Saturday, December 30, 2006

Break time is over...


Back from eastern New Mexico, Clovis to be exact. Had a great time hanging with the family for Christmas. I left Clovis on Thursday heading back for Kingman... a 10 hour plus ride. I hit a snow storm on the way back. The snow started falling in Albuquerque and didn't let up until I passed Williams in Arizona. Plenty of white knuckle driving.

I left my wife behind because her kids were coming back to Kingman to spend the New Year holiday in Kingman. They were supposed to leave on Friday... but the Interstate 40 has been closed in New Mexico. They might be able to try again tomorrow morning.

Break time is also over for my business. Yesterday was my last official day as local president of the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of REALTORS. There is no way I'm spending the kind of time and effort that I did again at the cost of my real estate practice. It was a great experience but I must say that I am really excited about what the new year will bring for business. My buyers flat fee program is off to a great start... I'm getting good feedback on my listings that are posted on the Internet... and I'm looking forward to continuing this blog to provide content for anyone looking to buy or sell property in the Kingman and Mohave County area's.

Happy New Year to all. See you on the other side.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas to all..


To all my readers... please have yourself a fine holiday season however you may celebrate at this time of year.

I'm heading out to enjoy Christmas with the granddaughter. Bought her a little Philadelphia Eagles jersey to wear (just like the one Grampa has) while we watch the Eagles play on Christmas day. I can't wait to get a picture of that.

I know things were slow around here this week and they will likely be slow again next week. But great things are in store for 2007. Please come back and visit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The year of living dangerously...

I have been lucky enough to be president of our local Association of Realtors this year. This year has been tough on many levels. This was certainly the year of change at KGVAR.

I'm going to write up a lengthy blog article once the year wraps up to cover the highlights... and the not so highlights.

Today though, I took the biggest risk with the Membership. Earlier this week I rolled out the requirements for production awards. To my knowledge our Association is one of the last remaining Realtor groups that gives out some kind of production acknowledgment in the form of an award at an annual banquet. One of our neighboring Associations also continues to reward and recognize Members for outstanding performance. This year I was able to attend their banquet (as an honored guest). There banquet was great and offered me the chance come up with some new ideas for our own program (to be held in February of 2007).

KGVAR has grown since I joined in 2001. Grown from around 100 Members to over 500. We've also seen the average price home jump from the high $90 range to $200k. Since I've been a member we have awarded those Members that have sold 1 million dollars worth of property or more with a production trophy or plaque. Today a Member would only need to fall into 5 average deals in one whole year to qualify for such an award. Looking at the tracking numbers of individual production, there'd be just about half of the Members that could be eligible for the less than average award.

Our Association has been lucky over the years to have our Affiliate Members of the Association sponsor the awards. Last year we raised nearly $5,000 to help offset the costs of an awards budget at the same amount. In other words those nice awards do not cost the Members or the Membership any money out of our general funds. We thank those fine Affiliates for their generosity. Last year the $5,000 was enough to award 132 Members. Today $5,000 is still our budget for awards. I know first hand that some of our major sponsors among the Affiliates are cutting back costs, so I'm not real excited to head into our annual meeting and ask for more funds to cover costs for over 250 awards.

All throughout the year, not a one Member stepped up to say that he or she wanted to start an awards committee or task force. I had plenty on my plate already dealing with fighting the county on some proposed 'Matrix' and merging three local MLS's into one regional Data Exchange. Yet I knew all year that at some point somebody would have to step up and look at the budget and produce an awards program. Yeah, that someone ended up being me.

The changes I made were simple, fair, and progressive.

I raised the minimum production award level to 5 million dollars. At this rate about 60 Members would meet the minimum or just over 10% of the Membership. 5 million in average SFR sales would mean the Member sold at least 25 sides worth of transactions, or two deals a month. I still don't think that this is all that special to garner an award for production, but change has been rough on the Members this year and I didn't want to ruffle the feathers fully.

I also set aside an award structure in two categories. Two top 10 lists if you will. One top ten list would be for agents that do not work in tandem with other live human beings, and agents that work in teams, tandems, hire staff (such as an Assistant licensed or otherwise), or otherwise co-list with another live human being.

I did this because I thought it might be nice to recognize the efforts of those agents that are truly on their own. Individual agents have only 24 hours in a day. A team effort of two live human beings has 48 hours in a day... a team effort has an obvious advantage over an individual agent.

I also think that it would be nice to give the opportunity to recognize all members of a team agent situation on the same award. On the team top 10 list, at least 20 live human beings would get recognition for the team effort. It is quite possible that on the team top 10 list that there may be 50 Members recognized.

Okay, pretty simple changes if you ask me. Fair, reasonable, and progressive are other terms that jump into my head. Easy for me though, I'm biased... these were all my ideas. I spent most of last weekend writing out the production awards rules and announcements. Why did I spend all of that time doing that?? Because they never have been written down before. I even came up with a couple of snazzy forms which act as an agreement between the Members that wish to receive an award and the Association. For no other reason than for accounting.

All right, I roll out the announcement on Monday of this week. Yes, I know pretty late in the year to make these changes when average agents are accustomed to getting an awards plaque with their name on it. I know how much they really look forward to it all year long. In my electronic announcement (email and MLS bulletin board) I mentioned that I would appear at the local MLS meeting today to talk about the changes.

I had a feeling that I knew what I'd be in for this morning. I knew that it wouldn't be pretty. I even wore a black shirt today if only to help my chances to appear to be more intimidating that normal.

You would have thought that I canceled the Holiday Season today. No not all, heck not even the majority of Members who attended today, voiced negative opinions about the changes I have made to the awards program. There still was plenty of dissension in the ranks. After about 25 minutes things cooled down enough for me to make like Elvis and leave the building.

Members voiced objections earlier in the year as the Association headed towards a regional Data Exchange, but this was another whole level. I cannot and will not share the details of what was said because I consider the most voiced of critics as fellow Members that I have a lot of respect for. I will say that these folks made things much more difficult of a situation than it needed to be. Seriously, you would have thought that I just took everyones milk money from them.

As I was leaving I remembered a remark that was made to me by another fellow Member (who was not involved in any way shape or form today), a fellow Member that I have tremendous amounts of respect for, a Member that has been not only a past president of our local Association but also a past president of the state Association. He said to me... "So you want to be president eh?? You won't be when it is over."

Today was the first day all year long that I believed he was right. And just 11 days left till I'm done to boot. I hope he is surprised that it took this long.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Funny thing said today on the Internet...

This is from my favorite entertainment blog on the Internet... it is actually a 'bubble' blog. I'm talking about the Housing Panic blog.

Here is a comment from the the blogs owner in this thread...

We're witnessing the downfall of Western Society folks. Led by realtors.


This guy is great for laughs. All that has happened lately is that the blogs owner has had his views challenged in recent days. Now he has become unhinged.

New manufaturing jobs coming to town...

I spent the early evening last night at the local City Council meeting. I thought that the new P&Z commissioners were to be name and since I was an applicant I figured I should be there. Well the P&Z stuff wasn't on the agenda and so there is no news to report on for that. I still don't know who the current P&Z commission recommended for the next year.

One item at the meeting that did stand out was there is a new company that is coming to make a home in Kingman. I keep saying that jobs are the thing around here (well that and water). The City Council awarded a bid for 30 acres of land near the airport to CANTEX Inc.

