Welcome to the largest Sequim Real Estate Blog with over 1,900 articles.
Ambiguous real estate contracts can turn into a nightmare for a buyer like you. Real estate contracts are an important part of buying a home, and normally your Realtor drafts your real estate contracts. These are binding agreements, and if your Realtor doesn’t draft clean documents that are unambiguous, you could end up with a nightmare. I know this, because I was a real estate attorney for 20 years. Now I’m a buyer’s agent for people moving to Sequim. During all these years, I’ve seen hundreds of ambiguous contracts, clauses, addendums, as well as ambiguous letters and emails, and I’m talking about communications from other Realtors. I can testify to the importance of articulate and unambiguous contracts and communications. Words have meaning, especially in real estate contracts, but sometimes words can be misleading, as in this photo.
Real estate transactions have gotten exceedingly complicated over the decades I’ve been in the business. A purchase and sale agreement was only two legal sized pages when I started, but today I would say the shortest agreement is 14 pages. The legalese is far beyond most buyer’s understanding.
But that’s not the problem. The problem for you as a buyer is ambiguities in the communications between the Realtors and others involved in your transaction. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I have received an email from a Realtor on the other end of a transaction that is embarrassingly ambiguous. Look, not everyone is good with the English language, right? We all know that, but have you considered how deleterious an ambiguity can be in your real estate contracts? Being sloppy with English is okay in a casual conversation, but not in a binding contract.
How many times have people ended up in a dispute because the buyer thought something was going to happen, but the seller had an entirely different idea? These misunderstandings can be minor or major, but in either event, they can be a nightmare. How do such things happen? Poor communications between the Realtors.
The articulate use of the English language is essential when you are buying a home. It is important to express your intent as a buyer in your real estate contracts concisely and without ambiguity. It is vital that your Realtor know what to say and what not to say (or write). After 40 years in real estate, I’m going to estimate that 70% of all Realtors in the U.S. do not communicate clearly throughout the entire length of a real estate transaction on all issues. Frankly, I think that percentage is probably much higher. Most buyers get lucky, and if nothing bad happens, then no one ever knows the difference.
You don’t have to hire me as your buyer’s agent, but I hope you do. I work very heard to earn your business, so interview me, meet with me, talk to me. Find out for yourself.
I don’t practice real estate hoping, guessing, or by using ambiguous language. I don’t do ambiguities. I protect my buyers. Trust me, you do not want ambiguities in your real estate contracts.
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This article is written to home buyers like you. You’ve been planning to retire in Sequim and now you’re looking at homes online, doing some research on the Internet about Sequim, and you’re anonymously peeking at a few real estate brokers’ websites. You’ve even looked over a few of their resumes. You’re still in the planning stage. You’re not worried about making every decision with absolute perfection, but you definitely don’t want to make any bad decisions, especially at this point in your life. Below is my graphic of “One Chance to Get 4 Things Right.” Enlarge this graphic by clicking on it, and you can read the detailed article at Retire in Sequim.
The challenges you have as you transition to Sequim are not insignificant. But you can only do so much. You can only know so much. You may not have all you need to make wise decisions and avoid every possible mistake. After all, you’ve been a professional in your own area of expertise, which is probably not real estate. So what do you do? You do what most home buyers do–they hire a real estate broker they trust. But did you know . . .
Did you know that online MLS sites like Zillow have their own profit center, and you are not their client, nor are you their priority. Many other MLS sites are not getting accurate source data, and you could be looking at inaccurate information on a home. Many online MLS opt-ins will connect you with a real estate broker or a mortgage broker, but that is not because that person is necessarily the most knowledgeable, the most professional, or the most honest. It is only because they are paying to show up on that site to capture leads . . . leads like you. If you follow the money, you might be surprised how often your interests are low on the priority list of many you do business with as you go through the process of searching for a home, hiring a real estate broker, and all the other parties involved from the offer to closing. There are so many traps for the unwary buyer, it would take a book to list them all. (Actually, I’ve written that book, but this is intended to be a short readable article.)
So my question to you as a buyer is, “Who is watching out for you?” As I said earlier, you can’t know it all when it comes to real estate transactions, so who do you trust with your money, and who do you trust to help you with such major decisions? When it comes to buying your next home, do your due diligence on the agent you hire.
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Where is wisdom? This is the rhetorical question I have been asking for a couple of decades. This is a real estate blog, so I write about all the issues that concern buyers and sellers of real estate. With over 1,900 articles here, I strive to help buyers discover the answers to their most important real estate questions. At the foundation of every single article on this site is the focus on what is true.
