“Days on Market” Doesn’t Matter Much

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Imagine you’re looking for a new home and come across one that seems to be just what you’ve been looking for. It’s got the amenities you want, the price is good and it’s in great condition. You ask your Realtor how long it’s been on the market and they tell you it’s been on the market for four months. Does that change your mind about the home?

It shouldn’t.

Days on Market is a myth– it doesn’t show the desirability of a home anymore than being single at 40 shows that someone isn’t lovable. Sometimes good homes go unnoticed and sometimes there are reasons a good home, priced well, hasn’t sold fast. Maybe it was being remodeled during that time, perhaps it wasn’t accessible and couldn’t be shown very easily, or maybe the sellers received a lot of offers but haven’t accepted any yet.

Maybe it’s been under contract and off the market for much of the time. Sometimes agents or staff don’t update the MLS info timely (or at all). If a home is listed Jan 1 and the seller accepts an offer on Jan 3, that home now should show as “under contract” on the MLS. but if the sale fails because the buyers can’t get their loan and it’s put back to “active” on Feb 13- the MLS shows that home has been on the market for 44 days when it’s actually only been available for three.

When you go to the store to buy a new shirt do you ask how long the shirts have been for sale or how long that line has been out- and would it matter either way? Of course not- you either like the shirt or you don’t. And that’s how buying a home should be…

When you are looking for a home make it easy on yourself- determine what’s really important to you, go see all the homes that meet your criteria and buy the best one. Working with one of the best agents in the market will ensure that you get a fair price and terms that work for you.

And have some fun  shopping for your new home…

Five Things About Successful Salespeople

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I’ve heard it said that we’re all in sales, in one form or another. And there’s probably some truth to that. Having children means selling them on the benefits of brushing their teeth and going to sleep at a good hour and sometimes we try to sell our friends on why we should eat at this restaurant or to try out this new golf club or go see that movie that we thought was so good.

But for actual salespeople, or those of us who’s work it is to assist people in the actual sale of a product or service, there are some things that I believe are fundamentally important to being successful at what we do, and they aren’t necessarily the same things that are important in other professions.

There’s a difference between acheiving success and being a successful salesperson- this post is about the latter. Five things about successful salespeople;

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They like people. We’re all different and for every type of personality there is someone who wants to work with them. But I believe the truly successful salesperson enjoys other people and wants to do well by them. They have a social element to their personality. I don’t think they need to be especially outgoing, but if you genuinely like people you’ll want to be around them. It’s interesting to observe people at parties or gatherings. Next time you’re at a party watch how some people naturally float around talking to everyone and some people stay next to the people they came with.

They lead.  A good salesperson can assist their clients in making decisions. Often times we need someone to make it okay to make a decision. Good salespeople give us options, help us to decipher all the information, and then they encourage us to go ahead with the purchase. Sometimes people need validation on their decision or a push in the right direction. Nobody likes a pushy salesman, and that creates the problem. Nobody wants to be a pushy salesman because then they’d have to hate themselves. But there’s a big difference in that fine line between pushy salesman and successful salesperson.

They gain our trust. It takes time to earn trust or respect, but it takes a lot longer for some, because they don’t actively earn it. If I’m looking for a new HDTV I want the salesperson to have answers and offer them to me. I want them to show me the difference between differest technologies and tell me if some models or brands get a lot of complaints or returns. I don’t know the right questions to ask because TV’s aren’t my thing. I want them to tell me what I should know and give me reasons to buy one brand or technology over another. I may not know the person when I first enter the store, but by the time I leave I might trust them completely when it comes to buying a new HDTV. And if I do, that’s a successful salesperson.

They learn. Imagine sitting down with your accountant to prepare your taxes and they don’t know any of the new tax laws for that year. Successful sales people continue to learn and educate themselves in their field. They know the new products or technologies or statistics and can recite them at will. They know the current trends and the causes behind them.

They’re comfortable. People who are comfortable are comfortable to be around. A salesperson who is nervous or desperate makes me uncomfortable and when I’m shopping for a service or product I want to be comfortable. If I meet an attorney for the first time and they are dressed in shorts and a Tommy Bahamas shirt I may be surprised, but if they’re comfortable and these clothes match their personality that’s better than if they’re wearing a three-piece suit and look completely uncomfortable and stiff. They speak comfortably and they don’t force their smile. Successful salespeople help you feel comfortable with them and the sales process and that starts with them being comfortable with themselves.

They put me first.We’ve all heard stories about Nordstroms and their great service, but I’ll tell you my own. There used to be a guy named Seth who worked at the downtown store. I liked Seth because he knew my name, my size and my taste in clothes. I could call Seth and tell him I wanted to buy a few shirts and when I came in he’d have seven or eight shirts laid out for me to try on and they would be shirts I would like. But the best part about it was a couple of the shirts wouldn’t even be from Nordstroms. Seth would go to other stores in the mall and find shirts he thought I’d like and get permission to show them to me. He didn’t make any commission if I bought those shirts, but he wanted me to find what I was looking for. One day I bought some clothes as gift for my girlfriend and asked Seth if he could have it delivered for me and just charge me the delivery fee. Of course he agreed, but he didn’t have it delivered- he delivered it himself because it was “on his way”. Seth was transferred to be a manager at a store in another state but I’m sure he’s providing the same service for people wherever he is.

Okay, that’s six things, but I’m giving a little extra. The most successful salespeople are unusual and that is why there are so few who are truly successful. Sales can be extremely challenging, especially when you make your living completely on commission- but it can also be very rewarding.

I know a lot about my work and I think I’m among the best in my field. I know the service I provide and the success my clients have working with me. And at the end of the day I feel successful and that makes my work worth doing.

Avoiding Potential Lawsuits When Selling Your Home

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I’ve been in real estate for about fourteen years and sold hundreds of homes (and in three states) so I feel fortunate that I haven’t been to court or mediation for a transaction I was involved in. But as a managing broker for several large real estate firms I was involved in mediation, arbitration and litigation with other agents and their clients. It’s not a fun process and even the side that wins the decision is usually unhappy when it’s all said and done, because they’ve had to go through the frustration of the hearings and all the claims against them and the other party. It’s not fun…

When it comes time to sell your home you’ll have quite a few chores to take care of. You’ll need to clean and get ready for sale, perhaps some fix-ups and staging will be in order, you’ll have packing and de-cluttering to do, and you’ll have a host of relocation items such as finding your next home, learning about schools and utilities and where you’ll be shopping and the list goes on.

Your Realtor should help prepare you properly to make sure you are not exposed to risk of lawsuit, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

1- Disclosure, or lack of disclosure, is the biggest cause of lawsuits in real estate transactions. When you sell property you need to disclose all material facts about it, including any defects you know of. If there was a leak in the roof, but you fixed it- no problem, just disclose all the facts about it. If you think the back fence may be a little off from the property line, bring it up on the disclosure statement as a possibility. Whether it is or is not- this gives the buyers a chance to investigate the issue if it’s important to them.

2- There’s a difference between things looking right and being right. If you cover up defects you’re opening yourself to lawsuits. There’s nothing wrong with making your home look its very best for the sale, in fact you should be doing that. Just make sure if you paint over water spots or place a rug over worn out hardwood floors that you disclose those things so the buyer knows about them before their inspection deadlines are up.

3- Don’t lie about the square footage. The MLS has a disclaimer (as does most websites) that says “information deemed reliable but not guaranteed” and that’s good, but that doesn’t always protect you, especially if you have reason to believe the square footage is different than what you are stating.

4- Talk is cheap. This is one of the biggest causes of FSBO’s going to court- buyers and sellers talking directly to one another and things are said, implied, promised…. and then there’s trouble because it wasn’t written on paper and signed. If you’re selling and you happen to meet potential buyers, don’t promise you’ll do things- let your agent handle those talks. Politely say that your agent has advised you to allow them to do the negotiating for you. This way it’s clear what you do/don’t intend to do because it’s all in writing.

5- Don’t judge. Remember, when you are selling your home you can’t determine who gets to buy it for any reason other than what’s in the contract. If you start judging the buyers by their appearance or other factors you open yourself to discrimination lawsuits. Another reason it’s best to not be around when the home is being shown.

