Sunday, November 28, 2010

Debunking Zillow

I've always been a little bit of a hater of Zillow.  Deep down I always felt they presented data with a point of view against Realtors and home owners.  Again, this is my opinion.  You can agree or disagree.

I was playing around their site recently to see if they had anything of value I could incorporate on my own website.  I checked out their Widgets and and started looking at their Median List Price widget.

It's my opinion that list prices have little to do with actual real estate values, and even less of a use in determining price trending in a particular area or neighborhood.  Let's face it, you can list a property for any price you'd like, but the actual sales price determines real estate values.  I do use list price data to gauge price negotiability and softness in demand, by comparing list price to sales price ratios, when working with buyers. 

So, as I was evaluating their widget, I checked out the neighborhoods they listed, and tested Lido Key.  What?  List prices trending down 29%?  Is demand that soft?  Were the Realtors so far off the mark?  Turns, out, this is hardly the case.

I invite you to go to my website and visit my analysis of Zillow in this particular case.  The actual data from our MLS shows that sold values from Nov 2009-10 are down approximately 9% versus Nov 2008-09.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  No matter your circumstances, you have something to be thankful for.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Websites and Technology

With so many cookie-cutter real estate websites out there, I thought I'd toot my own horn about mine, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/.

There are a plethora of companies that provide website templates for Realtors, and a great majority employ them.  Out of a desire to save money and provide something unique, I designed and created my website myself.

I actually had to look outside the real estate arena for inspiration.  For example, the "leading" luxury real estate broker here provides an Open House page, but they include only their own in-house listings, and they don't provide a clickable map.  On my Open House page, I provide a list of ALL open houses in my service area, as well as an interactive Google map.

I also created a Just Listed page.  The cookie cutter sites and the big box brokers don't have this feature.

I've also jumped into the realm of mobile real estate.  I provide an iPhone/iPad app to search listings.  I've posted QR codes on my mobile page, where you can snap the code with your mobile phone camera to go directly to the app, or to my website URL.  I don't see this offered among many, if any, of my competitors.

If you're looking to sell your property, my technology edge will put your home in front of more buyers.  If you are buying real estate, the technology I use will keep you in easy, convenient contact and make sure you get timely information in a competitive market.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Transaction Fees: To Pay or Not to Pay?

I was recently asked by a client if I charged a transaction fee.  At Sandals Realty, we do not charge a transaction fee to buyers or sellers. 

A transaction fee is an add-on, instituted by the major franchise brokerages like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Re/Max, and the like, as an additional revenue stream in the face of shrinking profit margins and increasing costs in a challenging real estate market.

Transaction fees only go to the bottom line of the real estate company. They do not serve a purpose to the customer or to the real estate agent. In my opinion, transaction fees are junk fees. They are like "processing fees" at a car dealer, or on a mortgage.   If you were shopping for a car, you would ask about any fees the dealer charged and could possibly eliminate before your purchase.  Same thing with real estate.

As a real estate consumer, you should NOT be asked to pay this fee by your Realtor, although a good many try, using the line that "it's worth it to pay for excellent service".  What usually happens is that Realtors eat this transaction fee by paying it to the real estate company out of their commission, but if they still insist that you pay, find another Realtor to assist you. 

2010 Hurricane Predictions: Wrong Again

One of the things I'll be taking aim at here in my blog is how the media and politics affects the business of real estate.  One example of this is how, in the wake of Katrina and the global warming/climate change farce, the major weather prognoticators have over-hyped the threat of hurricanes.

In an uncertain economic environment, the over-hyped threat of natural disasters is another issue that needlessly damages the real estate market in FL.

The fact is that yes, Florida is susceptible to hurricanes, but Sarasota is even less susceptible to hurricanes than the rest of the state.   We have to go back 50 years to find a hurricane with a direct hit on Sarasota, Hurricane Donna in 1960, with 80 mph sustained winds, just barely a Category 1 hurricane:  http://www.hurricanecity.com/city/sarasota.htm .  Hurricane Charley, in 2004, hit the eastern part of Sarasota county, which primarily is home to fruit orchards and cattle operations.

Here's a well-researched Reuters blog on how badly wrong hurricane predictions have been for the past few years.  http://reut.rs/981Qti

Contrast the hype over hurricanes versus tornadoes.  Florida isn't hyped in the media for tornadoes because we aren't in Tornado Alley.  However, while Florida ranks #1 for the number of tornadoes, we do not show up in the top 10 states in tornado deaths or number of killer tornadoes:  http://www.tornadoproject.com/toptens/topten1.htm 

So potential FL real estate buyers, take the media hype over hurricanes with a grain of salt.  It's too beautiful here to worry about it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Listed in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte

See the fresh listings for single family homes in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  Check out my "Just Listed" page for 91 new property listings.

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for visiting.  I'll be using my blog to tell you about real estate opportunities and news in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.  I also like to take aim at "conventional wisdom", so I'll be covering topics that affect real estate, such as the economy, politics, even weather.

You can also visit my real estate website, http://www.davidbarrhomes.com/, where I have accumulated a wealth of local real estate information and insight.