Why Tech Savvy Agents Get Ahead

July 9, 2012 | Posted in Buying, Selling | By

Why Tech Savvy Agents Get Ahead

By Andrew Hill @ www.austinhomelistings.com

Real estate is a simple transaction isn’t it? After all, chances are you’ve seen the classic “For Sale By Owner” signs or maybe even received a flyer in the mail about a new listing. But how many of these homes actually go on to sell? Chances are, not too many, and if they do it’s not for the price the homeowner wanted. What about those on the other end of the transaction? Can’t buyers easily drive around a neighborhood and spot for sale signs in front yards? Yes, but why would you want to drive around when you can do all of your research online? It seems to me that the solution to these problems can easily be solved. All you need is a tech-savvy real estate agent.

A tech-savvy agent is important today because the world of real estate has changed. With more than nine out of ten all home sales beginning with an online search, the standard real estate methods of just a few years ago are now woefully outdated. Yard signs, flyers, and word of mouth simply won’t cut it. But a tech savvy agent has the tools you need to succeed. In order to find the right tech-savvy agent for you, keep your eyes peeled for the following features:

  1. Social Media Presence. Our world has become radically interconnected since the onset of social media and you need to be sure your realtor is plugged into this. So much communication happens over this medium that if any realtor chooses to neglect this tool, it s a serious detriment to both the realtor and his/her clients. You realtor doesn’t need to post something every day, but their simple presence on these sites makes it easier to communicate with them and do so in a timely manner.
  2. User Friendly Website. Whether you’re buying, selling, or both, you want to make sure that your agent’s site is easy to use. Not only do you want this for your own personal ease and enjoyment, but think about the people on the other end of the transaction. If you’re showing your home on a poorly constructed website, you can bet that buyers won’t stick around for long and you’ll be missing out on many potential leads.
  3. Finally, the most important tool for any truly tech-savvy realtor to have is a fantastic home search option. Remember, almost 100% of the market is turning to online searches to find a new home. So if you’re agent doesn’t have an easy to use search, you’ll be missing out on an unbelievable amount of traffic. When picking your agent, be sure that the home search is both easy to find and user friendly.

There are other factors that can make an agent tech-savvy as well, such as using new apps, tablets, etc. But the most important factors are those we already mentioned. So if you’re serious about getting the most out of your real estate experience, be sure to hire the right realtor. Be sure to contact the My Jax Home Team today, for all of your tech-savvy real estate solutions.

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VA Funding Fee Changes Effective October 1, 2011

September 22, 2011 | Posted in Buying | By

Vets and Reserves/National Guard will get a significant benefit October 1, 2011 to assist you in purchasing a home. We can put you in touch with a local loan officer who will assist you in every way needed.

See the chart below for details on this upcoming change.

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Jacksonville Florida Real Estate Market Update – Fall 2011

September 22, 2011 | Posted in Buying | By

I think the number one question we’ve heard over the past few years is “When will the market hit bottom?”

And our answer is always that one person’s guess is as good as another’s.

We understand that some buyers have been waiting… hoping to time the market just right and buy at the very bottom. Of course, the problem is that no one knows where the bottom is until it as started going back up again….

So, What can we say about the fickle economic forces that have been driving the real estate market?

Markets that were among the healthiest six months ago are now in decline and have been replaced by a few unexpected markets that have worked through their job losses and foreclosures effectively. Jacksonville seems to be one of them.

A lot has happened in the housing market during this year. We saw a double-dip in home prices… Only a small improvement in employment occurred on a national basis…. And the long-anticipated housing recovery, which most housing economists pegged for late this year, hasn’t materialized.

Rising home prices, job gains, and improvement in median incomes are going to drive the healthiest markets over the next 12 to 18 months.

Moody’s predicts that markets that benefit from military spending, or major universities, will be at the top of the recovery. Some markets hit the trifecta with military bases, big universities, and strong private sector employment.

Recently, Home Builder online and Moody’s compiled a list of the 20 healthiest housing markets through 2012 and Jacksonville came in at number four!

It is surprising to see any Florida market so high on any list of healthy markets, But they say that Jacksonville’s strong employment base has helped it come back before many of the services-dependent housing markets further south.

Jacksonville’s strong military presence has always anchored the economy… and our growing financial services sector has added employment in recent years.

