Monday, August 27, 2018

No Stinkin Photos

What's up with the million dollar plus luxury Cocoa Beach condo listing with only one photo that's been listed for 37 days? The listing says "easy to show" and "more photos coming soon". We're still waiting.

How about the fourth floor unit listed as being on floor 0? My search for units above the 2nd floor won't find that one. Or the several condo listings without the condo name entered in the appropriate listing field? I often have buyers looking for a unit in a specific building. My search for listings in that particular building will not find a listing with that omission.

Marketing residential properties has changed quite a bit since the old days when the MLS was a  booklet that was printed and distributed every few weeks. Consumers had no way of knowing everything that was for sale without the help of an agent other than driving around in their target area looking for signs. Since many condos don't allow signs, that wasn't effective for prospective condo buyers. Print advertising was the primary and most effective marketing strategy. There were a half dozen specialty real estate booklets in our area that were distributed to area stores and motels and were free for the consumer. The Sunday real estate section of Florida Today was as big as the entire paper is today. Hopeful buyers would grab the paper and a pen and sit down to sift through all the listings hoping to find something that sounded like it might work. Busy agents had contracts with the paper agreeing to spend big dollars every month. The Sunday section had full color pages with photos in addition to the several pages of classifieds. Listing agents were compelled to spend on print advertising as sellers expected and, rightfully, demanded it. The internet turned that model on its head.

By the mid-2000s the MLS was online and consumers had the ability to search for exactly the property type they were interested in. They could see photos, read descriptions and find details such as rental restrictions and taxes for every listing. Print advertising outside the MLS became more effective at landing a listing than for actually attracting a buyer. With a listing on the MLS, listing syndicators scraped the listings and redistributed to dozens of online sites. Listing agents shifted their advertising dollars to Google, Zillow and other online real estate sites. By 2018 all any listing really needed was a reasonably fair listing price, good photos and an MLS listing and the rest would take care of itself. That is unless the listing agent failed to enter the correct information or was cheap and lazy and took fuzzy cell phone photos or none at all. The number of listings with incorrect or missing info and/or bad photos seems to tell me that many sellers aren't checking their listings or vetting their agent. There are zero excuses for a poor listing yet quite a few agents are getting away with it. I would encourage all sellers to carefully check their listings right now for accuracy and appeal. The market is strong but you don't need a listing agent adding friction to the selling process. Just saying.

I was reading back through some of my older posts and thought this one was worth a read for those who may have missed it the first time around in 2015.   Don't. Say. That.  

"Personally, I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms." - Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Rolling Up July

After a slow start for residential real estate in Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, the month of July finished with a bang, at least for condos.  The Cocoa Beach MLS is reporting 70 closed condo and townhouse units in the month as of this morning but only four single-family home sales. Seventy condo sales beats last July's 62 units but four single family home sales lags far behind July 2017's eighteen sales. Inventory of condos is slightly higher than last year with 220 existing units for sale and single family homes offered is almost the same, 62 compared to 64 in July 2017.

I don't have a good guess for the drastic slowdown in home sales other than price creep. Only 17 of the 62 homes for sale are priced below a half million dollars with a mere twelve asking less than $400,000. The priciest home sale in July was $420,000.  As prices inflate, the audience shrinks.

The pricing distribution of the condo inventory is considerably more favorable with two thirds of the units offered priced at or below $400,000 with 95 of those asking less than $300,000. Over half of the units that sold in July were on the market for less than 60 days with twenty seven of those sold in less than a month. About half of the units for sale have been on the market for 90 days or more. Seller optimism remains high. Those that price close to fair market value sell fast absent some unusual circumstance. About half the July condo buyers used a mortgage and the other half paid cash.

Happy hunting to those hoping to purchase and, as always, be prepared to move quickly when an attractive target has been acquired. You have competition looking for the same thing.

"I don't mind you thinking I'm stupid, but don't talk to me like I'm stupid." __Harlan Ellison

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Real Estate Myths Examined

I'm sure I've missed a few but the memes listed below are the most common ones that I hear from people outside the industry about real estate agents.

Phony multiple offers. This one will not die. I dread hearing the frightening phrase, "We have multiple offers. Bring your best and highest offer." The most common response from a buyer is "Do you think there really is another offer?" The second most common response is, "Withdraw my offer. I'm not playing that game." It is this second response that makes phony offers a risky strategy for a listing agent. She stands the chance of chasing away a legitimate buyer by fabricating a phantom offer. I have seen both buyers offering on the same property withdraw when asked for best and highest. For this reason, I never doubt the existence of another offer even if the property has been on the market for months. It's just too risky. This leads to the next myth;

Agents on both sides push for higher selling price because they'll get a higher commission check. Think about this. No sane agent would jeopardize a sale in hopes of getting a couple percent on an extra few thousand dollars. Parties to a real estate transaction can rest assured that the agents want the deal to close, otherwise they get nothing for their efforts.

Agents not showing low commission listings. This is probably at least somewhat true. There is a local broker who often (possibly always) pays out less to the buyer's broker than he keeps for himself unlike the majority of listings which share the commission equally between listing and selling (buyer's) broker. I don't exclude his listings from showing lists but I resent the fact that he cheats buyers' brokers while being so difficult to work with. I imagine some other buyer's agents will gladly skip his listings should the schedule necessitate excising some properties from their list. Sellers, make sure you know how the commission you agree to pay your listing broker is being shared. I suspect some sellers don't realize that their broker is offering an unequal split possibly affecting the exposure their property gets.

Open houses only benefit agents. Absolutely not true. I have sold several properties at open houses and know of multiple other sales that happened because of an open house. Yes, a good agent will take advantage of an open house to get prospects who find the open property not suited for them but who are looking to purchase something in the area. That doesn't mean that the next person through the door will also find it unsuitable. Sellers, remember. You're only looking for one buyer. In fact you can only accommodate one buyer. Side note; don't worry about nosy neighbors coming over just to check out your stuff and get free food. They may very well have a friend or relative moving to the area who'd like to live nearby. They aren't hurting you and may be the source of the eventual buyer.

Listing agents play games with listings to increase their income. This one is at least sometimes true. It can be as innocuous as legally delaying entering a listing into the MLS in hopes of finding a buyer first or sharing an upcoming listing within the agent's brokerage in hopes that both sides of the commission will stay in the listing office. Or, it can be unethical and/or illegal as in the recent case in Miami where a prominent agent team was discovered to have been entering incorrect neighborhoods for their listings to keep other agents from finding and soliciting the listing upon expiration. This one was definitely not in the clients' best interest if other agents couldn't find the listings. It devolved into something far worse than the initial MLS trickery and now one broker finds himself facing a possible 30 years in prison.

And now for a couple of items of good news: Cocoa Beach's Freedom Seven Elementary School has once again been named the number one elementary school in Florida by the Florida Department of Education.

NOAA Fisheries has announced a brief red snapper season in Atlantic federal waters for recreational anglers. We will be allowed to keep one fish per person per day of at least 20" in length for two weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) on the following days: August 10, 11, 12 and 17, 18, and 19, 2018. Good luck everyone and hope your one fish is a sow (over 20 lbs.) although I'll settle for a top of category Cadillac (10 to 20 lbs.).

I see the bad moon arising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today

___________________Creedence Clearwater Rivival