What should our RE Agent be doing?

weedyacresJanuary 9, 2013

We listed with a realtor in early November, there was a new-listing "flurry" (relatively speaking, as this is top-10% of the market, price-wise) of a half-dozen or so showings. 3 of them were considering offers, one has seen it 3 times, none has flipped the switch yet.

No showings since Thanksgiving. Zip, zero, nada. Not unexpected, as it's the holidays.

Now it's the first of the year, expecting things to start picking up again. Nothing yet. What should our agents be doing to drum up showings or offers? We hired them to work their networks, which was something we can't do as well. I'm going to call them this week and have a pow-wow, but I'd like to have a concrete idea of what things they could be doing.

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All of my listings went dead from Thanksgiving until now. Except the two listings that are priced very attractively.
The fact is, if the home is being exposed in the MLS and some auxilary sites, then buyers are looking at it. They just are not coming out to view it.
Have the agents run a report from the day your listing was taken and see which homes with the same criteria, have had contracts put on them, and see which ones have dropped out and see if anything new has come on the market. If other homes are getting offers during this time and you have not, then you are asking too much. Those 6 buyers that looked at your home more than likely made offers on others already. You need to find out what they bought and then compare those homes with yours. This will tell you a lot.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 6:59AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The agent should be looking at what sold in this period. And especially what the people who looked at your house ended up buying. Then, together you both should develop a strategy to either give your home the features that the bought houses have, or to address the lack of those features by a price drop in order to compete better.

Then, after you take some of the actions in the plan developed, maybe new pictures that highlight the differences. The big rush for spring is right around the corner and all of your competition that isn't on the market are busy preparing to be on the market. Right now, you're one of maybe a dozen properties in your category. And you've had decent showings for the time frame and price. It's just your home didn't make it to the finals. In two months, you'll be one among a hundred. How is your property going to compare to even more competition? If it can't in some categories, then the ONLY remedy is to have the most attractive price.

There is only so much that any RE can do if a homeowner isn't willing to reduce the price and doesn't seem to care about having a quick sale. No amount of marketing of any kind will "fix" that. Your home has exposure now. With time an offer will come.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:06AM
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I always kept in contact with our agent by email at least once a week. We sold in the summer tho so not sure what you would expect in the winter. Probably alot less showings unless you are in a nice warm climate. I felt our agent did her due diligence and it just helped me to have the contact. She always discussed her plans for selling our place and what step she would make next.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 11:10PM
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How does your agent find out what buyers ended up buying? Do they call the buyer's agent and just ask them? I could keep track of what sold in our area but I never knew who it was that bought the homes. That would have been nice info to have since none of my feedback was very helpful, when I actually got feedback.

We are interviewing 2 realtors this weekend and relisting our home very soon. Our inventory is very low here and has been for a while. My house has a pretty low buyer pool as well. We took ours off the market in Oct and made a lot of changes, only based on hunches we had, since we didn't have any helpful feedback. But, I'm hoping the change in realtors will really help along with the house changes. We went with an aquaintance of ours who we bought our current house with and liked. I'd never used a realtor before to sell a house since I'd sold my own homes.Honestly, I didn't realize how much wasn't being done with my listing until I started reading this forum. I do dread the whole process though since it kills us to clean for each showing with 9 people in the house.

Good luck. Hoping you get a contract when things pick up.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:47AM
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How does the agent find out what they bought? The agent might call and ask they buyer's agent. As a former agent, I will say though that when other agents called me with this question I would not share specific information for a variety of reasons unless they had closed on the property. Mostly I was protecting the interests of my buyers in a number of ways. I might provide a general idea about what they made an offer on, but it remained private until closing. If an agent called me after the buyers closed, then I would tell them specifically.

In my area, properties that are sold are listed in the paper with the names of the buyer and seller and addresses. I know that's not the case in all areas.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:24AM
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We can search for any activity that has happened since the OPs home was listed. The key part of the search is that it needs to capture those homes with the same criteria of yours. That should be easy with the OPs home criteria.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 7:29AM
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OK, here's the rundown on everything >$400K (we're listed at $525K):

It looks like none of our lookers have bought anything. Agent is going to follow up with the 3 serious ones to see where they stand.

Nothing new has come on the market within 75K of us since we listed.

Two have sold, for 435K and 415K.

Two are pending:
-One new construction that was on the market for a year in the 750K range
-One that's a shocker to me, as it's a horribly dated house with a tough-to-change exterior and was very overpriced (485K). I'm very curious to see what it sold for. With all the work it needed, I wouldn't have paid over 300K.

I'm not sure what the above tells us.

Agent wants to do another broker's open. The first one was right after Thanksgiving and turnout was low.

Additional thoughts/input?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 2:35PM
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How do you know that none of the lookers bought yet? Maybe they bought one of the two for $435 and $415. How many Actives are there currently that are above $400,000.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:20PM
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Did your lookers give you any feedback that was valuable? Any thoughts on if they were just tire kickers or seriously looking?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:34PM
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I know our lookers didn't buy those 2 (or the 2 pending) because the selling agents listed weren't their agents.

