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Competition for the opportunity to buy a home in West Michigan has escalated dramatically within the past 24 months.  Bidding wars are now the new normal.  Potential home buyers may find themselves engaging what may feel like a Reality Show competition when they enter into the ring to bid on a fresh or particularly enticing entry into the housing market place.46500589 - model of cardboard house with key and dollar bills. house building, loan, real estate, cost of housing or buying a new home concept.

In the current real estate arena, knowledge, street smarts and a good team makes a big difference!  Here are some tips to up your ‘winning game’.  Study these details gleaned from over two decades of front line service by an experienced real estate broker to give yourself the edge as you mount your strategy in obtaining the home of your dreams!

1. Be Market Ready. Get Your Financing up to Snuff!

The current (January – February 2017) housing inventory in West Michigan according to the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS is 1.4 months of supply.  To put that in days – roughly 42 days of housing stock and the market depletes.  IF your’re a seller on the other hand, this means it will take roughly 75 days to list, market, and close your home sale provided you’re within the general norms of the area with regards to price and presentation.

Given these stats, REALTORS have taken to pleading for listings on social media as there are too many buyers looking for a limited supply of homes.  If you’re serious about getting a home, get Pre-approved now.  Submit to the often grueling process of having all your financial details examined by an experienced loan officer which include verification of your credit, employment history, assets and liabilities.  Get your money together too!  The more cash you have (which must be verifiable aka being in the bank long enough to verify that you obtained it legally) the better prepared you will be to win in the days ahead.

 2. Choose  Your REALTOR carefully.

Experience matters when choosing a professional REALTOR to represent you.  But so does temperament and the ability to persevere.  There is so much strangeness in today’s marketplace.  People are bidding for homes as though they are on the gaming floor in Vegas!  And when the high disperses, many are re-thinking what they just paid for a home!  It can become a vicious cycle, which is best avoided rather than trying to detangle.  A good REALTOR by your side will advise and fight for you. In fact, the reputation of a good REALTOR can be powerful edge when a Seller is trying to determine which offer is ‘real’ and which one may be likely to fake out after a month or less leaving them devoid of a truly viable offer to purchase their home.

3.  Circle the Market like a Hawk!

At Audu Real Estate, we provide Homebuyers with a private shopping portal that shoots out instant notifications when new listings pop up on the market.  This gives you an edge over your competition.  But understand that seeing the home before the herd stomps through is itself NOT enough to guarantee you will get the home just because you’re the first offer.  Read on to the next tip to understand WHY strategy is important.

4.   Strategize Like a Pro!

Negotiations are a critical component of the drive towards winning in the real estate multiple bidding arena. There are many components to a successful negotiation and this blog would be way to long to list all of them here.  But, for starters here are some important components for consideration in a winning negotiation:

*Price

*Financing

*Marketplace Knowledge & Comparison

*Terms & Conditions

*Timing

*Flexibility

*Method & Manner of Presentation

*Closing Date

No one wants to win a negotiation only to discover later that you purchased a lousy deal!  Believe me, many who suffered through the recent past recession within which many lost homes through foreclosure will tell you – Buyer Beware.  All that glitters is NOT gold. Which leads us right into our final tip…

5.  Be Sane!  Stay Flexible

Emerging from this process with your new home and sanity in place is the real win!  Buying a new home requires a certain solid internal confidence that in the end, you will prevail.  A belief that if a home is for YOU, it will be yours no matter what storms and obstacles present themselves.  Resolve internally that YOU WILL OVERCOME!  It will not necessarily be easy, but remember that this too shall pass.  Even if the process takes six months, at some point it will be over.  And you will have the enjoyment of your new home for hopefully many years.

Keeping this in mind, it is good to be mindful of the health and sanity of the real estate professionals who you will need to assist you along this journey.  Be kind.  Appreciate their efforts.  You are likely NOT their only client.  So when you are able to reach your ‘help’ after normal business hours and they spend an hour with you on the phone, say THANK YOU.  A good REALTOR or Lender will be going more than the extra mile to help you.