6- Have integrity. If a buyer writes an offer figuring they can always cancel if they change their minds- there is no integrity in that. And sellers need to have integrity when selling their home. Let’s all realize that we all have the same goal- we want to sell a certain home to a certain buyer. If everyone has integrity and treats each other with that respect and honesty then things go smoothly. And with all the other stuff you need to worry about when moving- that peace of mind can go a long way…

This article has been nominated

Is Your Blog an A-List Blog?

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According to Kineda, BlueRoof Blog is a High-Authority, or B-List Blog. To make it to the A-List you need to have over 500 links to your blog in the last six months. But is linking really the best measure of a blog’s relevance, or even it’s popularity?

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A true measure of a blog’s relevance would include links to the site, but also things like content, comments generated, and reach to it’s target audience. One factor alone does not give a good analysis.

Some blogs get a lot of comments because of the audience they serve. Others because they established themselves early and became a voice early. I blogged on ActiveRain for a while and was listed as the 4th most popular blog on the network. I was ranked high mainly because I was blogging last fall when there were only a few thousand people on the network, so it wasn’t as difficult to rank high while I was actively blogging on their network. Does that mean it was a great blog? It meant it was popular to the people on that network and I was noticed while I was blogging on that network.

Once you rank high you get a lot of people reading you, like on YouTube. Many of the most highly-read or highly-subscribed-to video publishers on YouTube aren’t that great, but they got popular, sometimes by having just one interesting video, and once they get noticed it’s much easier to stay noticed.

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Blogging about certain topics gets you more noticed also. Blogs about gossip and celebrities will always get more traffic and links than real estate blogs because more people are interested in reading about those topics, for longer periods of time, and more frequently. Because of the time frame involved in buying or selling property, most people are only interested in real estate-related topics for a few months (while they are actually in the market to buy or sell a house). Unless they are in the industry.

Which explains why, when I post about industry topics I get a lot of comments and traffic (and links) from other blogs because those topics are interesting to industry people, who are always interested in those topics. When I post about local topics I don’t get as many comments, but sometimes get more readers because they see that topic on BlueRoof.com or from a search engine and want to read about it. Local topics aren’t as hot,but they generate interest from a much deeper audience. So which is more relevant?

If I simply wanted to get a lot of links I could blog more about topics that other real estate bloggers would want to link to, but that’s not the purpose of my blog so the link-rating alone is not important to me. More important is that people wanting information about real-estate related topics get what they want, and hopefully contact us to help them buy or sell real estate.

That doesn’t bring in the links, but I think it makes BlueRoof Blog A-List all the way.

PS– According to Technorati there are 373 Links to BlueRoof Blog

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(H/T to FoREM)

Zillow Misses the Mark Completely in Utah

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It’s no secret within the real estate industry that Zillow, and it’s Zestimates are not accurate, and really- they aren’t even supposed to be. Accuracy doesn’t even fit into Zillow’s core objectives. Their business model is not about being accurate at all- its about selling ads. But Zillow does create a real problem for many people who believe the ridiculous Zillow price estimates.

Zillow’s business model is simple;

1- Assign a price estimate for every home

2- Generate interest by showing how “fun” it is to see what it says other people’s homes are worth and satelite images of celebrity houses

3- Sell advertising on the website

Nowhere in that business model is accuracy. They want to be accurate enough that people will go to the site, but that’s about it. The state of Arizona’s lawsuit against Zillow only feeds them more exposure. And I’m a supporter of Zillow’s. I have been from the beginning and I advertise with them. But it’s important that home buyers and sellers realize that Zillow doesn’t know anything about real estate. It’s not a real estate company- and that’s the thing that most people don’t realize.

It’s a technology company disguised as a media company disguised as a real estate company.

The people who own and run Zillow have no experience in real estate, and most of the people working for Zillow have no experience in the real estate industry. They are computer programmers, PR and media people.

Apart from how ridiculous it is to actually believe that a computer program can determine the value of something that is as much about feel and flow as it is square feet and bedrooms, the idea that you could take an algorithm to determine values without even seeing what you are evaluating is absurd.

I haven’t put enough thought into the lawsuit the state of Arizona has filed against them to have an opinion, but I do think it’s a shame that consumers would be so fooled by the website that I do believe they need to make their disclaimers more obvious so people realize that zillow is simply a fun place to check out your neighbors house.

