In my opinion, real estate transactions should be a win/win for both parties. In most instances, the sale of a home and the purchase of that same home have intertwined emotions. Possible years of family memories of a growing family with the promise of a new family hoping to do the same. Sadly so many agents see the transaction as a “sell it as fast as I can and move to the next one.” Honest and ethical negotiation processes are becoming a thing of the past and that, my friends, is very sad. There is nothing more rewarding that leaving the closing table with Sellers and Buyers exchanging phone numbers, giving each other gifts, smiling and laughing. That is what makes my career rewarding. Making a living in this industry is easy. Changing lives is the true reward.
As 2014 ends, my thoughts are naturally on an upcoming and exciting 2015. My number one goal every year on my goal list is always the same – professionalism. Every year should be exciting from a business perspective because it gives us a clean canvas to re-paint our business goals but most importantly, how we do and grow our business.
Let me take this a step further….. I see the biggest mistake companies in EVERY industry are making is putting less emphasis on professionalism aka, customer service. Customer service (overall) is getting absolutely horrible in every industry I can think of. Are there exceptions? ABSOLUTELY! So don’t come through your laptop, tablet or phone screen to strangle me. And we could go into incredible detail regarding companies that outsource their customer service departments but we don’t have the time here.
My favorite company for customer service? Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare and Gaylord (Michigan). Their customer service is off the charts! And my opinion is it is almost impossible to “teach” great customer service. You “hire” people with the heart, attitude and personality to support your goals of customer service. Jay’s does it better than anyone.
How does that relate to real estate? It really doesn’t but every time I stop at Jay’s, it reminds me that no matter how good we are, we can always do better in servicing our clients.
The flurry of 2014 has calmed, with the real estate market leveling to “more normal” levels. I have to be honest that I was getting a bit nervous this past summer as homes in certain communities were selling at a frantic pace and many WELL above list price with multiple offers. Many people love to see fast recoveries, but those of us that worked through and endured the market meltdown several years ago remember how dangerous a market “bubble” can be and I personally think we were headed there again. Fortunately (although many Sellers on the market right now may not agree and I certainly mean no offense) the feeding frenzy has subsided and it is getting a little easier and much less stressful for a Buyer to find a home. My idea of a “perfect” real estate market? Not a Seller’s market or a Buyer’s market, just a slow and steady value growth market which benefits Sellers, Buyers and the respective communities they live in. A market where listing Agents and selling Agents work cohesively to make the transaction a “win/win” for all involved. And a market where lenders give sound and ethical advice to their clients so their home purchase becomes an easily sustainable part of their retirement or investment savings.
One of the most impactful books I have ever read is “The 7 Levels of Communication” by Michael Maher. I have embraced and adopted many of the principals of his system in my business and the results are proving to be exponential. He focuses on “The Communication Pyramid” in which 1 on 1 (face to face) meetings being the most effective in business, but I realized the truth of that in everyday life just this morning.
After getting YET ANOTHER few inches of snow during the night, this morning my snow blower pull cord broke on the first pull! That was at 6:00 am, so after shoveling our driveway I called the large local retailer/repair business and was informed it would be 24 hour turnaround time for the repair. So I immediately drove there to drop it off and after a cheerful good morning to the repair counter, I left 20 minutes later with the repair completed.
Face-to-face meetings are absolutely more effective than phone calls, emails and especially text messages! Put a smile on and get “in someone’s face!”
Recently RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan projected the Top Real-Estate Trends for 2014. I completely agree with all points made in this article.
Demand is sky high due to a lack of homes available for sale and it continues to push prices higher. While so many people have complained that “mortgages are hard to get”, I just didn’t see that in 2013. Now I may be one of the few, but my clients ranged from $75,500 to $728,500 so my demographic is very broad and it isn’t like I was in a select market.
2014 is going to be an excellent year again for Sellers, our area values and for Buyers, but homes will be harder to find. Buyers have to be made aware that homes area a bit harder to find, but if they are patient we can find that perfect home for them! If you are a Seller and have been waiting for values & prices to come back, now is the time.
A bit of a twist for this week’s topic… When I was in my teens, I was given one of the best bits of advice from Mr. Pete Stanley, who was like a second father to me and the leading Realtor in the area for many years where I grew up. Pete ALWAYS looked his best and one day I commented on how he was always “dressed up.” I remember his words and expression today as clear today as I did then. He said, “you just never know when you have to make a good impression.” I just had that very instance happen again yesterday and I was ready. The result was new business. It’s more than just making a good impression – it’s how I best represent my clients. Thanks again Pete – you’re legacy continues.
