2011 May 24th

How NOT to Choose a Listing Agent to Sell Your Hoboken Condo – Part 1

What’s Wrong With You People? (Part 1)

Let’s pretend for a minute that I was not a Realtor.  Suppose I was a pizza maker.  I make my pizzas with the finest quality ingredients.  Organic, vine-ripened, San Marzano tomatos imported from Italy and authentic, hand-made Hoboken mozzarella and I cook them in a real, wood-burning oven.  Let’s further assume I have multiple, conveniently located pizzerias and charge no more for my pizzas than mass-produced Domino’s pizza.  How angry and frustrated I would be to see people eating those inferior brands instead of my competitively priced and far better product.

Well, that sort of how I feel when I look on the MLS and see people listing their condos and brownstones for sale with clueless, inexperienced and incompetant realtors.  I know for a fact that buyers agonize over their choices when purchasing a home.  They spend days going on appointments looking at properties, and spend their weekends visting open houses.  They obsess over whether or not to make an offer, fight for every dollar during the price negotiations once they find the place they wish to buy and request every concession following the home inspection.  They shop for mortgages at length, looking to save twenty basis points.  But more often than not, they choose the realtor that they will use to sell what is probably their single most valuable possession based on the criteria that their kids play in the same play group as the realtor’s kids.  Or because that was the realtor that first sold them the place.  Or because the realtor is their cousin.  People – these are not good reasons!

Choosing the right agent can result in a faster sale and literally thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of dollars in your pocket.  I recently had a multi-million deal crash and burn because of the listing agent’s inexperience.  (That and a stubborn, know-it-all seller who wouldn’t listen to the advice of her own lawyer.)  But this rant is not about that one deal.  Every day I see examples of bad agents doing a horrible job (not just bad, horrible) on behalf of their sellers and I think to myself – how on Earth do these agents stay in business?  Why do sellers allow their properties to be so poorly marketed?  Don’t these sellers realize that the poor job their agents are doing is costing them real money?  Why do they hire them in the first place?

This week, in a series of posts, I’m going to focus on some of the more common atrocities I frequently see:

(Note – I’ll not be posting any photos in this post nor mentioning any realtors or real estate agencies because I am stuck doing deals with many of these people.)blur

Bad Photos/Few Photos/No Photos – This is the one that baffles me the most.  Perhaps it’s because my clients tend to be my blog readers (i.e., informed, educated, tech-savvy, young people) but I’m always fielding calls from my sellers asking if we can swap picture A with picture C, or get a wider angle shot of the living room, etc.  Our pictures are well-lit, the subject is the property when it is well-staged, and they are professional-quality photos taken with professional-level equipment.  How do sellers let their agents post dark, cluttered, out-of-focus pictures such as refrigerators covered in magnets, unmade beds and building facade shots which are rotated sideways?  Some look like they were taken with an iPhone.  An iPhone 3.  It simply boggles my mind.

Equally mind boggling are new listings with only 3 or 4 photos, or sometimes no photos at all.  Sellers need to realize their listings are only “new” once, and coming to market on all the on-line real estate sites, like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and many others, with awesome photos will result in more buyers being interested in their property.  If you list without photos or with bad photos, you’re squandering your opportunity.  Even if you put bad photos up “just for now” and fix them later, you’ve lost your best opportunity to make a good impression.

And how about video? We were the first, and are still among the only realtors in Hoboken, posting full-HD video of all our listings.  Note to agents – a slide show set to music is NOT a video.  Do you think video is unimportant?  Recently our buyer, who resides in Europe, made a full price offer with $1 million cash down on a property sight unseen based soley on our video.  What do you say now?

Bad/inaccurate descriptions – Nothing turns buyers off more than walking in to what they believe is a 2BR listing only to learn it’s a 1BR that can be easily converted into a 2BR.  Or a 1 bedroom plus den.  Then there are the listings that call a basement apartment the 1st floor.  Or a 4th floor walk-up on floor 3.  I see this all the time.  Some agents describe dingy, old kitchen cabinets as Euro-style.  Or call a fire-escape a balcony.  Whether you’re running a hotel, cooking a meal or selling real estate, the key to customer satisfaction is often managing your customers’ expectations.  If you over promise and under deliver, your customers are going to be disappointed – even when the product may be right for them.  Bad descriptions do just the opposite – set buyers up to be disappointed.  Don’t get me started on typos and bad grammar.  I once saw a listing where the description said the unit included “beautiful stain glass transients.”  This may not prevent your place from being sold, but if your agent doesn’t know a “transom” from a “transient”, do you really want that person negotiating your half a million dollar property?

Stay tuned for the next installment of “How NOT to Choose a Listing Agent”.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 15 Comments »

2009 May 5th

Yet Another Realtor Blunder – Hope He’s Not Your Agent!

