Sunday, January 29, 2006

Housing Prices – Down, Up, or In Between?

A couple of weeks ago, Janis Mara of Inman News wrote that the risk of housing prices going down is increasing. Inman is a leading source of real estate news, and Janis is always on top of the latest trends. Her article was based on a study by PMI Mortgage Company that some of the largest real estate markets in the country face a 50% or better risk of prices going down.

Janis and I talked about this, and I don’t actually agree – at least not for the Baltimore area. As I told her in my blog comment, I see prices leveling off. They are not going up like they were, and more properties are coming on the market. But there still is not too much inventory so houses do not sit on the market for a long time. I’m finding properties selling nicely although there are no bidding wars as there used to be. I still see it as a seller’s market but with better opportunity for young buyers to find their first home.

The Baltimore area benefits from being close to Washington, D.C. and all the government-related activity. Even if prices elsewhere go down, this area will probably stay level or even go up over the next few years. Thousands of families will be moving here as military bases are realigned and people follow the defense-related jobs.

Real estate is still a great investment.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

That's me - Type E

That’s right, I’m a Type E and proud of it. In fact, when I finally understood about Type E, I felt so relieved after years of thinking there was something seriously wrong with me.

A few years ago I attended a session on Type E and still remember the emotional impact. It was as if a window was thrown open that let in sunshine and a fresh breeze, bird songs and the scent of new mown grass, all the delights of spring and a new start. My crazy way of living turned out to be not only OK, but a blessing. Now when I look up and see the whirlwind of my life, I know that’s my normal and it’s just fine.

Intrigued? Thought you might be. Start with this article in Broker Agent News. Then let me know how you score and we’ll get a good E-conversation going.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Who says I don't have time to blog?

The CyberStars ® Summit was exciting in so many ways – meeting other CyberStars, sharing tips – and for me, blogging. Right there, while I was charging up on the energy in San Antonio, my new blog appeared in cyberspace. And all I had to say was, “I need it now!”

I found a way to outsource my blog. In fact, I did it at the Summit. Between chatting and taking notes, I was sending ideas and photos to my blogger and watching them appear on my blog in minutes. My thoughts, in words I would use – but words I did not have to write – what could be better?

There are several techno-savvy CyberStars who are generous with their time and knowledge, helping others to start blogging. But I’m already too busy doing what I do best – listing and selling real estate – to spend time on the nitty gritty. What I do need is the presence in the blogosphere. What I don’t need is the aggravation or distraction from my real work. And now I have the solution.

My secret is I Blog For You. Peg Silloway is the very talented, creative, and responsive writer who made my blog a reality. I saved hours by having her create my blog, and I’m saving more hours every day by having her update it with new links, photos, and posts on a regular schedule. Peg does the work, I get the publicity and activity, and we’re both ahead.

If you’ve been looking for a way to get into blogging but don’t have the time, I Blog For You could be your answer, too.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dress your home for success

You’ve decided to sell your beloved home, you’ve chosen a top agent and set a healthy price. Now it’s time to open your home to potential buyers. Of course you want it to look its best…but how?

Dressing for success is not just for people. With a little thought and planning, your home can be warm, light, and inviting no matter how much mismatched furniture and clutter you live with now. You’ve heard the saying “Less is more,” and that is especially true when preparing your home for market.

Start with knowing that you probably have too much in all your rooms. Whether you have a massive yard sale, donate to charity, or simply rent a storage locker for a few months, you will need to clear out furniture and accessories so that your rooms look as large and inviting as possible.

Once you’ve reduced room contents to a minimum, look at what’s left and think about how you can rearrange or replace items for maximum effect. Not good at interior design? Let your realtor help – after all, we have lots of experience showing houses to their best advantage.

Not long ago I helped “stage” a house and wow, did it make a difference! We treated it like a set for a play or TV show, placing each piece to best advantage. We painted walls and ceiling to open up the rooms with light colors. We haunted discount stores and Goodwill for accent pieces to spark up rooms and add character without breaking the budget. And when we were done, the owners joked that the house looked so nice they might not sell it after all! But by then it was too late – they had several terrific offers to choose from.

Make a little investment at the beginning and get a lot back – now that’s success!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In the company of Stars

It’s the third day of the most exciting, energizing, and just plain fun conference ever. Here in San Antonio, about 130 of the best real estate agents have been attending The Allen F. Hainge CyberStar® Summit. This annual networking and idea sharing conference is open by invitation only to top agents from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and Australia. Just think...there are 1,500,000 real estate agents, but only 200 CyberStars in the entire world.

I’m surrounded by the best in real estate – talk about high energy! I share with them, they share with me, and we all translate our newfound knowledge into increased services for our clients. When I did a presentation on the “MyBuyers4YourHome” web page, their reaction was overwhelming. I have learned so much, and can’t wait to get home to Baltimore and put the lessons into action.

As if all that weren’t enough, the CyberStars honored me with the Humanitarian of the Year award. Needless to say, I’m floating several inches above the convention floor.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Real estate commissions – you get what you pay for!

One of the first questions that comes up when I meet with potential listing clients is commission rate. There’s a rampant belief that getting an agent to agree to a lower commission is always good for the seller. Why agree to a full service commission if you can talk them down to a lower commission? After all, if the agent gets less, that means the seller gets more, right? Not necessarily!

What does a seller really want? To sell their house for the best possible price and keep as much of the sales price as possible. That’s obvious. But how do you get the best possible price? By getting as many agents as possible to show and promote your house. And what makes an agent want to show your house? A fair commission. So, if you were an agent and one listing promised you a higher commission, and another promised substantially less, which one would you take your buyers to? Right – the one with the higher commission.

That makes sense for the realtor, but what about the seller? Here’s a true story that says it all:

A client of mine decided to sell his home, a classic FSBO. His wife wanted me as their agent, but he was determined to do it on his own. Not surprisingly, nothing happened. Realtors have only so much time to show potential buyers the available houses, and they aren’t going to send someone to a for-sale-by-owner that has no commission attached.

After a while with no action, husband decided to take on an agent, a low cost one. He bargained hard and got a rock-bottom commission rate. And again, nothing happened…no sign, no advertising, no calls, and no showings. Finally, as their anniversary approached, his wife put her foot down. For her anniversary gift she wanted just one thing: “I want to sell my home with Margaret Rome.” Reluctantly, he agreed.

And then things started to happen. We talked about what they wanted to net out of the property, then we listed it at a price higher than the low cost agent had, with a full service commission. Within the very first week, we had a full-price contract. The house that wouldn’t sell as a FSBO or as a reduced service commission suddenly became attractive to other real estate agents and the buyers they brought with them.

Like they say, you really do get what you pay for!