Saturday, April 25, 2015

Myths of Real Estate: "It's all about the money!" - Part III

THE MYTH: "It's all about the money!" (the last bit...)

Real estate agents look at people and see dollar signs!


We see business opportunity everywhere and aim to develop that: Real estate agents must look for business regularly - part of this is obviously making sure every single person they know knows they are in the business, and asking for referrals or if they can help with a transaction.


You're NOT just a dollar sign to a broker! 

JOB SATISFACTION: Most of us choose this career in no small part because at its core, it involves helping people with one of the most important life events most of us experience. Here in Santa Fe, too, as independent contractors, we operate in a huge community of colleagues with whom we do compete for business, but more importantly, with whom we cooperate, spend time and learn from. Yes: we expect to be paid for our work, and we need to look for business! But consider a little of the inside picture:
  • When a Qualifying Broker stops a new agent to say she just received a call from the other agent in the new agent's first transaction, which has just closed, to tell the QB how professional, competent and pleasant that new agent was to work with, that praise is worth as much as the commission check. New agent wakes up ready to learn, work and thrive in her career the next day!
  • Better still is a buyer or seller sharing that they have had a great experience with you. Probably not every single agent cares, but I haven't yet met one who doesn't get enormous satisfaction from knowing they did the best possible job for their client.
Real Estate is not a "true" profession (as are medicine, law, teaching, etc.), but it is regulated, instructed and organized like one. And when we do this job correctly, our outcomes are usually positive - even if a deal falls through, or something else undesirable happens, doing the work the right way should always result in, at the very least, learning, protecting your client and gaining a loyal customer.

So, to wrap up this myth of real estate: I look at you - yes, you - and maybe I do see a dollar sign, because we talked about real estate, or renting, or moving... And I see someone I can definitely help, which is what I do well, to earn my living.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Myths of Real Estate: "It's all about the money!" - Part II

In our last installment, I promised a breakdown of several reasons why a middleman is a very, very good thing when buying or selling a house, and here it is:

  • PRICE: Your house is not priced to sell, because you want a certain amount, don't really know the market, and price the home out of the ballpark. Some sellers find straight talk about pricing insulting, but the truth is that a home simply will not sell for more than its market value — and it won't be seen at all when priced out of range.
  • PRESENCE: Your home is invisible on line, where 45% of homebuyers find their next residence. Worse still... Your home is invisible to the local community of Realtors — where 89% of homebuyers find the right property!
  • DUD BUYERS & TIRE-KICKERS: People call from your yard sign or newspaper ad - maybe even from Internet presence if you are savvy and have used some of the resources available to direct sellers. You show them your home. They're not qualified to buy it. Rinse, repeat. A real estate professional knows how to qualify buyers, whether representing your listing or a buyer — we do not waste anyone's time showing homes to people who are unable to purchase. 
  • LIABILITY: OMG you SOLD YOUR HOUSE BY YOURSELF!! That's fantastic. Did you dot all your I's and cross all your T's? Great! That's amazing, congratulations. Hey wait - it's FIVE YEARS LATER and the buyer just discovered something they *really* don't like, when they went to do a renovation. Maybe it's something you didn't know about - you told them everything you knew! So their lawsuit threat, that's nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. And Heaven forefend if you actually didn't mention that detail that you knew about but didn't think was consequential... Man, wouldn't it be amazing if there were insurance to protect against this kind of thing? And if you had known about the laundry list of things you really needed to make sure to worry about, disclose, fix or otherwise at least be aware of, rather than just taking your best guess? If only there were special people who didn't get paid unless you got paid who had extensive licensing training, ongoing continuing education requirements, professional practice that include orienting laypersons with all the boring and important stuff they'd need to know for their protection, AND who carried professional errors & omissions insurance in the even that someone were to make a (certainly ungrounded, but still costly) legal claim about a transaction six years later? Ohhh....
  • REPRESENTATION: You've been looking on line and going to open houses. You don't like pushy Realtors and you don't need help! You have a prequalification letter from a lender. You're good. The listing agent is happy to help you! Doing their job as they should, they either step back from their duties to their seller, provide you with market data to help inform your offer price, and then communicate back and forth without advising either party, OR they draft your offer terms for you, make clear that they are not representing you, and simply present your communication to their seller, who remains the only party to whom they have a fiduciary duty. Hm. Now, if you had a broker working for you (getting paid by the listing agent upon closing), you'd have had the most accurate MLS data access, an orientation with the buying and negotiating process and forms, the closing process, and market analyses of any home you were seriously interested in. Not to mention an ability to pop out and see several homes at a convenient time, without needing to call multiple brokerages and meet multiple agents, all of whom would also be offering you their services as a buyer's broker.
  • MONEY: In 2013, the average property sold directly by an owner sold for $184,000. Average sale price across the rest of the market was $230,000. Those sellers got on average just 80% of what they would have using a Realtor. "But they would have paid commission!" Yes, they would have. I charge 6% for residential, 8% for commercial and 10% for land listings. In my case, my sellers would have netted $216,200 after my commission (ALL sellers should expect to pay between 1.5% and 3% in closing costs and other costs of sale - depending upon repairs needed, for instance). That's 17.5% more money than the owner selling by himself nets. Why is this? Most parties interested in For Sale By Owner homes are looking for bargain-basement prices, and it shows.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Myths of Real Estate: "It's all about the money!" Part I

THE MYTH: "It's all about the money!"

