Compelling Reasons to Hire a Realtor

Investing in a property is a big decision. To ensure that you have made the right choice, you will need all the help you can get. This is where real estate agents come in. They help you find your dream home with the assurance that this significant investment of yours is something that you can really call a tangible asset.

Why you should enlist the aid of a realtor? Here are compelling reasons to do so:

Greater Property Options

You can get access to a lot of properties for sale in the market. If you run through newspaper or Web ads, you might see a few potential properties. This makes investing take longer than expected. But with the help of a realtor, you will have greater options. From price point to features and location, you can discover properties that meet your needs. It is a more efficient approach to finding the right property.

Customize Listings

Realtors will spare you from spending much time on searching. They have access to properties that matches your requirements. This means you have better chances of finding the very home of your dreams. Whether you need a starter home or a two-storey house, a home in an upcoming neighborhood, a home in the suburb, a home near parks and schools, etc., their customize listings is complete. All you need to do is talk to them about your preferences and choose among the homes for sale in their listings.

Property Market And Their Knowledge

In your decision making process, the knowledge of realtors is very crucial. Just because a property is within your budget doesn’t mean that you should already grab it. Reasonably priced spacious properties are tempting to buy but there are other deciding factors to consider aside from price.

Realtors can answer you about what makes a property a good purchase. They know the property market well and are experienced in dealing with property buying and selling. They would let you know if the home is a seemingly underpriced because it needs some hidden repairs that could put you in the hole. They can guide you to make a thorough assessment of the property you have in mind before finally making the deal.

Owning a property gives you some security of having a place to live in permanently. This move however requires some careful planning on your part. It is hardly accomplished without professional help. To make sure that the home you’re buying really is a good investment, think about hiring a realtor.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Don’t Turn Down Showings If You Are Serious About Selling Your Home

I am a real estate broker and I mainly work with higher end, serious clients. Recently my assistant called one agent four times trying to get an appointment on a particular home that is for sale. The morning phone calls went like this:

1. Today’s request DENIED because they want 24 hours notice (we called at 9 am for a 4 pm showing)

2. Tomorrow’s request DENIED because it must be after 5.

3. Tomorrow’s request DENIED because oops now it must be after 6. (Buyer only has a babysitter home till 6 pm)

4. Friday’s request for any time before 12 noon DENIED because seller must be home to care for the large dogs in the house.

I didn’t try a 5th time.

What does this say to a buyer? A seller (or seller’s agent) who denies four appointments in a row, when I have a ready, willing and able buyer in hand is just a fool.

The best thing you can do when your house is on the market is make it READY TO SHOW. Keep it clean and neat to the best of your ability at all times, and don’t turn down showings.

This seller lost out today. The buyer was discouraged that we could not get in. In fact, the image the seller (or agent) conveyed is that this house is hard to show, and so imagine how hard it will be if the buyer LIKES it and wants to make an offer? If the seller is this difficult on scheduling showings, how difficult will he/she be in negotiating and handling the deal?

Food for thought.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Lease-Option and Rent-To-Own Properties – 11 Ways to Find Them When They’re Not on the MLS

Lease-options (also known as rent-to-own, and similar to lease-purchases or land contracts) are a good way to find properties to buy when you can’t buy traditionally. Perhaps you have poor credit, or no down payment. Or maybe you’re not sure about a new neighborhood, and want to rent before buying. The problem is: Lease-options can be difficult to find. Many aren’t listed as „lease-options“ on the MLS („Multiple Listing Service“–the real estate databases used by Realtors), and others are not on the MLS at all. Here are some little-known ways to find a lease-option when they are not listed on the MLS.

But, first, the fundamentals:

A lease option combines a lease for a piece of property and an option to buy the property at some point in the future. There’s no one „standard“ lease. But the lease can be typical for your area. (The secret to this technique lies in the option.) The lease says that the tenant has the right to occupy the property for 12 (or 24, or whatever you choose) months, paying rent of $x a month. It contains the same basic provisions as any lease: keep the property clean, no illegal activities, pay rent on time, etc. There isn’t anything unusual about the lease.

The magic is in the option. The option gives the tenant-buyer (the renter who may become the owner) the right to purchase the property for a specific amount in a specific time frame so long as he obeys the terms of the lease.

So those are the fundamentals. The problem is: How do you find them? If you go to a Realtor, he/she isn’t going to find many–if any–on the MLS. But don’t let that stop you. There are many, many of them out there. You just need to know where to look.

Non-MLS Rentals

Many rental properties-single-family homes, townhouses, and condos-are rented out directly by the property’s owner. Remember, as we pointed out above, that many owners are „reluctant landlords.“ All the points made above apply to non-listed rent-als. In addition, these owners are facing the hassle of dealing with calls from many „tire kickers“ and less-than-serious callers. So, many get frustrated pretty quickly.

