Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How The Garbage Could Help Sell Your Home

Some communities have begun to consider increasing the frequency of garbage pickup, including the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, which has a heavy concentration of single family homes. If there are more pickups, it would likely mean an even cleaner community, perhaps "cleaner" than certain nearby communities with less frequent pickups.

If you are looking to sell your home, and your community has (or is going toward) more frequent garbage pickups, you should research and find out if any of the surrounding communities pick up as frequently or not, and document it. Why?

Chances are that potential buyers for your home will come from outside of the community. They may be looking at other similar homes in nearby communities, developments, or cities. It could very well be to your advantage if you can provide potential buyers with factual information as to why your home has the "cleaner" surroundings.

This is just one example of what home sellers need to be doing to get their home sold. Frankly, your real estate agent is highly unlikely to provide your potential buyers with this type of information, which could help tip the scales in your favor.

It's because agents are looking to sell "houses", whether it is yours or someone else's. If the community you live in has a distinct edge over a neighboring community, YOU need to point it out. Your agent either has or will have homes to sell in the "rival" communities, so he/she can't be out bad-mouthing the other areas. The fewer distinct advantages you have to point out about your home for sale, the longer it will take to get it sold.

An additional weekly garbage pickup leads to a cleaner community, perhaps "more clean" than the development a few blocks away, in the same school district, which also has similar homes for sale at the same time. Even though you cannot control how "clean" your neighbors keep their homes, an additional community garbage pickup, which the rival development does not offer, means that your buyer will gain a cleaner environment, perhaps for less money. (It's always good to compare prices of similar homes even while yours is listed.)

Too many sellers forget that the agent they hire works for them, and should include as many specific reasons to consider their homes as possible. For communities such as Arlington Heights, they could have an edge on nearby suburbs very soon:


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tucson Market Shows Positive Signs

This is more like it! Tucson home prices continue to rise. Many consider the part of the report that says home sales were "flat" during this time to be bad news, but that's hardly the case.

The overall rise in home prices sends the message that this area is becoming more desirable. More importantly, it sends a message that current and hopefully future home owners in Tucson (and wherever else this trend is happening) can actually consider home ownership as an investment and make the right moves to be able to profit from an eventual sale.

That's how it used to be, and how it needs to be again. The market can't bear any more distressed property sales to kill home values for everyone.

Here are the specifics for the Tucson market:


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Try On This Problem in Tryon Area

If it's not one thing it's another in some real estate markets. In this instance, home owners near Tryon NC have no power to sell for the time being and it is because of the local electric company. Although they have electric power, the placement of power lines and a study about future electrical service has literally put home sales on hold until area residents get a clear picture of what will happen next.

Here is one of the impacted local agents explaining the situation:


We understand this impact on home sales is not intentional. However, this is a public utility creating an issue toward the local economy.

Hopefully the local government(s) impacted by this will exercise some "power" of their own and remedy the situation sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Analysis of Denver Homes Market

Denver home prices appear to have stayed around the same for the month of July (2015), while home sales dropped nearly 10% since the previous month of June.

Granted, this is only for a one month period, but it still is not good news. The current home owners want to think that their home will finally show some additional value in hopes they could actually make a profit if they choose to sell at some point.

What makes this a story is that these statistics were released by the Association of Realtors:


Since its release, researchers (myself included) and market analysts now have a lower value placed on the Denver market. Those that invest in properties regardless of location might scratch Denver off their list, at least for now.

The Denver Post, the most widely read publication in Colorado, has already published a story about this, which is, obviously, not positive.


All the Association had to do was keep this quiet. Local home owners, and possibly some potential investors, would never have known there was a decline, even though it is minor.

Whether in Denver or not, home values need to be on the rise across the board. Reporting the negative doesn't help.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Real Estate "Contest" That Costs Entrants $150?

A Phoenix TV station is calling a supposed house giveaway a "contest" when it costs $150 to enter. There are issues with this on several levels.

