The open house – still important when selling a home

home for sale

Have you wondered how the open house tradition evolved? Earlier this year, Realtor.com detailed its history. Apparently, the first recorded open house was over one hundred years ago and described as “open for inspection.”  The inspection was held over days or weeks allowing home buyers to inspect the home’s structure, layout, and features. It wasn’t until the 1950’s when the more familiar format and term “open house” took hold (Rachel Stults, A Brief History of Opening Our Homes to Total Strangers (aka the Open House); realtor.com; April 21st, 2015).

home for sale
from HouseHunt.com

Transformation of the open house can be gauged along with licensing, sales and cultural trends. If you were selling your home one hundred years ago, having your home open to buyers for a week or two made sense because it allowed prospects to see what they were getting. In a time before licensed home inspectors, the internet and virtual tours; a week of inspection was an important selling tool.

Home buyers are once again taking the time to “inspect” homes through multiple visits; usually initiated at the open house. The internet has empowered buyers to be proactive, giving them the means to search on their own; often visiting open houses without an agent. Seeing a home virtually is just the first step, visiting the home logically follows. The visits give buyers the ability to view the home with their own eyes (not the camera’s); as well as being able to make the all important emotional connection – deciding if they can live in the home.

Regardless of what you hear about the effectiveness of the open house, it’s still an important sales tool. And if you’re planning on having one or several, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

Advertise.  You could say… “if you advertise they will come.” Most open house advertisements have moved away from the Sunday classified section to online real estate portals. I can tell you that when I ask visitors how they found out about the open house, the overwhelming answer is that they saw it advertised online. When setting up your online open house announcement, make sure that there is an enticing and brief description of the home to grab the buyer’s attention.

Make sure the advertised times for your open are accurate. More importantly, confirm your agent is at the home on time, if not early. A common faux-pas is not having anyone at the home when the open house is planned to begin. And unfortunately, a buyer left waiting to get in will more than not move on to the next open house.

Prepare. Organizing an open house offers the opportunity for you to focus on the details. No matter how much de-cluttering you have undertaken prior to listing your home, you can always tidy-up. Additionally, pay close attention to your home’s curb appeal, as it can be the difference between buyers entering the home or driving on.

Finally, make sure your agent is working the open house to sell your home. Agents know that many buyers visit open houses without an agent. And in the past, many agents advocated to have the opens not for the seller’s sake, but instead to build their buyer pipeline. Knowing this, the Maryland Real Estate Commission reminded listing agents a few years ago of their duty to their seller, clarifying their role at the open house.

By Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real estate horror stories question the limits of seller disclosure

real estateProperty disclosure laws are mostly straightforward about making known the physical condition of a home that’s for sale. However, whether or not to disclose other material facts, that may include events that occurred in and around the home, is not always clear. Material facts about a home are often described as information that may sway a home buyer’s decision about the purchase or purchase price. Some of the more familiar material fact cases that are typically reported in the news include haunted homes and unruly neighbors. Yet, these two recent accounts have again raised the question and debate about what the seller and the real estate agent is obligated to disclose.

Sounding like a plot of a horror movie, it is the real estate horror story of a New Jersey family. Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV (New Jersey family says they are being stalked at new home; 6abc.com; June 22, 2015) reported on a family that was allegedly stalked through creepy and threatening letters. The new home owners started receiving these letters several days after closing on their million dollar home.

The letters were described as written by the “Watcher,” who claimed to be the latest of his family to watch the home with such statements as the home has been “the subject of my family for decades…” Other letter statements include “Why are you here? I will find out…” And, “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me.”

According to Tom Haydon, who reported on the lawsuit for NJ Advance Media (Lawsuit: ‘Bring me young blood,’ stalker told Westfield home buyers;nj.com; June 19, 2015), the new owners were so disturbed by the letters that they never moved into their new home; and have been trying to sell it. The family is suing the seller alleging that the seller knew about the “Watcher” because the seller did not disclose that they allegedly received a similar letter prior to closing.

You’ve heard about “Snakes in a Plane?” This next story is about an Annapolis MD family who experienced “snakes in a house.” David Collins reported for Baltimore’s WBAL-TV (Snake-infested Annapolis home rattles owners; wbaltv.com; June 5, 2015) about the snake infested home. Detailing the new owners’ nightmare; they said they used a machete as defense against snakes that reportedly dropped from ceilings, and slithered from the walls.

