Free Advice?

Let's face it. We all have a friend or neighbor that is a Plumber, Doctor, Nurse, Attorney, or any of the other thousands of job holders that may have information the rest of us need. How often have you caught yourself calling a friend who is a Nurse and asking him/her about a fever or rash instead of going to the Doctors office? Or checking with your CPA or Attorney friend about a question that you swear will only take a second for them to answer? Happens all the time.It also happens in Real Estate. 

We agents get asked all the time from friends, relatives, and neighbors, questions about all sorts of things. What color should I paint my living room? Should I renovate or sell? And these I love, I am selling my home to X investor company. I don't have to pay a buyer agent! Can you help me with the paperwork? Many questions are simple and easy to answer. Others, not so much. 

Honestly, I really don't mind helping when I can. But as agents, we have to be careful how far we go in giving help without representation. Did you know that most agents carry a special insurance that helps if errors in contracts are made? Its called E&O insurance. Did you also know that this insurance probably will not cover the agent in a situation where they are not representing legally the aggrieved party?It's true, in a lawsuit happy society, we agents have to protect ourselves. 

So, when you ask an agent a real estate related question, just know there may be limitations on their answer to you unless you engage that agent in representation. 

Now, any questions? 

It's All About Location...and Price

It's interesting to me to see how differently properties are received by agents and the public. For instance, I have homes listed at $169,900, $315,000, and $395,000. As you might expect, the lower priced property is getting 3-5 showings a day, and we have received 5 offers that the seller is looking over. 

The $315,000 home was just listed, and we have gotten several showings already. What I didn't tell you is that this listing is also a rare ranch home over a basement. I expected it to do well, and it is starting out great. 

Then there is the $395,000 listing. It is in a great established neighborhood, with a great location, and priced well. In just over 30 days, the crickets are the most notable activity we have had. The reason? Several. This time of year is typically slower for home sales in this area. Also, price point.Interestingly, the $400,000 and above price points in our area have really slowed. 

Those homes in the sub $200,000 price points, we can't get enough of them.And so it goes. Sort of a tale of two, no three, cities. 

Subliminal Color Pops

I use a professional photographer to photograph all my listings. It really pays off with spectacular images of the home. However, some homes I list are pretty bland when it comes to color. The walls are "Agreeable Gray", the kitchens are earth tones, etc. In order to catch a potential buyer's eye, I use a little subliminal help. 

Notice the picture at the top of this post. The cabinets are white, the appliances are black. Not much color in between. I add the Reds to the photo. Notice the Tea pot on the stove. The red towels on the oven door. The red bird on the counter. These are all added to the picture to make it "Sticky". I want to make potential buyers linger on a picture. Not just glance at it and move on. The red color does just that. 

To complete the set I also hange red towels in the master bath and secondary baths. I also have a red napkin holder I place on the kitchen table as well.I have found that by adding these Pops of color, people do stop on the picture and often say how pretty the room is. 

If you are looking at ways to spruce up you home pictures look at adding in some color! 

Did we miss the market?

I have a listing going live in a week or so that I started talking to back in May of this year. Since our first meeting, the Sellers have been trying to close on a new build home that for many reasons kept getting delayed. Had it closed on time, we would have been able to list their other home right in the Spring-Summer busy season. Alas, it was not to be. 

So they asked, have we missed the selling season? Short answer, yes. Longer answer, it really does not matter. Other than taking a bit longer to sell, as long as the home is ready for showing and is priced right, the season really does not concern me. What we will do is what we always do when we market a home. We follow a pretty rigorous marketing plan that gets homes sold. 

Every season for real estate offers opportunities and challenges. Look for an agent who understands these nuances when deciding to sell your home. 

Should I wait till Spring to sell?

This time of year in Real Estate tends to be a bit slower than in the Spring for sales. However, we have sold homes in every calendar month. In fact, about 60% of our home sales have been in the last 6 months of the year.So, are there negatives about placing our home on the market this late in the year? 

Well, if your home is show ready and priced right, it will sell, no matter the time of year. In the slower months it might take a bit longer to sell, but sell it will!By not selling in the midst of the Spring madness, you will have less competition for your home. If the neighborhood averages 10 homes for sale in the Spring, it is very conceivable that there could only be 3 homes for sale in the Fall. This is not a bad thing at all. 

So, if you are looking to buy or sell a home this Fall, give us a call. We can help you navigate through the process. 

Fun in Kennesaw Ga. - Part 2

I posted yesterday about a great museum in Kennesaw devoted to the Civil War and the part trains played. However, that is not everything the town has to offer. 

Just a few miles outside of the Kennesaw Town limits is a jewel of a park. The Smith-Gilbert Botanical Gardens. Read more here. I must admit that I had never heard of this before and it has been open to the public for 10 years now. 