But just getting some facts still begs the question, where is wisdom? You need all the facts, and you need wisdom to make the best decisions for the rest of your life, especially as you go into your retirement years. Unfortunately, we are living in a time when selective facts and partial truths have become tools for those with hidden agendas. Listen to the news, to politicians, or just walk down the street, and you may be asking yourself, “where is wisdom?”
To the best of my knowledge, there is not one single incorrect fact in the thousands of articles on this site. Why? Because the truth and accuracy are absolutely critical, and they are critically important here because integrity and honesty with our clients is everything. Should you ever find any statement that is not true, bring it to my attention, and tell me why it is not true. I will examine it and put it through the filter of truth.
Every fact and article on this blog must also pass the test of context and wisdom. The question, “where is wisdom?” is always front and center on this real estate blog. Read the articles, search for answers to your questions with our powerful search tool, email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is my personal hope that if you ask “where is wisdom?” you will find it here.
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We’ve heard it all our lives, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” but is that really true? While there are certainly applications that are fitting for this cliche, I am going to challenge conventional wisdom and suggest that when it comes to hiring a professional (doctor, lawyer, priest, dentist, insurance agent, or a real estate agent), it is actually false. You can judge a book by its cover when you meet a professional you are thinking about hiring.
In 37 years as a professional, I have seen one disturbing pattern repeat itself over and over again: people who hired a professional who later admitted they made a mistake, although their first clue was a bad first impression. Had they stopped to think that maybe they can judge a book by its cover, they might have avoided hiring the wrong person. For most of these folks, it wasn’t just a matter of hiring the wrong person, it meant hiring someone who was either incompetent or dishonest or unethical. In so many cases that clients have shared with me in almost four decades, had they paid attention to their discernment, had they realized they could judge a book by its cover, they would not have made the mistake of hiring the wrong person.
Here’s a rule you can live by. When you talk to a professional the first time, including real estate agents, listen to your first impression. In this narrow context, your first impression is usually dead on. Listen to it. In this case, you can judge a book by its cover.
Having said all of that, the next obvious lesson from life is that just because a person looks good, smells good, and has a sweet voice and smile, and says all the right things does not mean you shouldn’t do some due diligence. Check everyone out. You have to. You’re about to entrust someone (a Realtor) with a lot of your money. But don’t disregard your first impression, because maybe you can judge a book by its cover.
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Is there a secret to buying a home? I think there is. It’s something that I have been observing in buyers for over three decades, and I realized that the conversations that I have been having with hundreds of buyers have included a very important element. I’m not suggesting there is only one secret or a single key or magic wand that will answer all your questions about which home to buy. Life is not that simple, and neither is buying real estate, but there is one thing that can give you the experience of hundreds of buyers just like you, and I thought I would share that today.
I’m assuming that you’ve searched online and looked at many homes and as you searched, you narrowed your search parameters so you would get a better list of potential homes based on your personal preferences. You should narrow the list to a short list of 6 to 12 homes. Once you have your short list of homes to view, how do you filter and sort those mentally and emotionally so you can narrow that down to “The One?” I think you’ll find this to be a valid secret to buying a home.
Here it is. You and your spouse should be discussing the homes with your real estate agent as you look at the homes. You should discuss the good features, the best features, and the negatives or the less attractive features of the homes. At the end of the day, you should have a conversation about all of the homes, review again the positives and negatives, but here is where the value is in this conversation, or what I’m calling the secret to buying a home. Of course you want to talk about the exciting features, the positives, but it’s not the positive features that help you filter your list from several homes to only one. The positive features keep homes on the list. It’s the negative features that will help you filter and eliminate the homes you should not buy. (more…)
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Buying a home from a bankruptcy trustee is complicated. If a homeowner files bankruptcy, all assets owned by the homeowner are controlled by the bankruptcy trustee, and a home cannot be sold without the trustee’s approval.
The homeowner looses control of selling the home and the process of selling the home once he files for bankruptcy. The process of buying a home from a bankruptcy trustee is governed by Federal law, and the whole process is defined by the trustee, not by the homeowner and the buyer.
The trustee can approve or disapprove the selling price. The trustee can set a time months into the future and say that he will accept all offers received up to that date, and then he will decide which offer is the best one. And get ready for this. The trustee can convert the transaction from a regular sale into an auction where he tells everyone who makes an offer what the other offers are, forcing all buyers to either bid higher or drop out. The homeowner selling the home completely loses control of his home. That is because the trustee’s loyalty is to the creditors, not the homeowner and not buyers. (more…)
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One thing can change your life. It’s true, one thing can change everything for the rest of your life. Whether a Californian moves to Sequim to retire in their dream home, or stays in Los Angeles the rest of their life often turns on a single event. Let me share a simple example to get your brain’s neurons firing.
