After twenty two years of selling homes you’d think that I’d seen it all.  Maybe? Close?  I don’t know. I am still amazed at what happens.

In spite of the fact that as both a buyer’s agent and listing agent I endeavor to impart clear expectations to buyers, buyer’s agents and home owners; sometimes I’m just plain surprised by what happens or doesn’t happen when a property is shown.  So, I’ll attempt to impart some wisdom here in this forum.

To home buyers here are some common sense do’s when viewing another person’s home. Keep your children under control if they’re looking at homes with you. It is not acceptable for young children to flop on furniture, this includes beds. Please prevent your children from opening cupboards, refrigerators, playing with toys, hiding in closets and under beds or turning on electronic devises.  This would also include “disco lighting” he house by rapidly turning off and on lights.  It is also very bad form to allow anyone in your party to bring food, drinks and snacks into a property being viewed.  This would include you. Please leave pets alone too, many pets bite or scratch when faced with strangers.   Finally, don’t use the bathroom; I know that this is a tough one given the excitement of viewing homes but it is just bad manners to use the loo without permission.

Agents working with buyers and showing them homes should be in tune to what their clients are doing and should know their stuff. Get your chin up out of the MLS data or off your tablet and use memory and top of mind techniques to tell the buyer about the property. Start your showings by removing your shoes, if you model this behavior your buyers will follow suit. Make sure all doors are locked when you’re finished showing and LEAVE THE HOME EXACTLY AS YOU FOUND IT. If lights were on, leave them on, if off then turn them back off. Educate your clients about acceptable behaviors and be aware that many owners use recording devices to review what’s happening in their home whilst they’re away.  Finally a good buyer’s agent should provide brief and impersonal feedback after showings. I find that a simple statement telling whether the buyer is interested or not will suffice. Good listing agents really don’t want to read nitpicky personally motivated mess about what you think and especially what you can’t qualify with data.

Home sellers should ensure that valuables are tucked away and out of site. Horizontal surfaces, closets and cupboards should be clutter free and the home in general should be well organized.  Even the brightest of homes should burn lights like a commercial for Duke Energy. Heating and air conditioning should be set at comfortable levels and the water should be on, just in case someone uses the loo, even though they shouldn’t.  Owners should also freely share any transgressions as outlined previously in this post along with anything else that’s amiss with their listing agent.

Yes, I’ve seen a lot; buyers attempting to change a diaper on a dining room table, children hiding under beds, home owners hiding under beds and in closets, folks showing up to view a home with an open cup of coffee and lots of muddy shoes. I’ve been bitten by a cat, chased by a Doberman pincer, terrified by a snake inside a home on a stair step and walked in on folks behaving intimately even though I had a confirmed appointment. Some good common sense can make the home buying and selling experience a happy one.  Interested in buying or selling a home?  Call or email me.

And we’re off, here’s a look at how January 2015 shaped up in the Triangle.

By the numbers  January 2014 vs. January 2015

January 2014

1747 total sales

77 average days on market

$248,206 average list price and $241,222 average home sale price

January 2015

1647 total sales

74 average days on market

$238,660 average list price and $278,995 average home sale price

( I have NEVER seen this before, a $40,000 differential between list and sale price where the sale price is the higher average.  This tells me one of two things; there is something amiss in the data at Triangle Multiple Listing  or a whole lot of lower priced properties came onto the market and sold and a whole bunch of luxury/executive homes priced at $500,000+ also sold.  My inclination is to go with the second scenario.)

If we don’t have your email and we’d like to keep in touch with you. I promise not to spam your mailbox! Could you email us at Michael@TeamMichaelSullivan.com so that we can update your contact information. Let us know of any life changes too.

If you’ve been waiting for the market to rebound to sell? Now might be the time.  Call me or email me. I’d be delighted to meet, generate a competitive market analysis and help you weigh your options.

Day to day I’m out showing and there isn’t much to show!  Add to that the stress of having to deal with REALTOR/Agents who don’t enter complete data into multiple listing; such as room dimensions or incorrect tax data and boy is it a struggle.

My promise to you…my team and I will take the time to properly represent your home in our marketing.  This includes but is not limited to entering proper tax, home owner association and directions to your home, (we know our right from our left.) We will go above and beyond and enter room sizes (not required) and the floor where rooms reside.  This is VERY important to  buyer clients; some folks need bedrooms, bathrooms and living space on specific floors.  Why not make their life easier and their agent’s life easier and supply complete, correct information?  We promise to do so with each and every listing.

So here’s some current market data….