A couple of the executives for CANTEX were in attendance and they were welcomed by the council. I didn't quite hear how many jobs would ultimately be created when they are up and running at full speed, but initially there will be 40 jobs for a time period.

This is great for Kingman. I'm sure there will be a few executive level paying jobs among the many that will be employed here.

There is only one worry, I have heard that when new companies come to Kingman in the airport area they come in with plans to pay a higher average wage than the other firms out in the area. But as the current firms find out about the plans of the new firm to pay a higher wage, they raise heck with the new firm and bitch and whine that the new firm will take their best employees and ask that the new firm not pay the higher wages. Apparently new firms have given in to the whiners. Of course I have no proof so I'm not making any real accusations, but I will keep my ear to the ground on this one.

Kingman has seen property value shoot up beyond what most local laborers can afford for housing. Adjusting wages up to a more competitive level would really help the locals in many ways. We'll see what happens I guess.

The other good thing about this new company is that I assume they will have to build a new building on the property that they purchased, which means construction jobs. The housing construction has slowed so this opportunity, and hopefully other commercial construction jobs coming down the pike, will ease the lack of work available for the workers.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

6 degrees of separation...

A couple of weeks back I signed up on mybloglog.com (like many others have recently). Mike Price from MLPodcast.com sent me a note to welcome me to that site and to also let me know that he knew someone that was moving to the Kingman area that would be involved in real estate.

Hey Todd, I meant to get in contact with you. I was meeting with one my business partners the other day and he mentioned that he had a brother in the title insurance business, in Kingman of all places. Small world. His name is Tom Basile with Stewart Title. Perhaps we can make an introduction some day.


Well I think on Wednesday of last week I did get a call from Mr. Basile. He is leading the effort to set up new title offices for Stewart Title and Trust in Mohave County. Stewart Title already has recently opened up an office in Kingman. I believe that Mr. Basile is the General Manager of Stewart Title of Mohave County (if I have that title wrong I apologize).

Tom and I had a great conversation for about 45 minutes with topics ranging from real estate (well duh) to RESPA acts and violations to high end television sets to sports. Tom seems like a real good guy and I told him that next time I write an offer that I'd give Stewart Title a try. So I am going to open escrow on a new deal* with them on Monday.

The only reason I am pointing this out is because of the power of blogs in the real estate business right now. Without reading Mike Price from time to time, leaving comments on his site, him leaving comments on my blog... none of this happens. I am looking forward to working with a new title company simply because of this blog and the many others that I read. The connections are starting to be made and it is getting exciting.

*The new deal I am writing is my first flat fee arrangement with my buyer client. The client is paying cash for the home for $159,000 and the selling broker is offering 3% to the buyer broker (me). My flat fee is $4,000 so the buyer will be able to use $770 in the closing for costs or to reduce the price. I want to thank Greg Swann for the inspiration of the flat fee buyer agreement. I've even blatantly used his terminology on the buyer/broker agreement.

The buyer, my client, is very pleased with this arrangement. I hope she helps me spread the word.

Holiday party conversations...

Contrary to real estate bloggers everywhere, a positive outlook on real estate continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the holiday parties I've attended so far.

I've made a conscious effort this year to listen rather than give my opinions on matters involving the future of real estate in our local area. I didn't even hype my new flat fee buyer services at all, I simply listened to what others (not in the RE biz) had to say.

Across the board the folks I talked with said that Kingman will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the years ahead. The reasons for this, though, were actually all over the place. I won't get into specifics on the reasons I heard. The only thing I countered anyone on was about new and higher paying jobs coming to the area. That is still my one worry for Mohave County as far as the future is concerned. Will there be new jobs?? Will they be higher paying jobs?? Still the key.

Overall though I enjoyed all of the real estate related conversations. I have a good feeling on how the community feels about the ghosts of real estate past, present, and future -- to borrow from the holiday Scrooge story. We all must learn from the recent past to deal with the present and to be hopeful for the future.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I think I messed up...

This past year locally in Kingman we had a mayoral election. At the time leading up to the election I was supporting the then current mayor, Monica Gates. I had a nice conversation with her shortly before the election and she had said that I might want to consider submitting an application for the city planning and zoning commission. So without haste I filled out the necessary forms and dropped off the application.

Then the election came and went... and Monica Gates lost the election. I remember thinking before the election that I would remind Mrs. Gates that I applied for P&Z and what I could do to make my chances better at getting the appointment. I figured that she would help guide me in the right direction.

But again, she lost the election.... and since then I have apparently forgot that I applied to P&Z. Today a fellow Realtor Member told me that she saw that I had applied for P&Z. I asked how she knew about this and she told me that she saw the article in the local paper.

The applicants are: Janie Lynn Daughtrey, Mike Blair, Ronald Tanner, Todd William Tarson and John Kermit Roddy.

The Commission will recommend two candidates to fill the positions to City Council.

Council is expected to make the appointments during its Dec. 18 meeting.

Each term on the commission lasts three years.

Also...

Tarson is a local Realtor. He has served on the board of directors for the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors and is currently the president of the association. He has also served on the Arizona Professional Standards Committee for Realtors.

Tarson wrote on his application, "This city needs uniformed standards for growth to ensure the best for all that live in the community. Current property owners and future property owners deserve a better standard as this city grows, and I want to be a positive part of that."


Oh great, the commission meeting was last night... I find out about the commission meeting today. I've never been through this kind of process before, I'm completely green. I guess I may have missed an opportunity to make an impression on would be fellow commissioners. I'm thinking that I may be out of the running. Maybe I'll know what to do the next time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Houston Texas MLS leading the way...

In this months REALTOR magazine there is an article about real estate's 25 most influential thought leaders. One of the folks profiled really jumped out at me. It was Bob Hale of the Houston Association of REALTORS, where he is the CEO and President.

First off the Houston area is a very large real estate market. There is no way I am comparing it to the Mohave County area. However I was impressed by the various programs on HAR's website. For one thing the Association has a quality service certificate program, which enables members to voluntarily allow Houston home sellers and buyers to rate their representatives service.

HAR's website also has a search engine for available listings that is top notch. Apparently it is also marketed well and used by many would be buyers before they would contact a Realtor Member.

Now there is this nugget of news flying around (hat tip Greg Swann). HAR just made a deal with Google to have the listing inventory appear on Google Base. I consider this very visionary as you may know. I continue to argue with the Members in my own MLS to offer the very same thing. I think it would benefit sellers and Members here in a much smaller population center even more than it would an area like Houston. Why?? Well I'm sure the budget for the HAR is much larger to produce that fine web presence they have, having big dollars can really help spread the word.

Yet even though HAR has this huge web presence, they have chosen to offer MLS listings on Google Base. I think for as large as HAR is (the second largest local Realtor Association in the USA), they understand that Google is the biggest and the most searched site of all. Now they have partnered with them, smartly, and now the Members of HAR and most importantly the clients of those Realtor Members have extra exposure on the web to help sell their property.

This is the kind of forward thinking that will enhance the MLS and the Realtor Members in the coming years. While our local MLS (WARDEX) has not adopted this policy of partnering with a search site as of yet... I will continue to ask that we do. And it was just yesterday that the local brokers of the KGVAR that elected me to serve on the WARDEX board for the next two years. I will continue to add this item to the agenda every chance I get.

Monday, December 11, 2006

November Sales Report (2006)

I recently signed up with a 'blog' service called mybloglog.com and through that service I've been able to track which links my loyal readers click on the most. To my delight the sales reports get the most clicks from my blog.

