Articles

The Laguna Beach Report – Jan 2019

As we head into February 2019, the Laguna Beach property market is moving into a balanced market, after being in a slight buyer’s market at the end of 2018. 

Days On Market
The expected time on market for Laguna Beach homes has now decreased by 27.9% from 183 days last month to 132 days in Jan 2019.  

Selling Price Per Sq Ft
The selling price per sq ft of Laguna Beach homes increased by 17.9% from $974 in Jan 2018 to $1,148 in Jan 2019.

Home SALE price versus LISTING price
Laguna Beach homes were selling for an average of 86.8% of their listing price in Jan 2019. This is down from an average of 92.8% in Jan 2018, but is an increase over Dec 2018 when homes were selling at 85.2% of their list price.

Active Listings
The number of active listings in Laguna Beach has increased by 26.6% from 207 listings in Jan 2018 to 262 listings in Jan 2019.

Average SALE Price
The average sale price of homes in Laguna Beach reached $3,164,205 in Jan 2019; a significant increase over the average sale price of $2,489,000 of Jan 2018.

Has YOUR home increased in value?

Find out with a FREE, no obligation home value report at Burb.com/Value

Buy a home in Orange County

What Does Buying The Listing Mean?

“Buying the listing” is a Real Estate industry term that refers to the unethical practice of Realtors knowingly telling a home seller that their property is worth more than it in fact is, in order to get the listing.

Realtors know that most home sellers interview more than one Real Estate Agent when deciding who to list their home with. Sellers generally want to generate as much money as possible from their home sale and usually the seller will select the agent who assures them of the highest possible sale price. 

Unfortunately, some unethical Real Estate agents knowingly capitalize on this by deliberately inflating the suggested listing price they provide to the seller at the listing appointment in order to win the listing over others who told the truth about the home’s market value.

These agents take the listing with a reasonable expectation that they will be able to persuade the seller to agree to a price reduction later on, once it’s their listing. In the meantime, the Realtor benefits from marketing the home, as one listing often leads to others within the same neighborhood, and attracts buyers that they can represent, often on the sale or purchase of other homes and not this specific listing.

By the time the seller realizes this has happened, their home listing is usually stale, and they end up having to reduce the price, often netting less than they would have had the home been priced correctly at first.

If a listing agent assures a home seller of an inflated sale price, then fails to deliver and asks for multiple price reductions, there’s a good chance they “bought the listing”.

Obviously, interviewing several Realtors doesn’t protect you from this, and in fact increases the chances of this happening, so how can a home seller ensure that the listing agent they choose doesn’t ‘buy the listing’? Always ask the Realtor to show you exactly how they came up with the price and ask them to review the recent comps with you. If the Realtor can’t clearly demonstrate their justification for their suggested price, don’t risk listing your home with them.

Sell your Orange County CA home

The 5 Secret Reasons Homes Fail To SELL

  1. The Wrong Marketing

Every property is unique, so there should never be a ‘one size fits all’ marketing approach to selling a home, yet this is the approach adopted by most Realtors, with a ‘spray and pray’ marketing push in which the goal is to market to as many people as possible, regardless of whether they are buyers, in the hopes that sooner or later someone will see the home. 

Our marketing approach involves identifying your home’s likely buyer, creating a marketing profile around them, and tailoring our marketing to put your home in front of the right people via a pro-active approach, rather than marketing to just anyone in a passive way. When you sell your home with us, you will know exactly what marketing we are doing, and more importantly, why we’re doing it. 

2. The Realtor ‘Bought the listing”

Beware of agents who “buy the listing”. This is the industry term for an agent deliberately inflating their suggested listing price in order to persuade the seller to give them the listing. The unethical agents who do this know that the home won’t sell at that price, and they plan from day one to request price reductions at a later date. In the meantime, the agent uses your listing to market themselves and pick up other clients, while your home sits on the market without offers. In order to avoid listing with a Realtor who is trying to buy the listing, always ask them to show you the comps they used to determine the listing price they are suggesting.

3. Presentation:

No matter how beautifully finished your home may be, there are a number of tried and tested home staging techniques we use to help your home appeal to buyers, and almost every property listing can benefit from these tricks. It’s all about encouraging buyers to imagine living in your home; when they start envisioning their new life in the property, they get emotionally attached to your home and don’t want to be outbid.

Your home could be the nicest in town, but if your listing photos don’t present the home in the best possible way, they actually hinder your chances of a successful sale. Too often we see stale listings with photos clearly snapped by the Realtor on their phone, with no thought given as to the best presentation of the home. In fact, this happens so often that there are websites dedicated to sharing these bad listing photos.

