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Realtor Response Time

“My Realtor won’t call me back!” is a claim I often hear from people who are buying or selling real estate.   They express frustration and bewilderment as to why a real estate agent they’ve contacted either delays a call back or, worse yet, never calls back at all.  I understand their sentiments but can’t understand why this happens with such frequency.

Most Americans  check their phones incessantly throughout the day and night. In today’s hyper-technical world, instantaneous response is expected. Whether by text, call, voicemail, apps or email, people are staying in touch with their network. Since the majority of real estate agents and clients own a a smartphone, staying in contact should be very easy. It’s outrageous  that many qualified leads are lost due to delayed response time from their agent. Even more unthinkable that an agent would not have the courtesy to return a call to someone whose business they’ve already gotten. Some agents do not respond within one day.  By that time, the potential client has certainly moved on and found someone else to assist them.

According to research by the National Association of Realtors https://www.nar.realtor/ home buyers and sellers almost always do business with the first agent they meet–a whopping 72%.  Yet, many realtors don’t take that critical first step towards securing a willing buyer or seller by a lightning fast response time. Since most realtors aren’t sitting behind a desk or tethered to a landline, they can respond on the go: from their cars, their homes or even when they are out showing property.

Many real estate customers weighed in on this issue on a message forum board at Zillow.  See their comments here:

https://www.zillow.com/advice-thread/What-is-a-realistic-response-time-for-a-realtor-to-get-back-to-me/672891/

I admit I’ve purchased leads from http://www.zillow.com and other similar companies, and they advised that the window of time to respond is under 15 minutes.  I once closed a $350,000 sale and got a listing for the condo they were selling because I called them back within two minutes of receiving the lead.  The seller was exasperated when he was not able to reach the listing agent within 24 hours even after she’d promised to call him back right away. I also subscribe to a referral service called http://www.optcity.com where I receive text notifications of buyer leads. But the catch is I have to claim the referral within seconds or it’s gone. So turning my phone on silent when I’m awake just isn’t an option.

The importance of response time can’t be overstated.  According to https://www.agentology.com/

Calling a lead in 5 minutes VS 30 minutes increases the chances of converting that lead by 21X

With information so readily available at our fingertips these days, it’s no wonder consumers grow impatient at a quicker rate than they used to. As a matter of fact, a recent study by Microsoft surveyed over 2,000 adults and found people now lose concentration after 8 seconds! That’s a shorter attention span than goldfish! This tells us that leads are more perishable than ever and when people want information from an expert, they want it NOW. 

According to an article in Forbes magazine, a quick response time is listed as the number one Best Practices.

Respond quickly. Today’s real estate clients expect speedier service than did any generation before them. (Not only speedier than their parents expected, but even than they themselves expected this time last year.) As I often say, an hour represents a year in internet time; a prospective client who doesn’t hear from you the same morning or afternoon of their attempt to contact you may very well move on, on the assumption that you’re never going to get back to them

People who are buying a home are making the most expensive purchase of their lives, and they want and expect someone to care enough to call, text or email them back in a timely way to help them with the transaction. Whether they’re spending $100,000 or $1M, customers need to feel that they are important, and a timely response shows them that the agent truly cares. Realtors should respond in the same manner that they were contacted. For example, if customers prefer text messages to phone calls, agents should honor that and respond in kind.

When shopping for a qualified agent, it’s appropriate to judge them on their response time to the initial contact.  Even if one agent has more experience, the one who calls you back right away may deserve your business. Just because they’ve had more years in the business, doesn’t guarantee the level of respect and responsiveness that every customer deserves.  Like Og Mandino said, “Experience is often overrated; usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly.” Don’t overlook those younger or less experience agents. Often they have more time to devote to you and are hungry –they’ll work harder to earn and keep your business.

If an agent can’t call you back, they can at least text an acknowledgement of the call with a promise to call back within a certain time.  Some lead generation sites, like Zillow have a feature where an automated email is sent immediately. And certainly every professional agent should have a clearly spoken voicemail greeting stating his or her name and company affiliation with assurance of a prompt return call.

It is unrealistic for customers to expect their agents to be on call 24/7, but smart agents realize that their workdays are not 9-5.  Spouses, friends and significant others who have a real estate agent in their lives come to expect constant phone calls and texts that interrupt social and family events. So agents must prioritize their time and realize that they can’t always get back to their customers and clients immediately.

Since I’m a night owl, I have no problem answering calls, texts and emails after 10 p.m.  I once made a sale because I was awake at midnight when my client had questions about a property.  I got up, got online and found the answers to his questions.  Not only did I make a client for life, I also made a friend.  Turns out, he’d already met with several other agents. When I asked him why he chose me, he simply said, “Lisa, you always go the extra mile for me.”

