There’s always something to howl about

Archive for October, 2017

Want to increase business? Answer your phone

Do you want to sell your listing faster and for more money?  Answer your phone

Do you want to work with more buyers?  Answer your phone

Lenders, do you want more loan business from agents?  Answer your phone

I know this sounds simplistic but more sales are made on the phone then are made via text or email.  This year, I made a conscious effort to ANSWER every phone call which come in.  I even bought a contraption which charges my phone and puts the calls on the car speakers.  The connection sucks but it allows me to acknowlege whomever called and to “triage” why they are calling.  If it’s a “money” call, I tell them that I will pull off the freeway and call them in a matter of minutes.  If it’s something to do with something other than work, I ask them to send me a text so I can call them later.

It doesn’t always work.  Sometimes, I’m a in a meeting and can’t answer the phone but by changing my mindset to believing that every single phone call represents a five-figure check, I am conditioned to sell.

Most importantly, our high tech culture has made incoming phone calls a “nuisance’ to many people.  if you are on the dialing end of the phone call, a voicemail or text, instead of an answer, tells you that you just might be bothering someone.  If you call me, I try to make you the most important person in the world.

You ARE the most important person in the world because you are the one paying my bills.  So call me at 858-777-9751

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Real Estate Auctions: Not Just For Foreclosures Anymore

Two years ago, I started paying MLS, NAR, CA, and SDAR dues.  Since my wife Debra was taking on more of the lending responsibilities, I spent the bulk of my time working with the real estate agents.  Having MLS access allowed me to hold broker opens for my agents, hold open houses for their listings, and act as a de facto “buyer’s agent” for them when they were out of town.

I had a few “orphan” clients and, in the past 30 months,  I represented about a dozen buyers and listed and sold two properties as a real estate agent.  It’s not something I love but understanding the brokerage side of the business enhanced our knowledge as lenders.  We understand contracts, deadlines, contingencies, and conversations with our agent clients better.  Throwing mom and dad in the station wagon, showing homes, writing offers, meeting property inspectors, negotiating repairs, and closing deals has made us better lenders so I’m grateful for the experience.

Eight years ago, a local hedge fund type started an online real estate auction site.  I wrote about it here and was tangentially involved but it never really took off.  I think it was more because of the online component and less of the auction component.  Generally speaking, when tech types and hedge fund guys try to disinternediate the local brokerage, they lose.  Greg wrote about the next flop yesterday.

I have always been intrigued with auctions so it shouldn’t surprise you that I have followed Harcourts, the New Zealand real estate brokerage’s entry into the Southern California market.  Harcourts has been holding non-distressed auctions for two years now with tepid results.  I had a few thoughts about why its results are mediocre so I started to form a new firm; California House Auctions.

We are a vendor.  We have an exclusive agreement with one of the top auctioneers in California.  He’s held over 600 auctions in the past thirty years and is well known in the community.  We’ll be helping ANY real estate brokerage to sell their (non-distressed) listing through a live auction.  We’ll charge a fee for each successful auction (paid at close of escrow to a licensed real estate brokerage).

I am still slogging through some legal and licensing stuff but we should hold our first auction later this month.

That’s my latest scheme and I hope to get your input as we progress.  We think this could be a great way to sell non-distressed properties and we think the live auction on the front lawn will help our brokerage clients earn more listings from the neighbors.

I’m thrilled we kickstarted RE.net2.0 and can’t wait to see what all of you have been doing these past five years

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My ideal closing date is always yesterday: The perfect real estate listing in the reckless teenage years of the new millenium.

On Facebook of late I’ve written about the idea of the perfect offer – the sum total purchase contract package most likely to win the de facto auction I am holding for my real estate listing.

We’ll talk about this in some detail, in due course, but for now the decision matrix for the ideal offer is obvious:

Highest safest soonest closable net return.

The price is the price, and you can lose me fast by dicking around. List or better? I like cash now, financed fast and FHA almost never. We’ll discount your offer for the time-value-of-money, obviously, but also for the closing-risk entailed by every new dawning day. My ideal closing date is always yesterday.

The corollary of the perfect offer is the perfect listing, and that’s an elusive prey. What we want is a marketing presentation – home, listing, photos, collateral – that cannot not elicit avid offers.

I list almost never lately, mostly repeats and referrals, which for me means a lot of investors. My sellers can be tight with a buck, but they’re rational. That matters, because a perfect listing wants a near-perfect house.

How near-perfect? FHA/VA-able, obviously, but I want more than that: Turn-key livable from Day One, with upgrades and spruce-ups as needed, cleaned to mother-in-law perfection and staged to charm. I want to be indubitably appraisal- and inspection-prepped, but more than that I want to be better than my competition – by a lot.

I don’t have to be luxurious or dramatic, just two or three cuts above everything else my potential buyers are seeing. For the same money or a little more, my house is your new home – and everything else is a work-in-progress.

We list just after midnight on Friday morning, this to maximize the marketing benefit of the Days on Market tally but also to maximize buyer frenzy: We offer up the scratch when we know buyers will be itching. My listing should be referenced in many, many “We must see this Saturday” emails.

The listing price? My best guess of the full appraisal value on the day of listing – no discounts, no testing-the-market, just what the home is actually worth in fair-market-value terms. Every good agent will know I’m right – and accordingly will know not to dick around.

But then what’s the point of being FHA/VA-able, since closing-costs offers are likely to fail? To drive up the numbers on the all-cash and conventional offers, for one thing. And who knows? Maybe the appraiser will find the number he’s looking for, should we end up taking an offer with costs coming back.

My baseline assumption is that a listing like this should produce multiple full-price-or-better offers within the first ten days on market, ideally within the first three days. I’m not always right, but when I am, I’m a market-maker: My all-cash deals make nearby financed purchases more appraisable.

There’s nothing like a seller’s market, I know only too well. But even when it’s easy to make deals, going the extra mile goes miles and miles in extra money for the seller.

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