Your home: Short Sales and Foreclosures

During the recession, buyers were excited about short sales and foreclosures. If I had a dollar for every first time home buyer who met with us and said, “I want to buy a short sale or a foreclosure,” I would be retired by now. And in most cases, it only took one day out actually looking at distressed properties for them to say “never mind,” because they realized how much work it was going to take to bring them up to good condition. Or sometimes just the long timelines associated with negotiating with an overwhelmed lender would do them in.

That said, on occasion we would find a diamond in the rough. A home whose owner had fallen into hard times but who had continued to maintain the home up until they were asked to leave. These homes were every buyer’s dream! A ton of instant equity and just some cosmetic requirements to turn them into a show stopper.

These so called “diamonds in the rough” are few and far between these days. And for a good reason. The distressed property market as diminished significantly. Just the other day, I shared with some clients that in 2011 almost 40 percent of the sellers that we worked with were in a negative equity position. Translation: They had to write a check at closing to sell their home. It was brutal. I have had selling clients of mine write $20,000 checks to sell a home so they could get to a job opportunity that they could not pass up. Just consider that for a minute. For generations, we have been told that real estate is one of the most sound investments. And it still is, for the long term. But for that 40 percent in 2011, it was hard to believe.

According to Keller Williams Realty International, in 2011 40 percent of all sales nationally were either a short sale or a foreclosure sale. Compare that to the end of 2014 with distressed properties only representing 9 percent of all sales nationally and you can see why those previously mentioned “diamonds” are hard to find these days. And the distressed properties that are for sale these days are generally in pretty bad shape. Take a look at the following chart to see how distressed sales are trending downward:

DIstressed-sales

During the recession, many Americans were affected by the failed economic conditions. Many of them lost their homes. And it seemed that many of them still maintained their homes. Conversely, today it seems that as the economy has improved dramatically, the distressed properties that are available for sale are in much worse shape. They are not for those with a weak stomach that is for sure.

Today’s distressed property market is dominated by investors for either a remodel or, in some cases, a tear down and rebuild. Professional investors more often have the skill set and the resources to tackle even the nastiest distressed property. During the recession, thanks to HGTV, it felt like everyone had decided to “flip this house” and it was a mess. I cannot tell you how many homes that we showed during that time that were what I call “lipstick on a pig.” Essentially the investor who purchased the home threw on some new paint and installed some cheap fixtures and tried to resell the home for a HUGE profit. I am so glad those days are over.

Thankfully the market purified itself thanks to the recovery, and there are really only a handful of flippers around that operate a successful business in our area with a consistently good product. For these select few, the demand today is certainly high for a properly remodeled home. And buyers are glad to pay a premium to get one.

Distressed properties will always be a part of our real estate market. They are not going away. If you would like more information about the benefits and challenges with distressed properties, feel free to email me with your questions.

Your home: Commodity vs Consultant

Royals Game Day

Last Wednesday our team had the privilege of hosting a client appreciation event for over 150 of our clients on the Pepsi Party Porch while watching the Royals beat the Pirates 5-1. It was awesome! Two home runs landed not 30 feet from the porch. Our clients had a blast, as did we.

That night and the following day, we watched as our friends and clients posted comments about the experience. One comment from a great client (and friend) Darcey Schumacher really summed up the purpose of such events. Darcy posted to Facebook, “Wow, Taylor Made Team is too amazing! Leah Taylor and Chad Taylor – thank you for inviting us to the Pepsi Patio VIP section at the Royals Game. Almost 4 years since we bought our last house and we still value the relationship and everything you did for us to land our dream home.”

Thank you, Darcey!

Our business has been built upon great relationships with our clients. And not just when they need to buy or sell, but all the time. We see ourselves as not only their friends, but as the consultants for their real estate portfolio. Even if their portfolio consists of simply their primary residence.

I have always said that any industry that is easy to enter (like real estate), typically has a low bar when it comes the level of service provided. It is up to each individual Realtor to set their own standard of service and to choose to provide a great client experience along the way. To me, this choice will determine whether a Realtor is seen as a commodity or as a valued consultant.