So why do agents not respond in a timely way?  The most common answer is–“I’m busy.”  Successful agents are constantly looking at properties online, running comparables, crafting listing presentations, showing properties and doing the mountain of paperwork this business requires.  At some point, if the agent is too busy to respond to incoming communication, maybe it’s time to hire an assistant.  Some agents are turning to virtual assistants–staff they hire in other countries that help them with paperwork and other duties so that they can devote their time to the most profit-generating aspects of their business.

Some agents only work part-time, devoting the majority of their day to another profession.  It is understandable why they do this since making a good living as an agent in a competitive market is very difficult, especially for new agents.  Others are not tech-savvy and have a difficult time managing apps, emails, texts and phone calls simultaneously.  It is a difficult juggling act at times and takes instruction and practice. But the results are well worth it: customers and clients who feel valued become loyal advocates.

Sadly, some agents  are just unprofessional or lazy.  That’s a harsh judgement, but unfortunately a few bad experiences with real estate agents taints the reputation of the rest of us.  In a personality driven, commission-based business, it’s unthinkable that agents are unresponsive.

Some agents don’t return calls because they don’t want to deal with a customer who’s “just looking” or who they feel may not be a qualified buyer. They may not be qualified, but they have people in their network who are, and they’ll be more likely to recommend a realtor who answers or responds quickly.

Still others don’t respond because they feel that there’s no money to be made because the caller is looking to rent a property.  That’s short-sighted, in my opinion.  Eventually most renters become buyers, and they will remember the agent who took the time to help them lease a property.  I’ve had great experience helping renters; they become some of my strongest and most loyal advocates because they are so appreciative that I was willing to help them even though the initial payoff was small.

Besides the obvious reason that returning calls, texts and emails is good for business, real estate agents should do it because it’s the right thing to do.  It makes clients, potential clients and even other agents feel that they are valued— that their time and concerns are important.  With the plethora of automation in this field—apps, automated searches and real estate websites– nothing replaces the human touch and the courtesy of responding in a timely manner with the information requested.  A good agent conveys a sincere desire to serve, not just to make a commission and get on to the next deal.

With hundreds of agents in a highly competitive market, consumers can be selective in their choice of agents. In the crowded field of merely competent agents, choose one who demonstrates an authentic concern for customers and a strong desire to help them achieve their goals.

Choose one who shows that level of care with a lightning fast response timelike me!

Call, text or email me anytime.  If I’m awake, I’ll answer.

 

Like my Facebook page:

 https://www.facebook.com/LisaHamblenHoodRealtor/

FAQ’s Port Aransas Real Estate

  1. Will the rental income from my second home cover my mortgage?

Probably not —but it probably will cover some of the other costs like Property Taxes, Home Owner’s Association dues (HOA) and Management Fees for homes used for rental income.

Like Dave Ramsey   https://www.daveramsey.com/  says “Cash is king!” so if you have the wherewithal to pay cash, it’s better.

 https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-benefits-to-paying-cash-for-a-home-1798721

Other mortgage tips from Dave Ramsey :  https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/the-truth-about-mortgages

There are some great deals occasionally when the entry price is low enough for the buyer to have a positive cash flow after all expenses are covered.

  1. What kind of financing is allowed for second homes?

Usually conventional loans are the way to go.  To qualify for a conventional loan on a second home, you will typically need to meet higher credit score standards of 725 or even 750, depending on the lender. Your monthly debt-to-income ratio needs to be strong, particularly if you are attempting to limit your down payment to 20%. All borrowers need to fully document their income and assets for a second home loan, because lenders will need to see significant cash reserves to make sure you have the resources to handle payments on two homes. (ref: http://www.investopedia.com/  )
Some lenders will finance properties at big condo/hotels with special loans.

  1. Is a house or condo better for a second home at the beach?

Both have their advantages.  Condos don’t require grounds or exterior maintenance. They usually offer on-site amenities such as pools, hot tubs, some recreational facilities and some have easy beach access.  They also have HOA’s and management fees and there’s always the possibility of an assessment being levied. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-are-hoa-assessments.html

Houses (called detached) don’t have HOA’s unless they are in a community (gated or otherwise) or unless they are in a condo regime.  You are responsible for your own exterior maintenance and insurance.  They are sometimes easier and cheaper to finance than condos.