4. Buyer’s agent commissions:

Although buyer’s agents aren’t supposed to be swayed by higher or lower commissions, they are human beings with bills to pay, and most don’t sell more than a couple of homes per year. The amount of commission offered by your agent to the buyer’s agent can mean the difference between selling your home very quickly, or not at all. The amount of commission offered to the buyer’s agent on your home sale should be discussed with you; if it isn’t, you should question why not. Often, a listing agent will offer a low commission to the buyer’s agent in order to keep more money for themselves or to list for a discount fee; this then hinders the home’s sale because few buyer’s agents are willing to show the property to their clients. We always offer an attractive commission to encourage buyer’s agents to show your home.

5. Your Realtor:

While most people believe that all Realtors offer the same level of service and the same types of marketing, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Realtor you choose to sell your home really can make or break the deal. An inexperienced agent doesn’t know what they don’t know, and often make mistakes throughout the transaction that can significantly reduce the level of buyer interest (such as the wrong marketing), the number of other agents willing to show the property (their reputation; the commission offered), or the chances of the deal closing (avoidable errors during the transaction). 

We also often see private MLS remarks listed by the Realtor that contain highly unusual terms, statements and claims that have often not been discussed with the seller. When listing your home for sale, you should always ask to approve the private MLS remarks, as well as the public listing in order to ensure that your agent hasn’t included anything you’re unaware of.

Remember that the number of years the Realtor has been in business does not equate to experience; it is possible for them to do one deal per year for twenty years and not be a skilled real estate professional. Who you work with, truly does matter.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, call me for a no-obligation discussion on (949) 910-2994 – Jenny Sharpe

Are Open Houses worth doing?

Do homes sell at open houses?

Are Open Houses worth doing?

Many people have asked us the questions “do homes ever sell at an Open House?”, “are open houses a waste of time?” and “are open houses necessary?” and our answer has always been “it depends”.

When it comes to hosting an open house, there tends to be three types of agent approach, with each yielding vastly different results for the seller and agent.

Open House 1:

The listing agent is hosting an open house because the seller has asked for one, but this agent doesn’t really believe in open houses having much value toward a sale.

Often, the listing agent will allow a junior agent in their office or team to host the open house so that they don’t personally have to host it. As you’d expect, these types of open houses tend to be poorly planned and executed, with the extent of the marketing usually being three to five open house signs leading to the property and the agent relying entirely upon people passing by to notice the open house and wander in. The chances of the people who happen to be passing by at that time being the actual buyer for the home is slim at best.

These agents typically ‘sit’ the open house rather than ‘work’ it, with little interaction between the agent and potential buyers. Unsurprisingly, homes with this type of open house rarely sell from the open house. Often, if the open house is being hosted in this manner, it’s a good indication that the agent isn’t doing much to market the home in other ways either.

Open House 2:

The agent sees open houses as a way to find new buyer clients for OTHER properties.

This agent will typically market the open house by listing it in the MLS, and placing approximately three to five open house signs around the neighborhood. When people enter the property the agent will welcome them but typically not discuss the features and benefits of that property; any discussion is usually limited to self-promotion, with the goal of collecting the buyer’s contact information in order to begin marketing their services as an agent to them. Because the agent’s goal is to find new buyer clients for their own business, and not to sell this house, they rarely sell the subject property at their open house events.

Agents who do this are often also ‘buying the listing’; an industry term that means the agent has told the seller a much higher price than the home is worth because they know that sellers will often list with the agent who tells them the highest price. Buying the listing is done because the agent knows they can pick up some buyer clients from open house events at the property to make it worth their time, even though they know that the home they have listed won’t actually sell for its asking price.

This type of open house is entirely self-serving for the agent and does not help the seller to sell their home.

Open House 3:

The agent is hosting an open house with the purpose of selling THAT property.

The agent defines a buyer profile and then markets the open house extensively for several days, even weeks, prior to the event. The open house event is heavily marketed on social media, and critically, to a target audience based upon the buyer profile for the home, rather than just to anybody; this is significantly more likely to put the home in front of its buyer. The ability to do such a promotion involves a significant amount of training and a high level of understanding of social media marketing that the vast majority of agents do not possess. Most agents mistakenly think that ‘boosting’ a post on Facebook on another social media channel is the same thing; it is not. Open house invitations are given to neighbors and potential buyers within the agent’s database; door hangers are placed on neighboring homes.

On the day of the open house, the event is held for a minimum of three hours and at least twelve open house signs are placed leading to the property, making it as easy as possible for people to find the home.