Current listings:
400-450: 12
450-500K: 5
500-550: 3
550-600K: 3 (all at 599)
600K+: 16

3 of the 6 were considering making offers. One gave feedback on one of those email things and gave all positives (interior, price, location) but said the exterior was only average. One of the serious ones was a bit concerned about it being closer than he'd like to the road.

On the realtor open they did, one agent said the trim in one area wasn't as nice as in another area, so I dressed it up over Christmas.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 10:21PM
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From those solds, it sounds like your price range is a hard one! ($500K+)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 2:45PM
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Two homes have sold in about 4 months. There are about 20 homes that are similar to yours, price-wise, that are Active. So, a home is selling about every 2 months. So, the absorption rate is about 10 months. In other words, if this selling pace continues, it would take about 10 months to sell all of the existing inventory.
You are located in a very slow market. Either have patience, or make sure that the price is at a point that will make your property be so irresistable that you ensure that you are the next home that sells... because you are only seeing a home sell every two months. If you are not the next sale, statistics say you are going to wait for another two months. It just comes down to how badly you want to sell, and how much of a gambler you are.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 8:14AM
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Princess: Yep, it's about 90th percentile, price-wise.

NC: Check your math.
"2 homes have sold in 4 months": the viewing window is 2 months, and 4 went pending, 2 of which have since closed. That's 2/month, making the absorption rate 10 months (your final number is correct).

But I'm not sure you're using the most applicable range. It looks like you're saying "similar to yours" means everything 400-550, because someone looking for a 500K house might end up buying a 400 one. While that's true, it would also be true that someone looking at a 600K house might buy mine for 500K. So if you extend the range down 100K, you should also extend it up 100K. And not everyone looking at a 400K house can afford a 500K one, so the ranges are overlapping. I'd be more inclined to put the range at 450-550.

Also, a 2-month window, especially around the holidays, isn't the best representation, is it? If I look at all 2012, here's what sold (note that there may be some transfers in here between ex-spouses or trusts; I haven't scrubbed the data):
400-450: 9
450-500: 5
500-550: 5
550-600: 4
600+: 4

So I look at this and say in the 450-550 range, 10 sold in a year, 8 are currently on the market, so I'm looking at a 10 month inventory.

Hey, we arrived at the same number! :-)

Also, here's the distribution of months the 450-550's closed:
Apr 4
May 1
Aug 1
Sept 2
Oct 1
Nov 1

It's a small sample, so there's nothing definitive, but it makes me hopeful for the spring! :-)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:41AM
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One more thought: when we last sold a house, in 2007, we put it on the market in January and didn't have our first showing for 2 weeks. So things might not be picking up for a few more weeks.

OTOH, our rental that's on the market FSBO in another state has had 3 showings this month. And a bunch of people wanting to rent or buy on contract....

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:43AM
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I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, this is a slowish time of the year. As somebody on the other side who is looking for a house, I am bemoaning the lack of inventory out there. On the plus side, once people DO look, potential buyers will hopefully be serious about a purchase and won't have a lot of houses to choose from.

If you are REALLY serious about selling the house, you may want to consider dropping to $499K, that would open up the prospective buyers considerably. Once again, as coming from somebody who is house hunting, I have my upper limits in my search engine set at an even 100K value. So if I was searching for a house in the 400-500 range, I wouldn't even see yours as an option.

I know you have lowered your prices already, so I am not sure if this is something that is even an option for you. Just trying to give you some perspective on how a buyer shops!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 9:54AM
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weedy--the market supply in your area, no matter what method you use to determine it, is about 10 months. That is an oversupply in any market. The optimal supply is about 5.6 months. Although there is value in knowing the market trends (when things sell) supply is determined at a given point in time based upon the sales in the previous month.

Market history or trends gives you different information. I often had people ask "when" they should list. By looking at market history or trends, I could give them information about the most likely time they would be successful in selling.

Another interesting number to determine is the days on market for each sale in a given month. For example, houses listed in October might be on the market for 145 days. Houses listed in April might be on the market for 100 days. This data can give you an idea about your market and how your house is being perceived in the market place.

If you were my client I might narrow that price range for the market supply down considerably depending upon the market as a whole.

Often people misunderstand market supply. It does not mean that your house will sell in 10 months. What it does mean is that if no other homes came on the market in a particular price range, all existing inventory would sell in that 10 months.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:31AM
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rrah writes:
"Often people misunderstand market supply. It does not mean that your house will sell in 10 months. What it does mean is that if no other homes came on the market in a particular price range, all existing inventory would sell in that 10 months."

Exactly. And more than likely, all of those homes WON'T sell during those 10 months.
Absorption Rate is best used to determine if a market is stable improving or declining, and using this info to best price a property.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Here's some more intelligence:

The 435K that sold: agent had been through our house, suggested it to the buyer, they declined to tour it. Didn't say why.

