Thursday, February 14, 2013

When Buyers Can Name Their Price

It's all too rare, but creative selling and real estate have met regarding the selling of a commercial development in Colorado. Granted, it is for a multi-million dollar property, but realty agents and property sellers could do well to follow this formula, no matter what the value.,+LLC+Invites+Buyers+to+Name+Their+Price+on+275-Acre+Five-Star+Luxury+Elk+Mountain+Resort/8090500.html

Provided the link still works for you, you might wish to point out to me that this is not an advertisement for the property, and that, techincally, the property is not "listed" in the traditional sense. My response is that you are only half right. It is up for auction rather than a "listing", but the purpose remains to get the property sold.

On the other point, I'm here to tell you this IS an advertisement. The press release both tells the story by providing the specifics, but it also paints the picture. There are several different possibilities for usage. It could be used for one company, or it could be used as a business for profit. This development could be used as a cash flow investment by leasing out the various elements as components.

This is EXACTLY what I preach to real estate and leasing agents who are my advertising and marketing clients. Every property has something unique about it, whether it is a one-room studio or a multi-million dollar mansion, or somewhere in between.

What is also nice about this advertisement is that they allow visitors to explore the property, and have a bidding formula already in place.

And don't try and tell me this is not an "advertisement". It is. It just happens to be in the form of a Press Release. Yet, it communicates the story, paints the picture, provides a ton of ideas for usage and benefits, and includes a call to action. That is what an effective advertisement is supposed to do.

However, I feel like there are real estate agents out there who would write a "traditional" ad for this property like this:

"Commercial property with 47 buildings, some with mountain views, back-on-market, in move-in condition. Shows well. Prestigious Colorado location. Fitness center. Near national park. New carpet in meeting rooms. Must see to believe!"

And they would also show a photo of the entrance way and little in the background.

An excellent job by the writer of the advertisement for that property. The real estate community needs more like this one!

Monday, February 11, 2013

When The Maine Idea Is To Sell Houses

Of course I realize that the Northeast continues to recover from and dig out of perhaps the worst snow storm ever which hit during the past few days.

I also realize that if it were my job in any of those communities to sell real estate that I wouldn't let a major snow stop me from updating and promoting those properties.

Chances are that real estate investors as well as those who are truly motivated to buy a home in these areas are not going to stop because of the snow storm, whether or not they live within these areas. In other words, the show must go on.

The saying "The early bird gets the worm" should be the motto of the day. If I were an investor looking to buy and flip, or perhaps buy in order to rent out houses, I would know that today (the Monday after the huge Friday and weekend storm) would be the day to be in hot pursuit. It's not as though the listing agents are going to be visiting their listings today or conducting business outside. Many do not go to a physical office location at all even on the nicest of days. Either way, they should have the ability to work online. Selling listed homes and properties is still their job, no matter what the conditions are.

I decided to use the hard-hit (with snow) Portland Maine area as my "test" market, and went on the Portland Press-Telegram (largest local newspaper) web site to begin my search, as if I was an investor.

Unfortunately, I was not surprised when I didn't find even ONE listing advertisement, out of close to 100 I looked at, which had entered even the slightest adjustment to their advertisement which referenced the huge winter storm.

In other words, the same real estate agents who insist on utilizing the latest and most up-to-date technology are not even using it to help their clients. If this were 20 years ago when advertisement publishing deadlines were a couple of days in advance of the publication date, I could understand. But it is 2013 when agents have easy access to their listings and advertisements online. And if they are advertising on a source which cannot be easily updated, they should think again.

Since so many people have cameras, even if on their phone, it is no longer a challenge to get a "current" photo of a home, have it sent by e-mail, and uploaded within minutes or hours. Yet, out of all of the 100 or so "home for sale" ads I looked at, not one of them had so much as a photo updated to show the snowy conditions. Not to mention that some had no photos at all, but that's for another day.

You just know that there are some communities which were plowed and shoveled reasonably quickly so that the owners and residents could get out and go about their business. What a GREAT way to promote a home for sale, if you can immediately show that "If you lived here, you'd be out shopping now", or "Our streets are well maintained, even in the worst of storms".