According to Moody’s, Jacksonville employment is expected to rise 3.2% next year and Median income is projected to rise 3.3%. And to add further encouraging news, Businessweek just ranked Jacksonville, one spot above Denver, as the 26th BEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY citing positive data regarding the number of restaurants, school scores and even crime rates.  They said,

“…with miles of Florida beaches nearby and thousands of acres of parks and preserves, residents of Jacksonville are spoiled with outdoor activities… The city has good schools, low poverty rates, and plenty of great options for nightlife.”

Apparently, builders and developers must also sense our market is positioned for recovery. They pulled 28% more permits through the first half of this year than last. and Moody’s expects the growth to nearly double next year.

The fact is that nobody knows for certain… but there are good reasons to think that Jacksonville has, indeed, hit bottom and is poised for recovery over the coming months.

Those home buyers who have been sitting on the fence waiting for the bottom would be smart to carefully consider whether now is the time to pull the trigger.

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Get Real – Straight Talk in Real Estate

August 10, 2011 | Posted in Buying, Selling | By

I was visiting with my mom today. (Some may be aware that she had knee replacement surgery this past week and is now in rehab and DOING GREAT, thank you!)

Anyway, she brought up a radio ad she has been hearing lately and wanted to know what the “catch” was since it “sounded too good to be true.” (She asked what the catch was but her body language said that she wondered if it was real.)

In the ad, the agent promises to buy your home if she doesn’t sell it in “x” number of days (I think the ad says 90 days… not sure, though). Well, since we just sold my parents house last year at a lower than expected (by them) price it’s no surprise that she wondered if she had listed with my competitor could she have gotten much more for the house.

GET REAL! The fact is that no house is going to sell for more than fair market value. Fair market value is not an exact number, but rather it is a price range for which there is a ceiling (usually determined by the buyer’s lender’s appraiser).

There is simply no way in this world or any other that any real estate agent is going to pay more than fair market value for any house… and I’ll go as far as to say that they will not pay anywhere near fair market value! You can bet your sweet bippy that there is some mighty fine print protecting the agents who make such a claim.

My entire purpose in writing about this is to make it perfectly clear that we (Susan and I) do not like sales hyperbole and we strive to avoid ever using it. We believe in telling it straight… treating other people the way we expect to be treated – honestly and transparently without any baloney. There is just far too much garbage being thrown around today.

We get the baloney from every direction including our elected officials (from both sides of the aisle, btw) and if we don’t put a stop to it in our own lives and business, how can we expect any better from others? We think everyone should put every claim to the NO BALONEY TEST.

Before I go on, let’s define what passes the NO BALONEY TEST.

