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Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Bryant, Benton, Sherwood and surrounding areas

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Thank You – From a Real Estate Viewpoint

As we come upon this year’s Thanksgiving season, I thought I would provide what I am thankful for from a real estate viewpoint.

Buyers & Sellers!  Even though this is what everyone would expect, it is truly the most important.  When it comes down to the basic foundation of my role as a REALTOR, I put buyers and sellers together by acting as their local, professional, project manager for the largest financial decision, and transaction, of their lives to this point.  You see, unlike most of the jobs in American, I don’t create buyers or sellers.  I don’t create homes.  I don’t have a ‘widget’ to sell.  Yet, I serve as a consultant to guide and protect those buyers and sellers who have chosen me to direct them through a very important, and large, finanical decision.
I have people tell me all the time that I’m a good salesman.  And I am, but not when it comes to real estate.  Better yet, I am a good “marketingman”.  I have a degree in Marketing Management and the purest definition of marketing is “Satisfying a customer’s need”.  I don’t have anything to sell as a REALTOR.  As a “marketingman”, my role is to listen and provide a solution to the needs of my clients.  From that standpoint, I’m a good problem solver.  But back to thanksgiving.  My entire family is thankful for those buyers and sellers who see the difference in what a true real estate professional can provide.  We appreciate your trust!
I’m thankful for the country that I live in.  It definitely has some problems right now, but, for now, this is the best country in the world.  Our democratic, and capitalistic, society has provided our country more success (financially, mentally, spiritually, economically) than any country in the history of this World.  I don’t understand why some want to change it to be like everyone else.  I don’t want to be like Greece, or France, or Germany, or Russia, or China.  I want to be the USA!
I am thankful for the importance and value that the residents of the USA place on homeownership.  This may sound simple, but homeownership is a huge component of the pride, and success, we have in America.  It is also associated with higher financial net worth, less neighborhood crime, community spirit, and higher educational success.  The feeling associated with owning your piece of this country is awesome.  Don’t lose this right to be in charge of your property!
I am thankful for all the preferred partners who help me, and my buyers and sellers, daily.  Without all of us working together, doing our individual jobs to the finest of our abilities, this advantage of homeownership would not be a reality in America.  “All you can do is all you can do”.  Art Williams said this year’s ago, but it hold true always.  All that I ask of anyone working with me is to do all they can do.  Nothing less, nothing more.  It is because of these individuals that I get to put buyers and sellers together:
Lenders:  I know this will freak some of you out, but if it wasn’t for some people being very successful financially, then the rest of us wouldn’t be able to do what we want to.  Lending is one of these.  Lenders are nothing more than people, or companies, who have made a great deal of money, lending some of their success to us common folks so we can also experience some of the American dream!  Get over the fact that people are more successful than you.  Without people being successful, there isn’t anything to spread around.  If you want to be more successful, isn’t it great to know that you have the freedom to work harder and reap the full rewards of your labor (for now).
Title:  I don’t know what all they do, don’t want to, but I really appreciate the Escrow and Title officers.  Especially my friend Michelle and Donna at All American Title.  Sometimes I have to use other title companies, but when I use All American, I know, and I can reassure my clients, that Michelle and crew will take care of all that paperwork to make sure that we legally transfer ownership title from one party to the next without someone, or something, ruining a perfectly good opportunity of homeownership.
Inspectors:  When you are involved in such a large financial decision, isn’t it good to do your research on this huge investment?  Yes.  Don’t ever purchase a home without having it properly inspected.  This one element of a real estate transaction could reassure your dream of ownership, or protect you from a costly mistake.  Remember, these guys are looking over everything about your new home so you know everything, no matter how small or how large.  It is always better to make an educated decision.  I’m thankful for the inspectors who protect my client’s investment.
Handyman/Service Provider:  After we find some necessary repairs from the inspection above, I’m thankful for those service providers who get the issues resolved in a timely manner, with good quality work.  Again, these guys protect the investment of my clients.
REALTORS:  I am thankful for most of my cooperating real estate agents.  Unfortunately, many agents feel they are in competition with the other agent involved, but is is not the case at all.  Both agents involved in the transaction, whether representing buyer or seller, are there to manage the transaction between these two parties, with the benefit of both parties in their focus.  You noticed that I said ‘most’ earlier.  It is my opinion there are too many licensed agents who don’t have a clue what they are doing and they shouldn’t be representing either buyers or sellers.  Our industry is plagued with too many licensed agents.  it is too easy to get a license.  I am thankful for the recent housing market downturn because it allowed about half of the licensed agents in Arkansas to get out of real estate industry.  We have plenty of room for others who need to get out also.
Arkansas Real Estate Commission:  Many don’t understand the value of AREC in protecting our industry, our agents, and our buyers and sellers.  Arkansas has been duplicated across this country for our real estate practices, contracts, and legislation.  Arkansas has one of the lowest financial burdens concerning ‘bad’ real estate deals in the country. It is because of AREC.
As your family approaches this Thanksgiving season, don’t forget to be thankful for the power of homeownership in this country.  It is the basis of our economy, our capitalistic foundation, our net worth, our communities, and our jobs.  It should be protected and advanced.

