Are You Serious? Then Get A Serious Agent.

Welcome to the blog of a serious agent.

You can learn about me and how I can help you accomplish your goals.

Here is the link to my Author Page. Currently 14 real estate books covering numerous home-buying or home-selling scenarios.  www.JamesSweatAuthor.com  

To find out what your home is worth for free, go to http://values.jamessweatauthor.com/

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Home Search: Search for homes like an agent. This site offers three years sales history; original list price; most recent price reduction – date and amount (to help you get into the mind of the seller); maps; community information and much more at your fingertips.  Must Have\ and \Like to Have\ options help you find your dream home fast!  http://jimsweat.listingbook.com/

Do you want?

  • The Best Price
  • Effective Marketing
  • Guidance You Can Trust
  • Global Reach From A Local Expert

 

Get Serious. Get Sweat.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

When is “Selling Season” in Florida?

Sell in Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Pros and Cons to One and All!

Skeptical Seller: Fall is the quietest season. Families aren’t travelling because the kids are in school. Snowbirds are still home; no good reason to be on the market in the fall, right?

Jim Sweat: You are correct; fall is the quietest tourist season. That means there are not as many showings for people who are just in town and bored. It is a great time to be available for serious buyers who want to have time to find, negotiate and close on their new home soon enough to be ready to occupy it during the snowbird tourist season. I currently have several buyers who are planning on finding their new home this fall.

Skeptical Seller: That’s nice, but I know that winter is our peak tourist season. It only makes sense for me to be on the market during the winter and then take it off if it doesn’t sell. 90 days or nothing.

Jim Sweat: Yes, winter is peak Season. You will have the most showings during the winter months because of it. Sometimes showings will be scheduled just because it isn’t a perfect beach day and tourists are curious about the town. A Realtor can be a great tour guide. You also have the most competition during peak Season. There may be more potential buyers, but there are definitely more homes for them to choose from. How are you going to make yours stand out in the most crowded field of the year?

Skeptical Seller: The snowbirds go back north in the spring, and spring breakers aren’t buying houses, so what’s the point of being on the market in the spring?

Jim Sweat: There are a number of sophisticated buyers who purposely wait until Season is over before they make offers on homes. They look while they are here during vacation, then go home and wait until sellers feel desperate. The sellers who think “90 or nothing” may be more flexible when the peak 90 days have passed. You also have some sellers taking homes off the market “after Season” so those buyers have fewer homes to choose from. It may be wise to have yours be one of them.

Skeptical Seller: Okay, I can understand that. However, there can’t be any good reason to be on the market during the dog days of summer when it is hot out and rains almost every afternoon. Who is looking at homes during the worst months of the year?

Jim Sweat: Only the serious buyers look during the off season. It’s not the most pleasant time. They aren’t just here on vacation with nothing else to do. Many of the buyers who are looking during the summer have scheduled trips specifically to find a home. This gives them time to find, buy, and renovate before peak vacation season hits. You also have the least competition. Many sellers take their home off the market during the off season because they feel it is a lost cause. If the serious buyers are looking then, don’t you want them to find yours?

We had similar situations – but reversed seasons – when I was in Michigan. Some sellers didn’t want their home on the market during the winter months. “Just wait until summer when all of the tourists are in town.” My response: Only serious buyers are trudging through three feet of snow to look at houses. Do you want to clean your house for someone who is that serious, or for a never-ending parade of bored looky-loos who are on vacation and may or may not be that serious about actually buying a home?

Remember this: the majority of homes do not sell during their first listing period. The season you list may not be the season you sell. My personal track record is strong, but it defies the averages.

There are more important factors than the time of year. 35 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing. Wrong time of year is not one of the 35 reasons.

Bottom line: there are pros and cons to every time of year. You should work with an experienced, full-time, licensed real estate professional that can help you make the most of whatever season fits the timing in your life.

http://www.SweatSellsFlorida.com

The Bonus Is Back! Why That May Not Be Good News.

Every day my email contains subject lines offering “Bonus to Selling Agent!” I actually found 46 messages in my inbox right now by searching the word “bonus”.  

These bonuses span the spectrum. $1,000. $2,000. $5,000. $10,000. $12,500. $20,000. $25,000. Even one for $50,000.

Obviously, the big bonuses are on multi-million dollar homes. Mom and Pop Smith at 123 Main St are not offering a $20,000 bonus on their $198,000 home.

I am also noticing the bonus is often accompanied by a price reduction.

One example: “$10,000 Selling Bonus to Agent plus $100,000 Price Reduction” offers a nice incentive to the buyer, too.

 Why are there so many bonuses being offered right now, and what does it mean for the market?

Some of the listings were taken with a discounted commission and the bonus is just getting the compensation back up where it is competitive. Sellers want to turn up the excitement, not turn off their prospects. Cutting corners is not a great strategy if you are serious about selling.

Even some of the bank owned homes are offering bonuses. That may also fit into the compensation-adjusting group. When the investors started gobbling up anything that said foreclosure, many banks cut commissions at a time when multiple offers were piling in overnight.

It is easy to imagine agents getting pretty excited at the prospect of earning a bonus on a sale. However I am cognizant of the bonus frenzy we had during the market crash.

The incentives were getting extreme back then. There were even offers of a Mercedes as a bonus, on numerous properties. Anything to stand out and get attention for one property over the others.

Please, don’t misunderstand me. I am not implying we are in a crashing market scenario. We are not, at least not in our area. Sales are brisk and demand is strong in most segments of the market.

There are a couple of areas with softening: The high end luxury home market is temperamental, as it is wont to be from time to time. Some of the buyers just seem willing to take a step back from the rising prices and hold out for a better deal. Others, of course, are participating in sales that are setting new records!

The resale homes that are in price ranges that compete with new construction are suffering the most right now. New home sales are smoking hot. The “used homes”  are having to price very attractively to garner attention from buyers. Some of our historically popular neighborhoods are seeing price reductions and bonuses to compete with new construction.   

Many folks wonder, “Are we in a real estate bubble again?”

No.

Not yet. Here is the warning sign to look out for:

During the bubble that burst in 2006, everyone was buying real estate, but no one wanted to own it. People were just getting into the chain of title, or getting a contract on a home, so they could resell it for a big profit, sometimes literally overnight, without having to do anything at all to improve the property.

It was plain goofy and made no sense. A home isn’t worth $20,000 more just because it is a week older. Or even a month.

There are always some investors and flippers in the market. But during the heyday, everyone wanted to act like a big-time, sophisticated investor.

Today, most of the sales are to people who actually want to own the property, and that is a healthy sign for real estate.

All real estate is local. Talk to your favorite full-time licensed professional so you make the best decisions for your personal situation.

Get Serious. Get Sweat.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I am in the business of encouraging people to move, but I will be the first to admit it is not always easy.

This is an excerpt from my biography:

“We fell in love with the Venice/Sarasota area on vacation, went back and sold our real estate office, put our home on the market, and made the move to Florida! Now I get to share that experience with others. It is common for folks to discover this area by accident, and eventually make it their home.”

Wow! That sounds so simple!

Just like that. We like it. We are moving. Done.

Of course it was not that easy.

The decision to move is always tough because there are so many variables:

The Logistics of Location Changes; Finances; Emotions; Jobs; Friends and Family; Timing; Emotions; Planning and Implementation; Home Selling; Emotions; Home Searching; Fear of the Unknown; Packing; Closing and Moving.

Did I mention it is also an emotional time? It can be a roller coaster as you think excitedly about the future, and then remember all of the good times you have had in your current location, and the friends you will leave behind. The greater the distance between locations, the higher the peaks and valleys tend to be because things seem more “permanent” from miles away.

There will be ups and downs wherever you live, that is part of life.

I have friends and clients who are struggling with the decision right now, and it is prompting me to reflect on our big move, and put something in writing that may be of help to others in the years ahead.

