Your home is your sanctuary and maintaining it is paramount, especially if you ever plan on selling your home in the future you’ll be sure to want top dollar for it. Beyond sweeping floors and mowing your yard, some home maintenance tasks require more immediate attention and if left unchecked can cause significant damage to your home. Here are 11 things you should address immediately if you happen to see any of the signs that your home may have an underlying problem.
1. Your home has a leaking pipe
Whether it’s a small drip or a larger steady leak, the continuous moisture build-up can lead to mold growth, cracks in your drywall, damage to your ceilings, and can even affect your home’s foundation. If you suspect you have some plumbing that may be leaking inside your home, call a professional plumber to come and examine the signs you’re seeing, and any other plumbing questions you may have, so you can get your home back to working order.
Signs to look out for: You receive an unusually high water bill, a room smells musty, or you recently noticed an unexplained staining, wet spots, mold or mildew, on ceilings, walls, or floors.
2. Your roof is leaking
Rain may be a blessing for your garden, but not if it’s entering your attic or the rest of your home. Your attic is usually warmer and more humid than the central area of the house, and even a small leak from the roof into warm attic conditions makes a hotbed for mold to grow. Not to mention, if that leak continues unchecked it will begin to wreak havoc on the rest of your home, damaging ceilings and possibly your home’s walls and floors. This is one home maintenance item you will want to address the moment you realize it’s there.
Signs to look out for: A large water stain appears on your ceiling, unexplained moisture or drips forming on your walls, or you see larger bits of roof shingles in the downspout of your gutters.
3. Leaky foundation
Your basement foundation can leak over time. As your home settles, hairline foundation cracks can form. Unfortunately, water only needs a tiny space to seep through a foundation wall. You may be able to find and seal these cracks yourself, or you might need to hire a foundation specialist to shore up the foundation and prevent further movement and possible leaks. Standing water in an already damp basement can lead to mold growth, but also significant damage to your home.
Signs to look out for: An unusually high water bill, damp carpet or floors, you can smell mold or mildew, there’s a warm spot on your floor, you spot foundation cracks, or you notice a white powdery substance (efflorescence) which is usually the result of water evaporating leaving behind minerals.
4. Damp or wet crawl space
You want to keep your home’s crawl space as dry as possible. However, if you live in an area like Portland, OR or Seattle, WA where it rains a lot, it’s possible for your crawl space to become wet. It is usually because surface water from your roof’s drainage has begun overflowing, groundwater from the earth surrounding your home was overly saturated from heavy rainfall or melting snow and has found its way in, or there’s a plumbing issue you haven’t discovered yet. Though this home maintenance task isn’t necessarily the most enjoyable, because you’ll most likely be crawling under your home, it is a very important one to check off. Luckily, there are professional crawl space inspectors that can do this for you.
Signs to look out for: Higher energy bills because it takes more energy to heat/cool damp air, you smell mold or mildew, or you’ve noticed an increase in dust mites and other pests that thrive in a damp environment.
5. Dirty and improperly sealed air ducts
Air ducts become traps for dust, pet hair, and other contaminants that get sucked into your heating and cooling system. These contaminants stick to any damp ducting where mold, bacteria, and other fungi can grow. While you can keep air moving with ceiling or portable fans and air conditioning, the result is recirculating that same air filled with dust, mold, mildew, pet dander, and other respiratory irritants back through your home. Also, air ducts that are not sealed properly lead to overall poor air quality in your home. Replace your air filters more frequently and have a professional come out once a year to thoroughly clean out your air ducts, check your ductwork to tape and repair as needed.
Signs to look out for: You begin to have high electric bills, your home is always dusty, your rooms are different temperatures, there’s debris under your vent covers, your return air register is covered in especially thick dust, and your air filter is clogged with dust.
6. Air leaks
Air leaks from outside can contribute to poor quality air indoors. Especially during the warmer months, pollen from new plants, chemicals from lawn pesticides, and other environmental pollutants can float into your home through improperly sealed windows, doors, and ducting. Air leaks also contribute to higher energy bills for cooling and warming your home. If you suspect your home has air leaks and you see some of the signs listed below, then consider hiring a professional to come out and do a home energy audit.
