Back in April I wrote an article about Choosing the “Willie Mays” of Realtors. It talked about how selecting someone to sell your property just because they are your friend may not be the optimal criteria for the sale of what is probably your most valuable asset. This past weekend I came across a perfect illustration of this very situation.
A few years ago, Lori and I purchased a one bedroom condo unit in a three-unit building on one a very desirable Hoboken street. It is an investment property which we rent out. Our neighbors are very lovely, nice people, so I’ll not mention them by name to spare them any embarrassment. Let’s call them the Nudniks. A few weeks ago we learned that the Nudniks wanted sell their unit, a 3BR duplex with a private yard. I contacted them to remind them that we are realtors and to ask for the opportunity to demonstrate why they might want to list their property for sale with us. They responded that they had already decided to list with a friend. I wished them the best of luck, and I really meant it. The higher the price they could sell their property for, the more beneficial for us should we ever decide to sell.
As it turns out, my tenants’ lease is expiring and they chose not to renew so I need to take steps to find new tenants. I had to list the rental on the MLS, go to the building to put out “For Rent” signs, get the property listed on Craigslist and the internet, etc. In doing so, I couldn’t help noticing some questionable decisions the Nudniks agent had made. For example:
1. Bad Signage – One of the most effective ways to notify people that your apartment is for sale or rent is by hanging a sign on the building. To be effective, however, the sign needs to be seen. This particular street is a narrow street that is one way heading uptown. The Nudniks’ agent put two signs on the building, directly facing the street. Both signs are virtually invisible as you walk or drive up the street. You need to be dead smack in front of the building to read them and then you only see them if you turn your head sideways. I put my “For Rent” sign on a gate at the top of the stairs, facing due south so that the sign can easily be seen whether you walk or drive up the street.
2. No Flyers – Once you have the attention of passerbys, you need to tell them exactly what it is you’re selling or renting. I purposely placed my sign up high so that it could be seen from far away. At the street level I put a flyer box. Pedestrians can grab a flyer showing attractive pictures of the apartment with all the pertinent info like the number of bedrooms, the monthly rent and the availability date. The Nudniks’ sign says only “Condo for Sale”. There are no flyers at all.
3. No Web Page, No Video – Next I started to create a webpage and YouTube video for my rental property. Prospective tenants can preview the apartment and decide if they want to make an appointment to see it. I couldn’t find a website or a YouTube video for the Nudniks significantly more expensive sale property. Now, my video isn’t up yet (still a bit more work to do on it) but the rental has been on the market only 3 days. The Nudniks’ place has been on the market long enough to already have had a price “improvement.”
4. Squandered Opportunity – This one kills me. Because the Nudniks have the largest unit in our little building the condo by-laws give them 51% of the vote on condominium matters so they single-handedly control the building. Those same by-laws prohibit pets in the building. I contacted the Nudniks a few weeks ago and pointed out that private, fenced outdoor space like their yard was a huge attraction for pet owners. Since I would like my rental unit also to be pet friendly, I suggested we change the condo docs to allow pets in the building. I even offered to hire an attorney to make the necessary changes and do all the leg work. I received a polite email from them saying no. Even though they are leaving, and their unit does not share a hallway or entrance with the other units in the building, they refuse to allow pets. By doing so, they have excluded a huge number of buyers from purchasing their condo. To a great extent they have negated one of their property’s finest selling points, and they are actually costing BOTH of us some dough-re-me. Maybe they just don’t believe I’ve got their best interests at heart (I do), but perhaps their agent friend ought to educate them on why being pet friendly boosts the value of units like this one and this one.