Is it the Agent or the Company you are hiring?

Selling your home is a big deal. It pays to have a professional on your side, marketing your home and working with you through negotiations and the final sale.

Here is a fact – it’s the individual agent that will sell your home and not the company they work for

Any agent can work their fanny off for you or they can put your property in the MLS and sit back and let their company do the work. You want the former, not the later. A good agent thinks outside of the box and is always searching for new ways to market their properties. A company has a set outline of places to advertise and how to advertise and they rarely work outside that outline. In combination, this works well but if your agent is not motivated to broaden their marketing horizons, then you are only working with the company regardless of what agent you hire.

Internet advertising is horribly important in today’s market. Everyone is online and looking at homes. The internet has leveled the playing field for small companies like mine. Keller Williams, Century 21 and the big franchises will say their marketing puts you out there more than anyone. That’s not entirely true. If you go on any company website and search for homes in your area, the listings from the smaller companies will also appear. Some of these companies will pay sites like to rank their properties higher in the search results. I do that as well, as an individual agent.

When you want to sell your property, interview the AGENT. See what the AGENT will do for you. Consider the company as their back up. A good agent will be VERY picky about the photos that are used to present your home and the words that are used to describe your home. They will use single property websites, virtual tours and other tools at their disposal to market your home. My last two million dollar sales can be tracked directly to the use of single property websites that I set up. These websites are a must in any marketing plan. Some of the best-selling agents in our area for homes like yours work by themselves or in a small company. They chose to work with smaller companies so they can be more flexible in their marketing plans instead of having their hands tied by a big box franchise when they want to get creative.

When selling your home, my suggestion is always to look at the agent, not the company.



An Essay on Beauty, Symmetry and Glass for Valentines Day

This is not a real estate post. In the beginning I promised that not all of my posts will focus on that topic. Today is Valentine’s Day. They day we spend with our sweetheart whispering sweet nothings or, in my case, working on glass while my husband continues his staircase project. That’s what old married couples do on a holiday like this.

My current glass project is nothing special. My husband built upper cabinets for our kitchen and of course, since I’m a glass artist, we need leaded glass doors. The panels we designed are simple and fairly easy (as easy as keeping pliable lead perfectly straight for 36 inches can be). I do not consider them artistic but they will add to the artistic quality that our self-designed home is slowly acquiring.

Although my hands are working on my current project, my mind is working on designs and a future art piece that I have been envisioning. I have yet to start this design as I have two projects that will come first. One is a trotting Bernese Mountain Dog suncatcher that I have promised for a health auction. The other is a panel featuring “My Little Pony vs Spiderman battle over the virtue of a Mermaid”. I designed this for my grandkids. Although it will be epic, I don’t exactly consider it art. The panel I am imagining is a Golden Retriever bursting out of the tall grass with a retrieved duck in its mouth. In my mind’s eye I can see the glass colors and textures sparkling in the sun. I can visualize where I want the highlights and shadows and the detail that I want to put in to this project. I can already imagine the sensuous curves that will make up the flowing fur of the dog as it trots out with its prize. This panel will be art.

Not everyone who works with glass is an artist. Some are crafters but some, like Linda Humphrey, are gifted glass artists. Linda works with fused glass which is nothing like my work, but her colors and textures and the haunting beauty of the portraits she creates in glass inspire me to work harder and envision deeper. Patricia Denny is another glass artist who I admire. She works both with stained glass and fused glass. She understands the poetic symmetry of a line. Patricia once posted a photo of a suncatcher that she designed and created. It was a simple head shot of a Labrador Retriever. Someone took her photo, copied the lines and posted the finished work as their own original idea. Patricia placed the photos of both creations side by side. They were basically the same. One was a yellow Lab, the other a black lab. The copycat had all the same lines but it lacked life. It lacked that understanding of elegance of line that Patricia understands so well. Patricia’s yellow Lab had flowing lines that ran into each other gracefully. The dog’s forehead was perfectly stopped with the most delicate of curve. The lines of the eyes gave the dog character and expression. These are two items that are hard to accomplish in a two dimensional medium. By comparison the copycat black Lab lacked any flow or grace. The lines were abrupt and done without any thought. It was a very poor imitation of art.

I love the beauty and elegance of a well-drawn line. Every artist has had that feeling of “ah, that’s it, that’s the feeling I want to evoke”. That feeling can so plainly be shown in one graceful line that you place on your paper, hoping that every line that comes after that will compliment it and build on it. I am blessed with having a husband who is a gifted portrait artist. He can look at my designs and tell me where my lines are lacking in symmetry and beauty. He helps me with glass selections, making sure I am choosing colors and textures that will glitter like jewels in the sun. He pushes me to be a better artist. Without his support and inspiration I don’t think that I could create glass that strives to be art.

On this Valentine’s Day my wish for you is to surround yourself with beautiful things whether it is art, music or the written word. Or possibly it’s the graceful movement of a well bred dog as it competes at Westminster. However you find beauty in your day, enjoy it!

Celtic Gold

Functional Obsolescence – what is it?

Google defines functional obsolescence as something that pertains to the property itself or within the boundaries of the property. We typically divide obsolescence into two different categories one being a deficiency (defective item) and the other being a superadequacy (too good of an item).

A couple of months ago I found myself explaining this term over and over again. Clients of mine had a wonderful vintage home under contract. It was right out of a 50’s Southern Living Magazine. In fact, the woman who staged the home for sale found a photograph of a similar kitchen in a home magazine from that era. The kitchen had metal cabinets, laminate counter tops with metal trim edging, one bathroom was all in pink with pink wall tile, a pink bathtub, a pink wall sink and a pink toilet. The second bathroom was similar but it was lime green. This home was in excellent condition. The counter tops looked brand new. None of the tiles were cracked. There were not any rub marks showing excessive use on any fixture in this home. This was a well cared for home and Mr & Mrs Buyer were excited to have the opportunity to own it.

