What About Your Loan Payoff?

Let’s talk about your closing attorney. The job of that organization is to search the title to a property to make sure you get a clean title, and to handle funds transfers at settlement. They can do other things, but buyers, you are hiring an escrow agent. That’s their main job. Nobody and I mean nobody should have access to your social security number, your banking account numbers, your investment account numbers, how much you have in savings and checking, how much you have in your WALLET, except your lender and your attorney. And don’t tell THEM how much you have in your wallet. That’s not even THEIR business. Let’s talk about that a minute.

I probably talk about wire fraud ten times or more during a real estate event, because it is a very real threat and I want my clients to understand that. I NEVER have possession of a paper, a text or an email, that has my clients’ social security number or any account numbers. Why? Because that means I have information in my office or on my phone or in the ‘cloud’ that could be snooped or stolen or hacked, yes even if locked, that I do not not not want and do not want getting out. I tell my clients to go TO the attorney’s office to give them their information, and if they can’t do it in person, call the attorney directly.

What about the account number for loan payoff? Well, the attorney will handle that. That’s part of settling funds. They will find out who holds the mortgage and off they go. If they need something, go there and give it to them. Or call them. If they call you and you don’t recognize the voice, excuse yourself from the call and then call them back. That way, you know you’re talking to the right person. Even they have to be extremely careful because hackers do, and will, hijack the information and the money. Attorneys work in conjunction with title companies to be sure that everything adds up, and that wiring numbers and amounts are the same and that your money is not stolen. Together, these two agencies make sure your money goes to the lender, or wherever it is supposed to go, and not to some hacker across the globe.

All along the way, the people who are ENTITLED to your personal information in order to get you to closing, have secure systems with extra security, to thwart hackers. But hackers never and I mean NEVER give up. So, just don’t email your information. Don’t text it either. Think like a hacker: If you want to know what the attorney knows, whose email would YOU hack? And if hackers think your real estate agent gets that info, whose email would they also go after? RIGHT. So just be careful.

And by the way, appreciate the behind the scenes efforts that the closing attorneys’ staff and title companies’ staff put forth to protect your interests. These are hardworking people and the title folks never even see your face.

Have a great day today. Give me a call or email if you want to talk real estate.

Brenda Briggs

Coldwell Banker Advantage, Wake Forest NC

919-210-6113

What, you mean TALK??

Hello everyone. Here I am writing a blog entry to talk to you, rather than using my voice. Isn’t that ironic? Here’s another thing: That picture of me? Old picture. I can’t figure out how to change it.

I wish I could speak with you face to face (notice I said WITH you and not TO you), but unfortunately I haven’t met you yet. Hopefully I will.

It occurred to me this morning while I was exercising (no eye rolling; I really was exercising), the heightened importance of communication in this particular market. Remember I told you that we are in an historical market. Never been experienced, hopefully won’t be again. It is a feeding frenzy out here in the real estate world, and the balance of power has been eliminated. Not tipped; eliminated. Sellers have ALL of the leverage; buyers have none. Yes, homes are selling in the first 24 hours of listing and yes people are paying through the nose for that house, but the market is not fair right now and I’ll tell you why I believe that statement to be so. This will lead me back to the subject of the title. You know I like to wander.

First and foremost for me, is that first time buyers, first time move-up buyers, and downsizers are effectively shut out of the market altogether, unless they have a big fat savings account. These days, who has that? Right. Not many. You’re right there with me. You know about me, that first time buyers are my ‘first love’ in real estate. Most of my first time buyers are incredibly excited to have saved enough to pay their closing costs; they cannot throw thousands and thousands on the table in order for their offer to even be CONSIDERED. I’m seeing thousands of sad faces in my mind right now, thinking about how this market has closed the door on them. I don’t like that. At ALL.

First time buyers, you say? That’s right. Not the most money, but a great blessing to serve them. And by they way not ALL first time buyers have limited funds. Some these days are doing quite well for themselves. And I do work in all price points, but the first timers have the biggest part of my heart.