To help property owners get the best selling price they can — without burying themselves in expenses — U.S. News has created a list of 10 cheap ways to boost your home’s sales price by spring:
1. Retouch the front shell: If your property’s exterior isn’t appealing, no one will want to see your newly remodeled kitchen. Property sellers must first ensure that their home projects a cozy, inviting feeling.
The shell — the outside front — is probably the most important area for improvement, the area where you can make the biggest improvement with the smallest amount of cash.
Touching up the paint on the front-entry portion of the house can be an inexpensive but effective way to make the entire property more inviting. Really focus on that outside, external shell, You would be amazed by the amount of people that drive by a house and say, ‘Ah, that’s not for me.’ And they can tell just by the way the upkeep and the outside looks.”
2. Trim the greenery: Ensuring that the lawn, hedges and flowers are well-maintained helps make your home more alluring to prospective buyers. Property owners can hire professional landscapers or break out the lawn mower and get busy themselves.
Many people have landscaping that is overgrown and too heavy, and it is concealing a lot of the house, Trim the trees, trim the hedges … (and) add a little color to the flower beds.
3. Paint the interior: Putting a fresh coat of paint on the home’s interior is a cost-effective way to make a home more appealing to buyers. When choosing the color, homeowners should be conservative. The caution is that your favorite color may not be the favorite color of the buyer. Instead, homeowners are best off using neutral colors. Go with something that is a very light yellow or a light cream with a contrasting white, so it just looks very fresh and crisp. … Having the paint in good condition is almost more important than the color.
4. Don’t forget the floors: Improving the condition of a home’s flooring is also a smart move for sellers — and you don’t need to refinish wood floors or install new carpets to make them more attractive.
5. Make all major repairs: Because tighter lending standards demand higher down payments, today’s homebuyers won’t have much cash left for improvements once they’ve made their purchase. So it’s imperative for sellers to make all major home repairs — fixing the leaky roof, rebuilding the front stoop — before they put the property on the market.
To determine what needs to be done, property owners can scrutinize their homes themselves or bring in a home inspector to examine the property professionally.
The home inspection piece, is something that is a huge value, particularly if there is something that is a question.
6. Put appliances under warranty: To give buyers more confidence in a home’s appliances, we recommend that sellers put them under warranty. Sellers can buy home warranties, which cover repair and replacement costs for many home appliances, from several different companies.
If I have got a 40- or 50-year-old house, it is going to be harder for me to persuade a first-time home buyer with a limited amount of cash to buy it because they will say, ‘Well, what happens if something breaks down?’ If I have a home warranty … that solves that problem.
7. Make energy-efficient home improvements: Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is another good way to make your property more attractive to buyers. Some improvements, such as adding solar panels, still come with federal tax benefits. In addition, a growing awareness of human impact on the environment means that homes that have these upgrades will stand out from other homes.
If you have some cruddy old windows that are leaky and just not energy efficient, you can put in new replacement windows and take advantage of the tax credit. Those are really practical things that make your house more sellable. Many contractors will conduct a so-called energy audit free of charge to determine where efficiencies can be created. If your house is more energy efficient — you use less energy, it’s better insulated — it is going to be more desirable for a potential buyer.
8. New light fixtures: Replacing old or broken light fixtures with new ones can also be a low-cost way to add value. Installing a new light fixture in the foyer can be a particular benefit, because it can make a strong first impression on would-be buyers. Creating an inviting feeling in the interior entryway helps get home shoppers more interested in checking out the rest of the property. I can update those features so that somebody can walk in and say, ‘You know what? (The homeowners) took care of this.'”
9. New stove: While some homeowners might think the only way to jazz up a dated kitchen is a full-on remodeling job, we recommend a much less costly alternative: buying a new stove. “If there is an updated stove in the kitchen, it is amazing how that draws people in, and people say, ‘Wow, this kitchen is going to be great. While upscale homeowners may have to shell out for top-of-the-line appliances to maintain their kitchen’s décor, others can budget well under $1,000 for the upgrade. You can get a really nice stove for $700 or $800, You can basically have the look of a new kitchen that is going to be really enticing to someone — and what you are really trying to do is differentiate your house from somebody else’s.
Property owners in neighborhoods where most homes have granite counter tops can consider making this upgrade as well. But Lupberger says the project makes sense only for homeowners with extremely dated kitchens that are going to serve as a serious impediment to finding a buyer. A real-estate agent with experience in the local market can help you determine whether the upgrade is essential.
10. Freshen up the bathrooms: Getting rid of mildew stains on the bathroom caulking can boost a home’s appeal as well. Such stains “scream, ‘These people haven’t taken care of this house. It’s going to be a money pit.