Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's wrong with Trulia? - Real Estate is Best at a Local Level

There has been a lot of talk lately amongst agents and clients about Trulia. They were just purchased by Zillow and they will some day take over the real estate industry because the consumer demands information and an efficient system, bla, bla bla bla bla. Maybe not after today's Trulia mishap.

Random Quick Statement: The only way information will be accurate is at the local level.

Back to my Point on Trulia:

Trulia launched a new "agent profile" where clients can rate agents. Agents like myself click on the link to see all of our recommendations. I even took a look at my own today. I had ten recommendations and only two had attempted to give a "star rating" for some reason. Then I reviewed them.

The review said "John Long did a awesome job in selling our home. Thanks John for all your hard work and efforts, it was appreciated." Beside that same rating it only had one star. How could that be? Well, I called Trulia and they admitted that it was an error, but couldn't fix it without my client logging back into her profile and changing it. How annoying would that be for your agent to have to call you to fix something that was correct before prior to some third party nerds messing it up with a new system.

Why would just one rating set me off....Because there were only two to create an average off of. As an agent we don't want a low average rating, especially when the customer meant to rate an agent highly.

The experience of the phone call: It took several phone calls, I was put on hold, transferred a couple times, and the representatives that I chatted with were snippy, and they really just don't get the agent prospective. Keep in mind this is a company that I currently pay hundreds of dollars per month to advertise certain zip codes. They should treat me a little better than that.

My question is this, if Trulia can make errors that are damaging to agents reputations & businesses and can't correct it to be accurate, then why would I as an agent pay them each month to provide me with a service that is disruptive and inconvenient to my business?

My suggestion to agents who share these concerns is this......These companies look great on paper, but here is why I choose not to invest in them. Realtors are the ones that keep them in business. If they damage our real estate business and reputation, then we will penalize them for it. With system changes like this that damage our business we will eventually pull our advertising from these websites. When that happens they will sink.

I'm proposing the following to sink the ships like Trulia and Zillow. This is a very simple solution that hasn't been discussed much in the news lately....It should be quick and simple too......are you ready.....

1. Have your board of Realtors cut off the IDX agreements with them. That is where most of the info comes from and guess who works hard for all the pics, descriptions, room sizes, etc???? You are right...It's the agents.

People in our industry say, "Realtors will never stick together and Zillow and Trulia are just too big with too much money." I say, they might have a lot of money, but we are the gatekeepers of the information and real estate will and has always been best at a local level.

Even if you do not want to rock the boat, the boat needs to be rocked because these websites are damaging to our customers and to our personal business. As an agent, our reputation is our biggest asset. We work hard day and night to protect that reputation. I will not let some nerd that can't figure out the problem with his website to interfere with my hard earned business.

If anyone actually read my horribly written blog, just remember that when it comes to these big websites, we the agents and board of realtors need to step up and enforce accuracy or cut it off and separate it from our profession. Customers should be given accurate and dependable info and it simply cannot happen on a macro level.

I vote to cut them off and legitimize accurate real estate once again. Real Estate has and always will be best at a LOCAL LEVEL.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

House Hunters Indianapolis Update

As many of you may already know that the HGTV Show "House Hunters" was filmed in Indianapolis in February/March of 2014. My clients and I were featured in that episode and travel both downtown Indianapolis and the Indy suburbs to find them a new home.

We do not yet have an air date but please feel free to check the programming guide on the HGVT.com website. Let me know if you see it scheduled anywhere as I will also check. We are also looking for some ideas as to where we might host a viewing party on the north side of Indy. 

Please share any ideas for a viewing party location. We are guesstimating a fall air date but nothing solid yet. Thanks again, JL


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Advice for those Building New Construction with a Local Custom Builder

Here is some simple advice on the "not so simple" issue of building a new home with a local custom builder. 


Many future homeowners dream of building a new custom home for their family. They are seeking a higher quality craftsmanship and one of a kind design.  They might even want their floor plan and exterior to look different than their neighbors.  They also want a neighborhood that looks unique.  You get to make changes, custom floor plans, major structural changes, color selections, select the major brands of fixtures, lighting, appliances, cabinetry, and more.  Really, building custom seems fantastic with all the choices and flexibility doesn't it?  


Remember, there is a price for everything.  In this example, I'm not talking about the actual price of the home, although it will likely be much higher.  I'm talking about the price that we pay for being able to build with a local homebuilder.  Yes, the price of the home will typically be higher, the process will take longer, there will be more tough decisions, and you will most likely have to get a CONSTRUCTIO LOAN or FINANCE THE CONSTRUCTION of the home yourself.


So, what's really so bad about financing my own construction right?  Well, my advice is this.....GET REPRESENTATION before you decide on a custom builder.  It's always best to GET REPRESENTATION before you start the looking, buying or selling process.  In other words....YOU NEED A REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL to help you negotiate your way through the process. 


WHY WOULD I NEED AN AGENT?  You don't just need an agent...You need a VERY GOOD AGENT, who knows the builders and developers in your market.  They will steer you clear of builders with bad reputations or poor finances. 


SIDE NOTE:
Want to hear something really ironic?  I sold new construction for several years and now I help people as a managing real estate broker protect their liability when they build with them.  When I sold new construction I was always amazed at how many buyers didn't have any representation.  It made our job much easier when there was an issue, but I always felt bad for the client.


Basically, the builder calls the shots and if the client doesn't agree then too bad.  With an agent in the mix, the builder often doesn't want to get a bad reputation with the agents who builders often consider "gate keepers" to more buyers.  As agents say, make one of us mad and it will spread through the entire office.  At the builder we would always take this into consideration before making any decisions on major issues.


QUESTION 1 on NEGOTIATIONS:
An important ingredient to any negotiation is "How much does the other side stand to lose."  So does builder A stand more to lose with client x without an agent or client y with an agent (backed by an entire office of agents with more potential builder clients)?




BACK TO THE READING:
Just remember this.....There is risk anytime you finance the construction of your home.  What happens if the builder does not pay the subcontractors as we saw in the late 2000's in our local market?  Often the subcontractors place liens on the properties and when the builder files for bankruptcy the person building is faced with huge liens on their property before they have even moved in.  Yes, there is definitely some risk with building a custom home with a local homebuilder.  Make sure your real estate professional knows the company before you get under contract and read your contracts thoroughly. 


I recently had a client who ran across a local homebuilder.  The contract specified his remedies if the buyer defaults but did not list the buyers remedies if the builder, subcontractors or builders service provider defaults on their contract.  Why do you think that is?  It's because the builder is protecting themselves and not the buyer. 


This is a perfect example of why a very solid real estate professional needs to be representing their clients throughout the entire process.  Plus it's free in most markets for buyers to get representation so why would they not.  My last bit of advice is this....If the builder tells you it's better or cheaper not to have a real estate agent represent you, walk away. 


It's like going to court without an attorney.  Who does the builder represent?.....The seller.  Who represents a buyer?......A real estate professional.  Again, it's been my experience since the early 2000's that everyone should have a real estate agent present during the building process.


This is where an agent can help you through the building process:  contract negotiations, verbiage negotiations, financing, structural options, re-sale advice, design center options, contract disputes, inspections, inspection responses, closings, pre-drywall walkthrough, final walkthrough prior to closing, previewing closing statements, closing, after closing, and with warranty issues.


Thanks for reading!






 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Home closed in Westfield, Indiana on 3 acres of land!

Congrats to my awesome clients for closing on this great property in Westfield on 3 acres. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Received Five Star Professional Real Estate Agent Award!

I would like to thank my clients and friends for nominating me and scoring my customer service through real estate transactions in the top 7% of all real estate professionals in the Indianapolis Metro Area.  Also, I owe a  thank you to Jeff from Five Star for just calling to let me know.  For those of you who have an interest, they post the award winners in the May Issue of the Indianapolis Monthly Magazine.  Thanks again to all!