“It’s about people stupid!”

“It is about people stupid!” I am saying that to myself these days. I think I always treat other people well but sometimes I do not realize that I am getting in the way. What do I mean? I am glad you asked. When I became a real estate sales agent, I thought I could help people with real estate and supplement my income. I always appreciated the help of a good agent and I certainly did not want to be like the bad ones. However, life happens as it always does. I started training, training, training and marketing, marketing, marketing which means spending, spending, spending. The next thing I knew, I started worrying about finding business to pay for expenses. I did not stop treating people well but I got in the way of just listening and offering to help people. I was worried about winning them over so I could secure some business because I had to pay bills. Yes, I need the business and yes, like everyone, I have bills to pay but like the title says, “It’s about people stupid!” I think I will worry less about finding business and worry more about the needs of others. I may still need to find business but I will be happier in the process.

Scary Realtors

Do you suffer from Realtorphobia? I suppose it can be a real condition to be afraid of real estate sales agents sometimes referred to as Realtors if they are members of the National Association of Realtors. I was afraid of them before I became one. It is part of the reason I became a sales agent/Realtor. I believe people should face their fears. Things are never as scary as we imagine them. Oh sure, you could hire a Realtor and then realize that they only wanted to make money and did not care about you. I know the feeling. However, it is just like hiring a mechanic, a painter, a doctor, a lawyer, or some other professional; you might get a bad apple. However, a good real estate sales agent or Realtor can often be as valuable as hiring a good investment advisor. If you are selling, a sales agent might help you get a better price which will make up for the commissions you pay. When buying, a sales agent may negotiate a better deal for you.  So, don’t be afraid, most sales agents/Realtors that I know want to do a good job for their clients. Boo! …and yes, I am available to help you anytime.

Death and Taxes

I have always heard there are two things you cannot avoid, death and taxes. Well, it is obvious that we cannot avoid death but I do not think we should surrender the battle against taxes so easily. It is not that I do not want to pay my fair share but define fair for me. I am currently protesting my taxes because they have appraised my home higher than the market value. I am paying more than what is fair.  I am not okay with that and you should not be okay when it happens to you. Property taxes are out of control. People are making different decisions regarding home ownership because property taxes are so high. Things are so bad that Governor Abbott has been talking a lot lately about property tax reform. There are two issues that need to be addressed when fighting this battle.  First, the appraised value should not be out of line with the market. Accurate appraisals are the responsibility of the appraisal district. If the market is depressed then you should pay less in taxes because the appraised value is less. You should protest poor appraisals. Second, School Districts, Water Districts (MUDS etc.), and Counties should be more fiscally responsible. It does take money to make things work but it should not take more than what is necessary. I worked in government for many years and the waste is rampant. You need to vote and you need to lobby to get lower tax rates unless you like working to pay the government more than your fair share. Death and taxes may be inevitable but I am not racing toward death or to pay more in taxes.

Agents and Clients-Working Together

I was literally blessed to work with two separate individual clients who were both looking for homes to lease. They both knew what they wanted, what they needed, and where they wanted to live. I visited with them and discussed the price range and showed them possible homes to lease. They listened to me and I listened to them. When it was time for tough talk, they accepted my advice and really tried to understand the real estate business side of the transaction while being committed to their own needs and desires. We walked together through the process of finding a home for each them. I walked away knowing that I did my part and they walked away satisfied with what they were able to accomplish given their respective financial positions. This is what I envision for all of my clients and for myself as an agent. I want to contribute in a positive way to the process of buying, selling, or even leasing homes so that the clients end up in the best place regardless of where that may be.

