Consumers and agents may not understand the difference between real estate platform versus bolt-on technology, but they soon will.  Let’s discuss why it matters to both consumers and agents.

Real Estate Platform Protects Your Privacy

From a consumer perspective, information about your home, your finances, and your preferences is worth a lot of money to big companies and could cause aggravation if in the wrong hands.  Data security is important now more than ever.  Uploaded contracts, disclosures, inspection reports, agreements, and other reports aren’t always encrypted.    Who owns that data?  What if your data were released without your knowledge?

As a consumer, who you do business with matters.  The same is true with brokerages and agents.  Does your brokerage have agreements with 3rd party vendors on who owns data and what can be done with it?  Does your brokerage own its own real estate platform, or do you employ bolt-on technology by outside companies to run your business?

Bolt-On Technology

CEO’s of national brand companies say they’re going with bolt-on technology as opposed to real estate platform technology so as not to disrupt agent’s business.  They say they want to give agents the freedom to choose whatever software they prefer using.  The truth is, agents prefer not to change, so they stick with who they’ve used for years, even if it’s not great.  Agents tailor their business around what their software can do, not what is ideal for their business.

If agents could design the perfect software, it would look and work much differently than what they have now.  Most agents don’t have the time, money, or expertise to do this, so they stick with the status quo, even though it’s holding them back.

Currently, when consumers sign onto apps and real estate websites their data becomes free game.  Consumer search preference data is valuable for advertisers and as a result, consumers are being bombarded with calls and emails from all kinds of companies.  Consumers don’t like it.  They just didn’t realize what they were giving up to get real estate information.  Agents who advertise on those sites fund this behavior because they want the leads.  Ironically, agents are purchasing the very data consumers hate giving up.

A Better Way

There is a better way.  Consumers will give you everything you want if you give them everything they want and agree not to sell or give away their data.  If you can protect the consumer, they don’t mind if their agent emails them with real estate information they care about.  Consumers information to be relevant to them., and they don’t want to be spammed.

This is exactly why our company has been developing its own platform for a few years now.  We don’t want to be reliant on outside companies with ulterior motives.  We want to control and own the data so that consumers can trust they won’t be bombarded with offers from companies they don’t know.  However, the consumer experience must be first class and offer things consumers want and nobody else has.

Real Estate Platform Local Data

The Consumer Experience

It’s all about the consumer experience.  We’ve studied the items consumers like best.  For instance, we tested over 1 million consumers and found that they like neighborhood information better than at the zip code level.  In fact, they spent on average over 4 minutes on site per neighborhood versus a zip code.  Consumers want information like the home’s DNA score, commute times to places they choose, and more.  Because we’re developing our own platform, we can deliver all these consumer preferences, and more.

Real Estate Platform Versus Bolt-On Technology

 

Keller Williams’ Realty consumer mobile app is in testing pending release.  Currently Google employees are testing out the platform for us and providing feedback before we release to the public.  It will not only be best in class; it will offer privacy and confidence to the consumer.  Our desktop websites are working now, and we’re still tweaking and improving those.  If you’d like us to send you our app or provide you a local neighborhood website, we can do that.  Just email me at Brett@topagent.com and we’ll get you started.

It’s a work on progress, and we believe it’s one the consumer will love and appreciate.  In fact, we believe it’s the Future of Real Estate.  We’d love your feedback.  Try it out and let us know what you think!

Check out this weekend’s open houses on our current mobile app which will be upgraded automatically when we release the new app.

 

Lee County Florida median home prices rose 1.6% in May to $265,000, up from $260,700 last year.  Average home prices rose too, up 3.3% to $375,899.  The average number last May was $363,829.

While home prices aren’t changing dramatically, this is good news for Lee County home sellers.  Sometimes a steady housing market is better than rapidly rising prices which can lead to rapidly declining prices down the road.

Lee County Florida Median Home Prices Rose 1.6% in May

As you can see by the graph, Lee County Florida median home prices and average home prices didn’t really participate much on the upside the past few years, so we didn’t have far to fall if the market shifted.  We feel the market did indeed shift, and SW Florida for the most part fared well.

Of course, we know real estate is neighborhood specific, so some areas and price ranges can be doing better than others.  Therefore, it’s always important to evaluate what your home or neighborhood offers relative to the market.