Second: Houses are selling WAY above appraised value, and having lived through the 2008 crash, I know that years from now…YEARS.. I’ll be presenting listing information to some people who are upside down in their home because they paid such a dear price for it. The market is overheated…due to supply and demand, which is legitimate…and this kind of heat can’t sustain. This scares me because I lived through this once before. But…this is also the market, working.

Third, I get to see the worst of our current social conditions, in that greed has dissolved in the solution of society to such an extent that humanity and greed are indistinguishable. In most cases, it has become a ‘how much can I get?’ rather than ‘how can I be a good steward in society?’ In other words, when the power landed exclusively in the sellers’ hands, many sellers stopped caring whether they sold to someone who would appreciate the flower beds, or who would appreciate the proximity to cultural events, or love the house, for example. It’s all about the money, ladies and gentlemen. And that money is in the form of elevated offer price and HUGE due diligence checks…just to have your offer in the running! No guarantees it will be ‘the one’. And that brings us back to ordinary working folks (like me) who can just sit down, read a book and KEEP SAVING.

Let me just qualify that last paragraph a little bit by saying that back in 2010, around the crash time, buyers had all of the leverage; sellers had none. Sellers had to BEG buyers to choose their home. And if a buyer DID make an offer, they were BRUTAL in their requirements of the seller: Below list price offer, low or no due diligence and earnest money, paint the whole house, put on a new roof, put in new appliances, put in new landscaping. And sellers did it, just so they could sell. Some sellers paid thousands just to get their home sold. What does this all mean? It means absolute power corrupts absolutely. Not my idea. It came from this quote by Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” But you get the idea. You give someone a huge imbalance of power and you are at their mercy. Period. Oh how I wish it were not so. But humans are humans. And so now, buyers are at sellers’ mercy, so to speak.

So…all of this said, it is IMPERATIVE that buyers and sellers, sit down and TALK with your real estate agent. It is so very important that you understand the environment into which you are about to step! Don’t think you can just read something on Zillow or Realtor.com, for example, and have the slightest clue how to navigate these waters! Listen, those are great websites. I use them all the time. But they can’t make you a licensed professional real estate agent. You know, if you go on a beginner white water rafting adventure, as a BEGINNER, you are likely to experience a 20 foot drop. As a BEGINNER. Keep that image in mind when you start as a beginner buyer or seller (everyone is a beginner in this historical market, by the way)! Why? Because the drop is 60 feet in real estate. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of real estate. The news is not always something you want to hear, or something that is going to make you feel good. Truth actually does hurt sometimes. But it is easier to navigate if it comes from a real estate agent that can tell you how to paddle AROUND that 60 foot drop.

Remember the days when you could offer below list price and wait for the seller to come back with a counter? That’s NOT how it works now. Sellers don’t usually counter. They just drop your offer in the ‘no’ pile and pick up one from the stack of other buyers who are operating in THIS market and offering their best right out of the gate. It’s NOT like the old days, folks. I cannot stress that enough, nor say it enough times. You, Mr and Mrs Buyer, are competing with people who have not even SEEN the house, but are throwing big money at it.

Some would say the answer is to just wait. Well sometimes waiting isn’t an option. Sometimes people HAVE to move. Rent? Have you see rental prices lately?? What this means is that your agent should be able to walk you through…all the way through…the things you will encounter. And you have to listen to your professional, licensed real estate agent. That’s so you can make good decisions having had time to CONTEMPLATE the implications! I don’t like to surprise my clients. I like for them to know what they’re doing, what they will do next week, and what may be coming around the corner. Why? Because that lessens their stress, and you know, if you’ve read any of my blog entries, that a key element of my business is to help my clients have as stress-free a transaction as possible. It’s my job to mitigate stress for you; that’s how I see it. Oh, it’ll never be stress FREE, but stress can be lessened.

Let me just admit that I LOVE electronic signatures, texting, emails…all the things that make info go faster (I used to work in the industry that made this stuff possible). But there are times when a face to face information exchange/Q&A session are crucial. This is one of those times. Sit down with your real estate agent and MAKE SURE he/she understands the market and its conditions. Make sure you’re dealing with a leader. And please, don’t do this and then drop back a decade at offer time and make a low offer, expecting a counter. That will lose the house for you. Every time.