For Sale By Owner

My company routinely tells us to approach people who are selling their own home without the assistance of an agent/broker. Homes for sale by owner almost seem to be taboo among some in the brokerage business. However, I am a firm believer in a person’s right to do whatever he or she wants with their property. I also understand the desire to save the expense of paying commissions. However, if you are going to sell the property yourself, just be aware of a number of responsibilities and risks. First, you will have to market the property yourself (signs, ads, etc…). Second, your property will not be listed in the area MLS (multiple listing service) where thousands of agents will see it. Third, you will need to show the home to prospective buyers. Fourth, you will have to determine the best price based on your own research. Fifth, if your home is on the market too long because you priced it too high, it will be passed over and then people will wonder whats wrong with it. Sixth, you may have to pay the buyer’s agent 3% commission so you really only save 3% in commission costs. Seventh, the hassle of doing it yourself may not be worth the money you save. Eighth, you will have to hire someone to create a contract for you. Ninth, there will still be closing costs. Tenth, you will still need a title company. In conclusion, you need to weigh the costs and the potential savings of selling your own home and really take time to determine if it is worth it. Commission costs may seem like a lot but more often than not agents earn their money if they are doing things correctly. Also, if you think about it, the commissions are included in the market value of homes so it is really just part of doing business.

Buy or Rent?

At one time or another, most people have asked whether they should buy or rent a home. There are many factors a person has to consider when it comes to deciding whether to buy or rent. It is most definitely an individual decision. Some people do not want the responsibility of home ownership while others do not want the uncertainty of renting. If you are someone who prefers to rent, you should at least know what you are gaining or giving up. If you can buy, you potentially will be better off in the long haul from a financial perspective. Paying on a mortgage inevitably builds equity in the real estate unless there is some catastrophic reason the home or market are depressed. When you rent, your money goes to the owner of the property and pays expenses. When you buy, your money pays off part of the principal and of course interest. However, even though you are paying interest to borrow the money, you are also increasing the money you receive back when you sell. If you buy smart and the market value of the home increases then you actually could off set the interest costs and could end up with an even better return. Bear in mind, you are making this investment all the while you could be paying the same in rent. When renting, you get nothing back except the security deposit and that is not guaranteed. Owning a home is more work and has other expenses but you have decide whether you want that responsibility with a chance for a return or you want to pay the costs for the convenience of renting. Either way, live well and know where your money is going.

Buying for the Next Owner

Many people shop for homes with a list of personal desires about the home they want and need. Considerations like the floor plan, build quality, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, storage space etc… are important. Other aspects of the home should be consider as well, such as the location, community, security, area developments, etc… There are more physical aspects to consider but one intangible thing you should consider is what someone else might like or not like about the home you are purchasing. A home after all is an investment; sometimes for years or even a lifetime. However, things change and homes get sold. Some things you cannot control but if you know that one day you might sell a home, then it behooves you to know how others may view the home. When buying, you should consider all of the things listed above but also put yourself in the shoes of others and buy something you think others will find desirable. You do not have control over economic downturns but with a little vision you may make a better investment by not just buying a home for yourself.

Comparative Market Analysis

You may or may not have heard about a Comparative Market Analysis when selling a home and determining the asking or listing price. Often agents will say they are “pulling comps” in your neighborhood to determine what your home might sell for on the open market. A CMA is a fancier term but involves perhaps more analysis. The idea is always to determine the market value and listing price for your home given the price homes similar to yours are selling for at a given time. Six month comparisons are typically used since longer periods may not be accurate portrayals of price during a given market period. Why does the market price matter when you are selling something that you have worked hard to maintain for sometimes as long as 30 years? It matters because people, like you, do not want to pay more than the market has determined the home to be worth. All that to say, selling at the right time matters. Just because you want to move does not mean you should move. Always evaluate your position in the market by getting as much information as possible about current home sales before listing your home. There is always someone who will list your home for sale even if it is not the right time. Only you know for sure when to sell but if you can avoid selling during a period when prices for homes like yours are depressed. Also, when you finally say goodbye to your old faithful home, you will not live in regret in your new home and feel like all of your efforts to maintain the old home were in vain.

Why hire a real estate agent?

Before I became a real estate agent, I used to wonder why I needed an agent. One question was “Who set this system up?” I then met a couple of really good real estate agents and I benefited greatly from hiring them. Nevertheless, I was still not 100% convinced of their value until I decided to become one. After taking the courses and receiving my license, I realized that the whole process of buying and selling real estate can appear to be simple but is really a lot more complicated than most people think. I want to share one article I read that explains why most people really should hire a real estate agent when buying a home.

Click Here “Top Ten Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent” by Elizabeth Weintraub writing for “The Balance.com”