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Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Unless you’ve been on a TV/media blackout, you’ve seen the recent Real Estate commercials offering “Ratings” and “Report Cards” on Real Estate Agent’s client satisfaction, productivity and knowledge.  Some of them even offer to refer you to an agent who “Does the most business in your neighborhood”; you know which ones I am talking about; they rate local real estate agents and show you how agents “compare” to other local agents based on negotiation skills, local knowledge; etc.

Have you ever stopped and considered how those companies find the Agents to rate?  It seems simple, and needed, right? A grading system which pre-screens Real Estate Agents; perfect! You would think so; but things are not always as they seem.

As the consumer (looking for a great agent), you diligently enter all the information about your home, your needs and (of course) your contact information.  The ‘names withheld to protect the guilty’ website shows local agents and each respective agent’s ‘Report Card’.  Presto – Bango!  A list of the “best” agents shows up.

Here’s what you don’t think about: where did the agents on that list come from? What is the actual rating scale? How many agents did they compare? Is this even real? Or are those agents paying for that report card?

The fact is, every agent who subscribes to those services, are paying to be there.  They are paying up to 40% of the commission (commission from selling your house) to the website for being listed on the site as “qualified”.  Yes, I said that right. Disguising as providing a customer service, these companies are just lead generation sources in which agents pay to play. The main criteria for being listed as “Qualified” is to pay them.

In fact, such websites have inserted themselves into the process of consumers locating brokers simply to be able to charge a middleman markup fee.  You, the consumer, don’t see it; but it is there…paid by the endorsed agent.  I once heard a wise and thought-provoking statement: “If you are not paying for the service; it’s because you are the product.”  Perfect description in this situation.

The bottom line is this: Don’t believe everything you see on TV, sometimes there is way more under the surface; and not necessarily in your best interest.

When you need a real estate broker, do your due diligence.  Ask your friends or colleagues for referrals, read actual client reviews, and meet an agent in person. The next time you see an ad for “the most qualified Agent” think to yourself, “I wonder how they are getting paid?”.

Here is a link to my reviews, written by actual clients who wanted to share their experience with me as their agent:  https://www.zillow.com/profile/Christen-Cripe/#reviews.  Call me anytime if you have questions or would like to chat.

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The #1 thing that sellers can do to sell their house!

The #1 thing that sellers can do to sell their house!

I am asked many questions during listing appointments and I always answer questions with direct honesty. Sometimes my honesty is surprising.  During one recent listing appointment, the seller asked me, “What is the most effective way to get an offer on a listing?”  He was not expecting the answer I gave him.  Point blank, without hesitation, my answer was; “Get a second buyer who wants it more than the first.”  His mouth dropped open; he’d never thought of selling a house in that way.

As a seller, if you are reading this, you’ve probably already read one of the many articles on what you must do to sell your house.  As a seller you should have only one objective:  MAKE MORE THAN ONE BUYER WANT IT!

The fastest and easiest way to attract more than one buyer is through pricing.  Some sellers (and maybe you are one of them) can’t complete all those ‘Must-Do’s’.  Maybe you don’t have available funds for a new roof.  Perhaps you’re selling a house as-is because you inherited it.  There are many reasons for not checking everything off the list.  Luckily, there is one factor of the listing that you absolutely control; the price.  If the house hasn’t been updated, and still has 1970’s shag carpet; adjust the price.  Adjust it so that more than one buyer wants it.

I am not advocating for throwing the ‘Must-Do’ list out of the freshly cleaned window.  Look at the list and complete as many as you possibly can; those things will make your house more desirable.  If you can’t do them all, don’t beat yourself up.  Call me so we can prioritize what you can do and discuss a price which would be compelling in the current market.

After you’ve done what you can, and we’ve determined the price of the house; put the house on the market.  Those compelled buyers will come…with offers.  Two compelled buyers may even bid the price up higher than you expect.  Let this process happen naturally and you will reap the benefits in both time and money.

Buyers move faster with a compelling price.  The Puget Sound real estate market is cooling and simply being competitive in the market isn’t enough right now.

What are you doing to compel them?

-Christen Cripe

The #1 thing sellers can do to sell their house.

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Are Zestimates Accurate? Finally an answer from Zillow.

When I read this story, I have to admit, I secretly giggled to myself.  Clients ask me all the time, “Are Zestimates accurate?”  My typical response over the years has been along the lines of; “you know that they calculate values using an algorithm based on population density, radius distance, and lots of additional data points, right?” (wink wink)

Zillow is both a Realtor’s best friend and worst enemy all at the same time.

When I am preparing for a listing presentation, I always look at the Zestimate.  While I give the Zestimate zero consideration in my pricing recommendations, it is a great way to prepare a seller for what the buyers are looking at.  I love when the Zestimate is way too high.  Why?  When my listing comes to the market with an accurate list price, it will look like a ‘Hot Home’ to all the buyers perusing Zillow’s site.  However, when the Zestimate is way too low, listing appears significantly overpriced (although accurate).

Within the Real Estate industry, the fact Zestimates are not accurate is common knowledge.  In this article “Zillow admitted in 2017 that it’s Zestimates are generally off by $40,000 when considering the ‘typical single-family home sold in Seattle’.”  What?  $40,000?  I can’t imagine going into a listing appointment and telling a seller I could be $40,000 off “give or take”.  Sellers would never trust me with another listing.

After reading this article, I’ve decided that I will update my response when clients ask me about Zillow’s accuracy.  From now on, my answer will be, “according to Zillow, they are generally off by $40,000”.  This is a much more succinct answer. Zillow themselves answered my question.

Thank you Zillow!

Read the article in full here: Zillow Overestimates Seattle Home By 700% 

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A Booming Market without the Bubble?

Are we in an ominous real estate bubble?

As a professional real estate broker, I am continuously asked questions by both sellers and buyers.  The question coming up most recently is this: “Are we in a real estate bubble and is it going to burst again?”.  For the last two years, the Real Estate market within the Puget Sound has been on a streak and homeowners as a whole want to know where they stand.

So, are we in a bubble within the Puget Sound?  Nationally?  The Mortgage Professional of America (MPA) doesn’t think so.   Here is a link to a recent article published on their website:  https://www.mpamag.com/market-update/housing-boom-is-back—-but-without-the-bubble-84804.aspx

Home selling and buying will always exist.  Housing (shelter) is a fundamental need for humanity.  As long as babies are born, people get married, people get divorced and people pass away; the need for real estate to be purchased and sold will continue.  If you are expecting a baby, does it matter if a bubble bursts?  Probably not.  It’s likely more important to have security and a home for your new bundle of joy.  If you own that home long enough, it will appreciate; it did yesterday, it will tomorrow. In the long term, Real Estate is a safe investment no matter what it’s short term ups and downs.

If you are worried about the need to strategically make a move based on the potential of a future bubble (or it’s potential burst), you might rethink that strategy.  If you need to sell your home; sell it.  If you need to buy a home because your needs have changed; buy one.  If you are waiting for the market conditions to be perfect either way, you may be waiting a long time; there really is never a “perfect”.

If you are considering making a change; make a clear decision about your direction, take a deep breath; and move to action.