Now…supply and demand. Where are all the houses?? That’s the issue. For every home on the market there are potentially hundreds of buyers. I’m going to estimate the by the time you factor in 1) who can actually get there to see it; 2) who can compete for it; 3) for whom is the timing right; 4) will they be able to do the repairs; 5) is the floor plan right; etc…you’ll end up with at least 10, maybe as many as 20, offers. Sellers are limiting showing time on the market because the showing schedule literally fills up, 8 am until 7 pm, right away. Sellers have to stay away pretty much except nighttime. No seller wants to do that for the long term, and they don’t have too. They’ll get offers in the first 24 hours, some sight-unseen. Yep, that’s the newest little competition. So now, showing options are getting limited and offers are coming without the buyers even laying eyes on the house. This is the market working. This is the environment into which you step in order to sell or buy. You must understand that. This is NOT the old way of doing things, folks.

Make sure your agent can guide you appropriately. That’s paramount. Your agent will share the market conditions with you, tell you where there are lower priced homes, if there are any. Those are usually in the ‘banished from the kingdom’ areas, or they are the ones that say “fixer upper” but really mean ‘dump’. Your agent can tell you how many days homes stay on the market in the area you like, talk about how to make a clean, strong, competitive offer. After you have gotten the lay of the land from your agent, please listen. It’s brutal out there and you actually do need guidance and advice. The internet is a great tool, but the internet doesn’t know my market, and it doesn’t know yours. So find a good…really good…agent.

I’m your girl, by the way. Call me.

Brenda Briggs

Realtor, Broker

Coldwell Banker Advantage

919-210-6113

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Pending sales dropped for the second straight month, according to data. One more drop and we can officially call it a trend. But does this surprise ANYBODY? It shouldn’t. I currently have seven buyers…SEVEN…and cannot find anything for any of them, though prices range from $150,000 to $685,000. Data published during the first quarter indicated that our existing home inventory declined by 60% over last year. I think it was higher than that.

I complained loudly last year about investors buying up inventory that would otherwise be there for first time buyers, a trend that effectively pushed that group of buyers firmly out of the market. In a few cases, first time buyers were able to go up in price, but generally not; in other words, the market was squeezed from the bottom by investors. I thought that was incredibly unfair to young people trying to buy a home, because that’s an exciting feeling, taking that step to home ownership, and this group of buyers happens to be one of my favorite.

So, investors pushed people UP in price to where first time buyers were in the $220,000 price point to START, thereby wiping out most young buyers from the market. Because investors gobbled up lower price points, stress was put on the next price plateau until that group of homes was eliminated from the market. That happened very quickly, in part because existing homes sold fast, and people SELLING in that price point often couldn’t move up in price due to lack of inventory. So they stayed, and are staying, put.

All along, us real estate agents were able to funnel clients to new construction to circumvent the dearth of resale homes available. You know the result of that. Builders are now completely overwhelmed with buyers desperate to find housing. Waiting lists are being used and LOT PREMIUMS (once a rare thing) are now the order of the day, and now huge. Lot cost has become an add-on. And buildable lots are being put out for BIDS. So now in new construction, you start out overpricing yourself in the market, just to get a lot to build on. And then you have to be able to afford the house that goes on it. Example: A 2×10 board that used to cost 8 bucks is now 32 bucks. Want to guess how that effects new construction?

There has been a desperate charge by agents to find creative ways to get clients even under contract, and the result has been increasing and increasing due diligence amounts being offered to entice sellers to accept offers. This is a dangerous practice for people without tens of thousands of dollars to risk OR buyers who can just afford to do repairs no matter what. In other words, you had better not expect to walk away if you put up a huge due diligence because that money is at RISK. Period. There are other ways to find homes to buy, and I’m doing all of them. But it’s time consuming and the return on effort is low. It’s there, but low.

I hate to say that I wish interest rates would go up, but as bad as that sounds, it will probably have to happen to stop this insanity. I believe we are about to see the market flooded with short sales and foreclosures because of the Covid effect, which brings back memories of 2008. It’s a scary time out here for those of us who are the boots on the ground, so to speak.

