So Far This Year and Why Louisville Real Estate Needs to Get on Its Horse!

Horse Race
It’s still too close to Derby time not to use a horse racing analogy.

With the Derby and Preakness behind us, I thought I’d utilize an appropriate thematic in the title. Over on Louisville Homes Blog, I’ve been writing consistently on reasons why people should be investing in real estate right now. Whether that’s improving their own home or taking advantage of the current market conditions to improve their portfolio, there’s just too much to like about Louisville real estate right now.

Most experts agree that sales will rise in 2011 but not by much. So what’s happening? Let’s see where we are at this point compared to last year. This data is for Jefferson County in Louisville, KY only.

Year # of Sales Total Sales Avg Sales Median Sales
2011 2,483 $386,417,704 $155,625 $125,750
2010 2,959 $463,916,035 $156,781 $130,700
Period: 1/1 through 5/15

So let’s see if I’ve got this right: fewer sales, smaller totals, lower averages, and medians. Check, check and check. Well, that’s disappointing.

Obviously, consumers either haven’t heard the experts recommendations on real estate (which I find hard to believe) or else they don’t believe them (the more likely situation). Heck, I’m thinking about buying a new house myself, and I don’t even need one.

I just don’t want to look back 5 to 10 years from now and think that I really missed out. (Especially since I’m supposed to be some kind of expert, huh?)

Accurately predicting the future is next-to-impossible but all the signs point towards improvement. Will it happen? Now that’s another story for another time.

Whatcha Whatcha Want, Louisville Real Estate Edition

So Whatcha Want

Posted the other day over on LHB that many (most?) home buyers these days are looking for real estate deals. And, new construction doesn’t fall into that category.

Today, I’ll talk about the other side of that coin.

Sometimes it makes sense for you to buy what you want. I can hear you know, “Really Mr. Bigshot real estate guy?!?”

Hear me out. What if you do pass on picking out that perfect floor plan, walking the lots and selecting the choice piece of land, browsing loads of flooring and other new home options and building your dream home? What do you get instead? Well, you get “almost right” or not quite perfect.

Will you be as satisfied? Most assuredly not.

Will you be financially better off? Probably, but what if you move sooner than you had planned because your Louisville real estate deal got old, quick?

Make sure you take the time to weigh the pros and cons of Louisville new construction with current homes on the market. Sure, only 49 new homes were built in Louisville last year but I bet if you asked those homeowners about their new home, they’d all agree that it was the right choice for them.

If you like someone to talk it over with, I’m happy to help. All you need to do is pay for my coffee.

Once Again HGTV Hangs Me Out to Dry

Bang for Your Buck logo
Curse you BFYB! What do I have to do for you to love me back?!?

Not sure what I have to do here people. I mean, c’ mon… I’ve applied on multiple times, never heard back. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Is it just that they have so many emails coming their way that they can’t respond? I’m a fan over here. I promote your shows for cryin’ out loud. Can’t a guy get even a little respect?

So then comes the brutal cut.

I see the following headline: Local Realtor on HGTV ‘Bang for Your Buck’ show.


Look, I’m happy for LaTonia (actually happy might not be the right word) but when are the good folks at HGTV going to reward my almost non-stop attention that I’m directing their way?

I’d rant some more but I need to send them some more emails…

We All Need New Customers

Photo of two girls talking

Do you need new customers? Of course, you do! So do I… and so does everyone else!

Where do new customers come from? There are only so many avenues. Off the top of my head, here is how new customers come to most professionals.

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print
  • Billboards/Signage
  • Web Advertising
  • Word of Mouth

Let’s play a game that Sesame Street made famous.

One of these things is not like the other
One of these things is not quite the same
Can you guess which one is not like the other
Can you tell me before I finish the game?

Obviously, the Word of Mouth referral path is different. It’s also the most valuable. Most everyone can agree that referrals are the most desirable way to get new clients. That’s why almost all of my fellow real estate agents put something like this in their email signatures: “A referral is your greatest compliment!”

So how do you gain more Word of Mouth referrals (besides doing your job quite well)? Networking!

