Why You Won’t Find Your Dream Home on the Internet

aerial-agriculture-architecture-388830The home you are looking for may never show up on a public website like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, or your favorite real estate site. Over the last several years the public has increasingly become annoyed with searching for houses online. To really “find” your dream home you may need to “phone a friend.”

When I meet with buyers for the first time it is usually because they are tired of searching online. Tired of hearing a “ping” on their phone notifying them that a new house was just listed. Weary, because none of the houses seem to be just right for their needs. “Where are the good houses?” they ask me. By good houses they mean the floor plan, location, and condition that they “know” is out there, somewhere. Isn’t it?

Well, yes, their dream home exists. It is just never available, at least that’s what they are learning after contacting multiple agents online. For example, a house may appear to be available and for sale when, in fact, it may be under contract and not available. In other cases, consumers believe they are contacting the listing agent, when, in fact, their request for more information is sent to several different agents, none of whom represent the seller. The public is confused. Who are they calling? Who is showing me the house? Do I need Buyer representation? How does this work?

What is the answer to this morass? First, to untangle the “mess” of having several agents call and email for days, weeks, and months, it’s best not to click on any links that say “Ask a Question.” Instead, use the “phone a friend” approach. Call one of your friends, ask who they have worked with as a trusted real estate professional. Better yet, if you have a real estate agent as a friend, give that professional a call. Let your real estate contact know your house “wishes.”

Many times, because real estate agents are consistently meeting with buyers and sellers, we have inside information on houses that may be for sale soon. So, reach out, phone a friend, and log off the internet. Your dream house is right around the corner.

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Why We Love Real Estate: 3 Things We Learned From Our Clients This Year

blogging-business-coffee-34601On the Weaver Team, we love to write our own blogs on real estate topics. While we often impart our real estate opinions, knowledge, and advice, we decided that this month our blog is all about you. These are the three things we learned this year from our dear Real Estate Clients:

Transitions in life are difficult, but there is a silver lining. We empathize with the struggles of selling a home and moving. We have moved several times ourselves and we understand the hassles and inconveniences involved. Because most of our clients are, or end up being our friends, we often hear, “It was a stressful process but now we are so happy that we made the move.” Nothing warms our hearts more than knowing that our clients are happily resettled in a new home.

Little things matter. Small details make all the difference in the real estate experience of a buyer or seller client. We know how to overcome most of the obstacles in a transaction with our advice that we have gained over many, many, real estate sales. Our clients appreciate our attention to the little things and have told us, “We never would have thought of that!” This makes us smile.

There are always options. Often, buyer and sellers are overwhelmed with the many aspects of today’s real estate transaction. Sometimes obstacles seem unsurmountable. Our knowledge and experience bring clarity to the situation. If you have options then you have an opportunity to move yourself forward in your real estate goals. Our clients appreciate our detailed assessments of their real estate dilemmas. We love hearing, “You took the time to explain everything in such detail it helped us decide which option was best.”

Every year we reflect on the three things that we learned from our real estate clients. We look forward to learning more next year and we will share it in our end of the year blog. Until then, we thank our clients for reminding us that there is a sliver lining, little things matter, and there are always options.

3 Reasons Why Your Listing Agent Isn’t Showing Your House

realtor_showing_house_451242040Every once in a while a seller client will ask, “Why aren’t you ever showing my house?” It’s a very good question. Shouldn’t the seller’s real estate agent, the one who listed the house, the one whose sign is in the front lawn, be the agent that shows the house the most? Just a common sense, right? Actually there are 3 reasons why your listing agent isn’t the one showing your house.

1. Buyers are represented by Buyer’s Agents who represent the buyer, not the seller in the transaction.

2. Your listing agent may get inquiries on your property, but when the buyer finds out that the listing agent can’t represent them in the transaction they seek out a Buyer’s Agent.

3. The listing agent’s marketing is reaching buyers who are just entering the market and will eventually sign up with a Buyer’s Agent.

Over the last few decades Buyer’s Agents have been able to represent buyers in many markets. Years ago, all agents where agents of the Seller. No agents were looking out for the buyers.

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New HomeAs state regulations on the real estate industry evolved it became part of real estate law to recognize that buyers may need protection in the real estate industry. In today’s real estate world most of the activity occurs on the internet. Real estate agents “buy” leads. When a prospective buyer finds your house on a website the inquiry to show the house goes to an agent “other” than your listing agent. As listing agents, we make sure that we promote our listings to all real estate agents, our friends, past and current clients.

