Home Buyers: Test Drive The Driveway!

When home buyers in the Triangle drive to properties in a separate vehicle from me, I always tell them to park in the driveway.
“Test drive the driveway.  It is part of what you are buying.”

We don’t have mountains here in the Piedmont, but the topography certainly rolls. It is easy to find steep driveways in both Raleigh and Cary.  And that steep driveway can be a deal breaker.
A Buyer needs to know they are comfortable in the driveway, if their car scrapes bottom entering or leaving, if they have good sight lines when backing out, if that side entry garage requires a three-point turn to enter and exit or if it has adequate space for a pad that allows easy access.
The time to know is prior to going to contract on an otherwise appealing house.
As their buyers agent, I want my clients to notice before we write, before we give up a large Due Diligence Fee to get a contract.

Inducements to Buyers Agents on the Rise?

It is only fair that consumers know about incentives offered to their agents.
This applies particularly to commissions, bonuses, and spiffs offered to buyers agents by builders, or resellers, who offer fat checks to agents to drive traffic to their subdivisions or resale homes.
Nearly 90% of resale listings in Wake County offer me 2.4% of gross contract price as my commission for bringing a successful buyer
Many builders offer 2.5%.
My Buyers Agency agreements all stipulate either a 2.4% or 2.5% Expected Compensation.  I always inform the Buyer client if I am offered a higher pay from “across the table.”
And, I am seeing an increase in higher offers dangled in front of me, if I will bring my client to contract with a builder.
For example, I just received this email from a builder’s representative:

Hi Mike,

“XYZ” is offering 4% commission on all 5 quick move-in homes at “XYZ Development” in “Lovelytown” if they can close by the end of November. That’s BIG money.

As an incentive to attend our luncheon this Thursday 9/14 from 11-2pm we’re offering a $25 gift card for the first 10 agents to arrive. In addition we’re having a drawing for 3-$50 gift cards for touring our quick move-in homes.”

I have a file of many offers like this, from many builders, collected over the last few months.
Transparency in ethics, and current Buyer Agency regulation, require that I disclose these incentives to my buyer clients ASAP, and definitely prior to writing an offer for them.
A buyer should rightfully know, early and clearly, that I stand to reap an increased financial benefit for guiding them, or pressuring them, to purchase any property.

I remember well in 2009, when the market was completely reverse of that we have experienced over the last couple of years, when we bragged about getting contracts in less than 3 months on the market.
And, sellers were desperate.
I saw buyers agent commissions as high as 8%.
You read that right.  “8% of contract price.”
Now, THAT is really BIG money.

I showed a new house in a subdivision where the builder was offering me 4.5%.
And, in follow up, the on-site agent whispered conspiratorially to me, “And, Mike, we want to take care of YOU, too.  I’m sure I can get you more money, if we can get your buyer under contract.”
All I could think was, “EEEwwwww!  So glad my buyer has no interest in these homes.”

I am seeing an uptick in these bonuses and increased commissions, usually in outlying areas outside the Hot Hot Hot Cary, Raleigh real estate market.
Builders want contracts and closings before the end of the fiscal year.  Help those top and bottom lines, and get more houses coming out of the ground.
This happens every year.
I don’t see anything unethical in their actions.  Ethics?  That is my responsibility, and I can choose to be transparent or conceal my motivations from a client.
Transparency, ethics, integrity, clarity.  It’s a package deal.

You Don’t Need a “Certified Deed” When You Buy a House.

Bob bought a nice little condo in Cary.

He contacted me a couple of weeks later and told me he was getting a sales pitch from someone who was peddling a “Certified Deed.”
He wanted to know if this is something he needed.

No.  He doesn’t need a “Certified” Deed.
This is just a low-level scam that comes around now and then. The scammer follows closings at the courthouse and contacts  new homeowners with an official looking letter, offering to help them protect themselves with a “Certified Deed,” usually for a fee in the $70–$150 range.
And it is totally unnecessary and useless.
Bob’s deed was recorded at the Wake County Courthouse Register of Deeds Office, and is on the public record.  When he emailed me asking about the “Certified Deed” scam, I emailed him a link to the recorded deed.  That recordation carries more weight than any scammer’s fake deed.

And, I told him if he ever had a question about his deed and ownership, he should contact his closing attorney.

The current market in the Raleigh-Cary area is moving FAST!

Sellers’ Market Alert!  Real Estate Factoid!
Since yesterday morning, as of now, 55 Wake County homes have been put on “Contingent” status in the Triangle MLS.

For those 55 listings, the median average Days On Market, “DOM,” is 30.

And that is happening with multiple offers, difficulty getting showing appointments, and barely ready listings.

And, this is mid-April.  We are just ramping up!

Thus defines a “Sellers’ Market,” and a “Frustrated Buyers’ Market.”