And the person seeking a lease-option has another advantage: The ability to speak directly to the owner. Now, technically, even if a property is listed with an agent, you can speak directly to the owner. But the owner has decided to use a real estate agent, in part, to avoid all that hassle. It’s poor form, and usually not a good idea, to try negotiating directly with a seller when that seller is represented by a real estate agent. In the case of non-listed rentals, there is no such buffer. You can call and, in most cases, speak directly with the owner.

There can be another advantage, too: Not having to deal with a real estate agent who doesn’t understand lease-options, doesn’t „believe in them,“ or thinks that he or she is protecting the owners‘ interest by not accurately presenting your offer to the owners.

You can find these properties in the classified ad sections of newspapers. You can also find them on online services such as Craigslist. And you can find them by looking at bulletin boards at your local supermarket or other locations. And if you can’t find enough by looking, then place your own ads in the newspaper, on Craigslist, and on bulletin boards.

Here are some clues to properties that might work out as lease-options:

For Sale by Owner (FSBOs) Properties

These are properties that the owners are trying to sell themselves. People often try to sell properties themselves for two reasons: In a seller’s market–when there’s more demand than supply–FSBOs figure that the house will pretty much sell regardless of who the agent is, how much marketing is used, or even the price of the house. So why, FSBOs wonder, should they pay an agent 4%, 5%, 6%, or even more when all it’ll take is a „For Sale“ sign. In a seller’s market, it’s very difficult to find lease-option properties, especially among FSBOs.

The picture changes sharply in a buyer’s market-when there’s more supply than demand. In a slow market, some sellers think they can’t afford to pay an agent’s commission. They think that they’ll end up with more money in their pockets if they sell the home themselves. They’re often wrong, but that’s their strategy.

One other thing to keep in mind about FSBOs: The asking price of their house is far more likely to be too high than too low, or even properly priced. In part, they don’t have access to all the tools a real estate agent does. In part, they’re emotionally attached to their homes.

Sometimes, they had an appraisal on their property for one purpose, such as a refinance or home equity line of credit (in which cases, the appraisals tend to be on the high side), and they think that the appraisal was an accurate reflection of the value upon resale. It isn’t. And sometimes they’ve used one of the many online services, such as Zillow, to price their homes. Those services sometimes are reasonably accurate. Often, they’re not.

So, in any market, hot or cold, FSBOs are likely to be overpriced. And in a slow market, that means most will sit there and just not sell. That’s why you, the buyer, should have a real estate agent on your „Dream Team“ even if you’re planning on finding the property yourself. Your agent can quickly tell you whether the price being asked by the seller is reasonable.

When dealing with a FSBO, a lease-option buyer can offer closer to what the FSBO actually wants. The catch, of course, is that the sale will occur a year or more into the future, not today. If the FSBO needs all of his equity out of the property, this strategy won’t work. But if the FSBO can wait a year or two, there are golden opportunities for the lease-option buyer. The tenant-buyer explains to the FSBO that he can pay what the FSBO is asking (or close to what the FSBO is asking). Just not right away. It’s the same basic strategy that’s used above, for listed homes for sale. But now you can make your case directly to the seller.

Owner-Advertised Lease-Options

Sometimes owners will advertise lease-options. They understand the benefits of lease options to them-immediate cash flow, often at higher-than-market rent, plus a good opportunity to sell their homes-and decide to try it themselves. You can find these anywhere owners advertise-local newspapers, bulletin boards, Craigslist, and so on. In structured formats, such as newspapers and Craigslist, look under both properties for rent and properties for sale.

Owner-Advertised: Other Delayed Purchases

Be sure your agent also searches using other terms that describe similar structures. These terms include „lease-purchase,“ „rent-to-own,“ „rent-to-buy,“ „land contract,“ and „contract for deed.“ In each case, the owner is signaling that he or she wants to sell, but is willing to wait for the sale occurs. Some of these techniques, and some of these terms, are more often used in certain areas of the country than others. So search for them all.

Owner Financing

Search for properties on which the owner is willing to hold financing. This means the owner is willing to act as the bank. He doesn’t need all the money at closing. He’s willing to take payments over time while the tenant is living in the home. And many owners don’t have the lending criteria as strict or inflexible as the big banks.

But don’t stop there. Remember: A lease-option couples a lease with an option to purchase. So look for owners who are trying to rent their properties but are open to selling, or for owners who are trying to sell, but are open to renting.

Properties for Rent and for Sale

The first step is to find properties both for rent and sale. Even if they’re not listed as „lease-options,“ owners are willing to lease and sell. All you’re asking is that they lease now and sell later.

Former „For Sale“ Properties Now Listed for Rent

These might be properties that had been listed with a real estate agent, or properties that the owner was trying to sell himself. It doesn’t matter. But the house didn’t sell, and now it’s up for rent. These are properties that the owners really would like to sell. But they weren’t able to, so they’re will-ing to rent. Again, you’re offering a solution to their problem. You’re willing to rent now, and may be willing to buy later.

