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What Happens When A Listing Agent Tells A Seller What He Think He Wants To Hear Instead of Needs to Hear

Earlier this year, I got a call from a frustrated seller. He had just decided to fire his listing agent and had been referred to me.

“I don’t want to make the same mistake I made when I hired my first agent,” he said. “So, would you be willing to meet with me to see my condo, tell me what you think it’s worth and let me know how you would market it?”

Overpriced + Pre-sale Purchase 7 years ago = “Uh Oh”…

I agreed to meet him the following day because of the seasonal market’s time sensitivity and my desire to get the property on the market asap, if selected to work with him. I warned him that I wouldn’t have time to do a lot of research before our meeting. I pulled the listing history and tax records, and I didn’t like the math…nor the methods.

It Was A Crescendo Of Agent Ineptitude:

Perhaps the previous agent was “nostalgic” or simply “lost track of time”, but he decided to price the unit at it’s original (pre-sale) purchaser price, which went back to early 2006. Needless to say, by the time I came into the picture, it had been on the market for a while…you know the drill.

When Ineptitude Flirts With Negligence:

As was clear in the listing history (but I had hoped was a mistake), the listing “agent” initially “marketed” (terms used here extremely loosely) his property for almost $100k more than the owner had paid for it at the height of the market!! No upgrades, nor additions after the original purchase….I still can’t even begin to fathom where that number came from :-( .

The sad truth was obvious. The seller lived in a penthouse unit in an area of the close-in DC suburbs where many condos were in short sale or foreclosure situations. And this development was no different.

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on December 28th, 2011 under HomeGain

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Niche Development: If You Build It, They Will Come

What has 2700 to 3500 sq. ft of one-story living, at least 2 bedrooms+, at least 2.5 baths, upscale finishes, 2-car garage parking, and a balcony or terrace for outdoor living?

If you live in Bethesda, Maryland…the answer is “nothing”….at least nothing currently available to purchase…and just a few lucky owners are living in the limited number of units that fit this description.

Despite a crying need for luxury “empty nestor” pads in walkable communities, developers in downtown Bethesda Maryland (an urban village in the close-in DC suburbs) don’t seem to get it.

Most condo buildings may have a couple of these high end units, but the majority of the development is devoted to 1 and 2 BR units with a square footage that tends to max out at about 1200-1400 sq. feet.

And the requirement for a “balcony or terrace for outdoor living”? Nope! Developers haven’t gotten the point. You CAN sell outdoor space. Even if it doesn’t “count” as finished square footage of the unit. Continue reading this post

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on October 2nd, 2010 under Guest Bloggers, Regional

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National Open House Weekend – Promotion At Its Worst?

The weekend before last, (April 10-11) was National Open House weekend.  Pushed by local Realtor associations and brokerages, this was to be an all out assault meant to encourage home buyers to take advantage of current low interest rates, high inventory (in some areas) and the federal tax credits (only good for contract through the end of April).

open-house-festBut was it a good idea?  And did it work?

In the Washington Metropolitan area, I will go with an unequivocal no…and no.

We are fortunate to be in a market that is clearly recovering.  As an indication, lenders are giving many “close-in” DC neighborhoods the stamp of “stable” — up a notch from the previous designation of “declining”.  We have been seeing the return of multiple offers on properties that are well priced in many localities.

Artificially Producing A “Fire-sale Perception”?

So what did National Open House weekend do for us in the close-in DC Metro area?  Well, it surely made many employees at The Washington Post happy, where open house ads took up more space than we’ve seen in over a year.  The result?  A perception of a higher absorption rate that diluted the number of potential buyers going to each open house.

The “Open HouseFest” vs. The “After Party”

One of my sellers REALLY wanted me to hold his house open last weekend because he thought that his garden was looking particularly beautiful.  He owns a home in a highly desirable area of Northwest Washington, DC and the house itself has tremendous curb appeal. Continue reading this post

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on April 20th, 2010 under Real Estate Events

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Holiday Season Helps in Home Sales?

