May 3, 2013
If you are thinking of selling your house, what’s the ideal Realtor for you?
- Is it the one that will tell you what you want to hear?
- Is it the one that will list your house at the highest price?
- Is it the one that works for the biggest brokerage?
If you are like most people, you will talk to a couple of Realtors to get an idea of pricing and see how the market is doing. You may have an idea of what your house is worth and hope your number is close to reality. You may even have a grasp of reality but know your house is superior and NEED to sell for more than the market dictates. Even if you don’t know it, you establish a selling strategy before you even interview a Realtor – you set goals in your head of what you want to happen and have pre-conceived ideas on how to achieve those goals.
When the time comes to interview different Realtors, you will end up hiring the one that comes closer to your predetermined plan. This may be a good thing if your plan comes close to reality and what’s happening in your local real estate market – but what if you are really off?
So let me ask you a question from a Realtor’s perspective. Wouldn’t it be easy for me, as a Miami and Miami Beach Realtor, to tell you what you want to hear in order to get the listing? It would look great in my long register of listings, even if the house doesn’t sell – it’s a numbers game, so the more listings I have, the better the chance I have of selling and making money.
Why can’t you realize that overpricing your house will not benefit you!!
Many agents out there will list it at whatever price you want – it’s simple (and one of the reasons the Real Estate Industry has such a bad reputation). Here’s another scenario: you may think, let’s list high now and we’ll see if the market responds and then we will lower the price. …but you wait, and wait and wait. You don’t lower the price and then blame the agent for not doing their job.
I just want you to be realistic here. Please think strategy before you even list your home. Please take a deep look into your pre-conceived ideas of what is to happen, and hire a Realtor because they will get the job done right. Take a look at their reputation, at their ability to market the property not only locally but nationally and abroad. Take a look at how they will make your property stand out from other listings, how they will communicate and how available they are.
Then make an educated and rational decision of who’s the best man for the job. And if you decide not to hire the best one for the job, at least know why you did it.
I’ll leave you with a great article written by a colleague in Tucson: The Effect of Great Marketing – And Good Pricing
The intent here was to make you think – Please know that our team will always tell it like it is – no fluff, just plain truth. Keep in mind that if you are looking for fluff, we may not be the perfect Miami Beach Realtor for you.
*original article from July 2010
March 28, 2013
There are so many differing opinions on the current Miami Real Estate market conditions. Some are rushing to buy into one of the country’s hottest real estate markets, others feel the comeback is too good to be true.
So which one is it? Who do you believe and what does your gut tell you?
The truth is that fast growth is always scary, especially right after one of the most horrible real estate crashes in history. But there are some facts that can’t be ignored and that has to do with Foreign Nationals trusting and buying into our market. South Americans are rushing to buy in Miami because let’s face it, many see a brighter future here and the return on their investment is secure.
Secondly, Miami is a vacation destination that as Richard Florida, founder of The Creative Class Group, mentions, is “different” than other second-home destinations.
Miami is not just a resort destination, but a global economic spike. The flip side of globalization has been the transformation of a small number of global cities — London, New York, and Hong Kong, for example — into locational hubs for what Chrystia Freeland has dubbed “the global super-elite.” Miami fills an intriguing niche in the global economy, which combines elements of a global economic and financial center and an international resort and second-home destination, with all the growth and unevenness that comes with it.
Miami has become a “go-to” destination with arts and culture (ART BASEL leading that effort), with renowned architects changing our city’s skyline (Herzog and De Meuron, Zaha Hadid,Frank Gehry), not to forget a hub for celebrities, and all of that topped with perfect weather,gorgeous beaches and global connectivity which makes it easy to travel in and out of.
Of course as real estate professionals, we want to make you believe that there is no bubble and there will not be another crash, but not even the most in-tune economists can predict that. The question remains whether or not foreign national investments will be enough to keep our hot market afloat and whether or not the diversity in economic backgrounds will ever start converging in our magnificent city.
I was glad to hear that our colleague, Peter Zalewski agrees with us:
It is impossible to argue decisively for or against the hypothesis of no more real estate boom-and-bust cycles for South Florida given that data necessary to prove or disprove the hypothesis will not be available for several decades.
