Saturday, March 11, 2006

Open House

Its raining today throughout Southern California. I’ve cancelled  my open house today though, Dixie will be hosting for private showings. I don’t do open houses when it rains (anymore) and I thought I’d share why.

When hosting open house for a client, the agent is for all intents and purposes “Head of the Household” during the time its open. As an agent we have a responsibility to maintain the property and ensure nothing is damaged or soiled (beyond our control).

Frankly, and, I know this example isn’t you, but people have no manners today. The biggest no-no I see, is people who don’t wipe their feet before entering an open house. And even though it is open to the public for a day or two, as a visitor, you’re still a guest in someone else’s home. Personally, I’ve paid for too many steam cleanings for anyone to convince me that open house on a rainy day is a good thing.

This may seem a silly topic but if you’ve ever been a homeseller who’s agent held open house on a rainy day, you know exactly what I’m talking about and are probably glad I’m doing it. So, while we’re talking manners I’d like go over some thoughtful behavior to consider when attending an open house.

Wipe your feet or better yet, take off your shoes. This is common courtesy we’ve just talked about.

If the hosting agent isn’t immediately visible when you walk up-to or into the door, nock, ring the bell, or announce yourself before going in. (I call them ‘secret shoppers’. They walk in, look around and then scare the heck out of you when you turn around)

Introduce yourself to the agent, ask for a flyer (a good agent will have already offered you one though.) and ask if there is any information about the home that isn’t on the flyer. If you have any other questions before you tour, now is a great time to ask before you forget.

If there is a sign in sheet or guest book, sign it. Many people don’t like to sign these because they think that they’re going to get lots of calls and letters from the realtor. Its true, Realtors will use this information to contact you about your interest in the home or others in the area. Personally, I only do that if the visitor asks to be contacted. I urge my visitors to sign for the simple fact that owner’s want to know who’s in their home and it helps me monitor my business and see what advertising works, where home buyers are coming from and what their looking for.  If you don’t want to be contacted, say so. A responsible agent will respect that. If you’re still leery, don’t use false information, just write your name and city. It helps us streamline our business if we know, who are the lookie-loo neighbors and who are the serious buyers.

As you tour the home, ask to see any special features, at a busy open house, one great aspect of a home may easily be overlooked. It might just be something you’re looking for. Also during your tour don’t open closed doors. Seller’s often place personal items out of the way in cupboards or closets and even though, these are important areas to know about when considering a home, its just not nice to look at other people’s “undies”. If you’re truly interested in the home, arrangements can be made for a more thorough walkthrough than should be done at an open house. Remember an open house isn’t an inspection, it’s a pre-view.

During your visit don’t discuss decorator items, you don’t like or work you think needs doing. Especially if the seller is present! If you don’t like the house, fine, if you do and you think the seller should do something before you’d consider buying it, talk to the agent. If the seller feels insulted by your request – you’ll find it difficult make a successful purchase. Agents know how to talk to sellers and can present your concerns or desires in a way that is more likely to get the results you want without killing a deal that hasn’t been made yet.

Price. (I’m going to get slightly rude here) The discussion of price doesn’t need to happen unless you’re making an offer. Don’t make blanket statements about the price being too high or too low. Again, this is something to talk to the agent about, if you think a home is overpriced say so, the agent should be able to justify the price, if not, write an offer for what you’re willing to pay. Personally, I’m not interested in comments about the price until a written offer is made. I know exactly why a home is worth $50,000 more or less than the same model down the street and I’m happy to discuss it, but, don’t talk to me about your friend, cousin, neighbor, aunt, garbage man who has a similar home and bought or sold it for whatever. Suffice to say, price is a matter of negotiation, not story telling or your views about the condition of the marketplace.

If you’re an agent (secret agent?) introduce yourself to the hosting agent and leave your business card. You know why.

When you conclude your visit, ask the agent for other properties in the area. A surprising number of people loose out on their dream home by not asking. (again a good agent will have already offered you a list) This is also the time to ask any questions about the home that you haven’t already asked. Remember, agents might not know every little detail, but should be more than willing to get an answer in a reasonable time.

If you’re interested in buying the home, get moving! Start the process right away.

Don’t just leave without saying goodbye, and, thank you. A couple of nice comments might just cheer up an agent who’s been on their feet all day.

I hope you visit an open house every chance you get. The wealth of information you can obtain is invaluable, not to mention you might just find your dream home. (coffee and donuts are good too if they’re offered) Thank you, and I’ll see you at ‘the open’.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Have you zillowed? took another beating in the press today. Our readers of course, know all about from out article of February 10, 2006 (What’s wrong with In that brilliantly biased review of zillow, we analyzed its inner workings and tested it against properties we have strong information on.  See that article here.

In today’s Los Angeles Times article (Real Estate Section) it doesn’t offer much favor to zillow and actually implies (by stating outright) that “zestimates” of user’s home values ‘izn’t’ [sic] worth the time it takes to type in the address.

Zillow says that their estimates are within 10% of the selling price. Really!?!?
10% of 1,000,000 is (1,000,000 x .10) 100,000. Which means (you know its coming) that someone is either underpaying or overpaying by a hundred thousand dollars on a home whose information is posted on! That’s a huge margin and it doesn’t sound like a transaction I’d like to be anywhere near.

Hope Edelman doesn’t like the fact that zillow enables people to look up financial information about her which they may use to determine how much she could bare if a person were to sue her. I agree with her concern too. I don’t like the idea of people assuming that I can afford to settle some dumb lawsuit because of information they’ve found on zillow. I think her concern was that this information may invite a frivolous lawsuit, and again, I don’t like it either. To Hope, I’d say, get over it though. Attorney’s have been doing this forever and probably always will. This information was never hidden or secret, and, any lawyer worth his or her salt, would have a body at the county recorder’s office on a regular basis checking out this kind of information upon which they might determine a settlement amount or total damages to sue for.

Enough about zillow already! Back to the Long Beach real estate market. From recent closings, you may expect to find purchase prices at or near 530,000 for 2 bedroom, 1(+) baths under 1500 square feet living space. 3/2 houses +/- 580,000 and 2 bedroom condos in the high 200,000 to middle 300,000 range.

For an accurate estimate of your homes value please call upon a professional, Give Dixie a call at (562) 531-7000 x. 190 for a no obligation, no sales pressure presentation. Oh, and its free! Send E-mail