SO…if you are planning to buy OR SELL actually, don’t expect things to happen quickly. Be careful how you handle due diligence. Get someone to help you think it through carefully and KNOW YOUR RISK, on both sides of the table, before you take that leap. My fervent wish is that sellers will stop looking at due diligence as a cash-grab, and help this crazy market un-inflame. We don’t have a ‘hot’ market right now; we have an INSANE market, and an insane market is unpredictable and dangerous. I’ve never seen ANYTHING like it, and I don’t like it AT ALL. I can’t predict the future, but I can tell you that it’s not going to be good in real estate. Not without some ‘rule changes’.

So let’s be careful out there. And, first time buyers? Are you there? I am patient and I will work with you as long as it takes. And as of now, it could be years. But you have to know that under 200 thousand, the homes are statistically nonexistent. That means, one pops up on a rare occasion, but it’s largely uninhabitable.

So while you pour over the internet looking for a house you like and can afford, KEEP SAVING YOUR MONEY. And as for due diligence, just know you’ll have to put about 2% of list price right on the table, up front, to even have a shot at getting a house, but you will get it back at closing. Just don’t walk away.

And call me.

I’m at Coldwell Banker Advantage at Wake Forest NC. Ask for me. Let’s talk.

Driving the ‘Highest and Best’ Term into the Ground

You know…it bothers me when I hear real estate agents or builders talking about ‘highest and best’ in terms of money they want you to pay. That term is NOT meant to indicate your best offer, your strongest offer, the best you can EVER do, or please pay more than you can afford offer. What they SHOULD SAY is, “You have 24 hours to amend/improve your offer.” Amend, improve, change the terms, WHATEVER. But NOT ‘highest and best’. That’s a red flag of ignorance of what you learned (or rather did NOT learn) in your real estate classes.

Here’s what that term ACTUALLY means:

The definition of highest and best use is as follows:The reasonable, probable and legal use of vacant land or an improved property, which is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and that results in the highest value.

So, if you own a parcel of land, or a building or house, and once it was in the middle of nowhere, and THEN the town expands and envelops that parcel, THEN that parcel’s ‘highest and best’ use might not be residential anymore. It might now be best used for commercial. That could mean more money for you and it might mean that once homey dwelling gets bulldozed to make room for a big old gas station, IF that results in a legal use of the property, a more profitable use, supported by the surrounding land use, you get the idea.

THAT’S what highest and best means, and if your agent uses that term in ANY OTHER WAY, fire them.

Due Diligence in Real Estate

Due diligence means ‘do your job, make sure what you are trying to buy is worth the money you are paying.’ You do this by hiring inspectors AND by looking at the property yourself, with an eye for flaws or better yet, hidden ones.

Look, the NC offer to purchase clearly says that the property is being sold ‘AS IS’. The seller is not even required to enter into a DISCUSSION with you about repairs. So the burden is on you, buyer, and that comes with a big check from you for the right to conduct your ‘due diligence’. That could include but not necessarily be limited to, home inspection, roof inspection, HVAC inspection, wood destroying insects inspection, crawl space inspection, well and septic inspection, radon inspection, structural inspection, a survey….you get the idea. And while you’re at it, stand in the yard and see if all of the rain water is going to wash right into your yard. I tell my clients, “You don’t want to be in the bottom of the bowl”. Look around.

In NC, if a home is listed in multiple listing service, with a couple of exceptions, the seller is required to provide a seller’s disclosure, which OSTENSIBLY would reveal any problems with the home. It would be nice if we could rely solely on that document; however, and I know this will ASTOUND you: Sometimes sellers are not quite honest about things that are wrong with the home they are selling. AND, there’s this little column on the disclosure that is for “no representation”. I like to call that “I don’t know and I don’t care” choice, but that’s probably too harsh most times. What it really means is that the seller really doesn’t KNOW. That part is used a lot of times when the question is about plumbing pipes, for example. Many folks really DON’T know what kind of pipes are in the home. And the ‘no representation’ choice definitely applies to rental properties where the seller hasn’t lived in the home, for example, or an inherited property where the heir truly doesn’t know the details.