As your Miami Beach REALTORS we will always make you scrutinize your own personal real estate goals and will give you direct, honest and realistic information. Just because the highest condo sale of $34 Million was just recorded in Miami Beach may not at all be relevant to your own objectives.
March 23, 2013
Time to bring an old article back to life from April 2007 – The concept of combining my architecture expertise with our Miami Real Estate Business keeps separating us from our competition. Make no mistake though, architecture consulting is exclusive to our real estate clients…continue reading my thoughts from almost 6 years ago!
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Miami, and hence all the Hurricane stuff you see me with. I worked with a couple of big firms both locally and abroad and then started my own architecture firm doing additions and remodelings in Miami Shores and Miami Beach as well as other neighboring cities. I did several projects, including the design of the Brockway Memorial Library addition in Miami Shores, and always helped friends visualize the potential of homes before buying them.
That’s when the vision of our business was born. If so many of our own friends had benefited from my architectural consulting services prior to purchasing a home, wouldn’t it be ideal if I had a Real Estate License and offer those same services to potential customers? (the answer was a really LOUD YES!!!)
As a Miami Beach home buyer, when working with me, you will gain from having free architectural consulting at your fingertips. Finding the “perfect home” is no easy task, properties will need some work and some changes most of the time. Whether it is to open a kitchen out to a family room or to “formalize” a dining room, or to add a master suite to a property, as our customer you will benefit from me sitting down with you to help identify your needs. I usually sketch out numerous schematics and will come up with a conceptual plan. Having worked in the field and built additions, I will be able to estimate the cost of construction and will then lead you to an architect or design professional that can finalize the plans.
As a Miami Beach home seller, the advantages are endless. I will ask that you acquire floor plans of your properties (most cities will have floor plans and are easy to order); I will have those floor plans ready to show any prospective buyers. I will also help you identify any weaknesses in the current design of your property and will accentuate all the positive features.
I will help you stage your property with a very detailed list of suggestions that is customized to you and your particular property. I will even help you hire the right construction professionals to prepare your home for showings (like floor refinishers, carpenters, painters, etc.). A lot of our customers are absentee owners and we take care of the coordination of these jobs for them.
Having a passion for architecture and for helping people visualize the potential of a property is what makes my job so much fun. Our customers will tell you how I light up when I see a good space (they will also tell you what my reaction is when I visit “butchered homes”), how I will go out of my way to make their dream a reality within their financial parameters. I am an architect by profession, but a Realtor by trade, the combination of these is what we offer to our customers in unmatched service.
February 20, 2013
If you are buying a Miami Beach waterfront home, you are likely to have a boat or will be considering a boat in the near future. We are constantly asked a number of questions regarding waterfront purchases and Rick and I decided to write a list of 7 important factors to consider when buying a waterfront home in Miami.
Condition of Sea wall -
- It is important for anyone buying a waterfront property to get a seawall inspection by a structural engineer or a seawall specialist. Inspections should include not only the actual seawall but also settling cracks within the main house, patios and pool as well as dock areas. Because most canal systems in Miami and Miami Beach are artificially made or made with landfills, the integrity of the seawall could ultimately determine the integrity of the structure of the home. Doing a visual inspection of seawalls of adjacent properties is also recommended in order to avoid future settling.
Type of waterfront property
- - If you look at an aerial view of Miami and Miami Beach, you will notice that there are numerous types of waterfront properties: lakes, rivers, canals with direct ocean access, canals with fixed bridges, canals with no ocean access, non-navigable canals, and bayfront homes, to name a few. Depending on the type of boat you have, you will need to consider fixed bridges (clearance heights), depth of canals, and proximity to bay and or ocean access. There are several waterfront communities in Miami and Miami Beach that have direct ocean access but you have to navigate at idle speed for miles which can mean being on your boat for a couple of hours before you can really do some boating.