The 15 acres of this garden contain a butterfly house, Rose Garden, quiet forest walks, Sculptures, Koi Ponds, and a neat Bonsai display.There are dozens of cool sculptures scattered around the gardens and lots of places to sit and reflect on the beauty that surrounds you. 

If you are looking for a pleasant way to spend an afternoon or morning, check out the Gilbert-Smith Botanical Gardens in Kennesaw Ga. 

Fun in Kennesaw, Ga.

The city of Kennesaw, located NW of Atlanta was the site of a famous Civil War story. In essence, a small band of Union soldiers infiltrated from Tennesee to Kennesaw in order to steal a locomotive. They would race back north to Chattanooga, burning railroad bridges as they went. This would stall any advance from Atlanta and protect Union forces as they attacked Chattanooga, an important railway junction. 

This museum is a terrific place to find out all about this adventure!The museum also has the restored locomotive here, called the General. Also available to see is a special train car gifted to Georgia by the French after WWII. It was filled with gifts from the French people. There were 49 of these individual train cars given to various states by France with their appreciation for the US and their help during the war. 

Very kid friendly as well with a learning center just for them. I enjoyed it too!Just a block from here is a terrific restaurant called Trackside. If you go, ask to sit upstairs in the open air part of the restaurant. If you have never been to Kennesaw Ga. it is definitely worth a look for the great downtown area with shops and apartments, as well as lots of places to see.Posted by  

Top Gun Activities in Marietta Ga. !

There is never a dull moment in the are unless you specifically want one! Marietta Ga. is home to a very large Lockheed plant. Right next to one of the main gates in the Marietta Museum Air Wing, an outdoor parking lot (15 acres) of really cool planes! 

For $5 per person, my wife and I went on a guided tour by a retired Navy flyer and ex-Lockheed employee. This 2 hour tour took us inside and around many Vietnam and later era planes. The picture above is from the cockpit of a C141b Starlifter. 

We also enjoyed seeing an F14 Tomcat, and speaking to the retire airforce guy who flew them. He was also an instructor at the famous Top Gun school in Miramar.All-in-all we had a great time, If you find yourself in the Marietta Ga. area, look this place up. You will not be disappointed. 

Persistence and Preservation Pay Off

Luckily, in Real Estate transactions, the vast majority of closings go off without a hitch. There could be a document needed at the last minute, or something pops up that needs attending to, but all-in-all most closings are happy ones. 

Then there are the ones we agents talk about over and over again. Like the closing where buyers and sellers had to be separated in different rooms so that no one would get hurt. Or the time the attorney disappeared from the table for awhile. She was doing drugs in her office! Or the time buyers refused to show up at the closing table until a feud with the Home Owners Association was resolved. I had to threaten legal action to get them to the table, 4 hours late! 

Yes, closings can be fun, but good agents strive to make sure that the closing for our buyer or seller goes as smoothly as possible. 

Give us a call to find out what we at den Boer Homes do to try and assure smooth closings. And if you ask, we might tell you about some of our more adventurous closings! Names will be changed to protect the no-so-innocent!! 

We can save money by not using a buyer's agent, right?

Over dinner this past weekend, I listened to the story of a buyer who was told that they could save 1/2 the commission fees by not using an agent in their transaction. Who told him this? The listing agent. When I asked if this was put into the contract, the answer was no. They just "Assumed" this would happen. I assume it won't. 

There are unscrupulous people in the world that will tell you something and then not follow through with what they tell you. I know this is hard to believe, but it happens. Oh, and the listing agent was related to the sellers and would receive a cut of the profits from the sale of the home. Can anyone say conflict of interest?The truth is, buyers are usually not charged for their agents time and efforts. The seller pays this. 

Yes, this is in the price of the home, but there is no separate charge for the buyer's agent. Unless something is put into the contract contradicting this, when a listing agent sells a home to an unrepresented buyer, they get to keep all the commissions. They are not generally given back to the buyer or seller.The most important issue though is lack of representation of the buyer. 

Most buyers really need someone to represent them and be there to answer their questions. Don't just assume that by purchasing a home unrepresented that you will save some money. The odds are that you won't.To learn more about how the real world of real estate works, give us a call at den Boer Homes. 

Not so Secret Agent

There area a few trades around where you will see a person's name on their shirt or a badge with their name on it. It is, however, still fairly rare to see. I am an agent that wears a name tag everywhere I go during the work week. 

I once had a very successful agent deride me for wearing my name tag. She even went so far as to try and make me feel stupid for doing so. Didn't work though! My name tag has allowed me to connect with people while I pump gas for my car, while I walk to my car from a store, and yesterday, at a fast food restaurant where the cashier asked me if I could help her find a home.You see, I am proud to wear my name tag and announce to the world that I am open for business. 

