real estate advice

What Is A "Pocket" Or "Off-Market Listing"?

real estate grand junction

Hi, Dave.

Great columns. I always learn a lot. Can you explain exactly what "pocket" or "off-market listings" are, how they work, and how a buyer can tap into that segment of the market?

Thanks.

Bill F., Grand Junction



Bill F,

The under used, but often successful "pocket listing"! One of my favorites! A pocket listing can be a sellers best friend and is something that we certainly use an awful lot each year. In fact, we will sell a dozen properties each year by utilizing the “pocket listing” status. A pocket listing is a listing that is not advertised and may be withheld from the multiple listing service until such time you are ready to go public with the sale of your home. With a pocket listing your listing agent can promote it to their peers and colleagues and will typically do so through word of mouth. If you go this route, you always run the risk of word getting out, but your chances of keeping it quiet are exponentially greater. A pocket listing can be a successful way to flying under the radar and still getting your home sold in a timely fashion and getting a jump start on selling before you are ready to put the sign in the front yard. If you go this route, I would suggest you be prepared to move as the results are often times quite good. 

The pocket listing is a great way to get your property exposure on the “down low” and buyers are generally excited to see these properties as they feel like they are getting a sneak peak at it before everyone gets a chance.  It’s a great option for those who dread the showing process or don’t want the hassle of showing after showing for several weeks. The traffic flow is often sporadic at best, but using this method allows you to hunt and peck for candidates that are most often much more targeted and many times pre-screened to help increase the chances they are a fit!  Keep in mind that a pocket listing may not always be the best option.

The pocket listing process does not provide the best environment for competition and multiple offers as the selectivity of who knows or has access can limit the big rush that many times occurs when a new property hits the market. This means that getting multiple competing offers that may drive the price up above the listing price is not common but getting an offer at the list price is a likely outcome because you can leverage the early access angle. Access to these properties is often times just being in the right place at the right time!  Many buyers are often frustrated when they see a house has sold before it even hit the market and feel cheated that they did not get a chance to view it.  One way we help our buyers get access to the ‘off, but on market’ properties is networking with other agents and e-blasting (email blast) to all the agents about what kind of property we are seeking! It’s amazing how many properties turn up when we e-blast for a buyer’s need if properties on the market at that time don’t fill the bill. 

I would encourage you to hook up with a real estate agent and have them start networking and e-blasting your specific property needs and see what turns up after doing so. You have to turn over every stone and sometimes turn them over time and time again to find just the right place! It does not always happen, but it sure can be an effective way to discover special/unique properties that are ready for sale, but just not in plain sight! Looking off the beaten path is sometimes where the best trails are forged! Looking in ways and places not everyone is looking is sometimes where real gems are found. Have a wonderful Sunday and thanks for your question.

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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Advice For Those Getting "Locked Out" And How Good Are Comparables In Naming Your List Price?

Dave,

I always look forward to your advice and try to file it away for future real estate transactions.

Today's advice for the folks that get "locked out" early in their search, neglected to advise them to find a realtor who gives them an alert the minute a home in their price range goes on the market!!

Also, how good are comparables in your neighborhood for naming your listing price?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Cheers,

Janet, Grand Junction

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Janet,

Thanks for reading my column! I am blessed to have many loyal readers who enjoy it and I am very appreciative of your support and your question. 

You are right and I appreciate the reminder, because I did fail to mention one of the most important aspects of finding a good agent to help in a home search. In an active market, like our market now, making sure you have an agent that has you on, what we call a drip campaign, is vital. A “drip campaign” is imperative to any buyer who is seriously looking to be competitive and find the best properties first! When you are enrolled in a drip campaign, you will be immediately notified when a property that meets your criteria hits the market. This is how you beat other buyers to the best new properties! Now, when it comes to determining your list price, better not ignore the house around the corner.

I consider comparable sales from the same neighborhood the most important comparable properties when determining a properties list price.  Generally homes in the same neighborhood are the strongest comparable properties because they were built around the same time, many by the same builders and most likely used similar finishes and floor plans.  What price similar homes in the neighborhood are selling for are typically your most accurate predictor of what your home will sell for and the ones I look for first!  Of course you have to take upgrades or significant remodels into account when looking at each property and determining how they comparatively stack up.

Lastly, I love that you signed your question, ‘Cheers’!  Just such a friendly and positive way to sign off … I love it. Thanks again, Janet.

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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With Publicly Available Price Data And Listings Online, Why Pay High Real Estate Commission Rates?

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Hi Dave,

When I started the process of selling my house on the front range, I could not find any agent who would reduce his/her commission in order to compete for my listing. They all demanded the same 6%. Now if I went into three different grocery stores, and all their different items were exactly the same price, then wouldn't I be justified in believing that some improper price-fixing was going on?