One of my personal challenges in life has been finding a good affordable electric shaver. There are some very fancy and expensive electric shavers, and being financially conservative and skeptical, I have not been persuaded to make a withdrawal from my 401(k) to invest in one of the top of these line electronic marvels. Replacement screens and cutters, and the alcohol solutions for cleaning the units all require a substantial monthly budget. Instead, I fell into a pattern of purchasing inexpensive electric shavers priced from $9.99 to $29. At those prices it was cheaper to just buy a new shaver rather than replace the screen and cutters. But I always had a hard time throwing any of these away, so I had a box of electric shavers, and my bathroom counter surrounding the sink on any day would have a myriad of shaving units. The problem wasn’t just that I had a mess on my counter. I also wasn’t getting the best shave, and the skin on my sensitive neck and face suffered.
Then I discovered that one thing can change your life, and it changed mine. I bought a top of the line electric shaver. It’s a Braun Series 3 Model 390 cc-4. The very first day I used it, I realized I was feeling a new sense of freedom. The much more powerful unit and faster speed of the cutting action gave me the smoothest shave I’ve ever experienced in my life, and once again my neck and face were as smooth as a baby’s behind. It was fast and painless, and I love the results. So how did this one thing change my life?
After this one thing–buying a quality electric shaver–I collected all my old shavers in a large box and threw them out. Then I cleaned the entire bathroom counter and organized it better than it has looked in years. But changing one thing often reverberates in the rest of your life, and this was true for me even in this little thing. With my bathroom counter looking so good, I got the bug to clean the rest of my bathroom. I scrubbed, cleaned, and organized. I stood back and felt a sense of pride. Then I realized I had not yet replaced two dead light bulbs of the many that encircled the bathroom mirror, so I did the thing that any man would do. I went to Home Depot. While in Home Depot I met some friends, and we had a great conversation, and there was plenty of laughter. Hearty laughter is great medicine for the soul. The day just kept getting better.
Having recaptured my baby smooth face with the new shaver, and now getting a happy surprise every time I walked into my bathroom, I was on a roll, and started cleaning the kitchen, and then the other rooms in the house. Because of one thing, buying a quality electric shaver, a chain of events was put into motion, and my life has improved, albeit in small ways.
A couple in California decide to visit Sequim with the idea of looking at homes and evaluating the area to see if this might be the place to retire for the rest of their lives. There are many steps in that process. They will spend time on the Internet before they come looking at homes, reading about Sequim, and perhaps emailing or talking with a local real estate agent. They collect information, and they filter through lots of information. They contact an agent, and they come to Sequim to look at homes.
If they hire the wrong real estate agent, they may take a completely different path, one that leads to staying in Los Angeles. If they don’t find the ideal retirement home, they may stay in Los Angeles for the rest of their lives. If they find the right house, but they make a mistake in the negotiations, they may not get it.
On the other hand, if they meet a Realtor they enjoy working with who is competent and professional, and if they find the ideal home, and if they negotiate a great price and terms, and they have a good experience in the process, they end up moving to Sequim and the rest of their lives are changed forever. Or any one event in the chain of events could cause them to stay in Los Angeles for the rest of their lives. Living in Los Angeles will result in a series of inter-related events that have their own consequences and meaning for life, some good, some not so good. There are many decisions made in the retirement process, and one thing can change your life. Whether they move to Sequim or stay in L.A., the people with whom they have relationships will play a major factor in the path they take. The next person you meet could change your life forever. The next home you buy could change your life forever. Take it from many retirees who have already moved to Sequim and from me, having lived here for 18 years, one thing can change your life forever.
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Real estate agents are leaving the business, and while that’s not front page news anymore considering the last five years, it is relevant to both buyers and sellers. In 2008 Sequim had 258 real estate agents, and now (April of 2012) we have only 107 real estate agents. Let’s do the math. That means we only have 41% of the agents we had, which is nearly a 60% loss of agents. Here’s a coincidence for you. While I was finishing typing that last sentence I got a call from a homeowner whose home I showed a month ago. He called to tell me that his listing agent left just the brokerage. Amazing. He also told me that his listing has been terminated, and he wants to relist his home with another company at a $50,000 price reduction. He’s not my client, so I did not feel comfortable telling him over the phone that his home was overpriced by $100,000, not $50,000. I did share that with his listing agent when I showed the home, but either his listing agent did not communicate that to him, or he simply did not believe it. This is a perfect example of why a homeowner’s home has not sold and why his own agent is starving. She can’t earn a commission trying to sell an overpriced home in a recession. No wonder so many real estate agents are leaving the business!
