Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Certified International Property SpecialistGrand Rapids, Michigan is welcoming the world home as REALTORS expand their awareness about the world and global markets. The local association is currently hosting a national designation offered by the National Association of REALTORS to train local real estate agents about the benefits of becoming globally proficient and connected. Approximately 20 students are currently enrolled in the designation course which involves classroom time, a certain amount of practical experience with international transactions and some other requirements.

It’s especially good for me to participate in this class as it represents the fruit of seed from efforts in 2011 when the association created the International Committee. Today, this committee is active in enhancing awareness about the impact of globalization on the economy of West Michigan.

We have had the opportunity to serve people from all over the world. It is always an interesting and enlightening experience. It requires attention to detail and an awareness of some of the unique challenges that people from different parts of the world face. As an immigrant and New American, I have a real appreciation for the benefits of homeownership in America.

One of the challenges of the classroom experience is the danger of stereotyping as we seek to learn more about people whose experience differs. For instance, we’re having discussions about high context vs low context cultures. What’s emerging in the discussion is the fact that you cannot take generalizations too far. At the end of day, it’s about the individual and their culture – you can’t divorce one from the other. It’s a packaged deal.

30619761_sAnyone who was in the real estate market in 2015 knows this already.  2015 was an incredible year to sell real estate!  Not only did homeowners in West Michigan recover pretty much all the losses of the economic crisis, home prices and home equity enjoyed substantial gains!

From a low of $99,000 in the dark days where foreclosures and short sales climbed to almost two thirds of the listings advertised on the local MLS, today’s average home price of $162,000 plus is almost double the selling averages of the worst of the recession. (Data from the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS)

Smart would be home sellers would do well to jump onto this fast moving band wagon in the early days of 2016.  Traditionally, winter is a period of time when home sales dip.  It’s also a period when your home will be in less competition.  Why is this especially pertinent today?  Read on…

1.  Less Competition in the Most Competitive Market

2015 was a banner year for competition.  Especially if you were trying to buy a home.  Multiple Offer situations became so common place, that some REALTORS were taking classes to learn how to manage scenarios where up to ten potential buyers were vying for one home!  Today, there are still more potential home buyers than homes to be sold.  Inventory in the Multiple Listing Service for the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS has hovered below 3.5 months for most of the past 18 months.  This type of sustained low inventory is very unusual.  Putting your home on the market early this spring puts you ahead of the spring rush.

2.  Price to Compete

This may initially seem counter-intuitive.  Why price low when so many people want to buy?  Well, for a couple of good reasons.  Number one is that people want to buy, BUT they’re not stupid!  Today, there are many ways to research what your home should sell for online.  While, they are not always accurate, potential buyers can use these online portals and get a professional Market Analysis from a local REALTOR to substantiate their instincts.  Second, pricing high helps you to sell the other guys house.  Buyers rarely look at just one home before they purchase.  As they compare what you’re offering to what’s available elsewhere, if you’re over-priced, they’re not likely to purposely over-pay when better deals are around the corner.  So, it’s best to be competitive in your pricing so you don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of the bidding process.

3.  Consider an Auction

Auctions are emerging as a viable type of sale in the West Michigan marketplace.  While in the past, they have mostly be constrained to the arena of short sale bids and HUD foreclosures, more home sellers are willing to explore this type of sale as an option.  For one thing, it’s nice to know when your home will be sold – the auction date.  You can also create a reserve bid which will ensure that your home will not be sold below a certain price.  Also, auctions tend to generate purchasing activity.

4.  Hold an Open House Sale

Instead of cleaning your home multiple times a week for assorted showings, you might want to consider a technique which combines the efficiency of an Open House and provide home buyers and your nosy neighbors one stop shopping to preview a home with a wider range of showing hours and the benefits of refreshments.  There are many creative ways to put this type of an Open House together.  It also provides an excellent way to drum up excitement for a potential bidding war when you will be available to consider all potential offers.  Kind of like creating your own mini auction.

5.  Get Rid of Half Your Stuff!

Hold a garage sale BEFORE you put your home on the market.  While many people wait until they’ve sold their home to do this, it really is an intelligent option to consider prior to putting a home on the market.  For starters, we Americans tend to have too much stuff!  It’s harder for potential home buyers to figure out where there stuff may find a new home when so much of yours is still in the way.  Clutter tends to make homes feel and look smaller which translates into lower offers.  Getting rid of clutter and things that you don’t want to keep will make packing easier and give you an incentive to do some much needed cleaning.

