Don’t Get Stuck in Downsizing Limbo

Whew! You made it. You have raised your family, saved for retirement, and finally got the last shutterstock_30826156child out of the house. That moment you have been waiting for has arrived. You can finally start the plan of downsizing. You have dreamt about it since your five kids were in five different after-school activities in five different places. You daydreamed about it each time you wrote that college tuition check. So now that you have made it past all of life’s hurdles, let’s look at the best way to downsize, without getting stuck in limbo.

The biggest part of downsizing is selling your current home, right? Putting your house up for sale and dealing with the headaches of long listings, low offers and tire-kickers are half of the stress created when you downsize (the other half is dwindling down your belongings, but that is another topic for another day).  When these variables come into play, it easily turns the plan of downsizing into a plan of “Are we sure we want to do this?”.  With long listing times, it will be easy to wonder if this is really what you want to do, and it allows the task of moving and locating a new home less of an exciting new adventure and more of a cumbersome task. So when you start to look at ways to best sell your current home in a timely manner, take the following into consideration when choosing a real estate company:

  • Knowledge – Henry Ford once said that “when you hire people who are smarter than you are, it proves you are smarter than they are”.  Doing your homework on potential agents is your way of being smarter. Don’t trust this job to Aunt Sue’s neighbor’s niece, who just got her real estate license, or your best friend’s new brother-in-law who sells real estate part-time. And don’t just hire any agent, hire one with proven results that will advise you the best way to sell your home quickly and for the most money.  If they sound like all the others, they are not the right one.
  • Marketing – The home you are looking to sell is probably the largest investment you own.  So why would you hire an agent that won’t make a marketing investment to assist you in selling? One complaint sellers have with real estate agents is they put up a sign, maybe put in on the MLS and then they wait.  Then you feel like you are waiting on something that isn’t going to happen,  Ask potential agents how will they market and promote your property to insure potential buyers are aware you are selling.  Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. And look for agents who offer something “outside the box”.  Someone who is innovative with multiple marketing strategies will most likely be the most successful in selling your home.
  • Communication – Nobel Prize winner for Literature, George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  And this is the single largest complaint about real estate agents.  Because after they put up their sign and start the waiting game, you don’t hear from them again until right before your listing ends, asking you for more time.  Make sure your agent choice is communicative, even when there really isn’t anything to report.  And if communication is promised, hold them accountable.  Find out why they are not following up with you on a regular basis and remember those encounters if your home doesn’t sell.

So when you look at these three characteristics, you are really hiring a smart, talkative marketing agent not just someone with a real estate license.  And by incorporating that thinking and carefully choosing a real estate company, you are more likely to quickly be on your path of determining what furniture and dishes can make the trip with you to your new, downsized location.  Otherwise, you will get stuck in limbo and the only place you will be going is nowhere.

Code Blue – Need a Real Estate Professional, Stat!

shutterstock_233054065-2In the real estate profession it can sometimes be amusing when friends or acquaintances will try to explain why they are trying to sell their real estate themselves – For Sale By Owner (FSBO).  I guess they think we will be offended they chose to do it themselves instead of hire a professional, who could expertly lead them through the difficult process of selling real estate.  But the part that is most humorous is they will typically ask you for some bit of advice about selling their property, which begs the question of why they just don’t hire you in the first place.

According the National Association of Realtors, 22% of property owners will attempt to sell their property themselves.  Only 8% of them will be successful.  Of the ones that are successful, the price they achieve is typically 16%, on average, less than those prices achieved when a real estate professional is selling the home.  A lot of people who sell for themselves will think they are saving the commission that will be charged by the professional.  I am pretty sure that most real estate professionals do not charge 16% commission.  And remember 16% less is the average, that means some properties sold well below the value that could have been achieved by a professional.

And what about marketing the property?  Most for sale by owners will place a sign on the property and might run an ad in the paper.   Again, according to statistics when buyers are looking for property only 9% said they found it by signage, and only 1% found it through print advertising.  In contrast when owners were asked their main method of advertising 42% said by placing a sign on the property.  In today’s market over 44% of buyers said they found the property they were looking for online and an additional 33% said they used a real estate agent to assist them.

A real estate professional can be the difference between life or death for the sale of your property. They will evaluate your property compared to others in the area, they will be familiar with the sales trends for the market and will know how to value your property.  They will also be experienced in assisting you through the contract negotiations, which can be daunting at the very least.

If you needed heart surgery, you surely wouldn’t watch a YouTube video and start operating on yourself, you would find the most trusted heart surgeon available.  Do the same with your real estate, allow it to be handled by a professional!