I started collecting data from our old MLS system back as my Association was thinking about moving to a regional MLS, about 14 months ago. While collecting this data, I was also learning how to use some of the features of Microsoft Excel to help organize the findings. So there was all this great data (in my opinion) and what was I going to do with it was my question. Blogging helped answer the question. So that is the back-story.

So here is the latest installment of my monthly sales reports, I do hope you continue to enjoy.

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

Okay, let's get started. First thing that jumped out at me this month was a rebounding number of units sold after two dramatic declines in September and October. Throughout the latter part of October and all through November, it did seem like there was more activity from buyers and the report only verified my feeling. I still can't put a finger on this market however, and nobody should take the results of November to mean that the market has bottomed out. This is still the slower season for sales and we are still lagging behind previous years activity, which you will see later. However, the best feeling I get is that sales headed back up while new listings remained lower than they were for most of the year. Still not balanced by a long shot though as far as existing inventory goes, but maybe the surge is slowing.


No real news in the average price paid for homes. Sale prices have been holding steady overall throughout the year. Sellers should have a pretty clear picture now at what point the buyers will become buyers that are ready willing and able regarding prices. The listing average still tells me that many sellers didn't get the memo. I'm showing these charts to potential selling clients when I meet with them to try to get their business. Some would be clients don't like the data I show them and some have not hired me because another agent or broker are telling them that the seller should be able to sell for more... more than what the market happens to bear. I'm betting that I get a few phone calls as those potential listings expire with other agents and brokers.



As you see in the chart below, the Kingman market still lags behind the record breaking years of 2004 and 2005, but the month of November actually stacks up nicely as compared to those previous years. It's only been since April or May that I could have said this.



The last chart belows clearly shows that the market has maintained a stable average sales price now for a year. I don't have good original listing data from '04 and '05, but no matter how much the sellers pressed for higher prices this year the buyers didn't respond and were able to hold steady.


Last month, the average home sold has 3.03 bedrooms, 1.65 bathrooms, and a garage with 1.74 parking spaces. It was also built in 1994 and has 1600 square feet of living space.

So there loyal readers, more charts to click on. I hope you enjoy. Just one more report for 2006, look for that and a year wrap up on the market in mid January. Thanks again for the interest.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Some interesting local news that shouldn't be ignored...

A plan to help provide infrastructure.

More local hired government types whining about the defeated 'Matrix' and other issues about water.

Looks like Kingman is getting another interchange heading east on the Interstate-40 (which I'll be on in a few minutes from now). This is sorely needed in this growing community and I'm surprised the white shirts haven't fouled it up yet.

The folks who are developing the White Hills area have the go ahead because there is plenty of water beneath them thar hills. The link takes you to a page that is probably hard to read since it is basically an image of the printed article.

Sharp dressed man...

I'll be heading to Phoenix today for my first meeting as a member of the Governmental Key Result Area (GKRA) work group (think committee). It is a state level appointment and I'm honored to have been asked to participate for the new year. Today's meeting was called to review the results of the recent elections in Arizona and the impacts it will have on the real estate industry into next year and so on.

Now, I'm all of 35 years old... I've been in this business now since 2001... I'm barely heading into my prime earning years. When I read the names of the other members of the committee I realize that I just can't go waltzing in all willy nilly like I own the place. The current members have plenty of time served and experience in serving the Association... and I add to it that the members also have many years of success behind their own business. I'd probably qualify as the doorman, maybe, as compared to this group. So I dressed up today. Shiny shoes, dress shirt, sport coat, and nice trousers... complete sellout (but I've already had one compliment so far this morning, so I got that going for me).

So I'll be out the rest of the day. The floor is yours.

MOCO Zillow

I don't have the time needed to do all the links from the various conversations on the Internet about Zillow and the affect it will have on everything bought and sold property wise.

But one of the reoccurring themes for real estate agents yesterday was 'do we, or don't we' post our listings on Zillow. The particular issue was should an agent list a property that has a higher asking price than the zestimate (think estimate). Well the one listing that I did put on Zillow yesterday carries a higher asking price than the zestimate... $176,943 higher to be exact.

Now I'm not particularly worried about this at this time. I'm sure Zillow is getting data from Mohave County that fuels Zillow's so called valuations. I'm very familiar with the current state of the Mohave County on line records... they stink... badly. The county knows this as well and are currently in the midst of upgrading the data base. I think by this time next year their data will be much better and more accurate.

Here is an example of the weird data.... found on Zillow in Mohave County. Does anyone honestly believe that this 1400 square foot home sold in April of this year for 150 million plus dollars?? It is funny to see the property value has fallen over 5 million dollars in the last 30 days according to Zillow.

I run the set of stats each month and I see mistakes made in the MLS reporting all the time. Yes sometimes a Member adds in an extra 3 zero's at the end of the final sales price... but they do that by mistake. The example above is a mistake as well.

So back to my listing (view it here) for a moment. Yes there is a large dollar figure difference between the zestimate and the offering price. No big deal. This is what I put in the property description as an aside...

The zestimate should not be considered accurate, please contact listing agent for a list of comparable properties.


For now this will have to be the mode of operation until the Zillow data gets much better. And after one day of the dawn of Zillow... I think it works.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Zillow.com

Go ahead, I dare you... search through the history of this blog... search for the term 'Zillow'. I doubt you will find anything. Zillow.com has been a hot point of discussion in the real estate industry at least for a year now (I first heard about Zillow in February of this year).

Zillow was a site that offered an Automated Valuation of a property. It was a place to perhaps find out what your own property was worth... or even find out what a particular property that you may have been interested to buying was worth. Zillow called these valuations... Zestimates. These zestimates are often way wrong. I won't get into the particulars as to why the values were so far off... I'll simply point you to most of the real estate related weblogs on the sidebar to the right and you will be able to find all the info and debate you can handle.

As of yesterday, Zillow has added another feature. ANYONE can now list property for sale on their site. This is the first real shot across the bow towards the traditional business of real estate as it applies to service providers (Realtors, the NAR, Brokers, Agents, you name it).

There is currently only one listing (at the time of writing this post) for sale to be found in the 86401 zip code. It is a listing of mine in the Lazy YU subdivision (a fairly exclusive area where you'll find larger homes on a hill side with incredible views of the city, the mountains, sunrises, and sunsets). It won't be too long until there are more listings shown. I'll be putting up the rest of my inventory a bit later, plus I am listing a new home in the Golden Valley area that will be there either today or early next week.

You might saying something like what is the big deal?? Well I'm going to point you to a well thought out article by Greg Swann for all the juicy details. Please read that. I'll simply say that Zillow will challenge any FSBO search site and very soon render them useless. Then Zillow will also even stare down Google Base and Trulia before very long. And most importantly (to me) Zillow will have the traditional MLS in it's cross hairs. Why?? Because it cost me zero dollars to post my listing today, while in the near future I will wager that the offerings on Zillow will rival the listings in the MLS (data exchange here in western Arizona).

If I am right, I will have a decision to make. Will I continue to be a Member of the data exchange?? Will I even need to be?? What is an MLS or our own WARDEX (that I am a Director of on the Board of Directors) going to do for me that Zillow won't be able to?? Offer me commission??

The game is on... and the other team just brought in the ringers.

Drew Myers has a roundup list of Zillow related articles today
.

Ardell at Rain City guide has a similar list going as well.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Attending another WARDEX meeting today...