The only confusion it might cause me is when people I don't know greet me with my name, and momentarily I wonder how they guessed my name!So if you see me around town, stop me and ask me how the local Real Estate market is doing, or just say, Hi Pete! 

If you were to stay, what would you do next?

I really like asking this question to my potential seller clients. Along with my suggestions of what the seller should do to make their home ready to sell, I like to ask them what they themselves would do to the house if they decided to stay. Things like paint the living room, or recarpet the upstairs, or replace some shrubs around the house that were on their last leaves, or fix some rotten wood around the windows. These are, coincidentally, the same things that potential buyers will be saying about your home. 

When the seller thinks about this question, it helps them understand better what the potential buyer will be thinking as they view their home. These unaddressed issues can become costly to the seller during offer negotiations as well. For instance let's say a room needs to be painted. The seller can paint or pay someone to paint. Let's say the opt to have it painted for $500. More often than not, if the seller does not paint, the buyer will ask for money to cover the cost of painting once they move in. And magically, their cost estimate can be many times the actual cost, when negotiated. 

So, when thinking about repairs around your home, the money you invest in making your home nice could be much less than what a buyer will ask you for to complete the same task. 

Talk to your favorite Real Estate agent to find out more about getting your home ready for sale. Or call den Boer Homes and let us become your new favorite Real Estate professional. 

New Office!

Atlanta Communities opened up their new Woodstock office last week and it is beautiful! We took a bank building on the main drag through Woodstock and converted it to a great new 18000 sq ft office space. First floor is reception and agent offices as well as conference areas. 

The second floor has a full kitchen, agent offices, and a great training room that holds over 100 agents at a time.The third floor has more agent space as well as a full video studio and separate pod cast area for the agents to use free of charge.Outside, under the old drive through, 5 new eight seat picnic tables are arranged for agents to enjoy some fresh air. 

If you find yourself in the area, please stop in and look around. This new space provided by our terrific management team is sure to fire up the 380+ agents working from this facility. 

We need to sell first, but let's go look!

There are many times that home sellers need to be looking for the next home. If there home sells before they find the next one they could end up homeless and/or in an expensive hotel until they can find and move in to the next home. This dance of trying to have back to back closings is always a bit stressful for everyone. 

But what if the potential sellers are not even thinking of selling their home for 6 months and want to start looking for the next one? Well, if they are amenable to putting their home up for sale quickly once the next home is found, and the market will support a quick sale , then fine. But what if these conditions don't exist? 

I am afraid these folks might be wasting everyones time. What if you do find that perfect next home? Do you really believe it will still be there waiting for you in 6 months? Probably not. I would suggest waiting until you are a bit closer to the date you wish to list your home before hitting the streets looking for the next home. This will save you, and everyone else the heartache of watching that perfect next home go to another buyer who is ready to pull the trigger. 

Should I be Concerned With How My Home Is Marketed?

I love marketing. When done correctly, magical moments happen. In Real Estate these moments show up as sellers receiving more for their home than they expected, and quicker than they hoped. Good marketing drives higher prices and returns quicker sales in Real Estate. 

When getting your home ready for sale, we all intuitively know where we need to put our dollars. Usually in the visual parts of a home. For instance, money spent on a new Thermostat or a home warranty are nice additions to a home and can be talked up by the listing agent, but can be lost on a buyer. A new coat of paint or upgraded kitchen appliances usually stand out in a home and can be observed and appreciated by potential buyers without someone taking the time to show them. 

When getting a home ready to sell, make sure 1) you have all safety issues resolved and 2) look to see where you can make the biggest visual impact to improve your home. This will bring you more marketing bang for your bucks. 

If you would like to hear more about how great marketing can help you sell your home for more money, give us a call at den Boer Homes.  

Would you buy a car from them?

Here is an interesting scenario...You wake up today and decide this is the day to go buy a car. You have looked around a bit, but you don't really know enough yet about what you want to purchase, so you decide to hit two dealerships today and look at 2 different cars you are interested in.You pull into dealer number 1 and you are greeted by a very nice salesperson who seems attentive and asks you about what you are looking for. You respond with several ideas and ask the salesperson about a specific car. The sales person pulls out a spec sheet and reads to you several answers to your questions. You are then taken out to the car and you get inside. You ask the nice sales person how this and that works and they cheerfully say, not sure, lets test it out. 

After looking a bit longer you leave to go to the next dealership. There you are greeted by a salesperson just as nice and welcoming as the first. They ask lots of questions about what you are looking for as well. There is a difference though. The salesperson seems to know the answers to your questions as you ask them. No looking up spec sheets. When you ask about seeing the car, you are taken to it and as you sit inside the salesperson reviews with you your needs and suggests 2 other cars they think you might like. You hadn't thought about those choices. 