Often, the activity behind the scenes will pale in comparison to the effort you are privy to.  In fact, after you decide on a home, the REALTOR’s job has just begun.  And in a multiple bidding war is likely to include late nights, frustration, dealing with all sorts of issues – some of which are real and some of which are as fake as the ‘fake news’ cycle.  Think about this – treating them with dignity and respect increases the chances that they will be willing and available when you or your friends and family need help the next time housing becomes a priority in your life!

photo credit 123.rf

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How do you say hello

How do you say hello

Maybe it’s the sunshine, but foreign visitors to the West African coast often remark about how ‘friendly’ the people are.  The term ‘friendly’ can mean a lot of things depending on the viewpoint and experience of the giver and/or receiver.

One day, I asked a friend from America why Nigerians were frequently referred to with this descriptive?  The response to my question was suprising to me.  In essence, the answer was this:  ‘You people seem to be happy.  You smile a lot and you greet people with enthusiasm.  I was perplexed.  Wasn’t that simply the basics of good manners? Of course, you didn’t just say ‘Hi’.  It was rude to greet someone early in the day and not inquire about basic things such as their well being and the well being of the family members. Saying ‘Good Morning’ was simply the opener to polite conversation.

Years later, I found myself in America. I would quickly come to understand that the phrase ‘Let’s do lunch’ was not necessarily a serious invitation to meet for a meal.  And, unless there was a specific follow-up, this seemingly direct and straight-forward request was merely a nicety.  One which carried little sense of obligation for either party.  At least that became my perspective as I waited for phone calls which never came in those early years.

Not only do societal norms and manners matter, they can be the oil which greases the wheels of progress and prosperity or the quick sand which sinkholes the unsuspecting novice.  In many cultures, so called ‘niceties’ may be more crucial to a successful negotiation than the written terms of a contract.  Having some level of clarity and intuitive knowledge can be critical to avoiding costly disasters – situations where the goodwill seems to evaporate without explanation, rhyme or reason.

Take for instance the simply politeness of saying ‘Good Morning’.  My experience in my native country was such that if I forgot to say ‘Good Morning’ to anyone, I was reprimanded…in public…in front of the party I offended.  And, then instructed to start out on the right foot by greeting people properly.  Most individuals don’t need more than one or two public shamings of this sort to know that saying ‘Good Morning’ is a pre-requisite for polite company in southern Nigerian culture.

So, you can imagine my suprise when in the early years of my real estate career, I greeted a colleague with a cheerful ‘Good Morning’, only to be ignored.  I was so surprised, I asked one of the secretarial staff if I had inadvertently offended the individual.  I found the answer even more surprising when she responded with ‘O don’t let that worry you, that’s just how he is.’  So, a show stopper in one culture may be viewed completely differently in another one.

Cultural Intelligence enables us to adjust and adapt across cultures in ways that allow us to interact and to utilize the wisdom from keen observations to make good decisions.  Being effective in different situations does not require mimicry in the traditional sense, but it does help to have enough sensitivity and personal insight to adapt in a way that shows goodwill towards people and situations that differ from our own.

photocredit: 123rf.com

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One of the most important tools today for business and in many respects life in general, is the ability to be able to be flexible in adjusting to rapid change, much of which is difficult to predict.  Earlier in November, I had the opportunity to broaden the conversation within the real estate industry through a presentation at the national conference for the real estate industry held in Orlando, Florida.  Here are a few snippets from an onsite interview.

 

 

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From the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce announcement of the finalists nominated  for the 2016 EPIC AWARDS:

The EPIC Awards celebrates those businesses and people who are doing great things in the business community by being Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative and Collaborative.

Seven categories of awards recognize businesses and individuals supporting the community, demonstrating growth, finding ways to innovate, and are working with others as mentors and collaborators.

Anticipation builds for the annual EPIC Awards celebration as the field of nominees is narrowed—keeping finalists and attendees on the edge of their seats as the envelops are opened and award recipients are finally announced from the podium during an Oscar-styled reveal at this premier Chamber event.