  1. What is an HOA and what do they cost/cover?

Home Owner’s Associations vary widely in what they cost and what all they cover.  The higher priced monthly dues usually cover flood/windstorm/exterior in addition to the maintenance of the pool and grounds.  Larger units in the same complex may have higher dues.  They mandate the size and type of house, the exterior color and types of roofs and trim.   Basic home owner association info here: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/homeowners-associations-tips.asp

  1. What do management companies charge and what do they do?

In addition to booking, management companies arrange for the housekeeping and repairs on the property.  Fees can range from 20-25% for third-party management companies, to 40-50% on the big condo-hotels or condo-tels Generally, if a property has a front office, they do on-site management or contract it out and do not allow third-party management.   https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2006/08/03/what-are-condo-hotels-or-condotels-an-interview-with-joel-greene-part-i/

A small local management team is sometimes the best fit because they limit the number of properties they take care of.  http://www.visitporta.net/

  1. What about self-managing?

That’s an option, but it involves the owner being on-call all the time to book the unit and tend to repairs and maintenance when guests are in and check on the property condition each time guests check out.  But if owners are willing to do this and have some experience in property management, it can greatly enhance their bottom line.

  1. What is an assessment?

Condos levy assessments on property owners for big expenses such as roof repairs, repaving, resurfacing the pool and exterior painting.  They can cost home owners tens of thousands of dollars but improve the value of the property.  Usually, owners are given notice of a planned assessment several months in advance. Sometimes, motivated sellers will offer to pay the planned assessment for potential buyers.  See link above.

  1. What’s the occupancy rate?

Generally, a vacation home is rented during the high season from Memorial Day to Labor Day and a few other weekends before and after.  You can count on renting about 100 days per year.  Monthly rentals are done during the off season to “winter Texans.”  They pay a lower rate per day but are usually reliable tenants.  Some areas do not allow short term or “nightly” rentals, instead only permitting long term rentals–two week or one month minimums.

  1. Should I update or upgrade my unit to help it rent better?

Yes and no.  Vacation homes that are prettier and more updated will rent sooner than the others, but during the high season, most all of them get rented, regardless of how they look.  During the off-peak season, the cuter ones rent more because people can go online and view individual units.  When it’s time to sell, a little updating and redecorating usually help it sell more, as long as you don’t go overboard with spending.  Your place still needs to be in line with similar units especially in the same complex.  https://blog.evolvevacationrental.com/5-vacation-rental-upgrades-that-convince-travelers-to-book/

  1. What is the property tax rate in Port Aransas?

It is 1.82%.  Some condos and houses located further south on State Highway 361 are taxed in the Corpus Christi district at somewhat higher rate.  The cut off is the La Mirage Condominiums.  Properties south of this are in the Port Aransas zip code but in the Corpus taxing district.

  1. How much is windstorm and flood insurance?

On a 1500 square foot home, flood is about 900-1200, windstorm is around 2500.  Contents coverage is additional and varies with dollar amount covered.  Call a reputable agent to get specifics on the property you’re considering buying.  The local expert around here is Stephanie Waterman  https://agents.farmers.com/tx/corpus-christi/stephanie-waterman?SourceID=AMPL001L002&utm_source=GMB&utm_medium=Local

  1. How long does it take to close on a home?

With new government regulations, gone are the 30 day closings.  Most of the time, you should allow at least 45 days.

For fast reliable mortgage lending, I recommend Jennifer Perrin  or Juan Garcia at Starkey Mortgage.

jgarcia@starkeymtg.com

 https://www.starkeymtg.com/lo/JenniferPerrin

  1. What do I need to get started?

First, go speak with a lender, someone you trust.  I recommend going with a company that assigns a specific person to you, so you always talk to the same one to check the status of your loan.  They will need to pre-qualify for the loan.  They are mostly looking at how much you earn vs. how much you owe—to figure the debt to income ratio.

To calculate your debt-to-income ratio, you add up all your monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income. Your gross monthly income is generally the amount of money you have earned before your taxes and other deductions are taken out.  For example, if you pay $1500 a month for your mortgage and another $100 a month for an auto loan and $400 a month for the rest of your debts, your monthly debt payments are $2000. ($1500 + $100 + $400 = $2,000.) If your gross monthly income is $6000, then your debt-to-income ratio is 33 percent. ($2000 is 33% of $6000.) https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

The lender will give you a letter stating that you qualify for a certain amount, which is different than a pre-approval letter stating that they’d be willing to lend you that amount. They will also check your credit score, how reliable you are able paying your bills on a timely basis and if you have outstanding debt that you aren’t paying on.  Once you get pre-approved, it’s time to start saving money.  Don’t buy a new car, boat or other large purchase before you close on your house.