Here is the difference, as I see it, between and Realtor (commodity) and a Real Estate Consultant

Commodity:

  • Waits for you to call them
  • Is surprised by market trends
  • Is available 24/7
  • Sets you up on an auto search on MLS and lets you do the work of narrowing down
  • Is not a resource for you outside of the sale
  • Will tell you what you want to hear
  • If prompted, will give you an idea of your home’s value
  • Is a sales person

Real Estate Consultant:

  • Calls before you need them
  • Is aware of a shifting market and keeps you aware
  • Respects a work/life balance and is in high demand
  • Pre-screens all searches based on your criteria to ensure that you receive only the best properties
  • Is always a resource to you for any referrals that you need
  • Will tell you what you NEED to hear
  • Like your financial advisor informs you of your investments, will keep you informed of your home’s value
  • Is truly a consultant with your best interest in mind

Although the National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics and a minimum expectation when it comes to service, they are exactly that — the minimum. We are trusted daily to orchestrate one of the biggest life events for most people, the sale and/or purchase of a home. It is a huge responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. Thus we are charged to be more than just a facilitator. We are charged to be a consultant when you really need one, and even when you think that you don’t.

As our market continues to shift, as it always will, I hope and trust that you have a real estate consultant to keep you informed of and ahead of the trends. And to be a resource for you for all things pertaining to home ownership. An advocate, if you will.

Your home: Only two months left until the rate hike

With the Federal Open Market Committee scheduled to meet on Sept. 16 and 17, they seem to be poised to announce an increase in the federal funds rate. This would be the first interest rate increase by the Fed in nine years. An increase has been a long time coming. It feels like the real estate community has been anticipating an increase for years now. Not because of any facts that support an increase. Simply because we all could not believe that rates could stay so low for so long. But they have. Until now.

At the June meeting, the committee confirmed that they are on track to raise rates based on the improving economy. Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chair, is maintaining her mysterious position as it pertains to when exactly rates will increase. “It would be wrong if we were to provide you a road map,” Yellen said following the June meeting.

I was curious what the word on the street was in the lending world, so I had a conversation with Mike Miles of Fountain Mortgage here in Prairie Village. I asked Mike if his sources were telling him that rates are going up this year. He said, “It is well known that the Fed will raise rates in 2015. Once the increase is announced, the bump in rates that we feel could be smaller or larger depending upon how individuals and institutions respond to the news and to what degree they react.”

We discussed Greece and other international turmoil and if he felt that could delay an increase in rates. “I would choose to base my decisions on information from domestic sources. Waiting to see if economic turmoil overseas could have an effect on a rate increase is a huge risk.”

So let’s back into this for a minute. If rates are going to increase in mid-September and here it is mid-July, then we only have two more months of historically low interest rates. That is not much time. With the average real estate transaction taking approximately 45 days from contract to closing day, there is not much time to find a home first.

And what if you need to sell your current home first? You have even less time. If you need to sell before you buy, you are on borrowed time at this point. Not only might you have to pay a higher interest rate when you turn around and purchase a home, you may also have the size of your buyer pool affected by an increase in interest rates. Historically when rates increase, it can cause a stall in the market. Some buyers, who are currently renting, may choose to stay in their rental as opposed to purchasing a home. This stall cannot only have an affect on the size of your buyer pool, it can also cause downward pressure on pricing. Talk about a one-two punch. Not only might you have to pay a higher interest rate on your purchase, but you may have to sell for less as well.

When asked what interest rates might look like in the foreseeable future, Miles had this to share from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Here is their forecast for the rest of 2015 and the first half of 2016.

30 year fixed mortgages
Q3 in 2015 = 4.1%
Q4 in 2015 = 4.4%
Q1 in 2016 = 4.6%
Q2 in 2016 = 4.8%

The moral of the story is that whether you are considering a home purchase in the near future or perhaps a refinance, now is the time to act. Based on the MBA’s predictions, almost 10 percent of your buying power could be eroded by the second quarter of 2016. Don’t wait. Act now.

Your home: 5 things your first home teaches you

As I write this, I am celebrating ten years of marriage to my wonderful wife and business partners, Leah. More than once this week we have discussed how time has flown by, and how we have changed through the years and, most importantly, what we have learned from the last ten years. While discussing our early married life, our first home in Prairie Village has come up several times.

We loved that house. We put a ton of sweat equity into that home, as do most first time home owners. That house taught us a lot as well. Leah and I like to say that, “Your first home is like your first major relationship. It teaches you what you like and what you want to do differently next time around.”