- - it is important to inspect not only the condition of an existing dock, but also if the type of dock can accommodate your boat. There are a lot of canals in Miami with natural coral sea walls and no docks – you may not want to dock your boat next to natural coral. If there is no dock on the property, it may be a good idea to contact DERM (Department of Environmental Resources Management) about what kind of dock they will allow in a particular canal. DERM may even send an inspector out to the property in order to make recommendations.
Davits and/or Boat Lift
- - depending on the size of the boat, most boat owners will not keep the vessel inside the water and use davits and/or boat lifts to raise the boat out of the water while not in use. Whichever your choice, make sure to inspect existing davits or make sure the existing seawall can accommodate a boat lift of your choice.
Protection from the elements
Bayfront homes are obviously the most desired type of waterfront property but can also leave your property very exposed to the elements (weather and hurricanes). Canal front properties are said to protect not only your house, but boats as well in case of increment weather. This doesn’t mean that you should not purchase a bayfront home, it means you should consider location when purchasing.
Location of home within a canal
- - because of the intricate design of canals in Miami and Miami Beach, some canals may be comparable to dead-end streets. These canals, depending on currents and wind may accumulate debris and garbage that can become a nuisance. If a property is located at the end of a dead-end canal, make sure you ask about accumulation of debris throughout the year.
- - just keep in mind that property insurance costs will be higher for waterfront homes, especially open bay properties.
February 1, 2013
We are reviving an old article about historic windows since we have received so many questions about windows this week. I wrote this back in October 2007 – remember to look in the category section of the blog under “historic homes” or “architecture” for informative articles that may help you with restoration of historic homes or even remodeling of your existing one. We always appreciate your feedback! And remember we are here to serve all of your Miami real estate needs – especially if you are buying or selling historic homes! It’s our passion and you’ll know why from the minute I step into a historic property.
You are going to think I am crazy for writing an article about the correct use of windows. But you need to know that windows are my pet peeve. Windows are a key element in a building’s architecture, and the incorrect use of a window can ruin a building’s facade. When doing the Miami Beach Real Estate thing I am always shocked at what I see.
I drive around every day looking at Miami Architecture shaking my head. You see Spanish Mediterranean homes with Colonial windows, Colonial homes with casement windows, or Mid-century modern homes with single-hung windows. This drives me absolutely crazy, so instead of complaining, I’ll try to explain some basics.
Vitruvius, known as the first Roman architect to have written on his field, always talked about architecture as an imitation of nature, and ultimately defined the Vitruvian Man (drawn by Leonardo da Vinci). The Vitruvian Man, represents perfect human proportions and fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order. I will not go into detail about the human proportions but will only tell you that the first windows were vertical in nature made to represent the human body, or better yet, were designed according to human proportions.
I have sketched a common window to show what proportions are about – notice the vertical nature of the window. Different styles of architecture call for different window proportions. And although I’m not going into detail about what type of window is appropriate for what type of architecture, my purpose is to help you “see” and discern the different proportions.
You have no idea how good it feels when friends and loved ones start noticing things that they really never paid attention to. It’s great that Rick can go into a house now, with his “accountant eye” and say, “too bad they replaced the windows with the wrong type”. It’s a big YESSSssss in my book.
Here are 3 sketches of the same house with different types of windows – please excuse my primitive pen and inks, but I think it helps to make a point.
The house is a small scaled Mediterranean Revival typical of the 1920′s in South Florida. One of the three window types is correct for the style.
Sketch “A” shows the house with a horizontal awning window,
Sketch “B” shows the house with a vertical casement window,
Sketch “C” shows the house with a colonial window.
The differences may be a bit subtle for the untrained eye, but the correct use for a Mediterranean Revival home is the casement window. If we want to go into detail, the proportion of the window lights and the placement of the muntins is also very important. But I would much rather see a plain casement without muntins, than the other 2 applications.
So what’s the purpose of this blog and how does it apply to you? Start looking at windows, notice differences, that way when you are ready to replace a window in your home, you will know which type to use. Please don’t ask window companies, most of them will not care what you use and which window type is appropriate; when in doubt, ask a professional. There are plenty of architects that do consulting and would be glad to answer questions. There are also historic boards throughout that may be able to help you.
