I do so try to stay focused and positive. Really I do. But once in a while a girl’s just gotta vent, and today is the day. I was just playing around with our new Multiple Listing System, which is how we realtors share our listings so our clients can enjoy one-stop shopping. It’s got a lot of bells and whistles, one is an area that will allow me to download and study (but not copy and print) statistical information about my market. Wow! According to this Flex MLS, as of today, February 12, 2010 there are 1,279 active listings in the Los Cabos area. Worse, it tells me that, if things continue to sell at the current rate that this is sufficient inventory to last for the next 21 years.
Not that I’m naïve enough to believe that. I’d close my doors if I were. Yes, there are 1,279 listings, but the market is already picking up. That’s the good news. The bad news is that even with sales increasing, we’ve still got a multi-year inventory to move. And that’s not going to happen until sellers get the right attitude.
I read a realtor’s blog from the States in which he said “It’s a price war out there, and a beauty contest, and you’ve got to win both.” So true! Even if we didn’t have multiple years’ worth of inventory your home has to be positioned to sell, but now it’s critical that you use all your weapons.
And yet, this week has been quite an eye-opener for me. I had a couple of house-hunting tours that simply left me shell-shocked. Here are some observations, and believe me, I’m not making this up.
- If we can’t show it we can’t sell it. One listing agent was just mortified that her seller had locked us out. We eventually got in, more about that later… And yet, she swore this was a motivated seller. But not motivated enough to give his agent a key or remember to leave the door open when he left for work.
- Only two hours later a long-term renter refused to let us in the condo and was actually threatening to the listing agent. Does the owner wish to sell or rent? The poor agent had made the appointment; the renter just didn’t want to let her in. In the two minute or so confrontation at the door, which I heard all of, he told enough lies to convince me she’d done her job and he was just being a, well, you know what. If we sold the condo he’d have to move, so he was protecting his turf.
- When we made it into home #1, it was filthy! Messy, sloppy, and just downright dirty. The toilet in the powder room hadn’t been flushed after the last use which was evidently quite a while ago and was, ahem, aromatic. We found another like that later the same day. Can you believe two of them on the same day with a tour of seven homes? With people living there? Hint: if your home smells like poo it isn’t going to sell.
- Several homes were occupied. Not necessarily by the owners but their pets. Now if you’ve seen my profile picture you know I’m a dog maniac. And luckily, one of the two couples we toured were also dog lovers. The other was not. When you’ve got a big ole Lab ready to slobber warm kisses all over the ‘guests’, well it doesn’t work. When Rover actually tries to keep the prospects from coming into the house, or lounges in the doorway so the non-dog-loving or dog-fearful person has to step over them or turn away, well, guess what happens. How much happier everyone including Rover would be if his people took him for a car ride during the showing.
- There is so much information on the web and on TV about staging your home, especially by de-cluttering and de-personalizing. Yet I stood there and watched as our clients exclaimed over the large number of shoes and T-shirts in one house, noting the awards for top salesperson, and personal photos. They were more into figuring out this owner’s lifestyle than noticing the good features of the home.
And now, there is one more point I have to mention. I hate to mention it, I really do. But it’s the truth and any sellers out there need to hear it. Commission. Let’s face it. Realtors work very hard and they deserve to be paid for their efforts. That’s the whole point of commissions. Yet, even in this bloated market, sellers continue to cut short the commission. I can see that on certain huge properties, but on a tract home? Let’s look at this example: a home in a very nice development with about 3 floor plans. A lot of these were bought on spec, or as rental properties, which isn’t working out right now. The owner may have two, three or even four of them they’re paying for but are now vacant or occupied at vastly reduced rent. So the sellers are telling the listing agent they’re desperate to sell. But they insist on a cut rate commission. Look at this from the other side. It’s been a bad year. Sales are low and the agent representing the buyer has to maximize the return for their one shot at a sale. So there are 30 homes for sale in this development, all are basically the same. Ten have full commissions, the rest are discounted. Which ones do you think the agent is going to show (and sell)? As a listing agent I use full commission as one of my primary weapons, and believe me, it works. You’re not saving money by listing with an agent who’ll accept a reduced commission, you’re relegating your home to the showing of last resort. And don’t think you’ll make it up with a bonus: most bonuses disappear during the negotiation process and any agent who’s been here more than a few years knows that only too well.
So that’s my rant. Thanks for hearing me out. If you’re trying to sell a home, anywhere, I think you might have gotten something out of this. I hope so. The good news? For both these couples we did find homes that were presented nicely and priced correctly which met their spec’s and I’m sure we’ll get the offers. And they’ll be good offers, not discounted because the buyer sees a ton of work to be done to get the property up to snuff. We showed ten, two are winners. And what about the other eight? Well, I can only hope they’re listening.
Thanks for letting me vent, and please have a great weekend!
Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of REALTY EXECUTIVES Los Cabos. A Certified Home Marketing Specialist, she has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for nine years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine and the real estate co-ordinator for the Los Cabos Now program on CaboMil FM (www.cabomil.com.mx). You can read more of her articles on www.reloscabos.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541.
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© 2010 Carol S. Billups