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Posts tagged ‘real estate’

Open Houses – Yay or Nay?

People often ask whether open houses are truly helpful in selling a house. In my opinion, the short answer is a resounding YES, but not for the reason you think.

Since starting in this business I have held a LOT of open houses. Like a ton. I’ve held 3 or 4 houses open in a single weekend and kept that pace for several weeks in a row during busy seasons. I’ve come back early from weekend getaways, left swim meets early or missed baseball games (although I really try not to), and missed out on lazy beach Sundays to hold open houses.

I have sold exactly ONE (1!!) house to a person who had never seen my listing before, saw my balloon-clad sign on the street, and veered into my open house on the way to the beach. When I was a new agent I remember an office meeting during which someone asked if anyone had sold a house this way. About half of the agents in the room said that it had happened to them once in their entire career. No one said it had happened more than once. So, okay, but it does happen then. But WHY would I spend all of that time and sacrifice so much of my life holding houses open with such terrible odds of selling that house that day?

Many agents hold homes open in order to meet new clients. And that absolutely happens, and often. People that are in the market, or are thinking about getting into the market, spend a nice afternoon looking at homes and discussing their opinions on them. MOST of the time, even if the person is actively looking for a home, they don’t know the price range of this house, or they are just curious about it for some reason, or they are just learning about the market and want more data points. So it isn’t usually “the one”. And if they don’t already have someone helping them, the agent holding the open house might manage to become their agent if they are able to make a connection.

I met my first buyer client at an open house that I held for another agent’s listing. They weren’t quite ready to buy and that particular house was not the right one for them anyways. But I kept in touch with them for a couple of months and when they were ready we got to work and found them a great home. Another time I met a couple that was going to open houses specifically to shop for an agent! I didn’t know it when I met them but it sure made me happy to learn that later when we were listing their home for sale. So we agents definitely meet people at open houses that can become clients. Great for us – but that doesn’t do my seller any good!

The real reason to have an open house is for the MARKETING opportunity! If you’ve done your marketing correctly up front – the home shows great, the photos are perfect, and you’ve pushed it out EVERYWHERE possible – an open house becomes another marketing BLAST. Most of the sites that people are following during their home search (zillow, realtor.com, trulia, and so on), allow users to save their search. When you schedule an open house, these sites typically send out emails to anyone that has saved the search. You also normally get an extra sign or two out there that week, drawing attention to the home, reminding people to tell their aunt or brother or friend about that house down the street that is for sale.

Check out this actual screenshot from Zillow showing the page views of one of my old tougher-to-sell listings. I originally took the shot because the first set of data was the views that came from another agent that had listed the home at the end of August. I was super proud that our staging, better photos, and probably a little bit of timing, had resulted in quite a bit more interest when we first listed the home in February. So I knew we’d done our marketing right. But guess what drove all of those higher peaks after the initial introduction to market? Open houses and price reductions!

These peaks equal EXPOSURE, which is what you need to find the person that will pay the most for your house. I very often have an increase in showings the week of an open house. People see the house because of an Open House announcement so they call their agent and schedule a showing. Even if NO ONE shows up to the open house, but showings have spiked that week because of the increased exposure, I call it a success! I’m serious!

Once I sold a higher end listing because of an open house that I posted on social media. I was bored and posted a couple of photos and said something lazy like “Check out my view at my open house today”. A friend took notice and started messaging me about it and eventually bought the house through her agent. I never would have thought that specific post would have connected us with the eventual buyer but like I said…it’s all about exposure!

So unless there is an unusual reason not to hold open houses for my listings I always do. It means exposure for my client and that’s what I’m after. As a side benefit I might meet someone else to help as well, but my seller doesn’t care about that and I know it.

But I always go into an open house thinking I’m going to sell that house that day! Because it did happen that one time, so why not today?!

Thanks for being here!

Can’t I sell my home myself?

What if I told you that I could put some money in your pocket, and all you had to do was sit on the couch with your feet up a little more?

The National Association of Realtors publishes annual statistics on home buyers and sellers. The most recent report, which captures the numbers for 2018, states the following about For Sale By Owner (FSBO) sales:

FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $200,000 last year (up from $190,000 the year prior), and significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $264,900.

National Association of REALTORS 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Real estate evangelists will try to tell you that this proves that you will make, on average, 25% MORE when you sell your house with an agent than without. Which of course makes the commission you pay your listing agent look like chump change. Sounds great! But it’s not quite that simple.

I’d love to believe it, but I’m a numbers girl. My background in data analysis won’t let me ignore the other factors involved. For starters, it is also true that a higher percentage of people who sell their homes without an agent are in the lower price brackets. So the numbers are skewed a little bit from the outset.

THAT SAID, there are absolutely money making milestones in the process during which you need the expertise of a great agent to maximize your deal. Here are five of them:

  1. Home preparation – Your listing agent can help you decide what things need to be done prior to listing that will bring in the most bang for your buck. They know the current market and the items that are essential to draw the highest price for your home. They also know when you should keep that money in your pocket.
  2. Pricing – The initial pricing of your home is one the most important determining factors for whether you will score the highest price possible. If you overprice your home, it will sit on the market and become stale, resulting in an even lower sales price. If you price it too low you could leave money on the table. It takes a lot of expertise, number crunching, and an objective eye, to get that sweet spot right.
  3. Marketing – From home preparation and professional quality photographs, to BLASTING your home to all of the channels that buyers use when home shopping in your market, a great agent knows how to get your home in front of the right people. If you don’t get the marketing right, you simply will not attract the buyer that will pay the most for your property.
  4. Negotiations…ALL of them. When the offers start to come in, a skilled negotiator will turn them into the most advantageous situation possible for you. While negotiating the initial sales contract, this doesn’t just mean sales price but all of the terms that are important to you. A second round of negotiations occurs after the home inspection over repairs. During these times it is essential to have someone skilled as your intermediary.  This insulates you from the emotional aspects of the negotiation, and your bargaining position is strengthened.
  5. Appraisal – Being a numbers girl, meeting the appraiser is one my favorite things. If I’ve done all the rest of my job right, and we’ve got the most we think we could get for your home, I am sweating the appraisal a little bit. It takes a lot of skill to have a discussion with the appraiser that will ensure that all of the right things are being considered when determining the home’s true value.

There is so much more I could say about each one of these topics. Maybe I will tackle them each in a separate post in the coming weeks. But let’s get back to the numbers. EACH of the items above can save you TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars.

That’s a lot of dough! Consider also that when you hire a listing agent as a seller, your total commission agreement at listing covers BOTH agents – yours and the buyer’s. When you sell your home yourself you almost always end up still paying a commission to the buyers’ agent. So if you go without representation, that amount of commission that you are avoiding is really very small compared to the amount that you can save at each of these points in the process.

Without further research, I don’t know exactly the true average percentage that you can save by using a great agent…but I do know it’s more than the money you’ll pay them. So to address the original question – Can’t I sell my home myself? The answer is YES of course you CAN. But a great agent can save you money and do the work FOR you! Why wouldn’t you let them?

Notice that throughout this discussion I didn’t say “any agent” or “some mediocre agent” at any point! To maximize your gains you really need an agent that is skilled in all of these areas. If you need help finding a great agent anywhere in the world, I would love to help you! Shoot me a note anytime at jean@therealjeanj.com.

Thanks for reading!