Thursday, October 13, 2011

It Doesn't Snow In October

Even in the Chicago area, it doesn't snow in October. Looks like I need to point that out to some realty offices in the area.

It so happened that I was doing some market research on some residential properties in a specific northern suburb of Chicago this afternoon. As part of that, I went onto to check on the status of a couple of listings. This is October 13th, and to the best of my memory, there hasn't been any measureable snow in the Chicago area since late March.

Yet, there I was checking listings within one zip code and within $150,000 on a price range. I'm sure many of you are familiar with and its listings, which include a thumbnail primary photo to attract attention.

To my amazement, I saw four, that is FOUR, primary photos which had snow on the ground on the photo which is supposed to make me want to click on the listing. What makes this even worse, if that is possible, is that these four listings were from three separate realty offices.

Yes, it wasn't as though there was one careless and incompetent agent or office making the other agents in the area look bad.

Instead of an outdated photo, they might as well have posted "Been on the market so long there is no urgency - Wait for still another price reduction!" instead. Sorry, but that's how it looks.

Suppose I was looking to purchase in that area. My first impression before clicking on ANY of the listings would have been that these listings are stale, there has been no interest, and even the local agents have given up on updating the information. Since it is not one agent or office being careless, it makes the "good" advertisements look like part of a lackluster effort to make the area's homes look like hot items.

Over the past couple of years while the real estate market has been in dire straits, I have preached over and over about the need for more effective marketing by agents and sellers. Yes, the sellers too.

You see, I'm not only putting the blame on careless and thoughtless realty agents for not so much as taking a few minutes to swap out photos and keep the information fresh. I can't believe a truly motivated seller isn't checking his/her/their ads online (especially on the busy site!) every couple of weeks if not more often.

A motivated seller should be watching other similar local listings to see if and when there are price reductions, new listings, and what advertising strategies are being presented. And since the agent is supposed to working for them to sell, the sellers should be alerting their agent to anything and everything that could be improved.

This is why I would be completely discouraged from buying in this zip code. Seeing FOUR photos with snow on them the next October tells me that the sellers AND the agents have given up hope. And chances are those are nice and attractive properties.

Those agents keeping the snow photos up there should be glad they aren't my agent. (Although that's not going to happen after seeing this.) I would be asking him/her how they expect me to pay them thousands of dollars to represent me when they don't have time to update an important photo.

Frankly, some of these realty agents are pulling a "snow" job on their clients, and on the neighborhoods they work.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Are Our Houses Worth More Than Last Year?

Within the past couple of days I have had several acquaintances tell me that they have received their property tax bills and are obviously both shocked and dismayed at the amounts. It seems that their property tax bills have risen.

I thought that the property tax is based on a percentage of the value of the property. It seems that the majority of properties around the country are being appraised at less than their original value, and in some cases for many thousands of dollars less.

This means it is time to ask the government how they have come up with an increase in property values. Actually, it is time to demand that government officials tell us. Here is why.

Once we receive a Government written notification that it considers our property to have increased in value over the past year, we should immediately going to the bank or mortgage banker which owns our mortgage and provide them with this U.S. Government information. After all, state government officials are a part of the same U.S. Government which bailed out several large banks after the earlier mortgage fraud and abuse. So the banks had better listen.

Since our Government claims each property is worth more than last year, this should reflect on housing prices and for the ability for almost everyone to be able to refinance their current mortgage and take advantage of these low rates. How dare these appraisers continue to act as though thousands of homes have lost value, when the U.S. Government is documenting that they have actually increased?

This is the time to take action to enable those who have faithfully paid their mortgage but have been stuck to have more options instead of punishing these people because of those who did not and cannot make their payments.

On the other hand, there could be some licensed and professional appraisers who disagree with the Government’s assessment of current property values, especially since their jobs may be on the line and their abilities questioned. If they can prove otherwise, these appraisers should be working with home owners to challenge the U.S. and state Government determinations about local property values increasing. In that event, thousands of current homeowners would see a significant reduction in their property taxes and finally have a benefit from the status of the current real estate market.

I’m waiting, but I should not be alone in doing so. Who is right about property values?