Here are five things that our first home taught us:

  • 1. Home improvement projects will take twice as long as you thought. And in most cases, they will be more expensive. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to complete almost any project. Err on the side of caution, and at least estimate 1.5 times what that you originally thought should be set aside for completion.
  • 2. A home requires maintenance at all times. Period. There will never be a time when something in your home does not require attention. Whether it is a repair or simple deferred maintenance like cleaning your gutters or trimming your trees seasonally.
  • 3. You learn where you spend most of your time while at home. For some, a living room or a family room is the most important. Or perhaps a spacious master bedroom. For our family, the most important room is the kitchen. Leah and I cook a lot and our first home taught us that we need a highly functional kitchen. Our current home has an older kitchen, but it is a very efficient space.
  • 4. Location, location, location. Our first home was in PV right across from the Prairie Village pool and the police station. This was a great location for us one Cinco de Mayo when a former neighbor of ours drove his car into our front yard and within 30 seconds there were seven police cars there to assist us. Yet as the years went by, it became increasingly clear to us that we wanted to be within walking distance to our elementary school. I grew up walking to school and I wanted that for my boys. It might surprise you, but many home buyers look for a home either conciously or subconciously like the home or neighborhood in which they were raised. It all comes full circle it seems.
  • 5. It’s not a house, it’s a home. This is why I love my job. We get the opportunity to see our clients move into perhaps their first home, or maybe their second or third. Whichever it may be, we get to hand them the key to start a new chapter in their lives, and it is very personal. And we don’t take this honor for granted. It is a big deal to them and us.

I don’t look back on my first home and think about the windows that we changed out, or all of the hours that Leah and I spend painting every single square inch of the interior of that home (although I still sound a little bitter.) Instead, I think about how proud we were when we closed on our first home. Or how terrrified I was as I drove home from the hospital with our first son, Ben. Or how for some reason I installed about twenty smoke detectors in our home before he was born. I must have been nesting. I often think about our early Christmases in the house with both boys. They were magical to say the least.

We can learn a lot from our first home, and the second and third for that matter. Our home becomes a part of our story through the years and is constantly teaching us something. I am fortunate that I am reminded of this fact as I drive down Mission Road every day of the week and I glance over east of Mission at 77th St and see good ole 7701 Howe Drive. That home was a good teacher for nine years of my life and for that I am grateful.

Your home: Keep it secure while on vacation

Key in Lock

‘Tis the season for weekend getaways and family vacations. I love this time of year, as do most people — including thieves. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but it’s true. It is reported that over 2,000,000 homes are broken into each year in the United States. And the highest percentage of home break ins occur during the summer months. Some neighborhoods see anywhere from a 10-18 percent increase in break ins during the months of July and August according to the FBI.

So how do you keep your home safe while you are traveling?

Here are some security tips to keep in mind:

  • 1. Don’t close all of your window treatments before you leave. If you typically have your curtains and blinds open, then leave town with them in their usual state. By closing them, you not only alert any criminals of a potential change in occupancy, you also prevent any neighbors from being able to monitor your home while you are away. Which takes us to number two.
  • 2. Tell a trusted neighbor (or two) that you will be out of town. This is one of the best systems to protect your home. Your neighbors know your routines and how things typically look at your home. A trusted neighbor can tip off the police before a break in ever occurs. Also, if a neighbor is taking out your trash in your absence, make sure that they put the cans back in their usual place the same day as trash pickup. Empty cans sitting out for days is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
  • 3. Don’t turn off the A/C. Although it may sound like a good way to save money while you are away, a silent air compressor on a hot summer day is a clue that the homeowners are away. Consider setting your thermostat to a higher temperature or your thermostat may have a vacation setting that you can utilize.
  • 4. Lock your garage door. If your automatic garage door has a lock, then use it when you are out of town. If it does not, simply unplug your garage door opener. In a world of universal remotes it is simply too easy to drive down the street hitting the button until you come up with a winner.
  • 5. Alert the police. If you are going to be gone for an extended trip, it is not the worst idea to alert the local police department. The more eyes on your home the better.
  • 6. Don’t leave all the lights on. Unless you just want to showcase all of your belongings for the criminal world, don’t leave the lights on 24/7. Invest in some inexpensive light timers that can kick the lights on in the evening and turn them off after bed time. Again the goal is to replicate your normal routine. If you are usually up late, then set the timer to stay on later.
  • 7. Share your vacation pics on social media after you are back in town. Posting up to the minute status updates on social media can be a mistake. Think of it as placing a sign in your yard that says, “We are on vacation. Help yourself!”
  • 8. Not safety related, but still important. Before you leave town, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, especially if it is on the bedroom level or main level of your home. The same should be done for your water supply line to your ice maker (if a shut off is in place). A leaking water line can wreak havoc on a vacant home and can make for an unhappy surprise upon your return.