If you have a question about windows, let me know……I’ll try my best to answer.
January 28, 2013
If you have visited a Miami Beach historic house with me you know how I light up. The architect in me wants to jump out and point out every single historic detail, no matter how minute. I can’t begin to tell you how many calls and e-mails we get from people wanting to know more about historic houses, or people thanking me for writing about window proportions, Historic Cuban Tile or Cuban Tile flooring. (There’s even a Historic Homes category on the menu bar on the blog).
The fact is that Miami historic real estate is my specialty – many times I point out features that listing agents are clueless about and later thank me.
But I’m not writing this post to pat myself on the back or to tell you “If you are buying a historic home in Miami, call me!!” (although it would be that easy). The purpose of this post is to help you be critical about the reasons you may be captivated by historic homes.
I see it all in this business – the person that walks into a gorgeous Miami Beach Mediterranean Revival Home and appreciates every nook and cranny, and those that get disgusted by the “old feel” and want to replace everything in site with modern features. When showing a historic home, it is obvious who appreciates the home and who doesn’t.
So what is it you like about historic homes? Is it the charm and character? Is it the warm materials (textured stucco, hardwood floors, mill-work) Or is it just the look and feel of these properties? Are you aware that Historic Properties are known to hold their value much better than other properties and have a particular public who recognize the value and are willing to pay for it? Whether Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, Tudor …..or whatever…….historic homes sell for more – I’m not making this up, the numbers prove it.
This doesn’t mean that these homes may sell quicker (although many times they do), it means that they sell for more than the average home. There are certain neighborhoods in Miami that have historic homes: Miami Shores, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Miami Springs and Historic Morningside are the most known….but there are also hidden pockets with beautiful gems all around Miami……even where you least expect it.
Owning one of these old homes is not all fun and games either – with old homes comes a lot of work and sometimes problems. From structural deflection (sagging beams), to old plumbing, to termite damage. It’s time to think of the reasons why you may be attracted to these old homes, and if you are not interested in working with the “buying an old home package” while paying a premium, then it may be a good idea to skip these altogether.
Please note that I’m not a purist either – I believe in reaching a happy medium between restoration and modernization…..it’s doable, as long as you always respect proportions and materials. Ultimately, you will be the one living in the house…..just think of resale value and don’t go butchering and altering the historical integrity without taking into consideration the consequences, which could include resale value.
Have a historic problem or an anecdote you want to share about a historic house? Add it to the comments so everyone can pitch in.
*originally published on October 8th, 2008*
January 23, 2013
We have recently received calls and e-mails from our Miami investor clients, asking about 1031 exchanges. So I decided to explain it in a brief and hopefully understandable way. We always recommend that you contact and attorney and/or CPA, and we’re here to help you with the Miami properties when you are ready.
What is an IRC 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange?
A 1031 Exchange, is a transaction which specifies if an asset (usually some form of real estate such as land or a building) is sold and the proceeds of the sale are the reinvested in an asset of a similar kind, therefore no capital gain or loss is recognized, allowing the deferment of capital gains taxes that would otherwise have been due on the first sale. The actual law is Title 26, section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.
In plain English, this means that a 1031 Exchange is a rollover of equity of like properties, rather than an avoidance of tax.
There are 3 important parts that are important for a smooth and successful 1031 Exchange:
1. Time Requirements
2. Identification Rules
3. Monetary Requirements
There are two time requirements: identification period and exchange period which total 180 days.
- Identification Period
- 45 day period to identify specific properties as potential replacements.
- 45 day clock starts when the relinquished property is settled. (the day the first property closes)
- Three rules for declaring potential replacement properties (See Identification Rules)
- Exchange Period
- Begins on the date the taxpayer transfers (closes) the sale of the relinquished property and ends at midnight of the 180th day.
- There are no extensions for the 45th or the 180th day and there are no extensions for Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays.
**UPDATED** Exchanger may need to file an extension on their tax return if the replacement property is not closed in time to file yearly taxes.
