Monday, April 7, 2014

A Home Price Reduction Gone Bad

Here is how a $30,000 mistake in a property advertisement can be damaging.......


First, I personally believe that more properties for sale should be increasing the price when not sold after a few weeks, by showing a new upgrade, improvement, or addition to easily justify the added cost. For example, the idea of “new $5,000 furnace” to justify a $3,500 price increase means that both buyer and seller benefit. (The buyer gets a “deal” on a new installation, while the seller appears to be adding more incentive.)


However, the home listed for sale at 5319 Clairidge Rd. in Knoxville TN was looking to show as a major price reduction, but something was lost in the translation. A national advertising web site shows this home as having just had a $30,100 price INCREASE instead.


The ad for this home, as it appears on a national web site, refers to “New heat pump”, and “full bathroom has been remodeled” within its brief description copy. A couple of the photos in the photo spread within the advertisement show a nice looking bathroom countertop and fixtures. But for an "additional" $30,100?


If I were a potential buyer looking at this property, I would be long gone by this point. There are many other homes in this community listed within a few thousand dollars either way of this price.


Yet, the “problem” is really that someone made a serious mistake with this advertisement. I do not know whether or not made the error or if this is how it was sent to them.


What happened is that the price of this home, per the data below on the property page on, was actually DECREASED by $30,000, even though it shows as if it was an increase of that amount.


What should be a major decision on the part of an obviously anxious seller is marred due to an error. An error which has gone unnoticed for more than 10 days.


If the selling agent and the seller of the property are not motivated to check all of the advertising, how is this property going to get sold? Or when?


This is another lesson for sellers and agents everywhere. Always check every advertisement every time. Don’t be another example of costing time and money.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

When The MLS is Wrong

If the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is not entirely accurate about your home, you need to know if you are or have lost money because of it. It’s not your fault that your house isn’t selling, or currently would not sell for a profit it you were to list it today. But I am finding more and more that there is something you can and should do about it.


You need to perform your own research whether you are looking to sell or not. It has been bad enough that real estate professionals have not gone to bat against property values dropping significantly because of foreclosures and short sales, which has contributed significantly to this mess.


The advertising and marketing of properties continues to suffer. Even with all of today’s instant technology, too many agents fail to update photos and property descriptions and/or put any urgency into attracting potential buyers.


Just weeks after publishing an 8-hour audio book helping home owners to sell or prepare to sell their home, I decided to research a property that I own. What I found should either by an added chapter or even a follow up.


Several web sites had inaccurate information about this property, although every one did have that it is not currently for sale. (That was only consistently accurate information, however.) Granted, some of these sites use estimates, although these estimates factor in local foreclosures and short sales just as many agents and appraisers also do.


However, a couple of the sites with profiles of this property take their data from the MLS database.


One site showed the home, which is a dedicated address (direct entrance, not shared with other units, etc.), as having a unit number. There is not and has never been a unit number. The “last sale price” shown is approximately $2,000 LESS than what it really was. There is no asterisk or notation that this is an estimate. It is printed as if it is a fact. Yet, the commission paid was based on a percentage of the actual price, which was higher. Too bad I found this out NOW.


The “Property Details” portion shows the square footage for the entire building, which consists of several units, all with different street addresses and completely separate transactions.


The primary photo, still being used in March of 2014, is more than seven years old. There is a new lawn, fence, and two more common property parking spaces which exist today, and are not in this outdated photo.


And there is more. The “Year Built” that is shown is the WRONG YEAR.


Let’s sum this up. Technically the wrong address, since there is no unit number. The wrong “last sale” price. The wrong square footage. The wrong year built. And a photo outdated by more than seven years which fails to show important improvements.


Where did I find this? On the Re/Max web site. As you probably know, Re/Max is one of the leading real estate firms in the country, so it’s not as if this is a one person shop. In fact, Re/Max reportedly increased its revenue by more than 10% in 2013 from the previous year and reported the firm has 93,228 agents working in its franchised offices. Personally, I have worked for numerous agents from there, as well as on a couple of marketing projects for separate regional offices.


Next, I found the property shown on the site of Weichert, which is a very prominent east coast realty firm. On their site, I found this very same property shown on two separate web pages. Although both showed the same listing price, this same property came up under TWO separate MLS listing numbers. Same property, two listings, and it is not for sale.


Neither of these firms ever had this property listing, which provides added confirmation that they simply take the data from the MLS. However, this shows they don’t verify this data either.


Upon further researching this property, I came upon a site (which I had not been familiar with) known as NeighborCity, which exists to help potential buyers and sellers to find “the right” agent. It features advertisements from agents in various geographic areas.