No Cellphone?iphone

I had a potential buyer call me the other day seeking information about a particular Hoboken condo property.  I was in the car but told the buyer I’d get the info he requested and get right back to him.  Being the diligent & resourceful agent that I am, even though I couldn’t access the MLS from my Blackberry (the MLS system being a whole other technical nightmare story) I called my office, got the listing agent’s info and then called the listing agent’s office to inquire about the condo unit.  The conversation went like this:

“Hi, may I speak with Agent X, please?”

“Ok, could I have his cell phone number?”

“What?  An agent doesn’t have a cell phone?  How does he do business?”

“I’m trying to get some info on his listing at the Shipyard.  My buyer would like to know if the unit has been upgraded or renovated.”



I kid you not.  That was the answer I received.  So while I was still stunned that there is a seller out there who would list a half-million dollar property in today’s market with a listing agent who does not use a cell phone or PDA, now I’m equally baffled by the second agent’s ignorance of a significant Hoboken complex.  ALL the units at the Shipyard had granite counters when they were first built years ago.  Saying that the unit has granite was meaningless.  I asked him some specifics, like whether the floors parquet wooden square tile (original) or plank (renovated);  the appliances white (original) or stainless (renovated); whether there was still a popcorn ceiling (original) or a smooth one (renovated); did the bathroom have a row of globe bulbs over the sink (original) or something else.  It turns out that the unit was not upgraded or renovated at all.  This is an office with a single location – Hoboken.  You would think they would have better knowledge of their Hoboken condo inventory!

I hope if you are trying to sell your Hoboken condo, you interview your potential listing agent and don’t just go with the lady who sold it to you 10 years ago, or the buddy you have beers with on Friday nights.  I’m often amazed at the number of listings that go to certain brokerages simply because they’ve been around a long time yet the agents have skills that date back to the 1980’s.  Something like having a cell phone is mandatory.  Knowing how to send an email in a format that can easily be read on an iPhone or Blackberry is necessary.  Proficiency with technology is everything when buyers turn to the internet before they talk to an agent.  With the number of units for sale creeping up all the time while sales continue to fall off you need every possible competitive advantage to sell your property.  I predict that agents who don’t excel at efficient and innovative use of today’s tools will soon be directing you to the corn flakes in aisle 3 or asking if you’d like fries with that burger.  No cell phone?  No listing.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently 13 Comments »

2008 Jun 26th

Selling your Condo in Hoboken? Here Are 3 Reasons to Fire Your Listing Agent

1.  The MLS Listing of Your Property Has No Photos

There are, literally, hundreds and hundreds of condos for sale in Hoboken today.  When an agent is working with a buyer, there is no way every unit can be shown.  The agent will choose what to show the buyer based on what they think the buyer might like and, of course, what meets the buyer’s criteria.  Most properties listed for sale on the MLS have at least 8 or 9 photos of the property.  A photo of the facade of the property is supplied by the MLS automatically when the listing is entered.  I am always stunned, however, when I see a listing with no other photos.  What is the listing agent thinking?  How can anyone expect to have shown and sell a property without photos?  If your listing agent has not taken (or hired a pro to take) several excellent photos that highlight the best features of your property and put them up on the MLS, you need a new listing agent.

2.  The Flyer Advertising Your Condo For Sale Placed in the Window of Your Agent’s Office is Incorrect

Every Hoboken real estate office displays flyers in the window advertising properties for sale.  If you are selling your condo in Hoboken and have listed it with a realtor, you should have a flyer, too.  Take a close look at yours.  Are there typos?  Grammatical errors?  Is the listed price correct?  What about the taxes and maintenance amounts?  Is the description complete and enticing?  Do the pictures make your unit shine?  If your flyer is not perfect your listing agent is not doing his or her job.  The same principle applies to any on-line or print ads regarding your property.  In today’s market, everything that is used to market your condo had better be perfect.  You need to stand out from the crowd.  If your agent doesn’t strive for excellence, find one who does.

3.  The Keys to Your Hoboken Condo are at a Real Estate Office Outside of Hoboken

Even though you are selling a Hoboken property, you may have listed it with an agent from an office outside of Hoboken.  That, in and of itself , may be problematical but that’s another post.  If your out-of-town listing agent thinks that local Hoboken agents are going to drive to Jersey City or Clifton to pick up keys to show your Hoboken property, he or she is dead wrong.  If the property is in Hoboken the keys (note I say keys, plural) should be in Hoboken.  The harder it is to show your Hoboken condo that is for sale, the less likely it is going to get shown or sold.  Unless your agent keeps the keys at the Hoboken office or arranges for a lockbox, it’s time to find a new listing agent.

Hopefully, you will consider these things when deciding who you would have list your property and before you sign on the dotted line.  Next post – how a buyer knows if they are working with a competent agent.

Posted by Lori Turoff | Currently Comments Off on Selling your Condo in Hoboken? Here Are 3 Reasons to Fire Your Listing Agent

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