When there is a request for a showing we make sure that the “showing agent or buyer’s agent” knows all of the features and amenities of your property to show it in its best light.

5 Reasons Why Keller Williams Vermont is our Happy Place

KW Office ExteriorWe are obsessed with lists. The top five places to camp in Vermont. The best ice cream in the area. Budget-friendly design secrets from the pros. So, when Keller Williams Realty was named in the Forbes magazine list of “The Ten Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018,” we were intrigued.

After all, that is where the Weaver Team hangs a Vermont real estate license. So, in the true spirit of lists we have compiled the top five reasons why, indeed, Keller Williams Vermont is one of the “Happiest Companies” in Vermont.

Welcoming atmosphere. From the day we walked into Keller Williams in September, 2014, the atmosphere has always been upbeat, friendly and professional. From the lobby to the conference rooms you will see people smiling, greeting one another warmly.

Educational classes and seminars. Every day there is a class or seminar in the training room that adds to the real estate knowledge that we have accrued over the years. National and local experts keep us up to date on financing options, inspection items and economic and housing trends.

Training roomModern offices, lunch room, meeting spaces and conference rooms. You need to visit our South Burlington office to understand. Let’s just say we have views of the Mount Mansfield Green Mountain range and a lunch room with two refrigerators. Oh, and if you come in when it is dark the lights automatically turn on as you enter the building.

Access to Industry Leaders. On-site mortgage lenders, attorneys and our leadership team provide face-to-face interaction on a daily basis for questions and provide solutions to challenging situations.

Culture. This is the sum of all of the above. Why we are here. If you don’t believe us, call us for a seller or buyer consultation and meet us in the office. Would love to show you our Happy Place.

Home Inspections – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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p: lasvegasrealproperty.com

If you are buying or selling a house in Chittenden County, Vermont then heed this warning, “The house may not pass a building inspection.” What do you mean, “pass an inspection?” Are inspections now pass or fail? The short answer is “yes.”

Your Purchase and Sale Contract may include an Inspection addendum, with the caveat “Inspection report shall be to Purchaser’s satisfaction.” Satisfaction? Like a Yelp review on a restaurant? Does satisfaction mean a 5-star review? Or just, yeah, okay, satisfactory, like a 3-star review. Or satisfaction like the Rolling Stones, “Can’t get no satisfaction?”

And finally, is it a case of, there are no bad inspections, just buyers with high expectations? Let’s explore.

Let’s dive into the good, a 5-star inspection. Congratulations, the house you are buying has no significant structural, mechanical, electrical or plumbing defects. You may move along toward closing, this contingency is satisfied and the purchase price on the original contract remains intact. Or, maybe the house needs some GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and a mixing valve on the hot water tank. Oh, and the smoke detectors are over 10 years old and now need to be photoelectric. As the seller you will have to sign a document that states the smoke/fire/co2 detectors meet the current electric code. Most sellers will concede to some electrical updating along with the smoke/fire/co2 detectors.

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p: thebalancesmb.com

Let’s look at a bad inspection, one that produces a laundry list of items that includes every historical leak (darn it, we knew we should have repainted the ceiling after the tub overflowed 5 years ago), creak, nail pop and flaw in the house, interior and exterior. The exterior suffers from peeling paint on the trim, curling asphalt shingles on the roof, gutters that are full of leaves and a driveway with potholes.

Now, let’s look at a plain old ugly inspection. This one has an active leak, usually a sewer pipe in the basement (don’t step in the puddle), mold (dead or alive?) in a poorly ventilated attic, and, everyone’s favorite, an old oil tank in the basement or an old furnace.

The issues that arise at inspection range from good, bad to ugly. That is why you want to hire an experienced real estate agent to walk you through the different scenarios. As a buyer, your agent can tell you which items you should ask the seller to take care of, if you should ask for money back, or if you should back out of the deal all together. As a seller, your agent will be able to advise you on which items are typically taken care of and what you can say no to.

6 Reasons to Sell With a Realtor®

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p: MarketWatch

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, you’ve likely thought about selling on your own to forgo the cost of commission. Listing your home on your own can cost your time, stress, and in reality, it can end up costing you money – research shows that FSBO (for sale by owner) listings sell for about 5.5% less than comparable properties sold through the MLS.

Before you decide to go the do-it-yourself route, consider 6 of the invaluable benefits listing with a Realtor® offers:

Knowledge – A Realtor’s knowledge is priceless, we can provide insight that you cannot get online. We know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that you and your home are fully prepared before hitting the market.

