Happy National Best Friend Day!

It’s National Best Friend Day and, as far as I can tell, it began as a hoax. Someone apparently started it by using a hashtag online, and people jumped on board and made it into something.

In the least, it is an “unofficial” National day at best. It isn’t “real”.

But, it got me to thinking…

Real estate agents tend to get really friendly with clients while we’re looking for a home, or selling one. Almost like family in some cases.

Then, once the process is over, we can lose touch. Not entirely. It’s just that we don’t end up having that day-to-day interaction. And it can seem like maybe the friendship we developed was not genuine. Not “real”.

But, like true best friends, the friendship we develop with our clients is real. Best friends can be apart, or not even speak for days, months, even years, and come back together without feeling like they missed a beat.

The same goes with real estate agents and their clients…

It isn’t like the friendships we create with our clients aren’t real. They are. But, the life of an agent, and the involvement with our clients is much more intense while we’re working with them.

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What “flavor” is your house?

Today, June 1st, is National Doughnut Day! I thought I’d give you a heads up, so you can get out early and grab your favorite doughnut before they’re all gone.

Have you been to Donut World in Lancaster? Best donuts around! And voted best in Fairfield County – two years in a row!

You ever notice how there’s always the same lame doughnuts sitting on the rack after the morning rush? They’re usually either super boring, or way to “out there” for most people.

No big deal. They’re doughnuts. They’ll get donated or tossed in the trash at the end of the day.

But I see a similar thing happen in real estate, and it is a big deal…

The houses everyone wants tend to sell quickly. They don’t stay on the “shelf’ very long. But there’s always some that just seem to be left to linger on the rack. And they tend to be the ones that are super boring, or way too “out there” for most home buyers’ tastes. (Or just way over-priced.)

So, keep the following in mind for when you go to sell your house…

You don’t want your home to be too boring, or too defined either. There’s a middle ground. Make sure your house is the “flavor” most buyers favor.

(And always feel free to give me a call for any thoughts on what the flavor is lately. I always have a good idea of what buyers are biting on.)

Now, go enjoy a doughnut…

What In The World Do Groundhogs And Real Estate Have In Common?

Do you believe whether a groundhog sees its shadow or not is a true indication of when Spring will come?

A lot of people aren’t even sure, which means we’re going to have more winter.

But even if you do, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If it’s sunny, and he sees his shadow, that means a longer winter. If it’s cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, it means Spring will come sooner. That seems totally backwards.

And then there are lots of different groundhogs… which are you supposed to believe?

Groundhogs don’t predict Spring

Truth is, Spring never actually comes sooner, even if every single groundhog doesn’t see his shadow. It begins on a specific calendar day.

Now the weather on the other hand, that’s a different story. The weather will be what it will be. Weather is something people make small talk about.

But a groundhog predicting it!? Meteorologists can barely do it.

So, most people don’t put a whole lot of stock in what the groundhogs “say” on Groundhog Day. However, a lot of people do put stock in the “Spring market” when it comes to real estate.

Is Spring the best time to buy and sell real estate?

So many people believe it’s the “best” time to buy or sell real estate. Not necessarily.

Sure, there is definitely a “Spring market”.

But first of all, to even say exactly what day it begins is impossible. Some real estate agents even say the Spring market begins in January. Others may say March. Or April. Maybe May.

And while there’s no definite answer as to when the Spring market actually begins, it’s even more inaccurate to say that it’s the best time for you to buy or sell a house.

It might be for some clients… but certainly not for everyone. It depends on so many variables, and upon the client’s specific scenario and needs.

Some solid advice…

Don’t put stock in the “Spring market”, no matter what you hear, or who you hear it from.

Do not base your decisions about when to buy or sell upon something people talk about as lightly as the weather… or whether the Groundhog saw its shadow or not.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

But if you are thinking about buying or selling, or both, then we should chat. And strategize.

Is now a better moment for you to begin buying or selling?

Or is it better for you to wait until Spring is “officially” here?

Or perhaps Summer…

Or Fall…

Or Winter…

It depends on a whole lot of variables.

So, if you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s just chat.

If not, just stick this in your head for future reference!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Owning A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In Most Markets In The US

According to a recent study by Zillow, owning a home is more affordable than renting in most metro markets across the United States.