- Three Property Rule – The exchanger may identify three (3) properties of any value
- 200% Rule – The exchanger may identify any number of properties if the total fair market value of what is identified does not exceed 200% of the sale price of the relinquished property; or (i.e. relinquished property sold for $200,000 – identified properties cannot be more than $400,000)
- 95% Rule - If the exchanger identifies more properties than are permitted under the two rules above, the exchanger must acquire 95% of what was identified. (Be care careful with this one )
There are three monetary requirements which dictate whether or not a transaction qualifies as a 1031 Exchange:
- Sales Price
All three of these amounts for the relinquished property must be equal to or greater than these amounts for the replacement property. If not, some amount of capital gains taxes and /or depreciation taxes will apply.
There are many other things to consider when doing a 1031 exchange. Every transaction is different so be sure to consult your attorney and/or CPA to see if a 1031 exchange is right for you.
*edit from June 2008 article*
January 4, 2013
When it comes to Miami Beach real estate, a lot has happened in a year, especially when it comes to Miami Beach homes and the waterfront/luxury market. There are 145 Miami Beach waterfront homes for sale right now ranging from a $750,000 North Beach home on Biscayne Point, to the previously JLo owned $40 Million North Bay Road home (close to Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh).
2012 marked the highest single-family home residence sale in the history of Miami Beach when 3 Indian Creek, originally listed for $60 Million, sold in August, for $47 Million!
This sale, in addition to the Miami Beach condo market boom, marks the beginning of a crazy luxury market that many even interpret as another bubble. The truth is that Miami Beach remains to be desirable not just to locals, but to the whole world – it is an escape from brutal winters to a great global hub destination for both primary homes, vacation and second home getaways. Let’s break down all the 2012 waterfront home sales by island to better understand the nature of each.
The Median Listing price for a Miami Beach waterfront home is currently $6.9 Million. Out of the 113 waterfront homes sold in 2012, the median sold price was $2.8 Million in 2012 – let’s look at those numbers in detail.
Star Island Home Sales
2 Star Island waterfront homes sold – averaging $1,221 per square foot with the highest sale at $14.325 Million for the house located at 29 Star Island Dr – with 10,160 sf of living space, 5 bedrooms, 40,000 sf lot and 100 feet of water frontage.
Palm Island Home Sales
4 Palm Island homes sold on the water - highest sale at $14.5 Million for the house located at 70 Palm Ave. with 19,000 sf of living space, 9 bedrooms and 100? of water frontage. The average price per square foot for Palm Island homes coming in at $1,211.
Hibiscus Island Home Sales
4 Hibiscus Island homes sold on the water – price ranging between $5.85 and $4.5 Million. The highest sale of $5,850,000 was for the home located at 265 N. Hibiscus Dr. with over 5,000 sf of living space, 11,375 sf lot, 5 bedrooms and 65? of water frontage. The average price per square foot in Palm Island was $1,099.
Venetian Islands Home Sales
There were 13 Venetian Island waterfront homes sold – prices ranging between $1.45 Million to $6.45 Million, with an average price per sf of $804. The highest sale was for the very dated home built in 1995, located at 835 E Dilido Dr, with over 7,000 sf of living space, 26,816 sf lot, 6 bedrooms and almost 200 feet of water frontage.
Sunset Islands Home Sales
There were 16 Sunset Island homes sold on the water – prices ranging between $1.67 million and $12.9 Million. The average price per sq.ft. coming in at $976. The highest sale was one of our featured Miami Mod homes located at 1835 W 27th St., with 22,192 sf of land, over 10,000 sf of living space, 7 bedrooms and over 150 feet of water frontage.
North Bay Road Home Sales
There were 6 North Bay Rd waterfront homes sold this year. Their prices ranging between $5.5 to $10.6 Million and averaging $964 per sq.ft. The highest sale was for Ricky Martin’s Miami Beach home boasting over 9,000 sf of living space and located at 5130 N Bay Rd, with over 19,000 sf of land, 7 bedrooms and 105 feet of open bay water frontage.