It’s like trying to put a value on a person based on a pre-set group of data points and an algorithym that places value to different attributes you possess. Sure, it might be fun and entertaining, but would you actually believe the values?

Sad thing is, many people would…

So let’s take a look at some actual examples of how accurate Zillow is;

First, let’s look at my house…

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The first thing that I notice is the irrational price fluctuations, up and down and up and down. There was a day in November that it showed my home went down in value $20,000 in one day. Then it went up again over $20,000 in less than a month. And it shows that since January my house has gone down about $40,000. It shows that the house has 4200 SF, 6 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

The reality is my home has about 4800 SF, 7 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms and some of the best city and mountain views I’ve ever seen. Zillow says my home is worth about $420,000 today, but my home was just appraised and could sell today for almost $600,000 and has been appreciating every month for the last year and a half. The graph should look like this;

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Now let’s look at some more homes to see how Zillow has done with them. I pulled up ten homes in my area that recently sold, and compared them with Zillow’s Zestimates to see how close the website was to actual market value and how accurate the site is with home information. This was not complicated. I simply went to the MLS and pulled homes that have sold in the last 60 days or less within a few blocks of my home. Let’s look at these ten homes.

Here is the MLS sheet showing the home information

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And Zillow’s Zestimate’s on each;

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Zillow says $467,000-  2490 SF- 3 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual sold $480,000- 3771 SF- 6 Bed- 4 Bath

Difference= -$12,989 (2.7%) Not bad, but shows value has dropped recently?

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Zillow Says $618,346 – 1032 SF – 3 Bed – 2 Bath

Actual Sold $499,000 – 2682 SF – 5 Bed – 4 Bath

Difference= +$119,346 (23.92%) Home went up over $400,000 in one month?

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Zillow Says $444,173 – 3209 SF – 6 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual Sold $539,000 – 4466 SF – 6 Bed – 3 Bath

Difference= -$94,827 (17.59%) Home took a $50,000 dive?

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Zillow Says- $552,257 – 3784 SF – 3 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual Sold $525,000 – 3754 SF – 5 Bed – 3 Bath

Difference= -$27,257 (5.19%) Look at the value jump up and down

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Zillow Says- $494,478 – 3135 SF – 6 Bed – 4 Bath

Actual Sold $579,900 – 4092 SF – 7 Bed- 4 Bath

Difference= -$85,422 (14.73%) Again showing price drop

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Zillow Says- $525,476 – 3834 SF – 4 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual Sold $600,000 – 3976 SF – 6 Bed- 3 Bath

Difference= -$74,524 (12.42%) Price going up and down 5 times in 1 year

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Zillow Says- $469,925 – 3834 SF – 4 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual Sold $650,000 – 5164 SF – 5 Bed – 4 Bath

Difference= -$180,075 (27.70%) Way under value- not even close

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Zillow Says- $633,693 – 3299 SF – 5 Bed – 3 Bath

Actual Sold $805,000 – 5300 SF – 7 Bed – 4 Bath

Difference= -$171,307 (21.28%) Major price fluctuations

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Zillow Says- $959,341 – 6744 SF – 6 Bed – 4 Bath

Actual Sold $985,000 – 7511 SF – 6 Bed – 5 Bath

Difference= -$25,659 (2.60%) Went up $220,000 in a month

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Zillow Says- $1,091,496 – 6350 SF – 4 Bed – 4 Bath

Actual Sold $1,825,000 – 6550 SF – 5 Bed – 5 Bath

Difference= -$733, 504 (40.19%) At time of sale Zillow was off over $1,000,000!

For all ten homes Zillow was off an average of $152,491 (20.36%)and what is really telling about the Zillow charts is how the home values have gone up and down so dramatically, while the area has actually had a steady increase in values over the last 12 months. Maybe Zillow bases it’s algorithms off the stock market? Whatever they are using in Utah, it’s not even close. Not one home had the home information correct and 9 of the homes were off by over $25,000. Four were off by over $100,000 and Zillow was off by an average of over 20%.

Zillow is a fun site to play on, but when it comes to the business of real estate Zillow needs to put it’s little toy away and let the grown-ups do the work.