Real estate agents: They're money grubbing middlemen, doing what we could do on our own!

What Real Estate Sales Is


Middlemen: Real estate agents make their money solely through brokering real estate transactions that can  be carried out legally between buyers and sellers with no intermediary.


States license real estate professionals for a reason, and we have one of the largest professional associations (with national, state and local chapters), founded upon an extensive Code of Ethics, for a reason: to serve, educate and protect the consumer.

Sure, you can try to sell your house by yourself (and you could probably even repair your transmission by yourself, with the right manuals...), thinking you will save a broker's commission, and sure, you can go make an offer on a home on your own, directly to a listing agent (the latter being a safer kettle of fish, as a rule of thumb), but there are a number of serious information gaps and potential pitfalls that professional real estate service will almost always eliminate.

From pricing wisdom to market exposure, to qualifying buyers and being protected against real estate related legal claims, there's a lot to know about the significant value of a highly qualified "middleman"! Stay tuned for the full breakdown in the next installment, and in the mean time, let me leave you with this teaser:

2013 STATS:

  • For-Sale-By-Owner average price:$184,000
  • Average across the rest of the market: $230,000.

For-Sale-By Owner listings received on average just 80% of what they would have using a Realtor's services.

Got questions? Pick up the phone: 505-465-4255, email, or visit

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Myths of Real Estate: "Always talk to the listing agent directly"

Welcome to my new topic blog, Industry Insider/Myths of Real Estate! As someone who's a little newer to the business, I remember my confusion and misunderstandings about the real estate industry, and believe it's part of my job to shed some light on the cogs and wheels at work behind the scenes when you hire a Realtor.

Myth I: Talk to the listing agent directly!

  • Myth substance: "When shopping for a property, you should always communicate with the listing agent directly for information on any property of interest."
  • Myth origination: Heard from homebuyers who were brokers themselves years ago, other "in the know" shoppers, non-committed Internet window shoppers.
  • Myth rationale: "The listing agent is the most knowledgeable source of information for her listing."
So... sounds good, right? What's the problem?

Myth demystified - why using a buyer broker is the best way to go!

The listing agent knows the most!

  • In fact... We share our information with the entire local MLS membership, including "agent-only" remarks that are never seen by the public, and often used to communicate critical material facts that other brokers should know. We also upload related documents into our listings for our cooperating brokers to access... and we cooperate! Most of us tour and preview new listings, share details about our listings with our colleagues, and always expect to take calls from our fellow brokers to provide more detailed information about a given property. A competent buyer broker will not only access all available information, but will also have the professional skill and experience to interpret what we learn to make sure all risks and benefits are clear to you, the homebuyer.
  • In fact... We count on our membership to be competent and professional... but not every single real estate agent is! Some listings are represented by people who may not know fully what they're doing, and may not have discovered all relevant information about their listing. Also, bank-owned listings or trust-held listings may include very little information from the seller even if the broker is very competent. A trusted, competent buyer broker will help bridge this gap and ensure due diligence is carried out in such circumstances.

"I'm not really ready to buy, and I don't want to waste your time - I just look on line and call on properties I'm curious about."

  • In fact... Buyer brokers worth their salt work with customers at all stages, including "not even sure we're going to buy", and have services tailored to these variable needs and motivations, so that their time is not wasted, and yet they are able to make sure that all customers receive the best information and always have a trusted person to call with a question.
  • In fact... Although the Internet gives buyers more informational power than ever... these Web sites are not as accurate as the data that comes directly from a local MLS database system. Connecting with a buyer broker early on - even two years before you want to move! - allows you to receive automated notifications for listings that fit your interests and budget. Setting up such a search takes one consultative meeting or phone call with your broker, and just a few minutes of the agent's time to plug in and get rolling - no time wasted. Ready to see some houses? We regularly and happily organize showings for our buyers - the benefit of a non-committal buyer is that the time frame is not so urgent as with someone needing to move NOW - we can easily schedule in time to show you homes here and there, and learn along the way what you truly like and dislike! Showings are ultimately valuable consultative time.
  • In fact... Half of our job is education, and a good Realtor should not only not mind, but in fact expect to be providing information to the public, and answering questions, regularly - without expectation of a sale. Not every customer buys or sells, in the end, anyway - stuff happens! My expectation is to serve your specific needs - and then be the professional of choice when you decide to buy or sell, no matter when that happens - or if.
  • And finally... When buyers call me directly about a listing, I will 1) aim to sell them the home they are asking about, and 2) aim to gain them as a buyer client if my listing is not the home for them... Do you really want to hear this pitch every time you call a new broker to check out his or her listing?
I hope this has been a little bit enlightening, and as ever - feel free to reach out with your comments or questions, or of course, if you want to buy, sell or invest in real estate!