According to the study, renters pay an average of 29.1% of their household income towards rent, while homeowners only pay an average of 15.4% towards their mortgages. This means renting eats up nearly twice as much of your income as owning a home.

rent-addordability

Data Source: Zillow

Thanks to rising rents, homeownership is becoming a more sensible option across the nation, and renters are taking notice. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Confidence® Index, 39% of homebuyers from October 2016 to November 2017 were renting at the time of their purchase, which means that 39% of buyers made the transition from renter to homeowner. And many of them did so without breaking the bank on a down payment. In fact, 61% of first-time buyers made a down payment of 6% or less.

The Takeaway

If you’re currently renting, it’s time to reevaluate your situation. Why throw away nearly 30% of your income on rent when you can spend almost half as much and have a home to show for it?

What Does MLK Have To Do With Real Estate?

Fill in the blank…

“I have a _________…”

I’m about 100% sure I can guess what word you chose.

Was it “dream”?

Good chance it was. We all know this line from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech. So when we hear those first three words, it sort of naturally comes to mind.

But what many people aren’t aware of is how much he affected the lives of real estate agents, buyers, and sellers.

It was his death that gave Congress the last push needed to pass the Fair Housing Act, back in 1968. It’s pretty involved, so I won’t get into it all here, but to put it simply…

This was put in place to ban racial discrimination in housing. You can’t be refused the rental or purchase of a house, based upon your race.

Seems simple enough to most people now. A given, if you will. But it didn’t happen overnight. And believe it or not, it still can and does come up.

But guess who’s a big part of making sure this Act is followed…

On the front lines, it is people like me. Real estate agents. We’re tasked with making people aware that discrimination based upon race (and many other things) are not acceptable, and we must refuse to work with anyone who wants to do so.

And I am proud to be a part of this ongoing history.

Just figured I’d take this appropriate moment to pay him some respect, and give you some insight into how much more responsibility a real estate agent has than meets the eye.

That’s all for now…

…and may your dreams come true,

P.S. While my dream of helping people find their dream home is certainly not comparable to Martin Luther King’s dream…

Owning a home has become a huge part of the American Dream.

Please know how seriously I take this career. And how much heart and soul I put into helping people find their dream home.

If you know anyone dreaming of finding a home, please have them give me a call… I’d love to be a part of helping make their dream come true.

(Or maybe you even have a dream we should talk about…)

10 Things Everyone Assumes About Real Estate Agents That Aren’t True

Via Bigstock

Let’s face it, everyone either knows a real estate agent, or is connected to one through six (probably less) degrees of separation. Between friends and relatives, and the stereotypical representation of real estate agents on television and in pop culture, the general public has a adopted some assumptions about agents that are very far from the truth.

Here are ten things that people assume about real estate agents that just aren’t true:

1. They make “easy money”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. The only people who could ever possibly make the case that being an agent is an easy way to make money are those who have never done it. It’s hard, uncertain work, with many instances of months wasted on a deal that doesn’t ever close. The only thing easy about it is reading the Lighter Side of Real Estate.

2. They are required to show you houses even if you’re not pre-approved

There are definitely agents who will show you houses without a pre-approval (or at minimum a pre-qualification), but an agent is not required to, and most experienced agents probably won’t. The ability to qualify for financing dictates whether or not a deal is even possible, so an agent is simply saving you from disappointment (or worse) by asking you to get pre-approved.

3. Zillow is more accurate than they are

It would be wonderful if Zillow (and similar websites) were accurate in their home valuations, but if you compared their results to actual appraised values, in most cases you’d burst out laughing. Real estate agents want you to get as much money as possible for your house, but oftentimes reality gets in the way. Trust your realtor to give you a fair market assessment for your house…at least more than you trust Zillow.

4. They make huge commissions

The popular real estate flipping shows on cable, and Million Dollar Listing have given everyone the impression that real estate agents are rolling in the dough. Most real estate agents wish that this was true, but reality is much different. The median US existing home sale price in December 2016 was $234,900, which means after splitting the commission and paying their broker, an agent took home about $3500 on the transaction, not including all marketing and related expenses. As a monthly income, this adds up to about $40,000 per year. Not exactly huge.

5. They’re an unnecessary evil

Many people have made the argument that real estate agents are unnecessary and are merely an impediment to a more efficient “For sale by owner” model of real estate. The best way to eliminate this misconception is to try selling your house yourself. There is nothing more sobering than desperately Googling state and federal real estate laws as some unkempt stranger is knocking on your door asking you questions about your FSBO house.

6. They’re sleazy

Unfortunately, real estate agents have joined the ranks of lawyers, politicians, and salespeople in some of the public’s assumptions about their trustworthiness. The financial collapse of 2008 exacerbated this perception. Thankfully, the market correction also weeded out most of the unsavory elements in the business. The truth is, real estate agents are honest, hardworking people, making a living like any other profession. And just like any other profession, there are a few bad apples that unfairly give the others a bad name.

7. They’re uneducated

This misconception really gets under most agents’ skin, because not only do many agents have degrees (and advanced degrees in quite a few cases), but the knowledge required to pass a real estate exam is substantial. There are many people who are unable to get their licensing because of an inability to pass the licensing tests, which makes the concept of an “uneducated” agent laughable.

8. They want you to pay more for a house so they can make more money

If you truly looked at the math involved in calculating real estate commissions, you’d never utter this falsehood again. An agent getting you to pay $10,000 more for a property will net that agent approximately $150, which barely covers the cost of gas required to drive to and from your appointments. The truth is that an agent absolutely wants you to buy a house. What’s not true is that they want you to pay more for one.

9. They’re mostly part-timers or bored housewives

If you ask the average person to describe the archetypal real estate agent, they’ll probably say it’s an older married woman who is looking for something to do in her free time. Ugh. This is stereotyping at its finest, and ignores the hundreds of thousands of male agents, the hundreds of thousands of full-time agents, and the hard-working primary bread winners that make up the real estate workforce. Sure, the stereotypical agents do exist, but they’re the exception to the rule.

10. All they want from you is the deal

Yes, agents want your business. But true professional real estate agents want to be your lifelong real estate advisor. They want you to think of them whenever you or your family and friends have any real estate questions. They want to see you and talk to you more than once a decade, and they want to make sure that you remember your interactions with them as being absolutely delightful.

3 Things Real Estate Apps Commonly Get Wrong

Listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Craigslist have become the go-to source for many buyers and sellers (particularly people attempting to buy or sell property on their own) to get information about the market, view properties, and connect with property owners.

But while most people believe these listing sites are a reliable source of information, there’s actually quite a bit of misinformation that can throw a wrench in your home search or sale.

Here are the three things real estate apps commonly get wrong (and how you can avoid them while selling or buying your home):

1. Not all postings are real

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One of the biggest problems on most real estate apps is that they don’t require any verification from the people placing listings. So essentially, anyone with an internet connection can post any listing they’d like — including listings that are completely falsified.

There are an immeasurable number of fake listings on these sites; posters either use the “bait and switch” method, posting photos of one property when they’re really selling another (one New York real estate company was caught red-handed using celebrities’ properties in a highly publicized bait and switch scam in 2015), or create a completely fake listing in hopes of gathering people’s personal information for marketing purposes or, in some extreme cases, identity theft.

For these reasons you may waste a lot of time and energy looking through and engaging with fake listings, which can keep you from finding real listings — the kind that could end up being your dream home.

2. Not all postings are up-to-date

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Another big issue with these sites is that often times, listings aren’t updated. So a listing you see for sale might have actually been sold the previous week or a listing that reads “sale pending” might actually be back on the market.

This failure to update is a bad situation for both buyers and sellers. As a buyer, it means you might get excited about a home only to find out it’s already been sold or you might pass on an amazing home, thinking it’s already been sold… only to find out after the fact it actually was available. If your listing is out-of-date as a seller, it means you could miss out on potential buyers thanks to inaccurate information.

Without up-to-date information, it’s impossible to effectively manage either the search or the sale of your home. But unfortunately, when you work within these types of real estate listings sites, you’re pretty much guaranteed out-of-date information.

3. Property information is often incorrect

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On top of fake listings and out-of-date listings, many listings on these sites are just flat out incorrect. And this can be a big problem for both buyers and sellers.

As a buyer, you want to know what you’re getting into when you look at a property. But if the information is incorrect — for example, the listing states the property is 4 bedrooms when it’s really only three or that the home sits on 2 acres when it’s really only 1 — you’ll end up wasting a lot of time looking at properties that don’t actually fit within your parameters.