Former Rentals Now for Sale

Along the same lines, look for properties that first were listed as rentals, but now are listed for sale. There probably will be fewer of these than those first for sale, now for rent, but it never hurts to look. These, too, are properties that the owner is both willing to rent and to sell.

Thus far, we’ve identified properties that we know the owners have been willing to both rent and sell. Now we’ll move on to owners who might be willing to both rent and to sell.

Vacant Houses for Sale

Start with owners who are trying to sell, and whose house is vacant. These owners may have bought a new home, but haven’t yet sold the old one. They’re paying two mortgages-usually an uncomfortable situation. You can help out by providing a quick revenue stream–your rent payments–while offering the possibility of a sale in the future. If you’re able to, target the properties that have been on the market the longest.

Rentals

You’ll find more prospects among owners who are renting out their homes. It may be their former primary residence, and they’ve moved on to a new home. Or it may be a property they’ve held as an investment property for awhile. It’s important to remember that many owners are „reluctant landlords.“ It wasn’t their original intent to rent out their property. They don’t particularly enjoy the whole rental process, and they don’t like the hassle of dealing with tenants. But somehow they’ve become landlords and they’re trying to make the best of it.

For these owners, the solution you’re offering is the immediate gratification of a rental, and the longer term possibility of a sale. It may help if the property is vacant, but even reluctant landlords whose tenants have given proper notice, and haven’t moved out, may be eager to end their landlording hassles.

Investors

Some investors put together lease-options, then market the lease-options to tenant-buyer with a markup. These are called „sandwich lease-options“ because the structure resembles a sandwich: An owner on one side (one slice of bread in the „sandwich“) lease-optioning the property to an investor; the investor in the middle (the meat in the sandwich), and the tenant-buyer on the other side (the other slice of bread in the „sandwich“).

So those are many of the ways you can find a lease-option or rent-to-own home even when the property may not be listed on the multiple listing service. And the point worth repeating is: Some homes will be „advertised“ as a lease-option. Many won’t be. You’ll reduce or eliminate your competition by looking where others aren’t looking.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

History of Real Estate Agency Relationships

In the beginning, real estate brokers were known as middlemen and optioneers. Back then, the customary practice was for a middleman to know about a property for sale, but to keep it secret from other middlemen. It was difficult for these middleman to collect a fee for their services so they would resort to tactics that were not always in their seller’s best interest. Optioneers, on the other hand, were usually more successful in collecting their fees because they would tie up the seller’s property on an option to purchase, sell the property to a buyer at a price over the option amount, pay the seller the option price, and then pocket the rest.

The early real estate brokerage business was loosely organized and used methods of brokering that were often dishonest, subject to fraud, and that took advantage of sellers and buyers. Eventually, a newer concept with the real estate broker being an agent of and owing a fiduciary duty to the seller and receiving payment for his services was developed. This new concept forced the seller and broker relationship to a higher level of service and duty. It also allowed brokers to list property for sale using contracts. These contracts are what we now refer to listings. The earlier forms of listings we called open listings. The open listing is a type of non exclusive listing contract authorizing a real estate broker to offer a property for sale, find a buyer and get paid for services upon the closing of that transaction.

Other brokers could also have open listings for the same property, but only the broker who actually found the buyer would receive a commission. In addition, no broker would get paid a fee if the seller sold the property. The open listing discouraged cooperation between brokers, since each broker could obtain their own open listing. To solve the open listing problem, the exclusive agency listing became popular.

The exclusive agency listing is a type of listing contract wherein the seller offers only the listing brokerage compensation if the buyer is procured through the brokerage’s efforts or the efforts of other real estate brokerages. This means that in certain situations, such as For Sale by Owner, the listing brokerage may not receive compensation when the property is sold. In the exclusive agency listing, the listing brokerage or another brokerage working with the listing brokerage must procure the buyer in order to have a claim on compensation.

The exclusive agency listing encourages competing brokers to find buyers for listing, since the listing brokerage pays the selling brokerage’s fee. However, the seller still does not pay a fee when a seller finds the buyer. The exclusive agency listing eventually gave rise to the exclusive right to sell listing.

The exclusive right-to-sell agreement, the listing brokerage is offered compensation in the event of a sale regardless of who procured the buyer. The exclusive right to sell listing guarantees that the listing broker will get paid a fee, even if a competing broker or the seller sells property. It provides the most protection for the listing broker and is considered in the best interest of the seller because the listing brokerage will put effort and resources into marketing the property, since a commission is guaranteed during the term of the agreement.

Even after the exclusive right to sell listing became popular, there was little cooperation between brokerages, since a buyer who wanted to buy a specific property would have to deal with the broker who had exclusive listings of interest. It was also quite clear to all parties in that the broker represented the seller and that the buyer had no representation.

By the 1950s there was pressure for more cooperation between brokerages. As a result, a broker working with a buyer would contact competing brokerages to to learn of their inventory and possible matches for their clients. Deals often resulted where the selling agent did not know the seller or their agent and the selling agent’s only dealings were with the buyer. Suddenly, the concept that the selling brokerage owed its fiduciary duty to only the seller was no longer a neat and logical concept. However, it would take many years before the unworkable agency concepts would be sorted out and lead to buyer representation.