Blogging will be light today as I head off to a WARDEX Board of Directors meeting.

Pretend that you were me and pick an issue that you'd like to have some input on regarding the MLS. What changes would you be fighting for today?? You might have guessed which topic I'll be bringing up. Plus, I'm bringing a mutual agreement sent to me by Google to consider allowing them access to our Data Exchange... data.

Check out the updated photo below from last nights toy drive at our local Association Holiday party. We did very well and we hope that many young boys and girls will be smiling on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tonight in Kingman...


Tonight is the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of REALTORS Holiday party and Toys for Tot's event at the local Elk's Club. This is the third year that we have had this event for a great cause. All the toys donated go to kids in the Mohave County area. This has been a successful event in the past and are hoping to do even better this year.

It is weird for me to shop for toys since I do not have any youngsters of my own. There sure is a variety of toys to choose from. Since the cost to attend the event is an unwrapped packaged toy, I headed out to bang elbows with the other holiday shoppers. I bought a Lego tough looking monster thing for a young boy aged 6-12, and some play set with a Dora the Explorer theme for what I believe a young girl would like. I'm at least familiar with Dora because that is what the granddaughter likes (can't wait till the holiday as I'm going to visit the little bugger).

Also at this event we will install the new officers for the Board of Directors.... which means.... my days serving as Association president.... are about to.... come to an end. After tonight I become a lame duck president for the rest of the month. I'll have more about my feelings on this at a later time... I MOST assure you.

For now though, local Realtors and Affiliate Members... do not forget about the worthy cause and stop by with a toy in hand. There will be some light food, refreshments, and music. Plus it is just another chance you will see me asking Members to join a committee. I promise we will have fun.

Update: Below is a photo of the toys that were dontated at last nights event. The Marines were very pleased that they could add these gifts and said that we made a huge impact on the overall total number that could be handed out come Christmas time. Well done everyone.

All right... carnival time...

The Property Monger is this weeks host of the 21st installment of the Carnival of Real Estate. There are plenty of interesting articles and I already linked to one of them below.

All right kids, you've bugged me long enough... let's go to the carnival!!

Economics vs. Risk Management

You know I've been pretty lax about linking to the carnival of real estate lately. Either I've been too busy or I'm not sure I like what everyone seems to be doing with changing the rules every week. I've certainly stopped entering articles for now (that's from being busy).

I noticed the BloodhoundBlog linked to this article that is among this weeks carnival. It is really worth checking out as it speaks to more than just simple economic factors that are affecting today's real estate market. See the article here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

News resource added...

During my email discussion with Shari Veditz over the weekend, she sent me a link to Topix.net where I quickly found plenty of news articles about Kingman and the Mohave County area (I added the link on the side bar on the right). Also I was surprised to find discussion forums there worth checking out. Many are real estate related and there were some local Realtors among the many in those discussions.

Also there was a front page article in the Kingman Daily Miner yesterday about the RE market. As of yet I haven't found a link to the story to share with you. The writer called me for information and I pointed him to this blog to check out the data that I publish on a monthly basis. I was never quoted in the article but my name was mentioned. Also included in the article were my charts that I produce with a url tag to this blog. I hope to see some more locals checking out this blog this week.

Update:

Here is the link to the article from the Daily Miner. Some things the writer got wrong. None of my data I use for my sales reports comes from the Golden Valley area, and I think he confused the issue from my post last Friday. The charts that I said were used in the paper do not show up on the linked article. That's is all right, they can be found right here on this blog.

Did someone ask about expired listings??

Well if the question wasn't' asked here, the subject was talked about over at John Wakes site. So I set off on a quick look see into our own expired listings in our market in Kingman. Check the following out on data collected so far this calendar year.

  • January = zero
  • February = one
  • March = zero
  • April = one
  • May = zero
  • June = six
So far the first half of the year showed only 8 expired listings for single family homes in the area's of the city that I track for data. Let's see how we are doing for the second half of the year.

  • July = 28
  • August = 32
  • September = 71
  • October = 89
  • November = 85
Wow 305 so far for the second half of the year!! Now typically many expired's end up back as listings either with the original Realtor or with a different Brokerage. I haven't researched which listings re-upped and do not intend to. I simply find the information interesting and wanted to share.

Since sales continue to be slow the total amount of inventory of SFR's has decreased somewhat over the past 3 months and the data above probably has more to do with it than the sales volume. The charts I produce in my sales reports continue to tell the story that sellers still haven't adjusted to the buyers market and as a result there is still quite a gap between sellers and buyers. Us Realtors are right in the middle of it all (keep in mind that all my data comes from Realtors in the Data Exchange), I suspect that many Members are simply agreeing with the sellers to get the listing instead of preparing the seller on the reality of the current market.

305 expired's in the last 5 months after only 8 the first 6 months of the year, that says a lot.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Feedback from the email-bag...

Since I started this blog back in March of this year, on occasion I have received email from readers. Most of it has been from fellow RE bloggers after I have left a comment on their own site. I have taken the occasional email from other Realtors who do not have a blog. At times, I've even taken an email from somebody outside the RE world, someone who wants more information on the Mohave County (MOCO) area.

Well yesterday I had planned to head out for one final fishing trip for the year. However Mom Nature said that I should head to the office instead. Ma Nature has really dropped the hammer on some bitter chill for this region. I can deal with the cold okay... but when she mixes in high winds, well fishing on a boat in a large lake is not much fun at all.

So fine, I got the hint from Ma Nature. Yesterday I hit the office just after the noon hour. Waiting for me was an email from a reader who is not a Realtor nor someone with a RE Blog. This person was located right here in Kingman which was a fantastic plus for me to find out. Local readers are my long term plans for this blog.

After reading the lengthy (but spot on) email, I knew I wanted to share what she had written me with my other readers. Before I did so I asked for permission to do so. Later on Saturday this reader had given me the go ahead. So let me introduce you to Shari Veditz and to some of the things she said.



I have been reading your blog for a couple of weeks but did not see an
email address on there. You seem to have some non-realtor like thoughts on this
market, which is a credit to your profession. So I just thought I would rant to
you. You need not read this but I just had to yell at someone.




This is how the email started. First, I'll fix the email thing so it is
easier for anyone to email me. I worry about spam and whatnot but if I can
make it easier to communicate with me I'll do it. And at this point I was
excited to see what Shari had to yell about.


We had been coming to Laughlin/Kingman for years and decided in early
2004 to sell our home and move here. At the time we considered the drawbacks of
little shopping and restaurants but that was offset by the price of homes and
the closeness to our youngest grandson in California. By the time we actually
sold our home and moved here, it was February 2005. Imagine our surprise
that the cost of houses had doubled and tripled in that year. Nothing had
changed but the speculators that had been running around the country flipping
land and houses had landed in Mohave County.


Yes, there was a sudden pressure on our market that did come squarely from investor type of clients in that time frame that Shari speaks of.


Buying a home here is probably not in the cards. Although I seem to be
in the minority, I feel house prices will come down considerably in the future
in this area, but I'm not sure we want to wait around for that. Prices per
square foot are already more than in many areas of California and
prices there are dropping as we speak.


It is nice to know what is on the minds of folks who are thinking about buying property, and as you can see Shari is up to speed on what is happening in many markets in the west. And to sellers and would be sellers pay real close attention to what Shari said above.


