Category Archives for San Antonio Realtor

Why Can’t My REALTOR® Sell My House?

Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House
Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House

Why can't my realtor sell my house?

My realtor can’t sell my house!  What’s wrong?

As an experienced REALTOR® in San Antonio, I hear this a lot from home owners.   And, many sellers struggle with this if there home has been on the market for just one week!  With the crazy seller’s market we are in, the sellers have expectations that their house will sell the first day. If that doesn’t happen, the wheels start turning in the seller’s mind and this thought begins to run through their head.  Often times, the first thing that comes their mind is that it is their agent’s fault.  I specialize in homes for sale in Alamo Heights, and can tell you …. there is no easy answer.

The hard truth is, oftentimes, it isn’t directly the agent’s fault.  Most of the time it is due to the small decisions that the homeowners make when the put their house on the market, or the location of the home.  The agent does bear some responsibility if they haven’t shared with you the things you will need to do to sell your house quickly.

Also, do you want to sell your house quickly…. or, do you want your price?  These scenarios would have your agent marketing the property differently.  Most sellers want to sell quickly for the highest price possible.

If your house isn’t selling, hasn’t had many showings, hasn’t received an offer, then rethink your position and be positive about the possibilities.  It is in your best interest to think through some of the potential reasons that it might not be selling.  Part of the resolution of a problem is recognizing that there might be a problem.  There might actually be many reasons why your home has not sold.

Here are some of the top reasons that homes don’t sell and a solution for each on how to remedy the situation.  Of course, all things being equal must be taken into account.

1.  Your house is a little tired looking

Buyers expect every home they see to look like the homes they like on HGTV.  SIGH.  If your home does not look that appealing, the home will be on the market longer, because the flipper down the street knows that the Buyers are looking for that type of home.  Buyers know how to shop, and they want the most house for their money.  If there is a fresh, newly updated/remodeled house down the street, which is priced exactly the same as yours, you can bet that the Buyers will be flocking to the one which is the most appealing.

Solution:  Your house should be comparable to the other houses on the market in the same area.  You might need to upgrade the hardware in the house, update some of the lighting, and please, please, please …. have the popcorn texture removed from the ceilings.  Yep, you are going to have spend money to spruce and spiff up the tired house.  For most Sellers, they struggle with the thought of spending the money on items they won’t enjoy.  However, if you are looking to get full price offers on your house and a quick sale, you will need to get it to a condition which buyers want.  Buyer generally don’t buy based upon a price per square foot.  They fall in love with the home which is updated and in pristine condition.

If the home is tired looking and you aren’t in a position to update it, or don’t want to do the work, then a reduction in price should remedy the situation.  All things being equal, an out of date house should be priced at 5% to 20% below the other homes in your area.

2.  The house smells bad

There’s a saying in real estate: “If I can smell it, I can’t sell it”.  If you’re immune to the smell of your home, get a friend’s honest opinion.  There is nothing like entering a house and smelling a refreshing scent.  There are even commercials about “Stank Face”, which is the term for the curl of the lip and the scrunched up nose when a person encounters a foul smell.

If you have pets, if you are a smoker, if you cook odiforious foods, then the odor may the reason your home isn’t selling.

Solution: Sometimes the remedy is simple like freshly baked cookies or using essential oils in a diffuser. But if your house’s odor is persistent, it’s a good idea to determine what’s causing it and address it.  Take care of mold and mildew buildup, pet urine on the carpet, or set-in smoke odor.

3.  The appliances are old

Stainless steel is still in, and old, yellowing-white refrigerators are out.  Although potential buyers realize they can replace a refrigerator, if your appliances look as if they belong in their parents home, buyers might wonder what else might need replacing.  You won’t get a pass on the HVAC system, either.  Although the buyer doesn’t generally notice, the system will be inspected by the buyer’s inspector.

Solution:  Update your appliances if at all possible.  Ask your agent what buyers are looking for in a home such as yours.  They will generally know as they work with buyers and hear what buyers are looking for.  If your HVAC has a problem, you’re going to have to pay to fix it, or at least come down in your asking price.