As a seller, not only will incorrect listing information waste time by connecting you with buyers who are looking for something different from what your property has to offer, but it can actually affect the price of your offers. Zillow, one of the top real estate apps, offers a popular feature called “Zestimate” which estimates how much a property is worth whether it’s on or off the market. Anyone can access this information, including potential buyers. And buyers use Zestimates as a way to come up with offer prices.

Unfortunately, Zestimates are often inaccurate. In fact, they’re off by an average of 8% nationally, which is a pretty shocking disparity.

Apps and listing sites readily admit their information might not be accurate; most all have a disclaimer page stating that information on their site may be inaccurate and encouraging potential buyers or sellers to verify all information independently.

Moral of the story: when you deal with real estate apps, you’re also going to be dealing with a lot of misinformation, which can derail your home sale or search.

What to do instead

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As you can see, real estate apps aren’t your best bet when it comes to buying or selling a home. You’ll end up wasting time and energy on fake or out-of-date listings or inaccurate information. That’s why it’s always best to work with a real estate agent. Agents have access to the most up-to-date, accurate information through the MLS, which will ensure that as a buyer, every home you see is exactly what you expect it to be, and as a seller, every potential buyer that comes to tour your home will know exactly what they’re getting into.

The best website to use though in my opinion is my website! Go to http://jaymattlin.realtor and search to your heart’s content and contact me when you’re ready to take that next step!

Do You Believe In Any Of These Real Estate Superstitions?

Tons of people think the number 13 is unlucky. Some don’t. But pretty much everyone has at least heard that the number 13 is unlucky.

With Friday the 13th upon us, I thought it’d be fun and interesting to send along some superstitions we come across in the real estate industry, which you may have never heard about…

Lucky numbers

Real estate agents sometimes find themselves working with clients who have superstitions based upon lucky (and unlucky) numbers.

This is often a cultural superstition. And the lucky or unlucky numbers are different from culture to culture.

This can affect whether or not someone will buy a house, if the street address is an unlucky number, or even adds up to an unlucky number.

It can also affect the specific dollar amount they will offer or accept for a house…

What direction a house faces

Does your house face East? If it does, that’s great… for some potential buyers.

But others may not see it that way, and would never buy a house unless it faces South.

Again, these superstitions are typically cultural, and no one direction is right for every culture.

So, don’t worry what direction your house faces…there’s always someone who will be fine with whatever direction it is facing.

Mercury in retrograde

This is less cultural, and more a matter of whether someone is into astrology…

It is believed that when the planet Mercury is in “retrograde” (backward), it is a bad time to enter a contract.

So, if a client is sensitive to this, there is a good chance there isn’t a deal good enough to get them to buy or sell a house while Mercury is in retrograde.

Smudging

Ever hear of smudging? That’s when you burn a sacred plant (often sage), and walk around the house wafting the smoke, in order to get rid of negative energy in a house.

Does that sound crazy? Sound like someone’s been smokin’ the smudge!?

As a real estate agent, I wouldn’t call it crazy…

While an agent may not believe in a client’s superstition, or even understand it…they won’t consider it crazy.

It’s a real estate agent’s responsibility to represent their clients’ best interests.

So I wouldn’t consider any of the above examples (or anything else you could throw at me) crazy…because if it is a concern for my client, it is a concern for me.

Wishing you nothing but luck this Friday the 13th.

P.S. Out of curiosity… do you have any superstitions when it comes to buying and selling a house? Let me know, I’d love to hear!

Chattel – Real Estate Term of the Week

In general terms, chattel, is a personal possession. In legal terms, chattel is defined as “an item of property other than real estate.”

Why is this a real estate term? 

Typically, when purchasing a home, the buyer will ask for certain personal property that belongs to the seller to remain with the real estate. This is often the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, window coverings, and other appliances. Sometimes though, the buyer would like to keep something of the seller’s like a patio set or the sectional sofa in the basement living room.

The bank that is financing the home will likely allow such things like the kitchen appliances to be in the purchase contract as those are seen as “normal” items to sell with a house. A couch or patio set however is not normal and should not be part of the purchase contract. If the buyer wishes to purchase those items with the house, the buyer and seller typically will have their own agreement separate of the purchase contract.