La Gorce Island Home Sales
There were 2 waterfront La Gorce Island homes sold. One for $5.75 Million and the other for $11 Million and averaging $908 per sq.ft. The highest sale was all about land with more than 1.78 acres (77,748 sf), located at 100 La Gorce Dr Cr with over 10,000 sf of living space, 7 bedrooms and 180 degrees of water views.
Allison Island Home Sales
There were 5 waterfront Allison Island homes sold on the water in 2012. Their prices ranging from $2.7 Million to $8325 Million with an average price per square foot of $685. The highest sale was for the brand new construction located at 100 6633 Allison Rd with over 12,000 sf of living space, 7 bedrooms and 207 feet of water frontage.
North Bay Island Home Sales
There were no waterfront homes sold in N. Bay Island
Normandy Island Home Sales
There were 13 waterfront homes sold in Normandy Island, which historically, has been the least expensive waterfront real estate in Miami Beach. They ranged in price between $770,000 and $2.6 Million for the bay front home located at 425 N Shore Dr – with 4,700 sf of living space, 4 bedrooms, over 11,000 SF of land and 65 feet of water frontage. The average price per sq.ft. in Normandy Island coming in at $346.
Biscayne Point Home Sales
9 Biscayne Point waterfront homes sold in 2012 ranging between $420,000 for a foreclosure, to $2.125 Million for the home located at 1550 Daytonia Rd. This completely remodeled Key West Style home has over 3,000 sf of living space, 5 bedrooms, 11,250 sf lot and 75 feet of water frontage. The average price per sq.ft. in Biscayne Point coming in at $393.
Stillwater Island Home Sales
7 Stillwater Island waterfront homes sold ranging between $780,500 for a foreclosure, to $1.8 Million for the home at 1370 Stillwater Dr – with 3,000 sf of living space, 5 bedrooms, 8,000 sf lot and 50 feet of water frontage. The average price per square feet for Stillwater being $590.
Pinetree Drive Home Sales
There were 6 Pinetree waterfront homes sold ranging between $1.75 for a short sale, to $13.1 Million. The highest sale of $13,100,000 was for the mediterranean mansion and one of Pinetree’s historic gems located at 4821 Pinetree Dr, with over 18,000 sf of living space, over 80,000 sf lot, 13 bedrooms and 200 feet of water frontage.
Built in 1928 by renowned architect L.M. Barrett for Byron D. Miller Esq. (president of the F.W. Woolworth Co.), this stunning 18,000-plus-square-foot gated compound in Miami Beach is a rare historical masterpiece that has hosted more political dignitaries than any other home in Miami. The estate commands 250 feet of water frontage and is situated on a two-acre parcel on the widest span of the Indian Creek waterway.
The average price per sq.ft. in Pinetree coming in at $660.
Miami Beach’s waterfront housing market has not only recuperated, but has come ahead faster than anyone could have predicted. We are asked often why we think this is and the answer is very simple: Miami Beach is still coveted amongst celebrities and the wealthy because there is a certain lifestyle you can’t get anywhere else, because of the fact that we are so easily accessible, because of our year-round great weather, and simply because Miami is a beautiful place.
To those clients I urged and pleaded to buy back in 2011….now you see why – all the pending doom energy has come and gone and no one even felt it, so now you’ll pay a bit more, but it will always be worth it.
Take a look at this graph and how different islands compare. Star Island is still at the top of the game, but followed closely by Palm Island and Hibiscus Island. The Venetian Islands still offer a great option when compared to The Sunset Islands, North Bay Road and La Gorce Island.
Normandy Island continues to be the least expensive waterfront real estate in Miami Beach and Pinetree Drive will continue to offer homes that are historically significant in a unique setting.
We have come a long way and I’m sure home sellers are happy that the market has come back and doing well. There are still great opportunities out there and we look forward to continuing to be your Miami Beach Real Estate Resource and also to working with you, as your REALTORS, in 2013.
December 19, 2012
Choosing the right agent to sell your home – whether you are selling a Miami Beach home or any other type of real estate takes a bit of research – here are some tips that will help you make a sound decision.