These real estate agents did close their doors. This was one of the largest real estate offices in Clallam County, and the owners were evicted from the building. They didn’t have enough business, and their traditional bricks-and-mortar business model could not survive this recession. That’s certainly unfortunate for them. For consumers, buyers and sellers, there is a bigger picture of change occurring. It is slowly transforming into something much more consumer friendly, efficient, and much more oriented to addressing the best interests of the consumer in an honest way. Consider how incredibly easy it is for you as a buyer to search all the homes in the MLS online 24/7 from the comfort of your own home without talking to any high pressure salesmen, or how easy it is to do your due diligence online to find a competent and professional and trustworthy buyer’s agent. You can now do tremendous research online at absolutely no cost about a home, it’s history, the previous prices paid for the home, the tax assessment, and much more. All of this substantially reduces the need to consumers of a large bricks-and-mortar building full of sales people.
If you consider this real estate blog alone has over 1,100 articles about Sequim real estate, an MLS search buyers can use 24/7, and dozens of powerful online tools for them to research and do their due diligence on Sequim homes before they ever arrive in Sequim, and that they can do all of these things without being forced to register, you can see why I could say just based on this that I have the largest virtual real estate office in the county and maybe the state. During the calendar year of 2011 over 315,000 prospective buyers used this real estate blog to search for and find their retirement home in Sequim. My articles were read over 1.6 million times. In light of how buyers love to use the Internet and free powerful tools to help them, it’s not hard to understand why so many of the big offices are closing their doors. Not only is their overhead ridiculously high, but their business model and sales approach no longer caters to buyers’ real needs.
I do have a physical office, but clients don’t care about a physical office any more. Why should they? Sellers want me to come to their homes, and buyers are interested in driving around and looking at homes, not sitting in an office. In fact, my clients seem to prefer meeting at Starbucks and enjoying a cup of coffee as we prepare to look at homes on their filtered list. This is why I’ve spent so much time and money building so many powerful tools on the Internet for buyers. Not all real estate agents get it, but buyers get it and they love it.
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Have you ever thought about real estate agent personalities? I write periodically about how important it is that you have a great real estate agent, but rarely do I discuss personalities or behaviors. First, you want an agent who is knowledgeable and competent. That’s a given. Then you certainly want an agent who is trustworthy, someone you can trust to represent your best interests. That’s a given. But you also want someone you feel you can work with, right?
That’s where personality comes into the picture. Real estate agent personalities run the gamut from quiet to boisterous, from reserved to giddy, humble to arrogant, serious to humorous, and so on. One could say that what I’m describing are really reflections of a person’s personality or personality traits, and that there is much more to a person’s total personality than learned behaviors. That’s probably true, but we often identify a person’s personality by how they relate to us in a given situation.
A real estate agent’s personality is often reflected in what they did in an earlier career. So a Realtor who was an accountant or an engineer will typically be a detail person who pays great attention to trivia, which is good, but which also can drive some people crazy because of how that directs conversations. My own prior career as a lawyer would normally suggest, I think, that I would tend to be confident and arrogant. Those who know me best tell me I am confident but not arrogant. Thank God for that, but it’s a process and I continue to strive for humility and wisdom. Lawyers are rarely good salesmen and are known for being deal killers in the real estate business, but fortunately I started as a Realtor and later became a lawyer. My heartbeat even as a lawyer was to facilitate real estate transactions and not kill them.
Of the five major personality traits recognized by psychologists (see Big Five Personality Traits), “agreeableness” includes aspects that have a direct impact on how you and your real estate agent will relate while you are shopping for your next home, or listing your home for sale. Here is the range of “agreeableness.”
Where your agent is on this scale of agreeableness is no small matter. You definitely don’t want an agent who is near the bottom of this list. I live in Sequim, and I would say that many of my Realtor friends in Sequim are agreeable and very pleasant to work with. We are lucky in Sequim that way. As has been said by many of my clients, “Sequim has so many genuinely kind people.” And I think that is true of our Realtors, too, but you still want to choose the best Realtor for you, right? You want a Realtor who is agreeable, but not milk toast either, and you want someone who is willing to serve you faithfully, not out of his own self-interests.
Agreeableness is a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. . . . Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, friendly, generous, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others.
Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being, and are less likely to extend themselves for other people. Sometimes their skepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative. (Quote from Wikipedia)
What do you look for in a real estate agent? I’ve written elsewhere that it is important to do your due diligence on the Internet to find out if it appears your agent is competent, knowledgeable, and comes off as honest and trustworthy, but then I also recommend that you interview your agent (or several) and see if your personality meshes with your agent’s personality. You’ll know the answer to that question almost immediately.
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Search for any real estate issue with this specialized Sequim search engine and pull up the most credible and authoritative posts, articles, videos, and data from many Sequim websites and blogs directly answering your questions.
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Sequim real estate agents are wondering what Chuck Marunde is doing to sell so many homes and get so many qualified leads. Neighbors of a home Chuck has listed in Sunland on the golf course are seeing the sign and the activity and wondering who this broker is. They’re used to seeing the familiar franchise signs for sale on homes in Sunland. So who is Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC, and what’s all the hullabaloo?
“Back in 1995 I realized the Internet was going to be a major player in real estate, and I started a website then, but in the past two years the Internet has become the dominant tool buyers use to find a home,” says Chuck. “So I built the largest Internet brokerage in all of Sequim and Port Angeles, and the results are stunning, but other brokers and many homeowners who are not paying attention to this Internet trend are still in the dark. I don’t advertise in the local newspaper, because that is NOT where buyers from California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Montana are looking! And it’s not Sequim homeowners who are the buyers. I am reaching out directly to the buyers from out of state. It just makes sense, but many people haven’t thought this through, including local real estate brokers.”
In the biggest real estate recession the country has seen in decades, and the worst real estate market in memory for Sequim and Port Angeles, many real estate agents have left the business, and some have not sold anything in over a year. Many are working other jobs, including washing dishes (literally) just to survive. Not Chuck Marunde.
“I feel very blessed. I sold a home in January, one in March, one in May, and I have two pending transactions in June already, and I’m submitting another offer today or tomorrow. Here’s the amazing thing. I don’t waste my money or my client’s money on things that don’t work, advertising that produces no results. My Internet presence is producing buyers who are delighted to work with a Realtor who gets it. Clients tell me they appreciate the fact that I was a real estate attorney, and tthe articles I post for them at no cost so they can make intelligent choices when they move here. I would just call this basic customer service.”
“I’m so fortunate that the pieces of my chaotic life seem to have come together at this time and place. I spent a lifetime in real estate transactions and law, marketing and sales, and technology. I also love to write, so all of this somehow uniquely fits me, but most importantly it fits clients who are buying and selling.”
Most real state brokerages are operating under a 20 year old business model, but they are being left behind by the Internet. Selling homes in Sequim or Port Angeles is no longer a simple matter of putting it in the MLS, running an ad once every six weeks in the local paper or the home sales magazine. Agents who are sitting at the desk staring at the phone while it does not ring and waiting for buyers to walk into their brick and mortar offices are getting nervous, but more importantly, they are not producing sales for their listing clients and they are not connecting with buyers.
“Don’t be fooled by agents who tell you they have your listing all over the Internet. There is much much more to the story about what works and what doesn’t work. While I prefer not to reveal secrets that have taken me years and a wheel barrel of money to learn, I will share those with my clients.”
Sharp buyers and sellers are not just using the Internet–they are using it intelligently. They know how to filter through the garbage to find a good agent, how to search for property, and they are discerning the difference between agents who are blowing smoke and the agents who have real experience and professional knowledge.
So this real estate blog continues to help buyers and sellers to buy and sell in this market, but this blog also continues to be a source of professional education for real estate agents. Everyone is welcome here.
At least one agent in Sequim and Port Angeles is having fun. Chuck Marunde can be reached at his email, which is email@example.com or his direct phone, which is 360-775-5424.
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A buyer decides he needs a real estate agent to buy a home, but this buyer makes a huge mistake, and the bad news is he has no idea he is making it. He’s in a very respected profession, and he’s a mature and intelligent man. He has a good friend, and his good friend’s wife is a real estate agent. So when he wants to buy a house, he automatically hires his friend’s wife. After all, she is a real estate agent. Notice that word “automatically.”
This is a true story. As it turns out, his friend’s wife is not so competent and not so ethical or professional. The details don’t matter for purposes of this brief story, but the bottom line is that Mr. Professional gets less than royal treatment, and that is the understatement of the century. I’m being polite here. At the time Mr. Professional had no idea how his own real estate agent sabotaged his transaction with her incompetence and unprofessionalism. He never knew, that is, until much later, when he subsequently finds out, and later tells me the whole story.