During the open house event, the agent uses marketing techniques to make the home appear inviting and to make potential buyers stay longer, such as scented candles, food and drinks. If a buyer stays to eat or drink something, it creates a more relaxed environment; when the buyer relaxes in the home, they start to imagine living there and they become more likely to make an offer.

This type of agent ‘works’ rather than ‘sits’ their open houses. Every person who enters the home is greeted and given information about the property. Feedback is obtained from every single group who tours the home, and their contact details are collected so that the agent may follow up with them about that home. While potential buyers tour the home, the agent talks with them and gets them to open up about their property needs, creating opportunities to further sell the features and benefits of the home to them. After the open house, the agent follows up with potential buyers.

Often, due to the high level of buyer targeting, combined with an effort to make the buyers feel relaxed and comfortable in the home, this approach to an open house event often results in an offer on the property from someone who attended the open house event.

Are Open Houses worth doing?

Ultimately, the type of approach to the open house event, and the quality and skill set of the listing agent, make the difference between the home selling at the open house or not. Your home absolutely can sell at its open house, if you have hired the right agent.

If you’re considering selling your home, it’s a good idea to visit several open houses and test out the style of several listing agents before committing to working with one. Ask them how many homes they’ve sold from open houses, and what marketing they did for that open house event. The answers to these questions will be very telling!

If you’re thinking of selling a home in Orange County, CA, come by and visit one of our open houses to ‘mystery shop’ us and check whether we are the right agents to sell your home.

In the words of one of our clients: “Once upon a time my lovely girlfriend and I were looking for a place to call our home and grow our family in. We walked into an open house and were lucky to meet Jenny Sharpe. Jenny went above and beyond to make this deal happen, and got us EXACTLY what we wanted! I cannot recommend her services enough! She made house buying easy. She is someone I would recommend to my personal friends and family. Thank you Jenny! We love our new house!” ~ Alireza Z.

If you’re thinking of selling a home outside of Orange County CA and need a great Real Estate Agent, fill out the contact form below and we’ll connect you with one of the Agents in our global network; we only work with experienced Real Estate Agents who will get your home SOLD.

Tips for selling a home

12 Simple Ways To Help Your Home SELL

 “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”  Coco Chanel

The same principle holds true when presenting your home to buyers; if your home is shabbily presented they will remember the negatives; if it is impeccably presented they will remember the home.

  1. De-clutter.

Clear every surface, especially kitchen, bathroom and office surfaces. If your kitchen has multiple appliances, utensil holders, knife blocks, cookbooks, fruit bowls, ornaments, etc, put away everything except the bare minimum and your kitchen will instantly appear much larger.

In the bathroom, put away everything from the countertop except hand soap; multiple bottles of shampoo, lotion, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of mouthwash, etc, may be a daily essential however they will make your bathroom appear smaller and lacking in storage space if they are left out on show. Seeing someone else’s toiletries reminds the viewer that it is someone else’s home and prevents them from imagining it as their home.

Remove all ornaments, framed photographs and souvenirs from living areas; if your bookshelves are overflowing then remove 40% of the books; this will again give the appearance of a more spacious room with ample storage. Remove 40% of the items in your closet to give the impression of lots of storage space.

If you have large plants, they can make a room appear much smaller and so its best to either cut them back or remove them to help sell your home. A large number of plants in one room are also inadvisable.

Don’t de-clutter by cramming everything into your closets; buyers open closets and an over packed closet gives buyers the impression that the home lacks storage space. Instead, pack everything you remove from your home into boxes and place it into storage.

  1. De-Personalize

Buyers notice your personal property and furniture before they notice the room. Comments about the sellers taste in decor are just as common as comments about the space itself. Red walls may look great and your taste may be impeccable, however, if the décor is too personal then your potential buyers will have a hard time imagining their own furniture in the room and will view the property as one requiring a lot of work.

Try to make your home as neutral as possible by removing personal items, keepsakes, photos and ornaments, and where possible, tone down any strong colors or patterns.

Remember that buyers open doors and drawers, so don’t leave anything to be ‘found’ such as dirty laundry in your closet or, past due bills in kitchen drawers, because that’s what your buyers will remember about your property.

Photo’s of your family simply highlight the fact that it is your family’s home and remind the buyers that they are in someone else’s home. This reduces the chances of a potential buyer feeling at home or imagining their own family living there.

3.  Staging

Never underestimate the power of great home staging. Most buyers are attracted to homes that feel very “now”. An on-trend look can be achieved through staging the home with select pieces reflecting current interior design trends, without having to redecorate the home. If your home was updated more than ten years ago, adding some décor reflecting current trends will help your property to appeal to more buyers. In addition to this, a great home stager can transform the look and feel of a home to make it appear more spacious and more memorable.