4.  Horrible photographs

The first seven seconds is the time your photographs have to make an first impression.  Over 90% of buyers start their home search online and they will make a decision to include or exclude your home based upon a very quick skimming of the listing photographs.  The more photos the better; professional photography is best; an uncluttered home …. all are more appealing even if the house is the exact same floor plan as the house 2 streets over.  Buyers quickly move on if you don’t grab their attention with good photographs.  There are plenty of homes with good photos for them to look at.

Solution:  Be open to the idea of having your house staged and photographs by professionals.  Yes, we know your sister, who loves purple with pink stripes, wallpaper and popcorn ceilings, has good taste.  However, unless she is a realtor, she may not be aware that professional real estate photographs have the ability to generate over 118% more internet views and sell listings at the amaze rate of 50% faster, and at 39% closer to list price.  The numbers speak for themselves…. it is money well spent.

5. The house is priced incorrectly

Currently our San Antonio market is a Seller’s market…. but not for every price point.  Economic supply and demand conditions come into play in a seller’s market: There’s high demand, yet low supply/inventory.  Technically, a seller can expect to get more money for their house during a high demand/low inventory cycle.  However, the are limits as to how high you can list your home.  One of the most important duties of a realtor is the proper pricing of the home.  If your home is listed at a price that is too low, Buyers will conclude that there is a problem with the home.  On the other end of the spectrum are those houses which are priced above market value which generally cause the home to sit on the market longer.  

Did YOU price the home at a high price?  Did YOU insist that that your realtor put it on the market for that price?  If so, I am sure you already know now, that it is priced too high.  Consult with your realtor for a “price improvement” (real estate lingo for lowering the price of the home).

Solution:  Revisit your pricing with your agent to determine if the price of your home needs to be adjusted.  It is critical that you price it correctly.  The agent may need to do another analysis to update their files on what has sold in the last 2 months.  Maybe the fresh data from the comps will reveal that the market trend has shifted downward (real estate lingo for falling prices).

6. It just might be your agent

If you have none of the other issues going on in this post and there’s nothing wrong with your house at all:  then, then it just might be your agent.  Like every profession, real estate has 5% to 10% of agents who may not be competent and just don’t care.  It is not reflective of the entire industry, and  with a little research, you will be able to easily find another one.

There are all sorts of things which go on behind the scenes which are controlled by the agent:  did they input the listing into the MLS correctly, is it located on the MLS map correctly, do they have the correct phone number listed for the buyer’s agent to call to set up an appointment, etc?  It might be that they have done a poor job in getting the information out to the public (marketing).  Yet, it might even be that your agent could be turning people off.  Your agent is your front-line representative.  Maybe they have a bad reputation within the real estate community and are difficult to work with, don’t return phone calls, think they are king of the universe, they are the #1 agent in town and can’t be bothered, are known as a bully, etc.  Some realtors won’t show homes to buyers where they know the agent to be the problem because it can reflect badly upon them as well as result in a bad/bumpy transaction.  It shouldn’t be this way, but the truth is…. it happens every day.

Solution:  Is your agent nice?  Would you invite them to a dinner party?  If YOU don’t find them to be interesting and pleasurable to work with, who will?  You might consider breaking up with your current agent and then do your homework to identify a great agent who might be easier to work with.  Also, be skeptical of the reviews posted online.  There are companies which specialize in writing false reviews for agents.  Instead, consider talking with your friends, family and colleagues to identify a good agent.  Identify a good one and then interview the heck out them.  It is in your best interest to hire an experienced agent for your type of home.  If you have a relative who is an agent in another city, call them and let them do some of this research for you.  They will be happy to assist you.

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Here are a few more reasons:  Unusual and/or unique; luxury; and other factors

1.  Unusual or unique home:  If you have a unique home, it will take longer to sell.   We have a saying:  “unique it, and you keep it”.

Modern kitchen with chartreuse cabinetry

Unique kitchen which may limit the number of buyers for this home.

For instance in San Antonio, the Buyers prefer traditional homes with open floor plans.  This San Antonio preference means that a mid-80’s homes with contemporary angles will take longer to sell as there are fewer buyers who are looking for this type of home.