 

House Photos at Dusk

When I list a house for sale, I enjoy getting a variety of photos.
One of my favorites is getting a series of shots at dusk, with all the lights on and the house looking warm and welcoming.  It requires a special trip back to the house, but the results make that quite worthwhile.  I usually use one of the dusk photos as a feature photo on the Triangle MLS, and Realtor.com

Here are a few listing photographs I shot in Cary and Apex:

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Photographers call dusk “Magic Hour.”  I think a nice dusk photo of a pleasant home helps curb appeal, exposes the home for sale in a nice fashion, and makes the listing stand out to Home buyers.  And, home sellers always like to see their property shown in the best possible light.

RealtyArts.com Renovations near completion, 2013 Style

We are nearing completion of the complete redesign of the website, and enjoying the outcome tremendously.
Originally we were, MikeJaquish.com, then CaryRealEstateSales.com, and now RealtyArts.com

What’s in a name?
Well, I use Mike@MikeJaquish.com for my email address, so it is personalized.
But… The website is supposed to be focused on my clients and prospective clients, and descriptive of my business, so I changed the website to CaryRealEstateSales.com. That was fine, but also put a geographic box around the business name. And I help folks buy and sell property all around the Triangle. I found myself routinely answering, “Do you work in Raleigh?” Or, Durham, or Apex, or Morrisville, or just in Cary NC…. etc etc.
I wanted something less geographical, not all about me, and descriptive of the business practice.

Eureka moment:
Realty Arts LLC, dba “Realty Arts” was born. Think “Service as an Art.” “Real Estate Artisans.” Perspective. Effort. Creativity. Real Estate.
The LLC was followed immediately by RealtyArts.com

RealtyArts.com is the general landing page for the firm.
I believe that people visit real estate sites for three reasons:
To search for homes. To learn about the area. To learn about general real estate topics. We present a great deal of information freely and conversationally, without sales pitches or reservations.
Obviously, we hope that a visitor will see the merits of how Realty Arts presents itself, and will give us the opportunity to serve. If not, we always hope for the best for everyone.
And I had a lot of fun shooting and editing the photos in the slide show, too.

When arriving at RealtyArts.com, you will see choices of navigating to:

No Hassle Property Search
“Search Triangle Listings as Long as You Care to, Without Ever Registering.” No Hassle. No sales pestering. How I would want to be treated.
We updated the Search function to IDXBroker’s Platinum service. It offers a nicer interface, shows you if the listing is “Active,” “Contingent,” or “Pending” on the MLS, and has more available search filters than you will find anywhere else on the internet. Work it. Drive it like you stole it. Let me know if I can help you with any questions.

Triangle Neighborhood Profiles
This site consists of write-ups I have done on various neighborhoods, and photos and links to help people with questions about Triangle Neighborhoods. I usually include a link to No Hassle Property Search so folks can see what is currently on the market in the neighborhood.

blog.MikeJaquish.com
My personal blog page. I hold forth on real estate and housing information and topics, or whatever I feel like offering. I LIKE houses, renovating, and construction, so a lot of the posts are oriented that way. And, I like talking about the documents and how they are used.

Triangle Real Estate Forum
This is a fun site, where visitors and members present questions, give answers, talk about the Triangle region, and about real estate and houses. With no fear of being solicited by service providers. Sales pitches are forbidden in the Terms of Service.

Contact
Yes. You can contact me from that link, and also see the map to the office.

These navigational choices are presented on all pages for the firm. Visitors were struggling to move from one page to another and leaving the site, when information was readily available. So, we present the navigation in a fixed panel on the left side of the screen that is always visible.

We are in shakedown cruise mode. There are some further tweaks to be done. But the intent is clear to visitors. Just the facts, delivered very accessibly. No Hassle. Ready to Serve.

I am so delighted to be writing this post. I give a great deal of credit, and a great deal of gratitude, to Katherine Bishop, who has worked hard on the upgrades, and has been very very tolerant of my heavy hand in the process. She assumed the role delivering on my concepts, so it will work for you with a clean interface to the public. Two thumbs up for Katherine to anyone who needs a website. You should talk to her.

“Coming Soon” culture? Is this current fad of REALTOR® MLS Members Eroding the Credibility, Equity Value, and Integrity of Our Multiple Listing Service?

You see it more and more.  Real Estate Signs blaring “COMING SOON!!!”  “COMING SOON” riders hung on signs for weeks.  And the big day never arrives.  The home never “Comes.”  It just “Goes,” as in Under Contract.   A listing goes to Contingent status, under contract, in Zero (0) Days On Market.

“Wink, wink.  MLS rules say I cannot show it to you while it says ‘Coming Soon.’  But, for you….”  When you drive past a Coming Soon sign in a hot Cary neighborhood and see folks going up the sidewalk to the house from a car with a REALTOR® sticker on the tailgate, you just know that “Coming Soon” means “Came Ahead of Schedule.”

REALTOR® members of the Triangle MLS agree to post all listings to the MLS, unless the seller wants it “Withheld.”