We at the Taylor-Made Team wish you all safe travels and many happy memories during this vacation season.

Photo Credit:  Håkan Dahlström on http://www.flickr.com

Your home: Are 30 day closings a thing of the past?

calendar 30

That’s right. Thanks to a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 30-day closings may become a thing of the past for financed purchases. The “know before you owe” rule, formally known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID), is designed to protect the consumer from any last minute changes in the costs associated with the loan. Any minute changes to the costs must be redisclosed to the consumer prior to the closing and the lender must allow three business days for the consumer to review the changes.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Probably not. Although last minute changes can cause problems in a real estate transaction. They can even cause the transaction to come apart. Imagine for a minute that you are selling your home. You have completed everything that has been asked of you and it is the week of your upcoming move. Then at the last minute, your buyer’s lender must redisclose a change in the buyer’s costs thus delaying the closing date. You have movers scheduled. All of your utilities are scheduled for transfer. And the seller of the home you are purchasing is counting on the funds from their sale to purchase a new home. Can you see how this could get messy pretty quickly?

Or let’s say you are a buyer out there in today’s market and you are ready to compete for a home. A great home comes on the market and you write an offer. A strong offer. But the seller needs a 30-day closing and your lender cannot accomplish that timeline due to TRID. It is already hard to compete against a cash offer. It may be even harder now because cash buyers may be the only ones who can accomplish a 30-day or less closing.

Although the new TRID regulation will cause some challenges, lenders and title companies have been aware of this new regulation since the fourth quarter of 2014. Therefore, they should be prepared. The new regulation was scheduled to start as of Aug. 1, 2015. However, the CFPB announced this week that they would be delaying the roll out until Oct. 1, 2015.

“We made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”

Isn’t that sweet.

As you are making real estate plans for the future, please take into account the additional time that it may require to get to the closing table. It may also require a little patience as well.

Photo Credit: Dafne Cholet on Flickr.com

Your home: A more level playing field for buyers is here!

Basball Field

As with most shifts in the market, buyers and sellers are not aware of the shift until it is too late to do anything about it. For example, most of NEJC has shifted from a strong seller’s market to a more balanced market. And this shift has taken place over the last 45-60 days. Pretty quick shift, right?

So what does this mean for the market moving forward this year? A more balanced market has several implications. Before we go there, let’s first discuss what has caused the market to shift.

This shift, which is partially seasonal, has occurred due to the growing amount of inventory (active homes for sale) versus the number of homes that are going under contract currently. This is what I have referred to before as the absorption rate. Perhaps you have seen the evidence yourself. A perfect example is driving on Roe Avenue from 63rd Street to 75th Street. I think there is a real estate pointer sign on every street.

I was at a function earlier this week when I ran into a good Realtor friend of mine. She asked me how business was which sparked a conversation about the shift. Her observation was that she felt like we went from a crazy busy market to an “eerily quiet one.” And she has observed that buyers have all of a sudden gotten really picky about almost everything.

When I analyzed the numbers this week, the reason was clear. I looked closely at NEJC and found a dramatic difference in the absorption rate comparing the last week in March to the first week in June. The last week in March, there were 411 homes for sale and 79 under contract, therefore, the homes under contract were approximately 20 percent of the actives. The first week in June, there were 576 homes for sale and 29 under contract, or approximately 5 percent of the actives. And since the last week in March, the number of homes under contract has been on a slow and steady decline. Eerily quiet.

For those buyers out there who have had to participate in the frenzied early Spring market and have yet to find a home, your time is coming. The balance of power is shifting. So how does this shift affect the buying process for you?

  • 1. You can breathe. Not to say that there are still not some locations and some price ranges that are flying off of the shelves, but in most cases the pace of the market is slowing which should allow buyers to make more calculated decisions.
  • 2. You can be a little pickier. No too picky mind you. We are by no means in a buyer’s market. And yet when you have more options, you can be choosy. Maybe that is a better way to put it.
  • 3. Values should stabilize. Based on current trending, the median sales prices in most areas are stabilizing. And historically values have dropped slowly from this time of the year through the remaining months. The Feds position on increasing interest rates will also have a big impact on values as well.

And what about the selling process? Just look at the statements above and consider the opposite side of the coin for sellers.

