Tag Archives: selling it

Century 21 Realtors promise to help you browbeat your stupid husband into buying a house you can’t afford

Well that was the promise made in 2006, at any rate. I suspect they’re not running this ad today.


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Here’s a new marketing twist: bomb shelters

Says here that suburbanites, frightened of the coming doom, are stocking up on survival food and gear. As a backpacker/hunter type I figure I’m okay (going to have to do something about replenishing my ammunition supply though – so many looters, so little time) but it occurs to me that homeowners could, with just a little reconfiguring of their home, make it more attractive to panicked city folks. Add a bunker or two, a generator, twin 1,500 gallon fuel tanks, a safe room, gun closet (stocked, of course) and presto! The perfect haven for an East Sider. I do wonder at the ignorance of some of these types who seem to think that having equipment, be it tents or weapons, is a substitute for knowing how to use it and survive outdoors, but we’re selling the dream here, just as always.  Ever hear that tip about naming your house? I never thought much of it but now I don’t know. “Fortress Riverside”, for instance, has a nice, reassuring ring. Try it and see.


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More professionals at work

72 Laddins Rock

72 Laddins Rock

This is a well built house on a rather busy street but at the right price, decent shelter. It was purchased new for $1.3  million in 2004and when it was relisted for $1.850 in FFebruary 2008 I suggested that it wouldn’t fetch that price. For sharing that opinion in print, I was chastised by a the listing agent for “talking-down” the property. The agent seems to confuse, as does my little brother Gideon, the power of this blog – nil – with the power of the market place. Or not – perhaps there were dozens of buyers eager for this house who were turned off when I said it was over-priced. Whatever, three agents and lots of price cuts later, it’s now asking $1.275 and still hasn’t sold.  And, while I hate t rub salt in the wound, I don’t think 2004’s price is going to be effective in the current market.


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Off to tour open houses

Yes, it’s Tuesday again (seems to happen quite frequently these days) so once again there’s an opportunity to revisit old favorites and see what’s new to the market. I will confess that I’m not particularly swayed by brokers’ notes on the open house list calling a new house right on North Street “an incredible value” at $8.995 million, or tired old, over-priced building lots, “a rare opportunity”. What’s a little bit scary is that in my darkest moments I think that the brokers actually believe their own nonsense, which would explain why we’re so far out of adjustment from reality. Oh well, it’s always fun to have a good chuckle before lunch.


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If my own practice is typical, there are a lot of buyers suddenly interested in Greenwich property. I think that’s due to a sense that the market is settling, an improved stock market (even if only temporary) and a general feeling that, for the first time in a long time, Greenwich is “affordable”. I’ve been running almost non-stop the past two weeks and, after spending the morning with one client, I’m off to spend the afternoon with another, and I have five other new clients waiting to receive my emailed wit and wisdom on what’s out there that’s either reasonably priced or ridiculously -priced but perhaps available at something approaching sanity.

Will all this activity move houses? I certainly hope so, but I continue to think that 80% of our stock is over-priced and won’t move until it isn’t. Then again, I’ve seen some recent contracts reported that suggest either that the selling agent has a wildly different view than I on the respective merits of certain property or they’re just hucksters peddling junk at inflated prices using the Greenwich mystique to overcome buyer’s better judgement.

Hucksters selling Greenwich real estate? Nah, I must just be off base in my opinion.


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Palmer Hill condos – desperate?

At least once a week I receive the following “comment” from fasttalk@AOL.com, which I assume is a computer-generated commercial spam program:

I looked all over and the quality and value they are offering at Palmer Hill cannot be matched. The clubhouse, pool and gym are incredible also. Great location. I’m sold!

I realize spam is cheap, but at the very least, the fact that the Palmer Hill developers would pay anything at all to clog the airwaves with this crap  (forgive me, Al Gore – I know that the Internet is really carried through tunnels) shows a deep ignorance of how to market these days, and perhaps reveals that sales on the Hill aren’t what the builder had hoped they’d be. 

And here’s another funny tale: the developer has hired a crack sales team that has been instructed to follow a strict sales script so that buyers, even if accompanied by their own agent, are forced to endure the car salesman technique of “lock in” questions: “Now, is this the kind of kitchen you were hoping for?” “Is this the master bathroom you were expecting?” “If we could guarantee you your choice of garage [or garbage disposal or whatever], would you be ready to commit today?” Etc. I won’t go near the place on a bet, but agents who have tell me the process is excruciating. The whole marketing effort smacks of someone who has no idea of the sophistication of Greenwich buyers and they’re driving away half their target audience with this crap. The same thing happened to Greenwich Honda when the D’elias sold it. Great car, but when it’s time to replace my car (and mine’s only seven years old so that’s not happening soon, thank god), I intend to buy another Honda but not from our local dealership. 