Signs to look out for: Gaps where two different building materials meet on your home (example: exterior brick joining to a cement foundation), you notice cracks/gaps by outlets, doors, window frames, fireplaces, light fixtures, or you may just simply notice a draft in your home. It is most likely coming from an air leak.
7. Sewage backup or odors from sewer gas
A sewage backup is a serious environmental hazard. Because modern sewer systems usually function so effectively, people often don’t worry about how a backup might affect their home or their family. If you notice any of the signs that you have a sewage backup in your home, you should probably leave this one to the professionals and get this looked at immediately. This is one home maintenance item you don’t want to put off as the toxic fumes from sewer gas can negatively impact your family’s health.
Signs to look out for: More than one of your drains are clogged, water is backing up in other drains, you see bubbles after you flush the toilet, your toilet isn’t flushing right and the plunger doesn’t seem to help, or you smell sewer gas in your home.
8. Excess moisture in the house
Environmental health experts stress how important it is to maintain indoor humidity at around 40% and keep windows, basements, and attics dry. Excess moisture in your home can create a breeding ground for all types of fungi and bacteria. Monitor the humidity levels of your home with a handy humidity meter you can get at any home improvement store. This can help you decide how to control the humidity levels in your home.
Signs to look out for: There’s condensation on windows during the colder months, you notice a mildew smell in the bathroom or mold growing in the cabinet under the sink, the paint is peeling, cracking, or blistering on interior surfaces, or you notice an increase in pests like dust mites.
9. Your stove’s exhaust fan is not venting properly
Your stove’s exhaust fan filter collects smoke, odors, and grease from your food as it cooks. If oil clogs your filter – which it inevitably does over time – cooking contaminants recirculate back into the air in the house and begin sticking to your walls. Luckily, this home maintenance item is easily remedied by simply cleaning (degreasing) your filters. If that doesn’t work, then you may have to call in a professional because the motor in your range’s vent hood may need to be replaced.
Signs to look out for: Your range hood doesn’t clear smoke easily (even on the highest setting), the exhaust fan is very loud or humming constantly, lights stop working on the hood which could indicate other electrical issues.
10. Overflowing gutters
If your gutters are overflowing, it usually means they are clogged with debris – leaves, seeds, and sticks from surrounding trees. The force of water flowing through the gutters compacts this debris which leads to clogged and overflowing gutters. If you ignore this typical fall and spring home maintenance task, then your clogged gutters can cause damage to the exterior of your home. Your gutters can place unneeded strain on your roof and shingles, spill water down the side of your home instead of through the downspout and away from your home, or they can even collapse damaging the side of your house. Luckily, this is an affordable home maintenance task you can simply have a professional do for you.
Signs to look out for: You see plants growing from your gutters, there’s debris on the side of your gutter, you notice dirty streaks (tiger stripping), watermarks, or mold on the side of your house, or possibly your gutter is pulling away from your home.
11. Chimney and flue build-up (creosote)
Creosote is an oily substance that builds up inside your chimney and flue if you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove. Have your chimney and flue cleaned of creosote annually, especially if you regularly use your fireplace. It’s also a good idea to have it cleaned before the colder months of miscellaneous debris or even bird nests before you begin using it. If you don’t, you could put your home in danger of a chimney fire, causing significant damage to your home and possibly putting your family at risk. Hiring a professional to clean your chimney and flue once a year will help maintain your home and make sure you’re able to enjoy those warm fires for years to come.
Signs to look out for: You see more wood than ash after a fire, there’s reduced drafting in the fireplace, you notice black soot around the fireplace, very dark, dense smoke comes out of your chimney, and you can see a build-up of soot, you hear a loud crackling or popping sound, or you notice an intense hot smell.
How to Find Real Estate Comps in My Area
Whether you’re selling your first home or you’re a first-time homebuyer, finding comparable sales of homes in your area is much easier than it was even ten years ago. Back then, it wasn’t easy to find publicly available data online – you needed the help of an inside connection like a real estate agent or home appraiser to pull comparable sales off of the MLS (multiple listing service). Today there’s much more information available to the public, and you can now access comps with an online search. Let’s explore how to find real estate comps for your area.
What are real estate comps?