Marci and I moved to Florida from Michigan with our daughter Belinda eleven years ago. It was a big move and many people thought we were crazy! We could tell, even if they didn’t say it. The fear in their eyes and concern for us was obvious.

Belinda was a fourth generation native to South Haven. Suffice to say, there were a lot of friends and family in the area. Most of my family was within three hours, a big change from twenty one hours away after the move.

We owned our own real estate company and were well established. People knew us and would simply call up and say, “Come list my house” or “I’m ready to find a new home.” That is a good position to be in.

My biography says we fell in love, sold and moved. What it doesn’t say is “we made the decision”. And that was the turning point in how things went.

November 2005. When we first returned from that fateful vacation we did not start making plans to move to Florida.

Just the opposite: We made an offer on the office building we were based in. That would have been a commitment to stay put for years and years.

The landlord had been marketing the property for months, with a “for sale by owner” sign in the front window of our real estate office.

Yes. Think about that!

He said, “I can’t list with you, you are my best prospect. And I won’t do you the disservice of listing with someone else.” Months pass and he is not negotiable. So upon returning from Florida, I wrote the contract up. His price, his terms, everything he wanted.

And he didn’t sign it.

I was puzzled. “Is there anything in this contract that is not exactly the way you wanted it?” I asked.

“No. You put in everything I asked for, but my attorney…”

I quit listening. If I couldn’t buy it on his price and his terms, then obviously I wasn’t supposed to buy it at all.

So then we made the decision to move to Florida, right?

No. We spent the next couple of months in La La Land. Not sure what we were going to do, or where. Just going through the motions of life, and running the day to day operation of a real estate brokerage. It was a successful company, so we didn’t feel any impetus to make a change. But there were conversations and ideas floating around. We just didn’t have anything decided.

The key seems to be, figure out why you are going (or staying) and make the decision to commit to that course. That is when the paths open up.

February 2006. We made another trip to Venice three months after our first one. This was not a vacation. We visited the high school our daughter would attend. Interviewed with several real estate brokers and learned what we could about the area that we were smitten with but knew nothing about.

Moving was a crazy idea, flat out. We would be jumping into a new market where no one knew us, starting from scratch. And not knowing what the future held, moving into one of the hardest hit markets in the country as the real estate crash unfolded.

The conversations were not easy. “We are well known and established” I would say. “We have agents working for us in our office. This affects a lot of people.”

But I also didn’t want to live with the regret of not doing things we wanted to, while we were young enough to enjoy them.

We had talked for years about moving to Florida when we retired. We vacationed there three or four times a year. All over the state.

One of the most compelling things Marci said was, “Do you want to move to Florida before, or after, the Baby Boomers do?”

I am the first year of Generation X. The Boomers have influenced my entire life, but I am always on the tail end of the trend.

We decided we were moving. We just had to figure out the What, When, How and Where. The Why was settled.

Because we were unknown in a new area, and our house hadn’t sold yet, we rented at first. It was a flurry of activity once the decision was made. Looking for a place to live; deciding on what brokerage to work with; getting things lined up for Belinda at school. We initially were thinking of just closing the office, even though some had mentioned we could sell it.

The day I followed up on the idea, I called someone who knew the decision maker at a brokerage we heard was looking in the area. The very next day, the decision maker was standing in front of our office when we drove past. Before I had the chance to call her, and my contact had not called her. It was fateful, and yes, we put that deal together.

It wasn’t all instantaneous. Our office sold in April and Marci moved to Florida right away. Belinda moved in August to start school. Our house didn’t sell until November, and I moved full time in December.

Moving to Florida at the beginning of the real estate crash was like jumping off a cliff. However, we are still glad we did it, even though it was not easy.

I just told Marci I was working on a piece that would help folks understand there is a lot to the decision making process, using our move as an example. She replied, “Our move was easy. Things just fell into place.” I agreed, “Yes, things fell into place, after we made the decision. Until then, we were just in limbo not knowing what to do.”

A lot more could be written about this subject. Let me close now with this: it often is a lot more involved than it appears on the outside. However, once you commit to the course of action, the path opens up. We didn’t have any answers when we decided, but the decision caused us to find the answers as we went along.