Contact a reliable realtor.  You will be spending lots of time with that person, so find someone you like, someone who’s honest and won’t just try to “sell you something.”  Tell them what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend so they can begin the search.  http://myfavoritebeachproperty.com/index.php/2016/11/22/whychooseme/

Once you identify that person, you should sign a buyer’s rep agreement with them, which is basically an employment contract.  Usually the sellers pay the real estate commission, so there’s no need to avoid this step.   http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-is-a-buyers-agent-used-for/

  1. What is a buyer’s rep agreement and is this necessary?

A buyer’s rep agreement is basically an employment contract between a buyer and a realtor.  It states the time and the location in which a search will occur.  The realtor agrees to market the home in various ways and the buyer agrees to facilitate the sale.  If, at any time, the buyer feels the realtor is not doing an adequate job, they can break the agreement.  But since the seller usually pays the real estate commission in the transaction, there is no cost to the buyer.  The buyer then becomes a “client” as opposed to a “customer” and the realtor is able to negotiate the terms of a deal and be the buyer’s advocate.

  1. How important is online research when shopping for a home?

The National Association of Realtors found that 94% of millennials and 84% of baby boomers start their home search online.  Even home buyers over 65 start there first, as many as 65% of them do as well.  Keep in mind that real estate sites are only a place to start and that sometimes their information is incorrect or hasn’t been recently updated.  But it helps buyers sort through potential properties so that they can be more prepared when they meet with a realtor.

  1. How long will it take to find the right property?

The average time to find a property is as high as 11 weeks, according to the National Association of Realtors.  But like all bargains, the good ones get snapped up early.  When a buyer finds a good deal and they are ready, they should make an offer, particularly if it hasn’t been on the market long.  “Days on market” can tell a lot about a property. Sometimes, properties are overpriced and will languish on the market.  If that happens, the seller might be more motivated to take an offer, or they also might be the kind to put it on the market at an inflated price “just to see what happens.”

  1. What do I need to do before I list my home?

First, you need to “de-clutter.”  Since that can carry a negative connotation, I prefer the word “packing.”  Sellers need to realize that they are getting ready to close a chapter and move on to another, and this is an important first step.  Any personal items such as photos, memorabilia and calendars with the family’s schedule should be removed.  Before a showing is scheduled, be sure to store valuables in a secure location.

Any repairs, large or small that the seller can afford to do should be done prior to listing.  Some lenders will not loan money on a house that has big repairs needed.  Many times, the seller will end up paying for those, so they should go ahead and fix whatever they can before listing.

Then they should select a realtor that they feel comfortable with, someone they trust who has a proven track record and positive online reviews.

https://www.zillow.com/profile/lisahood25/#reviews

  1. What is “staging” and is it necessary?

Staging is a way to show the home in the best light to potential buyers.  It means to furnish and decorate a home with no personal touches.  Sellers should take out some of the furniture and accessories to make the rooms seem larger and uncluttered.  They should make sure the drive-up appeal is top notch with a manicured lawn and appealing entry.  The home should be well lit and spotlessly clean.  Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in that home, and having too much “stuff” detracts from that mental picture. Studies have shown that buyers are more attracted to homes that are staged and therefore more inclined to buy them.  Sellers can stage their homes themselves or hire a professional, which usually costs under $1000, a small price to pay when compared with their house staying on the market longer than necessary.  https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2661221/list/sell-your-home-fast-21-staging-tips

  1. How long will it take to sell my home?

According to a study publish in the Corpus Christi Caller Times, the average days on the market in this area is less than 90 days.  Of course that number varies widely depending on the zip codes.  Southside and Flour Bluff are booming areas because of their good schools and properties take less time to sell there.  Port Aransas, since it is a resort town, has a more seasonal market. Most of the homes are higher priced and are sold as second homes or investment properties.

20.  What’s the bottom line?

While you might make a decent return on investment by owning a second home in Port Aransas, there are other advantages to consider.  Port Aransas is a relatively short drive from Houston, Austin and San Antonio with thousands of  visitors flocking here for the hot times in the summer as well as the influx of Winter Texans during the off season. So there’s always a steady supply of vacationers ready to rent properties.  And the beach is always a great place to make memories with family and friends.  It’s convenient to have your own place to stay when you come and a guarantee that you’ll come more often.  There are some tax benefits and write-offs you can take advantage of.  And when you are ready to sell, it is highly possible that your beach house will have appreciated in value.  After the historic real estate market crash of 2009, properties have rebounded in price and continue to appreciate.   With all the industry moving to the Corpus Christi area, the current building boom is sure to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Property Management 101

Property Management 101

What Second Home Owners Need to Know

Most of the  homes in Port Aransas are second homes for vacationers. Most, but not all of those owners want to generate some rental income from their property in addition to the benefit of having a place at the beach for their family and friends to enjoy.
Unless the owner lives nearby and has the time and resources to manage the property himself, he/she needs to secure a qualified property manager. This is an important decision and comes with a fairly hefty price tag. Most of the property management companies are locally owned and operated and can attend owners, renters or properties in a timely manner.

