Thursday, July 26, 2007

Newspaper Advertising

I cannot tell you how many times I get "new" sellers asking me to advertise in newspapers. Not even local papers, but out-of-state papers. I respond gently by telling them the direct sources of buyers finding the home they purchase, according to the 2006 National Association of Realtors study, are: 36% from real estate agents, 24% from the internet, 15% from signs, and 5% from print media such as newspapers. The ones that ask are sometimes not convinced that I am telling the truth, and insist that advertising in a newspaper is the only way to sell their home. Of course, occasionally advertising in a newspaper might bring marketing awareness to the brokerage, and a random call, but thinking that it is actually going to sell that piece of property is off base. The same holds true for the color glossy magazines. Buyers may call to inquire about an advertised property, but the chances of them buying that property are only 5%. Why do real estate companies spend their dollars on these magazines? To make the seller happy, to capture a "buyer" for anything, and to keep the marketing exposure high for the company. As for out-of-state papers, the statistics are certainly lower. Can you imagine looking in the Northwest Florida Daily News for a condo for sale in Chicago? I doubt it. You would probably go on the internet, and eventually connect with a good Chicago agent. I had a seller once experiment and advertise his condo for sale for several weeks in the local newspaper. I got one call, and that party eliminated the property. The costs added up, and my seller stopped the ads. Indeed, most of his showings have come from agents using the Multiple Listing Service, and from sign calls to my office. So, please note, a marketing mix is good for business, but do understand where the biggest source of buyers is-- the agent.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Realtor to Realtor Ethics

I got a call two days ago from a real estate agent who was driving around Fort Walton Beach with her adult daughter, looking for a home for the daughter. The agent was not from the local area, and was not a member of the local Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. She had just spoken to Rhonda,one of my agents, about looking at a house I had for sale. Rhonda, noting that the buyer was a Realtor, asked if she wanted a referral fee if the daughter bought the property. Referral fees are normally paid to other agents as a "finder" fee for connecting a buyer or seller with a Realtor outside of the referring agent's market area. The out-of-town agent told Rhonda she did not want to pay a referral fee, but wanted the entire selling side commission, and would write the offer if her daughter were interested. If that were the case, Rhonda would be working for free to show the pair the property, and recommended they call me, the listing agent, to let them in. Well, unfortunately for me, my car had just broken down and I was waiting for a tow truck. I told the agent that it was physically impossible for me to get from Destin to Fort Walton Beach to let her into the house. I had to tell her that three times. I also said, "Why don't you just pay a referral fee to a local agent who knows the market and local real estate customs?" She had to "think" about that and said she would call Rhonda if she were so interested. Opinion? This is a case of greed, pure and simple. If this agent, who did not have a local lockbox entry key, and was not a member of our association, used me to let her in, I wonder what else, after she travelled back to who-knows-where, she would have expected me to do. She told me she didn't know why she needed a local agent when she had "financing lined up". That was pretty irrelevant. Would she have used an acceptable contract for her daughter? Would she have coordinated with a local title agent? Would she have been present for the home inspector, and arranged for the termite inspection and appraisal? How would she have gotten access for these parties? I wonder. I think she would have expected me, as the listing agent, to do her job. And she still demanded full payment. I have encountered this scenario a few other times and I do not hesitate to set the party straight. If it were me, in an area I was unfamiliar with, I wouldn't even presume to ask for a referral fee if I were buying a property for myself. When it is a true referral, I have no qualms. But, please, just let the local agent do his job and earn a wage.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Toe Knows

Last week I think I learned a lesson. I broke my toe. How did I do that? Rushing around, as usual. It was in the morning before work. I was going to go for a jog, and was dragging my heavy laundry basket to my wash area. Wham! My little toe slammed right into my bureau. Boy, did that hurt. I let out a screech so frightful that my three cats stopped all movement. Then I was limping. I saw Dr. Donchey the next day. At first he couldn't tell if my toe was broken, or if it was supposed to curl in that way naturally. So he x-rayed the other foot to make sure. Yes, they both curl in funny, but it looked like a possible fracture. So, I was outfitted with a very elegant shoe (only kidding) and given a prescription for pain medication. Oh yeah, he did the "buddy tape" thing, too, and told me to pack ice. I limped out with the mule sandal and on with life. Last week was not fun. I had one out-of-the office appointment with the designer shoe on one foot and a sneaker on the other. I think the seller appreciated my determination. What was the lesson? Being as slowed down as I had to be, no gym, no running, if even for a few days, I had to learn to stop rushing. I'll even take it one step further. I am going to try to stop triple- and quadruple- tasking at work. Like, I barely finish one project or task, and I start on another, while checking my email, while on the phone, while proofreading. So far, after about three days of resolve, I think I am doing better. Zen. Centered. Aware. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Are you in the office at 7:00 a.m. or work from home after five coffees?

Do you love to use your social network or are you a scrappy marketer?

Do you like structured guidance or just want to be left alone?

Your personal style is the secret to your success.

I am hiring unique individuals.

Contact me to see how your style can work for you at Rulnick Realty.

Wendy Rulnick 650-7883 ext 204

Have a Photo?

My new website will feature Emerald Coast architecture and destination photos, like shopping and restaurants. Even cool military pictures. I don't want to overemphasize the beach, that is a bit common. I especially want night time shots of Destin harbor. If you have non-people photos of the area you would like considered for the site, please email to me at [email protected]

Monday, July 9, 2007

Never Heard From Again

Sometimes when you tell someone the truth... they don't want to hear it. I recently had a situation where I was called in for a market analysis of a property in Freeport. A lovely property on almost two acres, over 3000 square feet. It had been listed previously by another real estate agent for almost $900,000. For over a year. When I presented my analysis, I showed the seller that an acre-plus waterfront property recently sold for $650,000. In addition, there was a competing property for sale with similar square footage and lot size for $520,000. I recommended the seller price no higher than $599,000. I explained that the property would not appraise for what it had been previously listed. I had to make my presentation unexpectedly just to the wife, the husband could not make the appointment. The wife said she certainly understood my pricing explanation and presentation. She said she would let her husband know and get back to me. Two weeks later, I never heard back from them. I saw today that the property had been re-listed with the same agent for $799,900, $200,000 more than I recommended. I pondered if I should have called back the husband after I met with the wife. I also considered whether I should have not made my presentation, since it was clear the wife was not the sole decision-maker. I had set aside several hours of research, driving and appointment time, so did not want to waste the day. I decided not to contact the husband later, because in this market, a non-"call back" (they didn't get back to me) is usually a non-motivated seller. An unrealistic seller is someone I don't want. The time I "wasted" was part of my cost of doing business.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


The nice people at CYber SYtes added a live chat option to my website yesterday. That's where a visitor can click the chat icon and basically have an instant message conversation with me while they are on my website. I am excited to see if this new feature proves to be useful to my site visitors, and to the public in general. I figured I would try it out, since I am on my computer working most of the time. If you are on, and see me logged in, say "Hi", and you can help me test it out!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Holiday Hype

Think all those Emerald Coast vacationers are going to be looking for real estate right before and on the Fourth of July? It's not true. Selling here for over fourteen years, I have seen "no phone call" Memorial Days, Independence Days, Easter's, etc. I have seen real estate office secretaries bored to tears, forced to work on a holiday "just in case". Buyers are busy. Having fun. Unpacking. Shopping. Going to the beach. Making plans for their barbecue. Not setting up appointments to see real estate. If they stay in town for a while, yes, they may look. But don't count on them interrupting their vacation with buying real estate. Not often, that is. My historic exception-- I sold three houses on Super Bowl Sunday in Connecticut about seventeen years ago!