I have a close family member outside of Miami that is in the process of choosing a Realtor to list their home for sale. As I keep repeating here on Miamism, real estate is local and it is very difficult for me to try to figure out the intricacies of real estate markets across the nation, but obviously I’m doing my homework to help her make a good decision and passing the information along to help you with this decision as well. These suggestions should apply to any market, especially Miami Beach Real Estate.
My relative’s first inclination is to hire the biggest real estate brokerage in her area. She had hired them 2 years ago and they were not successful selling the home even after several price reductions. According to her, they have the most listings and handle most of the sales, so it would make sense to use them. She also mentioned that agents within that company only show their own listings, so not listing with them would be a disadvantage. The real estate team she is thinking of hiring has about 60 listings, they advertise in a certain way with traditional print ads and do not deviate because they are the biggest and that’s what people are used to.
I was listening attentively and all kinds of red flags started going off
Why hire the biggest real estate brokerage?
Remember that it is a particular agent’s service that you will be relying on, not necessarily the brokerage. With all the changes in real estate in the past 2 years, it is no longer about hiring the big dog brokerages anymore. It is about hiring agents that provide service, that areInternet proficient and that will expose your listing to the broadest audience possible. Rick and I left a big brokerage because they were limiting the way we exposed our listings and setting boundaries for us that were directly impacting our clients and our ability to market effectively.
Realtors are independent contractors
When you are interviewing, we recommend that you interview a few agents and Google themto see how they are exposing their listings and what individual services they offer. If you Google an agent and they don’t come up, I would seriously doubt their marketing expertise – if over 80% of buyers are starting on-line, shouldn’t that agent at least know how to market themselves? (the only excuse for not being “Googable” would be having a common name like John Smith or Rick Garcia, and even then, I would hope they are smart enough to have a brand or something to help identify them amongst thousands of others).
Reassess reasons you are reusing an agent and be objective
If you hired an agent previously and were not happy with their service – make sure you go back and review why the relationship did not work and why you think your property did not sell. The agent may not be at fault and that’s why it’s important to be objective – was it because they were not available to show the property, was your home overpriced – was it the condition of your property? Was it something out of yours and their control? Sometimes it may feel like it is easier to go with a service you know, rather than go through the work of interviewing and seeing what options are out there.
Accessibility and Service
If you hire an agent with 60 listings – don’t be afraid to ask how they will handle YOUR home. Do they answer their phone, do they have someone else handling your listing? Will you be another number instead of getting personal service -is their business based on mass sales and quantity over quality. How do they communicate and how often, do they give feedback after every showing – Will you benefit from working with an agent that has less listings that may provide better service.
They show their own listings only
The comment about agents only showing their own company’s listings is disturbing to say the least. If a Realtor is working with a buyer, it is their responsibility to show that buyer all listings that fit their criteria, not just the ones that will get them more money in their pocket. I would consider that to be unethical and would rethink using agents that resort to those types of tactics, since it is evident that they have their best interest at hand, not yours.
Advertising and Internet Exposure
Advertising and Internet exposure should be your biggest concern: make sure you identify “basic” real estate services as opposed to “above and beyond marketing”, “exclusive services” and “out-of-the-box” thinking.
- Basic services include: Multiple Listing Service, property sign, property brochures, just listed cards, property photos, Realtor.com (all agents should provide these basic services)
- What successful agents across the country are doing (in addition to basic services): single listing blogs, email flyers, syndication throughout the web to over 50 listing sites, professional photography, virtual shows, property videos, seller’s video interviews, staging – in addition to constant communication, revisiting of property pricing and feedback from showings and recommendations throughout the duration of the listing.
This is not a time to negotiate real estate commissions – on the contrary, many sellers are offering more commission to cooperating brokers to make it enticing for them to show your listing. Selling a home today takes a lot more work than a few years ago, the commission will guarantee your agent puts 100% of themselves into the sale. Obviously this is controversial and your commission structures may be negotiable according to services being offered.
Ask about transaction management – who handles the details once the property is under contract (a large percentage of sales fall through because of poor transaction management) – do they qualify buyers so you don’t waste your time? Do they stay on top of the process….escrow letters, inspection deadlines, second deposits and constant communication with title agencies, attorneys and all parties involved?