When you start researching for real estate comps in your area, it helps to understand what comps are and what information they can tell you. Real estate comps, also referred to as “closed comparable sales,” are completed home sale transactions that have taken place within a specific area and where the homes share similar characteristics with the home you’re selling or considering for purchase. However, you should be aware that a home in Vancouver, BC will list for a different price than an exact replica of the same home listed in Birmingham, AL. Although they are the same house, just listed for sale in different geographical areas, the value of each home is largely influenced by individual housing market conditions.
5 Ways to Find Real Estate Comps in Your Area
When searching for local comps, the first rule of thumb is to find three or more similar properties to ensure that any comparable property isn’t an outlier in price. For example, one home comp in your area may be lower than what you should list your home for sale because it was in poor condition and needed work, or another property may have a high comp because it was the best house on the block. Having at least three property comparables should give you an average price point to start with. Here are five easy ways to get those real estate comps.
1. Use a reputable real estate website to find local comps
Comps are an essential part of listing your home and the home appraisal process. One way to find comps in your area is to use an established real estate listing website for your research. Redfin offers an easy way to identify recently sold homes in your neighborhood quickly.
If you know the address of a recently sold property in your area, you can simply enter the property address in the search bar see all public information about the home, including what the home last sold for.
Scrolling down slightly on the same page will also show the most recently sold homes in the same neighborhood. If you scroll down even further to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a heading titled “Nearby Recently Sold Homes,” and a “View More Recently Sold Homes” button right below. Clicking on this button will bring you to a map populated with homes sold in your area, and you’ll be able to see details like sold price, the number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, price per square foot, and how many days the home was on the market before it sold.
Alternatively, you can view sold properties by searching for your city in the search bar of Redfin’s website. For example, to see comps for a home in Cleveland, OH, type in your city name into the search bar.
- Click on “More Filters.”
- Scroll slightly down and under “Listing Status,” click the toggle that says “For Sale.” This will effectively replace homes for sale with sold homes in your search area.
For a better picture of recent home sales and what you can consider as real estate comps in your area, you can narrow down your search further by restricting the time frame to a specific month and then setting the filters to see recently sold homes that most closely resembles your home. Such as:
- The number of bedrooms
- The number of bathrooms
- If your home is a house, condo, multi-family, etc.
- Square footage of your home
- Your lot size
- Year built
- And HOA fees, if they apply
You can even go more in-depth and identify specific amenities or home trends that could increase the value of your home, such as being a waterfront property or having a view. Keep in mind that if you get too specific in your searches, you might not find enough recently sold homes in your area that you can use as reliable comps. Here’s an example of how you can filter for real estate comps based on a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms and which were sold within the last month.
Recent data is the most useful, so start with one month to see what pops up, then widen your time frame to transactions completed in the past three or six months. In a busy seller’s market, you can even look to see comps in your area within the past week. Once you’ve nailed down your search criteria, you can zoom in on the map and look at all the recently sold homes in your neighborhood and find the ones that are the most comparable to yours.
This is valuable information whether you’re buying or selling a house. From here, you’ll be able to estimate a reasonable starting price that reflects the current housing market. While this method doesn’t necessarily include other variables that could impact your home’s value, such as its current condition, or if there have been any property improvements like a new kitchen or deck, it can be a good way to get an idea of what you can expect.
2. Use an online home valuation tool
Another valuable tool when searching for real estate comps is a home valuation tool to help you understand what your home is worth and provide a good starting point to determine the fair market value. Because Redfin uses complete MLS data on recently sold homes in your area, we offer a couple of different ways to access an online home valuation.*
- Instant home-value estimate and free home report: This a fast way and easy way to see what your home can sell for. Simply type in your address, and instantly see Redfin’s estimate for your home based on recent home sales in your area. It’ll even show you comps in your area just below the estimate.
- A professional estimate prepared by a Redfin Agent: This is a free, no-obligation property estimate prepared by a Redfin agent that knows the housing market in your area. Though you won’t get the estimate back instantaneously, you’ll receive an estimate within an hour that’s more comprehensive.
*These estimates are not intended as an appraisal and are not a substitute for the services of a professional, licensed appraiser.
3. Ask your real estate agent to procure MLS comps
One sure-fire way to get accurate real estate comps is to work with a local real estate agent. Local real estate agents are experts in their market and can give you sound advice on how to price your property, as well as help you understand data in MLS comps. Only licensed agents have access to the MLS, which is the most up-to-date and accurate tool available.
Real estate agents pull comps from the MLS in their daily work to provide clients with a reliable price range when listing a home for sale. For example, agents know if properties have likely increased in value, if the fair market value is accurate, or if a property’s price is out of line with other homes in the area.
4. Research public property records
Another valuable resource for homebuyers and sellers is your county’s public property records. Unfortunately, public property records can be a hit or miss when it comes to comps, as you’ll only be able to find the last recorded sales price, which may be from ten years ago. So if the area market has few or no recent transactions, you could be stuck with property comps that don’t reflect today’s market conditions. Public property records can be a good place to start, but you’ll need additional research to find accurate numbers.
Most counties allow you to search property records online at no cost – although you may need to pay for printed documentation. Visit your county or city website and search for “property records.” The house’s street address should allow you access to property tax information that will show the last sold price and the current taxes.
5. Request a comparative market analysis (CMA)
Real estate agents and brokers use CMAs* to give sellers all the details they need before listing a house for sale. Finding the listing price sweet spot is essential to a quick sale. The best listing price is the one that’s not too low where you end up leaving money on the table or not too high where the home doesn’t sell at all. And for buyers, a CMA can help verify if a home is a good deal and pinpoint a competitive offer that will be taken seriously—without going overboard.
A CMA also provides the most accurate data and details about the home and surrounding area. However, an agent’s CMA is more than just the numbers. The agent provides expert advice to help you assess the home, the current market, prices, and other factors that could affect your list price.
Many real estate agents and brokers have software they use to generate comprehensive CMA reports. If you’re creating your own report, it would be best to use a spreadsheet to keep track of your research.
A typical CMA will include:
- The address of the property and three to five comps in the area
- Description of each comparable property, including elevation, floor plan, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- The square footage of each property
- The sales price of each comparable property
- Dollar adjustments will be made for any differences
- The adjusted sold price per square foot of each comp
*This is not intended as an appraisal and is not a substitute for the services of a professional, licensed appraiser.
How do I use comps to price my home?
Real estate comps help you price your home accurately by giving you a range for its “fair market value” based on recent market activity. Then you can add or subtract from the fair market price based on the home’s condition, special features, and other characteristics that buyers will likely consider.
What goes into a comps analysis?
To be considered a comparable property, a property should ideally match your house in:
Location: Location matters. In some areas, a property’s value can change from neighborhood to neighborhood, from block to block, or even within 100 yards. Start by looking for comps within a 1-mile radius and move out to 5 miles if necessary. Expert knowledge can help you understand nuances in a neighborhood, so take your time or ask an agent to help you.
Neighborhood: Real estate comps should have the same neighborhood features, such as distance to schools, stores, hospitals, waterfronts, parks, and views. Also, keep in mind access to public transportation and walkability.
Year built: Consider houses built within a 5-year range of your home being built. It’s often assumed that an older home needs work and hasn’t been updated. While this isn’t always the case, a newer home will initially have a higher fair market value.
Size of the home: Square footage plays a significant role in comparing home values. After all, if one home has 1000 square feet and another 2000 square feet, you are buying a larger home, and it should cost more to purchase. Square footage will raise or lower the value of the real estate comps you’re looking at. The best comps for you will be properties that are comparable to yours.
Layout: If the home has a strange layout or is partitioned into smaller, separate rooms, it can bring down the value and the sales price.
Price per square foot: Calculate the price per square foot by dividing the home’s sale price by its square footage. Price per square foot is always a good yardstick for neighborhood comparisons.
The number of beds and baths: A home’s value typically increases when there are more bedrooms and bathrooms. This translates into a higher sales price and considering higher comps.
Condition: If the house was in disrepair and needed a lot of work and investment to make it livable, the price the home last sold for may reflect a fixer-upper. However, on the surface, these deals would show up in comps the same as if the house was move-in ready. It’s important to dig further to see what any unusually high or low sales prices might reflect and help put these comps in perspective.
Upgrades and renovations: When a homeowner updates a bathroom or renovates a kitchen, their home value typically increases. Consider any renovations or upgrades you see in your real estate comps and how those compare to your home’s features. Does your home have a new kitchen or a deck that needs fixing? Either of these will undoubtedly have an impact on your home’s value.
