Tip of the Week Are We There Yet?

Tip of the Week

Are We There Yet?
by Loren Keim

“Are we there yet?” is a question my children often ask when we’re driving on vacation or to relative’s homes. It’s the same question our realtors ask about the real estate market. When will the market begin to recover? When will buyers decide it’s finally a good time to buy? The answer is always the same – “We’re not there yet, but we’ll be there soon!”

Pastor Scott of New Life Church in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania opened his sermon this week with a joke. “A man walked in to see his doctor, upset because he believed he was shrinking. The doctor promptly responded, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll just have to be a little patient.'”

I realize that, for many Realtors, it’s hard to be patient in this market when your mortgage is overdue and someone is outside repossessing your car. As a rule, we’re not the most patient group. Successful salespeople are headstrong, impulsive, determined, and stubborn.

Sadly, we don’t control the marketplace or the economy, but we do have some control over our careers. When the market collapses, like it has over the past two years, many Realtors shut down and give up. Agents come to work a little later, go home a little earlier and perhaps spend more time watching television, commiserating with others about the market, or griping about the news or blaming poor marketing and spend less time building our careers.

However, there are still homes selling, even in the current market. There are people selling because of divorce, job relocation, and job loss. There are people buying because their leases are up and the interest rates are fantastic. There are buyers moving to the area for jobs and buyers purchasing because they’re having children and need a larger home. Really there are!

When others are working less is the time you can gain a competitive advantage by doing more and by working smarter. Additionally, there are so many methods to build business that cost little or no money. For example, when was the last time you went back through you list of past clients and called a few to reconnect with them? When was the last time you wrote a quick ‘Just-A-Note’ card to a friend, relative or past client?

Here are a few quick things you can do to try to generate business:
• Post your listings for free to Craigslist. We generate a number of buyers each month from our ads on Craigslist.
• Enter your listings for free into Postlets.com and syndicate your listings to other sites from there. It takes 10 minutes to add a listing and it’s syndicated to Trulia, Vast, Google Base, Oodle, Hotpads and others.
• Post a note about your latest listing on Facebook.
• Send out a free e-card from egreetings.com to several of your past clients.
• Send out an e-newsletter to your past clients.
• Pick up the phone and call anyone you know.
• Jot a handwritten note to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
The more action you take, the more likely you are to run into those who really need to buy or sell, which will help you to build your individual business. Sadly, when I suggest proactively seeking buyers and sellers, the immediate reaction is either “I tried that and it doesn’t work” or “I just don’t have the time to do all that stuff.”

I know each of these ideas work because they have each personally brought me buyers and sellers. And regarding the excuse that e-greetings, postlets and craigslist take too much time. Right now, you have plenty of time to work on building your business and none of them take more than ten minutes. So set time aside each day, perhaps in the morning with a cup of coffee, and build your business.

Waiting for the phone to ring and the market to return is not the way to build a long-term successful career. Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Focus on what you can control and get back to work. Buyers and sellers are waiting!

Handling Buyer’s Remorse

Handling Buyer’s Remorse
by Loren Keim

About a dozen years ago, I knew a real estate agent who, when he wrote an offer on a property, gave the buyers a huge horse pill in a clear plastic bag. The bag was labeled ‘Buyer Remorse Pill.’ It was a joke, but it would also open up a conversation with the buyer about the subject of buyer’s remorse.

One of the major challenges that we, as Realtors and home sellers, have in the current environment is that far too many buyers believe prices may continue to fall and are hesitant to make an offer on a property unless they negotiate some spectacular deal.

One of my functions in life is to assess the real estate market at Lehigh University each year and project the most likely direction for sales trends. I personally believe we’re going to start seeing some upward slope, although it will take many years to completely recover, but that’s a conversation for another article. Buyers, however, are lured by articles in their local press and on Yahoo which announce how bad things are and how much worse they’re likely to get.

In order to properly represent home sellers, realtors must dispel some of that fear, and help those buyers to see that real estate is a great investment over time. This particular agent’s approach was to alleviate that fear by explaining that buyer’s remorse is a natural part of the home buying process.

“Mr. and Mrs. Reed, after writing this offer, you will head home, and one of you will look at the other and say ‘What did we just do?’ You’ll start worrying that you made an offer on the wrong house in the wrong neighborhood. Your furniture won’t fit. You paid too much. You should have waited until the interest rates came down. You can’t afford this mortgage payment and so on. If you get home and start feeling that way, don’t worry. This is a common reaction called ‘Buyer’s Remorse.’ Call me and we’ll discuss it. I wouldn’t let you do something that I didn’t think was in your best interests.”

The two primary keys for home sellers in dealing with buyer’s remorse are, of course, to hire a good skilled real estate agent, and to require a significant deposit so the buyer cannot easily walk away from the purchase. If the worst does happen, the owner and their agent will have to work through the problem and try to keep the buyer’s fears at bay. Unfortunately, since the listing agent often isn’t the person working directly with the buyer, you will have to rely somewhat on the buyer’s agent to do his or her job correctly.

We train our agents to pull out all the statistics showing that even though property values have declined in most parts of the country over the past few years, these corrections are historical and they do reverse themselves. Recent sales are also a way to justify the price the buyer is paying on the property. We show trends and why buying a home versus throwing money away in rental payments is a good investment over time. We go back over the mortgage payments and rates and the buyer’s qualifications. We have even put together some cartoons to help lighten the situation.

Ultimately, there is no single answer for how to handle buyer’s remorse when it appears. Just be aware of the potential for a buyer to panic. If it happens, the buyer may try to withdraw from the agreement, or he or she may begin nitpicking the home because he or she is frustrated. Do not become emotional. If you are representing the buyer, simply respond the best you can and if you’re representing the seller, you may have to use the deposit as leverage to keep the buyer from withdrawing from the purchase.