Wednesday, August 28, 2013

18 Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Agent to List Your Home

[Published August 29, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

       I totally sympathize with sellers’ frustration and sense of powerlessness when it comes to putting their home on the market.  Should you try to sell it yourself to save on commission?  How do you know which agent to hire and whether they’ll earn what they charge? 

       Perhaps making the process more scientific will help, so here are some questions to ask each of the agents you interview. My intention is that it will give you a little more confidence that the choice you end up making is in your best interest.

1.   Do you agree to complete all of the MLS fields describing my house, and not just the mandatory fields?

2.   Do you subscribe to “Showcase” service on realtor.com, and will you make full use of it for my home? (Browse realtor.com’s listings in your ZIP code to see how fully enhanced “Showcase” listings can really stand out.)

3.   Will your MLS listing of my house be syndicated to consumer and broker websites?  (Consumer sites include Trulia and Zillow, and broker sites include ReMax.com and GoldenRealEstate.com)

4.   Will you also post my home on craigslist.org? How will it look, and how often will you refresh it?

5.   May I have the address of one of your current listings so that I can see how it is marketed, both on realtor.com and elsewhere? (Google the address to see where it appears.)

6.  Will you produce a virtual tour (a slideshow of still photos, some of them panoramic) of my home?  If so, which vendor will you use?  (If you click on “Tour” on realtor.com listings, you’ll see that their quality and effectiveness vary greatly. Golden Real Estate uses VisualTour.com.)

7.  Will you produce a video tour of my home, and will it be a narrated video tour, not just a simulated video using photos with music?

8.  Will you provide a free staging consultation to make sure my home shows its best?

9.   How many of your listings sold in the last year, and how many of them expired or were withdrawn without selling? (If the numbers are super impressive, they may be exaggerated — ask for a printout!)

10.  Will you do email blasts and/or distribute printed flyers telling other agents about my home?

11.  Will you promote my home at the various weekly Realtor marketing sessions and/or will you hold a broker open house?

12.  Will you hold regular open houses (assuming you agree to them)?

13.   What is your commission, and will you reduce it if you sell my house yourself (in other words, if you don’t have to split your commission with the buyer’s agent)?

14.  Will you reduce your commission further if I hire you to represent me in the purchase of my next home?

15.  What service do you use for setting showings?  (If they don’t use Centralized Showing, as most do, it won’t be as good as it could be.)

16.  Will I get feedback from you on every showing you do, and will you or your showing service solicit feedback from other agents and tell me what they say?

17.  Does your company, or do you, have a website on which your listings are promoted?

18. Do you advertise your cell number and answer when it rings?

 

This Week's Featured New Listing

 

13097 W. Cedar Drive #320, Lakewood
$130,000
This 3rd floor condo in The Peaks at Green Mountain (a few blocks west of Union Blvd.) has 2 bedrooms, one of them with a master bath. It is in excellent condition. Features include a gas fireplace, new wall-to-wall carpeting, tiled kitchen floor, and more. Furnace with A/C has 20-year warranty. All kitchen appliances and washer/dryer are included. There’s a storage closet on the private deck overlooking the Green Mountain open space. There is plenty of parking for you (2 reserved spaces) and your visitors. The $175/month HOA dues include a swimming pool, insurance, building & grounds maintenance, water & sewer, and trash/snow removal. Take a narrated video tour online at http://www.jimsmithrealtor.com/ListNow/Property.aspx?PropertyID=1524358&, then call for a showing..

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This Week's Featured Listings From Golden Real Estate

[Published August 22, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
5476 Joyce Court, Golden 80403
$785,000
This is Jim & Rita Smith’s own home, which they rented out when they moved to their current home on Eagle Ridge Drive.  Well, the tenants are gone (Jim found them their dream home!), and it’s time to sell this fantastic solar powered home near Indiana Street and 55th Drive.  Not only is the home’s electric bill under $10 per month, but solar thermal panels also provide most of the home’s hot water needs. The home sits on 1/2 acre of beautifully landscaped grounds. Inside, it has high end finishes — Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, a terrific master suite plus two guest suites, six Solatubes bringing sunlight into the home’s interior, and a 4-car garage with epoxy floors, a workshop and hot & cold running water!
 Take a narrated video tour at www.JeffcoSolarHomes.com.

 
1331 Bellaire Street, Broomfield
$334,900
Very open large kitchen and family room area with wood-burning fireplace. Wood floors, 3 baths and 3 large bedrooms. The very private yard has a well maintained swimming pool and mature landscaping.  You’ll love the area and location of this home.
 Listed by Jim Swanson. 
 