Timeframe of when the comps sold: Focus on homes that have been sold within a 3- to 6-month period. In a hot market that favors the seller, you may want to focus on an even shorter timeframe.
Who uses real estate comps?
Real estate agents and brokers use real estate comps every day to do their jobs. An agent or broker will use comps to suggest a listing price for a home that’s about to go to market and represents a fair market price. Agents also have access to any pending sales, which would affect real estate comps and CMA reports. The sales volume in your area will also drive the fair market price on any home being listed for sale. For example, if your housing market is currently a seller’s market and homes are selling quickly, buyers may be making higher offers than they would be in a market that’s not so competitive.
Understanding real estate comparables and the state of the market in your local area is essential. It can help you make an informed decision about buying or selling a property.
Home sellers use comps to understand what similar homes in the area are selling for, allowing them to set a list price they feel confident in. Comps also help home sellers clarify their home’s selling points which will be highlighted in the home’s description when it’s listed for sale.
Homebuyers use accurate real estate comps for making an offer. By researching similar properties in the area, buyers can verify that the listing price is fair, or if the price is too high or low. Comps are also helpful in creating a strategy for negotiating a home sale.
Home appraisers perform home appraisals as one of the most important steps to completing the sale of a home. First, the buyer’s mortgage lender usually initiates an appraisal. Next, they call a professional appraiser to determine the value of the house in question. The appraiser relies on real estate comps and several other factors in determining an accurate property value that can make or break a sale. The cost of the home appraisal will be covered by the homebuyer.
Finding and analyzing comps can be tricky. However, you can always work with a local real estate agent or broker with expertise in your market. They can help you nail down a good price to list your home.
Are you curious how much you can make from selling your home? Check out Redfin’s home sale calculator to see what your estimated home sale proceeds could be.
New York’s Residential Market Is Poised To Rebound In A Big Way. Here’s Why.
As New York’s residential market heats back up amid the easing of commercial restrictions and lower Covid rates, questions remain about what the recovery will look like and how soon investors can expect the market to return to pre-pandemic levels or higher. Much of this increased demand is due to a sooner-than-expected return to relative normality for New York residents. All the reasons people love New York are getting back into full swing, from theater, museums and music to restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, as well as unique experiences like cruises around Manhattan, archery lessons in Gowanus, distillery tastings in Red Hook, just to name a few. Events are back as well, such as the Tenement Museum’s recent Reopening Party on the Lower East Side. Whatever one’s favorite city activities, the excitement about getting back to them is driving residential real estate demand in the five boroughs.
Thus far, the recovery has not looked like previous recoveries. Typically, distressed assets (buildings that are performing below market value) start to sell before better-performing investment opportunities because of the lower prices and less expensive debt, but that has not been the case during the current recovery. Investors are acting decisively across the board.
This has been due to solid underlying real estate fundamentals and the downturn being largely the result of the pandemic. However, New York’s residential real estate market was also not entirely rosy before the pandemic either. The city has been in a residential recession since 2016, a prolonged period of reduced activity exacerbated by the HSTPA which impeded landlords’ ability to raise rents and pay for maintenance and upgrades. (See the chart from the Q1 Elliman residential report below.)
Still, though the HSTPA remains in place, the current market recovery presents investment opportunities for growth. Here’s why:
COVID 19 Residential Recovery
The worst is behind us as of the end of 2020. Vacancies are down, which is also causing concessions to be far less ubiquitous in recent months. (Concessions typically involve incentives owners and brokers offer to prospective tenants during a downturn, such as free months of rent, reduced rent and waived fees.) Rental prices are also stabilizing and back on the rise.
One wrinkle in the rental market is that there’s evidence of more demand for smaller units compared to larger shared apartments. Seemingly, renters are less interested in having multiple roommates and are looking to live by themselves or with just one roommate in the wake of the pandemic. (Relatedly, the profile of renters is also getting younger, due to suburban flight by middle-aged renters and cheaper rents during the pandemic.) As a result, units catering to more shares are showing higher year-over-year discounts. The lingering lower prices on multi-bedroom units may be more attractive to families looking to rent, especially as many families will likely move back to the city with the return of in-person classes in the fall. This trend is particularly pronounced in Brooklyn and Queens, which are highly attractive to families due to lower costs per square foot, less dense environs and more kid-friendly open spaces.
On the investment sales side, Q1 2021 has shown that the Manhattan market is resurgent, particularly toward the end of the quarter. Anecdotally from brokers, even the luxury and more expensive end of the market has been doing well with some opportunistic buyers. From Ariel Property Advisors’ own multifamily data, overall contract execution across the multifamily sector during the first quarter increased significantly, which implies a higher volume of transactions to be expected throughout 2021. While this is partially due to the drop in prices, it still speaks to investor confidence in the long-term strength of New York City.
The question now is just how quickly rental and sales prices can recover—and how high they can go this time. Back-to-work policies will be a major factor. Many prominent firms have mandated employees to return to the office full-time or at least in a hybrid work-from-home capacity, but it remains to be seen how many small- to mid-sized companies will return or, in the long term, renew their leases over the next several years.
It is true that some people, particularly parents, may find that working from home in the suburbs, the coast or the country is easier, but it is a foregone conclusion that younger professionals will want to be in the city, especially now as the city’s myriad activities and cultural offerings are back on track. Families are anticipated to return to New York with the resumption of in-person school, but how many still remains a question. This will impact the residential market and there are no clear answers at present.
Residential rental development and deliveries of new residential units have gone down drastically since the heights of 2015. A major pre-pandemic factor affecting the residential market continues to be the unintended yet inevitable consequences of the HSTPA on free-market pricing. The housing law removed incentives to keep the assets from depreciating in quality and value, as well as prevented rent-stabilized units from becoming free market, as was the norm previously. As a result, this has lowered the amount of available free market units overall and driven free market value higher than it otherwise might have been, which means less accessibility for middle-income renters.
Meanwhile, the property tax abatement 421A (known as Affordable New York), is about to sunset in the middle of 2022, with no solution or guidance on what will replace it. Essentially, the law provides tax exemptions for new residential construction that delivers affordable components for low- and moderate-income tenants. Without a clear and predictable tax abatement, there is much less economic viability to develop rentals in New York City, especially buildings with significant affordable components. The lack of guidance on tax abatements will likely cause reduced residential rental development to persist in the near term.
Despite this lack of clarity for new development, notable investors have shown an increasing appetite for multifamily properties over the past several months, from small- and mid-sized offerings to mega-deals. Some examples include 196 Elizabeth St & 240 Mulberry St in Nolita, which just recently sold for $17.8 million, signaling renewed confidence in Lower Manhattan, while 85 Jay Street in Dumbo is in contract for $220 million and 15 Park Row in the Financial District recently sold for $142 million. In a blockbuster deal, Moinian Group is acquiring SL Green’s 20% stake in the Sky Apartments at 605 West 42nd Street for a $858.1 million valuation.
However, if history is any evidence, growth is accelerated following a crisis because there are lower interest rates and prices are more attractive to investors. New York, which has been historically attractive to investors and is already showing signs of rapid rebirth, is likely to help lead the country’s recovery, even with headwinds from the HSTPA and Affordable New York. Cities like Nashville and Denver are seeing aggressive growth, and in New York City, even sustained mid-digit rental growth will go a long way to creating happy investors.
A number of ancillary market trends will likely further drive New York’s residential recovery. Tech companies are continuing to take office space in the city while life sciences expansion continues, meaning a growing workforce is going to need somewhere to live. In turn, living in New York is one of the primary reasons these firms want to come to the city in the first place. Additionally, campuses will fill up with students this fall when classes resume. This not only bodes well for student housing but the residential market as well, as New York offers many inducements to stay after graduation.
Those incentives are bringing back people who left during the pandemic. While it was buzzy to say that New York was dead during Covid, the smart long-term bet was always on the city’s comeback and the first half of 2021 is bearing that out. Investors, meanwhile, are taking note, because the five-year outlook is overall bright, though investors do need to take note of how public policy may impact their bottom line over the next few years.
13 Ways To Have Difficult Conversations With Clients
Real estate agents know they’ll have to have tough conversations with clients from time to time, especially when events in the world affect the industry. Having these conversations in a professional manner is key to maintaining a good relationship with clients in the future.
Feel prepared to handle sensitive subjects with your buyers and sellers with the following tips from Forbes Real Estate Council members. These suggestions can help you build trust and confidence among your clients.