I’m new to the world of networking but I’m learning that the power of networking is also the power to grow my business.

If you have any tips for me, please share and I’ll do my best to return the favor.

Have a great day!

Golden Post of Real Estate Links

Photo of Golden Coins
A virtual bounty of golden links can be found in the following post about Louisville real estate. Photo credit: Jeremy Schultz

When things get busy, I don’t always remember to post on this site like some of the others. My bad. But to make up for it, here are some real estate posts from Louisville Homes Blog recently:

Lots of great stuff in the works for 2011. Check back when you get the chance. Cheers!

Short Sales Can Make You Lose Your Mind

Surely, you don’t want to lose your mind. I know I don’t. But unfortunately, short sales are a big part of today’s real estate landscape. All you can do is be prepared and then hope for the best!

Just picture yourself in a small boat, out in the ocean, miles from land and no real means of communication. Then add an agitated partner in the boat with you. Also, that partner is looking to you to save them.

That’s what it’s like to be a Louisville Realtor® with a first-time home buyer in a short sale purchase situation. Our contract was accepted back in August. We’re scheduled to close Thursday.

Yes, that’s right… we’re talking 150+ days of waiting, changing, hoping, fixing, waiting some more, one closing rescheduled and here we are.

Will my client get a great deal? Yes.
Did I do everything humanly possible to help him? Yes.
Was it still an ordeal? Oh yeah.

Just so you know, it’s a wild ride. If you’re not an easy-going, go-with-the-flow kind of person, I’d say “steer clear of short sales.” There are better ways to lose your mind, trust me.

How Will 2011 Be Different?

It looks like there won’t be a major upswing in home buyers/sellers in the upcoming year. At least that’s what the experts are saying. So how can I improve upon this past year? And trust me, there definitely needs to be improvement. I’m still in the Top 20 but more is needed.

  1. version 3.0: You can never stop improving. In addition to all the new SEO best practices I’ve learned, I want to organize reorganize the overall site structure better for people using the main section, the Best Louisville Neighborhoods and all the related real estate content, like maps, photo databases, etc.

    The biggest thing will be the new and improved IDX. I’m actually interviewing Louisville Web programmers this week to help.
  2. Network Like a Monkey: I don’t know if monkeys network but if they don’t, they should… and me too! I don’t especially enjoy it because it feels forced but a weak market, I need to everything in my power to up my exposure and help those around me to do the same. I do like what’s going on at Insider Louisville.
  3. Increase Marketing: My marketing budget has been minimal because, well… I’ve been taking things cautiously. But I do believe that I need to increase marketing this year in targeted spots. WayFM sponsorship is continuing, along with SoI quarterly’s and monthly emails but am looking at a lead buy that might be positive.
  4. Additional Web Properties: I have a couple of concepts floating around in my head that will be fun to create and use for cross-linking. More importantly, they should be engaging to my target market. We’ll see…

What are your plans for improving yourself in 2011?

Giving Away My Commission for the Holidays

Hands holding money
Can you ever have enough money? Don’t be fooled. You’ll always want more.

The Christmas Holiday is, after all, the season of giving. Jesus came to Earth to give Himself up for us.

This year, we’re working hard to teach our kids about looking for people in need, then acting on it by giving them what you can.

So imagine my chagrin when after a recent closing I was told by my Broker that another agent says they deserve my commission. At first, I thought “No way, I did the work, I deserve it!”

Then I started to think about how the negative feelings and stress will put a damper on our Holidays. When a comprise was offered, it was pretty easy to go ahead and give back a portion of my pay even though I still believe it rightfully belonged to me.

That was when I remembered, Luke 6:30.

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

There will always be more money. How many opportunities do you have to so easily obey your heavenly Father?

Real Estate Pet Peeve

Ok, it’s pet peeve time. Feel free to chime in with your own. 1st Amendment baby!

So tell me… how many times has the following situation has played out for you.

My Own Real Estate Pet Peeve

You are looking for something on the Internet. You’ve hit the search engines, browsed Web site after Web site, finally locating just what you need then go to click on the Add to Cart/Checkout/Contact Us link or button only to be thwarted. Argh!

