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Real Estate: Self-Representation

Unpopular Opinion: I think everyone needs to invest in a real estate course and learn what they need to know to do what they want to do – rent, own, invest, etc. – in their local market. This doesn’t mean you have to represent yourself in your deals. It does however, make it more likely for you to know when and how you are not being well represented.

I had four listing agents for my first resale in NYC. During the tenure of three of the agents, I was in real estate school in AZ. I had literally gone along with things suggested by the agents that I assumed was a ”professional knowledge” thing, that was nothing of the sort. Real estate agents are just people with their own opinions and biases just like you. More than likely, they are more concerned with their best interests than yours. Who knows what they consider to be their best interest on any given day dealing with you?

I’m absolutely certain there are excellent real estate agents in the world who truly strive to be good representatives of their clients and are respectful counterparts in a transaction. I have not had the honor of working with one. In either of the two states, I’ve bought and sold homes in.

FSBO’s (for sale by owner) are laughed at by professionals. They’re derided. As an agent selling my own property, I was scoffed at repeatedly. Another agent actually told me it was illegal for an agent to sell their own property. It’s not. One of my former brokerages made it impossible to remain with the agency if you sell on your own instead of listing with them. The average homeowner has the option to sell their own home or hire someone to do it for them, but a real estate agent can only sell through their agency? Nah. I didn’t get into real estate to have my options restricted. On property I own.

What I will tell you as a new agent with a clientele of one, myself, I am my best representative. I was the best representative of my properties. No one know the home better than the homeowner. Even if you work with an agent, your job is to make sure they market your property well. Only one agent of the six I’ve worked with got a better number for me than I got for myself, but she didn’t close the deal. She dropped the ball and told me to my face face, in front of her broker, that she did her job my getting me the offer. With my limited real estate knowledge (still in RE school at that point), I told her, “Your job is to close the deal.”

Agents don’t get paid for offers. They get paid when their brokers get paid. Their brokers get paid at closing. No close, no pay.

I went through two more agents after her before getting my license in NY, joining an agency and listing my own property. Listing with your brokerage as an owner/agent does have some benefits. In New York City, there’s no public MLS. Agencies market properties to each other. Agents build networks and databases for marketing units or buildings. It’s easier to be seen via an agency’s platform. I was in contract within a few weeks of listing my own property with my agency. The buyer had expressed interest to one of my former listing agents. Had even made a low offer, which I rejected. When I relisted my property, they reached out again and we met in the middle on price.

For my AZ resale, I had one agent before delisting and going FSBO. He fielded an offer. It was low. I nudged him to follow up. I got the sense he thought I was being unrealistic in my expectations. Honestly, I think he was going by the book. He was focused on comps and the comps on the block didn’t support my pricing. This is where personal knowledge of your property and neighborhood comes in.

The two recent sells on my street hd been quick and urgent. The first one may have been fear of market collapse or perhaps the owner was over-extended. A lot of homes in this community are second homes before they become primary residences.

The second home that sold under market felt trapped by the comp of the first sale. They were also on contingency with the builder for a larger home down the street. They were at risk of losing the lot they wanted, so they were desperate to close fast.

I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a low number I didn’t want to go below. The offer my agent got was about $30k below ask and $20k below my low number at the time. The house wasn’t showing, meaning either agents weren’t aware it was available or it simply wasn’t being shared/marketed by y agent. Tucson had very low inventory at this time. Other properties in the area were getting offers within a week of listing. I stayed listed for three months before canceling the listing. I rested during the holidays and relisted on Zillow in January.

The offer I accepted came in $500 below my floor and $10,000 below my ask. Decent numbers but not the best for the times. I hadn’t kept my eye on the market. The absolute lack of inventory in the Metro Tucson area meant I could’ve netted $30-50k above my ask had I been more patient and discerning. As it was, the offer I closed on was $30,000 higher than the offer my agent brought me months prior and $9,500 higher than the highest cash offer from a corporate cash buyer. Not to mention the 4-5% commission fees saved for any of the offers.

Representing myself has earned and saved me tens of thousands of dollars per transaction. Because proof is in the pudding, I don’t see myself using an agent unless it’s absolutely beneficial to me.

For example, I’m planning on buying investment properties in a state I’ve never owned in before. The properties are city-owned, deeply discounted and comes with performance requirements. The city also requires licensed agents to process the application. No problem. I’ll hire an agent. The city as the seller, pays the agent’s fee. If I choose well, I may have someone to navigate a new market with me. If my agent streak continues as it has been, then I’ll have another cautionary tale.

Speaking of cautionary tales, the buyers of my AZ home and their agents are intergalactic level assholes. Like truly, I’ve never encountered the audacious level of disrespect and entitlement as these four individuals exhibited throughout the course of the transaction. I already shared their numbers were within spitting distance of my range, so in my mind,not enough to to trash the deal over. However, their treatment of me was so insulting, I asked them to cancel the contract twice. I simply was not comfortable dealing with them. In Arizona, sellers can’t cancel purchase contracts unless there’s outright fraud. I suspected they were misrepresenting themselves and their intentions but it didn’t amount to the level of fraud. Essentially, I asked repeatedly for verification of identity and funds. Their agent ignored my requests. I ended up contacting their banker, whom I don’t know and who could say anything on the phone, but he claimed they were legit and he had verified identity and funds. He also forwarded a chain of emails which mollified me a bit. I was assured by my broker at the time that the title process would shake loose any discrepancies. Title was a breeze. These people weren’t.

