By Jim Valentine: Random real estate musings

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

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Zillow is a well-known online service that started out offering free valuation of your home. People became fascinated with what Zillow said their home was worth … or not.
It wasn’t always correct as it didn’t take into consideration the many items that contribute to the value besides square footage of the home. They missed the shop, property size, upgrades, etc. A few years back they started selling positions on their site to agents looking to have buyers call them on properties that really weren’t their listings.
Then they took another leap for profits when they decided to buy homes. They used their national exposure to attract home sellers and they bought homes. We find it ironic now that they have decided to get out of the house flipping business and are going to dump 7,000 homes on the market to initiate that process. This is further proof that the agents are the “boots on the ground” that serve their customers like no algorithm can.
Another recent industry trend is real estate offices being purchased by larger firms. Whether it be single offices joining a regional conglomerate of individual offices, or a large chain of offices selling to a national firm like the transaction involving Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, Wash. They sold to a Houston-based firm. There are a lot of businesses trying to get into the real estate business in one manner or another, and some offices are succumbing to the added competitive pressure. We still believe that most people are better served by a professional real estate agent that has good local knowledge.
This concept also applies to loan officers. A good loan officer is critical to a smooth transaction. There are, however, online companies that are vying for your dollar and they aren’t always what they purport themselves to be. Don’t experiment with lenders, get a good one and stick by him/her. When the going gets tough during the loan process the good ones prove their worth over and over and push, pull, prod or throw you over the hurdles that present themselves along the way.
Appraisals are once again jamming up the process. We have been told that so many appraisers lost time during the “great smoke out” last summer that they have not been able to catch up. Their lead time is long, and their turnaround times something that we would have laughed at not that long ago. Some are also charging surplus prices for simple appraisals without expedited turn ins. Make and accept your offer appropriately or you may find yourself having to ask for an extension for the close of escrow which may, or may not, be agreed to by your counterpart in the transaction.
It is interesting how often people forget their commitment or agreement to something as time goes by. Whenever possible use a communication system that leaves a trail, i.e., email, text, etc., when discussing details of a transaction. If you have a phone discussion take the time to send a written communication after the call memorializing the contents of the call. Papering your file in this manner is good “just in case” insurance.
Business practices change over time. Buggy whip manufacturing was once a thriving industry until the advent of the automobile. Real estate, however, has endured many efforts by big corporations to take control of the industry, but to date the traditional practices, ethics and professionalism still reign supreme as the best option for the customer to be safe, achieve their goals, and be protected along the way.
Change is good, but must be implemented wisely. We loved NCR paper when it replaced carbon paper for us to write our contracts with. Today we have computer programs for our contracts, but it is still a professional person that writes the offer. Good changes are great, but opportunistic money grabbers should be dealt with carefully.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your Real Estate needs… Experience is Priceless!  Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. 


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