We hope you’ve found lots of value in these tips.  If you’d like to talk with one of our client specialists further about selling your home in January 2016, please contact us.

 

The CQ Advantage! Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS

Audu Real Estate is pleased to present a brand new CE Marketplace certified course:  The CQ Advantage!  Cultural Intelligence for REALTORS.  Please contact Lola Audu at lola@audurealestate.com for information about booking this course for your company or organization.  The course is certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for Michigan real estate agents. (1 Hour Elective, 1 Hour Legal)

Instructor:  Lola Audu

Course Descriptive:  C000482  – available through the CE Marketplace

Certified for 2 Hours of Continuing Education Credit for real estate professionals in the State of Michigan

Click to view/download mini-PDF version of course: Cultural Intelligence Mini Preview

We live in a global village, a multi-contextual mixing bowl of cultures and counter-cultures.  Cultural Intelligence has emerged as a critical form of knowledge, insight and engagement necessary to be competitive across a broad spectrum of client interactions.  Perhaps few professions deal with differences in culture and perspective as frequently as members of the real estate community who are tasked with helping people of every race, tribe, creed and tongue find that unique spot to call home.

We’re pleased to present a unique class which explores the role that Cultural Intelligence can play in helping REALTORS understand how to serve the needs of their clients.  Culture is an entity that morphs and changes.  Simply learning a few ‘so called ‘rules of engagement’ is not adequate preparation for the numerous ways in which culture impacts response patterns, thinking and interactions.  A lack of cultural intelligence can create angst, irritation and loss of otherwise promising business opportunities.

The class draws from Lola Audu’s personal experience of growing up in a cross cultural context within the African continent that included an educational experience where students represented 60 different nationalities.  A term which is sometimes used to describe individuals who regularly navigate the world of multiple cultures is ‘third culture’ kids.  A simple question such as ‘Where is home?’ may be answered in surprisingly nuanced ways.  The Millennial generation is the most diverse generation in America’s history.  It is also the most diverse generation culturally in the entire world.  You may enjoy reading the this article and watching the video below.

While most Americans will not have this level of cultural dissonance or experience, the reality is that in today’s world, a REALTOR’s clients will increasingly have some elements which differ from the traditional norm of the dominant culture.  Are you prepared to serve effectively?

In addition, the course will cover issues of cultural ethnocentrism as well as discussing Fair Housing issues related to the impact of the institution of dominant cultural norms and discrimination in the United Sates.

For booking information:  Lola Audu  – 616-791-0511 or lola@audurealestate.com

To preview other courses visit: http://audurealestate.com/workshops-seminars/

Inforum 3You can fill in the blank with any one of a number of statements and even gripes.  In today’s fast paced, information doused climate, the reality is that for many would be home buyers, the REALTOR may NOT be the one who locates your home for sale online or even in real life.  And, if that was all that was required to purchase a home successfully, it would be a huge missing link.

But anyone who has bought a home within the past decade at least knows that finding the home is only the first step.  And with new regulations coming fast and furious through the pipeline for financing and other related industries, finding the home may be the first SMALL step.

The fact is this, locating a suitable home does not mean that you will be able or qualified to purchase it.  Nor does it guarantee that even if you qualify for the financing of the home, unexpected issues in the condition of the home or unreasonable demands/needs from the current home owners will not short circuit a successful closing.

There are also all sorts of ancillary side notes such as:  the home failing to appraise for the value proposed in the purchase agreement, survey issues, title issues, insurance challenges, government regulation which may cause delays or a host of other things which fall under the general category of ‘Murphy’s Law.’

Buying a home has been said to be the largest financial transaction that most Americans will ever undertake.  It is also one of the most complex.

Here are some other things your REALTOR is doing beyond simply finding you a home that you like on the Internet.