One of the reasons we were attracted to Kingman was because it was a
town where a young family could actually afford to buy their own home without
putting their finances in jeopardy. We really love it here, except for the home
prices. I feel badly for young people that are buying into the "buy now or
be priced out forever" hype. There will likely be many foreclosures in the
future.


I'm not posting this in an effort to change the minds of the masses. I'm only sharing this because of the perception that real people have about the real estate market. I mean I could say that there were plenty of foreclosure opportunities even when the RE market was hot around here awhile back. But the data may have looked different because investors were snatching up distressed properties before these foreclosures hit the trustee sale stage. I doubt there will be a line of investors waiting to take the higher priced distressed homes off of the hands of those in foreclosure like how I saw it a couple of years ago.

But here is the gem from Shari. This is what brought the smile to my face...


I kind of got side tracked in my rant. My main purpose in emailing was in regard
to the MLS in Kingman. We have been following Realtor.com for our information
and keeping lots of lists/spreadsheets, etc. First the square footage
disappeared, OK, I can deal with that. But now the addresses are gone. That
means there is no way for buyers to do any research or look for homes in the
area. Very arrogant, you don’t need buyers obviously.


Ohhhhh SNAP!! <--- I hate that expression, but it fit nicely here. Pardon me for a second while I dance the jig and high five imaginary people around my empty office this morning. I am actually 'river' dancing like a maniac right now (thank goodness the office is empty as I am no dance machine thanks to my two left feet). At our new regional Data Exchange (think MLS) called WARDEX, we just agreed to terms with REALTOR.com to allow them to carry our listing data. Side note, before we had that agreement, REALTOR.com must have been scraping the data from us because they were hosting listing data without our authority. I'll save that for another day. Part of the agreement with REALTOR.com was to eliminate the address of the listings. Why did we do this?? Perhaps Shari has the answer (and for the record, I'm with Shari on this one)...
The computer may not be used by Kingmanites to search for homes, but it is a
preferred method for a lot of people. In case you haven't noticed, both
California and Nevada put addresses in most of their realtor.com ads. I don't
see the point, if you see a house you want to see, you still have to contact the
realtor. I am not going to contact the realtor on every home to see where it is,
you have just lost me as a buyer.


Shari is not alone and I'll bet every last dollar I have on that. While buyers like Shari are having these problems... to me it has to be worse for the seller to hear what buyers like Shari are saying.

Shari went on to say that her frustration and many other people with such frustrations are talking about this on the Internet in various forums. They are talking about us professionals and leaders of this trade right here in Mohave County.

To Shari, thanks for the rant, the follow up email, and allowing me to share this with everyone. I have a WARDEX meeting this Wednesday and I will be using this to once again make my points as to why the leaders of the RE world in Mohave County need to take this opportunity to shape our system to be more 'client' friendly. Our profession depends on it. Also Shari, I have reached out to Google Base to see how WARDEX and Google might be able to partner up to provide listing information on a different platform than REALTOR.com. I think there will also be other aggregators that WARDEX should consider partnering up with to provide data in the effort to sell properties for our clients. To me being partners now will be much better than having Internet giants be competition later.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Yesterday's WARDEX meeting...

Whew... that was a long day. I want to thank Scott Quinn from Offut Systems Inc. for coming out to meet with the WARDEX Board of Directors. Scott is the senior VP of the entire company, he came alone and closely listened to what many of us had to say.

I also believe that he was surprised to find the short-comings with the system that we have been actually dealing with. We are going to get to the bottom of things and fix what needs to be fixed. I'd say that we will see substantial improvements in the next week or so to the new program.

By the end of the day the prevailing feeling among the Directors was very positive.

WARDEX is also looking for an Executive Officer to hire full time to run the Organization. If you know of anyone that has experience in this type of field, feel free to leave a comment or email me. This is a brand new organization and we are ready to have hired help to guide us along.

I also want to thank Ken Standahl of the Lake Havasu City Association of Realtors for providing the WARDEX Board and Mr. Quinn lunch. Ken and his group are great and always accommodating and I wanted everyone to know that I appreciate all that he has done for us over the past year as we put this all together. I should also thank Toni Parker from the BHC/MV Association as well for the very same thing when we have had meetings at their location.

I realize now that the list of names to thank over this past year is quite extensive, yikes!!

November listings report (2006)

Has it already been a month?? Where did the time go last month?? It wasn't like I was in Sedona for a few days, or in New Orleans for almost a week, or spent a nice holiday long weekend with my wife's family, or had 3 different WARDEX meetings last lasted an average of 6 hours each, or anything like that at all.... oops... actually that is where the time went.

Well December is now upon us... and it is cold here in Arizona believe it or not. But I'm never too cold to offer you the latest listings report for the month of November.

Please note, I still don't feel 100% about specific data between new construction homes and existing homes with our new Data Exchange service. I'm finding that some Members of WARDEX are still having difficulty with the yes/no toggle switch. 'Yes' is for when a new listing in a new construction, and 'no' is for when a new listing is for an existing home. Yet when I run the totals... I get 113 new listings overall, but 22 new construction and 81 existing. Feel free to check my math but 22+81 does not equal 113. So still some learning curve's to overcome before I can confidently present the break outs on those kinds of listings. Please be patient.

Here goes..

Listings:

Today total listings available for single family residence equals 684 (down from 703 on November 1). This figure is down 100 units from 3 months ago. Some is due to sales, but I also suspect that plenty of units are simply coming off the market as expired listings.

There were 113 new listings for the month of November (109 in October). 5 homes have entered contract and these 5 homes have closed escrow already. The average asking price for these new listings is $243,571 (that's up from $236,055 last month). The median asking price is $215,950 (up from $192,000 the previous month). Up slightly in total units, but the average and median are up again and just wait to you see the info below... isn't anyone listening??

Units under contract:

37 homes entered into contracts in the month of October (down from 48 the previous month). The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $190,127 (down from $205,523 last month) and the median asking price for July was $169,900 (down from last months $194,900 figure).

Conclusions:

November is normally not a busy month around these parts. It was good to see the new listings hold steady in numbers. I'm actually surprised this happened as I thought it would go down as there were only 6 new listings that made the 'hot-sheet' at Wednesday's local MLS meeting (normally there are about 15 to 20).

I'm not surprised by the number of homes that entered contract though. Again, not a lot happens in November in a normal year. I peeked at total sales for November and the number is up from the previous month which is good, but what is bad for the new listings this month is the disconnect between where the sellers are pricing their homes... to the obviously lower price point where buyers are buying homes. I was really hoping to see the gap close... not widen.

I read up on plenty of ways that folks in my profession work to sell property on behalf of sellers. Staging a home correctly, marketing efforts on the Internet, taking pretty pictures, etc. There aren't enough pretty pictures out there that are going to convince a buyer to pay the asking prices right now. I've seen other Realtors talk about price as being not as important as the other efforts they undertake to properly market to sell homes. But here is where I disagree with them, buyers can be all happy about pretty photos all they want.. but if they can't afford the price point they will never actually go to the listing to see it with their own eyes. Therefore, they won't be writing any contracts.

This is still a buyers market no matter how many times I see others talking about how the market is maybe hitting the bottom price wise, sellers cannot continue to be this arrogant when setting their price. Just wait until the developers start resetting prices. That won't make for a pretty picture for sure.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

WARDEX update...

I'll be meeting with the head honcho tomorrow of the our MLS vendor. Actually our entire Board of Directors at WARDEX will be. We need to talk about the many issues we are having with the data migration, lack of features, and system bugs that we are having.

