Boston Real Estate – Choosing the Right Boston Real Estate Agent

As a successful Boston real estate agent, it always puzzled me how and why some people choose particular Boston real estate agents to sell their homes. For most of us, a real estate purchase is the single largest investment we will ever make in our lives. Still, when it comes time to capitalize on this investment many home sellers are much too casual and have very low standards for the person they choose to handle the sale of their property.I can cite many examples of poor decision making when it comes to home-sellers choosing a real estate agent, but there is one example from my experience that really boggled my mind.I received a call from a woman about six months ago who asked me to do a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) of her Boston Condo. (I gladly obliged and confirmed a time to meet with her and to tour her property.) The CMA process typically entails an initial tour of the subject property, comprehensive market research to produce a report, and an in-depth, in-person listing presentation. After meeting the client, viewing the property, doing the necessary research and presenting my report, I was certain that this woman would list her property with me. She disclosed to me that she had interviewed five other Boston realtors and that she was “by far” most impressed with my presentation and me. She cited my track record selling Boston real estate and Boston condos, my knowledge of the Boston real estate market, and my professionalism as the reasons she viewed me as the most qualified real estate agent to sell her home. She also disclosed to me that my service charge was identical to the five other agents she interviewed so “price” wasn’t an objection I would have to overcome.After giving her forty-eight hours to review her options (I of course sent her a thank you card for considering my services), I followed up with a phone call to see if she had any outstanding questions. To my surprise she told me that she had decided to list her property with a friend, who is also her hairdresser, and sells real estate part-time in a suburb of Boston. My initial shock came from the fact that she decided to list her property with an out-of-town broker, someone who had very little knowledge of the Boston real estate market. But what really blew me away was her decision to list her property with a friend, who not only had very little total real estate experience, but who works part-time in real estate and had never sold a property before! Her exact words were: “She is a very nice person and I would like to help her jumpstart her real estate career.”At this point she had already made her decision and the last thing I was going to do was to disqualify her friend as a competent real estate agent, so I wished her the best of luck and told her that I would try my best to cooperate with her friend to sell the unit. She thanked me and recognized my professionalism. What I really wanted to ask her was this: If I told you that you had $150,000 to invest, (which is approximately what she stood to profit from the sale of her home), and your friend, who is also your hairdresser, called you and told you that she just started selling stocks part-time and she wanted you to invest your money with her, would you do it?Fortunately, most of the people I have actually posed this question to have thought about it and answered no. Unfortunately, there are too many people who do not think about their real estate investment in these terms and are essentially answering yes! For some unknown reason many people are much too casual when it comes time to sell their real estate investment, when if fact, most people look to the equity they have in their homes to pay for important things like major home improvements and educational expenses while they own their home.It turns out, the woman I used in the example above ended up calling me in a panic after her property sat on the market for six months, overpriced by almost 10%. She had to sell the property within 60 days of calling me as she had been carrying two mortgages for four months and was running out of money. I ended up selling the property three weeks later for a reduced price because the property had become “stale” in the eyes of buyers in the market and she had very little bargaining power when it came to negotiating price.You must have high expectations when choosing your Boston real estate agent and must truly think of your real estate investment as the largest single investment you will ever make in your life. The following is a list of 25 questions that you must ask all of the realtors you interview before choosing one to sell your Boston home:1. Are you a licensed sales person/broker in the state of Massachusetts?2. Do you have a licensed broker in your office?3. How long have you been selling real estate?4. Do you strictly work as a seller’s agent?5. Do you have buyer’s agents working in your office?6. Will you offer compensation to sub-agents, buyer agents, or facilitators, or all?7. What is my liability if you offer compensation to and welcome sub-agents and he or she misrepresents my property?8. Will you ever allow a buyer or another agent to enter my home without you being present?9. Is selling real estate your full-time job?10. How much real estate have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year?11. Can you provide 5 references of people you have sold for in the last year?12. How many listings do you currently have under contract?13. What is the “average days on market” for all of your listings over the past year?14. What is the average ratio of asking price to sales price for the last 10 properties you have listed?15. What differentiates you and your company from your competition?16. How will you arrive at an appropriate suggested asking price for my home?17. How and where will you market my property?18. What is your service fee?19. What services are included in your fee?20. What is the length of your listing contract?21. Is your contract an exclusive listing contract?22. Are your real estate forms in compliance with the laws in Massachusetts?23. What professional real estate organizations do you and your company belong to?24. What is the state of the Boston real estate market? Is this a good time to sell?25. What properties would I be directly competing with if I put my property on the market today?