As the 1950s and 1960s progressed, a more formalized cooperative brokerage system, known as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), was developed. Through the MLS, the concept of subagency evolved. Simply stated, this meant the listing broker was the agent of and represented only the seller. The listing brokerage would hire sales associates who were considered subagents of the seller. The listing MLS brokerage was required to make the listing available to all cooperating brokerage within their MLS. These cooperating brokerages were also deemed subagents of the listing brokerage, who were agents of the seller. If the cooperating brokerage had sales associates, they were subagents of the cooperating brokerage, who were subagents of the listing brokerage, who was the agent of the seller. During this period, an agency relationship with a buyer was not possible, since the agency relationship was always with the seller. The only duty a licensee owed to a buyer was to not lie when asked questions about a property. The concept of „buyer beware“ was truly the reality of how the brokerage business operated and buyers were always unrepresented.

The rise of consumerism, as manifested in numerous court decisions, put pressure on the brokerage business to be more concerned with the interests of the buyer. Because of that, licensees working with buyers had an affirmative duty to disclose known matters affecting a property. For example, if the broker knew that a roof leaked, he would have to disclose this fact. This disclosure concept was later expanded by the courts to include conditions about the property that the brokers should or could have known.

By the 1980s, a government study found that nearly three-quarters of all buyers thought the brokerage they were working with was representing them as a client. The same study concluded that nearly three-quarters of all sellers also thought that the cooperating brokerage represented the buyer’s interests. It soon became obvious the concepts of agency law that the industry and governmental regulators had attempted to impose in order to simplify and clarify the agency relationships had not worked. Continued pressure from consumer groups and the courts finally led to the buyer representation movement of the 1990s.

In 1991, the National Association of REALTORS® formed an advisory group to study agency representation issues. Testimony was received from real estate practitioners, industry experts, the public, and state regulatory authorities. The advisory group’s report made the following recommendations:

  • The NAR’s multiple listing policy should be modified to make subagency offers optional. If subagency was not accepted by a cooperating brokerage, then the listing brokerage was to offer compensation to the brokerage representing the buyer.
  • The NAR would encourage state associations to promote changes in real estate law and regulations in order to promote disclosure of agency options. These options would include seller agency, buyer agency, and disclosed dual agency. The purpose of this recommendation was to assist consumers in making informed decisions regarding representation.
  • The NAR should encourage real estate brokerages to adopt written company policies addressing the handling of agency relationships with its clients and customers.
  • The NAR would encourage education of all members on the topic of agency representation. State regulatory agencies would also be encouraged to include agency as a mandatory topic in continuing education requirements for all licensees.

As of 1992, the National Association of REALTORS® adopted the following policy:

„The National Association of REALTORS® recognizes seller agency, buyer agency and disclosed dual agency with informed consent as appropriate forms of consumer representation in real estate transactions. The association respects the need for all REALTORS® to be able to make individual business decisions about their companies‘ agency practices. Furthermore, NAR endorses freedom of choice and informed consent for consumers or real estate services when creating agency relationships with real estate licensee.“

These NAR changes to representation policy modified the way the industry practices. Exclusive Right to Represent buyer agreements now allow a buyer to contract with a brokerage to find, and negotiate, the purchase of real property. Generally, these agreements are for a specified period and require the buyer to pay a commission upon the closing of the real property transaction. As an agent of the buyer, the buyer’s brokerage owes all of the fiduciary duties (care, loyalty, disclosure, obedience, and accounting) to his principal, the buyer.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Selling a House – An Owner’s Guide

In order for an owner to sell his or her house, it is necessary to do the requisite homework if they want to save on the money that otherwise has to be paid to their real estate broker and also if they want to sell the property soon. While traveling by road, people come across boards saying ‚For Sale by Owner (FSBO)‘ before many houses. These boards mean the concerned house has been put up for sale by its owner without the engagement of any broker in the middle. The two prime advantages of deciding to sell a house without the help of any real agent is money that otherwise had to be paid as commission is saved and the house can also be quickly sold with the owner’s efforts. However, there are several reasons behind owners being unable to sell homes at proper prices and in less time. The article deals with how to effectively do the job.

Preparing the House

Before selling a house, the first thing the owner needs to do is ensure that the house is ready for the market. It is wise to take professional help in accurately assessing the condition of the house and deciding on steps for adjustments, renovations or repairs to remedy the situation. The essential home improvements and adjustments must also be carried out. To increase the home’s worth; it should be made to look beautiful.

Determining the Accurate Market Value

The asking price for the house on sale is to be decided upon. In order to get a house sold at the highest possible price, the current value of the house and real estate trends in the neighborhood need to be determined. The price should be kept within reasonable limits in order to appeal to customers.

