Friday, May 15, 2015

[Set the Record Straight]

Sometimes I just need to vent!

I am a full-time, high-producing REALTOR (R). I bring much, much more to the transaction than just driving people around to look at houses, or in the case of a seller, more than a sign and MLS listings. The many things I do may not be apparent or visible to a seller/buyer. Many of my buyers and sellers swear that they would not have succeeded at getting through a sale or purchase without me personally handling their transaction, even though they may be unsure what my "magic" was, but they know I did it. I have been able to do some remarkable things because of my experience and persistence. After having sold many more properties annually than the average agent, I know more than a few strategies that benefit my clients.

I utilize my many contacts (hard won contacts in some cases) and reputation to help market a property. This is far more effective than newspaper ads and open houses (I seldom do either one unless it's right for that audience).

I keep tough transactions together if at all possible, and get them to the closing table with everyone having been treated fairly, decently and without ugly confrontations, because I'm a pro.

I work long, hard hours at the expense of my own life to provide the best service I can to a client because I'm in this career for the right reasons.  Case in point: I spent my personal, planned family vacation in WI Dells on the phone and email negotiating a deal for some sellers that I had been working with for over a year that REALLY needed me to get the house sold so they could move on with their lives.  I did get the property sold for the price they needed (but much less than they paid) in just weeks in a tough market - only to have an appraiser kill the deal by coming in low (and then another appraiser say the first appraiser was unfamiliar with the area an off base - oh for stressful!)

I deal with inexperienced buyers, sellers, and agents (and apparently appraisers) every day, and try to keep everyone out of "transaction trouble".

As to the myth that agents are being "highly paid", I have no salary, no sick leave, no paid vacation, no paid holidays, no retirement, and no benefits. I pay for my car and its upkeep, my signs, my lockboxes, my mls fees, my license and required education expense, any specialized education I feel would benefit my clients, my errors and omissions insurance, my office expense, my computers and continual upgrades needed, my office supplies, my camera, my cell phone, my web site (that I use to sell your house or provide you with free listing browsing access), the food and gifts for any open houses I may do, my business cards and any other printing, such as flyers and brochures, any advertising done on your house, advertising I pay just to get my name in front of buyers and sellers in hopes to generate enough business to get through any "slumps", not to mention my health insurance, and taxes, and hope there is enough left over for housing and life support for myself and my family. We are all sharing in the economic hard times and booms. However, our expenses don't fall or change in relationship to the market. How much do you pay for your job?

If an agent drives a nice car there are a couple questions you may ask yourself. Based on what I know from the paragraph above, is this agent A) married to somebody with money, B) continues to successfully scam people in a relationship/network based business, C) obviously so good at their job that they are able to have enough clients to support that lifestyle/car. Try asking. :-)

As to absurd internet comments about a Realtor not being willing to put their own money and time into homes before marketing or even a contract: Why would I pay to improve your property when you haven't seen fit to do so? Do you pay for your employer to improve your workplace or the product you produce? Do you expect a doctor to swing by you house for a quick check up because you might be sick? All other service professionals get paid for their time and efforts whether they succeed or not (doctors, attorneys, etc.). Realtors only get paid after the fact and IF they succeed. If we fail to produce the sale we get nothing, no matter how much time, effort, and marketing expense we may have put into it. So we should pay for you to do what needs to be done to your property with no guarantee of ever getting paid for our work? I don't think so.

As for the "expectation" of the uninformed that I should be responding instantly to their online requests at all of the day an night to gain their business, I beg to differ. Your need for instant gratification is a poor way to choose your service professionals.

Yes, some For Sale by Owners do succeed nicely. However, they are also exposed to many errors and liabilities, not to mention possibly criminal incidents, that cautious, experienced agents can usually buffer them from. We can't afford too many mistakes and stay in business.

I do love my work, enjoy my clients, and wouldn't want to do anything else, as is obvious by my dedication. I'm proud of my successes in helping people accomplish what they want or need.

Am I an asset to my clients? Am I worth what I'm paid? You bet I am! Probably more!

Want to read more about the job of an agent?
11 Shocking Facts You May Not Know About Real Estate Agents

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Building New or Remodeling Your Current Home? READ THIS FIRST

We all like NEW!

Are your home upgrades worth the money?
Upgrades are a good thing but only if they are consistent with keeping your home valued with the current market rate.

First, maintenance and upkeep are different than upgrades.  Fixing things that are failing, broken or worn out are just part of home ownership. Upkeep maintains value and if your home is not properly maintained, you may see a decrease your value over time.  Also, if all the homes in your neighborhood are starting to remodel with updated fixtures, countertops, paint and flooring, you should consider doing the same.

Have a licensed agent who knows your area consult with you prior to putting in some hefty upgrades. You may decide to re-think some of them. Here's why:
  • Unless you plan to stay in your home forever, consider your major upgrades before you do them as most upgrades do not get back what you put into them if you decide to sell.
  • Know what the current market value is for your home.  If you put in upgrades that you feel bump your value up way over what the neighborhood can bear, understand that you most likely will not see this investment returned.
  • Realize that situations do change in our lives and what we planned on doing may very well have to change quickly. Long term investments should be carefully considered.  

After all, even if your home is listed at your desired price and receives an offer, if it doesn't appraise we will be re-visiting the price at some point.  Even if a cash offer came in, most buyers are savvy and would still not desire to pay way over market value in any neighborhood.

Are you planning a move within the next five years?  Now is the time to call for a consultation. Having your "ducks in a row" will keep you on track!

Sarah Marrinan, Realtor, Twin Cities,

Read more:
Tips for buying NEW construction homes

Saturday, May 2, 2015

20+ Gifts Ideas for Someone Leaving Home

Leaving the Nest

When a person is venturing out on their own for the first time, there is often a bulk of items that they previously relied on through their care provider (parents, that's usually you). Here are care packages/gift ideas to help you help them. Though they may have "open packages" of many of these items that they will take with them when they leave, it's always nice to have supplies on hand.

Medicine Chest:
Stomach Relief Liquid or Tablets
Night/Day Time Cold Medicine
Heartburn tablets
Allergy/Sinus Medication
Daily Vitamins


Toothbrush and Paste
Face Soap and Wash Cloth
Hand Towel and Bath Towel
Shampoo and Body Soap
Shaver with Blade Refills
Pack of Toilet Paper
Box of Facial Tissue
Laundry Soap, Laundry Bag and a Roll of Quarters

Gift Cards:
Gas Cards

Basic Tool Set in a Case
Non-Perishable Grocery Package (Canned and Boxed goods plus drinks!)
Movie Passes
Streaming Video Subscriptions (Netflix/Amazon Prime/Etc)
Streaming Video Solutions (Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV)

If they are buying a home, a group of people could create this Home Maintenance Tool Kit!

These are just suggestions and should be catered to each individual.

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