What’s the moral of this story? Just because your friend’s wife is a real estate agent does NOT mean she is a great agent who will do such a great job for you. Why in the world would someone assume they must hire their friend’s wife or sister or friend? I’ll tell you why, and when you think about it, it just seems dumb. They hire that person simply because of that relationship. Period. That is the ONLY reason. It’s hard to believe, but this happens regularly, and I hear the nightmare stories.
[In my book on this subject I included this paragraph, and I included this in a response to a comment to this article: “As a small but important point of clarification, when I use the term ‘housewives’ I’m really talking about people, men or women, who got their real estate license but have no real estate education, no business education, no sales education, no marketing education, no legal training to draft legal documents, and very little to offer clients except time and a smile. As consumers tell me all the time, there are agents just like this all over the country. I actually picked up this derogatory use of the word ‘housewives’ from consumers themselves over many years. Do not misunderstand me here. This doesn’t mean a person I call a licensed housewife (or househusband) isn’t a wonderful person and a good person. This is not a character issue. It’s a professional competence issue. It’s not about the person—it’s about their lack of education, knowledge, experience, and professionalism. I get along with almost everybody, and I love almost everybody, regardless of their background or history. Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a strong believer in extending grace and mercy to everyone.” See more in the comments below.]
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a friend’s wife as your real estate agent, if she is truly competent, experienced, professional, and ethical, but for goodness sake, do some due diligence first. Go out and interview at least three real estate agents, and choose those three carefully by filtering through the Internet to first read about them and find the one real estate agent with the best education PLUS experience PLUS a powerful Internet presence. The first two should be obvious, but don’t forget that 85% of all home buyers start their search on the Internet today according to a national survey by the National Association of Realtors, so if your real estate agent doesn’t have a powerful Internet presence, go somewhere else.
Honestly, I have heard so many stories from good people who hired a housewife as their real estate agent because she was a sister of someone or a brother’s aunt’s daughter, and after they have made the same big mistake that so many before have innocently made, they shake their head in disbelief as they talk about it.
Why would I be so blunt and honest in this article? Because I have seen this same scenario so many times as a real estate attorney and again as a real estate agent that I think I’ll scream it out–All real estate agents are NOT the same. Hire a good real estate agent, not just someone who has a license and is your friend’s wife. Many of these real estate agents have no business background, no degree in marketing or sales, no real estate knowledge, other than the little online courses required to pass the test, and virtually no experience in hard negotiating or legal documents, and you’re hiring this person to spend your $300,000? Egad!
Okay. I’ve said it. Now you have some choices to make. Hire someone who is professional, honest and has the experience, someone who will assertively represent you, or . . . hire Tom, Sally, or Jane who just happens to be a friend of a friend and got his or her license.
Not sure who to hire? Call me and ask me anything under the sun, and I’ll answer your questions honestly. Do the same with two other real estate agents. Then judge for yourself. If you don’t think I’m the man for the job, then hire someone else, but don’t you deserve the opportunity to find out for yourself before you hire Jane or Sally automatically?
Hire a good real estate agent, whoever he or she might be. A good real estate agent is not easy to find.
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There’s a new Internet search engine in town, and it’s Microsoft’s search tool called, “Bing.” It’s easy to find on the Net, because it is simply bing.com. How does it stack up to the number one search engine, Google, which has about 64% of the search engine market? It is amazingly similar to Google.
Microsoft is struggling with only 8% of the market. Even thought Microsoft has been around a lot longer than Google, Google clearly figured out what consumers wanted, and Google continues to tweak and build to meet the cutting edge of consumer preferences. Microsoft has not done so well in this area, but their new search engine looks amazingly similar to Google’s.
Even the results are quite similar, although not precisely the same. Of course the results will not be exactly the same with different algorithms. But if you’re using Google already, you might wonder why you should shift to Bing. Other than a moment of “something new,” I can’t answer that.
“Nearly 98 percent of the traffic at Live.com is passive (coming from MSN, etc.) and Bing will be an attempt by Microsoft to establish its search offering as a destination Web site with high active traffic,” Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Agarwal said in a research note on Monday. “In our view, though Microsoft’s search technologies are ready for prime time, making a call on the success of Bing now will be premature.”
Most Microsoft searches have been the result of using MSN with toolbars and other methods, while just 1 or 2 percent come from people actually typing Live.com into their browser’s address bar. The rumor is that Miscrosoft plans to spend $80 to $100 million dollars to advertise and promote Bing.
Well, that wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft tried to buy its way into a market. We’ll see how it goes, but this author predicts that Google will remain dominant and Google fans like me will continue to favor Google.