If you are the seller or the agent, all you need is one buyer. This storm could and should be creating opportunities for those with homes for sale. 

As I see it, today and this week is the best opportunity an investor and a buyer would have in Portland, and in Maine, CT, MA, and points beyond. You can get the attention of an agent or seller today who should have significant time on their hands to discuss and hopefully be able to show a property, and listen to offers.

Otherwise, some buyers and investors might be waiting a couple of weeks for the coming great meltdown of the snow, and be able to see for themselves where the flooding, poor sewer systems, and communities which don't plow or clear their streets very well are. It is possible both the quantity and quality of offers could suffer within those communities.

Instead, a potential buyer or investor, looking in Portland, and using the real estate site of the largest newspaper in the area, continues to find advertisements such as this:

Not only does this advertisement not mention anything about the storm, but the poor photos included tell all that it's an empty house. The Zillow ad is linked directly from the Press-Telegram web site, therefore alerting potential buyers that this house was listed last summer and didn't sell.

Since it is empty, what happens if water from the melting snow gets inside?

It's one thing that the advertisements for the same area were not "updated" from the storm. But it's another that this particular advertisement is so set up to fail.

The main point here is that there continues to be missed opportunity in the selling of homes and other real estate. Hip deep in snow or not.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wasted Opportunities In Milwaukee

Back to solving the real estate crisis one city at a time. It's bad enough that I find too many realty associations using far too much of their collective man power coming up with market statistics that seem more often to be negative than to help.

For some odd reason, the President of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors is waiting on government money he may or may not get instead of taking action on behalf of the city and the members of the Association he leads.

This story, published by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, presents the situation:

There is no debating the problems with the marketplace created by abandoned homes that were foreclosed upon and/or not sold for whatever reason. However, I thought the local realty association should be in place to HELP its members and help the community, instead of begging for government money to make their 'industry' look good.

Nobody asked me, but there is a much better solution. The article states that the average cost to raze these abandoned properties which "hurt" the neighborhoods they sit within is $15,000.

Meanwhile, it seems to me that there are plenty of investors and rehabbers out there who are looking for opportunities to cash in over the next few years.

So here is how to solve the problem without waiting to find out whether or not the community will ever get the government money.

Have the City of Milwaukee sell these properties for land value PLUS $15,000 each. Use that "extra" $15,000 to fund the razing of the home on that property, clearing the way for the buyer to build a brand new home from the ground up and sell it. The buyer gets a period of, say, 24 months to build on this land.

Everybody wins. The city gets rid of the abandoned homes which are causing problems for "real" home sellers and for residents near these properties in terms of property value and neighborhood image, and they do so, in effect, at no cost. The buyer/investor/rehabber gets a highly profitable opportunity to build and sell within 2 years at a nice profit.

And, instead of waiting for someone else to help their industry, chances are some realty agents (members of this Association) would earn a buyer's commission for each transaction they work with. While helping their local community to improve.

Instead of asking for millions of dollars to solve the problem, just take a few thousand dollars to hire someone on behalf of the City of Milwaukee to coordinate this effort.

In this instance, if you tear it down, they will come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who's Noise Is It Anyway?

Since I do not have any real estate marketing clients in Dallas at the moment, I can comment on a current story instead of being on the phone showing a current client how I can generate future sales for him or her.

I have recently been following the story about a Dallas restaurant and bar which is open every night until 2 AM and the noise complaints from a very nearby condo building. As this recent news story puts it, it's "getting ugly": 

Although I'm not taking either party's side on this, I can't believe that at least one realty agent or office has yet to take the initiative to get involved. The condo building needs to stop the noise for more than just its current residents. News articles such as the one linked above have also served, indirectly, to put out 'bad vibes' about living at Park Towers. People aren't going to want to move in there if they think they won't be able to get a decent night's sleep. Therefore, current residents could face a tough challenge trying to sell, and some of the units already sold for more than $500,000.

Local realty agents could very well be losing future opportunities for large commissions by not stepping in. It is obvious the condo association understands the seriousness of this, given that it (according to the news stories) has hired a law firm and has commissioned a study in this matter. Neither are cheap.