It takes some faith, whatever that means to you. In our case, I prayed that God would open and close doors as He saw fit.

Decide. Commit. Keep your eyes open to opportunities as they present themselves. The hurdles are just to test your resolve.

It’s your life, make the most of it.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

What’s the Difference Between a Landlord and a Real Estate Investor?

The goals are the same, but the road to get there is quite different.

A landlord and an investor both acquire property to rent out for cash flow while the value increases over time. The tenant covers the costs while the net worth of the owner goes up.

The similarities end there.

The landlord is very hands on. They are cleaning, repairing and getting the property ready to be seen by potential tenants. Advertising, interviewing, back ground checks, obtaining the deposits, collecting rent, dealing with on-going maintenance and surprise issues, accounting rent and deposit funds. If the tenant falls behind, the landlord has to post notice at the property, initiate eviction proceedings and appear before the judge to obtain the eviction. Then begin the process all over again – get the property ready for a new tenant, advertise and find the tenant etc…

The real estate investor is very hands off. After buying the property, they may oversee the renovations and then turn everything over to a property manager who finds the tenants and takes care of the whole list of things needed to properly run a profitable rental property. The property manager may even oversee the renovations, allowing the investor to spend time on hobbies, vacations, or remain focused on their primary occupation.

The landlord knows that every time the phone rings, it could be a tenant calling with a plugged sink drain, notice they are moving out, or an excuse for why the rent will be late this month.

The investor knows that those calls will all be handled by the property manager.

The saying in real estate is that the money is made at the time of purchase. The strategies and concerns during the purchase are an entire topic for another time.

If you are contemplating investing in income-producing properties, talk to your favorite full-time licensed real estate professional for guidance specific to your situation and goals.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

35 Home-Selling Mistakes To Avoid

Did you know there are 35 Reasons Why a Property Doesn’t Sell?

It’s pretty annoying when your listing expires. All of these agents are calling to tell you how great they are, yet they really just want to get your listing and reduce the price.

They don’t even care what the real problem is. The only solution they have is the one that costs you the most money.

But – price is only one of the 35 reasons!

It’s easy for the agents because no matter what the real reason is, if you price it low enough, it will sell.

But that costs you money! Wouldn’t it be better to find out what the real reason is and address that? Sellers want to blame the agent, or the advertising. Agents want to blame the price or the market.

Don’t throw your money away! Find out what the Real Problem is, and then you can make decisions based on reality, and keep more money in your pocket!

35 Home-Selling Mistakes To Avoid

 Process of Elimination:

Buyers don’t look for a home to buy; they look for reasons NOT to buy this home! Before they even look at homes in person, they are looking online for reasons not to go see your home at all. Every step along the journey offers opportunities to capture and hold the buyer’s attention, or lose them forever.

Review this list to maximize your prospects and reduce the pitfalls.

