On Wednesday, I received my Coronavirus Booster, met a garage repairrman for a service call, and then promptly put myself to bed for the afternoon to watch "Good Will Hunting" (a fave) and take a nap - something I NEVER do in broad daylight. But truthfully, aside from a very sore left arm, I felt nothing more than slightly light headed as the day progressed. I didn't develop a fever, chills, or anything close to what my husband, Cliff experienced after his third shot. even though I'd expected to. Hmmm, I guess women really are the stronger sex . . .
All kidding aside, I don't regret the afternoon off. Sarah, Jill ,and I have been running full steam ahead since the pandemic hit with little time for a breather.
Between historically low interest rates, MASSIVE buyer demand, and far too little inventory to meet the housing shortage, the pandemic proved to be "The Perfect Storm" for our industry, and more specifically, for our practice (we more than doubled our business last year), but it's also been, at times, incredibly trying.
We're not complaining, mind you. Realtors, as well as Sellers, came out on the winning end of this unexpected pandemic equation, but as prices soared, so did Seller expectations, and meeting those expectations has proven challenging, to say the least. Even when the results were jaw-dropping, Sellers often expected more, and when they didn't get what they wanted, they didn't understand the disparity, or the "why?"
With some time behind us as to what the last 18 months have truly brought, I think it's important to (a) retain some perspective about the real costs of the pandemic to families and businesses that experienced unimaginable loss, and (b) remember that nearly EVERYTHING can be tackled, negotiated, or navigated with good will. Throw good intentions out the window, and you only have to look at Washington D. C. to see the MESS that bestows.
So with "good will" in mind, here's part-2 of the Seller FAQ I published two weeks ago (I'm picking this up in the middle. If you want to see the entire document, click here.)
How will you value our home?
Seasoned Agents understand that we do not set the value of any home; we design a market strategy designed to bring you the highest price with the cleanest terms. The market will ultimately determine the value of any given property. Any agent that guarantees you a price or a result simply isn’t being honest. Our pricing advice and suggestions will be based on sales comps in the neighborhood, on our extensive experience, and in part, on gut instinct. (Pricing is an art, not a science.) It will NOT be based on price per square foot, which may be a starting point, but not the deciding criteria. Price per square foot gives us a baseline only. Depending on your property’s attributes and deficits, the yardstick for value will likely adjust. Although the business of real estate is highly localized, VALUE is based on both macro and micro determinants: location, condition, interest rates, desirability, competition, the health of the stock market, world events, pluses, minuses, etc., etc., etc. In short, value is a moving target.
What’s the most common mistake Sellers make?
Assuming their house is better, more special and worth far more than the prevailing rate. Your house may be all of those things, but if a Buyer doesn’t exercise, a work-out room holds little value. If they don’t appreciate chardonnay, there’s no upside to a “temperature-controlled” wine-tasting cellar. Moreover, 75% of all home buyers in Northern California do NOT want a pool for reasons of liability. In other words, “value propositions” are highly subjective. Don’t assume every dollar you spent on personal lifestyle choices will equate to a higher sales price - no matter how high-end the improvements and renovations, or how much you personally enjoyed the home theater. The market will always decide the value.
Additionally, Sellers often assume that if the first offer is X, the second offer will be Y, or better yet, Z. That’s rarely the way it plays out. Time and again, the first offer IS generally the best. These Buyers tend to want the house more, are often the most committed, have stepped up in good time, and have declared their desire by presenting a well-intentioned purchase agreement. The longer your house sits on the open market, the less desirable it becomes. In contrast to those who step up quickly, bargain hunters will wait out the marketplace. They are hoping your house twists in the wind . . .
Finally, Sellers believe it only takes one qualified Buyer to sell their house. While that is undoubtedly true, it typically requires two or more Buyers to produce a bidding war. In our experience, more Buyers create greater leverage in which to negotiate, and usually, a much higher price as a result. Our goal is to try and capture as many Buyers as possible - not to wait for the needle in the haystack. Needles tend to prick.
What are the best investments to increase our home’s value?
Kitchen and bathroom remodels, primary suites, open floor plans, natural lighting, dual-pane windows, bi-fold/Nano doors, indoor/outdoor living, landscaping, fresh paint, hardwood floors, usable yards, AC, and permitted ADUs. (Please note, remodeling projects over 10 years old may not be considered current, so choose timeless design whenever possible.)
What are some of the worst investments?
Swimming pools, outrageously-expensive fixtures/lighting/finishes/appliances, billiard rooms, elaborate home gyms, bars, and overly-complicated anything.
Will “green technology” increase the value of our home?
Potentially, but depending on how much you spend on green technology, you may not recoup your costs. A Tesla roof is a fantastic selling feature, but it’s not going to translate into significantly more come time to sell than will a composition-shingle roof of the same age, And while everyone likes the idea of solar panels, Buyers may not reimburse you for them. Buyers tend to pay for improvements they can see as opposed to those that provide more comfort. Insulation is advisable but it isn’t sexy. Sexy sells. Green technology will increase the comfort in your home and reduce your energy bills, but it might not increase the overall value of your home (although we hope that changes soon).
What can Sellers do to help achieve a better outcome?
In a perfect world, a Seller would move out, turn over the keys, let go entirely, and move quickly into faith and trust. They would set realistic expectations and negotiate in good faith when an offer arrives. Given that we are only human and that a home carries a great deal of expectations, memories, and touchstones, and that the journey is often fraught with anxiety, we’d ask our Sellers to avoid micro-managing the process, to not judge the work until it’s complete, and to remain open to suggestions. When Sellers stay flexible and coachable as we progress, when they can move forward with good intentions, and when they truly trust the process, the results can be miraculous.
What differentiates your team from other teams?
Sarah, Jill, and I are fully committed to bringing your home to market in its best light and working wholeheartedly and diligently to procure the greatest result. We are NOT a gigantic team that travels with an entourage. We do NOT offload the process to others. We do not act unethically. We do NOT sugar-coat our opinions. We do NOT phone it in. We are not interested in the optics or in smoke and mirrors. We are not “transactional,” AND we are NOT a discount brokerage service.
We ARE highly experienced, dedicated COMPASS professionals who value honesty and integrity, who bring a deep and abiding respect for one another, for our vendors, for your home, and for the struggle to the transaction. We know this market intimately, and have sold hundreds of homes with excellent results. We take pride in the work we do, and we strive to make this a less-stressful time in your lives. Above all, we believe in cultivating laughter and joy along the way.
Does it matter who you work with?
Absolutely! If you believe your house has a finite value, then it wouldn’t matter who you hire, but as houses tend to be unique commodities with widely varying value propositions, maximizing your home’s value has a direct correlation with the representation you choose. Selling a home is an intense, highly charged, and expensive proposition. Therefore, you should select the Agents that you feel will hold you, guide you, advise you, cheer you on, and celebrate your success. In other words, your choice of Agent(s) matters a great deal TO YOU!
How can we help you?
Real Life, Real Solutions, Real Results . . . Real Estate!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 725 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.