Diary of a Sacramento Realtor
Undoubtedly, when I am selling a house 3 times to get paid once, I am doing it solely for the benefit of the seller. Other agents seem to intensely dislike that kind of attitude. They are used to listings agents who rollover and do whatever it takes to close a transaction. It confuses them when they discover that I am not one of those agents who will rollover.
For starters, I care deeply about my fiduciary relationship to the seller and doing what is best for the seller. How do I do that? Well, here’s a hint for ya, I don’t count my chickens before they hatch because even if they never hatch, I don’t care. I care solely about making my sellers happy. It’s a recipe, albeit a weird one for many, but it’s a successful recipe for me. I don’t really know how to better explain it than if you take yourself out of the equation and try to do only what is best for a seller (I know, strange concept), as an agent you will win in the end. And so does the seller. I won’t go so far as to say win-win because that’s not really a concept I subscribe to, and I used to be married to the guy who coined that phrase. In real estate, generally one side, seller or buyer, fares better than the other. That’s the reality.
Christmas is a perfect time to buy a home in Sacramento. You might not agree but then you might not be in the real estate business. This week has been extremely hectic in Sacramento real estate. Just when you’d expect business to slow down and be more quiet, everybody is out showing homes. Writing offers. And everybody is in such a good mood.
Seriously. People are feeling the warmth and the love of this holiday season or maybe they’re just snockered. Hard to say. A seller told me she did not want to bully a buyer into purchasing her home. Because if buyers were moving forward due only to strong arm tactics, that did not seem humane to her. In an era like today where so many of our political moves are inhumane, it’s nice to see people who truly care. People who value integrity over dollars.
In my real estate practice, I feel sellers prefer to be kept informed, even if something never happens. Because a Sacramento listing agent can certainly throw out a disclaimer. Like, listen, Mrs. Seller, don’t get all excited but this agent says he is sending an offer. In some ways, I know you want to hear everything, and in other ways, maybe not. So you let me know what you want to hear.
The problem with deciding to tell sellers when agents are sending an offer is the offer might never materialize. That is the downside. If the seller gets her hopes up because she hears an offer is forth-coming but never arrives, it can be disappointing. Managing seller reactions and maintaining client happiness in a transaction is an art.
You can bet one of my priorities for a new listing is following up on buyer leads. Just because I refuse to work directly with a buyer in dual agency doesn’t mean I won’t follow up or talk to buyers. Of course, buyers are free to choose any agent they want, and hopefully they will pick a professional agent with many closings under her or his belt. But I will also work with Uncle Joe’s cousin if that’s what it takes, knowing I’ll end up doing that agent’s job as well as mine, and it’s OK. Whatever it takes to sell a house is my method of operation. No prima donna here. I take more of a pragmatic view that as long as it leads to closing . . .
Yesterday was no exception. The ink isn’t inked yet on a new listing, yet I already had 2 different sets of buyers. Wasn’t planning on following up on buyer leads yesterday, but they were there in my face. One buyer was a neighbor next door. She approached me when I was attaching the lockbox to say how deeply disheartened she is that her friends are moving away. It was 11 AM and she was in her robe and slippers, but so what.
Since I wasn’t wearing a jacket — because I raced out of the house like we live in Hawaii — I shivered. Let her know if there was any trouble of any sort or questions arose, she could call me. My cell would be embedded on the sign rider in the yard. Then I dashed back inside to warm up as the photographer shot photos. A few minutes later, the neighbor knocked on the front door. Still in robe and slippers. Wanted to know how she could get a loan. Best guy in the business is Dan Tharp at Guild Mortgage. I brought up his contact info and got ready to hit “share contact.”
I’ll get a paper and pencil, the neighbor says. Just give me your cell number, I say, and I’ll forward you Dan’s contact information. A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was the neighbor. Hello, may I speak to Dan Tharp? she asked. I explain she can tap the contact icon in my text message to her, and it will download the contact information to her phone. Hey, not everybody knows these things.