For instance, let’s say you have two golf course communities.  Both offer a similar style, look good, and are in relatively the same part of town.  The difference however is the mandatory fees.  One has an equity membership fee of $90,000 plus yearly fees of $15,000 between golf, club house, HOA fees, etc.  The other golf community has an equity fee of $30,000 and yearly fees of $9,600.

If both courses are similar, which one will buyers gravitate to?  The same is true with non-golf properties.  Buyers look at the total cost of ownership, and what they get for it.  Some communities have gates, some don’t.  Some have clubhouses, cable TV, swimming pools, tennis, you name it.  Buyers look at the home or condo, and they also look at the amenities and what it all costs.

Let’s say you don’t live in a community.  Do buyers still look at yearly costs?  Yes, they do.  They look at what are the annual projected maintenance costs.  Does the home need renovation?  Will the home need a new air conditioner or new roof soon?  How old is the home?  This affects the price of home insurance.  Is the home in a flood zone?  If so, what is the elevation of the home?  This affects the yearly price of flood insurance.

Having answers to all these questions is critical for the buyer.  The buyer won’t make a decision without these facts, or they’ll back out of a contract after inspection once they discover facts that didn’t fit in with their projected financial outlays.

Having the information upfront can temper expectations and keep deals together.  Pricing your home to meet these conditions helps as well.  If your home needs a new roof, you don’t want to price your home the same as homes that just had a new roof installed, all else being equal.  The hard part is, all else isn’t equal.  Each home is unique, down to where it sits.  A good Realtor or appraiser looks at your land value relative to other sales.  Additionally, they’ll look at age of home, features, replacements, and anything else that can affect value.  You throw it all in the pot and come up with a value.  Even then it’s difficult because all buyers don’t view value the same way.

Some buyers appreciate the view differently.  Some value privacy while others may value beauty.  One buyer may desire a lakefront lot while another may value a preserve view.  Appraisers can set a lake value differently than a preserve view but, in the end, value is in the eye of the beholder.

Therefore, it’s critical to be honest and view your home like a buyer.  You must take off the seller’s glasses and put on buyer glasses.  If you tried to sell your home and it didn’t work, chances are you looked at it like a seller, didn’t have all the information a buyer needs to decide, or your home wasn’t marketed properly.

If you’re thinking of selling, call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Or, go online www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get a Free instant computer evaluation of what your home could be worth.  Of course, we’d love to talk with you when you’re ready.

Good luck, and Happy House Selling!

See Last Week’s Article:  Low Interest Rates Fuels Surge in Real Estate Closings

Lee County housing inventory fell since April and now sits at 5.04 months supply.  Back in April it was 5.81 months.  Housing supply fell in all categories except $150,000 and below.  Let’s take a look at what caused this.

Lee County housing inventory  fell 13.3% since April. Active listings fell from 6,283 back in April to 5,447 in June.  Either more homes are pending and haven’t closed yet, or many listings expired since mid-April, and sellers gave up trying to sell.  Closed sales are almost even.  They slipped from 12,986 last 365 days in April to 12,973 in June.

Lee County Housing Inventory Falls Since April

Perhaps sellers got discouraged.  There is new hope as interest rates have fallen and given a boom to real estate buyers making homes more affordable.  Rates have fallen unexpectedly due to trade talk about 1% since last Fall.  That adds about 11% purchasing power to a buyer, which means buyers have been able to step up in price to get the home they want for the same payment.

This creates additional opportunities for buyers, and we know this may be a limited window.  If it’s an opportunity for buyers, then it’s also an opportunity for sellers.

When a seller decides to list their home, they have two major decisions to make.  What price to price it at and which agent to list it.  Both decisions are critical, and either one can kill your chances for a sale.

Many sellers believe the MLS will sell their home, so it doesn’t matter which agent they choose.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All agents are not the same.  Some are better at negotiating, and some are better at marketing.  A few are great at both and knowing who they are can make the difference between a sale and no sale.  It can also cost you thousands.  Less marketing means fewer buyers to choose from and more time on the market.  With fewer buyers, you’re not assured of getting top dollar for your home or a sale at all.