4.  Define Spaces

Don’t assume that your buyers have imagination or will see the potential in a space. If you have a room, that is used in multiple ways, for example a bedroom with a small office area in one corner of the room, or, a playroom with a TV area, buyers will often comment that they don’t know what the room is for or how they would use it. In the buyer’s mind, the room is now viewed as a negative and it becomes a strike against the property.

If you have a space in your home, which isn’t used, or, if you have already moved out of the property, it is always best to ‘stage’ it and clearly define every space in the property so that your buyers don’t need to use their imagination.

5.  Clean

Clean as if your mother-in-law is coming to stay, then clean again. Buyers notice dirt that sellers don’t see and a dirty, unkempt home is a huge negative to most buyers.

Don’t assume that the potential buyers won’t look inside kitchen or bathroom cabinets; they will. Don’t assume they won’t open the refrigerator or the oven; they will. Make sure they are all very, very clean.

Don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink, or, in the dishwasher; buyers will look inside the dishwasher and opening it to find dirty dishes will give them a bad impression of your home and often make them view it as dirty, even when everything else is clean. This is also an instant reminder that it is someone else’s home, making it harder for the buyer to imagine it as their home.

Hang fresh, clean towels in the bathrooms and make sure that any dishwashing sponges and brushes are out of sight in the kitchen. Put clean, ironed linens on every bed. If possible, have your carpets cleaned. Clean every window in the house until it sparkles inside and out. Put away children’s toys.

6.  Paint & Minor Repairs

Buyers never see repairs as minor, no matter how minor the repairs actually are; to a buyer, those repairs are often seen as major work and enough to  rule out a property. Often, buyers imagine the scenario that if such minor repairs as paint touch-ups aren’t taken care of then the seller must be ignoring major repairs too.

Touch up paintwork and make sure that all minor repairs are done. If you don’t do this, buyers will notice these things and see them both as a strike against the property and as a reason to negotiate a lower price.

7.  Curb Appeal

Don’t underestimate the importance of the buyer’s first impression; it doesn’t matter how nice the interior of your home is if the exterior doesn’t draw buyers in.

Mow and edge the lawn, repair any yellow patches in the grass, weed, trim trees and hedges and make sure that the landscaping is maintained for the duration of the sale process.

Add a potted plant next to the front door, purchase a new doormat, polish the house numbers and if seasonally appropriate, place a decorative wreath on your door. If needed, give your front door a fresh coat of paint; studies show that black, red, navy blue or dark green are the best colors to select.

8.  Pets

Don’t assume that potential buyers are pet lovers; many aren’t. A lot of buyers will be put off by a dog jumping up at them, or, may have allergies and be wary of purchasing a home that in their view may contain a lot of pet hair. Wherever possible, remove pets from the property for showings, and remove all pet items such as feeding bowls, toys and pet beds.

9.  Scented candles

Eliminate odors caused by pets, smoking and cooking by placing scented candles around the house, that your real estate agent can light for showings. Scented candles mask odors and also create a warm, cosy and inviting atmosphere in your home. Select popular scents such as vanilla or delicate floral scents and avoid anything overpowering or unusual. Here at the Burb.com team we provide our clients with our own custom scented candles, with a fragrance we had custom developed for home staging purposes.

10.  Finishing Touches

Place a bouquet of fresh flowers in a vase on an end table. Set the dining table with your best dinnerware. Make sure that all drapes and blinds are open to maximise natural light and showcase any views the property benefits from. Check that all light bulbs work and replace any that broken ones. Fluff up pillows and cushions. If the shower or bath has been recently used, make sure to dry it off. Close all toilet lids. Make sure that the best parking spot is left open for your buyers as this helps them imagine the home as their own.

11.  Be Showing Ready

Maintain your homes presentation at all times until it sells. Buyers often request to view a property at very short notice; make sure that it is ready to show at an hours notice at all times. This can be hard to do, especially if you have kids, but it is worth doing so that your home is presented in a way that generates the best offers possible.

12.  Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

Your choice in Real Estate Agent will mean the difference between listing your home and selling your home. When considering who to work with, make sure that you look at the Real Estate Agent’s level of experience. While its relatively easy to obtain a real estate license, over 70% of agents are no longer in the business within five years of obtaining their license. Successfully working with clients, and negotiating the sale and purchase of properties on a consistent basis, takes a skill set that most real estate agents do not have. You can read more about our experience here.

 

 

 

 

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