35 Reasons why properties don’t sell:

    1. Not enough photographs: Buyers assume that if you don’t show pictures of the home, it must be ugly and there is no reason to come see it (unless they want a fixer-upper!). Photos also boost online ranking.
    2. Poorly shot photos: Photos taken “into the light” or very dark; Listings that lack a full complement of photos, compelling narrative, robust descriptions and no calls to action are “web white noise”. No one sees or cares about them. Both the photos and the description are vital to sell your home. It’s the image your visitors will see once they begin their search online. The first impression matters!
    3. Missed Target Market. The most likely buyer must be identified and the property should be positioned to attract them. This is a huge issue!
    4. Incorrect data or information: Subdivision names misspelled; Tax IDs that are incorrect; Data entry errors in the databases reduce buyers and agents finding the home in their searches. Beds, baths, price, location, square footage etc… online search is data-driven.
    5. Lost in the shuffle: Some agents carry huge listing inventories of unsold homes. You want a Realtor with the experience to get the job done, and the time to give your sale the attention you deserve.
    6. Secret listings: Pocket listings, in-house, off-market and “coming soon” listings cost sellers money and sales! Restrictions of advertising to other REALTORS or the public reduce the number of potential buyers for your home. Only full market exposure brings full market value! I offer a Full Market Exposure Guarantee.
    7. Extravagant decorating or unusual floor plan. The costs to remedy must be reflected in the pricing strategy.
    8. Poorly written marketing/advertising materials: Words and pictures combine to attract the right buyers for your house. Marketing Matters!
    9. Agent skill set lacking. Ineffective or undeveloped communication, negotiation or networking skills; 70-75% of agents in Florida are part-time, doing real estate on the side or as a hobby to supplement their retirement.
    10. Key features not highlighted effectively. I utilize a simple strategy to capitalize on every showing, regardless of experience and skill of the agent.
    11. Listing isn’t found where 90% of the buyers are. We utilize syndication agreements, IDX internet data exchanges, and VOW virtual office websites to obtain worldwide internet exposure on thousands of websites!
    12. Agent is not technologically savvy. Technology is a blessing and a curse! We are combining the best of today’s technology with enhanced listings on the most popular websites, and good old fashioned customer service.
    13. Incentives are not properly structured to enhance the success of the listing.
    14. Ineffective timeframe of listing agreement: Not researched well enough to allow the proper time to market the property.
    15. Agent didn’t discuss absorption rate with the Seller. The majority of homes do not sell during the first listing period. Do you want to list your home, or sell it? Don’t be another statistic.
    16. Agent isn’t skilled in the type of property that they listed. Qualifications matter.
    17. Poor planning, poor systems, poor execution, poor Sellers!
    18. Hope as a strategy. When a REALTOR rests on their laurels, the result is a seller with a languishing listing. It’s just lying around, too. Get Action.
    19. The house wasn’t presented in the best light. Property is not staged for a quick sale. Personal items should be packed up and the property must be depersonalized. Make it as easy as possible for your visitor to visualize himself/herself living there.
    20. The home has incurable defects. “There’s a buyer for every home, but at the buyer’s price” is an old but very true real estate motto. Some residences have incurable defects that cannot be corrected, and these defects must be considered when setting the asking price.
    21. Ineffective use of Virtual Tours. Some tours discourage showings.
    22. No feedback from agents and buyers, or a failure to act on market perceptions and realities.
    23. The curb appeal needs help. If buyers don’t like the state of your house from the outside, they’re not as likely to come inside to see the rest of it. Many times a buyer has decided against a home before they get in the door. It can even be difficult to complete a scheduled showing if they are turned off when the agent pulls into the driveway.
    24. You’re trying to go it alone. Real estate agents’ fees can take a decent amount out of your total sale proceeds, it’s true. But if you go the DIY home-selling route, you run the risk of getting zero proceeds when it doesn’t sell at all. If you’re having trouble selling your home on your own, it may be time to call in a qualified pro.
    25. You’re smothering buyers. As much as you may want to see “how things are going” or be around to answer questions or offer insights, you need to let your real estate agent handle things. Go out for coffee, go see a movie, go do anything that gets you out of the house (and out of buyers’ hair!) when your home is being shown. Not only will this put less pressure on buyers; it will enable them to feel free to voice their real opinions – which can help your agent identify sticking points you need to work on to make your home more appealing.
    26. Mapping problems: Property doesn’t appear in the proper location online.
    27. Low commission splits to agents? They are only humans trying to make a living.
    28. Is the home Clean, Uncluttered, Tidy, and Smelling nice? – C.U.T.S. There is no quicker way to repel a buyer than to present an untidy, cluttered, unloved home. If you don’t show that you love it, the buyer won’t either. If it doesn’t CUTS it, you are definitely handicapping the chance of a quick, well-priced sale. Inside and out, it needs to look its absolute best! The seller controls the condition.
    29. Owner doesn’t actually want to sell. Is the owner clear on the benefits of selling now, or just fishing? Unrealistic expectations hinder sales.
    30. The listing agent is the obstacle.  As in any profession, there are top-quality people and “others”. To be polite, some agents are “out of touch” and are more of a hurdle to home sales than a help. If an agent is hard to get along with, arrogant, or has otherwise made herself unpopular, well… It’s just human nature to tend to skip over someone you don’t like when scheduling showings. You want a knowledgeable, likeable, full-time professional representing you and managing your sale.
    31. Agent doesn’t want the home to sell; it is “Buyer Bait”. Overpriced listings and discounted commissions may indicate the agent is more interested in generating buyers to sell other homes to.
    32. It is difficult to show your house to your audience: “If the house isn’t getting shown, it isn’t going to get sold.” Make every effort to accommodate showing requests.
    33. Seller interference in the selling process. Hire someone you trust and then let your agent do his/her job.
    34. Market conditions and external forces. Sometimes this is just an excuse. If legitimate, then marketing and positioning strategies must be utilized.
    35. The last possible reason why: The house wasn’t priced correctly. Price point must be clearly determined and communicated to the right buyer pool.