This site actually had a much more recent exterior photo of the home, showing the lawn and garden improvements not seen on the Re/Max shown photo, and managed to have the street address correct. NeighborCity also shows the correct agent and realty firm which handled the most recent sale of this property.


But before you jump to that site, there is more. They do show the “sold” price as being the same $2,000 less than actual. But that is far from their biggest mistake. For “lot size”, this site shows “0.00 acres”, and it shows, in TWO places, ZERO bedrooms, which is definitely not the case. And there is still more.


For “Garage Type” it correctly shows two cars, yet for “Garages”, this site shows TWO. This home does not have two garages, it has one garage which holds two cars. It is not that difficult to comprehend.


At this point, instead of going further into my search, I went to the site of the real estate office which last represented the property to see what I could find. They did not have this property on there, as the company does not show information about properties not for sale.


Now, at this point it is tempting to raise the point about whether or not to do business in the future with Re/Max or Weichert, or other firms which show inaccurate data to the public. How do you know they would get it right about your home?


But in all fairness, this is not completely their fault. They are trusting data provided by the MLS. I can’t blame them for that. At least not yet.


As of this writing, I have only done this for the one property, because I have the facts documented and can prove that the information portrayed is not accurate.


This is why it becomes so important to do your research about your home and continue to do so periodically, even if you have no thoughts of selling within the next five years.


If and when you find things that are not accurate, report them to “your” real estate agent. That is why I said “not yet” in terms of whether or not to do business with certain realty firms. If the thousands of agents representing these companies are not willing to help make their information accurate, you need to keep that in mind.


And this does not even take into account the horrible “estimated value” that appears on the Re/Max and Weichert web sites. The Re/Max site quotes the web site as showing the property valued at more than $100,000 under its previous sale price. The Weichert official site shows a Zillow “estimate” which is more than $180,000 LOWER than that same previous sale price.


That these so-called estimates are based on area foreclosures and short sales is another story.


Here is why you need to research your property. Agents, appraisers, investors, and consumers take MLS information and the data from these sites, and others, to be factual.


As a result, OTHER property prices are being determined by inaccurate information. Your home could have lost thousands of dollars in value because of a wrong year, wrong number of bedrooms, photos outdated by years, wrong square footage, units where none exist, and who knows what other reasons.


Obviously, even the best real estate agents are not doing this for us. Yet.


Instead, they are blaming the economy, the market, and using every other excuse to convince you that your home isn’t worth what you paid for it. While our money paid out in commissions is funding the MLS.


What good is all of this technology if the information is wrong?


Let me know what you come up with.



Monday, March 17, 2014

If The Agent Doesn't Care, Why Should A Potential Buyer?

It should not be as difficult to buy this resort area house no matter how hard the listing agent tries to make it. Or any house, for that matter.

There is what is actually a very nice property available in the resort community of Sundance UT (yes, by where the famous film festival takes place), but it is being marketed as poorly as possible.

The nationally available advertisement for this home is a prime example of what not to do, which is unfortunate for the seller.

The primary photo, as well as several others, show the exterior during a time of day when there is no sunshine, to the point where we can see lights on in the house itself. Several of the other exterior photos do not show any part of the house or the property, with some showing bright sunshine over the fields while another shows it as snow covered. Huh?

Meanwhile, the few interior photos are excellent, but are mixed in at a seemingly random order, and lack the continuity needed for a potential buyer to get a feel for the property.

Next, anyone who starts to read the property description copy (as of this writing) sees a major spelling error in the second sentenced, as the word "priced" is clearly misspelled. Before you start to contact me to tell me that spelling errors can happen, check this ad and realize that this very property has now been advertised on this web site for MORE THAN ONE YEAR.

The highlighted price decrease in this advertisement is not even the most recent one.

In other words, this careless agent just puts in the newest (and lower) price, and seemingly doesn't bother to check spelling, the photo layout, or anything else.

If you read further into this description, to the part about the trails and mountains and other features of the nearby park areas, you will see the "enjoy incredible natural beauty and occasional forest critters" part.

By show of hands, how many people considering purchasing in a resort area want to be where there are "forest critters"?

My point exactly. Especially when there appears to be several interior selling points which go ignored within the same description.

Ah, but there is more.

Here is more of what this advertisement actually says:

Square footage figures are provided as a courtesy estimate only and was obtained from county records. Buyer is advised to obtain an independent measurement. Call list agent for update on sq. ft.”


Is this an agent you would want to talk with about a $295,000 property?


While I can understanding needing to say that the square footage is an estimate, just how much does this listing agent expect a potential buyer to do? What has been “updated”? Why should a potential buyer obtain “an independent measurement”? Does that impact the price or the ability to buy?