Time – Do you have time to play the Realtor’s role? Are you available to show your home at a moment’s notice? How will you handle showing requests if you are away? Are you able to respond to buyer’s questions, concerns, and/or objections in a manner to help overcome hesitation and move forward? Are you able to offer solutions to buyer-perceived obstacles with the property? Are these questions stressing you out? Uncertainty in any of these areas could translate into a lost opportunity, thankfully, we handle everything.

Presentation – Image is everything when it comes to real estate. Do you know how to prepare your home for sale? We can tell you what your home needs, what you need to get rid of, what needs to be fixed, and how to stage it to appeal to potential buyers. We also take professional photos and video to show your home in the best light.

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p: Zillow

Marketing – How are you going to market your property? You can post your listing yourself on Zillow, FSBO sites, or Craigslist, but you’re not going to reach all of your potential buyers. We have a network of agents that we pre-market your property to, sometimes selling a property before it even hits the market! We also enter your listing in the MLS that sends the listing info to all of the top real estate sites that buyers are searching.

Negotiation – So you’ve received an offer, how do you respond? What do you look for in a purchase agreement? Are you prepared to take multiple offers in a hot market? Do you know how to negotiate to keep the buyer in the game versus walking away? What costs should you and shouldn’t you incur? We negotiate on your behalf to ensure you are getting the best deal possible, while still working with the buyer to put the deal together.

Inspection – How should you handle items that are flagged as needing repair or replacement by a home inspector? Who do you contact to take care of the repairs? We will negotiate with the buyer’s agent to only take care of necessary items, and once the list is nailed down, we have a roster of professionals we recommend for the work.

This post was adapted from “8 reasons selling without a real estate agent is a recipe for disaster” by Cara Ameer, inman.com.

5  Inconvenient Truths About Finding a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent may not be as easy as searching Google or Yelp, read on to learn why you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet when it comes to real estate.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.05.40 PM1.     The “Premiere Agent” on Zillow has paid to be in that #1 position. Many agents pay third party search engines to pop up at the top of the list of real estate agents in your area. This truth extends to Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Yelp.com. Many times, your top local real estate experts who provide exceptional service and results stay in business through repeat clients, past client referrals, and general “word-of-mouth” networks. Ask your colleagues, friends and family who they recommend before jumping on the internet to look for an agent.

2.     All “public” websites that provide house searches include “for sale by owner” properties. Many buyers are thrown off guard when they find out that the house listed on Realtor.com and other real estate websites may not necessarily be offered through a real estate agency. Buyer beware as dealing directly with the owner may result in a “lopsided” transaction where the buyer is not aware of traditional real estate practices in their local area and many times is at a disadvantage dealing with the seller.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.34.09 PM3.     Internet sites that promote “We will match you with a Top Agent” usually send your information to several agents that have signed up for that websites services. These agents scramble to be the “first” to contact you and the agents pay a hefty “finder” fee to the service.

4.     Reviews may not tell the whole story about an agent. While it’s interesting to read the 5 star reviews, sometimes when you see a “plethora” of them you may need to ask “Why are there so many reviews for this one agent?” There are no rules or regulations governing the procurement of these reviews from previous customers. Let that sink in.

5.     Sometimes your “marquee agents” burn and churn their clients. Again, the agents that pay to show up on searches may not be the type of agent that you are looking for. Many so-called “top” producing agents are working with multiple agents on their team who are doing most of the work with the buyers and sellers. You may not have access to the “top agent” at all.

 

Specialist or General Practitioner?

19437377_1440448489379498_3950650927319035020_nDo you need to hire a “specialist” or do you need a “general practitioner” when assessing the best real estate agent when you are looking to jump into the real estate market as a buyer or seller?

If you come across a real estate agent that is touting themselves as a “specialist” here’s what you need to ask:

“I see you are a ‘Listing Specialist’ do you ever take buyers out to look at homes?”

“I see you are a ‘Buyer Specialist’ do you ever list homes and meet sellers?”

If the answer is no, then proceed with caution. The only way you can “specialize” in today’s real estate market is to understand the market from the buyer’s and seller’s unique perspectives, rarely do these overlap.

As a “general practitioner” I work with both buyers and sellers. The combination of meeting with sellers for listings and taking buyers on home buying tours invites a unique perspective on the whole marketplace, not just a segment.

