Saturday, March 24, 2007

Soft Market...Not so Fast

I have recently been encountering the impression that the market has crashed and buyers can offer any price at all for a property and be taken seriously.
I think this may be a misconception that is looking at the National news and applying certain trends as a general blanket, and I don't know as though that is a correct assumption.
I too watch the nightly news as well as other news analysts and have heard all of the housing statistics that are not necessarily possitive. Although this morning MSNBC recorded that last month housing sales were up 3.7% nationally. With that said, the average selling price was down by 1.8%.
This is a good example of what I believe we are seeing here in the Adirondacks. We have this conversation what feels like weekly, "what should I do to get more activity...Reduce the price". Homes up here all selling all the time and things are constantly going under contract. Homes that are priced fair to the market that is. We all lived in '04 and '05 where interest rates were low and the stock market was doing well and real-estate sellers were very happy. I think we have come back to reality in '06 and '07.
As opposed to saying that it is a buyers market, which I don't believe we are there yet, I would say that we are in a more balanced market. Properties that are not shooting for the stars on their list price are still selling quite frequently, and alot of investment properties such as multi- families are selling in a realistic time-frame as well.
I truely believe that as a buyer it would be more beneficial to ask your Realtor if the national trend applies to the area you are shopping in. I know myself that I am very candid and would have no problem telling a client when a listing is too high, and the other agents in this office are also under the same level of honesty. It happens, some sellers want what they want and wont budge, and that is fine, but we may suggest at that price to keep looking at other comparable properties more realistically priced.
Post your opinions...

Jodi Gunther

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Whats YOUR area of expertise?

It's funny, I never thought much about this until today, when I was updating my active rain profile. I was always confused about what to say because I help so many different people on a daily basis, that I feel I am knowledgeable about many different areas of Real Estate. To focus on just one, in my opinion, would be doing a disservice to past and present clients. Ultimately, I think this question may depend on where you live and work. The generic answer to make myself, or any other agent look good would be to say:

"I am an expert in second homes" - To get as many second home owners as possible, more $$!

"I am an expert in first time home buyers" - and hope to get as many first time buyer business as possible, more business!

"I am an expert in finding large tracts of land for my clients" - to become an expert in all areas of land acquisition and sales.

This may work in certain areas of the country. If you live/work in cookie cutter suburbia you may, in fact, be an expert in first time buyers. Alternately, if you live on the shores of the Atlantic in Florida you may be the local expert in finding second homes for people.

But for those of us that live in diverse areas of the country, say the Adirondacks, what is our area of expertise? I know agents that specialize in only helping second home owners, or those that just want to buy large tracts of land to break up and sell off. My broker could be classified as someone who enjoys, and is darn good at, helping those looking for the fantastic second home or recreational property, but would not shy away from helping anyone find their first home. His area of expertise is diverse and that is precisely why he is, where he is today, running a highly successful firm that services all types of buyers and sellers and all types of property, commercial and residential.

I realize now that he imparted that on me, and my colleagues, without us even knowing it. To be successful at Real Estate in the Adirondacks may take more then just being a 4th or 5th generation Adk'er and going on 'who you know'.

It takes going after the foreclosure.

It takes following up on the 1 acre parcel, an hour away, that may list for $8K.

It takes doing everything we can to get that multi-million dollar waterfront listing.

It takes helping first time buyers, while also helping a client buy their third investment property.

We need to be an expert in 100 acres parcels we have listed, and which clients are interested in buying. We need to know the difference between a dug well and drilled well. We need to know the set backs for the APA. We have to know about Commercial and Residential properties because we have a big mix of both. We need to be an expert in all areas, because who knows what that buyer wants that just called or sent an email.

So now when asked "whats your area of expertise?" I can say with confidence that I am in an expert in helping first time buyers, as well as third time buyers. I know rules and regs about vacant parcels, and I know what that one acre lot an hour away should list for. I help all buyers and sellers in anything they need. Most importantly all agents in our firm are knowledgeable about all areas of Real Estate, and we have to be in order to make it up here because it is so diverse. If I don' know the answer, I'll find out for you, then I'll be an expert in that.

At the same time I have a deal on a mobile home, I am going after the waterfront listing which is currently a FSBO, and next week going to the closing for my investor friend who is buying his 5th multifamily home, but dropping off the proposal to the client interested in listing their vacant parcel beforehand. Oh, and that phone call is about the commercial building listed on main street.

-Josh Pratt

Monday, March 5, 2007

Positive Vibes

Some we know may call it "mojo", others just believe in the power of positive energy.

My new vision for this blog is to have discussions and feedback on different questions and thoughts that arise in the day to day of real estate.

This may take a little longer to come up with than my usual rant and rave.....

To Be Continued....
Jodi Gunther

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yo Homeowners! Count your pennies!

I am by no means a rental agent. I really don't know the first thing about vacation rentals, what they go for, or what is involved in the process. I do know however, that you should never steal from the homeowners who you rent for. It just seems like a bad idea, and eventually no matter what, you are going to get caught.

That's why I was sort of surprised to see that in fact a local broker was arrested on charges of stealing from the very people she lived among, and rented for.

I think people need to be held accountable for their actions. I want to keep them honest here in the North Country. I don't want brokers, associates, agencies, even homeowners taking advantage of one another. That is what gives the general public a bad taste for Real Estate agents and rental agents. Homeowners who rent or list with ANY company that steals from it's clients has the right to know about it and make their own informed decisions about how they go about renting or selling. It's really none of my business whether they stick with the company or find a new one, but everyone needs to know.

