Don’t Be A Real Estate Guinea Pig!

Does it really matter exactly how many homes your Realtor sells each year? Isn’t it enough that they have a license, know you, live near you and are smart? Or maybe you wonder if it would be better if they didn’t sell a lot of homes, because they might have more time for you?

IT ABSOLUTELY MATTERS!

Here’s why:

Because Pareto’s Principle, or the 80/20 Rule, applies in the real estate market. In other words, 20% of real estate agents nationwide sell 80% of the homes each year.

And 80% of Realtors nationwide sell fewer than 3 homes per year. (The average agent in Northern VA only sold 4 last year. While The Belt Team sold 102. That’s more than one a month for every single agent on the team.)

Unfortunately, Realtors who sell fewer homes have to almost completely relearn the business on every transaction. Just as you would probably never consider a surgeon who only operated three times a year or even once a month, you should look for the most experienced experts to represent you when you’re buying or selling a home.

Here are just a few things to consider:

Highly honed problem solving skills – The Belt Team has seen a lot over the years. Our industry changes daily. Learning never stops. The more homes we sell, the more we learn. So when problems arise, we know how to handle them. (We’ve had lightning strike, raccoons in the attic (twice!), underground oil tanks and more!)

Resources within the community – When roadblocks happen, we have the resources to find ways around them. We know who to call. And because we do so much business, when we call – people listen. (Kind of like “E.F. Hutton”!) And that benefits YOU!

So – when you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Northern Virginia – call The Belt Team (703-242-3975). You don’t want to be a guinea pig for an inexperienced or average agent. YOU DESERVE THE BEST REAL ESTATE TEAM you can get!

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Home Buyers – Is There A Difference Between Getting Pre-Qualified & Pre-Approved?

If you’re thinking about buying a home at some point, you may be interested to know that there IS a BIG difference between getting pre-qualified for a loan and getting pre-approved for a loan. Find out more in this one minute update from “This Month In Real Estate”:

The Belt Team has trusted relationships with lenders who are competitive & can be counted upon to do what they say they’re going to do. (That’s not always the case!) If you would like to get pre-approved for a loan, contact The Belt Team and we’ll put you in touch.

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5 Ways To Know If Your Realtor Is Tech Savvy (Does it even matter?)

 

    

Does it really matter whether or not your Realtor is “Tech Savvy”?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Watch this one minute video for a QUICK answer on how you know if your Realtor is Tech Savvy: !

As a Buyer or Seller, it really doesn’t matter whether YOU are into technology or not. We work with all kinds of folks and we adapt to whatever their comfort level & needs are when it comes to communication, home searching & more. And while technology can make buying or selling a home easier on you, it’s really not an absolute necessity that YOU be tech savvy.

So, whether you’re like my husband (who has a phone with no camera, no internet access and a flip top – he calls it a “dumb phone” instead of a “smart phone”) or you’re the first person in your office to get the latest gadget or download the newest app – you can be successful in buying or selling a home, doing it with the least inconvenience possible, and maximizing your exposure (if you’re selling) or your opportunity (if you’re buying.)

But only IF YOU HAVE A REALTOR WHO IS TECH SAVVY.

To understand why this might matter to you as a Buyer or a Seller, ask yourself these questions:

  • If you are a Buyer and you know that the Northern Virginia market is seeing many cases of multiple, competing contracts on homes that are new on the market – wouldn’t you want to have a Realtor who is uber-connected and knows about listings sooner rather than later?
  • If you are a Seller, don’t you want to maximize the exposure of your home to the market? It’s not your “Grandma’s Market” any more and a sign in the yard & word of mouth over the back fence are not how you get the word out. While traditional marketing still has its place, wouldn’t you want a Realtor who can provide exposure to new arenas? You may not be on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc – but don’t you want the folks who are in those places to know about your home too?
  • And whether you are a Buyer or a Seller, a Tech Savvy Realtor is also often a sign of a Realtor with superior market knowledge, sharply honed negotiating skills and an out-of-the-box mindset. Aren’t those things you would be looking for in today’s market?

