"Palos Verdes Resident since 1947"

September, 2011

I’ve been in this business since the early 1980’s.  Never in that time have I seen a market where the agent you have makes a bigger potential difference in the outcome.  The world is in seeming turmoil with the Arabs rioting, the national debt rising, money markets in a constant state of flux, buyers aren’t sure they should be buying, sellers aren’t getting the prices they imagined their homes were worth a few years ago, the gnomes in Sacramento gleefully keep putting up new legal hurdles, and Realtors, trying to help people buy and sell, and abetted by computerized access to data Statewide, are trying to sell properties anywhere they can get a map and a signature. 

All of this has made your rock-solid, competent local Realtor more important than ever.  In this context, think of a good agent as a filter, removing the irrelevant, contaminants, and turbulence, and leaving a clear, focused path to a successful closing.  As I pointed out in my internet article “It’s Not Rocket Science”, it‘s not; but, like a lot of things that are not, it’s also very difficult if you don’t do it every day.  This was recently brought home in the most cogent way:  the guy who founded the major For Sale By Owner internet website, after trying for 6 months to sell his own home using his own “by owner” methods, turned it over to a professional Realtor and sold for more than he had been asking “by owner”. 

Unlike the For Sale By Owner guy, a good agent is automatically going to attract buyers, so that’s not really what you’re hiring him for.  Assuming a good agent, attracting offers is purely a function of your asking price versus what you are selling.  You will get the same people thru the door no matter who you’ve signed with.  The competent agent really begins to make a difference when offers are received (having seen the past sales to counter buyer’s agent’s attempts to use them to hammer you on the price, understanding the real-world consequences of seemingly innocuous clauses in the contract, knowing how to foresee and solve the inevitable issues that arise during an escrow, making sure you have no post-sale liability, plus innumerable other valuable services).  These days, there is a higher proportion than normal of homes falling out of escrow.  If you don’t do this every day, most of the things that can make a transaction go sideways probably wouldn’t occur to you, and there are far too many to get into here.  I am constantly on the lookout for any sign of them. 

Interest rates are now in the mid 4%’s – they’re practically paying you to take the money.  We are going to look back this and the last 18 or so months as the time we should have bought.  If you’re moving up, the gap between what your current house is worth and the price of the new one is narrower; if you’re retiring, waiting a few years until “prices go up” is, based upon history, futile.  While real estate remains an excellent long-term investment, real estate “cycles” typically last 8-10 years, and we’re only a few years into this one. 

If you read these newsletters regularly, you will notice that I personally write everything in every one of them – I don’t just reproduce pieces written by others.  The point is that I actually know all this stuff, which can come in very handy when you’re selling your house.  Visit my website:  www.DanaGraham4re.com and click on “Additional Info” for a few years’ worth of articles I’ve written on real estate and Palos Verdes, where I’ve lived for 63 years.  Or give me a call at 310 613-1076 to arrange a meeting.

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