The real estate market here in the Triangle heated up in 2014…

By the numbers 2014 vs. 2013


30,886 total sales

69 average days on market

$250,051 average list price and $244,892 average home sale price


29,545 total sales

72 average days on market

$242,554 average list price and $236,662 average home sale price

If you’ve been waiting for the market to rebound to sell, now might be the time.  Call me or email me. I’d be delighted to meet, generate a competitive market analysis and help you weigh your options.

We can help. FM Lending is offering an amazing incentive to help those who served and are VA eligible buy a home.

. vaflyer

Call me, I can provide details.


Is your real estate agent hurting or helping you?

One of the most wonderful things about working as a REALTOR is the amazing tool that we have called the multiple listing service. This database of listed homes is designed to give REALTORS complete and accurate property information.

It is no exaggeration that every day that I run across listings in Triangle Multiple Listing which are incomplete and out right wrong. Room sizes are a piece of information that is often left off a listing.  Some agents simply think this information is not important.  I disagree.  Let’s suppose a buyer has a California king sized bed and a listing simply has 00 x00 as room dimensions for the master bedroom.  Will the bed fit?  Who knows but the risk run is that buyer’s agents will pass the listing by because taking the time to email or phone for information that should have been entered to begin with is a waste of time and rewards a listing agent for bad, negligent and careless behavior.

A second example of missing or incomplete information is tax data. Listing agents will use old tax rate; Durham’s tax rate last year was $1.29 per $100 of value; this year it’s $1.36. So let’s look at a home that’s has a tax value of $100,000. Last year taxes would have run $1290, this year $1360.  A good buyer’s agent would pick this mistake or error up; but a great listing agent would have ensured the information was correct.  Believe it or not, in these days of tight lending standards this $70 difference could disqualify a buyer from buying a home.  Can you imagine finding this out a week before settlement?  Talk about a recipe for disaster.

The sad fact in all of this is that most owners won’t know if their agent is leaving important information out of multiple listing and is indeed hurting their chances of a sale. My suggestion is that home sellers hire agents who will be detail oriented and those owners ask to review the information that their agent is entering into the multiple listing system on their behalf and if the information is missing or wrong; demand correction or fire the agent.

Straight talk on real estate commissions

Did you know that how your agent divides the commission that you pay to sell your home can hurt you and you might never know it? Let’s face it a 6% commission is a lot of money.  It is customary in the Raleigh/Durham greater Triangle real estate market that the commission you pay as a seller to sell your home is divided between listing agents and buyer’s agents.  Many times the split is a simple 50/50 split, 3% to the buyer side and 3% to the listing side. After all without a buyer there would be no sale and certainly no commission. Other times it isn’t a simple split; and that’s where you a seller can be hurt.

Agents are required to disclose to sellers how the seller paid commission will be split, but disclosure as we all know doesn’t always mean explanation with respect to consequences. For example let’s say the a couple lists their home for sale; and let’s suppose that the sale of their home is going to be a short sale, the seller owes more on their mortgage than is supported by current market conditions. Their agent takes the listing, knowing and disclosing the short sale and he markets the property in multiple listing with a 2.5% commission payout.  He is retaining 3.5% because he’s going to have to work hard.  His listing agreement notes the commissions split but the agent doesn’t explain the consequences of the split to the seller.

The listing agent doesn’t explain to his clients that although they aren’t “supposed to consider” commission payouts when searching multiple listing, buyer agents are only human and to expect them not to consider payment for work is naïve. So many times when competing with a 3% paid commission against 2.5% or 2.4% commission paid, a buyer agent might be overlook the properties paying less. In the case of the sellers mentioned above with their short sale perhaps this was the case.  The property was aggressively priced but only after a series of price drops but still it languished on market. So long that the bank began foreclosure proceedings because the owners had stopped paying their mortgage.

Ultimately the home did sell and close but it did so after about six months. Perhaps the listing agent could have expedited the sale of the home; which he is required to do, had he explained the consequences of his actions with respect to commissions paid.  Did he?  I doubt it because why would any seller risk foreclosure when they could avoid such drastic measures.

My advice to sellers and buyers alike, ask questions. Ask your agent if how they divide YOUR money is going to hurt you or benefit you. You have a right to know.

To learn more about our real estate practice phone us at 919-493-7633 or email Michael@TeamMichaelSullivan.com

August 2013

2922 closed sales, $248,598 average list price, $243,969 average sale price, 78 days on market, 2170 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

August 2014

2946 closed sales, $254,435 average list price, $248,843 average sale price, 76 days on market, 2169 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying, selling or leasing real estate please refer them to us.

Learn more about us at www.TeamMichaelSullivan.com

We have 21 years market experience in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill please call us. We’re always happy to help.


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