers feel the same.

Also, I love the idea of “discount” brokers. If there isn’t a rate sheet or price list how do people know they are getting a discount? I offer a flat fee option where the seller does most of the work and I charge a flat fee upfront for limited services. Those services usually include listing the home on the MLS and photography and more. Not all real estate companies offer flat-fee options.

Getting paid upfront is different, normally I work for free until after the sale closes and if it doesn’t close for any reason I don’t get paid.

Oh and please report an agent who won’t show a home because the commission payout to the buyer’s agent is low. You can and should file an ethics complaint against that agent.

Barges on the Mississippi River

Old vs. Vintage

To some people a house is old and to others it is vintage. There are houses that were built in the 1950s and 1960s that are almost untouched by time. They still have the original owners too. I call those houses vintage. Other than the wall-to-wall carpet in shades of gold, green, or orange some of these houses are move-in ready.

I have found 50+-year-old appliances and furnaces still working and kitchen cupboards still in good condition with the original hardware that is vintage. We can still get parts for some of the appliances and hardware for windows and cupboards.

Some of those little mid-century ramblers were remodeled in the 1980s. Those houses are more old than vintage. Sometimes remodeling them again makes more sense than trying to restore them.

Old tends to happen because of neglect or “trendy” remodels. Vintage never gets old if you like vintage.

The houses in St. Paul are mostly old, historic, really old, and vintage. Historic is old but old is not historic.

Vintage wallpaper and countertop

To stage of not to stage

Dining room – with most of the furnishings removed. 

One of the first questions some home sellers ask is if they need to have their home staged. My answer to that is “it depends”. If I have actually seen the home I might have a completely different answer.

What I won’t recommend is stuffing a small home full of furniture and putting signs on the wall that say: “Eat, Pray, Love”. If the goal is to sell the house quickly and for top dollar, less clutter is best especially if it is a small home.

Often we end up removing furniture and staging the home with what is left or bringing in a few pieces.  I am big on table cloths informal dining rooms even though they are seldom used in real life. I also like to use fresh flowers.

The ROI (Return on Investment) for staging is much higher during a buyer’s market than it is during the current seller’s market. Sometimes the only reason for staging a house is that the seller believes in staging.

If the house is empty sometimes all it needs are a few pieces of furniture.  We always want the home to look fairly generic so that people can imagine their own furnishings and color schemes.

It is true that builders stage model homes. There are a lot of reasons for that. One reason is that it gives them something to show prospective buyers.

Homes are selling so quickly getting them staged and then unstaged can be very challenging. The real estate market is local and ever-changing. Each house is a little different as are the goals of the sellers. Currently, I am not sure that a well-staged house is going to sell for more or sell faster than an empty house but that could change at any time.

Some properties look much better with no furniture than they look with furnishings that are in poor condition. The appearance of almost any room can be improved with cleaning and or fresh paint.

It depends is my final answer on staging and I sticking with it.

You hired the wrong agent

Dear homeowner,

You hired the wrong agent. He doesn’t know when or if the required Truth in Housing report required by the city will be done. He has to ask you what your preferred closing date is because he doesn’t know. He is very busy.

He doesn’t have the condo docs and doesn’t know where they are. He has the showing appointment system set up so that most people who want to see your home will not be able to, which is probably alright because you can only accept one offer.

The pictures he took are pretty bad. They are small and dark and fail to capture the inner beauty of your home. He used his phone to take them and didn’t even bother to make them level.  He is just too busy.

We have other questions about your home but your agent doesn’t respond to calls or emails but will send text messages between 8 and 9 each evening. . . some evenings. He is busy and doesn’t want to be bothered which is understandable. He has other clients to consider.

There is more but you don’t need to hear it. Relax there is a shortage of houses for sale, it will sell.

Just remember that the agent you hired represents you. Next time around hire someone that you will be proud to be represented by. Someone who has time for the full service as offered in the glossy brochure.

Sincerely me

Sellers – choose the best offer

During the seller’s market, we have gotten offers from homebuyers who have not toured the property and offers that are way above the asking price.

We have also had many more cases of buyers backing out before, after, or during the inspection period. In situations where offers are similar, the best offer might be from the buyers who have actually toured the property. Ask your Realtor® for advice on this.

In situations where the buyer is offering significantly more than the asking price, they are significantly more likely to get cold feet if the inspector finds too many issues. Some will attempt to renegotiate the price or ask for repairs others will back out altogether.

Some sellers are stating that they will not accept offers from people who have not seen the property. That makes things extra tough for homebuyers.  Often the house is totally booked with appointments and it has an offer on it before buyers can see it.