The dated house that is pending: buyer has 2 family members in the neighborhood, so was not looking elsewhere.

Our agent is working hard to get the info. He said we could consider dropping the price by a couple K just to get it in front of people getting auto emails, and remind them it's out there, but the price range isn't that crowded, so I don't think it's a matter of getting lost in the masses.

It feels like it's just a waiting game right now. We need a relocating doctor to come on a house hunting trip. :-)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 6:55PM
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" We need a relocating doctor to come on a house hunting trip."

Or a price cut.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 9:17PM
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He said we could consider dropping the price by a couple K just to get it in front of people getting auto emails, and remind them it's out there, but the price range isn't that crowded, so I don't think it's a matter of getting lost in the masses.

Possibly. When we were looking at houses to buy this time a year ago there were not a huge number on the market in our price range and criteria. We ended up buying a house that had been in our second tier of houses to look at. Had we seen a price drop come in, I think it would have drawn our attention somewhat. In fact, one house we looked at in the subdivision (and didn't buy) and been priced slightly above what I wanted to look at and reduced price around the time we decided to look at the subdivision. It was not a huge reduction but was enough to cause us to put it on the list.

All of that said, the kind of price reduction that makes a difference is the one that brings in different buyers because it puts you in a totally different price bracket. In the house we sold a couple of years ago, we had it on the market about $500k with lots of showings and no offers. We took it off the market, then put it back on at $499k. That brought in different buyers and we had a contract within a few days.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 3:20AM
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We bought our house in the dead of winter (Feb). We had started looking in Nov and the owner of our place started having open houses regularly. Right through the holidays into the new year. Is your realtor doing this?

We probably wouldn't have been as interested if we hadn't been able to come by and 'kick the tires' (see inside).

I give our seller credit for keeping the place looking great (and available to see) in bad and good weather.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Our agents did have a 2nd open house in mid-Dec. Kind of a "we're not sure what to do, let's try this." Only one couple came through.

Every Monday when we leave we hang the "show towels," hide the wastebaskets, make sure sinks and floors are shining, etc. etc. and then no one comes all week. You know the drill. While it's great to come home on Friday to a clean house, it'd be even better if someone else got to experience it while we were gone. :-)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 8:00PM
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If you want to stick to the current price, then patience is in order. The agent can not magically force buyers to want to look at it.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 11:10AM
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Finally broke the dead string....had a showing last weekend, but they said the house was too close to the road (note: it's about 100' from the road). Got a 2nd showing (1st one back in Nov) tomorrow.

3 more houses have gone pending, with list prices

The ugly house referenced above listed for 485, dropped to 450, sold for 400.

Current listings:
400-450: 10 (was 12 1 mo ago)--2 sold
450-500K: 4 (was 5)--1 withdrawn
500-550: 3 (same)
550-600K: 5 (was 3)
600K+: 16 (same)

Agent says inventory is low compared to 1 year ago. I don't think that much applies in our price range. Low inventory, maybe, but low buyer pool too. Maybe if all the cheaper ones keep selling off and more expensive ones keep getting listed, ours will be left standing alone looking really good. :-)

I wonder if there's a dynamic where people are buying more conservatively than they could, worried about resale down the road. I know in the town we're moving to, we're talking 200-250K max, and I think I'm going to ask the local agents for a list of everything that's sold in the past 12 months so we can make sure we're not buying too high up on the bell curve in price. I don't want to be stuck when we sell down the road with a low buyer pool. Agents, have you seen this dynamic?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:31PM
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5 more houses have gone pending in the 400-450 (list) range, and one listed for 599. The market is starting to move more, though still in the "lower than us" range.

Current listings:
400-450: 7 (was 10 1 mo ago)--5 went pending, 2 new
450-500K: 5 (up 1)
500-550: 2 (down 1)
550-600K: 6 (down 1)-1 went pending
600K+: 15 (down 1)

We've had 3 showings in the past month. 2 had follow up questions and 1 of them came back later in the day for a 2nd look.

Hanging in there.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:28PM
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We sold ours in mid December to the 3rd showing in the four months it was listed. They say the first offer is your best so we grabbed it. We got 96% of our asking price, although I also dropped $15k in updates to get it ready to sell.

We bought almost $100k below what we can afford. Times have changed, banks have changed and I am no longer interested in a large home with a big mortgage. Uncertain times drive a bit more caution. Also keep in mind that $438k is the magic number (varies by market) for a conventional with only 5% down. At $525k, bigger down payments are required, but most market data I've seen suggests highest density of new mortgages written at the 95% loan value, suggesting buyers are keeping their reserve cash or don't have more to put into down payment in first place. Many sellers are coming to closing table needing to pay out to sell, limiting their own down payments on replacement purchases.

There's a buyer for your home at your asking price, always is. But it may not be the buyers out there right now. You either lower your price to meet them, or wait for your buyer to find you.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:50AM
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