Many Members are not pleased right now with the new Data Exchange that we worked so hard putting together. Tomorrow gives us a chance to sit down and clear the air on these lingering issues with the vendor (I'm not going to throw this vendor under the bus at this time and reveal who it is, but by doing a little searching on this site you can find out who it is). It has been just over a month since we went live, yet it feels like it was just yesterday.

If your local Association is thinking about merging your MLS system with another Association, I urge you to have your leaders contact others that have done so. Heck... I may even figure out a way to charge for consulting services as I know that merging is a hot subject right now across the nation for Associations and MLS's.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CAN



This is just moving to me, I file this under a new label... inspiration.

Monday, November 27, 2006

One more...

Just one more link for you today, and it is from one of the contributors at Greg's site.

Richard Riccelli is referred to as a marketing guru. He is selling some property in the Boston area, but really that isn't the point. The point is please check out this link. Open it up and click on all the links. What you will be clicking on is, I think, a website just for the selling of this property. A one off web-site dedicated to the sale of the property. I've seen others write about producing such sites for property offerings before but never could quite the image in my head about how it would be effective. Well Richard has taken care of that for me... clearly.

Richard or someone needs to bottle that idea up and offer that kind of product to Realtors to use for their listings. I think they'd be a remarkable marketing tool. Heck even unrepresented sellers should inquire about this.

What is Greg Swann up to??

Besides dealing with the bubble dudes that is...

Well he has added some more team members and it is impressive.

Read about the new cast right here.

If there are investors out there I strongly urge you to read up on what Jeff Brown is talking about. He has me excited about investing again and I've yet placed a call... but make no mistake, I do want to know more. Jeff is one of the contributors at Greg's site, but also has his own blog (also featured on my blogroll)... and it is worth reading.

There goes Mr. Swann leading the pack again by assembling this team of contributors. The BloodhoundBlog will for sure be a daily read for me.

Them's fightin' words...

While on my little hiatus over the holiday weekend I was 'entertained' by some goings on in the world of weblogs, specifically between real estate related weblogs and housing bubble weblogs.

I think it was about time that this donnybrook happened for all to see.

I've been reading this blog for longer than I ever started reading real estate blogs. I've been a most 'entertained realtor' for the better part of the time perusing through the site. Everyday, practically, there is a new article about the demise of real estate in this entire country. The real 'entertainment' really comes from the so called commenter's. Most of which never reveal their identity and offer nearly just as much in their comments (as in nothing real). Panic is a great word for most of those commenter's as they surely are in a panic. However there are some great commenter's to be found on that site, some real diamonds in the deep dark rough but you must be real patient to find them.

I've posted as a commenter there on many occasions. At first I didn't want to reveal myself but logged in with the handle of 'entertained realtor' for a few months. I was mostly concerned with army of low class 'commenter's' fouling up my email in box. But after I started my blog I figured the worst that could happen is that these miscreants could find my blog and see that the image of Realtors depicted by Housing Panic's founder (some dude that won't even reveal who he really is that goes by 'Keith') was incorrect.

Props to 'Keith' for having the most visited real estate related blog (as recorded by blogtopsites). His blog is right up there with other 'doom and gloomers' as bad news is always more popular than good news it appears. Plus 'Keith' like to talk plenty of politics on his site which is always a great point of contention that attracts readers and commenter's (something I avoid on my own site and something I prefer to do only in a few other sites on the Internet).

When it comes right down to it... reading 'Keiths' site should have had me running out the door to find a job... any job... and leave the real estate biz forever. Yet nothing of the doom and gloom has yet to appear. Most of his stuff is much ado about nothing.

I know someday that I might get caught up in one of these 'blog wars' but at this time, thankfully, I haven't. However the folks that did give it a go certainly made for excellent reading and of course 'entertainment'.

First up was Greg Swann from BloodhoundRealty.com in Phoenix. Now Phoenix is ground zero for most of the 'panic' type of blogs. You can feel the hatred of Phoenix when you stumble across sites like these. Greg playfully took a swipe at 'Keith' in a post from the 21st of November here.

Finally, it might be nice if everyone would chip in to buy Keith at Housing Panic some lubricant. The poor sod has been Masturbating to Armageddon for months now, to no discernible result. It’s gotta chafe…

To quote it correctly. Of course 'Keith' took umbrage of this remark. Now you'd have to spend about all of 1 minute to find much worse said about others (realtors, races, religions, politicians, home owners, etc.) on his site. Between Keith and his so called warriors there is plenty of vile vernacular for anyone that dares cross paths with them. Anytime I chime in over there my comments are met with the promise that I'll be homeless soon or that I should save money for ramen noodles for food because that is all I'll be able to afford. Heck, I've even seen comments that call for the public lynching of ALL Realtors (to be fair to 'Keith', he takes those comments off the site... when he sees them).

So Greg fires off this post on his site after getting some unruly comments. If you read that post you will find plenty of comments (74 so far... when a typical post may get 10 or less).

Then 'Keith' fires this one back. We are talking real class act (actually if Letter-Man from the old Electric Company show from PBS removed the 'c' and the 'l' from class we'd get the real picture here).

So now it is Gregs turn again. Heck, even guest blogger Russell Shaw at Bloodhound chimed in with this beauty. If the commenters would really take the time to read what the fine folks at Bloodhound are writing about they'd see that they somewhat of an ally, but alas the information does not fit the madness the 'panic' types are trying to push. Too bad really.

Awhile back a fellow Realtor blogger John Wake, a true gentleman and a scholar, posted this article. It is worth reading, maybe even a few times so that you will get the details. Certainly the 'panic' blogger and his minions don't get the details and after much time had passed.... HP posted this in response. No need to call Mr. Wake a dolt. It was uncalled for but it is standard operating procedure anytime guys of this ilk are challenged with facts. It seems to be all right with John though as this was his response. Not a bad word said against the one who called him a 'dolt'.

Another fellow Realtor and blogger... again from Phoenix also got wrapped up in this little squabble.... here.

The only reason I'm bringing you this information is to help you with ALL of the information that is out there. Notice how the folks that want you to 'panic' are acting for the most part. Most are not informed and it is easy to see. In fact I think many of them are mere sock-puppets that are just willing to parrot what they hear without actually knowing the facts.

I've said it before many times. I do NOT predict the future. I do my best to find any and all facts that could help my clients in their decision to buy or sell a property. The decision is never mine, only the clients.

Tell me how, as a Realtor, I am leading the cheer that everything is fine and dandy... can you??

Look over my sales reports and quickly you will see that if you are a seller, you have plenty of competition on the current market. That it is simply not 2005 any longer which means there is no guarantee that a buyer will be found to purchase your property at break neck speed.

If you are thinking about buying you won't find that the information I share with you says that NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY OR YOU RISK BEING PRICED OUT OF THE MARKET FOREVER, like the panic bloggers claim. Just last week I wrote an article that stated that indeed it may be a better time to rent rather than buy right now and for clarification.... no, I do not get paid ANY commission unless I represent a client in a transfer of ownership of a property. Renting is not transfer of ownership in Arizona (as I doubt it is anywhere).

The real enemy of the 'panic' bloggers is me and others like me. Some of them I've linked to on this article, but there are many more than I'll ever be able to link to. I simply don't want to see the 'panic' blogger warped sense of perception become reality in any sense whatsoever. The above dustup was long overdue and my hats off to Greg, John, Russell, and Jay for staying above the fray on a higher ground while making their points.

The corner....

Just like that Turkey that my Mom-in-law cooked for Thanksgiving was on it's last leg, so is this calendar year. And what a year it was and will be. I'm really looking forward to 2007, the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Be safe, enjoy the holiday!!

Since moving to Kingman, Thanksgiving has gone like this for me...

Wake up... check

Relax around my home... check

Head over to the inlaws for Thanksgiving dinner (at 11:30am)... check

Eat plenty of food... check

Get myself in some photo's... check

Fake like I need to use my bathroom at home to spare everyone else the indignity.... check

Head home to watch football... check

Drink a few cocktails... check

Pass out on couch with football games on TV... check

Head back over to in-laws for more food (leftovers)... check

Silently slip out the door to head back home... check

Watch more football... check

Drink more cocktails... check

Wake up on Friday... check


So as you can see, I'll be pretty busy tomorrow. Make sure you all stay safe and enjoy the holiday in your special way. I'll be back to check on all of you Friday. Till then...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A good time to rent??


















I'm getting the question of "is it a good time to buy or rent" a lot these days. Well it can be a good time to do either, but it always depends on your own situation.

If you have been paying attention to my sales charts, you will see that the average price of sale for a home in this area has been holding fairly steady. Up a bit sometimes, then down a bit. I think of it as flat lining. What will it do in the future?? I really don't know, however IF you need to know you should contact a financial advisor.

On a few occasions recently I've been asked this question by some younger couples in the 20 to 29 year old age groups. And typically these folks do not have money in their savings account, at least not enough for a substantial down payment. So to get them into a home today they would be looking at a low down, a zero down, or some other kind of loan that would involve perhaps the seller funding the closing costs on behalf of the buyer.

Since the market has changed, so has my answer. I've told them that if they were asking me this in 2003 my answer would have been 'buy' a home. Why?? Well, the average starter home in Kingman (a typical 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage 1300 square foot home on a city lot) was in the $65,000 to $95,000 price range. That meant that if they had a low or zero down payment (and could qualify for financing) they would have a mortgage payment that was just a little less than what they might find for the same type of home as a rental.

Well we all know what has happened since 2003, don't we?? The same homes are now asking a selling price of $160,000 to $200,000 in some cases. Also what happened in our market was a huge influx of investors that gobbled up homes while they were less expensive and turned them into rentals.

Today there are many more rentals available than is needed, so rents have either held or have been lowered somewhat. That means that one can rent a fine single family home in the city for what they may have rented for back in 2003, while at the same time property value has sky rocketed up.

Yes, interest rates remain low -- not as low as they were a couple of years back, but still very low in comparison to history. Today may still be a good time to 'buy' because of it, since there is no telling which way the interest rates go in the near future or in longer terms. I simply do not have those answers. But... don't let that fear or emotion get the best of you. Think things out completely.

Let's take the young couple I talked to a couple of weeks back. They said they would be happy with a 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage home in the city and found one on the Internet in Kingman priced at $169,900 in a sub-division called Greater Kingman Addition. I did some work up on an approximate guess at what the mortgage payment might mean to them and came up with a figure of $1,200 for a 30 year loan, with very little money down. I then showed these fine folks a rental list and highlighted a home just two blocks away that basically matched the home they were interested in buying. The monthly rent price is $785, a monthly difference of $415.

They told me they could afford the $1,200 monthly payments no problem, so I sold them the house listed right?? Nope. I offered them this advice, go ahead and rent the property two blocks away for $785, but put the extra $415 they would have been on the hook for in the bank and DO NOT TOUCH IT. After one year they would have socked away $4,980, after 2 years they'd have $9,960 plus interest.

These would be buyers would know two things 1) if the could indeed afford a home at these prices and 2) would be able to put the money saved towards a down payment.

Again, I don't predict the future. I won't know where the average price will be in two years, nor will I know the going interest rate. Heck I won't even guess as to where the price of rentals may be at, but if these would be buyers followed this path they would be able to adjust to any market change that may be coming.

After what we saw this year, sales slumping and prices leveling off.... and what we saw in previous years, an unhealthy rapidly rising property value.... there is no telling what the near future has in store.

For now though, folks that have properties to rent are wildly competitive and that means great terms for renters. And also now we are seeing sellers pricing property just out of reach of many would be buyers. Factor in also that in Kingman there isn't a ton of higher paying jobs at the moment. I believe that will change, no, I hope that will change within a few years. These are the factors that face us today and decisions should be made based on these very factors, not on what might happen.

Some will say things get worse.

Other say things are close to hitting the bottom.

The decision is yours.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Offering my thanks...

I was invited to the awards banquet for the Bullhead City/Mohave Valley Association of REALTORS last Saturday night as a guest of honor. I have been working with many of the leaders of their Association over the last year and was pleased to attend. Thank you for welcoming me and my wife Gail, we had a great evening.

The folks who attended looked spiffy and everyone was friendly. I'd like to offer my congratulations to fellow WARDEX Board of Director Evan Fuchs for winning the REALTOR of the Year award for his dedication to their Association. He sure has put in his time this year and has made a huge impact on the direction of WARDEX (even though we disagree on some things). He is most deserving of the honor.

I was also invited to attend the installation and awards banquet in Lake Havasu last Friday night as well, but was unable to attend. I was able to attend last year though and know I missed another great night.

In February our local Association holds our awards banquet and since it is my party, the honored guest list will be long this year. Just so many people outside of my local Association to thank for their help throughout a long and challenging year.

One thing I want to say is that both the LHC and the BHC/MV Associations are headed by a great group of leaders that understand the changing real estate business that faces us all currently. For sure, the right people at the right time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm offering a flat fee service for buyers...

This year I have been plenty of brainstorming for ideas for my business. I'm ready today to begin negotiating with buyers on the cost of my service.

All along my time in this business I have always disclosed to my buying clients my commission so I've never lost sleep when the check from my broker comes to me so I can deposit it into my bank account. In a 'typical' transaction of a single family home in Kingman, one where I represented a buyer to purchase a home that was listed by another broker in the MLS, I disclosed to my client the amount of money that my broker would be paid at the close of escrow. Often times that amount was based on a percentage figure in the 2.5% to 3% range.

Like most other Realtors, I didn't feel like the buyer was paying for my service. The commission was coming from the seller. If you asked 10 sellers, buyers, and Realtors how the buyers broker gets paid I'm willing to bet that 9 out of 10 of each will say that the buyer broker is paid by the seller.

Side note... technically the seller pays the listing broker the agreed to commission, then the listing broker pays the buyers broker the funds. The seller does not pay the buyers broker directly.

Since I started this blog back in March of this year and through the many other real estate related blogs that I read, I have been able to read about the thoughts and actions from many other [what I call] leaders of this profession. This has helped me in brainstorming for newer and fresher ideas to implement into my business. In other words I wasn't coming up with the ideas all on my own.

One very important blog (to me anyway) that I read is BloodhoundBlog. Judging from the many links to their site you probably would have guessed that anyway. Anyway, Greg started some conversations about buyer representation and has even put together a new fee policy for buyers. Well I'm going to mimic some of the things he has done. I don't argue with any of his ideas on the subject, but I will change some of the things he does to fit my own business.