  1. The agent does not set himself up as a one man know-it-all-do-it-all expert. (The fact is that there are some things we are proficient in and some that we are not. It is imperative that I have ancillary professionals who are experts in their fields who I can call on and trust to provide the same level of professionalism I expect of myself.)
  2. The agent listens to what you have to say. (Your feelings; your needs; your fears; your concerns; your goals are what truly matter!)
  3. The agent tells the simple truth at all times. (Sometimes the simple truth is “I don’t know but I will find out for you!”)
  4. The agent presents you with options. (Listen, I don’t care what anybody says, not every homeowner who is underwater with his mortgage should short sale… some folks are better off with one of the other options available.)
  5. The agent consults with you. He doesn’t try to sell to you! (Yes, this is our motto but it is much more… it is what we believe and how we strive to practice our profession and daily lives.)
  6. The agent communicates with you. (Yes, that means he listens first but it also means he responds to your calls and emails in a timely manner. Timely manner means as quickly as possible and ALWAYS within 24 hours.)
  7. The agent tells you the whole truth. (You got it… even when the truth is not what you want to hear!)
  8. The agent doesn’t make promises he cannot fulfill. (Sure there are times when circumstances prevent us all from following through even when intentions are honorable. When that happens, we should own up to it, tell the truth and do whatever possible to make it right.)
  9. The agent conducts himself and all he says in accordance with current market conditions as they are, not as you or he wishes they were. (It doesn’t matter how your last home was sold… in case you haven’t heard, things have changed!)
A Few Other things that real estate agents do that FAIL the NO BALONEY test.
  • The agent presents a Comparative Market Analysis the first time he meets with you without having seen your home or discussed its features with you even though your home is unique (significantly different from other homes in the immediate area). — There is simply no reasonable way fair market value can determined, sight unseen, in this situation. This is a common problem with Zillow “estimates” of value and a common reason why so many homes are incorrectly priced in today’s market. (There are situations where a solid price range can be targeted without seeing the house first but be careful if you know your home is unique.)
  • The agent says he can sell your house for much more than fair market value. The fact is that far too many agents are known for taking listings at prices higher than fair market value. They try to “buy” listings because they want to have their sign in as many yards as possible to make them “look successful” and they hope they can talk you into lowering the price to fair market value at some point in the future. This is not good for you and it is a violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics too. Pricing a home above market value in a declining market only insures that the home will not sell or it will eventually sell at a much lower price than it would have if priced correctly in the beginning.
  • Your house is For Sale by Owner and the agent knocks on your door saying he has a buyer interested in your house who is willing to pay more than you are asking and more than you’ve been told it is worth by other agents. We actually have a friend who wanted us to list his home but he wanted far more than fair market value so we refused to list it. He then put a For Sale by Owner sign in the yard and a couple of days later an agent showed up saying he had a buyer willing to pay the inflated price. …Long story, short, after the agent got inside the home with this buyer they started “negotiating” for a MUCH lower price. (NO SURPRISE) When the seller wouldn’t come down, the agent said that the buyer decided on a different house and then proceeded to try and talk the seller into listing with him. (No, this unethical tactic did not work on my friend.)
  • You are a buyer meeting with an agent for the first time and the agent fails to talk to you about how he will represent you (this is called “agency”). While the presumed agency in Florida is Transaction Broker Agency, you do have other options that may be better for you.
  • You are a buyer and you call the Listing Agent to obtain information about one of his listings and he fails to talk to you about “agency.” If the listing agent is the Single Agent of the seller and you reveal information that might hurt your future negotiating position, that listing agent is obligated to share that information with the seller. BEWARE! — (Hint: Choose your own buyer’s agent and let him do all the work for you!)
There are many other examples but for sake of brevity I’ll leave it at this for now — (yeah, yeah… I know… this isn’t exactly the shortest post ever).
The bottom line is that you are either buying or selling real estate and it only makes sense to work with a professional who works professionally and treats you with respect, transparency and complete honesty. Don’t settle for anything less! 

You deserve to be consulted with, not sold to.

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Jacksonville Real Estate Market Trends – July, 2011

August 9, 2011 | Posted in Buying, Real Estate Market Reports | By

Jacksonville Real Estate Market – Trends for July, 2011

Will Lower Prices Spur Selling Activity?

The jury is still out on whether or not we will see improvements. This is due mostly to continued economic troubles plaguing the nation as a whole.

Jacksonville, Florida real estate has continued a trend it has followed for many months with declining prices in most hyper-local markets but some increase in the number of closed transactions.

Agent surveys indicate that traffic (interest from qualified buyers) increased at the end of the month after continued decreases from June as sellers have continued to reduce prices to meet the low demand. Interest rates are lower than ever but there is concern that they could increase quickly and this concern seems to be holding many buyers back from committing.

This fear of commitment is due to the large number of Jacksonville homes for sale that are under water and therefore are Short Sales. Short sales, as everyone now knows, are anything but “short” in terms of the amount of time required to close the transaction.

Buyer traffic had fallen sharply in June so the increase in July was notable. It isn’t unusual for traffic to decline in early summer and pick up toward the middle and end of summer as families begin to think of moving before school starts back. Whether or not this increase in traffic will produce an increase in sales is still up in the air. Time will tell…

The fact remains that motivated sellers who price their Jacksonville real estate at or slightly below fair market value are first in line to attract the attention of qualified buyers. If these sellers also have adequate equity in their homes to avoid a short sale situation that’s even better!

Cash buyers, particularly in the higher end market, appear to be making their move more and more as they anticipate that we are likely at the bottom of the market decline.

As your straight-talking real estate consultants, you can always count on us to present a true picture of the market. We know that now is not the time for every buyer to make their move… we also know that now is the perfect time for others. If you are on the fence, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you make the decision that is right for you and your family.

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