I constantly find this in real estate. Far too many agents are either fearful of email spam or are too lazy to deal with them appropriately that a very large number of them refuse to post their email address on their Web site.

Stop and think about this for a second.

The first and foremost action that a Realtor wants from someone visiting their Web site is for that person to contact them. Yet, they either hide that very piece of information on some far-away page or don’t publish it at all! Insanity!

Most Realtors will post their phone numbers because spam of that sort hasn’t grown to gargantuan proportions just yet, but with email, many agents simply won’t post it. But what if this visitor doesn’t like calling people on the phone and simply had a quick question that they were happy to send via email?

Listen, no one likes email spam but the alternative, especially in this real estate market, is far, FAR worse.

Make It Easy to Real Estate Leads to Contact You

So to that real estate agent who wonders why your Web site isn’t generating those leads you had been hoping for, here’s a tip.

Contacting you, whether by phone, email, text or post office should be the easiest thing anyone does on your Web site.

It’s not New Years yet, but that might make a great resolution. What do you think?

Do Your Know Where You Stand with Your Realtor?

Every industry has its share of insider knowledge, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. Louisville real estate is no different. As society grows ever more complex, expertise becomes more and more valuable.

Photo of a Realtor working with a first time home buyer
Why go it alone with you can have professional help with no cost?

For people selling their home, there are times when selling without a Realtor® may make sense. The seller pays both sides of the commission and that’s no small amount of money. So, a solid argument may be made for a homeowner selling their property without an agent.

(Please note, offering a cooperating commission, one side, is almost always a smart choice. Offering no commission to a buyer’s agent is a recipe for frustration, in my opinion.)

Now all of that refers to selling a home. Buying a home is a separate deal. People buying a home should always use a Realtor. On to the point of this post.

Who Is Your Realtor? How Do You Know?

One of the quirky things about real estate is that customers don’t always understand how the buying process works. They often think of Realtors as mere salespeople—like a clerk you might find at Macy’s or Best Buy.

Unless the reasoning behind the process is thoroughly explained to them, a buyer might call a Realtor friend from college on Monday with a question about financing. Then on Sunday, they might call the listing agent for a home they saw online.

Given enough time and the buyer might call a 3rd and 4th agent, not understanding how that affects their relationship which each of them who want to be their only agent.

What Makes You My Realtor?

Here’s the danger. If a Realtor is not secure in their relationship with the client, there’s a level of apprehension that doesn’t serve either party well. Realtors put in a great amount of time searching properties online, sending emails or texts, arranging showings, following up with feedback and a myriad of other tasks all with the goal of helping a client purchase a home.

Here’s the point, a Realtor only gets paid if a home is purchased.

Most good agents don’t mind helping a client over the course of several months, even years, as long as they know they will be the Realtor who gets to sell the property in the end.

Finding the Best Louisville Realtor for You

Buyers have the freedom to choose whomever they like to represent them. They can start with one agent and decide that person isn’t a good match or isn’t putting in the time needed to help the buyer find exactly what they want, and then move to another agent.

On the selling side, there is a Listing Agreement, which outlines the terms of that business transaction. But what do buyers have? It’s called a Buyer Agency Agreement. These are simple contracts that outline the responsibilities of both parties, the terms of the agreement and has space for both parties to sign.

The Benefits of a Buyer’s Agent Agreement

The plus for buyers is that they know what to expect from their Realtor. It’s right there in black and white. If the agent doesn’t produce, ending that arrangement is spelled out in the agreement.

For the Realtor, they can feel better knowing the buyer has committed to using their services so all the long nights, weekend showings and abundance of paperwork will produce positive results in the end, in the form of a paycheck.

It’s my opinion that the entire Louisville real estate market would run more smoothly if Buyer Agency Agreements were required. All parties would know better where they stood and misunderstandings would be far fewer.

If you have any questions about what type of information lives in a Buyer’s Agency Agreement, please comment below or feel free to contact us.