The Price Is Right…..Or Is It?

shutterstock_147921869When I was a kid I used to love to watch The Price Is Right.  I would watch with anticipation as each player was instructed to “Come On Down” to their spot below the stage and to do their best to guess the price of some electronic, piece of furniture or something fun like a trampoline to get up on that stage and try to win really great things like trips and cars.  And to earn that spot on the stage you had to come the closest to the actual price of the item, without going over.  As long as you were at or below the actual price, you had a chance to win.  Go over the actual price and you would have no chance to win.  When you think about selling real estate, its much like this game. Overprice your property and you are automatically a loser, because few, if any buyers will be interested.  Also like the game show, if you price the property too low, you will most likely have a quick sale (still in the game), but how much money did you fail to put in your pocket? So that’s not a real win. How can you be sure to achieve the best price for your property? Just like the best part of the game show, a little healthy competition of course.

Recently we had a client who wanted to sell her home.  She had recently inherited a home and had decided it was time to put her previous home on the market.  She contacted our team and we met with her to discuss her goals and what she would like to achieve for her property.  There were some unique things about the home with the first being location.  It offered close proximity to the downtown area and was in a highly sought after school district.  It was on a supersized lot and the property perimeter was flourishing with shrubs and hedges, giving it that very private feel.  But it was also an older home, and needed some updating. She said she didn’t want to take the chance of under-pricing the property and wanted to use the online bidding method to allow competition to determine the highest price achievable.

After a full-blown marketing campaign that lasted approximately 30 days, our team had generated 14 potential buyers for the home.  The online bidding opened for 48 hours and the first bid was placed within the first 10 minutes.  Bidding was consistent throughout the 48 hours with the high bidder keeping two other bidders at bay to win the property.  And what were the results? The high bid exceeded both the seller’s and our expectations.  It achieved 66% more than the offer she had initially received from a friend of the family before listing it and it achieved 13% more than tax value.  We had a very happy client and a happy buyer.

So don’t spend time fretting about determining the right price for your property.  Let one of our team members “Come On Down” and meet with you to discuss how online bidding for your property can achieve these same results.  And when you have successfully sold your property for top dollar, you will be sure The Price is Right!

Auction Knowledge – Knowing the Facts

shutterstock_128368295They say that fact is better than fiction, and knowledge is power. With this ideology, let’s take a look at fact versus myth (opinion) when it comes to how auctions work and who they work for. What do you want to know about the auction method of selling real estate?  Do you think that it is simply a method for foreclosed and bank-owned properties? Do you think it is only for distressed sellers? Do you think you can’t buy at auction? These are some of the most frequent questions and concerns we hear. So, in the words of Sergeant Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

The auction method of selling real estate continues to grow and gain popularity.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the sale of real estate at auction has increased by 120% over the last five years.  That is a lot of increase.  There could be multiple reasons for this increase.  One is the quick time in which a property can be sold and closed is very appealing to sellers.  Another, is that auctions are better accepted by a wider audience of potential buyers, not just the “cash kings”.  And finally, people are beginning to see that auctions are just a method that come with a unique marketing strategy that allow a property to stand out from the others.

The question I hear most when we are selling properties is “Does a bank own this property?” or “Is the seller fixing to lose the property?” And 95% of the time, the answer is no to both questions. While we do sell properties for banks and financially strapped sellers from time to time, the largest majority of our sellers are folks just looking to sell their property quickly, for the highest price.  This is accomplished by a combination of effective marketing and competitive bidding.  So far this year, our firm has sold 100% of the ten properties we have offered through an online bidding method and three of those properties were sold before the auction (yes, you can do that!).

“I can’t buy at auction, I don’t have cash!”  Ten years ago, this might have been a more true statement.  The main goal of auctions was to sell the property quickly and that typically meant to a cash buyer.  However, as the popularity of auctions have evolved, so have the terms of the sale, to make them more attractive to a larger pool of potential buyers.  Properties used to be offered in 30 days, with maybe one open house, always sold “As Is”, with twenty percent down on auction day and close in 30 days.  That was basically the rule.  But a crashed economy and rebounding real estate values have changed that perspective.  Now not only do auctions help people sell property fast, but for top dollar.  And top dollar is reached through competitively bidding buyers.  We have engaged more buyers by lessening the amount due on auction day, allowing more closing time, and offering several open house and viewing dates to allow the buyer ample time to complete their due diligence before they bid.  So now, not only are sellers enjoying the auction method, buyers are actually looking at auction properties first and traditional listings second!