To rid the home of the snakes, the owners described how they ripped out walls, and tore up the ground around the foundation. However the report indicated that “experts” told the owners gutting the home may not guarantee the snakes would return because the snake pheromones and musk could attract new snakes; and that the home should be left vacant for fifteen years to rid the home of the musky odors.

The new owners allege that their insurance will not cover a claim, nor is their mortgage lender willing to help. The new owners are suing the real estate agent and broker for allegedly not disclosing the snakes; there are also allegations that the tenants who lived in the home prior to the sale, moved out because of snakes.

Legal experts across the country have weighed in on these extraordinary stories, only to illustrate how a seller’s obligation to disclose varies regionally. If you are selling a home and have questions about your obligation to disclose, consult your real estate agent and your attorney.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Narcissistic real estate agents?

narcissistic real estate agents
When real estate agents are narcissistic

A common criticism of real estate agents is that they are manipulative and often focused on their own needs rather the home buyer or seller. Could it be that real estate agents are narcissists? Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D. describes a narcissist in the World of Psychology blog (psychcentral.com/blog) as someone who is preoccupied with “self, personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how he/she is perceived by others.”  How can you tell when you are dealing with narcissistic real estate agents?

In an industry that relies on self promotion, it’s not as easy as you might think to spot narcissistic real estate agents.  They initially don’t often come across as manipulative or self centered. Dr. Lopez De Victoria describes. Extreme narcissists as being able to portray themselves in many ways to attract others to get what they want.  They will seem likeable  and be the “nice person.” They may often seem to be the “proper diplomatic” person.  They often appear to care about you, but it is not authentic empathy.  And of course, they are often a charming person.

Dr. Lopez De Victoria says that having some amount of narcissism is normal and even healthy. So even though most agents are not extreme narcissists, it does not address the remorse expressed by some about the agents they chose. Even though industry experts recommend interviewing several agents before buying or listing a home, the majority of home buyers and sellers do not. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2014 Highlights of the Profile of Buyers and Sellers (realtor.rog), 70% of home sellers and about 66% of home buyers only contacted one agent before listing or buying a home. Regardless of the remorse expressed by home buyers and sellers about their agent, maybe they would have chosen to work with other agents if given the chance.

Although interviewing several agents before you buy or sell a home won’t eliminate all remorse over your choice of agent, it can certainly increase the probability of your satisfaction. If you choose to interview several agents, you might consider having a conversation about their experience, knowledge, and expertise. Additionally, knowledge about the local neighborhood market and surrounding neighborhoods is extremely important because market trends are hyper-local. You should also talk about the agent’s specialized experience, if your buying or selling situation is unique.

You should also ask about the agent’s limitations. This is an area where some agents get themselves into trouble is by not knowing, or are unwilling to disclose their limitations to potential buyers or sellers. By discussing the agent’s limitations, you can understand what the agent can and cannot do as well as know when the agent will refer you to other professionals for advice; this can also frame your expectations.

To get some insight into the agent’s way of thinking and service, you might consider asking atypical questions too! Surely an agent is more than happy to talk about their accomplishments, number of sales, and even name drop a past client or two; but what about the listings that didn’t sell? Have they been fired by a client?

The ratio of expired to sold listings can be telling; is the agent focused on servicing your listing or is it a “numbers game” for them? If an agent is open to sharing those figures, ask for reasons why the listings didn’t sell; was it about price or the marketing? If an agent has a history of being fired, it could be a possible indication of issues with the quality of service, including over-promising and not meeting expectations.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2014/11/14/narcissistic-real-estate-agents/

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Getting home buyers into your listing – sellers and agents take note

Bethesda Real EstateSome economists have discussed how consumers are increasingly “shopping” rather than buying. And this is evident in the housing market, where home buyers have become overly discerning about their purchases. After what seemed to be a brief seller’s market, we find ourselves slipping back into a buyer’s market; and an old dilemma is reemerging: how are you going to get more buyer traffic and more offers on your home?

If your home has been on the market for while, check with your agent to review feedback from those who visited your home. Typical responses focus on price, home condition, and how the home shows. If you’re about to list your home, have some neighbors and friends tour the home (as if they were home buyers) to provide an alternate perspective of your home’s selling points and shortcomings.

Pricing your home correctly is critical to selling in a reasonable time frame. Your agent should keep you up to date with neighborhood sales activity, so you can remain competitive with other relevant listings. Recent neighborhood sales trends (1-3-6 months) can indicate where your price range should fall, as well as understanding the types of homes that are selling.