Chances are a potential buyer, either for this same geographic area or seeking a resort area property, has plenty of other choices, and just one click away.


That’s not fair to the seller of this property, who is probably wondering why their property remains unsold after more than one year. But it’s also not fair to potential buyers, one of which could get an outstanding deal at a lower price, primarily due to the carelessness of the listing agent.


Frankly, this seller should “resort” to hiring someone capable.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Home Sellers' Biggest Problems - part 1

A huge reason that so many home owners can't sell their homes is because of how homes are marketed, and not necessarily because of anything being "wrong" with their own home.

For some reason that continues to baffle me, all purchased home are lumped into a single statistical category, whether they are, to use the term, distressed properties or not. Let me put it this way. Suppose a current year $25,000 car was repossessed by the lender and sold for $10,000 to recover the cost of that specific loan. If you took "proof" of that sale and went to your nearest car dealer and attempted to buy that current year for $10,000 because "that's what it is selling for", do you think the dealer would come down that far with the price?

I don't think so, either. However, for whatever reason, realty agents and real estate appraisers fail to do that when it comes to homes. Worse yet, realty associations across the country openly support this.

You see, the home sales figures, home price trends, and other comparative statistics released each month to the news media, treat foreclosed upon homes and short sale homes in the same realm as a paid up home seller looking to profit or needing to move. These foreclosure and short sale homes are sold for amounts designed to cover the outstanding loan, and are really less, often significantly less, than the actual value of the home.

Suppose there is a development with 20 houses which sold new for $300,000 each a few years ago. Now let's suppose that three of the owners of those 20 houses all defaulted on their monthly mortgage payments, forcing either foreclosure or short sales. Investors bought those three homes. One at $160,000, another at $170,000, and the third went for $180,000 in order to satisfy the outstanding loan amounts.  Now suppose you own a home in that development, have made all of your mortgage payments with no problem, and get a new job that creates the need for you to sell and move to a different area.

Guess what? An appraiser and potential buyers will point out to you that the "average" home sale in your development within the past six months was for $170,000, which is the middle and average price of those three distressed homes. While you continue to pay the mortgage and successfully maintain your home. Perhaps you have upgraded to increase its value. However, if you sell your home at a more than $120,000 loss, you might even owe money to get it off your hands, when you haven't done anything wrong.

At the same time, based on those three so-called sales, the local real estate report will include how local sales are "up", based on those three homes in your development which were documented as having been sold. Let's say there is another foreclosure next month, and THAT house is sold by the bank for $200,000. Guess what? You'll have realty associations spreading the news that home sales in your neighborhood are UP 10% over three months ago. And guess what? YOU would still lose at least $100,000 in order to sell your home under those conditions.

THIS is what is happening in much of the country. Even though foreclosures and short sales should NOT count toward home sale statistics and pricing, they still do. And for whatever bizarre reason, realty associations publish the sales and price increase statistics every month no matter what the consequences. They seem to think this is a positive. It is not.

They must think that people actually buy and sell homes based on monthly and yearly comparative statistics.

However, this all ties in with marketing. Anything to tell people that home sales are up and prices are good for buyers, when it hides how many legitimate sellers, who can pay their bills, are being screwed by the foreclosures and short sales. That's why marketing is a problem. People are being made to think the market is better than it is, all because of distressed properties.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Now "Lou Grant" Has Spunk

As much as we thank and respect Ed Asner for his TV work over the years, at the age of 84 he deserves a ton of credit for his real estate prowess. Stories like this were once commonplace, especially in Southern California, but these days all too rare.

Asner just sold his Studio City estate for more than double what he reportedly paid for it back in 1996. The reported amount is near $800,000. 

This is wonderful to see, especially in this era of homes stuck being sold at or under what was paid for them only a few years ago. 

Frankly, THIS is the story that should be published by the local realty associations in California, instead of the usual data about home sales and prices, even when they decline.

Way to go, "Mr. Grant"!,0,3714979.story#axzz2ujLMypns 

NOTE: Mr. Kohl's new book, "8 Hours To Sell Your Home", is specifically designed to help home owners prepare to sell their home for a higher price.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Short Sale Instead of A Museum

The old saying, "It's what you make of it" certainly applies based on a short sale opportunity on Chicago's South Side.

The last I heard, the two-flat apartment building at 4339 S. Lake Park Ave. in Chicago was in the process of being sold to a buyer who, understandably, wanted to (reportedly)  turn the building into a Museum.

That building was the home of blues legend Muddy Waters for more than 20 years, during which he inspired artists such as The Rolling Stones and countless others.