Instead, I listed my house with a "flat fee broker" for $300 who put it on the MLS. I still had to offer 3% to buyers' agents, but I thought this was fair, since buyers want the help and confidence from a broker who works exclusively for them. Ironically, the eventual buyer found my house on the public MLS listing without assistance from his buyer's agent!

Bottom line is that the transaction went thru flawlessly, I got my listing price, and I saved $7,000 by not needing an expensive commissioned listing agent. Why, with all the publicly available price data and listings on the internet, do we still have to pay these very high real estate commission rates?

Best,

Al, Montrose


Al,

Great question!

I will tackle it the best I can. First off, let me congratulate you on a successful sale on the front range and your relocation to the western slope! I am confident you will find the Montrose area not only beautiful, but also find the people very welcoming. It is a wonderful area. Let’s get right to it - not all agents charge the same commission rate. Interesting that you could not find any agents (on the front range) who would reduce their commission to a level you might have found acceptable. I know many who charge variable commission rates, even in my own office. Honestly, it’s just not very hard to find low commission rates if that is what you are looking for. I also find it interesting that you use the word “demanded” instead of “charged” or “requested”.

I don’t hear of many agents that “demand” a fee.  In our neck of the woods, we are all “just applying for a job”.  I do not think making demands while interviewing for a job is a proven path to success, but maybe that’s the way they do it over there. I will assume that most agents have a going rate of commission that they charge, and I will also assume that their rate is independently determined on their own, as is the way it is done at our office. My experience in commission variability certainly does not make a case for any type of price fixing, as you insinuate. It does not matter what product there is to be sold, there will always be less expensive options for those who rank price as their top determining factor! But price is not the be all end all for everyone…. at least not yet. 

“There are many reasons to use an agent and there are many ways that agents can help you make more money.”

There are people who value quality of service, negotiating expertise and transactional experience to help ensure smooth sailing through the process even when the process (and personalities) get difficult. There are many things that come into play that are often forgotten or overlooked when comparing agents or whether to use an agent or go it alone. I think it’s great that you are happy with your outcome, but is it possible that you could you have received an even higher price for your home and made even more money, by using an agent that provided accurate pricing and expert marketing? With proper marketing could that agent have created a competitive environment where multiple buyers potentially bid for your home, thus driving the price higher and making you even more money?  Could you have received a higher price by using your agent’s expertise in staging and getting your home dialed in to sell and therefore maximizing your home’s value? Could you have made more money by having an agent that not only helped you negotiate through the inspection process, but had access to vendors who could have saved you money with any required repairs? Could an agent have helped you sell faster, thus making you more money by reducing your carry costs by selling quicker (mortgage payments, utilities, etc.)? These are just a few of the questions that often time get ignored by those looking to make a case for not using a real estate agent to help them sell their home. As you can see, there are many reasons to use an agent and there are many ways that agents can help you make more money.

As for my experience of being a consumer (just like you), I tend to appreciate the difference in quality of services rendered and these things, many times, outweigh cost (for me) when deciding to purchase or not. It’s clear from your experience that nobody is forced to pay “very high real estate commission rates.”  Everybody has a choice to hire an agent or not. Clearly people sell their home on their own every day, but many like the confidence of knowing they are in experienced hands navigating what often time proves to be a treacherous process. I see agents make their home sellers money every single day and I know great agents offer great value.

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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Does The Type of Retaining Wall Change Resale Value?

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Dear Dave,

Now that spring is upon us and summer is fast approaching, we are getting some projects lined out for our property. We have an area that needs a retaining wall, 25 feet long and 4 feet high, and we would like some advice on what might be the best route to take. We have access to railroad ties but we aren’t sure if those will have as good of resale value for the property as a rock or stone retaining wall. What are your thoughts on this?

Much Appreciated,

Jim and Ruth - Loma, CO


Jim and Ruth,

Again, many issues to uncover and consider here.  First, you are thinking resale and I always love it when people think resale!  What you do to your home while you live there will significantly impact the value of your home either positively or negatively.  By focusing on resale, it does not guarantee anything, however it will help ensure your actions have a positive impact on your bottom line when you do decide to sell. 

A retaining wall can be a definite value ad to a property from both the function side and the aesthetic looks of our landscaping. The most important thing, in my mind, is to have it done by a professional, so it looks like it was done by a professional. Case in point, I added a pond to my property five years ago and around ¾ of the pond we had a boulder retaining wall that went from ground level at a 90 degree angle up the side of the pond to the top edge. It looked awful! I had a visitor ask me one time, “Why did you build an elephant watering hole?” Yikes! Needless to say, we did not feel very good about our “pond”.  This spring, we hired a landscape professional, Keith Lowdermilk of Lowdermilk Landscaping, to re-do some of our landscaping. While he was looking over the job, he asked if he could “re-do” our retaining wall around our pond. He thought he could make it look better. We said, “Absolutely!” After all, it was a total eye sore and we don’t even own an elephant! Long story short, he completely rebuilt the retaining wall around our pond and now it is a highlighted feature of our landscaping rather than something we were trying to hide. The cost was ridiculously reasonable, especially considering the end result. He used the same boulders we had and simply re-stacked and reshaped the contour and the finished product is amazing! The moral of the story - don’t be afraid to hire a professional!

“Regardless of the medium used, railroad ties, boulders, or rocks, I think it can be a valuable addition. “

Regardless of the medium used, railroad ties, boulders, or rocks, I think it can be a valuable addition. Try to pick a medium that is in line with the style of your home. If you have a more country or cottage feel, then maybe a rail road tie wall would look best. However, if your home is newer and is stucco and stone then maybe something with boulders would look best. From a pure cost perspective, if you have the inside track on some cost savings on railroad ties, I would suggest you follow that route. As I learned, spend a bit extra and go with the professional to, at a minimum, help you design the wall, but potentially also install your wall. 

Do it right the first time and it will really pay off and look great! Remember, not everything is about resale - you are going to have to look at it for many years and if it is done right you will look at it as a feature and not an eyesore. My bet is you (and your back!) won’t regret it. Hope this helps.

 

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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3 Golden Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers

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Dave,

I know you have a ton of experience in real estate and you give great advice in this column every week! So I’m just curious: If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who is about to start the home buying process, what would it be? And on the flip side if you could only give one piece of advice to a home seller what would it be?

Thanks in advance for helping me sound smart the next time my friends and I talk real estate!

John, Grand Junction


John,

Thanks for the compliment, at least one of us can seem smart when hanging with our peeps! That is a very interesting question and one that takes some thought! I am sure that if you ask me this question in six months at least one of these will change! I am not sure I can keep it to just one thing for each, but I will try. As my friends will tell you, I am pretty verbose. As my mom used to say, he rattles like an empty wagon! With that being said, let’s tackle the buyer advice first.

For the answers here I turned to our two most experienced buyers’ agents, Jan Kimbrough Miller and Cyrie Wortmann. They both work extensively with buyers and know the buying process better than anyone I know. Remember, every agent will have varying answers, but these two are awesome! 

Make sure you have no weak links in your team of lender and agent...one without the other is no good.
— Jan Kimbrough Miller, Buyer Specialist

Jan’s one thing was, “make sure you have no weak links in your team of lender and agent...one without the other is no good.” Let me tell you, this is awesome advice! If you have the best lender and are ready to purchase, but have a half devoted agent, you will likely miss the perfect house. On the flip side, if you have the most aggressive agent who is Johnny on the spot, but your lender stinks and you fail the loan process then you will also miss out on the perfect house. The quality combination of your lender and agent are your key to success.

Remember there will always be compromises. Avoid the trap of overthinking or paralysis by analysis and learn to trust your gut!
— Cyrie Wortmann, Buyer Specialist

Cyrie has more experience than anyone on our team and her advice is equally important! “Remember there will always be compromises. Avoid the trap of overthinking or paralysis by analysis and learn to trust your gut!” Again, this is timely and sage advice. As our market becomes more and more competitive being hesitant can be the difference between getting your dream home or letting someone else get it! God gave you a gut feeling, trust it and go with it! Both of these are awesome!  

Clean means more money and less time on market.
— Dave Kimbrough, Listing Specialist
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Ok, moving on to sellers...Since I am a listing agent, I did not solicit anyone’s advice on this answer and I will avoid the temptation of jumping on the low hanging fruit of making sure you choose the right agent! That one is too easy! My number one piece of advice would be that “clean means more money and less time on market”. Who doesn’t want more money and who doesn’t’ want to sell fast? Duh! Make sure to have your home completely dialed in and show ready. A clean house makes a wonderful first impression and the first impression is the most important. When you are dialing things in, make sure not to forget about the outside. Listen, if the inside sparkles but the outside is ugly or neglected, forget about it. Buyers will pass you by. Make sure you have the full package of inside and out ready to go! Next, remember that 92% of buyers start their search online and their first impression of your home will almost always be from your electronic footprint. If your home’s photos (both drone and still), virtual tour, website penetration, Facebook and Instagram presence are not top notch, it will cost you showings and limit your ability to sell. I see it all the time, bad photos and a lame virtual tour… there is no excuse in today’s day and age. If your home has a bad/subpar electronic footprint then you are entering a street fight with a patch over one eye and one arm tied behind your back. There really is no excuse for a poorly executed electronic presence, but you would be amazed at how bad some are. Your homes electronic footprint has to be spot on! 

Hope these help and although there are many more super important tips, these will ensure that you get off to a great start when buying or selling and also make sure you seem super smart and keen to your friends! Lastly, it is Fathers Day! Time to thank dear old dad for all he has done over the years. Remember, its hard work being a dad and none of us came with an instruction manual. Stop long enough to say “I love you” and “thanks for being my dad” and I bet by doing so it might make the day for both of you! 

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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