“S.W.A.T. Team,” Real Estate Edition

by Ross Kaplan on August 22, 2016

sounding board

Realtor Peer Review

Fortunately, the only thing that (possibly) gets hurt in the wake of a real estate “S.W.A.T.” team swooping in is the feelings of the listing agent (representing the Seller) getting all the feedback.*

The term refers to the practice of several colleagues helping a fellow Realtor size up a problem listing and recommending an action plan.

Or if you prefer a less dramatic name:  serving as a Realtor sounding board.

Providing a Catalyst

As you might expect, price (as in, “reduced”) is usually part of the discussion, but so are things like staging, updates, and correct marketing emphasis.

The feedback and input — from an objective group of experts — is often just the catalyst needed to get a stalled listing sold.

P.S.:  Pssst!  Big brokers (like Edina Realty) do this better than little ones.

*While there is necessarily some constructive criticism involved, the process, done right, is supportive of the listing agent — and very much appreciated by same.

Participating Realtors are wise to be professional and positive, if for no other reason than they may be the one on the receiving end the next time.


Listing Agent Retort:  “I’ll Tell You Right After You Tell Me How High the Buyer is Willing to Go”

You (almost) never hear a listing agent (representing a Seller) say to a Buyer’s agent at the outset of negotiations:  “let’s cut to the pokerchase; what’s the most your Buyer will pay for my client’s property?”

So, why do Buyers’ agents — or at least inexperienced ones — feel emboldened to ask listing agents, “so, what’s your client’s real bottom line here?”

Or perhaps more to the point:  what good listing agent — assuming they knew the answer — is going to spill?? (in fact, the three cards you never show in real estate negotiation are your client’s price, terms, and motivation).

“Lowish” vs. “Lowball”

You certainly can’t blame Buyers for verbally probing a Seller’s bottom line, prior to making a written offer.

Besides trying to flush out a motivated Seller, it’s about saving time:  if the Seller isn’t amenable to a low offer, the would-be lowballer saves time writing it up (not 3 hours, but not 10 minutes, either — especially if it’s accompanied by a real pre-approval letter).

Eventually, of course, the parties in a real estate deal arrive at each other’s bottom (and top) line.  See, “The Key to Successful Negotiation:  Getting to Yes?  Or, “Getting to ‘No?”

That’s called “negotiation.”

But, you don’t start there.

P.S.:  The only appropriate response to “would your Seller consider taking $___?” is this one:

“Put it in writing, and I’ll do my best to get a serious, prompt response.”


The Serenity Prayer — Realtor’s Version

by Ross Kaplan on August 19, 2016

Passing on Overpriced Listings

Everyone knows this famous passage from The Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Here’s my version for listing agents (Realtors representing home sellers):

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the listings I can sell
the courage to refuse the listings I cannot
and the wisdom to know the difference.

–Ross Kaplan

So what makes a listing unsellable?

Ultimately, just one thing: price.

Everything else — condition, curb appeal, location, floor plan, etc. — can be overcome if a home is sufficiently discounted.


“Can I Hold Your New Listing Open?”

by Ross Kaplan on August 18, 2016

Retail vs. Wholesale Open Houses

One of the best, early omens for a new listing is when agents leaving the Broker Open casually toss off compliments like “nice listing,” “good job!,” or simply “congratulations.”

open houseWhat’s another?

When several newer, less experienced agents contact you, asking if they can hold a weekend open house at your listing.

Sunday Open vs. Broker Tour

As opposed to a “wholesale” open house — held for fellow Realtors each Tuesday, at least in the Twin Cities — weekend open houses are intended for a retail crowd.

While many listing agents (myself included) like to do their own open’s, especially the first one or two, many experienced agents are happy to delegate weekend open’s.

Hosting such open houses is a time-tested way for newer, less experienced agents to find unrepresented Buyers.

Meanwhile, that frees up the (veteran) listing agent to work with their Buyer clients — or cover an open house at another listing — while still making sure that their client’s home has maximum market exposure.

(Note:  it’s possible to do a 12:30 p.m to 2 p.m./2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m “double-header” if the listings aren’t too far apart.  However, busy agents can easily have 6-8 active listings, especially during the peak Spring market).

Primed to Sell, or, Picking the Right Open 

If you’re a new(er) agent looking for clients, which listing is the best to hold open?

The one likeliest to attract the most traffic.

Which just begs the question, “which home is that?”

Answer:  the one that’s best-priced and marketed; stands out relative to its peers; and yes, is newest on the market.

Who Gets Top Billing?

In return for hosting the open in their stead, it’s standard practice for the listing agent to give the “pinch hitter” agent top billing.

That means identifying them as the hosting agent on the MLS open house announcement, letting them use their sign riders (with their name) on any directional signs to the open house, etc.

But, I’m aware of at least one Twin Cities agent who, as a condition of hosting their weekend opens, insists that the other agent use their signage.

Their listing, their prerogative.

But, if I were the new(er) agent . . . I’d look for another open to host.

See also, “Realtor Compliments”; “Open House as Hypothesis.


Doing a Final Walk-Thru Inspection on a Long-Vacant Home

August 17, 2016

As Minnesota home sellers know (or should), the required Seller Disclosure is a “live” document, up to the date of closing. Translation:  if something bad happens to the house after it goes on the market, the Seller needs to update their disclosure. But, what happens if the Seller is long gone? (often the case with […]

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Mark “I’m Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford Calls on Donald Trump to Release His Tax Returns

August 15, 2016

Pots, Black Kettles, and Transparency in Government “The presidency is the most powerful political position on earth, and the idea of enabling the voter the chance to see how a candidate has handled his or her finances is a central part of making sure the right person gets the job.” –“I Support You, Donald Trump. […]

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“In Buyer’s Sole Discretion”

August 15, 2016

Why Buyers Can Walk When the Home Doesn’t Appraise “Buyer agrees to pay in the following manner:  1) Cash of _____ percent (%) of the sale price, or more in Buyer’s sole discretion . . . “ –Excerpt, standard Minnesota Purchase Agreement (emphasis added). [Editor’s Note:  The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, […]

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Real Estate Euphemisms — New & Improved

August 15, 2016

Homes with “Great Personalities” & Other White Lies [Editor’s Note: While I do my best to avoid such euphemisms in my own capacity as a listing agent (representing Sellers), let me offer two (sort of) defenses on behalf of Realtors who are less circumspect:  1) beauty is frequently in the eye of the beholder, i.e., […]

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