So why did the term functional obsolescence come up? The appraiser used this term in his report. His opinion was that the home had two issues. One was that it was horribly out of date and needed a thorough remodeling. He obviously had no appreciation for a vintage home. This home also boasted three bathrooms, each in a bedroom. This home was actually ahead of it’s time in design as each bedroom was ensuite. The appraiser ruled that since the home had no guest bath, making a guest have to walk through a bedroom to get to a bathroom, that the house had functional obsolescence. The appraiser placed a very low and very unrealistic value on this home because he perceived it to be functionally obsolete.

I argued with the lender that functional obsolescence is in the eye of the beholder. The appraiser had no appreciation for the qualities this home offered where as Mr & Mrs Buyer felt right at home with this decor. Having three ensuite bedrooms worked perfectly for their extended family and really, how often do we have guests to our home? Once every couple of weeks? Why are we more concerned with how a guest will get to a bathroom than we are with the home owners day to day living? Thankfully the lender overturned the appraisal and Mr & Mrs Buyer soon closed on their new home. After two months they are still moving in. I can’t wait to see their finishing touches!


Context ( con·text )

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Full Definition of context

  1. 1:  the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning

  2. 2:  the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs :environment, setting<the historical context of the war>

Why am I writing about context? I’m writing because lately this is a word that many people forget and it can really ruin someones day. Here is an example……

Mr & Mrs Buyer are deep into purchasing a new property. Every condition has been met with the lender except the appraisal. There are two parts to this appraisal.  One part is the house and some land. The other part is a large barn that has been used as an event center. These are two properties being purchased under one contract.  Let’s say the contract is for $800,000.  The lender sends Mr & Mrs Buyer an email that says “the appraisal came in at $500,000.” Nothing else. No other pertinent information. It is lacking context.

Shame on that lender. Mr & Mrs Buyer immediately contact me because they are understandably upset. “What does this mean!”  Well, best case scenario is that this appraisal is for the event center which is commercial and not for the house and land which is considered residential. Worst case scenario is that the property as a whole did not appraise and with this big of a difference, your contract is most likely sunk. This is not good news to receive over your morning coffee, especially when Mr & Mrs Buyer are very heavily vested in this purchase. This news potentially turns their world upside down but without context from their lender, they have no way of knowing.  I encouraged them to call their lender nonstop until they received an answer.

The good news is that, as I suspected, the $500,000 was for part of the appraisal. Everything is still looking rosy for their loan. If the lender had included a little bit of context with their original email, it would have saved Mr & Mrs Buyer an unnecessarily gut wrenching morning. Purchasing real estate is stressful enough. My job as their agent and the job of anyone who is employed by the Buyer or Seller during a real estate transaction, is to make this process as smooth and stress free as we can for our clients. Making sure our communications contain proper context goes a long way to achieving this goal.

Your thoughts?

Your First Steps to Take When Buying a Home

Buying a home is exciting. It’s also a huge investment and can be very stressful. Like everything in life, there is a process to buying a home. Following these steps before you begin your house hunt will help you breeze through the process and make buying your new home a pleasurable experience.

Live by the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”

Check your credit report. When you first start thinking of buying a home, your first task is to check your FULL credit report. Look for inaccuracies, items that are dragging your credit down and any other little blips. Fix the errors and work at improving the areas that are damaging your credit. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate a bank will give you plus more types of loans will be available to you.

Be aware of your debt to income ratio. The type of loan you get will depend on this ratio. If your debt to income is too high, obtaining a home loan will become difficult. It’s not just your credit score that is important

Get your paperwork together. Pull together four years of tax returns, a year’s worth of bank statements, two months of pay check stubs and put together a list of credit cards, car loans and any other loans you have, plus their account numbers and balances. Your lender will give you a full list of items that they will need, but this is a good start.

Shop for a lender. The term “shop local” applies to home loans as well. The online, national lenders may sound appealing because it’s all done from the comfort of your couch but ask any Realtor and they will tell you that online lenders will close fewer loans and the process is usually more difficult. Local lenders will help clean up any remaining glitches that they find in your credit report. They will constantly watch interest rates to try and lock you in at a lower rate. They will work extra hard to make home ownership happen for you. Talk to at least three lenders to find out what type of loan might be available to you, how much of a down payment you will need, what fees are involved and how much time they need to close a loan. All of this can be discussed before they pull your credit; after all, you already know your credit score.

There are two advantages with talking to a lender now, before you start your home search. The first advantage is setting a budget. You may THINK that you can afford a $350,000 home but in reality, once all the interest, escrows and other fees are added in your budget may only handle a $300,000 home. Not only will you have wasted your time looking at homes that are just out of your reach, but you may now have your heart set on a home that you suddenly find is out of your budget. This is supposed to be a fun experience. Don’t get disappointed before you even start. The second advantage to talking with a lender now is………

Get pre-approved by a lender of your choice. This is a very important step. If you find the home of your dreams, your bargaining power is much lower without a pre-qualification letter. Most sellers won’t even consider an offer that doesn’t come with a pre-qualification letter. A pre-qualification letter makes you look more serious about home buying. It shows Sellers and Realtors that you have done your homework and that you are ready to buy.

The next step – find a Realtor and start house shopping!
Enjoy the process!