Advertising

After fixing the selling price of the house, the real task of marketing has to be undertaken. An FSBO (For Sale By Owner) must immediately put up before the property concerned for this is the ultimate marketing strategy which will get the house to be noticed by passers by. essential information like the owner’s phone number, area inside the house, number of bed rooms, etc must be mentioned on the board. Advertising in newspapers and on the internet is also effective in generating results.

Inspection of the House by Potential Buyers

Potential buyers must make an appointment with the owner before coming to see the house. A pre-scheduled appointment gives the seller substantial time to make preparations.

Formalities and Paperwork

For an owner, selling the house by himself or herself also means getting all the paper work done. Once a deal has been made with the customer regarding the price, the paperwork and legal formalities roll in. to get them all done properly an experienced lawyer’s help must be enlisted.

These were some information for owner’s about how to sell their property by themselves. Following these advices will certainly increase their chances of selling their house at a good price and also save a lot on the fees for the agents.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

10 Mistakes Home Sellers Can Avoid in Los Angeles

Ready to sell your house in Los Angeles? You will likely have many decisions to make along the way. Learn more about mistakes home sellers can avoid before selling their house in Los Angeles!

There are many things to consider when selling your house. Sellers often make the same mistakes, but there are ways to avoid them. The first step is knowing what they are!

#1 – Not Exploring Options

You don’t have to list your house in Los Angeles in order to sell it. You can choose to sell it yourself either on the market to traditional buyers or directly to an investor or professional property buyer. What works for one property seller may not work for you. Before you call an agent, take a look at what is available to you! Exploring options will ensure you get the optimal result.

#2 – Pricing It Incorrectly

If you choose to list your house, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is pricing it too high out of the gate. Many sellers have an over-inflated price in their head, trying to get as much as possible, without considering what will be a realistic price to sell for. Some agents will advise you to list high so they can convince you to sign with them, while they take a shot at scoring a higher commission.

#3 – Not Clearing Out Your Personal Items

Imagine if it were you viewing a property. You wouldn’t want to see someone’s vitamins on the table, family photos everywhere or their stack of mail on the counter. Seeing personal items strewn about can make people feel very uncomfortable. They need to be able to imagine themselves in the house, not feel as if they are intruding on someone’s space. Many people will pack up everything but the necessities and put it all in storage until the house has sold.

#4 – Not Considering All Costs

If you decide to list your Los Angles house, there are all sorts of costs to consider. Not only are there agent commissions, but also agent fees, administrative costs, marketing costs, listing fees, closing costs and more.

#5 – Not Making The Needed Repairs

Not doing some things up front will cost you down the road. Once your buyer does an inspection, they will often ask for a number of things to be fixed. You might be blindsided by the number of repairs your house needs. Some sellers choose to have their own inspection done before listing so they have an idea of what they are in for. Taking care of the problems up front will save you time and money down the road.

#6 – Not Disclosing Items Upfront

These items will come back to bite you. Either in the inspection or when the new owner sues you. By law, you have to disclose what you know about the property.

#7 – Not Putting Away Pet & Kid Stuff

While kids and pets are wonderful, not everyone has them. Some people will feel a little uncomfortable if there are chew toys on the couch or legos all over the floor. Remember, the experience is about them. Make the areas feel neutral but welcoming.

#8 – Not Putting Personal Feelings Aside

This is business. If someone comes to view your house and you hear them say they want to pull out the garden to add a deck, don’t get too hung up on it if they plan on paying you the price you want. While you might feel a little sad, this is business, and missing out on a qualified buyer because of something petty can be a huge mistake.

#9 – Hiring A Bad Agent

It can be easy to hire the wrong agent. Some are full of charm and are great at sales. This is great when they are trying to sell your house, but they also use this charm to get you to sign with them. Make sure they aren’t making false promises or are only worried about their commission. You can look at reviews, but it is best to hear first-hand experience from people you know and trust. You simply aren’t going to click with everyone either. You might find the top agent in town can be incredibly stressful to work with.

#10 – Not Having a Game Plan

Selling your home can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t need to be. Having a game plan will help you get through the process unscathed. Generally speaking, if your property is in very good shape and you can wait months to sell, listing with a realtor is the best plan. If, on the other hand, your property is distressed and you need to sell quickly, selling to an investor or professional home buyer is usually the best option.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

How To Sell Your Home For Top Dollar – Part 2

Get Exposure

If you want to get top dollar from the sale of your home, you are going to need to make sure that your home gets plenty of exposure. The more exposure your home gets, the more people will see it and be interested in viewing it. The more people that are interested in your home, the more offers you are likely to get on your home. You can use flyers, brochures, and even internet marketing to help get the word out about the sale of your home. Even if it does cost you a little money to get exposure, it will definitely help you get a better offer and final price on the sale of your home.

Choose a Fair Price

Yes, you want to get top dollar from the sale of your home, but you want to price it fairly, as well. If you ask a price that is too high, there is a chance that no one will be interested, and a price that is too low will not help you make the money you need to on your home. Asking a reasonable price can attract many buyers and help you get a great deal when you sell your home.