1. Prepare For The Conversation
A seemingly difficult conversation with a client can be successfully broached first and foremost by properly preparing for that discussion. Whether it’s a pricing discussion or discussing the need to unclutter or stage a home, make sure to bring facts to the table to support your reason for broaching the subject. In addition, be sympathetic but do not waiver on your strategy and have a goal prepared. – Stephen Glen Kliegerman, Halstead Property Development Marketing
2. Be Honest And Address Concerns
Make sure you approach the conversation with upfront honesty that is backed by facts and data if applicable. Also, ask what their concerns are and address those concerns directly. A business relationship stems from honest, professional conversations about the topics that are most concerning to your client. – Galit Ventura-Rozen, Commercial Professionals, Inc
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3. Hold A Strong Code of Ethics
Continuously employing a strong code of ethics throughout your career will be reflected in your clients’ trust. An “honesty above all” approach always wins, and you may start by quoting Article 1 of the Realtors Code of Ethics: “We pledge to protect and promote the interests of our clients.” – Rodolfo Delgado, Replay Listings
4. Have An In-Person Or Phone Conversation
An in-person or phone consultation is the best way to discuss important issues with a client. It is useful to see or hear a client’s reactions to the message you are delivering. You can follow up with an e-mail to restate key points. You should also include data to back up your information. Managing expectations is a matter of clear communication and trust between you and the client. – Melinda Estridge, Estridge Group
5. Be Informed, Empathetic And Inclusive
It is important for agents to be informed, empathetic and inclusive. Being able to acknowledge world events that are impacting their clients and/or their community demonstrates respect. Creating space for open dialogue and active listening is the cornerstone for managing difficult conversations. – Michelle Risi, Royal LePage Connect Realty
6. Build A Track Record Of Success
The best thing you can do to broach difficult subjects with your clients is to not have them at all. Instead, work on your skill sets. Become incredibly valuable. Get to the point where you have so many great clients that trust your judgments as a result of having a long track record of success. Let your track record do the talking. – Demetrios Salpoglou, Boston Pads LLC
7. Listen To Client Concerns And Needs
Ask questions and listen first to understand the clients’ unique criteria, needs and preferences because not all factors impacting the market may be relevant to them. This way what you discuss regarding the industry and market is relevant to them. Don’t just lecture and assume something you haven’t discussed. After listening, be honest and transparent to address their concerns and manage expectations. – Catherine Kuo, Elite Homes | Christie’s International Real Estate
8. Consider Their Expectations
My brokerage sells homes to Americans living in the U.S. who are weighing the pros and cons of moving to a new country. It’s a little different than selling to buyers simply moving to a new city or state in the same country. We broach their expectations by having a lifestyle conversation with them. What do they like, what do they want and what do they feel are critical lifestyle requirements? – Gregory Gunter, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel
9. Leverage Your Experience And Expertise
It’s actually simple: find out what the client is focused on and answer questions honestly with your experiences. When asked how anything impacts a market or a property, remember that some events don’t impact everywhere and every person is different. We have seen much more than our clients, and they hire us for our expertise and honesty. – Nancy Kowalik, Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group
10. Maintain Regular Conversations With Clients
The best way to avoid difficult conversations is to have constant dialogue with your clients. Make discussions intersect when you feel that the client may be affected. If you know that some topics could get heated, send an article on it and start that way. Be an active listener. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties
11. Communicate Expectations Upfront
The key is to communicate all expectations upfront and keep it real. Not doing this is exactly how business dealings and relationships go sour. Have the important conversations from day one with full honesty with your clients and continue on that path to maintain expectations. It will make everyone happy by creating a mutually valuable relationship between clients and real estate professionals. – Pamela Bardhi, The Mosche Group
12. Educate Yourself On A Variety Of Subjects
Knowledge is power. Being fully versed in a broad range of subjects will be key to approaching any conversation. It is also important to always be honest and straightforward. Clients will immediately realize that the relationship is trustworthy. – Marco Del Zotto, LIV | Sotheby’s International Realty – Breckenridge CO
13. Be Direct And Transparent
The best way for agents to broach difficult subjects or have difficult conversations regarding expectations with clients is to be direct, clear and transparent. In order for agents to be effective, the clients need to be armed in advance of market conditions so that they can make decisions that will produce fruitful outcomes. – Cheryl Abrams, Re/Max United Real Estate
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