Let's leave FOX KSAZ-TV channel 10, ABC15, and CBS5 calling this a "contest" (when it is not) for the media and legal folks to challenge.  The station aired and published their "news" story about a local investor "giving away" a $500,000 house as if he is trying to help with the housing market.

This story admits that entering with an essay of 250 words or less about "why you would love to win this house" requires a cost of $150. There is also a published "limit" of 5,500 entries, which is really to encourage consumers to enter this so-called "contest".

When you do the math, and project that 5,500 people would be "willing" to spend $150 for their chance at a $500,000 home, you realize this would project to a take of $825,000 by the "contest" holders. For the "prize" valued at $500,000?

If half that many entries show up, the "take" would be $412,500. Consider that there would be no commissions, appraisals, and numerous other costs associated with a legitimate real estate transaction, and you will find that a true sale at $500,000 would leave the seller with an actual amount in that vicinity.

Upon reading the fine print in the web site set up for this house, the "winner" would technically have to purchase the house for $10.00, in addition to having to pay title and other transaction fees which could total more than $3,000.

However, the legal concern about holding this as a "contest" (not to mention a TV station reporting this as legitimate!), is only some of the problem. The rest, unfortunately, relate to the current real estate market.

This so-called "news story" claims that this is a "home valued at $500,000". Again, none of these TV stations (along with radio station KTAR) bothered to check into this "story" any further.

Where is any proof that this home is valued for that amount?

In researching local properties, I came up with TEN homes, also 5 bedroom 4 bath (as is this one), listed at UNDER $450,000, all within the same zip code as this house being "given away". (My source was Realtor.com on August 4, 2015)

If the investors plan to "give away" this house were to actually happen, having a $10.00 purchase price showing for this home would, naturally, kill home values within the area. Just wait until a potential buyer in that same neighborhood puts in a bid of $12 to $20 for another 5 bedroom house based on a recent comp!

I'm sure some of you think that won't happen, and that I'm being ridiculous. If you are among those who do, consider this. When homes are sold for partial value due to foreclosure or short sale, those low "sale" prices count within home sales statistics and have served to reduce home values significantly in many parts of the country. This is the cause of millions of faithful home owners going under water with their mortgages, and leaving them, to quote U2, stuck in a moment they can't get out of.

Yet, we have TV and radio stations in one of the nation's most important media markets "reporting" this so-called contest, and possibly contributing to a local real estate disaster.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who is concerned about this..........



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Real Estate Advertising Analysis - Madison WI

Reader feedback goes a long way with me. As a result, I’m going to share even more of our market research geared toward reviewing advertisements by market and doing some comparison analysis.


Our market research of advertising and marketing of single family homes in the Madison WI area shows that realty agents are doing a slightly above average job in comparison, with good possibilities for improvement in the near future.



The listings reviewed are each three bedroom one bath single family houses (in Dane County) priced between $100,000 and $200,000, which range from fixers to ideal at the low and high end.


Upon doing a random search, based on Dane County 3 + 1 in the $100,000 to $200,000 price range, we reviewed the first five homes shown with this criteria starting at the low end of $100,000 and then the first five working down from $200,000 to $159,900. These advertisements are then compared against each other (in same range) and then against the ads for the other price range within the same area.


$100,000 to $110,000:


#1) 140 South St, Sun Prairie, $104,900 1,583 square feet



The photo spread exterior shot shows the big yard, which, however, makes the house look distant. The interior photos show too much of the bare floors, some with debris on them, in empty rooms. Combined, these photos make the reader want to keep his/her distance and fear for walking inside onto bare floors.


The description copy tries to counteract the photos, admitting the home “has flaws”, and highlighting “Tons of great features, covered front porch, main floor office & laundry….”, etc.


However, this home has more square footage than four of the five properties we reviewed which are priced between $50,000 and $90,000 higher and in the same region. A more flattering photo spread and minor copy revisions needed.


