When The Goin’ Gets Tough, The Tough Stay Calm

It has been a pretty quiet week at SanibelSusan Realty. I only kept the office open until mid-afternoon on Saturday. Without the phone ringing even once, at 2:30 p.m. I called the only other island real estate office open and found that they were not getting calls either. So, I made the executive decision to close and go get my nails done.

Then, while manning the office solo on Monday, I cleaned out some old files and came across the below “Guide to Deciphering Showing Feedback”.

What the agent SAYS What the agent MEANS
The buyer thought the property was too small. The buyer found larger properties for the same price.
They liked the property but bought another. The buyer found other properties that were better values.
They liked the property but bought a new one. Buyers generally will pay 10-15% more for a new or updated property making it difficult to compete.
They didn’t like the old carpet. The seller should consider replacing the carpet.
They thought the yard was too small, the street too busy. They found other homes with larger years, quieter streets for the same price.
The property needs some work. The seller may need to make minor repairs or neutralize paint or reduce the price accordingly.
They didn’t like the floor plan. Hard to overcome this objection.

The lesson here is that price objections often come cloaked in different terms. If you are selling, listen carefully to feedback and make your adjustments swiftly. Your ULTIMATE GOAL is to be the very best property in your price range.

At SanibelSusan Realty

The rest of the week, Elise and I have both been in the office, but the inquiries have been few. Her weekly report of the action on the local MLS is after a few news items below.

Though our office has remained open, our phones have rung just a few times. The local Association of Realtors® is closed and their events and in-person meetings are cancelled for the next few weeks.

Most island organizations and non-profits also are closed, while the FISH Food Pantry remains open and their meal deliveries continue. It is a good time to clean out your pantry and bring them some non-expired non-perishable items. Soon, FISH will be preparing Easter baskets for needy children, family dinners, and elderly shut-ins. If you do not have food goods to donate, they happily accept monetary donations, Easter candy, coloring books, crayons, and grocery store gift cards.

Time to Get Moving

A favorite author, Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, had the following article in the March/April 2020 “REALTOR®” magazine: “Resistance to change is keeping some consumers from finding homes.

“There’s no such thing as lifetime employment in America. People change jobs. Businesses are created and destroyed. New technology, more efficient ways of doing things, changes in consumer taste – these are the stuff of life.

“Even with the current unemployment rate at 3.5%, a 50-year low, about 5.6 million workers stopped working for their latest employer last December alone. Some were fired or let go, while others left in the hope of moving on to something better. In fact, during the same month, 5.8 million workers started with a new employer. The 200,000 difference, in this example, is what’s reported as the headline for monthly net job creation. Miraculously, this thin margin between job gains and job losses has been consistently positive over the past decade, which is the reason for the cumulative gain of 20 million net new jobs since the Great Recession.

“Despite the apparent dynamism in the job market, people are not likely to change their current residence. The mobility rate is at a historic low of 9.8% annually. By comparison, 20% of Americans moved to a different home in any given year throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.

“One reason people are staying put is the upsurge in two-earner households, which complicates relocations. Still, Americans should get moving again. Behavioral studies suggest that leaving one’s comfort zone may help people do better economically and enjoy life more fully. I’d like to see a boost in people’s standard of living not from a 3% pay raise but in a bigger way. If people move from expensive regions of the country to more affordable ones, their opportunity to own a home increases greatly.

“Some consumers have gotten the message. That’s why metro areas like Austin, Denver, and Nashville have been booming as residents from higher-cost areas arrive. But these same cities are seeing slower job gains as they become less affordable. An adequate supply of new homes is needed to accommodate the new population. Clients looking for a bigger bang for their housing dollar should consider Charlotte, NC; Charleston, SC; Columbus, OH; or Las Vegas. It’s time to end the inertia.

MLS Games People Play

Here’s another interesting article from the latest “REALTOR®” magazine. Author is Graham Wood. I am sure that some of you have seen some of the listings mentioned in his write-up. The SanibelSusan Team doesn’t play these MLS games.

“David Weldon empathized with his client’s growing desperation to sell her home, a 3-bedroom house in South California’s Riverside County. But he was uncomfortable about her suggestion for boosting the listing’s appeal. The seller listed the home with Weldon last July at a list price of $600,000. After nearly 70 days on the market, the property hadn’t received an offer she would accept. She also was under contract to purchase another property contingent on the sale of her home, which added to the pressure. The seller asked Weldon, a broker-associate at ReMax One in Moreno Valley, CA, to take steps that sounded to him like “gaming the MLS” to draw more eyes to her listing and get it sold faster.

“She had learned from another agent in a prior transaction that there are ways to manipulate MLS data to the seller’s advantage. Loopholes in many MLS systems make it possible for real estate professionals to reset a property’s recorded days on market – making a listing appear newer than it is – or surface a home on an MLS’s “hot sheets” with, say, a $100 reduction in list price. While these practices can help raise the visibility of listings in the MLS, they’re also deceptive marketing techniques that have the effect of skewing real-time MLS data – a problem the real estate industry is working to solve – and cast a poor light on agent professionalism.

“”The MLS platform is not the tool to refresh a listing,” says Rene Galicia, director of MLS engagement at the National Association of REALTORS®. “You’re not treating the underlying issue – perhaps you need to revisit your pricing strategy, for example – if you’re relying on gaming the system to get action on your listing.”

“Weldon says it’s not uncommon for agents in his market to inappropriately cancel and resubmit a listing to the MLS with an inconsequential edit to the property address – such as changing “Street” to “St” – which resets days on market in the system. That’s the type of action his seller was requesting.

“”There’s no way to do what the seller was asking me to do that I’m comfortable with,” Weldon says. “I said, “You want me to cancel the contract and start over after I’ve put a considerable amount of time marketing your property.” When his client was unrelenting, Weldon decided to end his professional relationship with her. The seller relisted with another agent, and as of mid-January, the property had been on the market for 106 days – more than a month longer than Weldon had the home listed.

“While not necessarily a violation of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, these types of tactics may “work against the duty of honesty in Article 1, and the “true picture” mandate for all advertising, marketing, and other representations in Article 12,” says Rodney Gansha, NAR’s director of engagement and staff executive to the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee.

“Not all practitioners see it that way, though. “In some markets, people consider these practices to be wrong, while in other markets, it’s tolerated,” Gansho says. “Most agents can look up a property’s history to see exactly what’s changed or when it was first put on the market, so gaming the MLS is a limited strategy anyway.”

“Galicia takes particular exception to the idea of lowering a listing price by a minuscule amount to boost its standing on MLS hot sheets. “Most MLS technology will display the dollar amount of the price reduction, and savvy consumers can see that a $100 price drop is not a legitimate strategy,” he says. “If a listing shows up on a hot sheet all the time, that could be a sign of data manipulation rather than true changes to the terms of the listing itself.”

“Such a pricing strategy also could damage your reputation with other agents who find it offensive and could ultimately hurt your ability to find a buyer. “I’ve seen properties reduced by $1,” says Dan Halperin, GRI, an agent with Gagliardo Realty Associates in River Forest, IL. “It’s such a waste of everybody’s time. It irritates clients, and it doesn’t leave a good impression on the public.” Halperin adds that many of his buyers feel an urgency to be among the first to visit a new listing, so he keeps a watchful eye on turnover in the MLS. “I want to be able to tell my clients whether it’s been listed six times or had several price drops in the past,” he says. “I want them to know when it’s not the hot property they think it is.”

“So what’s a smarter approach? Instead of resorting to MLS gaming tactics, focus on professional listing photos from the start and adding virtual home tours and floor plans to listings in order to refresh them, Galicia recommends. Gansho encourages agents to revamp listing descriptions as a way to capture interest from people who may have previously overlooked your listing. These changes won’t appear on an MLS hot sheet, but sharper marketing may get buyers to pay closer attention.

“Heather Embrey, CRS, GRI, a sales associate with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Premier in Falls Church, VA, says she recently sold a 4-bedroom 2-bath listing, which had lingered on the market for 60 days, after updating the listing photos. Embrey’s seller was initially hesitant about staging the home, but when the sale stalled, the client agreed to change furnishings and add carpeting to neutralize the space.

“The new photos of the staged property enticed a buyer who previously viewed the home to give it a second look. The buyer ended up purchasing the home for the $499,500 list price. “In my office, they jokingly call me the compliance queen because I very much follow the rules,” Embrey says. “I’m not trying to reset days on market, I don’t change the address, and I don’t try and make it look like a new listing. There are too many other tools at my disposal for me to have to do that.”

The Sanibel/Captiva Real Estate World

Adding SanibelSusan’s 2-cents worth to the above article: On the islands, there are some who end a stale listing and relist to make a property look like it is new to the market. That is not fooling anybody. Even Zillow sees through that.