What this all means is that you, buyer, should just INSPECT INSPECT INSPECT, regardless. NC is a ‘buyer beware’ state, as we say, but in reality, all states are. You must do your homework, folks. Nobody really can do that for you. Sorry not sorry. If you are able to purchase an entire HOUSE, you should also be capable of getting some good inspections done. Unless you just don’t have to worry about it. It is, after all, your choice. If I am your agent and you waive inspections, that’s going on record with your signature, because…that’s only fair.

Look at fences with squinty eyes, wondering whether that neighbor’s fence is actually on the lot you’re buying, OR whether the fence you’re about to buy is ‘encroaching’ (hate that word) onto THEIR land. Oh yeah, that involves lawyers. Need I say more? That speaks to the value of a survey. You should get one done.

You should expect to pay 1200 bucks or more (particularly if you survey and do structural engineering inspections), BEFORE you buy. Obviously, the more inspections you order, the higher the cost. Most inspectors will ask to be paid for their services at the time the service is provided; some will wait to be paid out of closing proceeds. But regardless of whether or not you close, you owe that inspector. So yeah, you’ll have to fork over some money up front, EVEN if you’re doing 100% financing.

I don’t need to tell you that buying a house is a big deal, but I’m gonna. Buying a house is a big deal. So you will truly need to inspect well before you finalize the deal. That’s what DUE DILIGENCE is for. It’s your time to inspect the home and land, even to see how the sun strikes the kitchen counters in the morning, how the house ‘feels’ when you stand in the hallway, whether you think the puppy will like the yard, all of that. So good luck! Buying a home is exciting and it is also fun if I am your agent. And if I’m your agent, you’ll learn a lot too.

It would be great to meet you. I am always honored to help buyers find their dream home.

Have a LOVELY day.

Brenda Briggs, Coldwell Banker Advantage

Time to get TINY

We have lagged behind the tiny house movement in the past, but we are catching up. Yes, I said tiny house MOVEMENT, and if you don’t know what that is, you’d better wake up. Tiny houses are up to 400 square feet in living space, are usually on wheels, are often set up to be ‘off grid’, are almost always ADORABLE, and the interest is growing almost by orders of magnitude.

Why would anybody want to live in such small space, you ask? Well, ask the teachers, the IT professionals who work from the tiny home, the retirees, who are looking to downsize and save a lot of money (actually everyone does), and the people who crave a sense of community over materialism. That sentiment is growing. People are tired of living in a fire ant bed, and some of these tiny home communities have community garden spaces, natural areas to share, some have picnic areas, places to barter goods or sell art, you name it. By the way, most tiny house dwellers are highly educated; a large percentage have masters’ degrees. But whatever the case, there is a huge wave of interest in this phenomenon, which started a LONG time ago. Some people live in less than 100 square feet, some go up to 400. And their bank account is much larger, let me just say.

In case you wonder, some of these homes have granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, walk in showers, dishwashers, the list goes on. Many find they actually CAN live without a microwave oven, many have telescoping windmills attached and solar panels. Most have a wifi booster. So it’s not like camping, folks. Not at ALL. And by the way, some builders build these homes for people with chemical allergies, or even EMF allergies. The builders are very good at what they do, and are very green and very consumer conscious. Most tiny homes are custom builds, so you get what you want.

In college, I studied the influence of age ‘cohort’ (fancy word for group), usually defined by decades. What became clear is that peoples’ values change by the decade, almost on cue. Thirty somethings are all about building, buying, going and later having kids, very self focused often. Forty somethings are all about raising kids and growing careers and they begin to contemplate how they fit into the overall universe. But seniors (over 55)stop placing value on material things and money, and focus on home and family, and they are most aware of their impact on others. That’s it. Many current tiny home buyers are approaching that age.

Imagine a home with SIX lights. Count the ones in your house right now. So there’s that savings right out of the box. Yes, tiny houses have an average of six lights. You can add lamps. Appliances are smaller, space is at a premium when it comes to storage, so you can’t have a bunch of stuff…that you would otherwise spend money on, but you CAN put full size appliances in if you want. It takes peanuts to heat and cool such a small space and if you put solar panels on top, goodbye light bill. Your carbon footprint is smaller, your cost to live is minimal, you tend to spend more time outside in nature, and you get to feel like you again, without all of the stress of accumulation.

You know, many people live in vans now, did you know that? That’s ANOTHER movement. Tired of the spot after three days, start the engine and move along; see the country. People from all walks of life are becoming more ‘green’ aware, seeing the advantage of not being a conspicuous consumer, and most tiny house owners have NO…ZIP…ZERO…NADA…mortgage, whether they live in a camper, a schoolie, a van or an actual tiny house. That’s life changing, folks. Oh and let’s not forget the innovative ones who build phenomenal homes from SHIPPING CONTAINERS. Yep, some are breathtaking.

Do people with kids live tiny? Yep, some do. And some folks with kids live in schoolies, which I forgot to say, is an old school bus converted to a house on wheels. Really guys, you have to catch up on this stuff.

Go to Youtube and check out Tiny Houses, though. People ALWAYS smile when you talk about them, and there’s a good reason for it. They are usually uniquely stunning, they represent a freeing and relaxing lifestyle, they represent a sense of connecting with community and getting back in touch with nature, all good stuff. Our NC zoning and planning departments need to get on board and get ready. This IS the way we’re heading.

Life After Cutting the Cord

Wow, it has been years since I stopped paying high cable bills. I just have internet, and not through the ‘cable’ companies either. My internet performance is actually BETTER than it was with super high speed internet through Time Warner. Right, super high speed. Joke! See how long it has been? I cut the cord when Time Warner increased my bill and then increased it AGAIN when I called to complain. Good old no-customer service Time Warner.

After they tried to give me ‘free stuff’ to keep me as a customer and told me my NEW monthly bill amount, it was HIGHER. I had to laugh. I said, “Does this actually WORK for you? Are people really that stupid?” She didn’t say it, but the answer was, of course, yes. And I of course canceled my service. And there was one more nail in the coffin of my belief that people were basically pretty smart.

So I cut the cord, bought a Roku box…yes, it was a little tiny box then. And I got an antenna for both of my TVs. So I have Amazon prime, I killed Netflix, I have Roku (free) and antenna TV (also free). I don’t have TIME to miss the cable shows I thought I couldn’t live without. I can stay completely happy watching YouTube videos if nothing else, and free antenna TV (remember THAT?) is great. I get about 21 channels just from that. Roku has free movies that they add to each month, and if I WANTED to watch sports, which I don’t, I can get that on free TV.

So, I’m very happy and a lot richer because I cut the cord. In fact, I’m working on cutting back again…hence axing Netflix. That’s a start. But long story short, life without cable is BETTER. Anything they offer I can get right on my laptop, and what I pay for internet is way cheaper.

Understanding Value in Real Estate

Okay, I’m crusing around online again. BIG MISTAKE. So here GOES.

I think we can all agree that buying that perfect English Cottage home you’ve always wanted can actually be a nightmare if the home is falling apart under your feet. Even if you got it at a steal of a deal, a money pit can literally ruin you. It pays to know what you’re getting. That’s what I mean about value. Make sure you know what you are GETTING and what you are NOT GETTING, before you make a decision.

The same is true of your real estate agent, or even better, whether or not you WANT one. Yes, we live in an age of technology, and yes we can do most things electronically. But that’s not the purpose of your real estate agent. Your real estate agent can do all of the tech stuff you want, but don’t you want to know WHY you’re doing it? Wouldn’t you think it was a good idea to understand those e-forms you’re signing? Even better, wouldn’t it be nice to know why you need them? Oh, and who works for YOU? Is it that person telling you you don’t need an agent? Careful now, because often they work for the OTHER GUY. Nobody wants to leave cash on the table, so be careful about whom is representing YOUR INTERESTS. In other words, make sure somebody IS. CAN’T TELL? Call an agent.

Oh, yeah, remember that plumbing inspection you decided you didn’t need? Who do you call at midnight when you can surf in your house? ME! You don’t get to cry if you decided you knew everything and you didn’t need an agent or wouldn’t listen to the one you had.

People get wrapped round the axle about commissions, but did you know…God I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said this…the AGENT does not get that check! THE AGENCY, make that AGENCIES (plural) get that. When you seek the aid of a real estate agent, you’re hiring the benefit of their companies, with all of the expertise and tools to guide you through one of, if not THE, biggest financial transaction you’ve ever done. It pays to have a leader who knows the ropes and can guide you well through them. And every time you think we don’t earn our money, just text us and ask what we did for you today. Most of us will say, “You mean starting at midnight?” Because that’s often the case. While you are sleeping, we are often working for you. It’s not unusual for me to send out emails at 1 am. Oh and by the way, that nice magazine you get long after you closed? It came from me. Free to you, by the way. You’re welcome.

And yes, there are all KINDS of websites you can poke around in, but let me tell you, if it was that easy, there wouldn’t be licensing requirements and continuing education (ad nauseam) requirements and each year, a ‘general update’ with, in part, the latest and greatest potholes to watch out for. And, if it was that easy, everyone who took the licensing test would PASS. THEY DON’T. Listen, real estate agents are not just there to open the door for you. We work hard, all the time. We sleep with our phones and our laptops, and we get calls at midnight from clients having meltdowns sometimes. We get calls with pop-up questions, and we drive THOUSANDS of miles on your behalf.

We talk to inspectors for you, attorneys, surveyors, plumbers, roofers, handymen. We arrange inspections and make appointments with attorneys, we crawl under houses and into attics, and we do A TON of paperwork. We take classes and attend meetings to stay on top of changes, to real estate, to lending, to title insurance, to warranties. To mold, to radon, to septic systems and new construction. We grease the wheels of the process so you just show up and sign; we take the heat for you and the stress too. We are ALWAYS working behind the scenes for you, just to make sure you get a good VALUE in the transaction. So when you think we don’t do much, think again. You are able to think that because WE did all the work for you. The easier it was for you, the BETTER your agent was.

It costs MONEY to buy a house. We get to be the ones to tell you HOW MUCH. Somehow, that makes US the BAD GUYS. We didn’t TELL you to buy a house. We didn’t make the rules and laws, but somehow it is OUR fault you get to pay for your inspections and the attorney and title insurance and homeowners’ insurance. We control the rotation of the Earth, didn’t you know?

Marketing. Ah marketing. I have seen THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of HORRIBLE pictures of homes that have sat on the market forEVER. If your agent puts crap like that online for the galaxy to see, well you get what you deserve. Oh and if it was YOU who took the pictures? God help you. You have embarrassed yourself before the entire galaxy. And beyond. Good agents take marketing your home very seriously and you will not see dark, dingy photographs out there to ‘showcase’ your home. It just won’t happen. Oh, you can take your own photos? Give me a call about that in about 5 years. There is VALUE in professionally done photos and professional marketing that YOU don’t pay for.

I work in an industry where we are OFTEN treated like ambulance chasers. I have worked in industry, retail, science, management, on farms, in factories, and in real estate and NOTHING is as hard as real estate. Nothing. Real estate is 24/7, non stop, and people think they can automatically treat you like garbage when they get stressed. NOT ALL THE TIME, but a lot of times. People don’t handle stress well, and in a real estate transaction, somebody’s gonna be moving, which is stressful. Who gets the flack? The real estate agent, many times.

So in case you are wondering, there is VALUE in what I do. I give up my weekends for you, my holidays, my sleep; I take heat from attorneys and inspectors and lenders; I take all of the heat you throw at me and endure the knives in my back, undeserved I might add, and I still get you to the closing table and I STILL give you a very nice closing gift. Why? Because real estate agents are in this business because we like to HELP people. Even the prickly ones.

Yes. We have every bit as much value as the next worker you pass on the street. And in case you’re wondering, many of us are engineers, scientists, accountants, airline pilots, bankers, retired VPs, golf pros. So yeah, we have brains too. And you’re fortunate to have us in your corner, and I mean that.

The Value of a Real Estate Agent Referral

Hi everybody. I hope this post finds you well. I just wanted to do a quick post to remind potential real estate buyers or sellers about the value of a referral.