 
 
1610 S. Chase Street, Lakewood
$205,000
Charming 4-bedroom, 2-bath south Lakewood home with refinished hardwood flooring preserving the beauty of the home’s original character. Newly remodeled kitchen and bath & new roof. Freshly painted, bonus lanai and large, fenced backyard. Listed by Karon Hesse. Open Sat. 1 - 5
Narrated video tour at http://youtu.be/vR6NnK08EpU
 
 

Client Is Glad She Decided Against Trying to Sell Home by Herself

[Published August 22, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

     When Crystal Ganz walked into our office, it was to get help buying a home. That’s when she explained that she was selling her current home “by owner.”  It was a reasonable decision, she thought, since homes are selling so easily.  Long story short, she decided to let me take over the job of selling her home, giving her a discount on the commission since I’d be making a commission on the purchase of her new home.

     After the closing, Crystal was so glad she had hired me that I invited her to put her thoughts in writing.  Here’s what Crystal sent me:

     “What a relief!  Today we closed on our house! It seemed we would never get to this day. We started the selling process as a “for sale by owner,” thinking we could save some money in this hot housing market.  After a couple weeks of non-stop phone calls and people requesting to see the house with little to no notice, or just stopping by and knocking, we were glad to get the help of a professional.
     “Jim Smith listed our house and took the burden of sorting through and qualifying the potential buyers prior to them coming over for a showing.  His company uses a texting system that gives us the option of approving or rescheduling a showing which gave us some flexibility in showing the house and still trying to live in it with 3 small children.  Jim did an excellent job in taking photos and a video tour of our house and listing the house that very same day.
      “Jim Smith listed the house on multiple sites including his own, which seemed to have lots of interested buyers. The house was under contract in no time!  As we progressed through the selling process Jim did an excellent job of negotiating a fair price and helping sort through some unexpected issues with our inspection and appraisal.
     “I couldn't imagine we would have ever made it this far on our own having to sort through these issues.  The deal would have been terminated and, without knowing how to negotiate and bargain, we would have been back to square one; looking for another interested buyer and constantly showing the house.
     “We also are using Golden Real Estate to purchase our next home. We are to close on it in a couple of weeks. The service was equally as great, and we feel we have found our dream home, thanks to the excellent service Jim Smith and his company have provided.  Another great benefit of using Golden Real Estate is the use of the free moving truck!”

    Crystal spared you the details of the complications which arose, but suffice it to say that her buyer had an agent who knew what she was doing, and negotiating the inspection issues and low appraisal would not have been easy for her without an experienced agent on her side.

    I got a sewer repair demand reduced by $1,600 by providing a lower price from a different contractor, and we closed at a price $2,500 over the appraised value. Crystal knew that required an experienced agent.

    That experienced agent didn’t have to be me. My purpose with this column is not to say, “use me!” It’s to point out that selling a home is far more complicated than finding a buyer. Since your buyer will probably have a professional on his side, you should get one on your side, too!
 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This Week’s Featured New Listings from Golden Real Estate

[Published August 15, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

 
1538 Meadowlark Lane, Golden
 
This home in Golden’s Village at Mountain Ridge has been “coming soon” for about a month, and it’s finally ready to show! It has two main-floor master suites, and a third master suite in the fully finished garden-level basement. It has a new composition shingle roof, new paint, and new carpeting throughout. The eat-in kitchen has slab granite counters and opens to one of two wood decks. (The master suite opens to another deck.) The central air conditioning system is also new. You’ll have a hard time finding fault with anything about this home, which is nestled in the heart of this subdivision, away from any highway noise and within walking distance to open space trails, a city park, and Mitchell Elementary School.. Take a video tour at www.MountainRidgeHome.com.

 
6292 Kilmer Loop, #203, Arvada
Priced at just $207,000, this West Wood Villas condo makes a great starter home. It has one bedroom and one bath, plus a large study. It’s on the second floor, above its own 1-car garage. There’s plenty of guest parking. Take a video tour at www.jimsmithrealtor.com/ListNow/Property.aspx?PropertyID=2272471.
 
 
 7576 Eaton Street, Westminster
This 4-bedroom, 3-bath ranch-style home is in the Wood Creek section of Westminster. It has a finished basement and 2-car garage. It is listed for $230,000, which is only $128 per finished square foot. You can take a narrated video tour of it at www.jimsmithrealtor.com/ListNow/Property.aspx?PropertyID=2271263.
 
 
 
 
 


What Qualities Make Some Real Estate Agents More Successful?

[Published August 15, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

What makes for a successful real estate career?  Every new real estate agent faces the dilemma of how to break into a field where 10% to 20% of their competitors are truly successful and the rest are just getting by or failing.

The literature available to “newbies” is extensive. Gary Keller’s Millionaire Real Estate Agent comes to mind, as does local Realtor Bruce Gardner’s Seven Styles: How to Design Your Real Estate Career of Success and Significance.

Gardner’s book is certainly the easier read thanks to its succinctness and its concentration on helping agents to identify the strategy that fits their unique personality.  At the same time, one has to applaud Gary Keller for his in-depth presentation which has made Keller Williams the fastest growing real estate franchise in the country.

I look at my own path to success a little differently. Yes, I had one or two strategies on which I built my success, but it was more about personal qualities than about my strategy.

My initial strategy to get established is what we call “farming.”  I chose a neighborhood near me that I could focus on, building relationships that would lead to listings.

But behind the doing of it all was something more subjective. I’d like to share the qualities I brought to my farming and other real estate actions which — I believe — made me the success I’ve become.

Now that I’m an employing broker, I’ve come to identify these qualities as ones I look for in prospective broker associates. I prefer to associate with agents who share these qualities.  If you have them, call me!

1) Authenticity.  Don’t put on airs. Don’t pretend to be more successful than you are. Don’t pretend to know it all. Seek to be mentored, not admired. Admiration will come in time.

2) Integrity. This quality is closely related to authenticity. Tell the truth. Don’t ingratiate yourself to prospects through flattery or by saying what they want to hear. If a client doesn’t want to hear the truth, you don’t want to work with him (or her).

3) Giving back.  Author Bob Burg wrote a book about this quality called Go-Givers Sell More.  Be a go-giver, not a go-getter. That principle lies behind this column which I’ve been publishing for nearly a decade in the Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post and other papers. If you give people something of value that’s also honest and authentic, they’ll want to give you something — their business.

This last quality is most important to me. I belong to chambers of commerce, service clubs and business associations as a way of supporting their activities, not for the business I can get from them. My company’s moving truck is offered free not just to clients, but to any non-profit that requests it, subject to availability. Has the free truck brought me business?  Maybe, but that’s not the point.

The most successful real estate agents join their Realtor association, not because their company (like mine) requires it, but because it’s the right thing to do. They go further, too,  becoming leaders, teaching seminars, fearlessly sharing the keys to their own success with -- gasp! -- other agents who compete with them. They build and fund Habitat for Humanity houses. They engage in sustainable practices like recycling and renewable energy to give back to their planet. They even give blood! They’re go-givers.  Go-givers don't worry about getting.  It comes to them naturally. 
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

This Week’s Featured New Listings from Golden Real Estate

[Published August 8, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]


7320 Independence Street, Arvada
Upgrades include a gourmet kitchen with Thermador gas range and professional grade hood, SubZero refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher, under-cabinet lighting and slab granite countertops -- a chef's delight! Flooring includes oak, hickory and cherry hardwoods on the main floor and wall-to-wall carpeting in the fully finished basement. The master bathroom features a 6-foot tub with rainfall shower head and waterfall faucet, plus quartz countertops and chair-height toilet. The new windows and sliding glass doors in the house are by Anderson. In addition to the oversized 2-car garage, there is extra driveway parking and a second driveway suitable for RV parking — big enough to build a second 3-car garage. The back of the house features an oversized wrap-around deck plus a zen garden and a storage shed. Visit the websites for each listing to take a narrated video tour on YouTube..
 Open Saturday 1-4 pm.

 

110 S. Brentwood Street, Lakewood
This remarkable home is in that quiet neighborhood located north of Alameda Avenue between Wadsworth Blvd. and Garrison Street. It has a gourmet kitchen, cherry hardwood floors, fabulous hardwood deck, professionally landscaped yard and RV parking that is well hidden! It will be on the MLS shortly. 
Open this Saturday 1-4 pm.


 427 Wright Street #205, Lakewood
This 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo is located in the Snowbird Condos on the slope of Green Mountain. Imagine the convenience of living in this 1,174 square foot condo just blocks from the new light rail, local restaurants and shopping.  Do you need large bedrooms and a big master walk-in closet?  Look no further! 
 Open this Saturday 1-4 pm.