It’s Friday evening and there’s a dusting of snow on the ground in Bethesda. The Washington, DC area is supposed to get up to 20 inches over the next 24 to 36 hours, which would be a record snowfall.  I’ve already canceled the 4 showings in Virginia for tomorrow.  Most were new houses and — even if we could safely get there –  no osnowmanne was willing to promise that driveways and walkways would be shoveled or plowed.

I’m hoping that the roads will be clear enough so that I can get out for the two scheduled showings that I have on Sunday.  The tenacity of many buyers here — despite the elements — reminds me how and why the holiday season can be a fruitful time for home sales.

Motivated Anyone?….

Home buyers who are asking to see homes in the last couple weeks of December with 2 feet of snow on the ground, aren’t going out for “fun” — unless they’re skiing from house to house in Vail or Beaver Creek :-)

In DC and much of the country?  Very few are going to be taking the roads for information gathering.  No, the majority of holiday buyers (at least in my experience) have done their research, and are “pushing on” because they need to buy a home.

And for those who don’t have to brave the elements this time of year (Sarasota, Florida, Austin, Texas…), there are still other commitments of the season.  And those who need/want to sacrifice some of this time are equally committed to the process.

Where Did The Sellers Go? Continue reading this post

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on December 22nd, 2009 under Buying or Selling a Home

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One D.C. Condo, Two Appraisals & a $200,000 Difference?

All of us are fully aware of the recent changes in the appraisal industry.  Another victim of yesterday’s market, there is now a “hands off” message that lenders take very seriously.

home-value-appraisalWhat I have observed is that the bigger the lender, the more distance that exists between loan officers and appraisers.

For instance, it’s my understanding that Bank of America uses a third party company to set up appraisers…whereas some of the more local lenders are able to “select” a pool of local appraisers thru whom they can rotate business.

As a listing agent, I have found that my input in this new climate is crucial.  My job is not to influence, but to educate.

In a couple of instances, I have opened the door for appraisers who were clearly outside of their geographical comfort zone and the information and comps I have provided were important in verifying a clear market value.

A recent experience clearly confirmed the need for listing agents to meet with appraisers.  The names, location, and exact pricing have been changed to protect the innocent…but, otherwise, this is a 100% true story.

In September, I received an offer on a condo that was listed for $1.45 million in Georgetown (three cheers for Georgetown, right? But that’s another story of market holding strong).  After a round of negotiation, the seller accepted an offer for $1.375 million.  The lender for the buyer was a large, national company.

Although I asked the buyer’s agent to let me know when the appraisal was scheduled, the lender did not  keep either of us in the loop (perhaps he couldn’t…because he, too, was not in the loop) and, because the building had a concierge, the appraiser did his on site inspection without giving me notice. Continue reading this post

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on October 30th, 2009 under Market Trends, Regional

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A Tale of a Refinance That Almost Wasn’t…

So, we’ve all been reading about the changes that have occurred…and continue to occur…in the lending industry as a result of the backlash caused by subprime/no money down loans.

market-recovery-challenges-bridgeThe process of getting a loan has become more and more complex and lenders will tell you that every day brings a new regulation (or two…or three…or more) that puts obstacles in the way of approving loans.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think the industry needed to change…but the pendulum has obviously swung much too far.

This hit home last week when I heard from past clients/friends who were trying to refinance their current loan.

Here’s the story:

This couple (let’s call them The Jones’), with a combined income of over $300,000 a year, impressive credit scores, no ongoing debt except for their current mortgage and current liquid savings of abut $800,000 had applied to refinance their $700,000 mortgage.

The Jones’ filled out all the required paperwork, supplied two years of tax returns and provided a check for the appraisal and application fee.  The lender/investor said that there was only one appraiser who was acceptable to them and, since that appraiser was only available on a date when the homeowners were going to be out of town, the Jones’ made special arrangements for a friend to meet him.

And then they waited….for over three weeks for the appraiser to come up with a value on the property. Continue reading this post

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Posted by: Kevin Koitz on September 17th, 2009 under Financing, Mortgage and Home Loans

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