Monday, September 29, 2008

Which Group Shall I Put You In? Are you an A or a B Client?

The ultimate goal of most REALTORS is to have a referral based business; one where clients come to you by word of mouth, and you are able to run a successful business just by answering the phone and getting fabulous clients. I'm on my way there, as 78% of my business this year came from past clients or referrals. It's a fabulous way to work, and I thank each and every one of my past clients who were so kind as to entrust me with their family and friends.

There are many training programs for REALTORS that focus on getting referrals from past clients. rbc3_06

Wanna know how?

By begging for them. By calling people up with thinly veiled "Oh by the way, do you know anyone who might be buying or selling real estate?"

There was a rather extensive article in a trade magazine, which actually encouraged agents to group their friends, family, and past clients into Groups A and B. They go on to tell you to treat everyone you know as a Group A for one year. No referrals from you in that time? Well, then, you get demoted to Group B. I guess then you only get four "Oh by the way" calls each year, rather than the thrill of getting one each month.

Let me tell you why I think MY business is mainly referral based:

I do a good job. I work hard (and smart). I care about my clients. I care about you when you hire me, I care about you as we go through the process, and I care about you after the deal closes. (And I care even if you don't send any referrals my way).

I would never disrespect a client so much as to group them by their worthiness of my attention, based on how much business they feed me.

Yet, amazingly, I'm still running a referral based business.

No grouping necessary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'Tis the Season - to buy a fix and flip investment!

73470 As our market dies down for the winter, now is the best time to start thinking about picking up a fix and flip investment property.

The general inactivity of the market creates a situation for very motivated sellers, particularly for vacant properties. Few people want to pay to heat a home all winter with today's oil prices. Additionally, the general fall-off of Buyers means a greater negotiating power for those who are ready, willing, and able to purchase.

The timeline for a winter purchase works out especially well for a fix and flip. Motivated Sellers are looking to unload their property before the holidays to free up some cash, and to dodge the oil heat bullet. If you settle in mid - December, and figure an eight week turnaround on the repairs, your rehab will be hitting the market mid-February. Our selling season ramps up in March/April.

Also, contractors are generally slow during the holidays, and you may be able to negotiate better pricing on the work you have done to the home.

This time of the year is a great meeting of motivated sellers, timing the market, and economic factors that make it a good time to purchase a fix and flip. Want to see some "possibilities?" Shoot me an email. I've got my eye on a few!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Don't Confuse Acreage with Privacy

Lookout_l I was out the other day with my super-fabulous clients, Jim and Kelly. We were checking out houses and started to talk about how acreage does not equal privacy.

When my husband and I were looking for our first home, I had strict guidelines about what I would look at. Nothing less than an acre. Period. In my mind, an acre = privacy. It was an acre, how could anyone see you in all that land? (I grew up in Levittown, so an acre sounded like a ranch to me). What I really wanted, though, was a private lot. I didn't want anyone living behind me. I wanted a treed property line. I wanted secluded privacy. Because I was focused on the wrong thing, my agent fruitlessly showed us home after home, with no chance of making us ( happy. I finally "got it" and loosened my standards a bit, and was better able to articulate what I wanted.

On my home shopping trip with Jim and Kelly the other night, we saw 5 houses. One had a huge lot. The bulk of the property was located to the side of the home, which was a corner lot. Here's a picture of the yard. Note that the corner of the front of the home is in the right corner of the picture, and if you look closely, you'll see the street outlining the yard:


Although this home had a smaller property, you'll see the difference in the yards immediately:


If you're really looking for a private back yard, make sure you don't lose focus by concentrating on acreage.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hey Ma! Look what I can do!

rbrb_1892 I took a webinar today on some seriously cool real estate data software. Exclusive to Prudential Fox & Roach for Bucks County, this software can do all sorts of neat tricks that will help my clients and me navigate the market. I'm really excited to start giving you, my blog readers, some information that will help you understand the real estate market today, and identify trends for moving forward.

As a special little treat, I'm giving you this...

Our median price of sold homes (meaning 1/2 of the homes sold for higher, and 1/2 of the homes sold for lower) in Bucks County has RISEN 2% over the past two years.


Don't get too excited, since some of the other news isn't so rosy. Months supply of inventory has risen 75% in the past two years. However, in general, I'm finding that the information supports what I've been telling my clients. Most of Bucks County isn't seeing precipitous price fallouts, but rather we're seeing lots of inventory, resulting in longer days on market.

Much more to come as I continue to play with my new toy. Want to see what your local area is doing? Shoot me an email! I'd love to send you some spreadsheets reflecting YOUR real estate reality.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bucks County Buying Season? You bet. Get Serious Now!

46311_tns Here in Bucks County, we do have a Selling "Season."  Take a look at the table below, and you'll find that May, June, July, and August are our strongest months, while November, December, January, and February are our slowest months.  Remember that these are sold properties, and that the properties actually went under agreement prior to the sale date (most likely 30-60 days prior).  So, following this, our heavy selling season ramps up in March/April and peters out again in September/October.

What does this mean if you have your house on the market right now?  It means get real, get aggressive, and get sold!  Now is not the time to be testing the market or clinging to a certain price point.  It's the time to attack the market aggressively before we lose more Buyers to holidays, bad weather, and the general "settling in" of winter time. 

What if you don't have to sell your home right now?  You might want leaves to think about taking it off the market for the winter months, making any repairs that came up as concerns to Buyers who looked at your home, and re-list in the Spring with a fresh perspective. 

Numbers don't lie, and there are fewer properties sold in the winter months.  Good pricing, marketing, and easy showings can give you a fighting chance at grabbing those Buyers who are still looking during this time.

Residential Sales per Month in Bucks County*

  2008 2007 2006
January 325 405 463
February 349 442 396
March 422 573 543
April 469 530 557
May 500 659 753
June 608 820 880
July 580 736 704
August 584 756 752
September   525 558
October   507 554
November   514 542
December   404 512

*Information from TREND, our local Multiple Listing Service. Information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School!

P1010384  Ahhh, Summer. 

Swimming in the pool, day trips to the shore, and lazy afternoons suddenly turn to bored whining, sweaty kids, and fighting siblings mid- August. 

After a rushed two weeks of buying school supplies, getting haircuts, and yelling ... a lot ...we started school today.  My younger son starts Kindergarten, and he finally admitted today, over his bowl of strawberries, "I'm a little nervous, but really excited."

When I met them getting off the bus today at school, I could tell he was still a little nervous, but SO EXCITED.  All the kids were so excited.  Excited by their new backpacks and notebooks, excited to see their friends, excited to see the teachers out front.  It's a beautiful this to watch.

I'm excited too.  I'm excited that our routine will be back in place.  I'm excited for the kids to be with their friends, and to learn from the wonderful teachers at Wrightstown Elementary.  If I can't honestly say I'm excited about sports starting up (they aren't my deal), I can say I'm glad to see the kids involved in them again.

I'm also excited to re-focus on my work.  I've been busy getting the kids ready for school, and haven't been able to blog as frequently as I would like.  I have a  lot of ideas for posts running around in my mind, and I'm excited to get them out there for you to take a look at.  I have some great clients who are really jumping in there.  I'm throwing the idea around of doing another flip project. 

So, it's back to work, kids!

And back to work for this Mom.

I'm excited!