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VOL. 40 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 15, 2016

Pay to attention to the flaw behind the curtain

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It’s a seller’s market. No news here, and if you don’t believe me ask any buyer. Most sellers, however, will tell you it’s a buyer’s market. Find a group of sellers whose houses have sold and ask them. They’ll tell you.

Better yet, find some homeowners whose homes have not sold in this frenzied or “supposedly hot” market, as they refer to it. They’ll tell you it’s a buyer’s market, all right.

There is one group of homes that will not sell well in any market. Those are the homes with shortcomings, especially a particular shortcoming.

A house will not sell fast if it has a flaw, and slower sales translate into lower prices.

In the minds of the sellers, the flaws are not flaws at all. Rather they are quirks, unique features, inimitable architectural masterpieces, and always “quite frankly, the reason, we bought this house.”

They love the features that cause such disdain to others. Most buyers approach the houses that they view with hope and optimism praying “this will be the one!” They have their spouse’s number on speed dial and fingers poised to poke the button.

As they enter the homes, they marvel at the décor, the room sizes, the kitchens, the owner’s suites – formerly known as the master – and are impressed with the maintenance and the love and care the owners have given the home.

Then they see it. The flaw! It jumps out at them like the shark in Jaws and is met with the same reaction.

Reeling in fear, they scream. Suddenly the owner and Realtor have become conspirators attempting to perpetrate the fraud of the century on unsuspecting buyers.

They ask how on earth the Realtor could allow them to list the home with this pathetic feature. They feel there should have been some mention of this in the description and that the photographs have been altered to make this abomination look normal. They cannot leave the house fast enough.

And when the renovation is not to their liking, they screech. “I wish they had just left it alone and then I could have done it properly. Surely they did not use an architect.”

Providing this feedback from the showings to the listing agents is never enjoyable, but required. Here’s why:

Most real estate offices enlist the services of showing centers, with Centralized Showing Service being the showing center of choice for most real estate firms in the area.

Most callers never know the service is in Dallas, as employees are so well-trained it seems as if they are familiar with the location of any street in the Midstate area and often seem as if they have visited all of the 25,000 or so listings they manage.

After the procedure is followed to set the appointment and the sellers have agreed to allow the showing to take place, an e-mail is sent to the showing agent as well as the listing agent confirming the time and the means of entry, be it lockbox, combination lock, or – heaven forbid – the listing agent will be present.

In the flawed homes, the owners, having received similar feedback from countless agents regarding said flaw, often begin to demand that the listing agent be present in order to explain the magnificence of the flaw.

As part of the showing center’s service, it sends a feedback request to every agent who shows the property. These arrive by email shortly after midnight on the night of the showing.

If the buyer’s agent has a client visiting from out of town, the agent may have booked as many as 10 to 12 showings in any given day, especially the first day in order to give the buyer a taste of Nashville and to showcase the various neighborhoods, knowing all the while that the buyer will rule out most – sometimes all – of them.

By Day 2, the agent is able to discern what area and what type of home the buyer may want, then narrows the search to a particular area and arranges several showings there.

After a couple or three days, the feedback requests accumulate and, if the Realtor has not responded, the showing center sends another, so the number doubles then triples then explodes.

The seasoned agents get to as many as they can as quickly as they can for two reasons: It slows the avalanche of feedback requests, and they know how important it is for the listing agents to have the information.

The moral of the story is that there are fatal flaws in some homes that need to be removed or repaired. Fix the flaw. Order will be restored, and the house will sell.

Sale of the Week

Grant Bullen of Pilkerton Realtors listed 2060 Elliot Avenue for $310,000 in late November and sold it for $312,000 in the blink of an eye. Kevin Henderson of HRG Realty Group, LLC represented the buyer, who beat the rest of the horde of eager, frustrated buyers.

The owner of this 1350-square-foot, two-bedroom and two-and-a-half bath abode had paid $215,000 in late 2012 as the market readied for its leap. Adorned with granite, hardwoods and designed with a separate dining room and fireplace, it provided the buyer with location and perfect condition.

If Bullen had been able to list 30 of the same floorplan at the same price, he could have sold all of them. As a matter of fact, Casey Zolezzi, the highly regarded realty wizard from Village Real Estate Services announced the opening of a new development in The Nations – Historic West Town, if you prefer – and has 60 homes available.

He does not yet have pricing or contracts available and has more than 200 people in queue for the 60 units.

Jodie Derrick of HND Realty faces the same dilemma there as Realtors are begging him to allow them to sell his listings at any price, yet the development wing is unable to build and price them fast enough.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com.

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