Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Business as Un-usual.

One of the perks of real estate? No day is ever the same. Massive, frenzied activity or absolute dead silence with no in between.
One of the downsides of real estate? No day is ever the same. Massive, frenzied activity or absolute dead silence with no in between.

I like working in real estate for a lot of the same reasons I enjoyed reporting the news: no day is ever the same. I have absolutely nothing going on or I'm inundated with massive, frenzied information overloads which I must comprehend and regurgitate...factually and accurately.

It is a lot alike in a lot of ways. Lots of time management, lots of careful planning in down times for the madness to come. And it is madness. Sane people suddenly turn irrational and foolish.

In news coverage, I dealt with the aftermath of foolish, impulsive, reckless folly. In real estate, I try to prevent it while at the same time staying just an inch outside the circle, in my own professional bubble, because it is not personal for me. It is business.

I learned this while reporting news. No matter what I saw, what I heard, I had to keep my feelings out of it. The minute I put some of my me-ness in to the mix? I'd be busted for personalizing, editorializing the moment. It is called Opinion/Editorial and there is a place for that: In columns, in editorials, in moments where the audience is personally effecting me. Otherwise I have have to use the "royal we speak" of journalism. That silly way of speaking: "This Reporter witnessed no less than 55 puncture wounds to the victims chest at the autopsy."

See how I stayed in that bubble? And, yes, I did attend autopsies and, yes, I did have to report like that. Even in those most intimate of circumstances, there was no "I" -- for it was not personal for me -- it was my actions on your behalf. The reporter is to become the eyes and ears of the listener/reader and put you in the room without personal emotions or feeling.

"This is how it happened. This is how it smelled at the scene. This what it looked like when I was there today at noon. This is how many, how much. This what authorities say happened. They don't know who did it or why."

That doesn't mean I don't feel it. I got sick at autopsies. I cried when babies died. But I dried my eyes and wrote the story. Read the copy on air and cried afterwards. Cried while writing the newspaper accounts in the factual, dry, script of news. It takes a while to learn how to put the emotion into the accounts with quotes from firefighters and paramedics as you describe their intense, consuming and very personal sorrow.

I can tell you about their grief and share my own distress through them.

Again, with real estate, just because I must keep my shields up, it doesn't mean I don't feel it, too. A lot of times, with clients, they become friends and I do get to divulge my true feelings. But -- I have to keep most of my clients at arm's length. I'm not their friend. I am their trusted confidant with a fiduciary responsibility. <sigh>

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Really, it is. I think my clients know I am working hard to do what's in their best interests. Trying to do the right thing on their behalf.

At least.....this reporter...I mean...

Me. I.

I hope so.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Houses Are a Girl's Best Friend

The Mother Ship has churned out a blog while I was still mulling over what I was seeing: Couples, unmarried, not engaged, just committed couples buying houses together.

The MS calls this the "new engagement ring" and since I have several of this committed couples on my client list: maybe they are onto something. Maybe this is the trend I've been spotting but couldn't quite put my finger on.

Now that they've named it for me I've had an A-ha! moment seeing all the clients I'm currently searching, showing or have contracts in place with. Some have babies toddling about, some have babies on the way, some have long histories together but not one of these couples declares themselves 'engaged' and none one of them has a wedding planned.

This is different from just 4 years ago when I had an influx of couples, engaged, planning weddings and looking to buy a house.

So what's the difference? Attitude.

Marriage isn't out of the question. Marriage is down the road. Marriage can wait for the romantic proposal (The tale of romantic after-house-purchase-engagement-story was told by my buyer's friend as we signed the final acceptance papers). Marriage can wait because interest rates have started to climb. House prices have bottomed out (last year!!) and are starting to climb. Inventories are down. Down payment money is starting to make a comeback.

Use the financial resources of the couple to buy a home now....marriage can wait.

I am seeing couples who have graduated college. Have a nest egg, a job, a committed relationship and have pushed aside the romance for the practicality of home ownership as their couple-commitment statement. No big engagement party, no picture in the press, no splashy bridezilla the drama for the interior decorator. Forget hiring the hall - hire the house inspector, instead.

These are young couples starting out in a brave new world like never before. With college debts to combine, careers to try to cobble together with futures seemingly more unstable with the world and national economies...and they are investing in bricks and mortar, solid foundations and working septics, new roofs and remodeled baths.

Use the financial resources of the couple to cement the relationship like no diamond ring ever will. Marriage can wait...but these interest rates won't.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Major Changes

Something in the air this time of year?

I'm thinking the world has gone loony-tunes and goofy this past 10 days. My mom and grandmother swore by the full moon/new moon lore: these Luna movements apply pressure to us Earthlings. Something's sure up because there has been a lot of activity in and around my life, in and around the lives of those closest to me, and indeed, if you look globally? Whoa!

As I write this SoIL is waking up to the aftermath of some very fierce and violent weather systems moving through the region yesterday and last night. So much so that The Weather Channel preempted their regular line-up to follow the Storm Chasers who were tracking the 'trough.

It was a wild weather system. Now so easily tracked by Doplar radar with flashing color-coding so we can see lightening flashes as they strike and watch the tornado debris trails in real time. Amazing, yes?

What if we could track all activity like that? What if we could track real estate markets like that? Real time, color-coded 'clouds' of systems (buyers) moving through the areas/regions. If we could do that, right now? This past 10 days since April 1, you would be seeing a remarkable flood of buyers moving into and around houses: that's realtors showing property. You'd see amazing cells or clots of color flashing points: that's realtor's giving listing presentations to prospective sellers. The market trackers...those Storm Chasers? They would have been facing a tsunami of buyers and sellers hitting our SoIL market.

Partly because last season was so hit-and-miss but partly because I think people here are tired of waiting. SoIL never "busts" and never "booms" -- we simmer. We stew. We get to a nice rolling boil sometimes but we never blow the lid off the pot.

Last year's passive/aggressive season, I believe, was caused by the 2012 Presidential Elections. After November, the waves of buyers came flooding in for a small tidal effect. And I really don't think it had anything to do with who was or wasn't running -- I truly believe people were just tired of the process, glad it was done, and now on to realtime, real family, real blood & bones issues like: we need a house to call home.

So. Yes. I do believe the national politics did slow SoIL housing markets down a bit....the temperature dialed down a bit on the crockpot which is this part of the world which sits between the Ohio and the Mighty Mississippi.

Then we burbled along through the rest of  winter with the holidays, January slugginess and February's "S/HelovesmeS/Helovesmenot" Valentine's Season. (I like Valentine's Day but it stresses some folks out of their skulls!)

March Madness! Why, oh, why do you think it is such a big deal? Other than the actual love of the game? Because it falls in March!! People are sooooo ready for something to cheer, something to focus some energy upon! ((something to bet on!! -- oops! That's just the gambler talkin'))

Now into April, right after an early Easter and the "BOOM" the race is now ON.

Which is good for me. I am good with time management and I love the pace of "frenzy" -- yep, that's why I loved radio/broadcast news.  We were live and in-the-moment. No take-backs or do-overs when you are live, live, live. ((if you haven't checked out HBO's Broadcast News with Jeff Daniels, please do if you really want to see what radio news was sorta/kinda like))

This morning I intentionally left myself some free time so I could blog. Yeah, how cool is that? When I'm having me time I'm spending talking to you!! That special time we need together to bond...just me an my blog followers.

 <sigh> If we could only cuddle.

((I truly need a sarcasm font))

Thursday, April 4, 2013

No April Foolin'

Hippity-hop that big bunny is done with for another year! So - the phone explodes Easter Monday. Everyone really had been waiting until after Easter to call about some piece of property.

This is good. Real good news for me...for buyers and sellers, too, if they do listen to the wise ol' real estate lady. Or me, which ever one works for you.

And, we've been over this before: the real estate lady (or gent) works for the client. Not the big fancy logo on their business card. Mother Ship (the brand) and local shop (franchisee) both take a cut of my "split" of the commission. These are part of the fees (rents) I pay to work in that shop ((think of this as a hairdresser renting a chair at Vidal Sassoon)).

Commissions are split between the realtors of the buyer and the seller. Then those are split in the shop were you hang your license.

My client is my skin in the game.  I get paid when the deal closes and you hop on down the trail with either the new home of your dreams or the lucky stiff who unloaded one.

The big point of today's essay is this:

The starting whistle has blown. The season is here and the lookers have begun in earnest. One thing I need to keep repeating:  inventories are waaaay down. Which means more buyers than lookers. Houses still have to be priced competitively and sellers will still negotiate the list price. BUT. Buyers? When you find a suitable house, bid on it. If you wait chances are you will lose the house to another buyer. Period. Game over. Start over looking.

This happened several times with my buyers last year. Some of the same buyers came back to me in January and February to start looking.

This time they are a lot proactive with bidding. You do not have to settle for something you hate. You do have to see the possibility of changing something to fit your needs or spending more.

Either way: I predict real estate will keep me hoppin' for the next few months.