Sanibel/Captiva’s real estate market is quite seasonal and easily affected by changes in the weather, the economy, and world events. Being mostly a resort and 2nd-home market, purchases often are made with discretionary income. That all equates to our market being UNLIKE the norm. It often takes longer to sell a property here unless it is one that is in demand at that time of the year or has special features setting it apart from its competition.

The best way to get a Sanibel/Captiva property sold remains listing with a top local agent in a reputable island brokerage, pricing right (and just under a $100K-price increment), solid continual ever-changing marketing with broad internet exposure and professional photography/streaming videos, honest reliable property details (Florida is a full-disclosure state), easy showing instructions, and good legal signage.

Today, there are 227 Realtor® members at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors®. I always want to be one of the top producers, though my goal is not necessarily to sell the most, but to provide the best service. Looking at Sanibel closed sales year-after-year, my position has lingered at #8 or #9, which makes me happy. I like being in the “top 10”.

It was a surprise to check and see that I am in 6th place based on the last 12 months of closed Sanibel sales. Probably more surprising is that of all these 200-some agents, over the last 12 months, only 60 sold more than one property and 29 sold only one. That means, that way more than half the membership had no sales. Real estate has always been a business where a small percentage of agents make most of the sales, but Sanibel and Captiva take those numbers to the extreme.

We also probably have the only grocery stores on the planet that remain fully equipped. No shortage of toilet paper and paper towels here, plus sunshiny blue skies, clear water, and very little traffic, except on the bike paths.

Be well, stay calm, fingers crossed that we soon are on the other side of the virus and its impacts.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Multiple Listing Service Activity March 13-20, 2020

Sanibel

CONDOS

4 new listings: Captains Walk #E8 2/1.5 $395K, Blind Pass #B209 2/2 $494K, Coquina Beach #2B 2/2 $529K, Mariner Pointe #813 2/2 $599K.

8 price changes: Sundial #C301 1/1 now $464.9K, Sanibel Arms West #B2 2/2 now $534.9K, Loggerhead Cay #222 2/2 now $610K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #1-4 3/3 now $799K, Sandalfoot #1C1 2/2 now $799K, Sanctuary Golf Villages I #4-1 3/3 now $899K, Tarpon Beach #207 2/2 now $999K (our listing) (photos below – taking a walk the gulf from Tarpon Beach), Sundial #K402 2/2 now $1.1499M.

5 new sales: Captains Walk #C3 1/1 listed at $279K, Sanibel Arms West #M2 2/2 listed at $548.5K, Sanibel Arms West #H5 2/2 listed at $549K, Sundial #L404 2/2 listed at $1.35M, Tigua Cay #485 3/3.5 listed at $2.195M.

4 closed sales: Tennisplace #B24 2/1.5 $339K, Sunset South #2C 2/2 $555K, Sand Pointe #212 2/2 $725K, Gulfside Place #214 2/2 $1.2M.

HOMES

4 new listings: 954 Donax St 3/3 $525K, 2480 Library Way 2/2.5 $649K, 690 Durion Ct 3/2 $725K, 5419 Osprey Ct 3/3.5 $1.095M.

3 price changes: 968 Greenwood Ct S 3/2.5 half-duplex now $399K (our listing), 1339 Tahiti Dr 3/2 duplex now $525K, 730 Cardium St 2/2 now $539K.

968 Greenwood Ct S highlighted – looking toward the lighthouse & the mainland, gulf & bay!

9 new sales: 1856 Ardsley Way 3/2 listed at $499K; 1813 Farm Trl 3/2 listed at $629K; 760 Cardium St 3/2 listed at $649K; 1567 Sand Castle Rd 3/3 listed at $685K; 701 Nerita St 3/2 listed at $712K; 1676 Middle Gulf Dr 3/2 listed at $799,999; 4739 Ruelle 4/3 listed at $995K; 1490 Angel Dr 4/3.5 listed at $1.695M; 500 Sawgrass Pl 8/8/3 listed at $2.65M.

2 closed sales: 2150 Egret Cir 3/2 $698K, 675 Gopher Walk Way 3/2.5 $1.17M.

LOTS

No new listings.

1 price change: 1303 par View Dr now $314K.

No new sales.

1 closed sale: 4538 Bowen Bayou Rd $190K.

Captiva

Nothing to report.

This representation is based in part on data supplied by the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Association of Realtors® Multiple Listing Service. Neither the association nor its MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy.  Data maintained by the association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.  The information provided represents the general real estate activity in the community and does not imply that SanibelSusan Realty Associates is participating or participated in these transactions.

Until next Friday,

Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan