Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Movie "99 Homes" A Revealing Real Estate Adventure

I saw the movie “99 Homes” last night and find it to be one of the most compelling movies to come out in a long time. The writers most definitely know the seedy side of real estate, giving precise attention to how much the big banks and the government have screwed up the industry and the impact it continues to have.


While set in Central Florida a couple years ago, the film clearly has the element of “this could be in your community” as it shows what happens when people are at risk of losing their homes. We see the realty agents wanting their next commission, the banks wanting to close out “bad loans” they originally chose to make, and how the government gets ripped off in the process.


“99 Homes” also raises several moral questions, addressing the angle of “They stole from you, so you need to steal it back” and the pro and con of the choice. At the same time, we see how much the real estate industry still needs to be cleaned up.


This is how movies should be made. The writing is superb, and the acting is equally as excellent and convincing, especially during the many emotional scenes. Although some of the camera work is too shaky, in this instance it adds to the impact of making this seem like “real” experiences throughout this highly believable film.


The directing is solid, and the lighting is excellent as well. More importantly, this film shows that we don’t need special effects or name actors to make a film great. The only music was in the background and for impact, and not a bunch of popular songs to keep the audience awake and tapping their feet, like too many other films find necessary. It is the writing and how it is conveyed that make all the difference.


That is also without considering my personal emotional attachment of knowing two people who have lost their houses within the past 18 months. Every home owner can clearly relate to those portrayed in the movie on some level.


My only complaint would be that, at just under two hours, there should have been more time so that the story could have been carried out. As much as I liked the ending, this did not have to be one of those films where you know what “probably” happened. There were a couple of plot related questions not answered while the film should have easily been over two hours.


However, what turned to be the end was an ideal finish to an excellent plot. This film is clearly worth leaving home for!



Monday, September 14, 2015

A Poor Reflection on Coldwell Banker

Real estate advertising and marketing has enough challenges these days, but this incident in Orange County reflects even more poorly on the entire industry. The story in the Orange County Register showing two upscale realty offices in the same area taking jabs at each other hurts on several levels.


This is supposed to be a story about a couple of managers and an undetermined number of realty agents moving to a local competitor. First of all, this happens quite frequently and in many parts of the country on a regular basis, and more often than not and is not “reported” via the local media.


What this tells me is that someone provided the reporter with information in a serious effort to get this “story” out there. The core of the story is that two managers reportedly left First Team and went over to a three office group of Coldwell Banker offices.


This story goes as far as quoting Jamie Duran, the President of CB’s Orange County and San Diego operations, as saying that one of the managers they hired “was working for a non-luxury brand”. In the next paragraph, Jeff Gibson of First Team points out that company’s position as a luxury brand.


In addition, the story quotes representatives from both offices as disputing the exact number of agents who have “moved” from First Team to Coldwell Banker, with one side claiming it was 45 agents and the other claiming it was “only” 15 agents that he knew of.


We are not talking about an assembly line here. Having two executives of competing real estate companies acting like this is kindergarten is another poor reflection on the industry as a whole. Coldwell Banker’s competitor did not do anything illegal or unethical, yet their highest ranking executive has no problem taking a jab at a rival?

Real estate companies are under close government scrutiny, in addition to held to Realtor Association standards on both a local and national level. That should include being factual when making a public comment!

Perhaps Duran also overlooked the fact that agents representing home buyers can help clients buy homes listed by ANY real estate firm. The quote from Duran should have been more along the line of “We are happy to have these quality people on our team…” and shown some class.


Then there is the matter of the number of agents that followed the managers over from First Team. Unfortunately, the reporter failed to clarify which person was right (or if either was) and tell us how many agents joined Coldwell Banker as a result of this.


As a result, we have management people from two “leading” real estate companies, which serve the same communities, each telling us a different number with regard to the same situation.


If these companies can’t count their people accurately for a newspaper story, how can they be trusted to handle millions of dollars in real estate transactions? How do consumers know that the agent they are supposed to trust with their home will be representing the same company a week from now?


What happens the next time an agent from one company is negotiating a sale of a home with an agent from the other company? Will a buyer get screwed because the manager has another hissy fit?


We cannot and should not have it come public that upper management can become so unraveled over something that is common within their industry. But in this instance it did. Here’s hoping the real estate community will learn from this mistake.


Keep the comments positive, and more importantly, accurate. That is not a "luxury". It is a necessity.










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: