Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I am absolutely amazed at some homes that I show!

I’ve sold over a thousand homes since I started in real estate back in 1988, and you know, I’m still totally surprised at what people are thinking when they put their home on the market.

Case in point. Not long ago I showed a home and the condition was listed as “updated” in our mls. No other details were forthcoming, but the buyer liked the exterior and at least was interested enough to want to see it. Once we arrived we noticed immediately that the home needed a new roof, so I guess that wasn’t the “updated” that they were referring to. Undaunted, we entered the property and found golf clubs in the foyer, lots of shoes, coats, and a full trash bag waiting to be taken out, and a sign that asked us to take off our shoes. Ok… ??

So we complied and started our tour. The d├ęcor was “early cluttered”, with accents of piled magazines and a dead plant in the living room. The dining room was empty, but the chair rails had seen good use over the years, and the carpet showed a definite path from the kitchen, through the dining room and living room to the front staircase, and no updating.

Now, I may be picky here, but the kitchen hadn’t seen a scrub brush in decades. There was a dirty grease build up in what seemed like every nook and cranny, and a stove that hadn’t been cleaned since it was purchased, and still no updates.

The family room was actually presentable, with one sofa and the obligatory Wii game console on the television stand and a folded blanket. Not bad here. At least there wasn’t a pathway, and the hardwood floors, wait, I mean Pergo floors looked almost new. Could it be?? Yes that was the “upgrade”, obviously installed by the homeowner after a class at their big box lumber store. Yes Sir, it was an amazing sight to behold. So we saw it. An “upgrade”. Just one, but at least it was an upgrade, not a professional job, but… Cool… But not cool enough to make us go any further.

This was really a waste of time if I had ever seen one. My buyers were laughing uncontrollably at the thought that the seller actually allowed people to see their mess, and they even hinted at that they should have a scoring system in place at the door so when we left we could leave a scoring sheet from one to ten rating their performance. You know, the same sort of system seen on “Dancing with the Stars” where each contestant gets their comments and a scoring paddle.

Personally, I think the agent should have given them the lecture that homes need to be maintained properly and they should be kept “CLEAN” for showings, and if a home is in need of dire repairs, it should be so stated in the listing. After all, not all buyers are willing to purchase a fix-up. That’s what short sale and foreclosure homes are for. Enough said. – Fauna MacKillip

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Downside of Short Sales and Foreclosures

Face it… Everyone wants a deal and when you are purchasing a new home, there is the perception of getting a really screaming deal if you can snag a short sale, or even a foreclosure. I understand the thought process here and I’ve had several really good deals close over the past year that have been short sales, but unfortunately, I have seen the reality of these deals too, and most of the time you have to be really cautious about how you approach the transaction.

In the past 6 months I’ve had three very interesting transactions that involved short sales vaporize after spending as much as 9 months leaving the buyers high and dry having to start all over looking at homes. I’m not going to bore you with a blow by blow description of the process, but I will tell you that each of these sales blew up because of an unforeseen circumstance that affected the sale. Two of the deals fell apart because the properties were flooded when pipes broke, even though the properties were winterized, and the third deal fell apart because of an administrative error on the part of the lender that allowed the property to slip into foreclosure at the last minute, leaving the buyers to find new properties after waiting for their “deal” to happen.

They endured months of camping out in rental properties while living out of boxes and suitcases and still had to turn to the retail housing market to find their replacement homes. In each case here, the buyers found a better home, at a really good price and were able to close their transaction without incident. Why? Because the homes were occupied by sellers that were motivated to sell their homes and were there to take care of business.

There is no real moral to this story, except that every day there are deals to be had in both the resale, and the distressed property markets. The reality of the sale is determined by what the market is doing on any given day. Supplies of resale homes reaching the market have stabilized leaving much better values to be found, and lenders, with all of their built in bureaucracy, are not giving the deals that they were back when they were over supplied with homes and new policies have slowed the flow of distressed homes reaching the market, once again adding stability.

My professional opinion of the current market is simple. If you are set on trying to get a distressed property, you must be prepared to change course at a moment’s notice, and have your bags packed for a long process to get your deal closed. On the other hand, I think the best values right now are found in the resale market because these people are motivated, and their homes are not tied up in the bureaucratic process. Deals can be found anywhere, but you really have to do your homework and be prepared to change course. Remember, for every house you like, there will be homework involved to make sure it is the “right” one for you.

As a professional Realtor®, I’m here to help you with your real estate needs. If you find this article helpful, and you would like more information, please give me a call at 303-798-8700.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to find out if a real estate agent is really a secret agent!

How do you find out if a real estate agent you are considering to help you with your real estate needs is actually doing something? I have an answer… “Google” them. That’s right… use Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to do a search for their name. What pops up may just surprise you.
If an agent is doing any kind of marketing for themselves, or preferably, for the homes they are selling, they will show up. In fact, if they are doing anything at all they will show up multiple times. Why is this important? If they aren’t out there on the internet, they might just be a secret agent. Face it, if they haven’t done anything to promote other properties, or even themselves, why would they do anything to sell your property?
Selling real estate in today’s market is hard. You have to compete with thousands of homes out there. In fact, just being on the local mls service isn’t even close to being enough.
In the statistics that I keep, my local mls service only provides 7-8% of the total traffic to the property, while internet traffic supports virtually everything else, or the remaining 90+%.
The internet sells homes! People go there to look for homes because they want to see virtual tours, movies of the property, lots of pictures, and any websites for the property that have been created. All of that content is reachable just by searching. That’s why searching the agent’s name is so very important. Every time an agent puts a property, their website, marketing videos, blog articles, or newspaper interviews on the internet, a trail has been created. You will be able to see if they are actually doing anything out there. If you don’t find very much content on them, chances are that they are not doing any kind of marketing. So, search their name, and then search mine.
If you do a search of my name “Fauna MacKillip”, you will see over a dozen pages of websites and other content show up on any of the main search engines. My blogs will be there, my personal websites, and all of the listings that are available for sale, and even some homes that have been sold. In addition, you will see my YouTube.com videos, and all of my home value and home search sites. You might say that I take an active approach to selling your home.
Hey… I do all this marketing, because I want to be where the buyers are! Trust me, buyers are out there looking, and if the agent you are considering to sell your home isn’t where the buyers are, they might just be one of those secret agents that I referred to.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I believe in a full marketing approach to selling real estate

It always amazes me that real estate agents don’t, or won’t, put up really great photography to help sell their listings. Face it, most people may not ask their agent what they are going to provide to help sell their listing. Even worse, those sellers will allow these agents to get away with little, or no marketing what-so-ever!
Then there is the agent that goes out and buys a crummy consumer grade camera to take the pictures of the home themselves, don’t do any virtual tours or movies, and then use the excuse that virtual tours, movies, and good photography don’t help the sale process. Wrong!
I don’t care what their excuse’s are, professional photography, virtual tours, movies and a professional presentation have helped me maintain a very strong sales record. After all, I’m sure you want your property to stand out from all the others when you are trying to sell. With the pictures I use… there is no question that you will look beautiful.
I know the photographers at Digital Magic Productions, Inc. are the experts I need to bring your property to “life”. They have the experience, and take the time to make sure the shots are as perfect as possible. They also developed the platform at ProHomeSites.com to finish out the presentation. After all, once you have the great pictures, you need a great website to post them on.
Every home I list gets the full treatment. I don’t skimp on anything that is going to make your home be seen by every possible buyer that I can find. I even syndicate your home to literally thousands of websites, not just the few large sites out there. Sites like, Zillow, Truilia, Realtor.com and such only have so much of the market. Believe it or not, I’ve been averaging over 30% of the traffic to my homes from just marketing the address of the property on a domain name. It works!
Whatever, their reasoning, agents that don’t do everything possible to market your home are not doing you a service. Just having a listing in mls isn’t enough anymore.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Video from Fauna MacKillip

Here is my latest offering in the world of real estate. I produced this video as a marketing piece to tell people about me and how I can handle their next real estate transaction.

This was really fun to produce. I hope you like it. - Fauna MacKillip

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ok.. I Guess I Don't Get It...

This social networking thing is just for the birds. I’ve tried the Facebook thing and I’ve watched my husband Tweet… but I just don’t get it. I guess blogging is better for me. I can tell my story and not get interrupted by somebody doing Mafia Wars, or having a Food Fight.

I’m just a failure there. I never know what to post, so I do listings and other stuff, but just going there to chat something up seems un-natural to me. I want to be in the thick of things, negotiating the details of a hard fought contract are more my style….. not writing about my vacation. Who has time for vacation when there is business to be done? Hey the first time homebuyer incentives will be going away soon and I still have two couples that are on the fence about homes they are interested in. I’ve got to get them into something!

Not only that, but the next 45 days will be the busiest of the year for me and that takes some preparation. Now that’s more my style! So, you can tell me about your vacation, and I’ll be envious, but my breaks are more of what I do between contracts. - Fauna

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your Home Inventory may be Very Important!

The idea is to have plenty of insurance to make up for any loss that you may occur from a fire, burglary, or just being careless. The problem here is that we all take the idea of having a complete home inventory to back up those claims very casually. Hey… that just means we can be lazy, but if you are ever faced with having a loss, there is no tool more valuable than having a complete, up-to-date, well documented inventory to validate your claim.

The best way to handle an inventory is to have it broken down on a room by room basis. Start by writing down every item that has any value for each room. You want to make sure you record the price you paid for each item, and the item’s current approximate value. You want to be able to compare these prices and to shop your insurance to find out who will give you the best replacement cost should a loss occur.

The main focus needs to be on the items that have some real value. Items that don’t have much value can be recorded, but may not make much of a difference unless a catastrophic loss, such as a fire, occurs. Focusing on the more expensive items makes more sense so you can be fairly thorough in recording serial numbers, make and model of the item listed, and making sure you have the sales receipt copied and kept in a notebook. If you don’t have a receipt, you can use pictures of the items and their price taken at the store, or even on internet sites that sell the items. You may even find the sale on an old credit card statement that you can use as proof.

Another good idea is to have pictures of each item showing the item and the serial number and another general picture of the room showing the items that you inventoried in the room. Still pictures or video will suffice, but most people will do both using the stills for the detail on the items and the video to place them.

Jewelry should always be photographed as a close up still picture. Try to use as much natural light as possible because different types of lighting give off different colors. Incandescent bulbs give off an orange glow, and florescent lights give off more of a green hue, so having as much natural light will enhance the picture. Another idea is to use a camera that can correct for different lighting conditions and will enhance the pictures that you take automatically.

The final goal of the inventory is to make sure that you have enough insurance coverage, but not to be carrying too much, and to have as many of your items covered at replacement value. You might also want to make sure that “replacement value” means replacement with new, like kind, items and not refurbished, or worse yet, used.

One other note… Make sure that you put some sort of personal mark on things like TVs, stereos, and other items where that is possible. These marks can help law enforcement agencies identify your belongings if they are recovered after a theft.

Ok… that’s all I can think of for this topic right now. I’m sure I’ve missed something here, so let me know if I have so I can get your ideas into the next installment on this topic. It is an easy process, and I know that you will feel much better after you get your inventory done. I know I did… Have a Great Day, and let me know if I can help you in any way. - Fauna MacKillip