Clients say the darndest things! If you haven’t had your fill of comical questions from customers, you’ll get it by paging through this light-hearted book by syndicated real estate columnist Edith Lank. The book is a compilation of hundreds of letters from inquisitive readers. Questions come from consumers who are hungry for more information on all sorts of buying and selling issues, from the particulars of burying a St. Joseph statue in the yard to resolving family dramas. Even Lank is sometimes left speechless.
FROM THE BOOK: 7 QUESTIONS THAT MAKE YOU WONDER
These are some of the actual questions Lank has received from her readers and are included in her book I’ve Heard It All and So Should You (Dearborn Financial Publishing, 2007):
1. I would appreciate any information on Fanny Mae about buying homes and property. Also if she has any books out.
2. Stamped return envelope enclosed. Please send us all information on how to sell our home without using a realator. I think you call it being a FSOB.
3. I went to a free seminar on real estate and it seems like it would be the best thing for me to do. I don’t have the money for the rest of the course but they said they could arrange a loan for me to borrow it. Do you think this would be a good investment?
4. Upon selling a co-op or condo, would it be mandatory to divulge the fact that, at times, there
Here are today’s top selling real estate books on Amazon.com:
1. The Pre-Foreclosure Property Investor’s Kit: How to Make Money Buying Distressed Real Estate — Before the Public Auction, by Thomas Lucier
2. FLIP: How to Find, Fix, and Sell Houses for Profit, by Rick Villani and Clay Davis
3. Rich Dad’s Advisors: The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing: The Secrets of Finding Hidden Profits Most Investors Miss, by Ken McElroy
4. How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days: Third Edition, by Bill G. Effros
5. Find It, Fix It, Flip It!: Make Millions in Real Estate — One House at a Time, by Michael Corbett
6. Home Buying for Dummies, 3rd Edition, by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
7. Flipping Houses for Dummies, by Ralph R. Roberts and Joe Kraynak
8. Rich Dad’s Real Estate Advantages: Tax and Legal Secrets of Successful Real Estate Investors, by Sharon L. Lechter and Garrett Sutton
9. Real Estate Investing for Dummies, by Eric Tyson and Robert S. Griswold
10. Investing for Dummies, 4th Edition, by Eric Tyson
Richard Courtney, author of Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! (Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster, 2006), responds to your questions about the half-truths and common misperceptions among buyers and sellers.
Your book title uses the word “liars,” which is pretty harsh. Do you really think buyers and sellers are liars?
COURTNEY: The title Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! is tongue in cheek and a catchy title. However, the reason I wrote the book was after observing buyers and sellers alike bringing unnecessary anxiety into real estate transactions by over strategizing. They each thought the other to be dishonest. At that point I explained the languages of buyerese and sellerese — which is not to be mistaken for lying.
Here’s a scenario: I listen to my buyers’ needs, make a list of their must-haves, and then they turn around and buy (from someone else) a home that is so totally different. Any theories on what I’m doing wrong, and how I could have kept their business?
COURTNEY: Hence the theory that “buyers are liars”. Buyers always think they know what they want, but seldom actually know what they want. You have to learn to translate buyerese, the language of buyers.
What do you think is the biggest lie that buyers most often tell their real estate agents?
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
As emotions kick in, buyers and sellers often turn into their own worst enemy. Where does that leave you? In the middle, trying to sort out the half-truths and translate what your clients really mean. Veteran real estate broker Richard Courtney helps decode a language he calls “Buyerese” in his new book. Using a humorous approach, he uncovers the big “lies” of buying and selling a home from four perspectives: the buyer, the seller, and the real estate agents who represent each of them. Buy This Book
FROM THE BOOK: 5 BUYER AND SELLER MISPERCEPTIONS
In Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too! (Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster, 2006), Courtney points out some of the following popular misperceptions of clients and offers suggestions on how you can get them closer to the truth:
1. Ma and pa approval. Warning about meeting the parents: They can spot a nail hole from 70 feet away through two sets of windows, Courtney writes. When working with first-time home buyers particularly, expect the parents to meddle, to be overly protective, and to question how in the world their little boy or girl will be able to afford such an expense! For a positive working relationship, correct parents gently when they’re wrong, reinforce their ideas when accurate, and thank them for their insight in areas you may have overlooked.
2. Popped nail — the house is falling! Don’t let home inspections scare your clients. Some home inspectors will note every nail pop, paint chip, settlement crack, and squeaky faucet. Encourage clients to educate themselves on what’s major and what’s not. After all, most repairs that inspectors consider necessary are inexpensive and easily fixable. When the inspection is done, work with the sellers and their agent to decide who will pay for the repairs. Continue reading »
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Too many sellers let thousands of dollars slip through their fingers by failing to get their house in tip-top shape, author Sid Davis writes. In his latest book, he offers staging tips, cleaning worksheets, and fix-it checklists (but not many photos) to help sellers spruce up every room of their home — including the garage. Beyond the expected advice, Davis doles out helpful pointers on CMAs, replacing appliances, and tax benefits of moving up. Buy This Book
FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO SELL A HOME FASTER
In Home Makeovers That Sell (AMACOM, 2007), Davis offers these tips for beautifying a home before it hits the market:
1. Don’t sell “as is.” Selling a home without doing some prep work before is the easy way out, and you’ll likely only attract bargain hunters. Accept the fact that painting, cleaning, decluttering, and various fix-its will be needed before you sell.