2.  Luxury home:  If you have a luxury home, it is usually a Buyer’s Market.  Less than 1% to 2% of the market can afford a luxury home.  This means that it can take quite a bit longer to sell a luxury home than a non-luxury home.  If you have a custom luxury home which has unique features, then it will take even longer.  I take a different stance than most realtors.  A price adjustment isn’t always the remedy in order to sell the home.  Often times, these homes just need to be on the market long enough for the right buyer to come along.  It is always about timing.  Unfortunately, some luxury buyers will hire a buyer’s agent who isn’t a luxury agent.  That inexperienced agent won’t know how the listing agent was able to price the home.  For instance, 2 similar homes with a similar floor plan, except House A (Mercedes car) has double studded walls, chandeliers which costs over $50,000 each along with upgrades throughout is NOT comparable to House B (Hyndai car) which was built by a spec builder with single studded walls, $200 chandeliers and inexpensive builder grade materials.  That sort of agent who would think they “look sort of the same” is the luxury home sellers and luxury listing agents worst enemy.  And, they aren’t servicing their buyer in an informed manner.  The higher the price point in luxury homes, the lower the number of buyers who can afford the home.  For instance, there is a $18,000,000 home listed in San Antonio.  There may be 10 to 20 people in San Antonio who can afford that home.  If that 10 to 20 people are not yet in the market to buy a different home, then that home will not sell….. not because it isn’t desirable or there is something wrong…. simply the timing isn’t right.  Should they reduce the price to $8,000,000, $ 4,000,000?  Of course not, unless they are desperate to sell, or the seller just wants to be done.  A famous example of this is the The Manor house  built by Aaron Spelling in Los Angeles.  It sold for $85 million after it had been on the market for two years with an asking price of $150 million.

3.  Oddball scenarios:  Location within a subdivision and other factors also come into play.  If you have some of the following conditions, the property is considered by many to be less desirable than the others within the subdivision, and should have been priced 10% below what other comparable homes in your area:

  • electrical power towers running in the green belt behind your property
  • an apartment complex or a commercial shopping center is behind your property
  • a major street is directly behind your property
  • a bus stop is within 3 house of your property
  • a drainage ditch next to the property (side or back)
  • your next door neighbor has not kept up with their yard work AND their house is painted purple
  • your next door neighbor has barking dogs who run the backyard fence.

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I feel your pain.  My personal home is for sale; it is a luxury home AND it is unique!   Needless to say, I am nearly insane, too!  Patience, Grasshopper, patience.

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Keep up your positive thinking!  Your house WILL sell.  Get ready to move!

 

 

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San Antonio New Home Construction Neighborhoods

New home in Remuda Ranch, Ashton Woods Homes

If you are looking to buy a new home in the San Antonio area, there are many neighborhoods to choose from.  As a town grows, the growth generally happens on the outskirts of town where developers can purchase raw land to develop.

Far West San Antonio:  This area has experience the most explosive growth as there remains a great deal of undeveloped land.  Therefore, there are more new neighborhoods located here.

  • The Highlands of Remuda Ranch is located outside Loop 1604 on FM 471.  The schools are in the highly acclaimed (NISD) Northside Independent School District.  It is allows easy access to Lackland AFB, Camp Bullis, Westover Hills, Medina Lake and Government Canyon State Natural Area.   Builders include:
  • The Meadows at Remuda Ranch is also located outside Loop 1604 on FM 471.  The schools are in the highly acclaimed (NISD) Northside Independent School District.  It is allows easy access to Lackland AFB, Camp Bullis, Westover Hills, Medina Lake and Government Canyon State Natural Area.   Builders include:
  • Alamo Ranch is a large 1,600 acre master-planned community located outside Loop 1604 near Culebra Rd.  There are several gated sections found within Alamo Ranch.  Community amenties include a club house, a barbecue area, playgrounds, a park, a soccer field, a swimming pool and a volley ball court.
    • Enclave at Alamo Ranch
    • McMullen Grant
    • Santa Maria at Alamo Ranch
    • Terraces at Alamo Ranch
    • The Hills at Alamo Ranch
    • The Preserve at Alamo Ranch
    • The Trails at Alamo Ranch
    • The Westwinds-Summit at Alamo Ranch
    • Williams Grant
  • Redbird Ranch is located at Loop 1604 and Potranco Rd.  This great community provides its residents with amenities for the entire family:  a top notch recreational center with exercise room, dining room, meeting room, lap pool, and large children’s pool.  Also included are sport courts, playground, and extensive trail system.