Audu Real Estate is thankful to be recognized by our peers in the fields of business and industry as an innovator in the arenas of entrepreneurship and excellence in service.  The company was one of three nominees within the Minority Business Category.  Our goal and mission in service for the past 20+ years has been to build relationships through the process of serving the community through the practice of real estate.

Over the years we have had the privilege of helping hundreds of individuals and families locate spaces which they now call home.  The best reward is the celebration we experience with our clients when they find a community they can embrace and which loves them back.  It’s a sacred honor to be a small part of that process.

epic-awards-chamber-of-commerce-capture

Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Epic Awards photo credit

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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.

 

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chair setSome important changes will be put into effect with regards to the process of completing a real estate transaction on October 3, 2015. The changes are part of the Dodd-Frank Bill and in the industry are referred to by what may seem like a curious set of initials to the average person – RESPA/TILLA.  The government agency responsible for implementing and overseeing the enforcement of these new changes to the law is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which you will also see referenced by the initials CFPB.

While, the requirements will largely impact new processes for the Lending and Title industry with regards to actual changes in forms and procedures, we do anticipate that there will be some adjustments necessary for the real estate transaction as conducted by REALTORS as well. For our clients (Buyers & Sellers), the adjustments will largely be (though not necessarily completely)reflected in the following ways:

1. New Timelines requiring additional time to complete a fairly standard real estate transaction
2. Ability to understand the re-disclosure period and how it can impact the timeline of getting your home or your money.
3. Coordination of  ‘stacked’ closings and why closing and purchasing in the same day may no longer be possible
4. A couple of new forms for the Lending & Escrow process

As REALTORS, coordinating the process in a way that minimizes stress for our clients is our primary concern. To this end, we are taking courses to ensure we understand how to advise our clients to ensure that your investment in a home occurs as smoothly as possible during this period of significant transition.

If you have been thinking about buying or selling a home and would like to have a more in depth conversation about the best way to navigate through this changing landscape, we encourage you to contact us well BEFORE October 3, 2015 when these changes are scheduled to take effect. *(Implementation was delayed from August 1, (today) to address concerns about preparedness by the industry and consumers. Our Number: 616-791-0511.

Lastly, if you are currently in the processing of retailing your home on your own or are considering this option in the future, we would be willing to talk with you about how to avoid potential pitfalls particularly during this time of transition.  In the days ahead, knowledge and understanding will be critical in ensuring the your transaction does not become an unintended casualty of the law of ‘Unintended Consequences’.  Our office is prepared and ready to assist with all your real estate needs and concerns.  Call us to talk.  It’s Free!

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Leadership Essentials Capture

The grind of daily life is something that every serious business person experiences and learns to cope with.  Successful entrepreneurs understand that it is important to refuel and recharge to avoid or at least mitigate some of the burnout that accompanies the relentless pace of industry today.

For professionals involved in the real estate industry, the relentless pace of life has also included the stress of dealing with a marketplace that has experienced periods of intense activity and stress due to foreclosures and more recently, extremely low levels of housing inventory.

‘Leadership Essentials’ inspires REALTORS and individuals involved in business to reshape their thinking about the nature of challenge and adversity.  The interactive course utilizes storytelling and principles of Leadership gleaned through navigating the tumultuous world of real estate during one of the most profoundly difficult seasons the real estate industry has ever witnessed.

Lola Audu served as the President of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS in 2011 and was elected President of the Women’s Council of REALTORS- Western Michigan Chapter in 2013.  Lola’s personal journey and unique experience profile serve as a backdrop for a deeper conversation about what it means to not just lead, but become a leader who invokes participation through inspiring others to follow and engage in life transforming ways.

To book this course for your real estate brokerage, business or non-profit group, please contact Audu Real Estate at 616-791-0511.  A mini preview of the course can be accessed through downloading the link.

Leadership Essentials Mini Presentation

COMING SOON:  cc: Authentication – The Process of Becoming an Authentic Influencer.  Check back for more details for this course which is scheduled to premier in May – June 2015.

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