#2) 209 North St. Madison $104,900   1,575 square feet




Although the intent is there with this advertisement, the primary photo showing the wood porch and railings which do not match the color of the exterior kill the initial appeal. The description copy includes “Great opportunity for sweat equity or investment…”, which is fine. However, the copy begins with “Back on market, buyer finance fell thru”.


While we understand the desire to show the reason for ‘back on the market’, it should not be given as a priority. A “new” ad should be attracting “new” potential buyers who would not have known this is at least a 2nd attempt to sell the listing. To address those who have seen this property advertised previously, show an upgrade, improvement, or added feature not included in a previous ad instead.



#3) 549 State Farm Rd. Deerfield  $109,000   1,824 square feet



By far the largest home in terms of square footage in this group, but the advertisement fails to live up to this advantage.


The primary photo has blocked out part of a real estate sign, giving out a “this is an edited photo” message, as well as looking like the back of the home behind a tree and phone pole.


If anyone bothers to proceed and read the description copy, they would see more negative information, such as “Property was built prior to 1978 and lead-based paint potentially exists.”


Of course, the lead-based paint possibility should be disclosed under these circumstances. This, however, should have been addressed before an advertisement went public. Having an inspection to determine whether or not this issue exists would have been huge. If an inspection showed no lead-based paint, it could have been pointed out and made into a positive! If there definitely is a presence, the ad could state something like “Get the lead-based paint out and get a bargain in return!”.


Why? Because at an estimated 1,824 square feet, this home is also bigger than the five property advertisements we analyzed costing up to $90,000 more. Showing a definitive result tells a potential investor how much they could profit by fixing up, or what a bargain this is if they don’t have to deal with the paint issue. As it shows now (as of press time), this ad tells a potential buyer they have a major headache to deal with if they still want the home.


What might have been!


#4) 116 Cherokee Dr.    $109,900  1,374 square feet



If only the photo spread and the description copy were coordinated, this would be the best advertisement within the group.


The primary photo is very good, making this home appear larger than three of the other four properties within this $10,000 range even though it is not. Most of the remainder of the spread is quite flattering to the home.


However, the description copy starts with “Lake access home on 3 lots, have the rights but not the cost and enjoy the lake.” The “however” is that it isn’t until the final two photos that a potential buyer can see any evidence of a lake, and that is if he/she is still clicking away.


Either the copy needs to feature “Plenty of room with easy lake access” or the photo spread needs to show at least one picture showing both the house and the lake with a much better angle. This property is a good value compared with a couple of the ones priced much higher, but a conflicting advertisement does not convey the best message.



#5) 1738 Baird Street Madison   $109,900  932 square feet



This advertisement pulls down the others. The photo spread needs to be re-shot. The primary photo, even with the yard and garden, is at an angle that makes the house look small, even though it really is. The 2nd photo makes the 2-car detached garage appear to be larger than the entire house. Ouch. What hurts even more is that the remaining photos of the interior are very good and quite flattering. Removing the first two exterior photos would make a huge difference with this home.


The description copy wisely promotes the ability to bike or walk downtown or to campus, and (at press time) upcoming open houses. However, the copy included “Offers will be presented to seller Sunday evening”. While we realize the intent of urgency, this also tells an interested party that there is no rush to see the home ahead of time since an offer might not be considered ahead of time.


Especially when a potential buyer can easily find four other 3 + 1 homes for the same or a few thousand dollars less within seconds.



FROM $200,000 to $159,000:


#1) 5202 Kevins Way Madison  $200,000   1,644 square feet




This one is clearly the best advertisement of this group of ten. While the primary photo is slightly off angel, the 25 photos in the spread are excellent, flattering each room throughout the interior.


The description copy starts well with the “updated home in a desirable neighborhood” approach, while the “Well cared for by this owner of 31 years” is an excellent selling point. This combines to give potential buyers solid reasons to pay the same or more than comparable listings in the area, which the majority of these other ads do not.



#2) 108 N Jefferson St. Verona   $200,000   1,309 sq feet




Ad needs some touching up to be effective. The primary photo features the yard, which in turn makes the house seem distant. The description copy hits “Charming ranch home is the best value in the Verona area” but offers nothing to compare.


While the description copy does support the current primary photos by mentioning the yard and patio first, the photo spread further in features a very impressive interior, which appears to be an even better selling point.


This advertisement needs to feature the interior as the strong selling point, especially when you consider that three of five home ads we reviewed listed for at least $90,000 LESS, have more square footage.




#3) 3629 Dennett Dr.  Madison   $200,000   1,392 square feet 



Has a good primary photo and photo spread, even if it makes the home appear smaller. Only critique on this ad is that both the description copy and the photo spread could have more emphasis on the interior.




#4)  2415 Allied Dr. Madison  $199,900   1,450 square feet



In one word, this ad is “careless”. Not one actual photo, yet the description copy says this home was “built in 2014”, and this is July 2015. The description copy also promotes “Open House at Sales Center”, as if this ad has given anyone even the slightest hint of a reason why they should follow up. Especially when the same area has larger homes available for more than $90,000 less.


There is nothing in this ad to make this home distinct in any way, nor do we know if there is still a warranty or what condition it is in.



#5) 112 Bresland Ct. Madison   $199,900      1,110 square feet



More carelessness with this ad, in addition to two of the photos (including the primary one) showing a car in the driveway. Another of the photos shows grass growing at the garage door, which makes this property appear poorly groomed. The last of the (only) five photos shows some sort of street view with no description of what or why it is included.


The description copy includes “needs extensive work/remodeling”, while this home is at approximately 1,100 square feet, while priced at or above every other home in this analysis.


This listing office generally does better with promoting its listings. A check of the company web site produced a separate 3 + 1 home with unique features and a nice photo spread listed at $40,000 LESS:



However, consumers are far less likely to pursue a company web site after seeing ads as poor as the Bresland Ct. one, especially at the higher price.



NOTE: This survey is based on researching listed properties for Dane County (in which Madison is the largest municipality) via the WisconsinHomes .com site during the week of July 20 through 24, 2015. First In Promotions Inc., which provides the research, has no affiliation with WisconsinHomes nor are any of the listing agents or specific offices representing the various analyzed property advertisements current clients of First In Promotions Inc. This information demonstrated for research purposes only, and is not guaranteed to be accurate or current beyond July 24, 2015.


Our full reports for Madison and other markets recently surveyed by First In Promotions, both for our clients and independently, may be available to qualified realty agents and companies. Contact us if interested.




Monday, June 22, 2015

Phil Collins Helps To Drum Up Real Estate Business

The story may seem more like one of those entertainment blurbs and celebrity news, but the story about musician Phil Collins purchasing a mansion formerly owned by Jennifer Lopez is an important one for the real estate industry.

Never mind the entertainer aspect of this. The key point to the story is that the most recent owner spent a lot of money to upgrade and renovate the home, and sold it for a profit of millions of dollars in the process.

We must not overlook the key point that the seller increased the value of the home and sold it for much more than he purchased it for within the past ten years.

After constant stories about sellers losing money, or at best breaking even, on the sale of their homes, it is encouraging to know that the possibility of home owners once again being able to profit from their investment just might be on the comeback trail!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How NBA Star Kevin Durant Has Helped The Real Estate Market

While it is safe to say that the majority of us don't care what superstar pro athletes do with all of their money, this week's news is an exception to real estate owners and those who depend upon the industry for their income.

Way to go, Kevin Durant. This time, it's not because of his play on the basketball court. The sale of his Miami area multi-million dollar penthouse brings us what is truly the best possible real estate news. This is positive for all of us.

The fact is that Durant's penthouse has been sold for approximately $3,125,000. What makes this so special is that Durant purchased it back in 2011 - for $1,325,000 LESS than what he just sold it for only four years later!

This 3,800 square foot estate was put on the market earlier this year at $3,450,000. In this instance, I can't criticize the seller for accepting $125,000 less than the asking price. Not when the profit comes to more than $1.3 million over four years.

If it were up to me, this should be the lead story in every real estate related news source for the entire week. Here is why.

Stories like this one were commonplace for years. However, in recent times the number of distressed properties sold for lowball prices has destroyed this from happening in the majority of cases.

We need MORE stories such as this one. A seller made a handsome profit on a property purchased and upgraded over a four year period. Shows it actually can be done, even in today's market.

For a change, an agent didn't say "It won't sell for that much. You need to price it below what you paid for it!". Some appraiser didn't bring in comps using short sales of large mansions to make it appear that Durant's property had not increased in value. Yay!

Real estate needs to be made into an investment with promise once again. Those who are sitting there trying to come up with reasons why home ownership has declined over the past five years need to read this column again. If consumers had the legitimate chance to turn a profit within five to ten years (like it used to be) I'm here to tell you home sales would be back up again.

In the spirit of Kevin Durant, it would be a slam dunk.


Friday, May 8, 2015

The Latest In Conflicting Home Sale Research

The barrage of  "half full" vs. "half empty" opinions and statistics regarding the current home sales market continues, while the problem isn't any closer to being fixed.

A new report by Fitch Ratings, which reviews current home prices in markets around the country, shows that home prices in Texas "are 11% overvalued". Specifics include claims that Austin and Houston are "overheated by almost 20%".

In a separate report issued by Arch Mortgage Insurance Company claims that "Texas has a nearly 33% chance of a housing decline", and puts the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex and San Antonio first on its list of cities with "moderate" risk for a softening.

This Arch report adds North Dakota and Oklahoma among its other "moderate risk" states. Because of its direct involvement with home sales around the country, this report has some meaning, adding to the "half empty" scenario.

Both of these reports were the primary elements of a story in the Dallas Morning News earlier this week, which is quite understandable. And that's the rub here.

On the very same online page with this story is the first "other news" story to be linked to. The headline on it reads, "Dallas/Ft. Worth Housing Market Rated Hottest In the Nation by Realtor.com".

According to that story, Texas home sales "rose by more than 4% in the first quarter of 2015". It then goes on to say that the increase comes as the inventory of available properties "dropped to an all-time low" in the latest report from the Texas Association of Realtors.

There you have it. From the same link on a newspaper web site, we see two sources showing doom and gloom, while two others show a most positive spin.

What do I think? I'm sticking with what I consider to be more important facts. Such as this being the month of May, and that I'm still finding photos of available homes for sale in the northeast part of the country with piles of snow in the photos.

While I look at those, others sit and wonder why those homes aren't selling at all, or fetching the prices they once did.  


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Buffalo Still Lost In The Shuffle

Here we are in "spring market" and with May almost here we are closing in on six months since the severe snow storm which crippled the Buffalo area in November. The temperature in Buffalo at press time was 51 degrees.

Time to follow up and see how the local real estate market is presenting itself. I went on through the Buffalo News web site, chose a price range of "homes for sale", waiting to see how 'with it' the agents are in terms of promoting available properties.

If only my findings were anywhere near what I hoped for. Or, if I was a seller in the Buffalo area, what I would expect. Instead, the advertising is still as much of a disaster as the snow storms.

The first ten properties came up. As usual, the primary photo is the first impression. On April 29th, TWO listings showed primary photos with snow on the ground. The one at 11 Cedarbrook Drive in 
Lancaster, New York showed a huge pile of snow engulfing the home. On April 29th??

Three other properties (in just this one price range!) had either no photo at all or a generic one which had nothing to do with the properties they represent. Total those up, and my random search starting at $225,000 for 2+ bedrooms came up with HALF of the first web page of properties starting with a bad impression.

Just as I pointed out the same week after the big storm hit, the technology is in place to be able to update photos and property information with regard to weather and other factors which impact the potential sale of homes. Those homes on streets which were plowed and/or had easy access to grocery stores and other necessities should have had updated information to demonstrate that to potential buyers that very week.

However, seeing this poor representation literally months later for the same area has no excuse. Those ten listings I looked at are from a variety of local realty offices and agents. Even the "good" ads for homes for sale get tarnished when a potential buyer sees snow covered lawns and careless generic photos for a first impression.

What makes this even more insane is that the Cedarbrook Drive property is shown with "PRICE REDUCTION" as the headline. So let's get this straight. The home with a primary photo (at the end of April) showing it surrounded by piles of snow and with "Large front porch perfect for warm weather relaxation" in the description copy hasn't sold at a higher price.

Because of this, that seller is "forced" to accept less money?

This listing is just one example out of thousands where poor advertising and marketing is the culprit. However, it is not just this seller that loses out. Thousands of other home owners lose out because of crap like this.

If and as the Cedarbrook Drive home sells for less money, it will serve to lower the value of nearby homes, and so goes the cycle. Long time home owners then lose out on money they should be entitled to because some agents don't bother keeping their listing advertisements up to date.

Something needs to be done about this.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Home Sales Statistics Don't Lie..... They Disagree

The one real estate statistic I believe hasn't been proven yet. But I think it is safe to estimate that at least 99% of consumers do not make purchase or selling decisions based on the market statistics they read.

Within the past 24 hours (at press time), we have had another set of examples that you can believe what you prefer to believe.

Last night, the National Association of Home Builders issued a "story" about how much existing home sales have risen this year, especially in March (2015) when compared with previous months and with March of 2014.

The story tells us how first-time buyer shares have increased, how there is more inventory than in recent months, and how the number of distressed home sales have dropped.

The very next morning, the Associated Press published a story headlined "New home sales collapsed in March".

Although the AP story also reports that new home sales were higher, the very same story also says new home sales dropped 33% percent in the Northeast and 15.8% percent in the South. And that the median sales price fell 1.7% since March 2014.

Seeing these "stories" within hours of each other makes me feel the same way as the times I received those "Now is the time to sell!" mailers and e-mails from real estate agents at the same as my home was more than $100,000 underwater.

For the millions who cannot buy or sell a home due to circumstances beyond their control, this arranging of information is in the same category as the drug commercials with potential side effects much worse than the purpose of the drug.

Unfortunately, this is how it goes in real estate these days. Too many people working statistics in their favor and not enough of them concentrating on actually fixing the market.



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How To Sell The Only House In Town

Suppose you had the only residential listing in town. Would it would "sell itself"? Some realty agents seem to think so. That is not how it works.

As of the week of this post, the home at 100 N. 5th Street in Beaver Creek MN was literally the ONLY house for sale listed for the entire town, according to Realtor.com as well as Homes.com. Even the "nearby homes for sale" feature on these sites did not have any other Beaver Creek properties.

This 3 bedroom home had been on the market for more than one and one-half months at press time. If the law of supply and demand truly applied to real estate, this home would have been long gone.

What makes this even more interesting is that the advertising copy is very well written, and includes a lot of positive and helpful information about the property. Recent upgrades are profiled and the spacious elements of the home are featured.

There was a 14 photo spread with the majority being flattering interior photos (as of press time). It is possible that not having updated the exterior photos is a slight negative. There was still some snow on the ground on them even though the temperature for the current week was in the mid-60's. It is possible that the interior photos revealing that the sellers appear to be devoted to their religion could be preventing potential buyers from inquiring, but the majority of potential buyers would be making changes to decorations and art work anyway.

Another selling point should be that it is the only residence in town for sale. That should indicate a motivated seller. This is different than being on a block lined with "For Sale" signs and a massive exodus from a community.

Why hasn't this house sold? Why is this one now the only one in town on the market?

It is because, even with the favorable copy describing the home, potential buyers also need to be sold on the surroundings. And, in this instance, they are not.

The population of Beaver Creek is less than 1,000 people. There are no "true" towns with residences which border it.

Chances are, with this home having been on the market for close to two months, that everybody else in town knows it is for sale, and no one local has stepped up to buy it. This translate into needing to bring in a buyer from another community.

However, there is NOTHING in the advertisement profile of this property which gives anyone one or more reasons to consider Beaver Creek. This is why this house hasn't sold - and why it will not "sell itself".

It seems that Beaver Creek is right there at an exit from I-90, while being less than a 30 minute drive from much larger Sioux City SD. Thus, a family could be, say, 20 minutes away from employment, shopping, and the amenities of a bigger town.

In addition, there are reasons that people that live in Beaver Creek live there and enjoy the community (since none of them are looking to move!).

A few well chosen words about WHY potential buyers should consider Beaver Creek would go a long way toward getting this house sold. Perhaps to a buyer who is looking in Sioux Falls and would consider the "right" home a few minutes away.

It is not "just" the house. It is, often times, the reason to live there, that can make a difference. This house won't sell itself until there are specific reasons to consider it.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Make A Boston Open House A Free Ride

If you are a home seller in the Boston area that has listed or (plans to list) your home for sale within the next 30 days, and if your home is located with 1/2 mile of an MBTA station, a little research can go a long way toward getting your home sold.

The MBTA (commuter train system serving the Boston region) has announced a "free fare day" for Friday April 24th. The reasons do not matter to you, but you should know how to benefit from them.

Let me back track. While it is true that sellers do not plan open houses, you (as a seller) should not let your listing agent stand in the way. Some agents are against open houses, and have their reasons. Many will hold them, but for the wrong reasons (for your purpose). Often times the agents hold an open house to meet the neighbors and "general" house shoppers so that they can interest them in "any" listing once they find out that your home is not a fit. You, however, hire that agent to sell YOUR home.

For those agents fortunate enough to have a listing within 1/2 mile of those train stations, drop everything (except for an offer, of course) and schedule an open house for Friday April 24th from, say, 3 to 7 PM. Impress the heck out of your seller! 

Here is why. This is a widely used commuter train line providing "free" rides that day. Your listing is within a reasonable walking distance. Think about it. This means that on that day, every commuter in the Boston metro area could take the train without cost and walk to your open house!

Those potential buyers could know for certain how long of a commute they would have, as well as the convenience of being able to walk to and from the train. He/she/they could see first hand what the neighborhood is like at an important time of the day. Maybe they can walk past a grocery store or trendy restaurant in the process, or see the school yard nearby.

Not every agent agrees with me on this in general, but from where I sit you gain another huge advantage by doing this. While other agents balk at this suggestion and maybe hold a nearby open house during the "usual" Saturday or Sunday afternoon period, chances are yours would be the ONLY available home these potential buyers would be able to see during their "free" trip to see your listing. Your listing, therefore, would not be "one of several" homes these people would visit and have them run together.

Promotions such as this (the MTBA special) are rarely announced this far enough in advance. This gives you plenty of time to plan your open house and to advertise and promote it in the right places.

"Take a FREE train ride to and from 123 First Street on April 24th and explore this 3-bedroom 2-bath home...."

Everyone that comes will ONLY be coming to view this home, since it is likely that there would not be any others in that area.

I mention all of this for those not in the Boston area. The idea is to always be on the lookout for unique opportunities such as this, and make it special. Every home is unique for one or more reasons. The more you can do to sell its uniqueness, the more successful you will be at selling homes.


Dave Kohl is Marketing Director of First In Promotions, which provides market research for realty agents and offices on a per hour or per property basis. Details at www.ForRealEstateAgentsOnly.

Friday, February 27, 2015

People Don't Buy Homes Based On Sales Statistics

The Metro Study people do an excellent job with interpreting and reporting on home sales and many things real estate related, but their latest findings for the Northern Virginia housing market is another prime example of how much is too much.