All of this information probably has you thinking.  It is probably not what you thought you knew about real estate auctions.  Hopefully we have debunked some of those fears you have about buying or selling at auction.  Things are not always as they appear, and they are not always as you have heard.  Did you know that Sergeant Joe Friday never said the words “Just the facts, ma’am.”? Nope, not one single time.  Because the words were used in a spoof of this character many years later, it stuck.  See how easy it is for myth to become fact!

Are People Competing for Your Property? Why Not….??

shutterstock_72609499When talking or meeting with potential clients the first question we are typically asked is “How much do you think my property is worth?” Now that, my friends, is a loaded question. Most sellers want some assurance that the price they have in mind is achievable and realistic. But we counter with what we believe to be the more important question, “What is the highest price that can be achieved for your property?”  Wait a minute, isn’t that the same thing you ask?  No, it’s not.

Wikipedia defines competition as a contest between two or more individuals. It is this reason that we believe that competition between parties stimulates the achievement of the highest possible price for a real estate property.  So instead of having one person at a time submit an offer on your home or property, imagine several people submitting offers continuously until one person edges out the rest of the competition with a price the others are unwilling to match.  This method proves to be exciting for the buyer’s participating and profitable for the seller.  It also provides a piece of mind that the property achieved the highest price possible.

Using this method of competitive bidding has proven successful for all types of properties.  We have sold homes, farms, recreational property, beach properties, timberland, various commercial and industrial properties and even a racetrack! Being able to now take the competitive bidding online has sparked an increase in participation of many of our bidding events.  Buyers can participate in the bidding no matter where they are with ease and comfort.  Just last year we sold a farm in West Georgia to a buyer who was bidding while on vacation in Mississippi and the back up bidder was en route to Hawaii for business.  Wow!

If you are in the market to sell your real estate, instead of wondering what your property is worth, let an online bidding event give you the comfort of knowing that the highest price was achieved by a good dose of competition.  Because you know what they say……..”A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.”

Motivated Seller or Unrealistic Property Owner – Which Are You?

shutterstock_306456218When meeting with potential sellers, it is very easy for the real estate professional to land into the slippery slope of identifying their client’s motivation.  Are they truly interested in selling or are they unrealistic in their expectations?  Sometimes that difference is not as easy to detect as you might think.  Let’s take a look at what I mean.

Mr. & Mrs. Jones are ready to sell their home in Atlanta and retire to Florida.  They know the real estate market is still slowly recovering from the economic downturn, but the timing is right and they are ready to start the next phase of their lives.  When meeting with them to discuss the potential sale we provide them with comparable sales of similar homes in their particular neighborhood and surrounding areas. They take this information and use it, along with our recommendations, to decide if they will be happy with a similar outcome for their property to meet their desired goal.  They decide the price range is acceptable and allow us to move forward with an online bidding event for their property.  In the meantime, they use the expected sales price information to start planning for their new home purchase in Florida.  Mr. & Mrs. Jones are motivated sellers.

Mrs. Smith is also ready to sell her home in Atlanta.  She is downsizing and moving closer to one of her children.  The main goal of selling her home is to start her estate planning.  She has four children and wants to be able to leave each of them a certain sum of money.  We present her with the same comparable sale information in order for her to anticipate an expected sale price.  She reviews the information, but the sales history does not meet her expectations of the funds she needs for her estate planning.  She is adamant that she will not sell for a penny less than her figure, even if sales history shows that achievement to be unlikely.  Mrs. Smith wants to sell and has a plan to sell, but with wishful thinking.  Mrs. Smith is an unrealistic property owner.

When a property is placed on the market with unrealistic expectations, it might as well not be on the market at all.  Potential buyers will overlook the property, because they have done their homework too, knowing the market value of similar properties.  Hagen Realty Group works hard to assess a seller’s motivation for selling up front to insure their expectations can and will be met, and by doing so buyers can know they are not wasting time when looking at a Hagen Realty Group property.

So if you are ready to make the decision to sell your property, don’t be like Mrs. Smith.  Be like Mr. & Mrs. Jones and be prepared to look at the facts and history to make a logical decision about the sale to insure it becomes a SOLD property!


How Important is E-Marketing? Survey Says……

Surveys provide a wealth of information. Most recent political surveys will tell shutterstock_335902259you what candidate is in first place for the week. Fun surveys provide the key element for game shows… five answers on the board (I can hear Steve Harvey saying that in my head for the Family Feud). But they also provide insight into peoples habits. And it is those surveys that help us market properties.

Consider This.  Did you know a recent survey shows that 83% of real estate buyers want pictures of your property at their fingertips? And that 79% of real estate buyers want detailed property information before they will consider stepping on your property. And 43% of buyers want to see a video tour of your property before they make contact with any agent. Wow, how times have changed!

So how do these survey results effect the seller and the real estate team they hire?  Sellers will need to make sure their property is marketed in a way so buyers will find the information they are looking for at their fingertips.  Will the agent put multiple photographs of my property online?  Will those pictures be flattering to my property? (Pet Peeve Alert…. I cannot stand poor property photos).  Will the agent give detailed information about my property so that prospective buyers will be intrigued to consider my property?  And will the agent create a video for my property?  Do they even do that?

The answer to all of those questions at Hagen Realty Group is Yes, Yes and Yes. We take the time to prepare an E-Marketing campaign that will provide the most information possible to prospective buyers.  We take multiple photos, provide a detailed Property Information Package (PIP) and even create a video that is posted for 24/7 viewing.  In addition we utilize professional email services to send your property directly to thousands of email inboxes.

So the next time you hear “Survey Says……” know that the team at Hagen Realty Group already knows the answers!

Marketing Real Estate – Trading The Sign at The Road for The Click of the Mouse

shutterstock_4313011Twenty plus years ago when we started in the real estate auction world, most people, including buyers and sellers, thought this is what made up the marketing campaign for an auction property – pictures, signs, maybe a few brochures, come back in 30 days, put up a tent, sell the property and go home. Fast forward twenty years and the thinking is still the same, except instead of putting up a tent, we put it on the Internet.

So what does a marketing campaign for a real estate auction look like?  If you were to sell your property using the services of Hagen Realty Group, what could you expect? A lot more than a sign at the road.  In today’s world people expect information at their fingertips, at the click of a mouse, because it is there.  Want to know how many miles it is to the moon?  Google it.  Want to know how much Donald Trump is worth?  Google it.  Want to expose real estate to the broadest possible market? Make sure it can be found on Google!

Our staff works diligently to insure that the real estate we are marketing is exposed in multiple ways, on multiple sites and in multiple forms so that when potential buyers are searching, we can be sure our client’s property can be found.  Our marketing program would be considered a high impact and short term campaign that puts many facets of advertising a property together all at one time. We use multiple websites to list the property, typically over 20 different sites, as well as preparing a detailed marketing package that is available on our website providing the details of the property and the terms for bidding.  We utilize social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter, which we have found to be very useful.  So many people turn to social media to find out the news and events in their area, so why not property for sale too?  We also create a video of the property, providing a virtual tour that is available 24/7 for potential buyers.  We post this on our website and YouTube.  It’s like having hundreds and even thousands of people attend an open house for your property and you never have to open the door!

So when we are marketing your property, we are not only highlighting your real estate, but we are creating a buzz in the marketplace about the event of selling your property.  We make it fun, exciting and maybe even a little mysterious. People are intrigued by the unknown, and by advertising the property at an online bidding event with no published asking price, potential buyers become more focused on your property than the others on the market.  And voila, we have been successful in our marketing efforts by creating a demand for your property by more than one buyer.

And isn’t that the goal of selling property?  To obtain the maximum dollar possible.  How can you achieve the maximum dollar if you limit the property to a sign and little else? According to Lewis Carroll “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Hagen Realty Group will make sure we know where you are going and will use more than a sign at the road to get you there!

Not Your Grandparent’s Auction

estate-saleThe word “auction” comes from the Latin word augeō when translated means “I increase”.  Most people would probably be surprised to know that auctions can be traced back as far as 500 B.C. and were commonly used by the Roman Empire to rid the spoils from their most recent conquest.  Auctions were even used during the Civil War to dispose of seized goods.

But the auctions we were taken to as children by our grandparents, those are the auctions we remember.  We remember the estate auction we were forced to attend where they sold every piece of furniture and tupperware of the widow down the street.  We remember the equipment auctions, or the “trader” auctions, where people brought their tractors and lawnmowers to be sold to their neighbors that started in the early morning and lasted all day.  Or even the Friday night auction that also doubled for the weekend social event.  In some parts of our nation, auctions have long been a proud tradition for selling anything of value, including real estate.  But in other areas, auctions were frowned upon as a “last resort” of a desperate seller.

And my, how times have changed.  Technology has brought a whole new dimension to the world of auctions.  With the formation of EBay, auctions are suddenly exciting and cool.  What a fabulous way to sell your item and make sure you get the best price for it by making people compete for it.  And doing it all with the click of a mouse.

Hagen Realty Group takes that very concept, the virtual world of online bidding combined with an experienced marketing team and translates that into selling real estate for the maximum dollar possible, typically in 90 days or less, with the end result being happy sellers and buyers.  And there you have it, the evolution of auctions that even our grandparents would use…….and probably do!

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