Pricing is important too.  It’s important to know where you stand in the marketplace.  How does your home rate?  How much competition is there?  Is the market generally favorable for your home or unfavorable?  Your agent should be able to discuss with you the absorption rate as well as the months supply of homes.  We’ve given you the overall month’s supply for single family homes in Lee County.  This can be done at the neighborhood level too.

We love to sit down with homeowners and go over the comparable sales.  We’ll look at photos of kitchens, bathrooms, front entry, etc. and compare them to the subject property.  The seller quickly gains an understanding of what buyers are looking for and how much their home is going to sell for.  We look at current competition as well.

Sellers love to know how much they’re going to net out in the pocket at closing, so we do a net sheet right there at the table.  Armed with this information, sellers make better choices. Together the agent and the seller interpret the data.  It must be looked at objectively through the eyes of a buyer, because they’re the ones buying.  A good agent can help you with that.

To get an approximate value for your home, head over to www.SWFLhomevalues.com.  It’s free and easy, and you’ll get a value within seconds.  No waiting for an agent to call you.

To see the latest marketing and how we reach buyers targeted for your home, give Sande or Brett Ellis a call.  239-489-4042 Ext 4.  Our team has been voted the Best by News Press readers several years, and we’ve been top agents in SW Florida for over 30 years.  We know the market, and we know how to market.  Put our experience to work for you!

Read last week’s Real Estate Consumer Experience Will Forever Change Industry

Buckle up, it’s about to get very interesting in the real estate world!  The real estate consumer experience will forever change the real estate industry.  We’re about to experience more change in the next year than the last 20 years combined.  That’s a big statement, and we’ve seen it with other industries.

This may lead to fewer agents in the business.  Some experts predict National Association of Realtors membership may decline from 1.2 million members to around 700,000. That’s about a 42% drop.  Even a 20% drop will put pressure on real estate companies.  We may see mergers and we may see brands closing.  There are just too many unprofitable companies.  Independent brokerages will either close or merge into larger companies with more consumer tools.  Publicly traded real estate companies will face increased pressure from shareholders to return a profit, which could affect commission splits to agents.  All these spell big change for the industry.

What will drive these changes?  The consumer experience will, and that’s about to change in a big way soon.  We’ve already seen rival companies gearing up with new updates, and we’ve seen sites like Realtor.com losing their CEO and losing brokerage accounts right and left.

A Better Real Estate Consumer Experience

In the past, search was where it was at.  Companies competed on search to gain consumers, but retaining consumers is another story.  Consumers are always in search of a better experience.  If you’re looking for places to vacation in Hawaii, you may use search.  However, if you frequently visit Hawaii and a company came along and provided a more in-depth and customizable experience, you might go from search to being loyal to the online experience.

This happened to Blockbuster.  They had all the DVD’s you could ever want.  They knew which titles were popular because they had the data from their stores.  What they didn’t have was the data outside their stores.  Netflix did, and they ate Blockbuster’s lunch.  We call it getting Netflixed.

2019 will be the year some real estate companies get Netflixed.  This will only happen because other companies provide a unique customer experience. Some companies will focus on search, because it’s all they’ve ever known.  Search might attract a customer, but the experience will retain them.

Better Online Search

Real Estate Consumer Experience

If an agent today has a database of 1,000 past customers, they need to ask themselves one question.  Are any of these 1,000 past customers at risk?  Could I lose them if someone else came along with a wonderful consumer experience?  The answer is, you betcha!  Nobody owns a customer.  While they may love their agent, they’ll go to whoever provides the best consumer experience today.

Neighborhood Insights

Real Estate Consumer Experience Neighborhood Insights

And this is what’s changing right now.  In the next 60 days we’ll be rolling out our new customer experience. We’ll use artificial intelligence to match home buyers with properties they love.  It will shorten their search for a home time.  We’ll provide neighborhood information like never before.  The consumer will be immersed in a platform they won’t want to leave.

Other companies will try to copy, but it might be too late.  It would take over 3 years to copy what we’ve done, along with data.  Wall Street is impatient and won’t wait 3 years.  Already we’re seeing real estate company stocks of selected companies under pressure.  Agents are worried and beginning to shop around for a company that can compete with what’s coming.  No agent wants to be caught at a company that’s been Netflixed.

We’re not saying one company will survive.  There will be 2-3 main companies that make it through all this, and several fighting for 4th place.  4th place isn’t where you want to be.

You can download our consumer app at www.SWfloridaopenhouse.com  It will automatically change over to the new real estate consumer experience when it’s released, so you won’t have to do anything.  Today you can search open houses, find homes, rentals, and much more.  Soon, your whole new real estate experience will change.  We have a web version coming too if you’re not into smartphones.

We look forward to changing the way consumers experience the real estate market.  You can always email me at Brett@topagent.com if you have more questions, or call 239-489-4042 Ext 4

Current financial markets turmoil creates big real estate opportunity in SW Florida.  Just last year the Fed was talking about rising rates continuing though 2019.  They began the process in 2018 but abruptly halted once the world economy didn’t cooperate.  If we raise rates too fast, it not only slows economic activity here, but it raises the dollar to a higher level which isn’t what you want when you’re correcting a trade imbalance.

Financial Markets Turmoil Creates Big Real Estate Opportunity

Europe has negative interest rates.  Imagine putting $1,000 in the bank and getting $950 back when you withdraw your money.  That seems crazy to us, but Europe is in trouble.  Our fed wasn’t looking at the whole picture when they made decisions last year, but they are now.

They realize the trade tariffs with China will slowdown economic activity worldwide, so this week Fed chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed may have to step in and adjust as economic conditions warrant.  This is code word for interest rate reductions, which sent the stock markets higher on Tuesday when he made those comments.

All this has sent interest rates down about 1% since January.  This has raised buyer’s purchasing power by 11% on this fact alone, which is putting home buyers back into the market.  Nobody knows how long these trade negotiations will last and where they’ll end up.  Republicans and Democrats alike agree they’re necessary as China has been taking advantage of our companies for too long.  We must endure short term tariffs for long term gain.  Let us show you how low your payments could be with the current financial markets turmoil.

Because of this, it’s created a window of opportunity for home buyers.  With rates around 4%, buyers must seize this opportunity.  Four factors influence the affordability of a home, and that’s price, interest rates, taxes, and fees.  Interest rates can be one of the largest factors in the cost of a home over the time a homeowner owns their home.

Buyers today are also looking at the total cost of ownership.  They ask how much the condo or HOA fees are, if there are mandatory club fees, CDD’s, and if the taxes are in the city or county.

Check Out Our App

A great agent can answer all these questions.  Websites typically show the asking price and photos, but they don’t always tell the whole story.  We have a mobile app that shows much of this information, and an automatic major update coming out within 60 days will provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.  It will simply blow you away.  It’s in final testing right now.

One way to get the app is go to www.SWfloridaopenhouse.com  or simply email me at Brett@topagent.com and I can email or text you the link.  Yes, you can search all the open houses on the app too.  The real power will be in the release 60 days from now.  Meanwhile, the app will show you what HOA or condo fees are in each property and we can verify if there are any other fees you might want to know about.

Of course, you can always call us at 239-489-4042.  We’ll be happy to discuss your options and how you can take advantage of these low rates for your benefit.  If you’re thinking of selling and would like to know how much we could sell your home for, and how much you’d net in your pocket at closing, ask for Sande or Brett at Ext 4, or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com

See Last Week’s Article: Lee County Florida Home Prices Have Been Flat For 2 Years

Good luck and let us know how we can help you make your next move!

Lee County Florida home prices have been flat for 2 years and nobody seems to notice.  Take a look at the graph below and we’ll explain why this may be good news going forward.

Lee County Florida Home Prices Flat For 2 Years

Some parts of the country are experiencing multiple offers on each home and others have experienced a shift as homes are taking longer to sell.  In the end, it comes down to affordability on each locale.  As home prices rise, together with interest rates, it affects affordability.

We’ve caught a break with interest rates.  With rates down around 4% it means home buyers can pay more for a home and less to the bank.  It props them up into a higher purchasing bracket on affordability alone.

As homes go up in value, they can be susceptible to fall if the economy or interest rates rise.  The silver lining to all this is because prices didn’t increase here over the last two plus years, they may not have to fall either if or when the economy changes.  We’ve got a strong economy now, but with trade wars and potential military conflicts around the world, you never know what can tilt the scales.