This report shows that, for part or all of 2014, new home construction was down but used home sales were up; while the number of overall home sales were down, yet the median price was up.

We can take statistics like these and make a case for just about anything, and that is the problem. For now, let's take real estate investors out of the equation and focus on consumers purchasing a home for their own use.

Quick. How many people, including yourself, do you know who have read market statistics and THEN decided to purchase a home? 

If you answered more than zero, I'd be extremely surprised. Seems to me that personal preference plays an even bigger role.

However, many of the so-called experts choose the statistics which best fit their approach and run with them, which overall is not helping when it comes to real estate. Maybe it does in pro sports, for example, when the team negotiates by illustrating only those statistics which shows a player in a less productive light while the agent has every statistic to show that player in every superior and productive category.

You can't take statistics like these and make it appear that "people are buying pre-owned homes instead of new ones" based on sales over the past two years. Yet, I am not arguing against that while pointing out that new construction is down.

It so happens that I had the experience of watching my current home being built, and I know a couple, married for 35 years, which has moved into new construction every time. I could also name other friends and family members who would "never go with new construction because there are always problems".

Official statistics are NOT necessarily a true reflection of the pulse of a local real estate market, even though they are too often "reported" as if they are. But neither is the barrage of comparative statistics.

Let's use the Northern VA report as an example. Metro Study reports that Northern Virginia MLS sales numbered 38,691 units for 2014. That looks quite impressive. Then you read that this sales number is down 6 percent from the previous year. The 6% decrease makes it appear to some that the desire to move to or within this same area is reduced. So is this a good or a bad report?


Thursday, February 5, 2015

And Snow It Goes

Still another example of why sellers need to take charge of how their agents are presenting their properties, even with all due respect to a lot of realty agents out there.

The Chicago area has literally had more than 21 inches of snow within the past week, at the time of this writing. Many of the side streets and secondary streets within the city and its suburb are still being cleared for traffic even though there has been no "new" snowfall in 48 hours. Of course, technology hasn't stopped through all of this. The ability to upload and update advertisements and data about new and currently listed properties is the same as it was just a week ago.

As I so often do following a major storm or significant event impacting a geographic area, I check on homes for sale in the impacted area days later to see how many agents representing sellers have updated their advertising and promotion to focus on the true current status.

Even in a competitive market like Chicago, a search of 50 properties within the same general price range did not show ANY references to the recent storm.

This is such a major opportunity to promote a listing on a street where, for example, it was plowed and safe for travel right away and/or something like "streets clear to train station" or "easy snow plow access". Something to tell a potential buyer that it is easier to deal with the big storm for this home than other properties in the area might be.

Here is one specific example, which, prior to clicking to the full property details, shows as "JUST LISTED", at 5654 W. Grace Street in Chicago.

The primary photo of the home shows (again, the same week as 21 inches of snow have fallen) an exterior shot showing the lawn and a nice floral arrangement. JUST LISTED??

Sorry, but right there the credibility is shot. If this home really is "just listed", why was the primary photo clearly taken MONTHS earlier?

Not only is there zero mention of winter or the storm, but the description includes "Lovely deck and backyard for entertaining!" within the copy. Considering that the outdoor temperature had not been above 32 degrees within the past five days (at the time of this writing), I'm not sure this is the best sentence to tempt an immediate response.

Granted, the seller of this home is not responsible for having this advertisement (on a nationally available real estate web site) appear this way.

If that were my property, I would be livid at the agent. If a potential buyer can access this advertisement while the snow is piled up, the agent placing this advertisement can be making sure it is up to the minute, or pull it if the advertising source can't deliver.

Upon looking at the numerous interior photos taken from good angles, this is an impressive property. However, potential buyers seeing the clearly outdated photo and about the "lovely deck and backyard" (and back yard is actually two words, by the way) are more likely to ridicule this advertisement and click on to the next property matching their search criteria.

A little common sense could help the sale of properties even more than the prices and the interest rates.