IN-HOUSE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
The condominiums that have a front desk that checks in guests are known around here as condo-tels.  Buyers need to realize that these mandate the use of their designated property managers—some of which are onsite. Generally this costs quite a bit more than a third-party management company: 37-50%.  Smaller family-owned management companies are often cheaper and more attentive just because of their size.  Rates are more like 18-21% vs. 20-25% for larger local companies with lots of properties in their rental pool.

Examples:     http://www.barefootrentalsporta.com/

                         http://www.visitporta.net/

Condos, townhouses and houses without a front desk usually permit the owner to choose their own management company, but that is changing. Some complexes are unifying the property management end by specifying a third-party management company, too.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?
So what does the owner get in return for this cut of their rental revenue? Mostly convenience! Some of the services they offer are:
• Secure online booking and payment
• Online guest comments
• Marketing through professional website with high quality pictures and descriptions of all properties
• Facilitate guest relations
• Professional housekeeping service –guests pay for this
• Inspection of property after each rental
• Stocking and restocking of needed supplies like soap, paper towels, trash bags, linens and toilet paper
• Professional service technicians and sub-contractors to address issues like AC, plumbing, lighting, etc.
• 24/7 access for renters and owners
• Unique access key codes for entry for heightened security and guest tracking (some but not all have this)
• Provision of a rental history to owners to determine amount of gross rental income generated
• Maintenance of burglar and smoke detectors
• Changing air filters

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

• Extra linens
• Hurricane/storm refunds after the rental has commenced
• Liability for renters’ personal property

The convenience of having a second home rented and maintained frees owners to enjoy the property when they want—provided they place their intended stay dates on the calendar.

SELF-MANAGEMENT

Some people choose to manage their own properties but must be available 24/7 to attend to guests and maintenance issues. Most owners of vacation homes do not live in or near the area and find this to be an impractical solution. Some companies like VRBO and Home Away offer online booking and management services for a fee and are considered middle-men. Most local management companies in Port Aransas pay these companies a fee to help them find vacation renters. It is usually cheaper to book directly with the management company instead of going through these vendors, and the customer has more control/recourse–much like finding a cheap air fare on Expedia, etc., then booking directly through the airline.

PROPERTY MANAGERS WITH REALTOR AFFILIATION:

There are several excellent property management companies here in Port Aransas, many that work in conjunction with a Real Estate brokerage so that when an owner wants to sell their vacation home or buy one they’ve stayed in, they can contact the realtor through the management company. Most notably:

• Port A Escapes:  http://www.portaescapes.com/site/Home/31837/default.aspxColdwell Banker
• Port A Beach House:   http://www.visitporta.net/ Keller Williams
• Silver Sands Rentals:   https://www.silversandsvacationrentals.com/ Silver Sands Realty
• Starkey Management:   http://www.starkeyproperties.com/Starkey Properties

The link to their real estate side is on their websites.

OTHER GREAT LOCAL COMPANIES ARE:

Barefoot Property Rentals:  http://www.barefootrentalsporta.com/

TurnKey  https://turnkeyvr.com/port-aransas-texas

Life in Paradise    http://www.lifeinparadise.net/

LONG TERM OR ESTATE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Another option to consider if the property is not used as a short-term rental, is a long-term rental or estate property management. This is a specialty concierge service for luxury homeowners who do not live here full time, but do rent their property for two weeks or more.

Contact my friend Christian Taylor at http://islandtimepropertymanagement.com/

Her website gives a thorough description of the many service options available.

 

DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST
As when choosing any product or service, the buyer should do the necessary due diligence—check online reviews, get a personal recommendation and/or interview the property managers on the phone or in person. This is a highly competitive business and a huge expense to the home owner. The consumer has lots of choices and should do their part by being informed. Bigger isn’t always better. Management companies that are small and/or family owned sometimes provide a higher level of personal service because they have fewer properties to oversee. And when you or your guests call/text, it’s often the owner of the business whom you’ll speak to.