  1.  Your REALTOR is educating you about the real estate process.  What you don’t know can hurt you big time in the purchase of a home.  It’s not easy to recover from a financial ‘mistake’ of this magnitude.
  2. Your REALTOR is constantly helping everyone in the transaction to navigate some pretty complicated situations which are exacerbated by frayed nerves, confusion in the process and issues that can cost somebody big money.
  3. Your REALTOR is often the Translator who helps you make sense of the unfamiliar lingo used by Lenders and others so you are informed and aware of what you need to do to create a successful outcome.
  4. Your REALTOR examines all the paperwork to ensure that the transaction is legally binding and enforceable.  Failure to properly negotiate something as simple as a possession date can land you in the street if your landlord has already rented out your apartment.
  5. Your REALTOR helps you to find all sorts of people/companies who can be of assistance to you through this process.  They can help you find information about the neighborhood, provide you with lists of contractors for various services, assist with arranging necessary repairs, refer you to competent specialists…

This is a very, very short list of what REALTORS do beyond finding a home on the Internet.  Every deal has its own particular nuance of challenge and your transaction is probably not going to be an exception.  It’s wise to choose your next REALTOR based on a number of factors and determine if simply finding a home on the Internet is really or even the most important thing you want a REALTOR to do for you.


This blog post was inspired by an interesting conversation I had with a local lender, Jonathan Izenbart about his perspective on the value of a REALTOR to the real estate transaction and how this was important in light of the myriad of regulatory changes impacting the real estate transaction. It is also included in our poopular FAQ Series

think outside the box in vintage wood type

When it comes to selling a home, many have difficulty letting go of the emotional attachment. As a result, this may overshadow our ability to make critical decisions regarding what needs to be done to sell a home successfully.

A home, like a well-loved, but worn out T-shirt can become an item which is so familiar that we fail to see what is readily apparent to an average onlooker.

Avoiding some of the most costly mistakes can ease the pain of moving by:

  1. Saving you time and hassle
  2. Bringing in more offers with a higher quality of Buyer
  3. Putting more money into your pocket so you can purchase your next perfect home!

7 Mistakes to avoid include:

Neglecting Curb Appeal.  Today curb appeal is not limited to how your home looks when a potential buyer drives by.  The average home is pre-viewed online before people jump into cars.  So, if your home listing photos are unprofessional and your home appears cluttered and dated, people won’t click into or drive by your home which means you may lose a potential sale.

Over-pricing your home.  Today’s market in West Michigan is hot!  If your home has been on the market for 30 days without any serious interest, you are over-priced.  Listen!  The market speaks.  Over-pricing a home is the single most common way that homeowners lose money when trying to sell their home.  The average over-pricing penalty in the West Michigan area ranges from 20 – 25%.  So for a $100,000 home that sits on the market, this can mean a retail price of $75,000 – $80,000 nine months later.  Whereas, if it had been priced at $89,900 from the beginning, the likelihood of a sale within 30 days would have been excellent!  Invest in a well prepared Comparative Market Analysis or appraisal.

Not tidying up.  This is huge.  Sight and smell are how buyers buy homes and definitely impacts how much they are willing to pay.  For top dollar, go beyond moving your dirt around.  De-clutter: throw stuff out, spiff it up, sparkle, trim, clean, buff, scrub…

Not Sharing things you need to share.  Selling a home in West Michigan requires you to disclose what you know about the home.  No, you can’t just surprise people by covering up over issues you’ve been managing for years like a leaking roof, broken pipes or an oven that doesn’t work.  In fact, REALTORS require our clients to sign a Seller’s Disclosure which is a very detailed accounting of what you know about YOUR home.  This doesn’t absolve the buyer of the responsibility of getting their own home inspection, but it does protect you from being accused of lying about a known problem.

Dragging your feet.  Selling a home is not for the faint of heart.  It requires preparation, persistence and patience.  Selling a home is hard work.  Not just for you, but for the entire team of professionals (some estimates indicate that up to 50 individuals will have touched your file prior to closing).  Don’t do this until you’re ready and willing to do what will be required.  A great way to lose money is to discourage those who are trying to help you.  Remember, this is their livelihood and the higher their motivation, the more likely they are to do a better job.

Being unwilling to reward Success.  This is a surprisingly common mistake, yet is it one which can be remedied with relatively little downside for the homeowner.  Bargain hunting is a great pastime, but it may not be the most intelligent way to go about getting the most money for your home.

Consider going against the grain.  Offer a Bonus to the Agent who successfully sells your home.  It can be as little as 1-2% of your Sales Price.  This will increase interest in your home listing and will influence the exposure and potential offers your are likely to receive.  Think of it as leveraging your asset base.  Depending on your sales price, where else can a $1,000 investment potentially garner you a $5,000 – $10,000 increase in the amount of your rate of return within less than 6 months? To maximize the effectiveness of this technique, you may want to put a time limit on this…ex. home must be sold within 30 days to qualify for the bonus.