One of the main objections you may have heard from home buyers, is that your home “needs work,” which has a number of meanings. Of course, it may mean your home does need updating and/or repairing; in which case you should discuss with your agent about the possibility of making updates/repairs, and/or adjusting the price to reflect any needed updates/repairs. Before you decide to go all out on a renovation, consider making updates that are equivalent to your neighborhood and price range; over spending may not significantly increase your home value. If your home is updated and shows well, another meaning of “needing work” comes from the buyer wanting a turn-key home; and your updates/renovations do match their tastes and preferences.


Another issue to consider is that although your home may be updated and clean, you just may have too much stuff! Lots of furniture, wall hangings, and other stuff can make large rooms feel cramped and small, as well as give a busy and unsettling vibe. If this sounds like your home, consider removing items that can distract and detract from your home’s true elegance and style.

If your home is not getting many showings, another factor to address (independent of price, condition and clutter) is how your home is marketed. If you haven’t done so, look at your MLS listing; are you satisfied with the pictures, and remarks? Keep in mind that about 96% of home buyers search online and make decisions based on what they see and read. Home sellers, like you, are savvy and know that solely hanging a sign and posting a MLS listing is no longer acceptable to market a home. Ask your agent to update you on active marketing efforts, as well as other resources that may be used to market your home, including: local and global networks of agents and buyers; as well as using the internet and SEO (search engine optimization) to get buyers interested in your home.

If you’re home has been on the market for a while, you might consider addressing any of these issues to boost home buyer activity. If you’re considering a sale in the near future; have a plan of action before you list, so your sale does not languish.

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Hire a real estate agent

hore a real estate agentWhy should you hire a real estate agent? Home buying and selling without an agent is not for everyone.

A somewhat prophetic Howard Schneider proclaimed in a 1995 article “For Better or for Worse” (published in Mortgage Banking; 56(1), 110) that a combination of technology and industry consolidation would drastically change the real estate landscape by the end of the 1990’s.

Schneider discussed technology changing the relationship between Realtors® and consumers such that through the development of technology, home sellers and buyers would be able to interact without the use of a real estate agent. He quoted John Moore, then president and CEO of Genesis Relocation Services, “If you can get the word out about your property efficiently to the mass market, you can avoid paying the full brokerage commission…” and “…within five years, most homes will be able to see listings around the country on interactive T.V.”

What Schneider described actually happened,  and is now called “the internet.” The growth of the internet during the first decade of the 21st century allowed home buyers and sellers to interact with each other like no other time. The technology was a boon for those who decided to go it alone, and not hire a real estate agent.

Of course the internet was only a piece to the larger puzzle of the early 2000’s. It seems that for a very brief time, just placing a sign in the yard was enough to spread the word of your home sale.  Deciding price, financing, and closing all seemed to be a “no-brainer.” But five years after the housing boom, it’s evident that not everyone can sell real estate “by owner.” Many moved back to hire a real estate agent.

One of the top reasons for selling or buying a home without a real estate agent is the perception of saving money. People who decide to sell without an agent don’t see the value of hiring an agent; while some buyers who decide to buy without an agent believe they can reduce their sale price by the commission amount.

Although hiring an agent may not be a god fit for some, many value what an agent can bring to the transaction. Real estate agents are housing-market experts; besides knowing neighborhood trends, they can provide detailed market analyses to assist in formulating a listing or sale price for home sellers or buyers. Agents facilitate offers, transactions, and negotiation. They are up to date on legislation affecting home buyers and sellers; agents know the seller’s/buyer’s obligations, including compulsory disclosures and forms. And of course, there is the time aspect (how much is your time worth?).

Reasons to hire a real estate agent

Talented real estate agents are sales and marketing specialists. These agents know how to interpret home sale data to determine a price, and the best times to list/buy your home. Additionally, they know how to prepare and present your home to prospective home buyers and promote it to grab home buyers’ attention.

Getting back to Schneider’s article, he concluded that regardless of technological advances and the inclination toward mergers to an increasingly centralized industry with few big players. It’s ultimately about nearby professionals who have the knowledge of the local market. It’s basically who can personally assist you through your transaction. Personal attention cannot be under-emphasized, especially when the transaction is demanding or emotionally charged.

Are you better off without a real estate agent? You might think that technology has made it easier for you to go it alone; but, if you want a relatively smooth transaction with little drama – hire a professional.

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2013/01/24/thinking-of-buying-or-selling-a-home-without-an-agent-hire-a-professsional/

by Dan Krell
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.