If an agent or realty office in that community were to step in and be instrumental in working a solution that allows condo residents to sleep and the bar's 150 employees to continue at their jobs, that agent or office stands to gain a tremendous amount of positive local publicity. And you can bet they'll get their share of future buyers (and sellers) from that condo building.

From what I have read about this, it appears to be resolved with both sides making an effort instead of defending their rights to exist under these tense circumstances.

Instead of waiting for the next set of negative sales statistics for that area, it just might be time to get out there and seize an opportunity to drive future business. And help the real estate market.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Not Exactly A Million Dollar Idea

No matter what you think of the status of today's real estate market, there are some buyers out there who can afford and are looking for million dollar homes. One would think that high end homes would warrant an extra effort to be marketed and sold. But think again.

This afternoon I checked one ad for a one million dollar home in the San Diego area, and for a one million dollar home in the Miami area, thinking it would be interesting to compare the major selling points. After all, these are both warm weather areas on the ocean, even if 3,000 miles apart. Would they promote the interior features ahead of the exterior ones? How similar would these advertisements be?

Alas, the agents representing these totally separate properties seem to both treat these prestigious listings as if they are mobile homes. Frankly, I'm amazed that the sellers are not outraged at the poor treatment their homes are being given, especially since the commissions are going to be in the $50,000 range if these homes ever sell.

First, I randomly chose this one in San Diego via the San Diego Union Tribune web site:

Upon first impression, the photo, which has a large tree blocking some of the view, makes it difficult to tell that it is one property, so that was not a good start. But it only gets worse. The description starts with "Traditional Home For Sale". Let me get this straight. I just went to the major newspaper's web site and searched for "homes for sale" in a specific area and price range. And the listing agent tells me, ahead of anything else, that this home is "For Sale"?

If possible, it gets even worse. The "property detail" goes on to say "6 bedrooms/6 baths". Nothing wrong with that information in the property detail. Usually. However, up above the detail, next to the questionable photo, we are told his $1,100,000 listing has "5 bedrooms/5 baths".

Later, the advertisement includes "monthly fees". It includes the "H.O. fees 3144.0", and "Total Monthly Fees: 356" in that portion of the ad. The other costs shown fail to add up to 356 or 3144. That's certainly not the only thing which doesn't add up in this advertisement.

One more time. This is a million dollar property being promoted.

Next, it was off to look for a Miami area property. Via the Miami Herald web site, I randomly chose this one, based on a challenging thumbnail photo:

The headline of the ad for this $1,000,000 home says "Direct Ocean and Bay Views". And the primary photo of it is that of a fitness room. Say what?

Once I figured out the photo is a fitness room, I was curious as to whether the home is being sold by an athlete or showbiz performer who needs to stay in top shape. I'm thinking maybe he/she/they have a fitness room installed in a room with one of those views. A look at the remaining photos proved that theory wrong, as most of the remaining photos are of the amenities for the building in which this $1,000,000 unit is located. But it gets worse.

The only two actual interior photos are both of a bathroom! And, quite honestly, based on these photos, I have seen better looking bathrooms in homes valued at a lot less. And then, no other interior photos.

But it gets worse.

The description also includes "Easy to show - see broker remarks".

Based on my previous experience when I have mentioned these internal or MLS notes appearing in "public" advertising, I'm sure I'll have some agents respond by telling me that some of these publications and web sites pick up the copy from the MLS. I'm not disputing that. Comments of that sort have no business being in the MLS or anywhere else for that matter, especially for a one million dollar property. This advertisement is an embarassment to the industry.

I'll say this again. These were the only two "million dollar property" ads I looked at today. These listing agents are totally letting their selling clients down. It is clear the agents don't even check their ads. A conflicting number of bedrooms? Please!

Any truly qualified buyer that can spend a million dollars on a home has the intelligence and ability to notice the same flaws in these advertisements that I did. They will no not to bother with the careless agent handling the listing, when there are other million dollar homes available in these marketplaces. 

People still need reasons to spend a million dollars. How about it?