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Maria Gilda Racelis' Blog

By Maria Gilda Racelis | Broker in 06040
  • Showing Houses is Neither a Caravan Nor a Picnic

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Connecticut  |  April 8, 2014 5:35 AM  |  306 views  |  6 comments

    When a friend of mine referred to me a buyer who lived one hour away from my town, I hesitated to accept the referral.

    The primary reason was that I am not familiar with the town. Hence, it would be a disservice to the buyer. Second, the drive alone would be painstaking.

    But my friend pleaded because the buyer already worked with an agent and the turnout was not pleasant.

    So I decided to give it a try.

    I called the buyer and asked the usual basic questions. To throw a few:

    • 1)      The criteria for the house she is looking for.
    • 2)      If she already talked to a loan officer about her options to finance her purchase.
    • 3)      The amount she is approved for and if she needs seller’s concession or help with the closing costs.

    Two crucial questions I added during the first exchange are the number of properties she had seen and why she was not happy with the previous agent.  I told her also that I don’t know the area at all. She told me to send the listings and would pick from them as she knows the area well. She expanded her search to two towns—they are next to each other.

    She said that the agent was showing her houses which did not suit her family’s needs. She had expounded on this when I asked her the first question. The family needed at least four bedrooms. And the house should be move-in ready. I thought the requirements were realistic based on the available listings I gathered.

    There I was in front of the house slated for our first showing. I scheduled 3 for that day. Punctuality is important to me especially on an occasion like this—meeting the buyer for the first time.

    I saw a car slowing down, followed by another, then another---a total of three vehicles.

    I opened my car door and got out to look for the buyer. It was not hard finding her because there was only one lady who was smiling as she moved slowly to approach me. Then we met eye to eye.

    I browsed the number of people who would be entering the house: The buyer and the husband; a couple with 3 small children; a young woman; and another couple with a toddler. That was eleven.

    All of them trailed behind as I walked towards the front door. Before I let them in, I told the parents to please watch the children and not to let them away from their sight.  I was hoping that they did get the polite request and its subtle message. “Please make them behave.”

    I motioned for them to follow me as we went through each room. Honestly, I could not pay attention to the details of the house because I was busy watching the children who were touching the sellers’ personal items. I already asked the parents once to stop one of the kids but they did not do anything when another kid did the same thing.

    My heart was palpitating with frustration and tension. The kids ran around with their bags of chips and opened the sliders ahead of us.

    It was a huge relief when that tour was over. I ushered them out of the house and told the buyer to wait for me in her car.

    I went back inside the house to check for crumbs or anything the kids could have dropped. Or perhaps, broken figurines or flower vase?

    I was glad that everything looked intact and safe. However, I could not allow another incident like this. It was just nerve wrecking.

    Outside, I asked the buyer if I can talk to her privately. So, I told her that we have 2 other houses in line and I know that all the family members are anxious to see the house. But I advised to have the children stay in the car with an adult while the others check the inside of the other two houses."

    She excused herself and conferred with the group. When she came back to the same spot where she left me, she said that they all would like to go inside the house. She said it in a nice way but it was not enough to pacify me after what happened in the first showing.

    I told her at that instance, “I am sorry, but we have to cancel the next two showings.”

    It did not matter how eager I was to assist the buyer in her pursuit. I did want to help. I rarely give up. But with that kind of attitude, I could see stress looming over each showing. I want to make the home buying process easier, enjoyable and fulfilling for the clients. In this case, I could not see this happening.

     

     

  • CYA stands for Cover Your Agency. Not C-YA later.

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Connecticut  |  April 8, 2014 5:33 AM  |  200 views  |  1 comment

    In an extremely litigious society, real estate professionals are not immune from litigation and ethical violation complaints. Cover Your Agency (CYA) is instilled in Real Estate 101 and should be in your yellow sticky note wherever visible.

    Covering your A is not just about disclosing known material facts and other information that will affect the consumer or clients' decision-making process. 


    It is also reminds you to keep your mouth shut and refrain from making false statements or offering information beyond your scope or area of expertise.


    The critical component of CYA is paper trail. If you want to protect yourself from devouring alligators later, it is necessary to document....document...document. Verbal communication can't be validated or authenticated unless it is taped or recorded. 


    Keep your enemies close but your friends closer. No, we are not in a tactical guerilla warfare here. But you can never tell who, someday, can cause you trouble no matter how diligent, honest, assiduous and fair you are in your conduct of business.


    The burden of proof rests in the hands of the complainant. The respondent, on the other hand, should be able to defend himself. In our business, emails, texts and anything in writing are proofs of existence and evidence.


    Some things that could escalate as a problem if you don't pay due diligence in protecting yourself:


    1) Price Reduction or Increase: Don't forget to get an email or text authorization while waiting for the official signed addedum before you make the change.

    2) Counter Offer: Verbal counter offers are normal when both parties are in the middle of a negotiation to reach a mutual agreement. Again, get something in writing.

    3) Showing Instructions: No showing on Sundays, after 5 P.M., Holidays, lunch time, before 10 A.M., when the baby is sleeping, etc. Whatever the lawful instruction is, have it in writing. 

    4) Change in Status: If the seller requested to put the status temporary off the market, have an addendum signed.

    5) Additional Service Provided: If you are to provide extra services like staging,  cleaning services, etc., and expect to get compensation for this, you still need explicit terms in writing to get paid and to protect yourself by engaging in activities outside of the listing agreement,

    6) Representation Agreement: Who would want to render services for free? In establising the procuring cause, a buyer representation agreement, although it may not be foolproof to solidify the position as the procuring cause, is paramount and crucial in imposing the right to compensation. Get it signed.

    7) Communication with other agents: As much as possible, correspond via email or texts with problem and notorious realtors and any other realtor. Even after a phone conversation, send an email to validate and substantiate the verbal conversation. 


    There will come a time when your paper trail will become your best friends. 


     


  • All it Takes is Few Seconds to Uphold Professionalism

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Manchester  |  November 1, 2013 5:13 AM  |  251 views  |  No comments

    Fast track, fast pace, fast mode. There are days when we juggle time to squeeze in appointments and tasks within a day. Rush, rush, hurry, hurry---from dawn till dusk.

    In this hurried pace, we tend to forget and overlook the tiny details that can smudge professionalism and worse, create aggravation to other individuals.

    One of the common missteps is the online showing request.

    In CTMLS, a showing assist icon is inserted for the properties where agents can plug in showing appointments online.

    Then you can click on the date and time for the preferred showing appoinment on the calendar which looks like this.

    It only takes few seconds to click the appropriate and correct day and time. Appropriate and correct day and time--these are the critical words.

    If an agent failed to review this properly before sending the request, this one blunder can create an unpleasant reaction and chain of events especially if a specific showing instruction states that it requires 24-hour notice.

    Blunders are sometimes inevitable. That is a given. We are humans after all.

    But one blunder after another makes it harder for a listing agent to take the brunt of the consequences. Repeated offense even if it was committed by different agents does not give us realtors the professionalism we uphold.

    • If the showing appointment is confirmed for the next day at 3PM, please don't show up at 3PM today.
    • If you erroneously hit the wrong time slot, you should have at least read the showing instruction that it requires at least a day notice. Ergo, you, as the agent, were not paying attention if you just made the request on the same day that you unexpectedly showed up at the property.

    You have to realize that not only did you cause vexing infraction with the sellers and the listing agent, you also were accountable to your own buyers. Why were you turned away?

    There are so many tiny details and things we tend to forget because we try to do as much in a day.

    Nonetheless, there is no excuse for consistent sloppiness nor clumsiness. It is ouright ineptitude.

  • Code of Ethics is Ever Changing

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Manchester  |  October 2, 2013 5:52 AM  |  285 views  |  No comments

    "Keeping realtors on track is like herding cats." Are we these disorganized and discombobulated individuals who trudge unclear pathways in the conduct and practice of our profession?


    There must be underlying truth in this quote as The Code of Ethics have been amended 39 times since its adoption in 1913( National Association of Realtors,Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual 2013, NAR, Chicago, USA, 2013. p.140).


    Unlike the laws of the land which are either sanctioned, mandated or promulgated, the Code of Ethics is a voluntary revolution of sensibility to promote high standard of professionalism in real estate transactions.


    Those who abide by the Code recognizes their duties, responsibilities, obligations and limitations to better serve the public interest.


    Societal needs and status are ever shifting. So does the real estate indsutry. Consistent changes in the Code are inevitable to be in consonant with the change.


    To protect the public interest is the core principle surrounding the concept and ideals in the creation of the Code.


    Last year, the Code of Ethics was amended to include Standard of Practice 1-16: Realtors shall not access or use, or permit or enable others to access or use, listed or managed property on terms or conditions other than those authorized by the owner. ( National Association of Realtors,Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual 2013, NAR, Chicago, USA, 2013. p.7).


    Your theory is as good as mine. Complaints about unauthorized access to properties has become rampant. This is the huge pitfall of combo lockboxes. With electronic lockboxes, the listing agents have the ability to monitor who accessed their listings. Hence, it serves as an unauthorized-access deterrent.


    Vacant properties with combo lockboxes can be accessed anytime by other realtors....And by the clients of the realtors. You may even have bumped into other agent's clients thinking that they were your colleagues. These clients may also have visited the same property several times without the knowledge of the agent to measure the windows and kitchen cabinets.


    However, there are also showing instructions where you can access the property anytime. Not "log and go". Just go. Is the owner of the property aware of this "No need to log. Just go" instructions? 


    In 2009, Standard of Practice 1-15 was amended. In the second phrase "Where disclosure is authorized, Realtors shall also disclose, if asked (this has been added), whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker. ( National Association of Realtors,Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual 2013, NAR, Chicago, USA, 2013. p.7).


    Therefore, when multiple bid situation is disclosed, the listing licensee can't withhold the information if  one of the offers is produced by him.

    The Code of Ethics is not adopted to penalize offending parties and to reward the aggrieved parties. This is not the primary purpose and intent of its adoption. 


    In the Preamble, the term Realtor has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations.


    "In the interpretation of this obligation, Realtors can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, emnodied in the Golden Rule, "Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them." ( National Association of Realtors,Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual 2013, NAR, Chicago, USA, 2013. p.5).


    The Golden Rule is also written as "Do unto others, what you want others do unto you."


    In the conduct of our profession, when in doubt, think first then act keeping the prime directive in mind.


    I personally love Immanuel Kant's philosophy, "Human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end."

    - See more at: http://activerain.com/blogsview/4209044/the-code-of-ethics-is-ever-changing#sthash.d9uuFpL7.dpuf
  • Absorbing the Absorption Rate

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Manchester  |  September 11, 2013 3:38 PM  |  384 views  |  2 comments

    Absorption Rate is defined, calculated, and formulated in many different methods leading to interpretation variations.

     

    It only becomes useful to the clients, prospects, or readers if the data is simple and comprehensible.

     

    Giving them a presentation with three decimal places or a number less than one is not easy to comprehend: See the example below that I extracted from a realtor.com website.

     

     



    The example above could have been best presented by dividing 33,163 (Number of Sold Homes) by 304 days, giving a result of 109. This means that the average number of homes sold each day is 109 instead of stating: 1 home is sold every .00917 days.

     

    Using the current inventory or number of active homes in the above example of 14,156 and the average sold homes per day of 109, it will take 129.87 or 130 days to deplete the current inventory provided there are no other listings that come up on the market and the current market pace remains the same.

     

     Moreover, there is no short-cut in calculating Absorption Rate.



     


    The formula above does not yield a true picture of the time-frame or period to deplete the total inventory of 30,000 units.

     

    Why? Just because the number of units sold last month is 4,000, does not necessarily mean that 4,000 units were sold consistently for twelve months.

     

    Let’s say that only 3,500 were sold in the first month, 3,000 in the second month, 3,200 in the third month, and 4,000 for each remaining month of the year.

     

    The sum of all units sold for twelve months is 45,700 as opposed to 48,000. Divide 45,700 by 52 weeks to get the number of units sold per week. The result is 879 units sold per week. If we divide the current inventory of 30,000 units by 879, we get the number of weeks it will take to sell the 30,000 units, which is 34 weeks. Again, this will change as listings shore up on the market or if the market shifts significantly.

     

    Summarily, don't take a short cut to calculate the Absorption Rate. It is better absorbed when correct numbers are pulled and utilized.

     

    If you want to use Absorption Rate to explain the market trend more accurately, pull the total number of current listings for one specific town. It would be better if you also set a price range. Then pull the sold homes for a given period. For instance six months. Divide the number of homes sold for six months by six to get the average number of sold homes each month.

     

     

     

    Example:

     

    Current Inventory: 1233 Homes  (Listing Price: between $100K and $300K)

     

    Sold Homes in Six Months: (2/1/2013-7/31/2013): 1380 Homes (Listing Price: between $100K and 300K)

     

    Divide 1380 by 6 months to get the average units sold each month: 1380/6=230 units sold each month

     

    1233/230= it will take 5.27 months to sell the 1233 homes.

     

    In weeks: 1380/26 weeks(6months has 26 weeks)=53.08 units sold each week

    1233/53.08=23.23 weeks to sell the 1233 homes.

     I hope this helps you absorb the Absorption Rate.

     

  • Ready to Get Down and Dirty! The REO Business

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Connecticut  |  August 2, 2013 9:24 AM  |  395 views  |  1 comment

    The REO class held in Greater Hartford Association of Realtors office in Connecticut was full. Full of enthusiastic and pumped-up faces. The energy reverberated in the entire room.

    Oh yeah! If only we were allowed to holler, there would be holler everywhere accompanied by chanting. Chanting "REO business, here we come."

    Before the instructor stole the attention, I got the chance to exchange views with colleagues who joined me in the corner table. They too have their goal percolating in their minds. And it mirrored mine.

    Then the curtain for the instructor's stage opened. He began by asking the attendees "Why are you here in this class?"

    My head rotated to the direction of the people who raised their hands. The most popular answer, as anticipated, was "I want to become an REO agent."

    The mention of shadow inventories in the millions have made us salivate. Wow. Me too.  I would like to have a piece of the action. Since it is in the millions, what about a big chunk instead? Yeah. We are starving.

    We were halfway done with the class when the enthusiasm dwindled. The energy evaporated like tiny molecules into the air.

    Why? What just happened? 

    Well, when the instructor flashed the powerpoint on the big screen with "Are you ready to Get Down and Dirty?", the half-amused, half-confused audience's eyes opened wide. There was no jaw-dropping incident by the way.

    Most of the agents who came in prim and proper have outrightly dismissed the idea of getting involved in the business.

    Can you blame them? Ah, ah.. .. Just read the first on the list below:

    1) REO sales is for you if you accept that you'll get your hands dirty. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get dirty.You will encounter some properties in very poor condition. It's not uncommon to find properties that are dirty, moldy, trash-filled, stripped of wiring and pipes, and vandalized. It's a good idea to keep a basic tool kit like screwdrivers, pliers, crowbar(oh my goodness), electric drill, rubber boots, work gloves, duct tape and a reliable flashlight.

    I gasped and if I were Flash Gordon, I could have run as fast as I can. Imagine all the tools mentioned above. The crowbar, electric drill, duct tape, etc,.. Will I be signing up to break into the house and rob or list a home? 

    At the end of the class, I can only surmise that most of the attendees will not be aspiring to become an REO agent.

    The better side of it is it helped us understand more that REO is not for everyone. That REO agent's job is complicated and as one REO agent in the class said, " You got to have a strong stomach especially in circumstances when you have to be involved to displace the residents occupying the premises. Your heart will be pierced but someone has to do the dirty job."

     

  • BOLO-Be On the LookOut. When to Negotiate Buyer's Agent's Commission?

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Manchester  |  June 21, 2013 5:34 AM  |  378 views  |  No comments

    BOLO, an acronym I just picked up yesterday from the CAR(Connecticut Association of Realtors) press release.

    Bolo, in my native language, means a long heavy single-edged knife. Hence, the word itself caught my attention.

    Ironically, if you fail to BOLO, a single-edged knife might just hurt you.

    Here is the trigger from the press release:

    *** REALTORS® who tell you they will not present their buyers’ offers to you unless you, the listing agent, offer a higher

    percentage of commission.

    According to the CAR legal counsel, here is what you should do to those buyer's agents:

    "First, tell them that you, as the listing agent (if you are not the broker/manager of the company), do not have the authority to make a compensation agreement with them that is different from what is offered through the MLS and their broker should speak to your broker."

    "Secondly, under both Article 1 (SOP 1‐6) of the Code of Ethics and Section 20‐328‐2a, Duties to parties, of the CT Real Estate Regulations, REALTORS®/licensees have an obligation to present all offers as quickly as possible. Note that both say all offers, not just all written offers, or only good offers, or only those offers that earn the most commission, but all offers ‐ period."

    Hands down, I agree with the first statement. 

    However, I have to disagree with the second statement. As a buyer's agent, based on my past experience, I refuse to present a verbal offer because unless it is in writing, I don't have any guarantee that the buyers will, with utmost certainty, commit to the verbal offer. I have seen them changed their minds in the past and consequently, made ME and the listing agent who delivered the verbal offer to the sellers looked like amateur roller blade skaters. Roll and Fall.

    Moreover, this is in conflict with Article 3. Any changes to commission should be made by the broker prior to the time cooperating REALTORS® produce offers to purchase the property. 

    When to negotiate a buyer's agent's commission also depends on the agent's best judgement. If the property is a hot commodity, I will not dare bother ask for more than what is offered unless it is ridiculously low. When I say ridiculously low, it is simply out of the ordinary or customary practice. One percent is ridiculous in my market. A one percent on a million dollar home, is not a mockery.

    A careful judgment is of paramount importance.You can jeopardize your buyer's interest because you want more. 

     I write in peace. 

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