Addicted to Real Estate – Why I Can’t Stop and Why You Should Start

The All-Money-Down TechniqueSo how does the all-money-down technique work by purchasing a home with cash? First of all, let me repeat that I really didn’t have any cash, but I had a significant amount of equity from Terry’s home and several homes that I owned put together to give me a substantial cash down payment. Banks and mortgage companies alike will accept money from a home-equity line of credit as cash to purchase a home. At least they did in 1997 under the financial guidelines of the day. What you must remember about mortgages and lending is that the guidelines change constantly, so this technique I used in 1997 may or may not be able to be used in the future. Whether it is or isn’t able to be used again doesn’t really matter to me as I believe that there will always be a way to buy real estate with limited money down sooner or later. There will always be a technique to acquire real estate but exactly how that will be done in the future I’m not completely sure.I began purchasing homes in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia with the prices in the $30,000 to $40,000 per home price range. I would purchase a home with three bedrooms and one bathroom on the second floor with a kitchen, dining room, and living room on the first floor and a basement. What we call a row home in Philadelphia would consist of a porch out front and a backyard the width of the home. Most row homes in Philadelphia are less than twenty-two feet wide. For those of you who are not from Philadelphia and can’t picture what a Philadelphia row home looks like, I suggest you watch the movie Rocky. Twenty-two homes on each side of every block will really test your ability to be a neighbor. Things that will usually cause an argument with your Philadelphia neighbors often stem from parking, noise your children make, where you leave your trash cans, parties, and the appearance of your home.In 1998 my girlfriend and I moved in together and to the suburbs of Philadelphia called Warminster. After living on a street in Tacony, much like Rocky did, I really looked forward to having space between my home and my next-door neighbor. I told Terry not to even think about talking with the people who lived next door to us. I told her if one of them comes over with a fruitcake I am going to take it and punt it like a football right into their backyard. I believe I was suffering from Philadelphia row home syndrome. My new neighbors in Warminster turned out to be wonderful people, but it took me eighteen months before I was willing to learn that.So you just bought your row home for $35,000 in Mayfair, and after $2000 in closing costs and $5000 in repair costs, you find yourself a good tenant who wants to rent the home. After renting the home with a positive cash flow of $200 a month, you now have an outstanding debt of $42,000 on your home equity line of credit that will have to be paid off. When purchasing the home, I did not get a mortgage as I just purchased a home for cash as it is said in the business. All monies I spent on this house were spent from the home-equity line of credit.The move now is to pay off your home-equity line of credit so you can go do it again. We now go to a bank with your fixed-up property and tell the mortgage department that you want to do a cash-out refinancing of your real estate investment. It helps to explain that the neighborhood you purchase your property in should have a wider range of pricing as the neighborhood of Mayfair did in the mid-90s. The pricing of homes in Mayfair is quite unusual as you would see a $3000 difference in home values from one block to the next. This was important when doing a cash-out refinancing because it’s pretty easy for the bank to see that I just bought my property for $35,000 regardless of the fact that I did many repairs. I could justify the fact that I’ve spent more money on my home to fix it up, and by putting a tenant in, it was now a profitable piece of real estate from an investment standpoint.If I was lucky like I was many times over doing this system of purchasing homes in Mayfair and the appraiser would use homes a block or two away and come back with an appraisal of $45,000. Back then there were programs allowing an investor to purchase a home for 10 percent down or left in as equity doing a 90 percent cash out refinance giving me back roughly $40,500. Utilizing this technique allowed me to get back most of the money I put down on the property. I basically paid just $1,500 down for this new home. Why did the mortgage companies and the appraisers keep giving me the numbers I wanted? I assume because they wanted the business. I would only tell the bank I need this to come in at $45,000 or I am just keeping it financed as is. They always seemed to give me what I wanted within reason.This whole process took three to four months during which time I may have saved a few thousand dollars. Between the money I saved from my job and my investments and cash out refinancing, I had replenished most or all of my funds from my home-equity line of credit that was now almost back to zero to begin the process again. And that is exactly what I intended to do. I used this system to purchase four to six homes a year utilizing the same money to purchase home after home after home over and over again. In