Now, the Chicago Tribune reports that the deal has fallen through, and that this property is now listed as a Short Sale in the $100,000 range. The seller is Waters' great granddaughter.

This is one heck of a Business Opportunity for someone. People will come to see this 19th Century structure, especially with the musical heritage that has been within those walls.

Yet, for some unexplained reason, this is just a blurb in the newspaper. (Not even the headline of the story.) In a city that heavily promotes tourism.

All it takes is for someone to turn this into the shrine it should be. It would be one heck on an income opportunity for whoever does. But for some reason it's a big secret.

That's enough to give me the blues.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Not Too Cold To Update Listing Ads

Most of us have suffered from the winter weather thus far in 2014, including parts of the country that rarely have cold weather and/or snow cover.

However, it is not too cold to update advertising and marketing information about properties for sale to reflect this. This is the age of instant communication and technology. That should apply to listing ads as well.

For example, the development I currently live in has a snow plow and snow removal company under contract to plow at scheduled intervals during and after snow storms. (That company is getting rich this season, but that's another story.) During a recent big snow storm, the development as among the first to have the streets plowed, ahead of the village's plows for the surrounding streets. As a result, my neighbors and I were able to drive out and take care of business faster and more easily than others who live nearby.

This should be treated as a big selling point.

If I were selling, I would hope that all online advertising my agent has in place for my home would be updated to indicate that the streets were cleared before most others in the community. Plus any other ads, such as for the coming weekend's newspapers (if before a deadline) should also be updated for this purpose.

If I were a potential buyer in the area, knowing that "this" development is well maintained might make me take a closer look, since I'm looking during the winter time when bad weather is prominent.

If I were the listing agent, I would want to provide a most current selling point at every opportunity. It shows potential buyers that we (agent and sellers) are motivated. If I were able to, I'd try to get a photo of the exterior of the home showing the plowed street and post it on my web site, if not adding it to online advertisements.

If I were an investor, I would know to check a region which has had its share of bad weather, figuring that there would not be offers coming in and try a lowball offer approach. Seeing this type of current information might entice me to check out this community.

Instead, I went online to search my area, and actually found several exterior photos showing a green lawn as if it were the middle of summer outside. That tells me that these homes have been on the market for a long time, and thus lack urgency. Might as well wait until the weather gets better or see what else is for sale.

This concept is not only for the hours after a blizzard. It goes for extreme weather or temperatures, or for specific events which have immediate impact, positive or negative, upon the community in which a listing is in place.

If one home on "3rd Street" is now advertised as having "no flooding issues" after a heavy rain, but a similar advertised home over on "7th Street" makes no mention of the area flood, which home would you respond to first?

In this age of "Call me on my cell", "text me", "Facebook me", and constant personal status updates, it is time for properties to be sold with this in mind.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why Does Re/Max Report Negative Statistics?

We all know how awful this winter weather has been for at least 90% of the country and for a lot of reasons. It doesn't take a genius IQ to realize that the real estate community is being impacted as a lot of people are not up for going house hunting in the snow and/or cold weather.

Yet, Re/Max went ahead and issued its "report" showing how home sales across the country declined during January from one year ago and even the previous month of December 2013.

It is bad enough when realty associations do this. But this from a company whose business it is to SELL homes. Not provide people with less than positive information.

Instead of spending time and labor to produce these "reports" that don't tell us anything home owners want to know, why not make a better effort to market the current inventory?

Go ahead. Look up current advertisements for listed homes in cities which have recently had a ton of snow. See if ANY of them address how the home has survived the recent storm. Instead, you are more likely to see exterior photos with the lawn showing or only a little bit of snow. This tells potential buyers that the advertisement is outdated and/or that the property has been on the market for a while, thus lacking urgency.

Suppose you are selling your home, and the street you live on was well plowed and clear just after a big snow storm. Shouldn't your CURRENT advertising reflect that the owner of "this" home was able to go shopping and to work all week? Especially when other homes in the neighborhood do NOT indicate this.

That is one example. There are times when sellers need to ride herd on their realty agent, instead of the agent referring to "how bad the market is".

Here is that fresh report:

NOTE: Mr. Kohl addresses issues such as this in his new audio book, "8 Hours To Sell Your Home", now available via

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The House Might Be Sold, But It Has A Urinal

This one is not a paid ad (that I know of), or if it is, it is disguised as a newspaper "profile" of a Seattle area home by the leading local newspaper's web site.

Within the copy description of the home, it says the home has "reclaimed chalkboards used as kitchen countertops, two basement bed alcoves, a urinal and a front porch". Yes, that is a quote from the description.

Rather than ask if you know what a "bed alcove" is, I will instead ask if anyone knows of someone purchasing or considering the purchase of a home because it has a urinal.

It is possible that there is at least one person, however.

This "description" wraps up by telling readers that "a sale is pending".

Actually, I am not bashing this story and description. The point is that this does entice people to read further and to want to look at the photos.

That is a lot better than a lot of the paid advertising, with "must see", "move-in condition" and giving the basics that every other house also offers. Great job of making a property description unique!

Friday, January 24, 2014

No Wonder It's The "Home Alone" House

This is another one for those who still don't believe that advertising and marketing of properties must improve in order to help the real estate market.

As is my instinct, as soon as I saw a newspaper story (Chicago Tribune) online about the house used in the "Home Alone" movie being for sale, I wanted to read it. I'm always curious to see if there are quotes from a realty agent involved in the process and whether or not the quotes are effective ones.

The home, in the upscale Chicago suburb of Winnetka IL, is listed, according to the report, at $3.1 million dollars.

It turns out that no agent is quoted anywhere within the story, although the listing agent's name and affiliation is the last line of the story.

However, there is a big problem pointed out within the 4th paragraph of the Tribune story. It is the sentence which reads, "The bay windowed breakfast room is lovely but brrrr - there are no curtains in the listing photo".

Why is that a "problem"? Because during the week leading into this story, the temperature in Chicago did not get above the mid-20's. On the very day the story "broke", the temperature at the time was near 0 degrees.

Mother Nature does not distinguish between trailer park homes and multi-million dollar mansions when it comes to windows without curtains or blinds letting frigid air inside. Chances are the reporter had the same reaction as I did, and others will, upon seeing that photo, now thinking that it is probably cold in that house at "this very moment".

If I might, I'm going to speculate that a potential buyer for a $3 million property does not want to worry about being too cold. Especially if that same potential buyer has looked at other properties in that range with NO indication of cold temperatures.

The photo spread for the listing , based on the amount of snow shown on the exterior, taken very recently, and that is a plus for the listing agent and the seller.

In this instance, all the agent, photographer, or home stager needed to do was close the curtains or blinds! Doing so would have prevented the reporter from making the comment, which instead reflects as a negative.

As for the remainder of the photo spread, there are two unflattering photos of the exterior. One shows the swimming pool area covered with snow, while another shows a covered walkway area that has what appears to be some drifting snow on it.

Why show a snow covered swimming pool? A potential buyer would want to know there is a swimming pool there, but seeing it snow covered and not ready for us is still another less than positive "message".

A potential buyer of a multi-million dollar property, and there aren't that many, needs to see nothing but positives, and this photo spread fails to do that. As a result, the seller could lose thousands and thousands of dollars (perhaps even six figures) by eventually needing to accept a lower offer in order to get the sale. My point is that if and when that happens, it is really NOT a reflection of the local market. It would be reflection of the marketing.

This is why I suggest that home sellers monitor any and all advertising and promotion their realty agent does, and demand that updates and changes be made if and when something doesn't look right. For this listing's photo spread, either take out the unflattering photos and/or re-shoot the bay window with the curtains closed. Put "Stay warm in the spacious living room" or something to that effect in the copy.

Hopefully this will be changed so that the sellers of "Mr. Marley's house" will get their sale price. If not, they might be "Home Alone" for quite some time.,0,5003714.story

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Freeze Out Potential Buyers

After spending hours reading up about certain realty agents and how important the new techology supposedly is in their sales process, it took me about 30 seconds to find out that far too many of them are still not using it where it counts the most.

As most of you know, the first week of 2014 brought record and near-record cold temperatures to much of the country, along with significant snowfall amounts in many north and northeast states.

However, homes are still for sale, and there are some potential buyers out there looking in certain areas. Yet, the advertising that so many realty agents are using fails to reflect this, even when the only technology they truly need this week is a decent camera.

I can understand if an advertisement for a home appears outdated in a monthly magazine, but when it happens on updated web sites, there is no excuse.

South Bend IN was hit with 20+ inches of new snow during the first few days of 2014. So on January 9th, I went on to and searched the area. My hope was that at least a couple of agents would update their primary photo or the "headline" description of their listings to reflect coping with the winter storm.

What did I find? Of the first 15 listings which showed up on my search from $100,000 up, not one of the photos had any snow in them. In fact, 14 of the 15 showed green grass on their exterior shot. (While the 15th also had an exterior photo without leaves on the trees and a lawn that looked as though the grass had died for the winter. Not exactly flattering.)

Suppose I really was a potential buyer in that area. My first impression is that, based on the snow and cold weather currently in place, every house in the area has been listed for weeks if not months, and therefore with ZERO urgency for me (potential buyer) to want to follow up about.

Why not use some technology to update the copy? Can't these agents let us know that "the furnace heated the house every day as usual" or "The sellers drove to grocery store every day during the storm"? There should be something to indicate that these houses would be good buys during the worst of winters.

Why not change the primary photo to an interior shot? Obviously, somebody looking to move in during the first quarter of 2014 (the SOONEST possible) is not worried about the lawn and the yard in a cold weather area such as this one.

But it gets worse. I clicked on the property at 19540 Southland Ave., which, during this January snowy mess, showed a primary photo from a sunny day with a large and very green lawn in front, and found out that MORE THAN ONE MONTH AGO this home had a price reduction of $25,000.

The property description includes the "large yard and deck" and boasts about the "landscaping". In January?

So if a more than 25% price drop announced five weeks ago has yet to spur any interest in this home, why is the SAME advertising photo and description still in place?

Yet, it gets even worse, if that is possible. I then clicked through the photo spread to see that this appears to be an EMPTY house. All we see is what appears to be empty rooms, with one of the published photos being blurry.

Let's hope these agents learn to use the new technology to actually UPDATE potential buyers.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wrong Attitude About Home Sales Increase

A news story in the San Antonio Express News was intended to be a positive reflection of the local Real Estate market. Finally. But talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth! The two key people quoted in this story cast more of a negative on it than enforcing it for the positive it should be.

And these two key people are supposed to be there to HELP get more homes sold. This turns into another example of how it is careless advertising and marketing which is hurting the real estate industry as much as anything else.

Please understand this is not a personal attack. It is to make an important point to realty agents and to those in the industry about how much they can hurt their own cause.

The Express News story quotes the Chairman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors (SABOR) about the 25th consecutive month of a local rise in home sales. Instead of using this opportunity to point out how wonderful it is that this is now a 2-year trend, he is quoted as saying "Even with things not being as big of an increase, it's still an increase".

Say what? The head honcho of the realty association gets quoted in the major local newspaper as saying this increase in home sales is not a big deal. Sheesh.

But there is more. He also claims, in this story, that housing inventory remains limited, as he sees it, with an average of more than four months to sell a listing. Four months? To make it worse, he is quoted as saying that "Anything less than six months is a seller's market".

Sorry, but this is a horrible quote for a potential buyer to read. If you are looking at homes for sale in an area of San Antonio, and see that most of the homes you are looking at have been listed for more than FOUR months, wouldn't you think there must be reasons why these homes are NOT selling?

Then, later in the story, an agent from a prominent local realty firm is quoted as being concerned that appraisers have to "go back as much as six months" for comparable sales figures. As if what most appraisers, who have contributed a ton of harm to the real estate market by including distressed property sale prices within their valuations, need to do is of concern to a potential buyer and seller.

Here is what could and SHOULD be a very positive story about the local home market being turned into a "Gee, we don't know" mood. All both people quoted had to do was comment about how "This trend is helping all concerned since more homes are being sold each month".

A sorry "half empty" approach when the cup is finally more than half full.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How the IRS Could Help The Real Estate Market - Soon

January 1, 2014 is scheduled to be the end of the "Mortgage Foreclosure Debt Forgiveness Act" that Congress passed in 2007 but finally expires at the end of this month. This action figures to significantly reduce the number of "short sales" around the country, and that is GREAT news for thousands (if not millions) of potential home sellers.

Here is why. Not having this "Act" in place will mean that a property sold via a "Short Sale" (from which the bank approves a reduced amount to satisfy the loan amount due) will no longer relieve the individual home owner/seller of the tax responsibility for the remaining value of the house. Of course, no one wants to see property owners who have lost their home suffer any more of a financial hardship of thousands of dollars more.

For example, suppose a home with a mortgage of $150,000 is sold (after Jan. 1st) as a "Short Sale" for only $100,000, as approved by the bank holding the loan. Without the Mortgage Foreclosure Debt Forgiveness Act" in place, it will mean that the home owner would now be held responsible for taxes on the "remaining" $50,000. This could mean a tax bill of $10,000 to $15,000 for that "owner".

The positive in this, as I see it, is that this situation is likely to discourage the majority of short sale candidates from going this route. The fewer short sales there are, the better, since the biggest reason for the stall in the real estate market is the sales of distressed properties at unfair prices.

Not having short sales and foreclosures taking up a percentage of available listings in most cities will mean that "real" home sellers will be able to ask and receive realistic prices once again.

What kills me is that the National Association of Realtors President has actually spoken out against this Act ending. I suppose that is an "in the public eye" comment to appear not in support of higher tax bills for home sellers. But I don't get it.

The NAR is actually part of the housing problem, based on their members "accepting" short sale and foreclosure property sale prices as if they reflect on the value of area properties. These short sale and distressed property sales are really to satisfy a loan, and should not reflect upon home sale statistics. But they have for these past few years, and that has destroyed home sale prices.

With fewer and fewer short sales resulting, home prices will get back to reality sooner, and that is good for the majority of the people. Again, I don't like to see people get a hefty tax bill, but it should be them taking a financial hit ahead of millions of people losing money on their homes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

When One Picture Destroys A Thousand Words

Those who wonder why I am now putting the finishing touches on an entire book about the right way to sell a home should take a look at the ad I randomly found for a townhome in Seattle.

It is another example of "what NOT to do", as advertised by an agent with a nationally known real estate company in the Seattle Times and on its web site.

The primary photo that shows is "1 of 10" photos, but is the only photo that shows up, and provides the all-important first impression. However, the only reason I looked at the other nine photos was because I knew this needs to be presented here.

The "first impression" photo is deadly. It shows a car parked in the driveway in front of one of three garage doors. First of all, it is NOT good practice to show a parked car on a property in a public forum, for security reasons among others. In this context, it makes a viewer wonder if there is room enough to park a car inside the garage.

Furthermore, the first two words of the primary description copy are "Modern townhome". Since the primary photo shows three garage doors (not to mention the car parked outside of one of them), a viewer is immediately confused as to whether the building shown is all ONE unit or if the townhome for sale is one unit within that building. Frankly, after reading the entire ad, I still don't know.

In addition, the description includes some confusing terminology. The first sentence is "Modern townhome with creative spaces and fantastic finishes". Huh?

The next sentence starts with "Enjoy radiant concrete flooring". So help me. Makes me wonder if the furniture is located behind the garage doors and that is why the car in the photo is parked outside. How many homes are you aware of with "concrete flooring" as a selling point?

A later sentence tells us that "The kitchen is a 'work horse' and features a gas range". Are you ready to offer the $295,000 asking price yet?

At the end of the description copy we are informed that this ad was "Updated: 10-02-13". The day I discovered this ad was 12-03-13, more than two months later. This means that nothing about this ad, or the asking price, has changed in more than two months.

Why is this so aggravating? Because I then clicked to see the remaining photos. And most of them are quite impressive.

That is why it is so important to have the primary photo enhance the description copy, and vice versa. A potential buyer is not given ANY solid reason to click to see more. Especially not with 29 other listings which came up within the same area and price range I had entered.

Had one of the good interior photos been used and the description copy been written more realistically, chances are pretty good this townhome would have been sold by now.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Orange You Glad You Are Not This Home Seller?

For those who still don't believe that advertising and marketing are of the utmost importance to get a home sold, try this one on for size.

This afternoon I did a random search, via the web site of the Orange County Register, for a single family home priced in the $300,000 to $325,000 range.

The very first listing which appeared, at the top of my search (low price to high price) happened to be one at 3302 E. Radcliffe Ave. in Anaheim. My first impression was the exterior photo, which clearly showed TWO vehicles parked in the driveway.

Showing even one vehicle on the property is considered a huge "no no" within the real estate community, even before the heightened security concerns of the past fifteen years. Before looking any further, I had a reason to question the real estate agent and company representing this property.

But my concern did not stop there.

Right there, on the thumbnail for the listing, next to the photo with the two vehicles showing, was the detail, "Posted 276 days ago". Granted, it is not the fault of the realty agent that the length of time on the market is posted so prominently. However, this means that the agent has had literally NINE MONTHS to change the photo to not show any vehicles, but did not.

My next step was to click on this property to see what I could find out. And then I saw the "description copy":

"3 Bedrooms 2 Bath in a Residential neighborhood. Central Air & Heat.Close the freeways 91 & 57Minor repairs needed. Sold AS-IS"

Believe it or not, this home is shown as being listed through an agent with a nationally known real estate company.

Let's get this straight. The agent's first "fact" to present to a potential buyer is that the home is "in a Residential neighborhood". Please don't rush to your phone to contact the agent upon learning this. Oh my.

Perhaps he meant to say "close TO freeways...." in the next sentence, and is not asking that those highways be closed. But 276 days later???

This is all he can tell us about a home listed at $300,000?

Face it, even in a good real estate market, this home doesn't have a prayer of selling if this is how it is being advertised.

Frankly, it is bad enough that the seller of this home hasn't demanded a change in this so-called advertisement. But I also can't believe that other local realty agents have not stepped in either. If I was an investor looking for a "good deal" and didn't care where it came from, keep in mind that this home comes up FIRST on a search by price. How much incentive is this to continue looking down the row?

For that matter, out of ten homes which showed on the first property search page, not one of them had been on the market for less than 30 days. With ZERO urgency, there is no telling how long some of these properties will sit on the market.

And if they ever do, you had better believe it won't be anywhere near the $300,000+ asking prices.

Worse yet, this is due to poor advertising and marketing. Not the current real estate market.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will Rockets TV Take Off?

Perhaps the biggest sports media story of the year could have its next important development early next week, where a Houston Bankruptcy Court will be the location for a hearing regarding the status of CSN Houston and its future (or lack thereof) of televising the Rockets and Astros games.

This hearing, scheduled for Monday (10/28) at press time, could determine the short-term status of CSN Houston. Which, of course, would also play a role in determining its long-term status. The Astros are looking to get out from under their original deal with CSN Houston which was structured to provide significant income for the team, but has resulted in barely 40% of the local cable and satellite market being able to receive the games. On the other hand, the Rockets, whose regular season with star acquisition Dwight Howard begins next week, are looking for CSN Houston to continue based on a different revenue guarantee than the Astros deal has.

You can be sure that other pro teams will be watching this one closely. Teams such as the Dodgers and Rangers are getting ready to embark on similar huge long-term TV deals, while other teams are eyeing those while counting the days until they can begin negotiations. If the Astros, who were reportedly not paid millions due from the 2013 regular season contract, are forced to continue with CSN Houston and do not receive the multi-millions they were expecting, look for a ripple effect in "new" negotiations around the country as local and regional networks will be less likely to pull the trigger.

Given how much money sports and non-sports fans now pay for their cable and/or satellite TV, without new and even more inflated contracts in place, it will be interesting to see the fallout from this upcoming ruling, if it happens. There is, of course, the possibility of a postponement or continuation.

Meanwhile, ESPN/ABC has finally addressed its long standing (2 seasons) need to have a true host for its NBA studio programming surrounding game telecasts. Sage Steele has been named as the host of NBA Countdown on Fridays and Sundays, even though not yet for those Wednesday night telecasts ESPN provides. With the recently added Doug Collins, along with Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons, the studio will still be crowded with analysts wanting their air time, but at least having a host will hopefully restore order. Why Wednesdays nights are not including Steele is a bit of a mystery, although those nights also will not include Collins and the others. Instead, Doris Burke will be joined by Avery Johnson and Jalen Rose for the studio segments.

The start of the NBA season next week brings its fans four consecutive nights of national doubleheaders, even though a couple of teams will be shown multiple times at the start.
TNT starts with a special opening night doubleheader on Tuesday 10/29 (potentially against Game 6 of the World Series) with Chicago at Miami (including the Heat's championship ring ceremony) followed by the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Clippers. On Wednesday 10/30, NBA-TV airs a live doubleheader with Brooklyn at Cleveland followed by the Lakers (again) at Golden State. On Thursday 10/31, TNT airs a pair with New York at Chicago (again) followed by Golden State (again) at the L. A. Clippers (again). Then, on Friday 11/1, ESPN debuts its studio show with Sage Steele and Doug Collins with the fourth doubleheader in four nights. The opener has Miami (again) at Brooklyn (again), while the late game has the Lakers (3rd straight game) hosting San Antonio. NBA-TV already has single telecast scheduled for each of the following three nights.

ATLANTA: Braves radio remains in WCNN 680 as part of a multi-year renewal, with Jim Powell and Don Sutton remaining as the broadcast team. The games will be moving down the FM dial, with News 106.7 taking over the broadcasts, which had aired on Rock 100.5 since the 2010 season.

LOS ANGELES: With the Dodgers' new TV package set to start with the 2014 season, the play-by-play team has yet to be determined for the road games which Vin Scully does not call. Word is that Eric Collins and Steve Lyons have been dropped. Speculation includes Orel Hersheiser, whose contract with ESPN is up after the World Series ends.

CHARLOTTE: WFNZ 610 The Fan has let go of Brett Jensen about about three years with the station. The Fan has extended "Bustin' Loose with Frank Garcia" from 10 AM to 2 PM, and the afternoon show with Taylor Zarzour and Mark James from 2 to 6 PM weekdays.

MONTEREY CAL: Having those "contests" for a shift on a sports radio station are bad enough when they are for the Sunday overnight slot or some other "Who cares?" time slot, but this one takes the cake. KIDD 630 went as far as to hold on-air auditions with six finalists for a "possible" on-air slot with the station. When? From 3 PM to 5 PM on weekdays. I had to look at the calendar to be see how close this is to April 1st, but it's not. Maybe by the time it is, there will be a contest to audition for station manager.