The bottom line is that Social Media is not just “hype” – it can HELP you!

So, how do you know if a Realtor is “Tech Savvy”?

Many will say they are Tech Savvy when you ask them, but how do you REALLY know? Here are 5 Tips To Find A Tech Savvy Realtor:

1. Go to their web site and see if they have a blog. If they don’t have a blog, they probably are not Tech Savvy. If they do, how often do they post and what do they write about? If their last blog post was a month or more ago, it’s not a good sign. Scroll through the blog and see what types of things they post. This is a great way to see what kind of market knowledge they have, how they work, how they market their homes and more. A Tech Savvy Realtor will have at least one blog (oftentimes more than one) and will update it at least 2-3 times a week year-round and will include things like market statistics, advice to Buyers & Sellers, market trends and more. (The Belt Team has two blogs – one about Northern Virginia real estate and one about Life In Vienna. In addition, we have been tapped as Community Bloggers and blog regularly for Vienna Patch, Oakton Patch and WUSA9.com .)

2. Check out their KLOUT score. What’s a KLOUT score? Here’s what Klout’s web site says: “Klout measures influence based on your ability to drive action on social networks.” If you’re a Seller, don’t you want someone who can drive action on your home? And if you’re a buyer, don’t you also want someone who is ultra wired in? A Tech Savvy Realtor will have a higher than average KLOUT score. (An average KLOUT score is around 40.) So go to www.klout.com , sign up for a free account, find your Realtor and check them out. (Or just ask them what their score is. If they have no idea what KLOUT is, then you have your answer!) If their name doesn’t come up at all – they are definitely NOT Tech Savvy. If they do come up, you can not only check out their score, but you can see what topics Klout says they are influential about. Hopefully it will be “real estate”! (Klout scores fluctuate daily. As of this writing, my Klout score is 63 and among other things, we are listed as influential in “Real Estate”, “Blogging”, “Vienna”, “Business”, “Charities” & “Sales”).

3. Ask them if they have ever represented a Buyer who bought a home with them from afar – meaning someone who bought a home long distance without seeing the home in person. While this may not be the situation you are in, it is a great indicator of how Tech Savvy the agent might be. If they have done this a number of times, it likely means they are great with video, Skype, DocUSign and a host of other tools that make buying virtually much easier than you think. You don’t have to use those tools, but having an agent who knows how to benefits you. It’s a great indication that they are probably very sharp, go the extra mile and think outside the box.

4. Check out their Facebook page. How many “Friends” or “Likes” do they have? Do they have both a business & personal page? When was the last time they updated their status? Is their page an active forum where potential Buyers could be sourced for your home? Do they have lots of contacts so that perhaps they can find a home for you to buy that may not even be on the market? Ask them whether they have actually generated business from their Facebook page (or do they just “play around”?)

5. Search for online reviews. A Tech Savvy Realtor will have lots of online reviews. Just like travelers use Trip Advisor to check out hotel reviews and Yelp to check out restaurant reviews, home buyers and home sellers use sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com to find out about good Realtors. Realtors who are not Tech Savvy will probably not show up on these sites. And if they do, they may only have a few reviews. Realtors who ARE Tech Savvy will have multiple reviews and show up on more than one site. If you do this, not only will you know whether or not the agent is Tech Savvy – you’ll also know a whole lot about them and what it’s like to be one of their clients. These reviews are posted directly by consumers – NOT by the agent. So you’ll find out the good AND the bad. (As an example, The Belt Team has 43 reviews on Zillow.)

Twitter ~ GChat ~ Hangouts ~ Circles ~ Facebook ~ IM ~ Skype ~ SEO ~ IVR ~ You Tube ~ Blogging ~ Texting ~ Pinterest

If you know what all these terms mean, then you’ve found the right real estate team to help you buy or sell. We combine yesterday’s values with today’s technology to make your tomorrow bright.

If you don’t have a clue what these terms mean, that’s ok – we DO! In today’s market, you need a team who is on the leading edge of technology to help you achieve your dreams. No need to be “tech savvy”, we’ll do it for you!

While The Belt Team lives old fashioned values like integrity & trust, we also pride ourselves on being on the leading edge of marketing & technology. Why? It’s in our clients’ best interests!

Contact The Belt Team

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Northern Virginia Real Estate Myths – Part 2

If you read our blog regularly, then you know we recently started a series on “Northern Virginia Myths in Real Estate“. (You can read our first post here.)

Now – it’s time for the second “Myth” – and more importantly – the TRUTH!

Myth: “The Belt Team, like many teams, is a full-service real estate team, but some real estate agents will discount their commission. It’s only sensible to list our house with the agent who will discount their commission

TRUTH: You usually get what you pay for! (Actually, with The Belt Team, you get even more than you pay for – total service – total support – and 9 superior professionals for the price of one average agent!)

Think about these questions:

  • If an agent is that willing to give away his/her own commission….how willing is he/she going to be to give away the hard earned dollars you have put into your home?
  • If he/she cannot even convince you of his/her own worth, how will they ever convince a buyer or agent of your home’s worth & value?
  • And how able will the agent be in negotiating on your behalf for both the price and terms that will benefit you?!
  • Does the agent have a track record of success? Or is he/she relying on a discounted commission to win your business instead? (You may want to use our “38 Questions You Need To Ask When Interviewing a Realtor To Sell your Home to find out.
  • Is saving 1% or so in commission worth the risk of being represented by less-than-experts who might give in on your price interests as they gave in on their own interests?
  • Would you choose a surgeon based upon his fee or based upon his/her reputation, experience, expertise & credentials? (We’re not talking about saving lives here in real estate, but we are talking about one of the most important financial investments you will ever make.)

It doesn’t matter what commission you pay if your home does not sell with the optimal terms and conditions that are in your best interests.

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish! You really do get what you pay for . . . !

Contact The Belt Team for a FREE market analysis or for a FREE Seller consultation.

(And stay tuned to our blog for more Northern Virginia Real Estate Myths!)

Northern Virginia Real Estate Myths – Part 1

As professionals in the Northern Virginia real estate market for almost 40 years, we often find Buyers & Sellers asking the same questions. So we thought it might be helpful if we address some of the “Myths in Real Estate” in a series here on our blog.

Here’s the first “Myth” – and more importantly – the TRUTH!

Myth: “You should ask each agent for their recommended pricing and select the real estate agent who suggests the highest price or is at least willing to go along with your ‘dream’ price

TRUTH: No! Always select an agent on his/her credentials. Market value is a separate issue.

Never let an agent “buy” your listing. It’s tempting to “tell you what you want to hear”, but integrity and a professional price opinion are in your best interests. No one has a crystal ball & pricing can validly have some variability, but pricing realistically from the start is one of the strongest tools you have in winning the “Sales Game”! Listen to your agent’s professional input and recommendations. Then make an educated decision and let the agent get on top of things at the start. Many agents will overprice a home in order to get the listing… and then ask for a price change down the line. You should insist on working with an agent with a proven track record. Ask the agent not only for a market analysis to determine the realistic amount your home will bear in today’s market, but also ask them what their pulse is on the market. Then price your home accordingly. Overpricing a home is the worst mistake you can make! Statistics prove that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the price it will sell for.

This graph illustrates what happens when Sellers do not price to “market”:

The chart above shows what happens in a “stable market”. Markets that are “shifting” (such as ours) find Sellers who overprice in even worse positions. Remember, first, select your real estate agent based on his/her credentials. Then, with your agent’s input, decide on price. Never select an agent based solely on the price he/she recommends!

Contact The Belt Team for a FREE market analysis or for a FREE Seller consultation.

(And stay tuned to our blog for more Northern Virginia Real Estate Myths!)

(PS – if you’re still thinking you may want to “test the market” at an initially higher-than-market list price – read our previous post entitled “Don’t Be Like Timothy Geithner“.)