Hire a Great Agent

A great real estate agent is a must if you want to get top dollar from the sale of your home. Check into the agents reputation and make sure that they are truly licensed to sell real estate. Having a bad agent can not only decrease your chances of getting a good offer for your home, but it may actually decrease your chances of selling your home at all. Make sure that the realtor has a great plan to sell your home and that they are personable and a good negotiator as well. You want to pick an agent that is going to work to get you the best price possible on the sale of your home.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Realtor Lockboxes Explained: A Summary of Lockbox Options and Alternatives for Real Estate Agents

Real estate professionals today have a plethora of high tech options out there to enhance their business, but rarely do we fully consider the value of the lockbox – the sole piece of equipment responsible for allowing agents to show the homes that we sell everyday. The lockbox itself has evolved over time, and today agents find themselves comparing the value from a standard combination lockbox to that of a more high-tech electronic lockbox. Real estate agents today are pressed from all sides for fees, dues, and expenditures that are unavoidable costs of doing business, so when it comes to making a decision between a combination lockbox that’s just a few bucks versus a high-tech electronic lockbox that is substantially more expensive, does the increase in cost justify the value? Also, what are all the options out there for electronic lockboxes? This article highlights the findings of current industry options available.

Having the ability to show a home without the sellers there to watch your every move was a move in the right direction for the real estate industry. Agents know very well the situation where a seller will remain in a home during a showing and „pretend“ like they are minding their own business while the buyers tip-toe through the home trying not to impose while attempting to get a sense of what the home was like.

This is a wild departure from the typical showing when the sellers aren’t there; clients love to snoop around in order to get a good sense of the home. With the sellers not there, the buyers get a good opportunity to get a true sense of how that particular home would feel and if they can see themselves living there. Put simply, it allows for a better, more convenient showing experience.

From this dilemma the lockbox was invented. A device securing the key for entry by licensed real estate agents to show their prospective buyers, and it allowed sellers (or their agents) the opportunity to have the home shown without the need of their presence. It saved time, and allowed for a better showing experience. Truly, it was a win-win.

However, early lockboxes were simply a combination lockbox. They are certainly inexpensive, but an obvious downside was the lack of security for the home in question once the lockbox code was known. Sellers would rely on the professional ethics of real estate agents to keep the code confidential, but sometimes the code would slip into hands of non-agents. Less frequently, the code would be found by people with malicious intent.

With the obvious shortfall of relying on the honor system to keep lockbox codes confidential, it offered the opportunity for a better solution that would allow for accountability along with the ability to show a home without the seller being present. As a result, it did not take long for „smart“ lockboxes using electronic technology to come into existence, thus revolutionizing the process of showing a home. Before a seller and their agent wouldn’t really know who was showing the property other than the confirmed appointments that were made. Flash forward to today, and you have the ability to know exactly who and exactly when someone shows a property through the use of an electronic lockbox. With these smart electronic lockboxes, only an agent or other authorized party can access the lockbox itself, further emboldening the assurance to a seller that only licensed agents and properly authorized individuals are showing or entering their home.

Today there are 2 main companies that provide these smart electronic lockboxes to real estate agency associations. They are Supra key and Sentrilock. Together they comprise the majority of the lockbox industry market; nobody else comes close.

Supra (or SupraKey) is owned by general electric and provides lockbox solutions to all sorts of niche industries, real estate lockboxes being one of them. Bill Love, national account manager for Supra, says that out of a given state or region in the country, Supra, on average, maintains an 80% market share. Supra has sold several million lockboxes throughout the years to real estate agents, and currently Love estimates that there are 1.5 million+ Supra lockboxes currently in use by about 750,000 real estate agents throughout the country.

The supra key itself features a cylindrical design up to the „shackle“ (the loop part of the lockbox that will noose around something and keep it in its place securely) where the shackle fits in seamlessly. Its simplistic design is pleasing to the eye, and to activate the lockbox, an agent has a „digital key“ that’s about the size of a small flip phone and has a number pad and screen on it. The agent sets the key to open a box and points it in the direction of an infrared sensor on the box itself. When the lockbox recognizes that it being accessed by the remote digital key, it will release to allow access and the bottom of the lockbox will fall out when it’s pushed by the agent, and voilà, the key to the home is available for the agent to take and open the door for the showing.

Love says that Supra has plans for upgrades to the current model lockbox that will include the ability for wireless Bluetooth access and syncing. Also, rather than having the digital key, if the agent has a smartphone, Supra offers an app for access with the phone instead, which makes it easier and more convenient, for a monthly fee. Love claims that the key difference with a Supra Lockbox is that „it keeps intelligence in the hands of the user.“ Rather than having to rely on extra equipment or other trades people, the user has the control. Supra has had the current model for several years now with incremental software updates along the way. If an agent wants to buy a new Supra lockbox, it costs around $90, but the actual price that an agent will pay is determined by the association that they belong to.

Sentrilock is the other major player in the real estate lockbox industry. Sentrilock, which is based out of Indiana and is partially owned by the National Association of Realtors has been around for less than a decade and currently services about 250 of the 1000+ Realtor associations throughout the country and Canada as well. These associations comprise about 250,000 agents and approximately 500,000 lockboxes in current use. Sentrilock has 2 main models that are currently used; one is a silver lockbox that resembles a cell phone from the late 1980’s, bulky and heavy and somewhat longer in size than the supra lockbox. It has a key pad directly on the front of the lockbox itself, and holds the key within a drop-down door that pops open when accessed.

The other lockbox they offer is a smaller, more compact blue lockbox that is more cube-ish in shape but with the similar functionality features. The main difference between the silver and blue lockbox is that the blue lockbox allows for more space within the lockbox itself (which is important for people trying to sell a condo and who need to include an „access fob“ in addition to the key to the front door of the unit itself – there just isn’t enough room for multiple keys or when including the access fob with Sentrilocks‘ silver lockbox). Sentrilock sells their lockboxes for about $125 a piece, but this also depends on where you are getting it from, as the actual retail price is determined by the local real estate association that sells the boxes.

Both lockbox companies offer substantial warranties on the product themselves. They also have a support team that is almost always available in the event there is difficulty in accessing a lockbox, or for troubleshooting purposes. Both companies offer a comprehensive online tool that can provide the analytics from the showings and use of a specific lockbox which agents can use to share with their clients.

Some of the main differences between these two are how the lockbox itself is accessed. Sentrilock doesn’t need an extra piece of equipment to open a box. Rather, they utilize a „Smart-Card“ which is essentially a credit-card that fits into the lockbox and has a chip inside it that shares your information with the lockbox you are accessing. This card is all you need to access the lockbox, whereas Supra requires the digital key, although they have addressed this by means of offering the smart-phone app so an agent can use their phone in place of the digital key. Both systems require updating; in other words, the smart card for the sentrilock system requires you to stick your card in a „card reader“ that you get when you buy your smart-card that hooks into your computer. Every few days (the exact amount of days is determined by your local Realtor association) you must update the card through the card reader, which will allow you to show property, and at the same time uploads the information of the places you have shown to the Sentrilock system, which in turn is then able to be seen by the agents who owned the lockboxes of the places that you accessed. In a pinch you can update your card over the phone, but you can only do this once or twice.

On the other hand, supra keys update wirelessly. They didn’t always do this, where you were required to keep your „digital key“ docked on a charging station that was hooked up to a phone line. You had to do this every day and that’s how the system would both update your card as well as share your showing information to the system. The wireless updating feature has been in place for a year or two now, and takes the headache out of the equation of having you update your key each and every day.

The back end system for Sentrilock allows an agent to create specific access codes for one-time access of a specific lockbox. This makes it really convenient for a contractor, appraiser, termite inspector, etc. to be able to access a property with a code, but only one time because that code will expire after the day the code was intended to be used. This is a great feature that Supra doesn’t have an answer to.

Although there are benefits to both systems, any agent can’t simply choose which lockbox system they want to use – this is decided, agreed to and contractually obligated between either Sentrilock or Supra and an agent’s local real estate association. These associations, once they have agreed on a system to use can then „tweak“ the system to their discretion and preference. Things like the cost of a lockbox, whether the lockbox is leased or sold to agents, the amount of times an agent can renew their key by phone, the amount of days that can elapse before an update of an access key is required, these and more options can be tweaked and most real estate professionals are unaware that other options or preferences exist.

When comparing the benefits over your standard combination lockbox, an agent must be able to justify the added cost of a smart-electronic lockbox by the value it provides. It’s easy to do so, especially when taking the seller’s best interests at heart, as the smart lockbox will ensure accountability and a better safety and security measure for the showing process and for the home itself. Its analytics information and the ability to control who can actually gain access to the home are tantamount to successfully being able to gauge the interest in a home by means of how many people are interested in seeing it as well as being able to rest assure the seller that a home is being shown but in the most secure manner possible.

During this most recent downturn in the economy, most real estate markets throughout the country were inundated (and some still are) with foreclosure property. Certain real estate brokerages that specialized in this type of distressed property had the best years of production on record for the 2008 and 2009 years. All of these properties that needed to be shown and sold needed lockboxes, but the value provided by a smart lockbox through Sentrilock or Supra didn’t justify the cost to acquire, as distressed-property brokerages had inventories of 50, 100, 200 or 300 properties at a given time. The smart lockboxes were too expensive, especially when taking into account that the home in question was owned by the bank, it was vacant and the analytics of showings didn’t matter when a given foreclosure property is selling in no time at all with multiple offers. If an agent is carrying even 50 listings with a smart lockbox, it entails $5000 worth of lockboxes needed on all the properties he/she has for sale. At this point, a less expensive combination lockbox from Lowes for $7 looks way better and the total outlay for the lockboxes is substantially less. It’s a combination of utility value and overall price paid from the standpoint of the real estate professional, so it begs the question, why are the smart lockboxes so expensive?