Because of this experience, the next home I sell for myself, I will not pay for the buyers agent. If I am FSBO, and the buyer wants an agent, then the buyer can pay for their own agent. In my mind, I paid money for licensed professionals to disrespect me during the resale of my AZ home. The state board says their behavior (more than shared here) is neither an ethics violation or a professional standards violation. One broker told me this is what I get for representing myself. Another said, next time you’ll hire someone to represent you, won’t you? Yet another said, why don’t you believe in the system? Each of these people make money off of agents listing and closing properties with their firms. That’s the only way they remain profitable entities. Me selling outside of the agency is of no value to them. That’s a blaring intrinsic bias. I had to stop and ask myself, “Who does their advice benefit?” Then more specifically, “How does this advice benefit me?” It didn’t. So I had to continue to move in a way that benefited me. Honestly, this is how I’ll be moving for the foreseeable future.

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Holiday Delight: Alvin Ailey’s Virtual Season!

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9/11 Memorial Plaza

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Approaching 1 World Trade Center from Battery Park City.

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Looking up at  1 WTC from within the Memorial Plaza. This tree of hope, aptly named The Survivor Tree, stands tall in the WTC Plaza, it is said to be the only tree on the grounds that survived the devastation of 9/11. It was nurtured to good health afterwards and now is a symbol of perseverance in the face of tragedy. Read more here: http://911memorial.org/survivor-tree

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There are two reflecting pools in the Plaza representing the North and the South Towers.

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The rim of the reflecting pools are engraved witht the names of those who died on 9/11

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I took these photos during a lunch hour on my cell phone. The grounds are awesomely impressive and tragically beautiful.

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Helmsley Building Night Colors

The Helmsley Building is currently my favorite building to photograph. For the pass two years or so, it has been fully lit in beautiful colors in the evening.

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candy canes and Christmas trees come to mind

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On a foggy night

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I’m not really fond of this color, it’s really pale to the naked eye. It stands out here with extra contrasting. 

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Looks like this was transitioning between violet and blue

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Edited for my holiday cards.


From Wiki: The Helmsley Building is a 35-story building located at 230 Park Avenue between East 45th and East 46th Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, which was built in 1929 as the New York Central Building, and was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architects of Grand Central Terminal, in the Beaux-Arts style. Before the erection of the Pan Am Building – now the MetLife Building – this building stood out over the city’s second most prestigious avenue as the tallest structure in the great “Terminal City” complex around Grand Central.

 

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Photo Challenge, Week 43: Spooky Halloween Infrared Animated GIF

Okay so this was a great learning opportunity! Actually, everything about photography is a learning experience for me still, but this challenge was intimidating – mostly because it included elements from Week 35: Translucent Outdoor Long Exposures that I didn’t have time to try, plus infrared photography which I was not familiar with. All that said, I think my first attempts with translucent long exposure in infrared came out okay.

What do you think?

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Harlem Book Fair: Virtual Visit to Spirit Harvest Table

This is for everyone who would like to visit my table at the Harlem Book Fair, but is unable to. I will be offering a 10-15% discount at the Fair and that offer will extend to anyone who shops from this blog post using this code: WPHBF.

Here’s a link to my Square store: Order Online
Order Online

Hope see you virtually!

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Photo Challenge, Week 15: Migrating Birds

This week turned out to be a great learning week. I know very little about birds, certainly nothing about migrating patterns. However, I got very nice shots (in my opinion) of two birds I don’t think I’ve seen before and another that I never considered magnificent until I attempted to photograph it flight.

As of this challenge, my new goal for action photography is to capture clear close-ups of birds in flight or with spread wings. I learned a lot on this one and gained a great deal of enthusiasm for wildlife photography.

My submission, second choice and another favorite from this week:

Bird Bath!

I asked for some pointers for capturing flight on the group page and went back out to shoot with the advice in mind. The birds were still too fast for me, but I managed to capture drops of water as a bird bathed. #score! 🙂

Majesty

This great egret was minding her own business when I tried to get close enough to photograph her. This is quite grainy, but it’s the best shot I got before she flew away.

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Some just because shots:

Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com
Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com

Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com
Photo: LaShawnda Jones for Spirit-Harvest.com

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Photo Challenge, Week 7: Outdoor – Wind

Week 7’s challenge was “outdoor: wind”. I immediately thought of a smoke stack in Times Square and hoped to avoid flags! Caught the smoke stack but one flag shot won the day. 🙂

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Photo Challenge, Week 6 – Prime Numbers

Week 6’s photo challenge was to capture prime numbers – actual numbers, not spelled out. I immediately thought of addresses and street signs. This challenge got me walking quite a bit as I walked from one prime street to another. I caught a few prime numbers in between the streets as well. Much fun!