This convention of membership does a few things:

  • It assures sharing and cooperation between brokers, as they have agreed.
  • It helps assure that the sellers’ properties are exposed to the market, to garner the seller more chances of receiving the highest possible offer with the best possible terms.  This is a fiduciary responsibility of the listing agent.
  • It supports OUR MLS as the “Go To Resource” for legitimate real estate listings, data, and history.

And we are seeing those points undermined by a marketing fad.  The issue has become pervasive enough that the NC Real Estate Commission had to weigh in on “Coming Soon!” in the latest Real Estate Bulletin.  Sometimes folks ought to read the Articles before gleefully leafing back to the Punishment Porn to “Tut Tut” about whoever got their wrists slapped for DWI.

Why do agents post “Coming Soon?”

  • To build market interest for a quick sale?  Heck, we are in a hot market.  If the house is right and priced right, just going “Active” on the MLS is enough to generate enough traffic to get it sold in a week.  It is happening all over the place in Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Morrisville, Holly Springs, etc.
  • To get phone calls and milk buyer clients from the listing?   We might be getting a little closer there.  “Sorry.  That one isn’t ready.  Are you working with a buyers’ agent?”

How does that serve the owner of the listing, to divert a buyer by prematurely putting up a sign?
Well, that hotbed of buyer leads may go under contract in a few days.  When it is Contingent or Pending, the sign calls may decline or cease altogether  and it serves the agent well to keep a sign up for as long as possible to get sign calls and buyer leads…

Whoops!  Just wait a second on that second point.
Since when is the purpose of a listing agreement with a fiduciary role supposed to serve the listing agent?   I think “Never.”  Tell me I am wrong.

Triangle Real Estate Forum? Free Real Estate Advice? Why? I say, Why Not?

Visit Zillow or Trulia. Watch people with reasonable real estate questions being offered no help as they are routinely pestered and solicited by hordes of real estate agents resembling Biblical swarms of locusts. I did. And I thought there MUST to be a better way to help consumers with general real estate topics.

Enter the Triangle Real Estate Forum.

I picked up some world-class forum software, had it installed on a server, did a few minor tweaks, and opened it up to anyone who has questions to ask, or answers to give. All manner of discussion is welcome. General agency topics, sharing of Triangle regional information. Information about our towns and cities. Cary or Carrboro. Raleigh or Durham. foreclosures. Short sales. Luxury Condos or affordable Townhomes.
But, the forum is designated a “Safe Place” for visitors to ask questions and discuss topics, No Hassle style.
No solicitations for business are allowed.
No advertising.
No “Contact me for more details.”
No feeding frenzy on the poor visitor who says, “Help! I was just transferred to Raleigh and we need a 5 bedroom home in a great neighborhood, with a home-buying budget of less than $600,000. Where should we be looking?”
Just help and information. No strings attached.

It’s not for everyone. Many real estate pros cannot bring themselves to give away “free advice.” So it goes. Those are the rules.
Drop by and check it out.

Realty Arts, LLC: A New Name. Same Real Estate Service Philosophies

“Do you sell homes in Raleigh?” used to be a common question. Or homes in Apex? Or Morrisville? Or Holly Springs?
Concentrating marketing near my home in Cary, and my website: CaryRealEstateSales.com worked together to make the questions quite reasonable.

And, Yes. I sell homes in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Holly Springs. Yes, I sell homes in Durham. Chapel Hill, too. Garner. Yes, I sell homes in Chatham County. Etc. I sell homes all around the Triangle.

I opened as an independent real estate broker in December, 2012, leaving KELLER WILLIAMS® Realty in Cary behind after 7 great years. And in February, we formed the LLC, Realty Arts, LLC. I wanted something catchy and not anchored in one town or geographic local area by its name.
New domain name: www.RealtyArts.com and more good real estate stuff to follow.

My focus group (friends and family) was somewhat split on “Realty Arts.” Some liked it a lot. And some, a LOT less. “What do Real Estate and Art have to do with each other?” and “It sounds like you are selling paint,” were two comments.
Well, think of other great strong real estate companies. What about “Century 21” or “ERA” or “Zillow” or “Trulia” screams “real estate?” The words alone don’t do it. It’s their marketing that puts their message and meaning into your mind.
“Oh, yes. If you market your brand, it will have meaning to the public.” Sure. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Honda, you name it. And, “Realty Arts” already has “realty” in it. Off to a good start!

Regarding “Arts.” Besides focusing on an artist’s palette of oils, or acrylics, or clay, landscapes or portraits or statuary, I am focused on the skills attained through study and practice that will help me be a great Realtor®.

The Art of Service.
The Art of Negotiation.
The Art of Home Sales.
The Art of Poise.

The list of skills that can be developed to an Artful level goes on and on.
Study + Practice + Skill + Application = Service.

I had fun with a client this evening, referring to myself as “Realty Artist, Mike Jaquish.” Then, I thought, a lofty goal to attain. Why not?