reality, the technique is a no-money down or little money down technique. At the time maybe I had $60,000 in available funds to use to buy homes off of my HELOC, so I would buy a home and then replenish the money. It was a terrific technique that was legal, and I could see my dream of being a real estate investor full-time coming to an eventual reality even though I wasn’t there yet.During the years from 1995 to 2002, the real estate market in Philadelphia made gradual increases of maybe 6 percent as each year went on. I began to track my net worth that was 100 percent equity, meaning I had no other forms of investments to look at when calculating my net worth. Generally speaking, the first five years of my real estate career did not go well because of the bad decisions I made purchasing buildings and the decline in the market. Furthermore, my lack of knowledge and experience in repairs made it a rough. The second five years of my real estate career that I just finished explaining didn’t make much money either. I supported myself primarily through my career as a salesman, but I could definitely see the writing on the wall that down the road real estate was going to be my full-time gig.Realty Professionals of AmericaI own an office building that has a real estate company as a tenant called Realty Professionals of America. The company has a terrific plan where a new agent receives 75 percent of the commission and the broker gets only 25 percent. If you don’t know it, this is a pretty good deal, especially for a new real estate agent. The company also offers a 5 percent sponsorship fee to the agent who sponsors them on every deal they do. If you bring an individual who is a realtor in to the company that you have sponsored, the broker will pay you a 5 percent sponsorship out of the broker’s end so that the new realtor you sponsored can still earn 75 percent commissions. In addition to the above, Realty Professionals of America offers to increase the realtor’s commission by 5 percent after achieving cumulative commission benchmarks, up to a maximum of 90 percent. Once a commission benchmark is reached, an agent’s commission rate is only decreased if commissions in the following year do not reach a lower baseline amount. I currently keep 85 percent of all my deals’ commissions; plus I receive sponsorship checks of 5 percent from the commissions that the agents I sponsored earn. If you’d like to learn more about being sponsored into Realty Professionals of America’s wonderful plan, please call me directly at 267-988-2000.Getting My Real Estate LicenseOne of the things that I did in the summer of 2005 after leaving my full-time job was to make plans to get my real estate license. Getting my real estate license was something I always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time to do it. I’m sure you’ve heard that excuse a thousand times. People always say that they’re going to do something soon as they find the time to do it, but they never seem to find the time, do they? I try not to let myself make excuses for anything. So I’ve made up my mind before I ever left my full-time job that one of the first things I would do was to get my real estate license. I enrolled in a school called the American Real Estate Institute for a two-week full-time program to obtain my license to sell real estate in the state of Pennsylvania. Two terrific guys with a world of experience taught the class, and I enjoyed the time I spent there. Immediately after completing the course at the American Real Estate Institute, I booked the next available day offered by the state to take the state exam. My teachers’ advice to take the exam immediately after the class turned out to be an excellent suggestion. I passed the exam with flying colors and have used my license many times since to buy real estate and reduce the expenses. If you are going to be a full-time real estate investor or a commercial real estate investor, then you almost have to get a license. While I know a few people who don’t believe this, I’m convinced it’s the only way.I worked on one deal at $3 million where the commission to the buyer’s real estate agent was $75,000. By the time my broker took a share, I walked with $63,000 commission on that deal alone. With the average cost per year of being a realtor running about $1200 per year, this one deal alone would’ve paid for my real estate license for fifty-three years. Not to mention all the other fringe benefits like having access to the multiple listing service offered too many realtors in this country. While there are other ways to get access to the multiple listing services or another program similar to it, a real estate license is a great way to go.Some of the negatives I hear over and over again about having your real estate license is the fact that you have to disclose that you are realtor when buying a home if you’re representing yourself. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see this as a negative at all. If you’re skilled in the art of negotiation, it’s just another hurdle that you have to deal with. I suppose you could end up in a lawsuit where a court of law could assume because you are realtor you should know all these things. I don’t spend my life worrying about the million ways I can be sued any more than I worry about getting hit by a car every time I cross the street.