While I'm launching this today, I probably won't be marketing this just yet. There are some changes I want to make in my online marketing and other things before I roll this new policy out for all of Mohave County to see. That said though, I will be informing any potential buyer that is looking for quality representation to help them with their real estate transaction about my new fee structure.

So how does this work?? It is simple really. Lets take the average price home sale in Kingman as of last month, which was $201,250 (you know this because you have read up on my latest sales report). If you were the buyer and hired me to represent you we would have already agreed [through negotiation] that you will pay a flat fee of $4,000 for my service. We would negotiate that fact and both sign a buyer/broker agreement to reflect it.

But I already hear you saying that you don't want to come up with $4,000 out of your pocket to pay me... well you won't have to. Here is why.

If you hired me and we did not negotiate a flat fee and this home that you wanted to purchase for $201,250, my fee for service would be $6,037.50 (if the home in my example was listed in the MLS and offered a 'co-broke' fee of 3% of the final sales price). By not negotiating a flat fee you should see that you left $2,037.50 on the table for me or for any other Realtor that you may have chosen to hire for representation.

First off, you are thrilled with your new home choice and can't wait to move in. You are already thinking about where the furniture is going to go or maybe on which side of the garage you are going to park on... and you've already come to terms on the price. So how can this deal be even better?? How about if I applied the extra $2,037.50 of YOUR money to YOUR down payment or to pay whatever closing costs your lender will allow you to pay with this 'rebated' money??

What is this about 'YOUR money' you ask?? Well yeah, without you agreeing to pay $201,250 to the seller no real estate agent gets any commission. It is YOUR money, how do you want to spend it?? I hope you see the picture I am trying to paint.

Some might ask why I would offer such a fee and my answer is that when representing a buyer, any buyer, the goal is the same; to negotiate a price and other terms for property that my buyer client and a seller can agree on to transfer ownership of the property. It is the exact same job, in essence, for each buyer I may work with. The total price of the home does not factor into the work I do for my client. In other words, if the property is sold for $100,000,000 or for $210,250 my goal is simply to navigate through all the terms agreed to in order to successfully close escrow and transfer ownership of the property at my clients bidding.

When representing a buyer my expenses for my business are basically; my expertise, my time, fuel costs, vehicle costs, membership to my MLS and Association, and a service fee to the electronic key for our Associations lock box that we use locally, errors and omission insurance, my brokerage fee, and the rent I pay for my office. The fee that I am offering buying clients of $4,000 will compensate me fairly enough to thrive in this business (as long as I have clients wanting to purchase property).

There are many more multitudes of cost that I will have while representing a seller, mainly for marketing efforts, but it is different on the buying side and you should know. And it is the reason that you owe it to yourself to first negotiate whatever fees that you are paying to your representative.

What if you were thinking about buying a home in the beautiful Lazy YU area here in Kingman overlooking the city out your front window while enjoying an incredible view of the Hualapai Mountains out your back yard?? This subdivision features larger exclusive homes in the $500,000 range and up. So lets just take one home for sale in that sub division for a moment and apply my fee to the transaction. We will assume that the home is listed by another broker/agent and it is included into the MLS with a 2.5% commission to the buyers broker. You and the seller agree that you will pay $545,000 for this remarkable home.

The commission I would normally make in the above scenario is $13,625, but you and I sat down together before we started searching for your new home and agreed that I will be compensated $4,000. Now there is $9,625 on the table of your own money. Apply it to the down payment and borrow that much less from the lender, just an idea. I'll help you make it happen.

Hey it is YOUR money and there is no way I can provide an extra $9,625 worth of service to justify keeping YOUR money. While some could argue that a Realtor would be more motivated to work on your behalf for the extra commission, there just isn't nine grand worth of stuff to make a deal happen any faster or face less potential problems. In fact, I think that I'd be more motivated to handle your transaction for the lesser amount so that I can represent another buyer, and another buyer, and so on. Also I can make the case that I am treating all my clients more fairly because my fees are almost always the same (I say 'almost' because the key word is negotiation when we sit down together and talk about my service fees for you).

So please consider me the next time you are thinking about buying a home in my serving area. I know I can provide the service that you are looking for and I have the knowledge gained from my many years worth of experience working for buyers to satisfy your needs for representation when buying property.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blogging from NARdi Gras...

Well as you could tell late last week, I wasn't able to blog from New Orleans. I simply had too much to do and I do not tote around a laptop computer (as I do not own one).

Sellsius has a great link to many other Realtors that were blogging from NARdi Gras though and I hope you check this post out to see what others were up to.

Earlier in the year I attended the Mid-Year NAR Leadership Conference in DC and I remember walking by a sign that said 'Bloggers Lounge'. Now at the time I wasn't really doing a whole heck of a lot with my own blog... I was still in my infancy stage with this thing and I never bothered with checking out the 'Bloggers Lounge'. But low and behold, in New Orleans I happen to come across the same sign and I made sure to check it out.

The 'Lounge' was set up at the Hilton where many of the governance meetings were held, about a 10 minute walk from the Convention Center. I think that was a weird choice to have the 'Lounge' and I bet they would have had more traffic if they were able to set up at the Convention Center.

No matter though, there I met Ian and Chris from the Center for REALTOR Technology. So I tell them about my blog and enter my URL on their computer to show them I really did have such a site. They even included my visit on this article. It was at this 'Lounge' that I was able to run into Dustin Luther from Rain City Guide and Move.com as I explained in an earlier post.

I'm hoping in future NAR conventions that NAR will cater to bloggers more than they do now. This is not a criticism of the current 'Lounge' in any way. I'm just saying this because I wanted to meet other fellow bloggers more than pretty much anything else while I was there. I thought I'd be able to do that at my few visits at the Bloggers Lounge. NAR simply did not do enough for bloggers who, in my opinion, are doing many great things for our industry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One more Birthday wish...

One more special Birthday wish goes out to little Zoe, my granddaughter. She is two years old today and I'm very jealous of my wife today because she is visiting Zoe in New Mexico to celebrate the day. I wasn't able to attend because of my trip to New Orleans. I'm going to make it up to Zoe in the future years though you can bet.

Grampa loves you Zoe.

Happy Birthday to my favorite Sister!!

Hey Teri, hope you love the way I send birthday cards these days. At least I didn't forget.

My sister Teri is a frequent reader of this site. It's practically her only way of seeing what I'm up to these days. You see my family is located all over the country and often in far away places... such is the case with Teri as she lives in Hawaii. I don't always get to hang with my family and honestly I have mental breakdowns just figuring out what time zone various members of the family are in and if I would be calling too early or late in the day, so phone calls usually do not get made. It's all on me for this, I do not blame anyone else in my beloved family.

Please join me in wishing my sister a happiest of birthday's this year. Even though she is six years younger than me, she was the toughest in the family. I know because I was on the receiving end of a bloodied nose on multiple occasions (if you are scoring at home that is two bloody noses for Todd, zero for Teri). I then had to endure the fact that she was being named to All State athletic teams while competing in High School when I only managed an honorable mention award at a Boy's Club obstacle course race when I was 10 years old, a race that I lost badly in.

Now Teri will tell you that I inspired her to be the best that she could and be all warm and fuzzy about that, but it wasn't her that had to listen to my pals snicker and say; "Dude, you're telling us that it was your sister that beat the crap out of you??" or "Buddy, we are picking your sister to play for our team instead of you because we want to win." Pretty much anything along those lines would apply.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Teri. Give my nephew Ricky a big hug and kiss for Gail and me. All the best.