 

 

Are you ready to buy a house? REALLY?

Rock House Style in Terrell hills

Every day I am contacted by a Buyer who thinks he/she is ready to look at houses for sale in the greater San Antonio area and it’s 7 contiguous counties. They have certainly heard the phrase…. you must be pre-approved or pre-qualified for the loan.  The truth is they don’t know what it means. AND, most of them have done nothing to REALLY be ready to buy a house.

 

Rock House

 

This post will serve as a service to my clients who are just beginning the process.

Buying a house is like playing a very serious game.  I will set forth some of the rules of the game below.  If you follow the rules, you will find the game to be sort of fun and exciting.  If you choose not to follow the rules of the game, then you must not be that serious about finding a house.  If that is the case, I will help you find another agent.  I will tell you now, I like to work with Buyers who are serious about purchasing a home.

Here we go:

Step 1.  Get pre-approved by a lender.

Unless you are paying cash, you will need to obtain financing (mortgage).  If you do not have a lender, feel free to contact me and give me some basic information about yourself.  Most experienced Buyers agents will pair you up with a lender who specializes in the type of loan the agent thinks you are looking for.  For instance, if you are a first time home buyer and are self employed, that will take a different lender than a second or third time home buyer who has been employed by the same employer for several years.  You, as the Buyer, don’t know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of loans available.  The experienced agent will know which type of lender has the best service for your needs in our local area.  Keep in mind that the agent and the loan officer do not control the interest rate you receive.  The interest rates are dependent upon many variables, including your credit score, your debt to income ratios, and many other factors.  You are advised to know that if a lender tells you something which “sounds too good to be true”, then it generally IS too good to be true.

You will need to meet with the lender and provide them with all of the items they request.  Be prepared to give them everything they ask for.  Cash is King…. what this means, is that the man who has the cash, is the King.  In this case, the King is the lender.  If you are unwilling to meet with the lender, you will find that you will end up working with a newer agent who doesn’t have my experience, because … I like to work with Buyers who are serious about purchasing a home.

The lender will either discuss with me the top of your budget, or they will provide you with a letter which delineates the type of loan you want (FHA, VA, conventional, etc), the amount (the percentage) of the down payment, as well as any special conditions which both you and I need to be aware of before we start the home search.  It is best that you find out what you can afford BEFORE you fall in love with a house which you can’t afford.

Please note that there are vigorous regulations which prohibit lenders and agents from obtaining “referral fees”.  Neither the loan officer or the real estate agent are willing to lose their license for this sort of illegal activity.

Step 2.  Meet with the Buyer’s Agent.

This is a meeting to get to know each other.  You will discuss with the agent the findings of the lender.  For instance, do you need to wait three more months in order to get a better interest rate?  Or, will your car be paid off in six months and you won’t be able to get approved for a loan until the car note has been paid?  It is at this meeting that you see if your schedule meshes with that of the Buyer’s Agent.  Most Buyers are not aware that looking at houses is the tip of the iceberg of what a REALTOR or real estate agent does.  Most busy agents have schedule and a personal life.

Discuss communications.  Do you like to communicate by text? email? phone call?  I operate during normal business hours, even on Saturdays and Sundays.  Off hours are reserved for negotiations and family time.  Real estate negotiations tend to happen when all parties are off work.

Buying a home is an emotional process.  You will experience many ups and downs during the process.  Make sure that you LIKE the agent and that you get along.  Not everyone is a good fit.  I am happy to refer you to another agent who is exactly what you want … for instance if you want a single male, who is between the ages of 25 and 35, who has been in real estate for more than 5 years, who is bi-lingual, with a first name of Wesley, etc.  I can find him for you, and he will be another experienced and qualified agent who fits your specific criteria.  There are 10,000 real estate agents in San Antonio…. there is one out there for you.