5 Ways to Vividly & Painlessly Prove the Dangers of Overpricing

Sellers’ inclination to overprice their homes can seem as formidable and ever-present as gravity or any other law of nature. In some ways, it is the most natural thing ever – everyone wants to maximize the value of their possessions, especially when it comes to their largest assets.
But because overpricing can be so deadly to sellers’ ultimate goals, it’s our responsibility to leverage every strategy at our disposal to vividly paint the picture of how dangerous and counterproductive overpricing truly is, before they experience the pain and expense of a listing that won’t sell. Here’s how:
1. Show the list price of the lagging pending vs. the list price of the quick/solds.
When we pull comps, we often focus on the Sold properties, and their list vs. sale prices. If we can get some information from insiders about the pending comparable homes, that’s also useful – sometimes even more useful than the Solds. While many agents take a glance at the Active homes just to get a sense for the competition, when your Seller client is in danger of overpricing, it is worth scrutinizing the Actives more intensely.
You might be inclined to weed out Active comps that are clearly overpriced to stop your client from construing them as indicating the right price range for your home. I argue that we should be doing the exact opposite: look and see whether there are Active comps for your client’s home which have lagged on the market for a much longer time than the average DOM for the pending and solds in the area and seem to be significantly overpriced – maybe even falling into the same range as your client would like to list theirs. If you can find even one or two such overpriced, lagging outliers, consider showing them to your Seller as powerful examples of why they should not to list that price range.
2. Deep dive into the “slow” Sold comparables.
As you’re exploring the comps, spend some time talking your seller through another frequently overlooked subset of properties: those that sold, but sold very slowly when compared with the average number of days a home in your area stays on the market.
Often, these “slow” Solds will have been overpriced and will have sold way below asking – even below their reduced price. Pinpointing the:

  • original list price,
  • list price at the time the      home went off the market,
  • sold price and
  • number of Days on Market      (DOM)

on even a few slow Solds can paint a vivid picture of the path of an overpriced home in a seller’s mind, very efficiently.
And the opposite is true: if you can find a few examples of Sold comparables which were listed low and sold high, those two types of examples, together, make the picture even more powerful.
3. Help your seller see what buyers will see, online.
Visit your local Board or MLS’s website and get a read on how many homes in your area sell in the price range/bracket your seller wants to list at, versus how many sell in the price range you’re recommending. Say, for example, your client wants to list at $415,000 and you think the home would do better at $385,000. If there were 200 homes sold last quarter at $350,000-$400,000 and only 75 sold between $400,000-$450,000, chances are great that buyers in your area are much more likely to be conducting their online home searches in the sub-$400,000 range, statistically speaking.
You know the rest: the more buyer search results the listing falls into, the more buyers will want to view the place – and the more viewings you get, the better the chances of getting an offer.
Additionally, take the opportunity before the list price is set in stone to sit down with your seller and slip on the virtual shoes of the average buyer you’ll want to court for their home. Run online searches at several different price points – including the one the seller believes in and the one you are recommending – to see what the competition looks like online, and how the seller’s home will measure up against the other in terms of the specs buyers use to pick the homes they want to see in person (e.g., beds, baths, square feet, location).
The two-part goal, as you discuss it with your seller, should be to list the property at a price point which:
(a) falls into the broadest possible bucket of online searchers and
(b) makes every buyer who sees it in the context of the other homes in the same price bracket put your seller’s home at the top of the list of places they want to view.
4. Take the seller on a tour of competitive properties.
In some situations, the specs of the comps simply don’t make it crystal clear that a seller’s home would be overpriced. This happens most often when a property’s condition or location pale in comparison to the competition. In these instances, when you feel strongly about your pricing recommendation, consider taking your seller on a short tour of the competition – physically taking them to view competitive properties, in real life.
Show your Seller what their home will be up against, by touring them through one or two of each of the following:

  • homes in the price range they      want, in their neighborhood
  • homes in the price range they      want, in other parts of town which buyers will likely also be considering
  • homes in your recommended      price range, to show how their home is poised to compete well against      these properties.