Keep in mind that agents, we boots on the ground, know a LOT about the market, other agents and agencies, and we get to know YOU. If your agent isn’t bothering to get to know you, they’re not very good agents and you’re not being served as well as you could be. Period. Remember that we are licensed in the STATE of NC, not just a single town. When your friends and family decide to make a move, your agent knows you and can find out about your friend or family member by actually talking with you about it. Then we have the connections to find an agent who will serve your friend or family member best IF we are not able to. And remember this also means out of state referrals!

Let me give you an example, and I don’t want to hear anything about stereotyping either. I live in this world. A senior buyer or seller is VASTLY DIFFERENT from a young or first time client. It takes an entirely different skill set to work with seniors. Seniors are far more cautious; they often are in a limited income situation; and they don’t always understand the structure within which the process happens. You’ve got to watch their budget and you have to not rush them! Young people, on the other hand, because they often have no experience with the process, need a LOT of information and guidance. They are revving the engine and we had better be able to keep up. Fascinating. It’s labor intensive, to use that phrase, but one of my favorites. I love young folks with ambition and drive. It gives me a good feeling about life in general. BUT…the two genres are different. And there’s every situation between, by the way.

So, let us find an agent who will help you best. We have a referral network, and when I call my folks, they are WONDERFUL about finding a good match. It might be a patient and compassionate agent good with seniors, or it might be a young firecracker who can jog beside first time buyers through the technical points of a transaction. We know our people and we can help you find the perfect match.

Give us a shot. We care about you having a great experience.

Flipping…

Well, these days you hardly get the ‘flip’ in before the house is grabbed in mid-air. ‘Toss’ is probably a better word. How about “Toss This House”. My goodness, there’s a mad rush for ‘existing’ homes all over the US, with each available home having many, many interested buyers. Multiple offers is the norm. I hate it.

Yep, I’m a real estate agent, but I also appreciate a fair, balanced market. This market supremely favors the wealthier buyers, and my first time buyers are literally shoved aside or intimidated out of even trying. My heart goes out to the excited buyers who have saved and worked on credit score, diligently trying to get out of the rental lifestyle into homeownership. I see, time after time, their optimism turning into disappointment, as their ability to offer above lists price and bring the difference to closing, kicks them out of the running. OR, they are reduced to shopping through the inventory of homes where you can see the ground through the floor, or where outdoor carpet has been flung onto the floor inside. It is ridiculous.

Here’s why this bothers me…in PART…why this bothers me. One day, and you know I am right, people who pay 10, 15, 20 thousand over list price are going to get stuck with that house when the market falls. Think about this: If you offer more than the appraised value right out of the gate and THEN the market falls (or crashes), then you need to sell? Oh boy. You will have to bring that extra you paid out BACK to the table again as the seller, and possibly more, just to be able to sell a home you now have to list BELOW market value. I’ve seen this happen; I lived through a market crash with people who HAD to sell for jobs or family reasons, cashing in tens of thousands of 401K dollars, just to get rid of their home. I understand this is a free market and all of that, and I am a capitalist. But I have also “lived in the future” to a great extent. I tend to view my life as today + ten years out. I’ve been pretty doggone accurate too. And I’ve found that things tend to work out somehow. But the number of home being sold above appraised value deeply concerns me. I’m going to be the one going to listing appointments and giving bad news time after time. I’ve done it; I don’t like it.

Anyway, I started out talking about my young buyers or firsts time buyers and how hard it is to see them getting cut from the running. I hate it and I don’t think it’s fair. So. House tossers. How about this? How about you try buying some smaller homes, putting fewer bells and whistles in them, and giving the entry level buyers a doggone chance?? Spend less on the downstroke…buy TWO! Make them cute and comfortable, safe and warm, and sell them at a price the entry level buyers can afford. And sell them to a owner, not an investor, and give them a chance. YOU had one; why not pay back the opportunity? I say you can spend less up front and still make a profit. In other words, my little first time buyers can live without granite and top of the line appliances. They know they can upgrade that stuff later.

Anybody? Anybody? It is not all about the money, is what I am saying. Man can’t live by bread alone. That’s not me; that came from somewhere else.