Put simply, the market will bear the current price point of both the Supra and Sentrilock lockboxes because the value they provide are well worth the cost. That being said, certain companies have come into existence that are poised to take advantage of the amount of agents that want to sell their used lockboxes as well as the agents out there who don’t want to pay retail for the lockbox(es) they need for their business. Blake Nolan, co-owner of San Diego based LockboxSwap has created a website where a secondary market has been created and regulated for both the Sentrilock and Supra lockbox systems. Nolan says his company can help agents buy or sell their lockboxes and in the process save time and money. „Right now there is no real place online that offers what we offer“ Nolan Says. He continues that „if you call into (any association) and ask about used lockboxes, or where to sell your own lockboxes, they say to go try craigslist or Ebay. We created LockboxSwap to address this vast and untapped market opportunity.“

Nolan’s‘ LockboxSwap company plans to unveil the business this summer, and preliminary beta-test users have offered rave reviews.

In the world of Realtor lockboxes, smart-lockboxes are preferred because the overall value inherent in being able to secure a home, controlling the use of entry and having analytical accountability far outweighs the alternative of your standard combination lockbox (or no lockbox at all) Although the 2 main players in the Realtor lockbox arena have 2 excellent products, both fall short of being 100% perfect. They both do some things quite well and have the capabilities that the other does not. It would be great to be able to merge both products and concepts together, but since that is not possible, it’s up to each individual Realtor association to interview and determine which company is a better „fit“ for them. At the end of the day, the 2 companies and respective products, although imperfect, represent competition between one another which keeps productivity and innovation high while keeping prices in check. Companies like that of LockboxSwap help to do this further by inventing and establishing the precedent for an industry that hereto has yet to exist, but has the ability to offer a cost-efficient alternative to Realtor professionals when it comes to their lockbox needs.

No matter what, it’s obvious the industry is moving in the right direction; we are witnessing technological advancements that help to serve Realtor professionals do their job better and more efficiently, and it is interesting to see what will be the norm in the near future as well as the long term. For now, Realtor professionals should be confident in knowing that while it’s great where we stand today, the future is only getting brighter.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Is Selling Your Own Home Right For You?

In this DIY (Do It Yourself) age, it is no surprise that many consider selling their home on their own when they are ready for a move. There can be some great benefits – lower cost; more control; a chance to „test the waters“ – but there are many pitfalls too. In the US, For Sale By Owner („FSBO“) transactions accounted for 10% of home sales in 2011 but sold for considerably less (up to 25%) on average than agent-assisted home sales. [1]Other than the possibility of a lower selling price, consider the following if you are thinking about listing your home on your own:

Time and effort involved

Roll up your sleeves and prepare to spend significant time preparing your home, researching the market, developing sales strategies and marketing materials, answering calls, showing your home, and eventually managing negotiations and paperwork. Realtors have well developed tools at hand and typically have a team of resources to count on, including front office staff that may be available 24 hours a day. It all looks easy, but the work is surprisingly detailed and complex and mistakes can be expensive.

Pricing it right

Pricing correctly can be a challenge for anyone, but when you are emotionally attached to a property, it can be even more so. Too low and buyers may be suspicious; too high and your property will sit while others around you sell. Realtors rely on current and historic market data along with industry and marketing experience to help establish the right price for a motivated seller. The right price for a well-staged home can have a significant effect on attracting a high number of qualified buyers; and that leads to a sale.

Legal and financial implications

How much should you disclose about that leak or buried wiring? What about the well and septic system? The insight and paperwork involved in putting together a secure and binding sale agreement that protects both parties is considerable. Professional Realtors, their Associations, and their Brokers have the training and experience required to identify potential issues along with developed contract language to help ensure your interests are secure. Major problems that are not visible and remain undisclosed can lead to litigation and other costly consequences. Missing clauses in a contract can have the same costly effect.

Needless to say, there are many FSBO success stories, however, we have all seen FSBO signs that linger on a front yard for what seems like months before being replaced by a Realtor’s sign. If you have time on your hands and want to „test“ the market, a FSBO strategy may work for you. But if you are a motivated seller with a deadline and top dollar in mind, then perhaps a Realtor is your best bet. I have worked with more than one FSBO client who was exasperated with the process – „… never again!“

[1] National Association of Realtors, 2011

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Durch die weitere Nutzung der Seite stimmst du der Verwendung von Cookies zu. Wenn Sie nach unten scrollen, gilt dies auch als Zustimmung. Weitere Informationen

Die Cookie-Einstellungen auf dieser Website sind auf \"Cookies zulassen\" eingestellt, um das beste Surferlebnis zu ermöglichen. Wenn du diese Website ohne Änderung der Cookie-Einstellungen verwendest oder auf \"Akzeptieren\" klickst, erklärst du sich damit einverstanden.

Schließen