For an example of the same search in Google and in Bing, take a look at these results with the search phrase “sequim and port angeles real estate news” without the quotes:
Bing search results for sequim and port angeles real estate news
Google search results for sequim and port angeles real estate news
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Sequim real estate brokers and Port Angeles real estate brokers are certainly facing many of the same struggles that brokers are facing all over the country, and Traditional Real Estate Brokerage is rapidly becoming a business model of the past. Why?
Let’s face it, and we all know this, everyone is moving to the Internet for almost everything. Real estate agents can’t afford the expensive advertising of print newspapers, but print advertising just isn’t pulling in the clients anymore either. Because consumers no longer want to read stale news, pay newspaper subscriptions, and because businesses are not paying for expensive and ineffective advertising, print newspapers are going out of business across the United States. And brick and mortar real estate offices are not what impresses clients.
This tidal wave of change that has been sweeping the nation is literally forcing real estate brokers to ditch the old business model, because they are getting sucked into a black hole of financial disaster.
Imagine being forced to close 11 real estate offices! That’s exactly what RE/MAX Dolphin Real Estate did. “This is not a geo-centric business anymore. The office has become less of a focus,’ said Allan Bernardi, broker and chief executive officer of RE/MAX Dolphin. ‘Technology has reduced the need to get the client into the office. You need to go where your clients are.'” Read Mobilizing the Real Estate Office.
Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC has been on the cutting edge of technology and the Internet, and we are pleased to announce that we are the largest real estate Internet brokerage in the county. We’re not sure, but we may be the largest private solely owned Internet broker in the State of Washington. All that would not mean much, except we are also built on a foundation of professional competence, knowledge, and integrity. Chuck Marunde started in real estate 30 years ago, spent 20 years as a real estate lawyer, and now focuses that experience on real estate for buyers and sellers in Sequim and Port Angeles. “We give clients more free information on the Internet than any other competing broker on subjects like buying and selling, the specifics of a transaction, negotiating the best price, building your own home, market prices and charts, analysis, MLS information, and much more–all free for our clients and all those who just need the information,” says Chuck Marunde, broker and founder.
For the hottest new online newspaper in the area, see Sequim-News.com.
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As a real estate broker I’m part of a national network of professionals in the real estate business, and I have the privilege of conversing with these professionals about the real estate business, brokerage, the market, sales techniques, and trends. I learn a lot from these colleagues, all of whom live and work outside my market.
Here’s a story I’ve heard more than once. An agent worked for a broker who promised everything under the sun, including a vast educational network, training and mentoring, opportunity for growth and income, office support, tools, supplies, and affiliations that could help the agent build his business. The agent wasn’t new to the business. As a matter of fact, the agent had years of precious experience that the broker insisted would be helpful to the brokerage and help them finally get moving in the right direction and get some momentum going. There were even hints of partnership or management that would involve substantial compensation. It all sounded so good to the agent that he signed up enthusiastically with the broker.
Unfortunately, after a year of no office meetings, no “vast educational network,” no helpful affiliations, no marketing systems, no business planning, . . . and virtually no office support with any value, the agent decided he had no choice but to move on. He realized after pouring his heart out and working long hours to be successful at the brokerage, and after undying loyalty and faithfulness to the broker and the broker’s wife and the entire staff, the broker had in fact misrepresented his services and benefits.
It turns out this is a common story told in nearly every region of the country. Real estate agents have a hard time finding a good home, and that’s the rule rather than the exception. The exception is the agent who has been working with the same broker for a dozen or more years. That’s rare.
It’s a tough business. Brokers are trying to make money off every agent, and agent’s are trying to keep as much of their money as they can. If an agent felt he was getting great value for the substantial portion of the commission he gave his broker out of each transaction, that would be one thing, but many agents are finding out they don’t get all that was promised, and some argue they don’t get anything.
With the real estate market down so far, and deals few and far between, it has become dog-eat-dog out there. If you’re a Realtor trying to find a broker who understands how to run a profitable business and take care of his agents with generous compensation and mentoring, don’t give up hope. They’re out there. They’re just hard to find.
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In Sequim and Port Angeles, there is one complaint I hear over and over again from people who had their property listed for sale with an agent at some point in the past. I’m hesitant to share this, but I hear it so often, I don’t think this is any kind of secret. In fact, it seems to be something that many homeowners have experienced in the school of hard knocks. Here is what many have told me, almost verbatim:
“I had my property listed, but all my agent did was put it in the MLS. I never heard from ‘him/her’. Nothing happened. No showings. For six months.”
It’s a shame that such things happen, but this is not unusual around the country. Getting a real estate license is not much harder than getting a driver’s license. Sure you have to take an online course and take a test, but let’s fact it, just because someone has a license doesn’t mean they have knowledge and experience to handle your biggest investment. I’m part of a large nationwide network of professional Realtors, and this is a common theme around the U.S.
