Low-cost buyer’s agent real estate agency opening in Manhattan
Apr 2011 19

Crackerjack real estate broker and all-around nice guy Noah Rosenblatt continues to break the mold, unveiling his newest service, Flat Fee Consulting for Manhattan Buyers.

He explains the concept on the Urban Digs website:

I am going live this week with what I think is an innovative new service for Manhattan buyers out there who do not want to take on a full buyers broker. A flat fee consult basically consists of all the ‘meaty’ parts of a buyer broker’s job without the buyer broker. As the buyer, you will submit the offer directly with the listing agent while hiring me as a third party consultant for the initial property valuation, comps analysis, bidding strategy, negotiating strategy, etc.. The centerpiece of this new service is a new tool I just developed called The Digs Report. Let me formally introduce it this new concept today.

Offering limited services to buyers in exchange for a discounted fee makes a lot of sense … for a specific type of buyer. Most buyers want the “complete package” when it comes to their agents. Advice, consultation, support, someone to drive them around … etc., etc., etc.

Some people, however, feel they can do all the work themselves. Or, they’ve already done the work, perhaps by going to open houses and looking at properties on their own. Maybe they’ve already found the home of their dreams, but now they need data, data from an unbiased source. The only way to do that is to pay an expert.

Massachusetts does allow agents to offer a similar level of service. It’s called a Facilitator. This agent provides a buyer with comparative market analyses, can give the buyer listing sheets, etc., but cannot offer advice on how much to offer to buy or negotiating strategies. The agent owes no “loyalty” to either buyer or seller. The facilitator is paid at closing, from the proceeds of the sale. In theory it works, but I’ve never encountered anyone who has actually used a facilitator. And, there is still the risk of threats of “bias” since the facilitator only gets paid if the buyer goes through with a sale.

An example of when this sort of arrangement might make sense is if you, as a buyer, visited the Boston Condo Blog and searched through the listings and decided, I can do all this work myself, all I need is a list of all the properties on the market. As a facilitator, I could provide you with all the data. If you find a property you wish to buy, you could then ask me to create a competitive market analysis of how the price of your property compares to other properties that have recently sold. Then, you’re on your own. If you go through with the sale, I get a commission, usually discounted from the traditional 2-2.5% that a buyer’s agent receives.

Many “traditional” agents fear this type of thing. Most people are afraid of change. Offering real estate services for a discounted fee chills many agents to the bone. Anything that puts their 2.5% commission at risk is evil. Flat-fee services such as those offered by Redfin and CondoDomain have rocked the real estate world. (They’ve yet to have shown they are viable business models, but that’s a different story.)

What do you think?

For more information, please contact me.

And, good luck, Noah!

Below, details (in summary) from the Urban Digs website. Check out his site for specifics.

The service will work like this:

1. Initial Property Valuation

The first step in the process is for me to verify that enough data exists to even run a comparable sales analysis with confidence. Generally, this means having enough sales data in the building that you wish to place an offer in.

Just like any buyer broker would require, I will need access to the target property to inspect: views/exposure, layout, condition, building amenities, etc..

2. Comparable Sales Analysis

What is the place you are about to bid on worth in today’s market?? The meat of the buyer brokers job!

As your outside consultant, I will perform a Comparable Sales analysis using in-building sales as well as current inventory trends for your local Manhattan submarket …

3. Devise a Bidding Strategy

The next step in the process is to discuss the analysis with you and devise an initial bidding strategy before submitting the offer …

4. Submit The Offer

Submitting your offer the right way helps your chances of getting the deal done immediately! At this stage we probably know where your initial offer will come in, which leaves writing up the offer letter the last job to do …

5. Negotiating Strategy

In this stage, I will act as your adviser behind the scenes as the seller counter’s your initial and updated offers.

5. Sign The Contract / Walk Away

a) continue and move forward with attorney phase
b) walk away

Simple. Clean. One-time service. Perfect for buyers that want to work on their own, yet feel they can use some assistance when the right property presents itself!

Advertise your home, get mortgage paid
Apr 2011 07

An advertising company has come up with a way to brand its clients’ messages while putting money in homeowners’ pockets.

The Adzookie advertising company will come to your house and paint the outside of it with ads for one of its clients. As long as the house is painted this way, Adzookie will pay your mortgage (with a minimum agreement for three months).

CNN / Money reports that the idea has sparked a massive response; over 3,000 homeowners signed up as interested in the idea.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them will end up disappointed. Adzookie is a start-up company, according to CNN / Money, and has only budgeted $100,000 for the program. With the painting / repainting of the homes estimated to cost $8,000 each, that leaves little money left over to pay for mortgages.

Even more unfortunately, I’m pretty sure South End Landmarks wouldn’t allow you to paint the brick on your building.

Details from the Adzookie website:

We’re looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We’re looking for homes to turn into billboards. In exchange, we’ll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted

Here are a few things we’re looking for: You must own your home. It cannot be rented or leased. We’ll paint the entire outside of the house, minus the roof, the windows and any awnings. Painting will take approximately 3 – 5 days. Your house must remain painted for at least three months and may be extended up to a year. If, for any reason, you decide to cancel after three months or if we cancel the agreement with you, we’ll repaint your house back to the original colors.

Bar codes make home search easier
Feb 2011 23

In the future, you’ll be able to find out all you want to know about a home for sale simply by taking a picture with your cellphone’s camera. The technology exists, already, and companies are already hard at work to make it a reality.

The way it works is simple. Real estate agents sign up with a company such as toor.me. The company has a product whereby the agent sets up a tour of a property and creates a simple bar code that, when activated by your cellphone’s camera, will bring up all the details on the property – address, square footage, number of beds and baths, and, of course, as many pictures of the interior you could ever desire.

The bar code will replace (or, supplement) the signs you see outside all the homes and condos for sale in your neighborhood. With a piece of software you can download to your phone, its camera will be able to read the bar code and bring up a specific webpage on your internet-enabled cellphone browser.

Many companies are trying to think of ways to use the bar code technology to work for them. Magazines are full of bar codes, these days. Trouble is, I don’t see how it’s any easier to take a photo with your phone and bring up a webpage than it is to simply type the website’s address into your browser.

The real estate app is more logical – you’re in your car, away from your computer, and you want the information, quickly. You don’t want to jot down the property’s website address. Now, with a simple point and click, you’ll have access to all the information you need.

More: Smartphones turn bar code squares into sales tools, USA Today

Breaking: people buying homes b/c they want to own a home
Jan 2011 14

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® has released results of a study on the reasons that people give for wanting to buy a home.

A new study on Massachusetts home buyers and sellers found that the top motivating factor cited by home buyers for the purchase of a home in 2010 was simply the “desire to own a home” and not some of the other well-known benefits …

When first-time and repeat home buyers were asked “what was the primary reason they purchased a home in 2010,” 36 percent responded it was the “desire to own a home”. The other top reasons included the “desire for a larger home” (8 percent); a “change in family situation” (8 percent); the “desire for a home in a better location” (8 percent); and the “home buyer tax credit” (7 percent).

So, the answer to the question, “Why did you buy a home?” is, “Because I wanted to own a home,” which seems pretty obvious but of course there’s more to that answer than that.

The study also reported that 55 percent of all homes purchased in the Bay State in 2010 were made by first-time home buyers (compared to 50 percent nationally).

Wow. More than half of purchases made last year were by first-time home-buyers, which surprises even me. I had no idea it was that high, and it’s going to make me think long and hard about my marketing and advertising campaigns. (Having said that, I think that people making purchases inside downtown Boston are more-likely to be repeat buyers, because of prices, for one thing.)

The MAR report included a lot of helpful data (for real estate agents) as well as those looking to buy or sell a home.

  • The median income of buyers (which is reported from 2009 household data) was down to $82,100 compared to $94,800 in 2008 and higher than the $72,200 national median income.
  • Fifty-five percent of home buyers were married couples, 19 percent single females, 12 percent single males, and 13 percent unmarried couples.
  • The median age of the first-time home buyer was 32. Fifty-four percent of first-time home buyers were between 25 and 34 years old, while 28 percent were 35-44 years. Only eight percent were 18-24 year years.
  • In 2010, 92 percent of buyers still financed their home purchase (98 percent of first-time buyers compared to 84 percent of repeat buyers). Savings was the chief source of the down-payment for 85 percent of first-time buyers with 48 percent of repeat buyers using proceeds from the sale of their primary residence.
  • Ninety-four percent of home-sellers in Massachusetts chose to work with a real estate professional. So much for “for-sale-by-owner”.
  • On the seller side, the most-interesting statistic is this:

    Thirty-seven percent of home sellers reported the main reason for deciding to sell was either a change in family situation (e.g., marriage, birth of child, divorce) or their home was too small. Only three percent reported selling their house because they could not afford the mortgage and other expenses of owning a home.

    Massachusetts’ real estate could be at bottom: experts
    Dec 2010 29

    The latest S&P / Case-Shiller real estate index was released, yesterday. It showed continued “weakness” in single-family home prices, both nationwide and locally.

    While the Case-Shiller index has some huge qualifiers for its index (repeat sales of the same properties, no new construction), it’s become the de facto decider of all things real estate.

    Since 2000, single-family home values in the Boston area have increased approximately 54% but are off from their September 2005 high, when values were up 82% since the turn of this century. Prices increased earlier this year (presumably due to the tax credit programs) but are now back where they were, last October.

    The irony is clear. In order to induce sales, the government gave buyers thousands of dollars in tax credits. The result was increased home prices. Now that there’s no incentives, prices have fallen.

    Isn’t that a better thing?

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