When you ask the salesperson how they know all about these cars, they reply, as each new car hits our lot I read up on them and learn everything I can about them. I then take them out for a test drive so I can relate to my customers how the car feels and acts while driven. I know my inventory. 

Impressed, you buy from this knowledgeable salesperson. They know their stuff. 

Many Real Estate agents only see homes that are requested by their clients. At den Boer Homes, we preview homes on the market and actually keep notes on the homes we see. That way when a client asks us about an area, we can talk knowledgeably about the local inventory. 

We believe this is the best way to serve our clients. If you agree that this makes sense, give us a call today and let's discuss your buying and/or selling needs. 

Fees, Fees, and More Fees!

 iBuyers. These are the big, well financed companies that come in and offer to buy out sellers and even move them to the next home. On the surface this sounds really good. 

Maybe too good?The theory is that these companies can save a seller from the trials and tribulations of having buyers tromp through their home, open houses that inconvenience them, and dealing with crazy offers. I believe that their are some times when these business models mesh well with sellers. Perhaps for an estate sale when the owners don't want the hassle of dealing with the sale process, or maybe when the owners reside out of the area. 

All of this comes with a cost though. Between fees the seller is required to pay, the repairs they are required to complete, and the sub-market prices offered to some sellers, this type sale can cost 9-10% in total fees. 

As to saving the hassle of showings and open houses, homes have typically been selling rather quickly here in our market with only one open house. Most clients don't mind because all this activity typically leads to the fastest sale for the highest price. 

So, when discussing the sale of your home to one of these iBuyers, make sure to ask about total costs for selling your home. Then call a trusted agent to review your options.

Curb their Enthusiasm!

Ever pulled up to the front of a home, and even before you leave your car, you fall in love with the home? How about just the opposite. You pull up to a home and decide to not even slow the car down. I call this a drive by. Something about the home just turned you off. It could be something you just can't put your finger on. Or it could be the car up on blocks in the front yard. Either way, these situations both involve what we in Real estate call Curb Appeal. 

Curb Appeal has to do with how a home looks like upon first glance from the street or curb. Hence the name. Believe it or not, the curb appeal of a home can make or break the sell of a home. This appeal is fairly easy to control with just a little bit of work. Watch my video above to get a few pointers how you can improve your home's curb appeal, and as a consequence, its saleability. So make sure you don't Curb a potential buyer's enthusiasm for your home! 

Sorry, does not exist here.

Friday I spoke with a gentleman looking to relocate from Tennessee to this area to be near his kids. He has a home on a lake in Tennessee and would like to have the same here. Luckily, we are blessed with 2 great lakes in this area, so we started discussing exactly what he was looking for. 

The gentleman was looking for a townhome community on the lake with a great view and a dock, or at least access to one. My problem is that we do not have townhomes on the local lake. It is surrounded by single family homes. 

My new client was adamant that there has to be some because they have them in Tennessee. And that, dear readers, is the issue. 

You hear all the time that real estate is local. This is very true in all aspects of the business. Pricing is different. Homes are different. Schools are different. And in this case, while another area seems to have a number of Townhomes on a lake available for sale, in my area we do not. I think this was a rude awakening for my client. 

He may have to reset his ideas of what kind of home he would like if he still wants to be on the lake. Because if all he wants is a Townhome on the lake, well, sorry, does not exist here. 

What do you do all day?

I wonder sometimes if our clients see Real Estate professionals as people who get up around 10am. Go meet friends for coffee. Have a long lunch. call a few people in the afternoon. And then call it a day. They might if you don't help explain the process as you go about helping them. 

There is definitely value added to our clients every minute of the day as a true professional goes about their work. It might not be obvious at first, but the value is there. 

For instance, a typical day for me consists of getting to work around 7:30 in the morning. This is my quiet time when I work on writing blogs, captions for photos, listing narratives, and other word intensive projects. All of this hones my written communication skills that use to my clients advantage. 

I also do research on the areas I work in so that when I speak to buyers and sellers I have the knowledge they are seeking about what is for sale and for how much. There are also days when I am out in these neighborhoods previewing these homes as well so that I can speak from experience to buyers and sellers about the market. 

During the day I also work on video projects that not only help keep my clients informed, but also help hone my skills with verbal communication. There are also times when I work on software projects to learn how to better show off my listings in social media and make my videos and pictures the best they can be, all for the benefit of my clients. 

Then there is the normal stuff of the day. Writing and receiving contracts. Negotiating for my clients. Working with contractors and talking to agents. Oh, and the occasional class time to keep up with everything else. 

While these are only the normal things during the day that come to mind, there is also the unexpected and crisis type issues that flare up and have to be contended with. A pretty full day. 

So I guess the 10am wake up call and morning coffees will have to wait for retirement. 

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