I had some clients recently who took a very intelligent approach to searching for property. First, they did their due diligence to find an agent they thought had the requisite knowledge and experience to help them find their ideal property and negotiate the best price. Second, only then did they start looking at properties. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I think it does. Of course, I am a Realtor, but I’m willing to be interviewed, and you’re welcome to do your due diligence in looking at my background to see if I can help you sell or buy your next property. I love helping people buy and sell real estate, and everything I have learned in 30 years of real estate (including 20 as a real estate attorney) is yours for the asking.
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Did you know that not all real estate brokers and not all agents are necessarily members of your local MLS (multiple listing service), wherever you may live in the U.S.? What does it mean if a broker is not? Let’s consider the implications.
Most people know that the MLS is where real estate agents post their listings. This is the first step in marketing a property. Putting the listing in the MLS gives other agents who are members of the MLS the ability to view the details of that listing and share the listing with their potential buyer clients. All of this exposes the listed property to more potential buyers.
So why wouldn’t a broker be a member of a local MLS? There are three logical reasons. First, it is too expensive. That is not likely, since it is not an expensive service. In fact, it is the least expensive marketing an agent will ever do. The second possible reason is that the broker has a better marketing plan. That could be, but this also not likely, since the best marketing plan would include first listing it in the local MLS. The third possible reason would be that the broker’s membership was suspended or revoked by the local MLS board. If that is what happened, we don’t even want to discuss going further with that broker. Anyone who list with such a broker either does not know about the suspension or revocation or they are on Ritalin.
For the consumer, there are several more important considerations in deciding to list with a non-MLS participating broker.
Your logical goal when selling your home is to get the highest possible price in the least amount of time. I recommend choosing your real estate agent carefully. It’s a very important decision for you.
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The following are true stories from somewhere in the U.S. Only the names have been changed to shield the guilty.
True Story #1. An out of town couple hire a real estate agent to find their dream home. Their agent shows them a number of homes. They purchase and close on one they love. Later they discover the home is infested with pests, and the wood under the house in the crawl space is rotting because of excessive moisture and standing water. Their agent knew about this but did not disclose it. The buyers paid for the repairs out of their own pockets.
True Story #2. A widow purchases a home that turns out to have asbestos, but she has no recourse against her own real estate agent nor against the inspector.
True Story #3. A couple listed their land with an agent they found through a popular advertisement. Their land was listed for over a year but never sold. Out of frustration the couple did not renew the listing and decided to sell it themselves.
True Story #4. A couple listed their home with an agent, but months passed by and they didn’t hear from their agent, didn’t have any activity on their home, and didn’t see any advertisements. They withdrew the listing, listed with another agent and sold the home within a matter of weeks.
What are you looking for in a Realtor? Do you know how to identify what you want in a Realtor? Or will you end up disillusioned with your agent?
By the way, the photo above is me . . . many years ago. Wow, I look so young. Looking for a competent and trustworthy Realtor? Interview me and ask me anything you want, and you decide. I don’t have all the hair I had in that photo, but I do have the experience you might be looking for.
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I was reminded this week that in every profession, there are those who are competent, those who are mediocre, and those who are simply unprofessional. Think of the Dentists you’ve seen in your life. The really great Dentists make it almost pleasant. Or consider plumbers, contractors, CPA’s, insurance agents, or financial advisers. Some are great, and those are the ones to keep for a lifetime. But . . . this week I had a client who tried to work with a mortgage rep to get their home loan. There are some great mortgage reps out there, but this person was not one of them. No phone calls, no communication, lack of coordination among my clients and me, and ultimately this rep drops my clients with nothing more than, “Can’t do the loan.” No purpose is served here by going into detail, because my main point is this:
When you need the services of a professional, seek out someone who is really good, and that normally means someone who has knowledge and experience, and it certainly helps if they have a good reputation for 1.) doing good work, and 2.) communicating with their clients.
I’m a Realtor, and we all know that everyone and their brother has a real estate license. That alone should be a red flag for anyone considering working with a Realtor. Real estate agents are a dime a dozen. Having been in real estate for about 30 years now, I can tell you from personal experience that this profession is like all others. We have the competent, the mediocre, and those who are . . . well, let’s just say not your best choice. This certainly isn’t front page news, right?
So the next time you are looking for a Realtor, please, for you own sake, do your homework and seek a Realtor who really is competent, trustworthy, experienced, and professional. You’ll be so happy you did.
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