Manipulation as salesmanship is tacky,leads to sleepless nights by its practitioners and, at least in Greenwich, ineffective. Dumb, dumb, dumb.


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This crap gives Realtors and energy saving both a bad name

If it’s green, we’ll hype it! Here for your reading pleasure is an example. I’ve highlighted the bullshit.

The outlook sounds bleak for both buyers and sellers, but Realtor Michael Kiefer sees a silver lining in all of that – a green lining, to be precise. As people tighten their belts and try to live frugally, property that’s eco-friendly is becoming hot. Green real estate – which includes energy-efficient design, cost-saving appliances and long-lasting Earth-friendly or recycled materials – is increasingly sought, Kiefer says.

“This housing crisis has people thinking more closely about their utilities and being more conscious about how they operate a home,” says Kiefer…. Kiefer is an example of a new breed of real estate agents, professionals who have earned special credentials as experts in eco-friendly homes. Though there are currently only a handful of “green” real estate agents working in the District, the ranks of these planet-conscious pros are growing.


“When I started out four years ago [advocating green real estate], people would say ‘Green what?'” says Kiefer. Now, however, homeowners know enough to not “leave a light on in every room.”

Kiefer boosted his green smarts by becoming trained and certified as an expert in sustainable and environmentally friendly design by EcoBroker International (EcoBroker.com) in 2006. EcoBroker has been certifying professionals since 2002 through its courses in topics such as solar thermal energy, environmentally friendly paints and window finishings. In November 2008, the 1.3 million-member-strong National Association of Realtors launched its own Green Designee program (Greenresourcecouncil.org) to educate Realtors in green property and practices. Both the NAR and the EcoBroker programs require 18 hours of training; EcoBroker’s is completely online; NAR’s requires some in-person course work.


Courtney Poulos, a Realtor with the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage-affiliated Reishman Group in Dupont Circle, was the only local Realtor who had been certified by the NAR as a green designee by mid-March, according to NAR’s Green Resource Council.

Poulos, 31, had already become an EcoBroker in 2007 but says she wanted to learn even more about green residential properties. The NAR’s program taught her more about topics including “green communities, smart growth and design, public awareness and utilities, water consumption, efficiency, vendors and energy audits,” says Poulos.

“There are two reasons to go green in this market,” Poulos says. “One is to save money on your utility bills.” Small tweaks such as insulating a water heater or adding extra insulation to leaky walls can help homeowners save $40 or $50 per month, Poulos says.

The second reason to make a home more energy-efficient is simply to improve its desirability on the market down the road.“Buyers want to save money [on utilities], too,” Poulos says, noting that Montgomery County recently passed a disclosure law that requires the sellers of owner-occupied homes to provide utility bills as part of their disclosure package to potential buyers. “If that’s not proof of awareness of utility costs and energy in the real estate market, I can’t imagine what is”.

Anyone with brains isn’t going to throw money away needlessly and a well insulated house is more comfortable to live in. Energy efficient boilers can make sense, over a long enough ownership, as do windows, wall insulation etc., all with the same caveat: if you stay there long enough to recoup the expense. None of this is cheap.

But this whole “Green Certification” program is a bunch of hooey dreamed up by the National Association of Realtors to add another look -good, meaningless “certification” after an agent’s name. Eighteen hours of on-line training? Wow, an expert!

My personal opinion is that an agent unwilling to keep abreast of new building techniques, including energy saving ones, without the help of an on-line course and without the lure of a silly new certification is probably not qualified to sell real estate to begin with. We’re supposed to be providing value for the money we receive. Blissful ignorance isn’t value.

Buyers have not and are not paying more for eco-friendly houses (they probably do in Seattle and Berkley, but those are in a different country). That fact drives eco-nuts crazy and explains why they keep enacting ever more onerous laws on builders. If something makes economic sense, people will respond. If it doesn’t, they won’t. Example? The compact fluorescent bulbs discussed earlier today. The Greens insisted that they save money so consumers should be forced to pay $15 each for them. Instead of being grateful, the rest of the country is discovering what those of us wh tried them before already knew: they give out lousy light, take forever to warm up, don’t last anywhere close to their advertised life and spew toxic dust when they break. So much for other people deciding what’s best for you. And so much for “Green Certification”. We don’ need no stinkin’ badges!

UPDATE: As mentioned previously, this stuff is no more valuable in Tucson than it is here.


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