A local rental agent I know, says the best thing homeowners can do who rent their properties through an agency, is to have a CPA manage the books to make sure the numbers add up. She feels at this point that it is "egg on the face" of rental agents, and that beyond damage control, establishing a new level of trust is of the utmost importance in a small community like our own. Because it really doesn't matter if it is only one agency that is doing something wrong, it has the potential to ruin it for the rest of them. Whats that old saying again?

-Josh Pratt

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It's hard to make appointments!

48 hour notice should be plenty of time to set up an appointment to see a home. That said, what a surprise we got when my clients and I, who had driven 8 hours from South Jersey, arrived at the first showing of the day. A disgruntled owner answered the door clearly not prepared for us to see the home. Not to be misleading, I don't mind when the sellers are there. In fact I think sometimes a showing can benefit from them being there. They know the ins and outs of their home. Sure they accentuate the greatness "this is 40 year architectural shingles on this new roof!" Suppress the flood stains in the basement..."It has never flooded down here before, must have been the hard rain last night". But generally I have found that when they are there it really does not detract from the showing. Having keen and laid back buyers helps as well as buyers who can see through the BS and realize when the seller is actually being genuine.

The first clue that something was off was that there was no lock box on the door to which I had the combo for... Uh oh! The second was the huge, barking boxer in the window that wanted to jump through and eat my buyers children...Uh oh..again! We knock anyway and wake up the good! I think he may have been half way to the door anyway because we were driving a big F-350 diesel pick up and you could hear us coming up the driveway.

He was clearly pissed, and rightfully so! The listing agent who never returned my call, the agent on floor time when I called the second time, who told me the house was VACANT and gave me the lock box combo, clearly didn't follow up to make sure it was OK to see the house. Is it hard to make a few phone calls and confirm with the seller or listing agent that 12:45pm on a Saturday is OK for us to see the house? Now I am not saying I am entitled to go look at a house for whenever is convenient for me. What I want though is to be able to accommodate my buyers and trust that when I go to a home with adequate notice, in this case 48 hours, it will be ready to show and the seller will be prepared for us to be there. If I'm given the OK on the time, given a lock box combo then I assume we are all set! Nothing like pissing off a seller, and what's worse, when he was done ranting about us being there, he said that this had happened before!

Something tells me there will be a listing contract voided on Monday morning...any takers? Just be sure you give him notice the next time you want to show it!

-Josh Pratt

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Desperate sellers or desperate agents?

In the past 3 months I have run into 2 situations where it appears the sellers best interest are not in the best interest of their agent. In both instances I represented the buyer and placed offers on properties when there was existing offers with acceptances, but NO signed contracts. In the first instance my buyers placed an offer $3K over list price, knowing they had to make a strong offer. In the other my buyers placed an offer $10k under list price. Both offers had mortgage contingencies, though the later being half cash, and both had structural inspection contingencies...not out of this world contingencies!

According to the rules we play by, the listing agent has the duty to present all offers that are received before the contract is fully executed. Regardless if the current offer is accepted, or if they are "in house" (listing agency procures the buyer) the listing agent must present any offer received. They work for the seller. They have a duty to get as much money for their seller as possible, without personal bias, until the time the contract is fully signed by both parties.

Both times we were told the seller had accepted the other offer, within 4 hours! Fine. Move on.

When the two properties came up as sold on our MLS hot sheet, I stared in shock at what I saw. The first sold by cash, "in house" at $13K under list price, or in other words, $16K below our offer. I cannot see the contingencies on our hot sheet, all I see is how it sold, by whom, and the closed price. The other sold for $75K under list price ($65K under our offer) cash, "in house".

A few questions:
How is this representing the seller? It's not, plain and simple! There is no way a seller would leave $65K on the table without at least considering the offer.

Did those agents even present our offer? Hard to tell, I would like to think they did, however I know of no seller that would at least not ask for a best and final offer from both parties being that the original offers appeared to be so low.

Do these small, local real estate companies not want to co-broke, and instead keep their deals in house? Bingo! They feel threatened by our big, national company, and tell their sellers "in order for us to stay alive you need to only accept offers from our agents." The easiest way to say this without saying this, is to not present our offers. The seller has no clue an offer came in, and the small real estate office can line their pockets with what should be our commissions.

Desperate sellers, or desperate agents?

-Josh Pratt

Monday, January 29, 2007

Weekend Getaway or Perfect First Home!

Forget the hassles of the city and get away from it all at this great year round home in Rainbow Lake, NY! This will make the perfect second home or first home! Only 10 minutes to the Village of Saranac Lake and even closer to all the wonderful outdoor amenities this area has to offer. Hiking trails, swimming holes, and miles of canoeing are only minutes away! This attractive cottage sits among towering pine trees on a lovely 1/3 of an acre. Covered decks and gazebo provide a great recess on those hot summer days. 3 bedrooms 1 bath, a nice open kitchen and formal dining room give this home all you can ask for! An over sized 2 car detached garage and large fenced in lawn round out this lovely cottage. Make this your weekend getaway, or consider a full time move to the gorgeous Adirondacks and you will not be disappointed!

Consider the area you will be in once you buy this home. 15 minutes to the world famous St. Regis Canoe area, 12 minutes to the Adirondack Park Visitors Interpretive Center, 10 minutes to Paul Smiths College. Rainbow Lake, Jones Pond, Buck Pond, and Lake Kushaqua are all within 5-10 minutes and all have public access for fishing, boating, or swimming. Plattsburgh, NY is 45 minutes North East and the Olympic Village of Lake Placid is an easy 20-minute drive South East.

Total sq. footage: aprox. 1171
Total taxes: $ 2,464

Exclusively Listed by Century21 High Peaks Realty