Showing your Seller the competition in real life can also be a powerful segue to a conversation around property preparation. If you think your Seller’s home would be fairly priced at the range they want to target with $25,000 in improvements, show them the homes which have the improvements you suggest and are listed/selling at their desired price point . That puts the Seller in the driver’s seat on how to proceed: invest some dough, or price it more appropriately.
5. Be strategic with your past client references.
If you know a particular seller-to-be is fixated on a too-high price, be strategic with the past client references you give them. Ideally, you want to connect them with past seller clients who were similarly situated to where they are now; people who are highly likely to do two things:

  • Share relatable experiences      about their own thoughts and actions from property preparation through      close of escrow, painting a positive picture of the ultimate outcome they      had working with you; and
  • Discuss their experience      setting – and later, lowering – their home’s list price, as follows: “We      were wrong. Your name here was right. And we could have saved ourselves a      lot of stress if we’d listened to your name here from the beginning.”

Other sellers who have been in precisely the same spot as your current client have a level of credibility in vouching for your pricing skills that you can simply not ever have or get in talking about yourself. Having come out the other end of escrow with a favorable result, they can also talk to the overall legitimacy and soundness of your professional advice, and can do the heavy lifting when it comes to countering every Seller’s fear: that their agent is suggesting a lower price just to make their own job of getting the place sold easier.
As you can see, there are themes here to the categories of overpricing pitfalls you’ll want to illustrate for your seller – it poses the dangers of: making a home lag on the market; eventual, painful price cuts and excruciating lowball offers. The worst danger? Many overpriced homes simply don’t sell at all. But before they fail to sell, they suck up just as much time, energy and cash in preparation and marketing as right-priced homes, causing an above-average amount of woe, hand-wringing and sleepless nights for both agent and seller.
It might seem time-consuming, but pulling out all the stops to prove the hazards of overpricing in advance saves everyone, in the long run.

Pulaski County Property Taxes Reassessed This Year

Pulaski County Property Taxes are scheduled to be reassessed this year and many of you have already received your notices from the county.  As you know you can appeal your notice of value to the county for reconsideration.  You can go to http://pulaskicountyassessor.net/  for more information.
I would suggest that everyone review your notice of value change.  It is very possible that due to our down market over the past few years, that the value of your has actually decreased, which would result in lower taxes for you to pay to the county.  If you would like to speak to someone at the Pulaski County Assessor’s office please call any of the following numbers. 501-340-3305,501-340-3306 or 501-340-8817. These are direct lines without going through the main switch board.
The Board of Equalization goes into session August 1, 2012 and the deadline to set an appeal appointment with the Board of Equalization is the close of business on August 20th.
If you feel you want to appeal you assessment, I would be glad to provide a current market analysis on your home that will provide you with the documentation you need to appeal with the county.
See the attached document for further information.

Where are the buyers?

A recent study showed the Top Three issues preventing buyers from completing purchases, and the top issue was one that hasn’t been around for the past few years.
According to the survey, the #1 reason keeping buyers from purchasing real estate for 2012 is “Economic Insecurity”.  While difficulties obtaining financing were cited as the leading challenge among buyers in 2010 (61 percent) and 2011 (65 percent), in 2012, the percentage noting this challenge dipped to 49 percent. Problems selling their current homes, similarly, declined in 2012 to 43 percent, down from 59 percent in 2011 and 57 percent in 2010.
Economic insecurity was not in the top three in 2011, nor 2010.  I was telling this to a seller of mine just yesterday.  Recent buyer activity has dropped drastically in Central Arkansas.  Since January 2012, the current inventory in Central Arkansas has risen from 1.7 months to 5.98 months of inventory!  That is a 250% increase in just 6 months.
There is a good amount of inventory now and some at great prices.  We all know that interest rates are at an all time low, again.  So what is the problem with the slow down in buyer activity?  We had experienced increases in the number of closed transactions til May 2012, but saw a drop in June, and I would expect another drop for July as activity has been slow so far this month.
It is actually getting easier to obtain financing, and most buyers know that pricing probably won’t continue to go down since 2010 & 2011 were the worst real estate years for our state in 15 years, and Arkansas prices actually increased by around 1% (not much, but better than the other alternative).
I did some recent research on my own to see what is going on.  Here is what I found out.
The number of buyers to active listings in January 2012 was 1 buyer for every 2 listings.  We experienced a huge January 2012.  For June 2012, it is 1 buyer per every 6.25 active listings.  Wow!  The listings are out there, but the buyers have shut it down!  I couldn’t understand why, but my guess was the economy and current policy.  Didn’t have any proof, until this survey was released today.