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P: msrealtors.org

If you don’t take buyers to see houses, how do you know how houses compare to each other in your local market? Likewise, if you don’t counsel sellers on pre-marketing strategies, how do you know the best way to position their house in the market compared to other houses you have taken buyers to see? The short answer is – you don’t! You don’t know how houses compare in your local market place unless you are “all over” the market in terms of buyers and sellers.

Instead of a “specialist” you need a general real estate practitioner. Much like a family doctor who sees a wide range of maladies, your general real estate practitioner deals with the whole market, buyers and sellers. At the core of a general real estate practitioner, one who deals with buyers and sellers, is a true “specialist.”

 

What is the Best Website or App for Finding a House?

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P: Realtor.com

Over the past several years the internet has opened up the “wide world of real estate” to buyers and sellers. Realtor.com and Zillow have been advertising heavily to promote the use of their websites and mobile apps for your home search. If you have been searching for a house for a while, you are probably asking, “Isn’t there anything else?” While each of these consumer sites has its pros and cons, the best source for up-to-date local real estate information continues to be your favorite real estate agent.

It’s happened to most all home buyers. After months of sitting on a couch perusing houses, photos, and prices you will have to email or call a real estate agent to see a house that you think may work. You finally take that next, bold step only to hear, “oh, sorry, that house is no longer available.” Or, “yes, that is a good price, all of the pipes have been stripped out and it needs to be a ‘cash only’ transaction.” Sigh, this is harder than you thought.

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P: Zillow

After several weeks of clicking on the “preferred” agent for an online property and fielding many call backs, you are frustrated. It’s not as easy as it looks on the Realtor.com or Zillow television commercial. First, some of the houses are no longer available for sale. Second, some houses have incorrect information. Third, some houses are ‘for sale by owners’ and what if you want to use a real estate agent? What is missing here? Do you feel like you are chasing the Holy Grail?

At this point in your search it is best to cut your losses, bite the bullet and make a call to find a professional, experienced real estate professional to help with your search. But why, oh why? Can’t you just continue to look on your own unhampered by another human? Yes, you can go it alone but you will continue to be frustrated. Best thing to do is ask your friends, relatives, and/or colleagues for a referral to a local, trusted real estate agent.

dscn2729The benefit to you, the consumer, is that once you have decided to reach out to a professional, you are in good hands. In the real estate world at KW Vermont, Keller Williams Realty, our culture of sharing and helping one another succeed results in a cooperative environment that may result in a quicker, smoother process. Some houses are not yet out in the “wide world of real estate” for various buyer or seller reasons. We work with buyers and sellers every day and network to find houses, sell houses and get our clients “out in front” of the market.

So, stop chasing houses. Get in “front” of the market. Ditch your app for a human.

Why It Does Not Make Sense To Buy Direct From The Homeowner

P: terencetait.ca

P: terencetait.ca

When searching for a home you are going to come across For Sale By Owner properties, either while looking online or driving through a neighborhood you’d like to live in. You may think that buying direct from a seller should be much simpler than involving real estate agents, but FSBOs offer their own set of challenges.

Before you take the plunge into purchasing direct from the Homeowner there are a few factors to consider:

  1. The Homeowner is not required to disclose any information that is not in their best interest. They may have immediate answers to all of your questions but they do not need to be held accountable for any misinformation or “fluffing” of the facts.
  1. Homeowners who are selling on their own have lots of time on their hands. They are in no rush to sell and will hold out for the highest price possible, even if it means waiting two or three years.
  1. The Homeowners typically overprice their property. They are not saving you any money. They are saving themselves a fee for service that Realtors charge for selling the house and adding it to their side of the transaction. Many buyers fall in love with the “by owner” and are willing to overpay for the property.
  1. You will feel pressured not to give the Homeowner accurate feedback about the property. Homeowners will try to convince you that their house is the best ever. They will take you through every nook and cranny to show the value of their house. It just isn’t human nature to give a truthful opinion to a Homeowner.
  1. You never know if the Homeowner is really interested in accepting your offer. Many will tell you they have “another interested party” or an “out-of-state buyer” that is chomping at the bit to buy their property.
  1. The best properties are listed with a Realtor who has taken the time to make sure all of the proper Seller Property Disclosures and inspections are in order.

With so many drawbacks to buying direct from a homeowner, it makes sense for buyers to focus on homes sold by agents. As a buyer it only benefits you to have a Buyer’s Agent (read our previous post on Why Do I Need A Buyer’s Agent) who will walk you through the entire purchase process from putting in an offer to closing – and make sure that you are getting the best value for your money.