2. Get a storage unit. Excess furniture, such as a king-size bed squeezed in a guest bedroom, will make rooms look smaller. Rooms can double in size simply by getting rid of the big pieces. Also prime for off-site storage: knickknacks, photos, trophies, and everything else that will distract buyers from seeing themselves in the home. Continue reading »
Scrutinize national housing trends all you want, but influences in your local market are really what determine whether home values rise or fall, NAR Chief Economist David Lereah says in his latest book All Real Estate is Local (Currency/Doubleday, 2007). He delves into an array of factors that can impact local markets — from success of sports teams to what Oprah says about the city — and provides lists and rankings of metro areas that can help you evaluate an area’s DNA. Buy This Book
FROM THE BOOK: 5 INDICATORS OF A HEALTHY LOCAL MARKET
The key to finding a good real estate investment is to figure out what’s affecting supply and demand. But the factors aren’t always as obvious as you might think, Lereah says in his book.
1. Youth drive. A community that has a low average age for the population, such as a median age of 35, is a likely indicator of growth. After all, a younger population is more likely to have children, experience more demand for housing (trade-up buying), and an overall increase in the population, when compared to an older community.
2. Shopping choices. Plans for a new mall or supermarket can greatly increase the draw to certain neighborhoods. In turn, stores or businesses that are closing may be indicative of a sagging market. Gather information by ZIP code of new business start-ups at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Zip Code Business Patterns. Continue reading »
Better ads can sometimes mean the difference between the success and failure of a real estate business.
The Big Book of Real Estate Ads aims to take the agony out of preparing classified ads. It includes ad ideas for a range of properties, from fixer-uppers to time shares. Published by Dearborn Real Estate Education.
The excerpt below was taken from Chapter 1: Understanding Classified Advertising. You can purchase a copy on Dearborn’s Web site or by calling 800/554-4384.
BY WILLIAM H. PIVAR and BRADLEY A. PIVAR
Classified real estate ads differ from other forms of advertising in that they are actually sought out by prospective buyers. They are not thrust upon the reader without permission.
When the market is less favorable to sellers, responses to mediocre ads will dwindle, while responses to poor ads may all but disappear. In this kind of market an ad has to compete with other ads to generate responses, and competition means it is important for an ad to noticeably stand out among its competitors. A better ad can sometimes mean the difference between the success and failure of a real estate business.
Anatomy of an Ad
In advertising, we use the acronym AIDA. We want the ad to catch the reader’s attention, create an interest, then a desire to know more about the property, and action, which is the telephone call or visit to your office, project, or open house.
The ad heading is what gets a reader’s attention. To develop a heading, ask yourself what features of a house are likely to be of greatest importance to the type of buyers who will purchase the property. As an example, if you want to appeal to a larger family, the fact that a property has four bedrooms should be emphasized in the heading.
Your ad body should state a limited amount of information — just enough so that the reader will want to know more about the property. When designing your ad, keep in mind that potential buyers normally respond to ads that are within a specific price range or are priced slightly higher than they wish to pay.
Dos and Don’ts
Here are some general guidelines for preparing classified ads.
- Be honest in your ad.
- Differentiate your ads from those of other firms. When there are multiple columns of ads, you want your ad to stand out and grab the reader’s attention. An ad that isn’t read is a wasted opportunity.
- See the property prior to writing the ads. By viewing the property, the ad writer will gain a perspective of the benefits offered that would not be fully understood from a few photos and a basic description of the property.
- Highlight the most desirable and sought after feature of the property in the heading. If such a distinguishing feature doesn’t exist, use an attention-getting heading.
- Place greater emphasis on advertising properties when you have similar property listings available (substitute properties). In this way, the ad will attract buyers for more than just the property advertised.
- Advertise in various price ranges with a focus on a variety of property types. This will bring responses that can potentially be substituted for other properties. A few ads could actually cover your entire inventory.
- Change your ads so a property does not appear shopworn. Ads are most effective the first time they run.
- Always include your firm’s name and Internet address in your ads.
- Include the number of bedrooms and baths, as well as locations of the properties (if not mentioned in the ad heading). Buyers want to know these kinds of basics.
- Include the price or indicate the price range.
- Use curiosity to gain readers’ responses. The ad should make readers want to know more.
- Track ad response. You want to know what type of ads and type of properties advertised are bringing better or less than average responses.
- Include information about an owner or an owner’s motivation to sell without express permission from the owner. Such permission should be in writing.
- Include any indication that an owner might accept less than the advertised price without express permission of the owner. Permission should be in writing.
- Set advertising limits per property or stop advertising a property because you’re not getting responses. Ads from one property can create sales of other properties. Also, you agreed to use your best efforts to locate a buyer. Discontinuing advertising may constitute a breach of your fiduciary duty to the owner.
- Use abbreviations in ads or terms that the majority or readers may not understand.
- Place ads for the purpose of pleasing owners or salespeople. The focus of your advertising must be on anticipated sales.
- Repeat in the ad heading what is in the newspaper category heading. (If the newspaper has a Middleton ad column heading you would not head the ad “Middleton.”)
- Give laundry lists of properties without descriptions. The exception would be multiple units available in a desirable development. Such an ad would show that you have a large inventory to select from.
- Advertise the obvious. In most markets people would expect a half-million-dollar home to have a large kitchen, a living room, a dining area, and an attached garage. You should advertise features that add zing such as “a private home office,” “solarium,” or “English rose garden.”
- Advertise the unimportant. Most readers are not influenced because you advertised the lot as “.237 acres.”
- Include words that won’t benefit the ad. For example, if a solarium is unheated, words such as “unheated” or “could be easily heated” don’t benefit the ad. On the other hand, “window-wrapped” solarium creates a positive image and benefits the ad.
- Say too much. Paint a picture with details to be filled in by the readers’ imagination.
You will discover that the more ads you prepare or modify, the easier the ad preparation process becomes. Chances are you will also discover that ad writing can be fun.