Open houses in most of the country are not successful selling tools. We use them here to get more buyer clients – less than 4% of our listings sell because of an open house – it is ok for you to decide whether or not to do open houses. We do find however that Broker’s Open Houses are very helpful. Team Miamism hosts catered Broker’s Open Houses and we invite agents throughout to come preview the house – with the amount of inventory, it has become very difficult to know every home on the market, this helps put your listing in front of Realtors that would not otherwise consider your home for their clients.
For Sale By Owner
Of course I’m going to push for you to hire a professional with experience to handle the sale of your property. Although many “For Sale By Owner” are successful, studies prove that these homes sell for less than the average price. In addition, it’s important for you to disconnect from showing the property – the biggest turn off for buyers today is a seller pushing their own home and blabbing throughout the showing process.
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So there you have some suggestions to help with your thought process when selecting a REALTOR to sell your home. The process is not easy and is very personal – but make sure you are objective and consider important factors. When all else fails, call us and ask our opinion, we know agents from across the country that provide excellent service and we would not hesitate to recommend. If you feel we missed something, please add it to the comments, especially if you have been through the selling process recently.
**original article published in May of 2009**
December 4, 2012
You are interviewing Miami Beach REALTORS and have no idea who to hire because they all have something that impresses you, good track record, good communication skills, good client testimonials, good Internet presence…..so how can you make up your mind?
The key is to be able to identify how they market themselves as opposed to how they market properties. At first this may seem like easy task, but once you start thinking about it you realize that most REALTORS spend more money branding themselves that promoting their properties. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s only wrong when they want to sell you their branding efforts as property marketing.
In addition to identifying the type of marketing an agent does, it’s good to know where marketing efforts need to be more aggressive and where buyers will ultimately find your home. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just published a 2010 profile of home buyers and sellers which includes this graph that details where buyers found the home they purchased from 2001 through 2010.
Interestingly enough, in 2010, 75% of buyers bound their home with the help of another REALTOR or on-line! (and the Internet is half of that number). Which just means that yard signs, open houses, newspaper and magazine ads and brochures are a minuscule part of the equation! Seriously?? But those property brochures are so pretty!! And what have we been telling you? The brochures are part of an agent’s branding efforts, it gets them more listings….not necessarily sell homes.
Brand Marketing vs. Product Marketing
A good REALTOR will use both types of marketing not only to attract more clients but to ultimately sell real estate. Furthermore, Brand and Product will often be combined because in real estate, you really can’t separate one from the other. A good example of this will be direct mailers with “just listed” information – the property will be shown and described and the agent brand will be emphasized – but do you see these in the list above? Yet one overly used home selling pitch is that “neighbors will tell friends and family about the home, which is the best type of word-of-mouth marketing” << can you say “MEANINGLESS SCRIPT”?
Tracey Drake from Suite101.com gives us a great analogy to differentiate the two:
- Ford telling consumers that “Quality is Job 1″ – this is Brand Marketing
- Selling that consumer a Ford Mustang – this is Product Marketing
So what am I telling you here? In a customer service driven society, how can we not know when we are buying something for the brand, not necessarily the quality? How can we not realize that the pretty magazine ad will not sell our home? or the ingenious TV ad or the catchy yard sign?
So sit down with your Miami Beach Realtor and ask how they are using The Internet to reach the end buyer, what will they do differently to make your home stand out from the thousands of properties on the web and how is their business relationship with other Realtors since ultimately it will be their competition who will bring your home’s buyer.
For additional marketing insights, read Seth Godin’s What do you know? - a great list that manages to separate egos from achievers with some of my favorite points:
- Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.
- You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.
- Traditional ways of interrupting consumers (TV ads, trade show booths, junk mail) are losing their cost-effectiveness. At the same time, new ways of spreading ideas (blogs, permission-based RSS information, consumer fan clubs) are quickly proving how well they work.
- Good marketers tell a story.
- Living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in an conversation-rich world.
- In the googleworld, the best in the world wins more often, and wins more.