Choosing the wrong REALTOR.  Just because a friend or relative is in the real estate business does not mean that this individual is the best choice for the sale of your home.  Read this blog post to learn more about how to select the agent that’s right for you.

Related Content:  How Many REALTOR Interviews Should I have BEFORE Selecting an Agent?

Question:  How Many REALTORS should I interview BEFORE I make a Selection?

Answer:  Well, we’d like to suggest that might be the wrong approach to the Question.  A better question might be:  What should I be asking, considering or thinking about when selecting the right REALTOR for me?

Selecting the right REALTOR is more nuanced than simply selecting the Agent who does the most advertising or someone who is related to you.  The process of successfully selling a home requires several key elements be in place to guarantee success.  These are:

  1.  The right price
  2. The best presentation of your home (Staging & Marketing)
  3. The right Exposure
  4. The right REALTOR

Missing any one of the above items can successfully derail the process.  The best REALTOR will not be able to correct an over-pricing error if you insist on ignoring sound pricing counsel.  Nor will the best staging presentation be able to overcome a home that is poorly photographed and underexposed in the places where people go to look for homes online.

Selecting the right REALTOR requires someone who you

  1.  Trust
  2. Know is a proven hard worker and will keep you informed of developments (Good Communication)
  3. Has a proven history of successfully closed transactions
  4. Know has a system and plan to successfully execute the marketing, negotiation and closing of your home
  5. Understands the marketplace and is informed and knowledgeable about your market and the trends in real estate

There are many exceptional agents.  But, not every agent is necessarily the right one for you.  If you are something of a worrier or perfectionist, an agent who delivers scant communication or whom you cannot get a hold of quickly or easily may not be the best choice for you.  Even if they claim to have the most sales in a particular demographic.  On the other hand, if you perfer a more aggressive approach, finding an agent who has a highly energized and more combative approach to selling may be just what the doctor ordered!

Related Content:  27 Questions to Ask Your Home Builder

About the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions Series)

This series is designed to answer questions that we hear clients asking over and over again.  Perhaps, you’ve wondered about some of these questions yourself.  While this is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the subject being discussed, it is our hope that these short blogs will provide helpful insights and may encourage you to explore further.  Please feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail with any questions.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

Question:  Do I really need to spend money on a home inspection?

Answer:  In short the answer is Yes.  Even for a home that looks perfect and is beautifully presented.  And, Yes – even for a home that is brand spanking new.

Why?  Well, because a house should be through of as a unique set of systems and parts.  It’s more than the ‘personality’ you fell in love with.  It’s more like a spouse, you’re committing to live with. As with matters of the heart, the first blush will fade over time.  When the inevitable reveal occurs (worts and all), housing matters can be extremely expensive to correct.

Home Inspectors are trained to inspect major systems such as heating and air conditioning as well as the condition of the structure, roof, plumbing and electrical system.  If you have a chimney, they will peer into it and inspect it or advise you to contract with a specialist.  They’re also trained to look for evidence of infestation of all sorts of creepy crawlers, ants and mice.  Some types of mortgages will require a pest inspection for termites, which by the way are surprisingly common in West Michigan.

Then there’s the gas thing – Radon testing has become increasingly common in West Michigan.  Radon is an odorless gas that can kill – yes, Kill YOU if it is undetected.  So can carbon monoxide coming from an improperly functioning furnace.

Mold is another issue which can be dangerous if it is of a certain variety, and it’s always important to determine the source of the water penetration and correct that!

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  I highly recommend investing in the services of a qualified home inspector.  Preferably someone who is impartial and not related to you – parents and friends may mean well, but they rarely have the experience necessary to provide an unbiased opinion on an investment which is likely to be the biggest one you’ll make at any one time in this lifetime.

More FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) here

About the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions Series)

This series is designed to answer questions that we hear clients asking over and over again.  Perhaps, you’ve wondered about some of these questions yourself.  While this is not intended to be an exhaustive explanation on the subject being discussed, it is our hope that these short blogs will provide helpful insights and may encourage you to explore further.  Please feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail with any questions.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers

%d bloggers like this: