Tag Archives: real estate buyers

Is it Break Time?

breakThis is for all the would-be Buyers waiting in the wings. Those taking a temporary break from the rigors of the real estate market after experiencing months of frustration and fatigue.

The one’s who are girding their loins and girding their loans in preparation for next year’s battle.  Hoping to rest and recuperate now, so they can be ready for the flood of new listings they are hoping will arrive.

There are plenty of left-over Buyers out there who gave it their all in 2014. They deserve an A for effort, even if they weren’t quite able to make it over the hump to the promised land.  Well-qualified folks who just couldn’t seem to out-smart a difficult market and find their way home.

It’s hard to live a normal life and look for a house at the same time. That’s particularly true in a market that demands such an exhausting state of readiness and preparation at the same time it only parcels a few meager new listings at a time to choose from.

Buyers who have been slogging around in the trenches in search of inventory for the last six months or longer, know what that “always-on” feeling is like.  The barrage of search engine e mails that begins to look like spam rather than real opportunity.

Hours spent parsing Sunday open house ads trying to figure out whether “charming” really means “fixer” or whether “cute” really means “tiny.”  And whether they should drop everything, jump in the car and head out to the open house to see for themselves.

The rush of an unexpected for sale sign popping up in the perfect neighborhood. The promising sneak peak of a new listing on Thursday’s Brokers Tour.  The call from a sister-in-law that heard a rumor about a friend of a friend thinking about putting their house on the market.  God forbid you should take a vacation and miss that once in a lifetime opportunity that could happen at any moment.

On again off again.  Hurry up and wait.  All addressed up with nowhere to go.  Weeks and months of looking hard but finding nothing.  Until suddenly, a house appears out of the blue. It’s perfect…except for the fact that five other Buyers with competing offers seem to have had the same revelation.

So many questions for all those would-be Buyers lining up in the queue for next year. What are they waiting for exactly?  Is 2015 really going to be any different? Is that flood of new listings really on it’s way?

To be continued…

Circling Birds: Part Deux

GirlBirdsThis goes out to all you circling birds. You don’t mind if I call you circling birds do you? Ok. It might help if I told you what circling birds are…You can decide for yourself if the flight pattern fits.

Whenever I sit down with Sellers thinking about putting their home on the market, the conversation inevitably turns to a kind of “active imagining” of who the buyer for their place might be.

Everyone wonders. What does the profile look like? That mysterious Buyer X who is going to emerge from the shadows of the great undefined “marketplace” – made up of a constantly shifting mix of people. All different ages, demographics, life circumstances, future goals, agendas, motivations, desires, needs.

Sometime, somehow, someone is going to decide on this one right place, out of all the other possible places lined up like addresses on the lottery board. A buyer that’s going to pull it together. Summon up courage, and resources. Proactively take the steps necessary to make it home.

My answer to most Sellers is that the person most likely to step up sooner rather than later isn’t someone who just started looking or is just getting around to thinking about looking for a home.

Rather, it’s most likely going to be one of those circling birds out there. And by that I mean one of those anxiously active, very frustrated buyers who has already been flying around for months – without arriving at their destination.

Yep. Circling birds have been at it for a while. Applying themselves. Doing their homework. Making the rounds. Trying to define what they want as they go.

Circling birds are tracking the market. They are hooked up to an intravenous fiber optic line that’s feeding them search engine e mails and a steady dose of new listings and price reductions hourly, daily and weekly.

They are remarkably knowledgeable about what has sold. What’s gone into escrow. What prices used to be. They know their own little market niche better than most Agents because that’s all they are looking at. They see the tree. Not the forest.

Circling birds have tromped through those atrocious bank-owned properties that give us all the creeps. And other tired old places that could only be classified as “the dregs” of the market. Some have already made offers awhile back on a short sale or two. Exhausted their patience while waiting for a response. A few have lost out in multiple offer bids for a really great place. Felt bitter pangs of disappointment. Dragged their hearts up and gone back into the trenches to look.

Each of these experiences and every house hones their focus and desire. Brings them closer to home. Narrows the parameters surrounding their future landing pad. They’ve looked high and low. At everything on the radar. Good, bad and ugly. They’ve grown more sure of what they want – through the process of elimination.

And that’s the whole thing Sellers. Circling birds are ready to go. And the inventory is exhausted. There’s nothing else to look at except that next best thing that comes on the market – your place!

When your house goes on, all those ready, willing and able buyers are going to sit up and take notice. They are going to bug their Agents to show it to them. They’ll be doing virtual drive-bys on google earth on their lunch hour. They’ll be doing drive-bys coming home from work. If it looks right and priced right, they’ll swoop in on the first day or for that first open house.

Make sense? So…what’s the big take away? The $64,000 answer to the $64,000 question? Ponder this: What happens when you put your house up for sale in this kind of market and nothing happens? Birds descend but they don’t stick around to roost? You accumulate enough weeks on market without an offer that you begin to feel like road kill that even the buzzards won’t touch?

What was that old Real Estate Mantra again? At the right price everything sells. At the right price all objections disappear. Hmmm. Might be that extra $64,000 you tried to add on to your $640,000 list price…. Just sayin’ Sellers…

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The Sweet and Sour Spot?

Blog03Just a quick thank you to the pros at Michael’s on Main Restaurant for letting me take a wok on the wild side and a stroll down memory lane this past week. Indulging me with a guest-chef gig in their ongoing series of Tuesday food and wine events. After reprising a few of my old chops, I think I’ve got it out of my system now. Time to put the cleaver down and get back to food for thought…

 

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah. Talking about the “sweet spot” of the market. The erogenous zone of price where buying activity is really stirring. Where mounting excitement and the heady thrust of demand is firing on all cylinders.