At this meeting you will sign a document entitled Information About Brokerage Services.  This document is required by TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission).  It explains how real estate representation is viewed and I will explain further in person.  This document does not commit you to anything.  TREC requires that my broker have this on file.

Step 3.  The pre-search period. 

Once you have selected your Buyer’s Agent, you will be requested to sign a Buyer’s Representation Agreement.  This agreement is your commitment to work with the Buyer’s Agent who you selected.  Your Buyer’s Agent is not really your agent unless you have signed this document.  This agreement binds the two parties together.  Your agent is then able to negotiate on your behalf.  This is also your commitment to your agent that you will be working exclusively with them.

The agent will set up an automatic search in MLS to begin sending you homes which meet your criteria.  Such as:

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 4.5 bathrooms
  • 3 car garage
  • price range $1,000,000 to $1,300,000
  • near Cambridge Elementary
  • single story preferred
  • built after 2005
  • ADA compliant

It is quite easy to drill down and send you specific properties.  Keep in mind that I am familiar with most of the properties which are currently for sale in the San Antnnio area.  List of criteria of what you are looking for in a home in order that I may send you homes which meet your criteria which is automated from SABOR (San Antonio Board of Realtors).

We will get some homework done early just in case we are operating in a competitive transaction.  Some of these things are:

  • Identify an inspector.  Call and get rates ahead of time.
  • Identify an electrician.  As a back up.
  • Identify a structural engineer.  As a back up.
  • Identify a home warranty company.  The seller will generally pay for this.  However, you must identify/select a company in advance so that I know the amount to negotiate.
  • Identify a insurance agent for home insurance coverage.
  • Have blank checks on hand in order to write Option and Earnest Money checks.

Step 4 .  FINALLY, the search begins. 

Long gone are the days when a buyer has to look at twenty homes.  With over 90% of the homes being viewed online, it has helped the buyers rule out certain houses ahead of time.  Prior to the internet, a personal visit was required to view the home.  Currently, you can view the home and see the measurement of the rooms online.  For instance, if someone in your family is in a wheelchair, you will need bathrooms with a turning radius of 5 feet (ideally).  You can now determine that online.

Most buyers will select their favorite homes from online and will visit an average of 3 to 7 homes.  However, again due to the internet, some buyers select the first property they see in person.  It happens all of the time.  The reason is that after they have viewed the fifth house, the buyer gets weary and they already really know what they want.  The most desirable homes generally go under contract early.

You should know:

  • the perfect property rarely exists.  SIGH.
  • you might fall in the love with the property and your significant other may hate it.
  • sometimes, as mentioned above, you will circle back to the first house.  It IS the one.

Step 5.  Make an offer. 

As your Buyer’s Agent, there is paperwork which I must prepare in order to make an offer.  I will also need to prepare an analysis to see if the house is priced correctly.  However, you, the buyer is in charge.  I will prepare an offer and present it to the listing agent.

Included in the offer will be the following two items where you will need to pay some money:

  • Option funds.  This is the amount of money you are willing to pay to have the home inspected.  This is usually a fee of $10 to $100 per day (based upon the value of the home).  Most option periods are for ten days to allow adequate time for inspections…. you see now why I had you select your home inspector ahead of time?  You already are more prepared than 99% of the other buyers (who are really your competition.
  • Earnest Money.  This is usually 1% of the amount of your offer in our market, but can reach as high as 5% if you are in a multiple offer situation.  For the 1% scenario, if your offer is $1,000,000, then a Earnest Money check in the amount of $10,000 would be written to the title company.  The title company will cash the check and hold the funds in escrow.  Here is a great explanation of Earnest Money.

I hope that this helps you prepare for the search process.

The purchase process has an entirely different set of steps which will be outlined in another post.

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If you want to buy a house, please do your homework ahead of time.  This will allow you to have an advantage over most buyers.  And, please get pre-approved by a reputable lender.

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