  • 1. Hold your breath. The sale of your home may not take place as quickly as some in the early Spring market. Patience may be required in some cases.
  • 2. More options for buyers means higher expectations when it comes to condition and that the competition is on! Don’t offer allowances or keep bids in your back pocket for condition concerns that you anticipate a buyer might have. Just do the work. You want the choosy buyer to choose you, right?
  • 3. Values should stabilize. This means don’t get over confident with your pricing. We are seeing more and more price adjustments every day in our market which is indicative of overly confident pricing. During a shift, it is extremely important to price a fair market value and, in my opinion, to price slightly below market value. The best value will almost always get the most attention.

Photo Credit:
Dru Bloomfield on Flickr.com

Your home: I’ve got water in my basement!

water on windshieldWhether it is your first experience with water in your basement or not, the discovery is never fun. No one wants water in their basement. It is a royal pain.

That being said, I am confident that over half of the homes that I have encountered in our area have had water in the basement at some point. I used to know an inspector who would say, “There are two types of basements in Kansas City: those that have had water in them and those that will.” I don’t necessarily believe that to be true, yet the point is not lost on me.

Homes are a moving, shifting, and settling organism. They are constantly keeping you guessing. This is why homes that have never had a problem with water intrusion can all of a sudden have a water issue. Not only is your home in a constant state of change, more importantly the soil around it is as well. Here in lies our biggest regional challenge: expansive soil.

Expansive soil does just what it sounds like it would: it expands when water is added and it contracts when water is removed. The soil around your home can create opportunities for water intrusion, cause your foundation to shift and crack, and yet is completely manageable.

By manageable, I am speaking of the grading of the soil around your foundation. Proper grading should slope the soil around your home away from the home to carry ground water away from your foundation walls. This simple process is a must to maintain a dry basement. You should also monitor the soil right up against your foundation. During extremely dry seasons, the expansive soil in our region will contract and pull away from the foundation walls. You might have seen this around your home a couple of years ago. Essentially this contraction leaves a gap around your foundation. This gap then becomes a funnel during the first big Spring rain. And because water will always seek the path of least resistance, water will fill this gap (or funnel) and then find any little crack in your foundation to gain entrance to your home.

In most cases, homes that have water issues usually have a grading issue, a gutter and downspout issue, or a combination of the two.

Proper gutter cleaning and maintenance is just a way of life here in KC and is probably one of the most neglected projects that I see. Almost every home inspection that I have attended has mentioned either a buildup of leaves and debris in the gutters or that the downspouts dispense water right next to the foundation walls. Either way you are asking for trouble.

When gutters fill up with debris, you can experience the “water fall effect” when your gutters spill over with water creating a lovely waterfall look all around your home. This waterfall is allowing water to fall right next to your foundation walls instead of being carried away from the home as it is intended. Thus facilitating an opportunity for water intrusion.

When it comes to downspouts, most inspectors and drainage companies recommend that your downspouts be extended eight to ten feet away from your home before they dispense. You can also look at burying your downspouts as well and running them underground and away from your home. Usually the solution depends on the slope of your yard.

If you have suffered from a wet basement over the last couple of weeks, I would certainly start with evaluating your grading, gutters and downspouts. There are companies that specialize in drainage who could be good source of information as well.

One last thought: Please be careful when getting bids to water proof your basement. I say this because I have encountered numerous clients who have been sold a dry basement product (which cost thousands of dollars) and yet the cause of the water problem outside of the home was never addressed. I am not a foundation specialist. I have never claimed to be one. However, in my experience, a water problem solution is usually more simple than it appears and the solution should address the cause, not the symptom.

If you would like a referral for a drainage specialist or a foundation company, please feel free to email us. We are here to help.

Photo credit:
Andrew Basterfield on Flickr.com

Your home: A Shifting Market = Better Condition and Lower Prices

That’s right folks. The market shift is here. You have probably seen the signs already, no pun intended. Have you noticed more homes for sale recently? That is the first sign.

The second sign that it is not as easy to see is that the absorption rate, the number of homes selling per month, is slowing down. With inventory increasing, and the demand decreasing, the outcome is a shifting market. Currently we are following a pretty normal seasonal cycle. One in which the number of homes for sale increases for the majority of the rest of the year and median sales prices begin to drop slightly.

More competition equals more competitive pricing. Think of it this way. To be competitive a home should offer “more (features, space, upgrades) for the same price (as the competition), or the same for less.” This is what buyers expect in a more balanced market. More for the same, or the same for less. It makes perfect sense.

In-the-Market

As we look at condition in a more balanced market, a buyer’s forgiving nature tends to disappear when they have more options. The best time to sell a small home, an outdated home, or a home that suffers from functional obsolescence is when you have very little competition. As we shift into a more balanced market, buyers out there will pay close attention to their options and what they have to offer. Things about a home that would have been forgiven or overlooked earlier in the year, may now need to be addressed.

The market expectation of condition shifts very quickly. Remember that a new buyer is entering the market almost daily and they only have the homes that are currently available to compare. This is why on occasion I meet with a seller who says, “But my neighbor down the street sold just a couple of months ago and his house was nowhere near as updated as mine. And he had multiple offers.”

That could be absolutely true. Keep in mind, two months ago (in March) there were no homes for sale at all. The neighbor down the street capitalized on the fact that he had no competition. However, today’s buyer will only see what is actively for sale. Thus, a sold comparable from 60 days ago, when 60 days ago was the hot early Spring market, is not a fair comparison.

Please don’t read this column today and take from it that the market is not good anymore. Far from it. The market is still great. Just different. There in lies the magic and mystery of real estate. The market is constantly shifting, and it works well for everyone, as long as you play by its rules.

If you are planning to sell this year, here are some things to consider:

  • 1. More for the same, or the same for less. This simple sentence will prevent you from over pricing in any market.
  • 2. As the market continues to shift, we are in a price war and a beauty contest. A little more time and money spent on conditioning your home for sale could go a long way.
  • 3. To sell quickly, price your home at or slightly below fair market value. If you price your home too high, you may end up chasing the market by making price adjustment after price adjustment.
  • 4. You are only new once, and for a very short period of time. Make sure that all condition challenges have been met and you are priced right on day one. Don’t let one buyer see your home until it is perfectly positioned for the market.

Your Home: Are homes selling ‘off the market’?

Recently, we’ve heard a lot of clients asking if homes are selling “off market,” meaning they never hit the open market for the general public to see. In a seller’s market, off-market sales tend to spike. So the short answer to the question is yes.

Pretty frustrating, right? You can bet it is frustrating. Especially if you are a buyer trying to find a home and they keep selling out from under you. “But how is that fair?” you might ask. Well, it doesn’t feel fair, and at the same time it is perfectly within the seller’s rights to do so.

When a property is listed with a Realtor, the Heartland Multiple Listing Service requires that it be entered in its system within three days unless an MLS waiver has been signed. This waiver can either be temporary or permanent. If a seller signs a permanent waiver, this allows the listing agent to promote the sale of the home without putting it into MLS. In some circles, you might hear these referred to as a “pocket listing.”

You know the old saying, “Its all about who you know.” This can be very true in a low inventory market. Your Realtor must have his or her ear to the street at all times and be networking with other agents on your behalf to help find you a home. The Realtor community is a tight knit group and with 10 percent of the Realtors out there doing 90 percent of the business, we work with the same agents all of the time. Even more so after the recession. When I started in real estate 11 years ago, there were over 12,000 Realtors in Kansas City. Coming out of the recession, there were less than 7,000. So that 10 percent group has gotten much smaller which makes it easier to network for upcoming inventory.

Please don’t get me wrong. The vast majority of real estate sales happen the traditional way. A property is listed with a Realtor, and the Realtor then advertises it in MLS for all the world to see. In my experience, this is the best way to achieve top market value for your home if that is the goal. Now, in some instances it may be more valuable to the seller to sell their home off market and avoid all of the stresses that come with having their home on the open market. For example, we have had clients with lots of young kids at home choose this option. Or perhaps a seller with a really demanding work schedule that requires day sleeping.

Ultimately, I want you all to know that there is no secret society of Realtors out there selling tons of homes secretly behind closed doors. We are not all standing in a candle lit room, wearing long robes, sharing top secret information about the best real estate that Kansas city has to offer, which you will never know about. And at the same time, when you are looking to hire a Realtor (especially in a low inventory market), make sure that you find one who is very active in the market. You want your advocate to be in communication with the Realtor community daily.

Our team is in the office every day of the business week, just like most other businesses out there. Being in the office daily allows us to network with other agents in our company about upcoming listings and buyer needs. These simple conversations help us to be one of the first agents through the door when a listing goes live. Please note: Being first does not always guarantee that you will get the house. Especially when there are multiple offers. But at least you get the chance before it just shows up in MLS under contract. In those cases, “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”