 

When I returned to real estate from my culinary sojourn there were ten anxious voice mails waiting for me. Seven from different people – talking about almost the same exact thing. Coincidence? I think not.

 

See if any of this sounds familiar: “We’ve been holding off buying. Now we’re ready to get serious and take the plunge.”

 

Or: “We’re looking for a 3/2 in a great neighborhood between $550 -$650k.”

 

Or: “We definitely need 3 bedrooms or 2 with an office. Walking distance to a few restaurants.”

 

Or: “We could spend up to $750k but we really want to keep payments low. We’d like to stay closer to $650”

 

Or: “We’re first time buyers but we think now is the time. We can stretch as high as $500k with interest rates so low.”

 

Or: “We’re getting a gift from the folks. One of the condos in our complex finally sold. We can get out of this place whole and finally afford a real house with a real yard.”

 

Or: “We’ve been looking for something in the $600 – $650 range for a year now and there just isn’t anything available.”

 

Or: “Every time something decent comes on, it’s gone in a couple of days with multiple offers!”

 

Or: “We’re first time buyers. All we are competing with are rich investors. Every time we find something below $500k – someone throws a cash offer in.”

 

Or: “When are more places going to come on? How long do we have to wait??”

 

I’m guessing that for seven out of ten buyers reading this, some of the above resonates strongly with your own situation.

 

You figure: Market’s past bottom. Prices going up. Interest rates won’t stay low. Rents will get higher. Economy is more hopeful. Life goes on despite the distress of the downturn. A home is a great thing. You’re ready to get back in the game. Not in a crazy way. In a smart way. Buying below your means rather than way above.

 

Odds are: You’re looking for something in the “Sweet Spot” – $500 to $650ish. Three bedrooms – if possible. Two baths. Safe neighborhood. Yard. Not a fixer. Pride of ownership. Potential for appreciation down the road.

 

Simple right? Reasonable thoughts and desires. But what happens when everyone wants the same thing? And there’s not enough to go around? The Sweet Spot starts to develop a Sweet and Sour taste. A buyers market doesn’t always feel like a buyers market.

 

Will the $650k’s start pushing up towards $750? Will $850 places come down closer to where demand is? Will more high end homes drop below the magic million mark in search of buyers?

 

By the way, the other three calls on the machine were from Sellers wondering whether they should wait till spring to put their homes on the market. What should we tell them?

 

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Falling Off the Dinosaur

Falling Off the Dinosaur

I’m sure some of you would rather save your aging eyes from od’ing on 600 words of my tiny type. Or skip the tough task of following the muddled meanderings of my Real Estate of Mind. So, I’m going to give you the take away message of today’s story up front. To-go dessert before dinner.

Here it is: The biggest mistake Sellers make these days? They think too much like Sellers and not enough like Buyers. Since they invariably love to see their own image reflected back to them in the mirror of their marketing, they mistakenly assume that buyers look in the same places they look when admiring themselves.

The end result? Sellers get way too hung up worrying about WHERE their homes are being advertised. And they pay far too little attention to WHAT is being flung out there to the far corners of the globe.

Almost everything has changed in Real Estate in the last fifteen years. But some old myths die hard. Cultural imprints once stubbornly established can be exceedingly hard to shake – even when there are dazzling displays of special effects at everyone’s fingertips, just begging to differ with our prevailing stereotypes and mess with our heads.

Fact is: Attitudes about selling are still largely shaped by old, left-over notions from a buy-gone era when Realtors owned the monopoly on real estate information and controlled most of what circulated in the public domain.

Back in 1995, we (Realtors) still managed all the information. We edited it for our clients. We picked and we chose what our clients saw on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

I still remember waiting for the new MLS Books to come out every two weeks. Cheapo newsprint. Nine little black and white listings to a page. One grainy photo each. A few property details.

I’d pour through those home pages – searching for anything that seemed vaguely like what my clients were looking for. I’d Xerox individual pages. Manually cut out listings with scissors. Put them back on the machine, zoom to 150 % and spit out separate tear sheets. By this time the pixels were so far apart, there was barely a discernible outline of a house left. I’d hop in the car, drive by each place. Call listing agents. Preview a few. And set up a tour for my buyers.

Xerox?! Cut and paste with actual scissors?! Compared to today, it sounds almost stone age. Like we were peddling prehistoric property Flintstone-style. Plenty of fancy footwork in fancy cars. Showing ten homes. Rushing back to the office to chisel out purchase contracts on stone tablets. Delivering them by courier-pterodactyl-pigeon.

The primary purpose of advertising in the old days? Convince Sellers that their listings weren’t getting lost in those MLS books. Or bogarded by Realtors. They really were being seen by a larger audience of potential Buyers. Big Ads. Open Houses. For Sale Signs. The works.

When MLS information first became available on the web, even in rudimentary fashion, Realtors noticed a shift. Suddenly Buyers weren’t waiting for us to do the editing and tell them what to look at. They started telling us what they wanted to see.

They got the addresses. They did their own drive-bys. They decided which ones had enough curb appeal to merit a visit.

Then, when even more information became available in the form of high-quality photos, satellite images, sales and tax information, google street views, Realtors saw the next stage in the evolution of their buyers.

Instead of doing actual live drive-bys, more and more prospective buyers began choosing what they wanted to see based on virtual drive-bys. Lap top or smart phone appeal became synonymous wtih curb appeal.

Most Sellers would be shocked by the number of people who reject properties based on an initial virtual drive-by. Yet, if they thought about how they actually search the internet as Buyers themselves – they wouldn’t be shocked at all. There’s an odd double standard and strange disconnect in all this.

One we’ll explore next week.

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