Later, Dan tells me they had a good talk, and she seems to qualify for a loan. Although, an hour later, she decided against the loan process. But that’s OK. I go with the flow. It was a day to be following up on buyer leads. The sellers had another friend on the cul-de-sac who knew of an interested relative. Actually, I had tracked down and texted, emailed and called that relative’s agent the day before. However, the agent could not get around to calling me until the following day. Will it work out? I have no idea, but I follow up on buyer leads because it’s my job.
Leave no stone unturned. That’s what a Sacramento listing agent does. It wouldn’t be the first time I sold a listing to a neighbor, and it won’t be the last.
When I take a listing, in turn I am helping sellers in Sacramento by providing accurate data and being painstakingly honest. Part of my directness, undoubtedly, comes from being raised in the upper midwest. My mother always called Minnesota the upper midwest and not just the midwest because I presume she didn’t want to be confused with Missouri or Kansas. Like she lived in Upper Manhattan and not the frozen tundra of Minneapolis. But I grew up believing the only way to relate to others was to be honest and direct rather than embellish or, worse, make up things you can’t remember.
If people don’t like it, they aren’t a good prospect for me. In that photo above, you can see my sisters and brother on the front steps of the first house my parents ever bought. I am on the right, grinning in a red tafetta dress and my fancy saddle shoes. My sister, Kathryn, on the left lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, and long ago, without reason, cut off all ties with the family. My brother John died from sarcoma two years ago, and my little sister, Margaret, is still in Minneapolis. We talk every Sunday.
Look at us. No safety railing on those steps. Probably asbestos in the siding. Ha! Lucky we didn’t all die, riding bikes without a helmet.
Yet, now that I’ve been in the real estate business for 40+ years, I’ve learned that being direct is still the best policy. Never deviated from that factor. Although, I am cognizant of what other agents might say to sellers. I won’t go so far as to say they lie, but they don’t always tell the truth. If you ask a listing agent if this a good market in Sacramento to sell, you’d be hard pressed to find an agent who will say the market is softer and demanding. They tend to paint rosy pictures because they don’t want a seller to get discouraged. They also know that sellers tend to gravitate toward those who make them feel good.
But that’s not my method. Maybe that’s why I’m so successful when I’m helping sellers in Sacramento sell a home. I spoke with a potential seller yesterday about selling a home in Citrus Heights. She said it was worth about $300,000, and I know instinctively she pulled that number from Zillow, which is often incorrect. Then she told me it needed work. No updates. She bought it in 1998. Well, there are only two ways an older home in Citrus Heights without updates will sell.
Either you update the home or you reduce the price accordingly to account for condition. Nobody thinks about “condition” when they live in a house. It functions. What’s not to like? But buyers have plenty to say about it, and they will pass you by. This seller’s solution was to either a) sell AS IS or b) remove the carpeting and install ceramic. How do you tell a seller that ceramic floors are a thing of days long gone past? With compassion and empathy, that’s how.
She also thought she could come up with a number that it would cost renovate the house and then deduct that amount from the sales price, and a buyer would hop on it. So, I had to explain it doesn’t work that way. If faced with house A, all fixed up, at $300K or house B, needing $30K of repairs and priced at $270K, which would a buyer purchase? Why, House A, of course. House B would need to be priced around $250K or less to sell. Buyers expect compensation for the hassle.
This seller also did not understand that the $300K homes were much larger than hers. Square foot cost? She never heard of that computation. To her, a 1,500 square foot home would sell for the same as an 1,100 square foot home, except they don’t. Well, I probably talked her out of selling all together, but that’s what helping sellers in Sacramento is about. Helping them to come to their own decisions and making informed decisions.
If you’d like to talk about selling your home, please call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. My full intent is to sell your home at maximum profit potential for you. You can rest assured I won’t tell you what you want to hear, but I will tell you what you need to know.