     Consequences of overpricing:

  • Limits the number of qualified buyers
  • Results in fewer prospects & showings
  • Reduces the number of offers
  • Creates lack of interest in the home
  • Limits financing options
  • Causes appraisal issues
  • Increases the sales time
  • Less net revenue for the seller

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO

Realtor

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

Three Buying Scenarios; One Winning Strategy

There is a lot of advice on how to win a multiple bid scenario (escalation clause, humanize the buyer with a letter to the seller, snipe the competing buyers, etc…).

In this blog post, I am only going to talk about one strategy that you can use effectively without overpaying and even if you don’t have unlimited funds.

1.)  I currently have a sale pending on a listing where the seller accepted an offer lower than I would have guessed.

Buyer offered cash, close in 14 days, no inspection contingency, and put 75% of the sales price down as the earnest money escrow deposit. That convinced the seller this was as close to a done deal as you can get before actually closing, so after a little negotiation, they signed a contract.

A clean offer with strong deposit is an obvious winning strategy.

2.)  Years ago I showed a home that was priced to sell quickly, to a buyer who was philosophically opposed to paying more than list price, even though he admitted it was worth more than asking price. His wife warned him that if he lost this home because of his foolish pride, he was going to regret it.

The other offer was above list price. Our full-price offer included a $50,000 earnest money escrow deposit which was almost 50% of the sales price. Money talks and the seller accepted our lower offer with the big earnest check attached.

What if you are not a cash buyer with the ability to lay down the big money smack?

Do what you can to make your offer stand out.

3.)  I just closed on a home that had competing offers that were almost identical. Both had financing contingencies, low down payment loans, and were full price.

What made one stand out? Offer A had a $500 escrow deposit, offer B had a $3,000 deposit.

Sure, that is only a $2,500 difference, but if you multiply those numbers by ten, it is like comparing $5,000 to $30,000. A significant difference!

Even the $2,500 difference caused the seller to decide, “Buyer B seems more committed, let’s go with that one.”

In the old days, 10% of the sales price was common for the deposit. We went through a period during the easy money boom years where a token $1,000 deposit was common. That might be a serious commitment from a buyer who is going for a ‘no money down’ loan, or 3-5% down payment financing.

However, if you are a cash buyer or getting a conventional 20% down loan, and you offer a token deposit with your offer, you should not expect to be taken seriously.

I send a bi-weekly, digital newsletter with insights into the real estate market, as well as helpful hints, tips and trends for homeowners. If you would like to receive it, just send me a message with your email and I will add you to the next mailing.

All the Best!

Jim Sweat, ABR, CLHMS, CRS, CDPE, GRI, e-PRO, ILHM

REALTOR

Featured in Scene Magazine’s Men on the Scene 2016 issue

Author of REAL ESTATE CSI: CONTROVERSY, SECRETS, INSIGHT (coming soon)

Jim Sweat – Helping Buyers & Sellers Choose Wisely Since 1995 ™”

Re/Max Alliance Group

Mobile: 941-306-7384

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