If the economy continues to roar along, the Lee County Florida housing market could eventually have some upside.  Inventory has been growing, so we’re not seeing upward price pressure now. Obviously, the price range you’re looking in can have different inventory levels than another price range.

It pays to consult a Realtor before purchasing.  A Realtor can not only guide you through the process, but they can also advise you on things that can affect your resale ability later when you need to sell.

Because we work with a lot of buyers each year, our agents are on the front lines with buyer’s concerns.  Buyers do not want to make a mistake.  Working with an agent that understands what other buyers are concerned about may help you in your decision.  We know what future objections will be for your home and if you should pay less because of that.

The last thing you want to do is overpay for a home now that you’ll have to take less for down the road when you decide to sell.  Talk to one of our experienced buyer agents on the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty 239-489-4042 and you’ll see what we’re talking about.  Or, you can search the MLS like a pro for Free at www.LeeCountyOnline.com

If you’re selling, you need a Realtor that listens to what your goals are and has solutions to help you attain them.  Anybody can give your house away.  A great Realtor prices the home at market value and then markets it.  By the way, marketing is not simply putting a sign out in the yard and placing it on hundreds of various websites.  Anybody can do that.  Marketing is so much more, and very few Realtors do it. Lee County Florida home sales were down 6.8% in April, so marketing matters.

If you’re thinking of selling, or maybe you tried to sell and it didn’t work out, give Sande or Brett Ellis a call at 239-489-4042 Ext 4. We’ll show you how to price it at market and get Top Dollar because it was marketed correctly.  There is a difference.  All Realtors do not work the same!

Find out what your home is worth for Free at www.SWFLhomevalues.com then call us to talk about strategies.  We love it when a plan comes together!  We’ll help you with your plan.

Please Vote For us!  Vote the Ellis Team as Best Real Estate Team and Best Real Estate Agency in Fort Myers.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

 

The latest news release from Florida Realtors show Lee County Florida home sales down 6.8% in April but still up from 2016 and 2017 levels.  We are seeing increasing inventory and time on the market, and home prices are flat.  Total dollar volume of sales was down 12.3%, so we’re definitely experiencing a shifting market.

Lee County Florida April Home Sales Down 6.8%
Lee County Florida April 2019 Home Sales Down 6.8%

How you look at the market might just depend on your expectations.  If you look at it over the last 4 years, this is the 2nd highest rated market.  You can also look at it as down versus last year, and the fundamentals propelling the market are down as well.

So where do we go from here?  A lot of that will depend on the economy, interest rates, and consumer sentiment.  Right now, consumer confidence is fairly strong.  Interest rates have declined, and the economy is doing well.  The wild cards right now are the trade wars and their effects on the overall economy moving forward.

Trade between Mexico and Canada has a chance at improving significantly depending on if congress passes the latest revision to NAFTA.  Trade with China has the potential to increase drastically or go South in a hurry.  Long term it’s in our best interests to hold tight, but there is pressure on farmers and retail to wrap it up sooner rather than later.  There could be long-term winners and short-term losers in that deal.

We don’t control what happens in the future.  What we know is many want to buy here, and many want to sell.  As in any market, the trick is pricing homes at today’s market and then marketing the home so as many prospects as possible see it.

One of the best websites to search for properties is www.LeeCountyOnline.com  It’s great because it’s updated in real-time and includes all the listings.  Additionally, there are neighborhood market reports, so buyers and sellers can get an idea of what’s going on at the neighborhood level too.

Memorial Day weekend is a great weekend to enjoy the outdoors.  It’s going to be hot.  Perhaps you’re looking to purchase a home with a big back yard so you can entertain friends and family, play games, and enjoy some BBQ on the grill.  Perhaps you’re looking for a pool home in this hot weather.  Or you’re looking for a waterfront home or condo so you can go out on the boat right from your back yard.  We’ve got it all on our website.

And if you’re looking to sell, we can give you a free online estimate of your home’s value.  Simply go to www.SWFLhomevaues.com and it will show you instantly.  Or call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4  Many buyers need to sell their home first, and that’s where we can help.  We can time it, so we sell your home and find you a property to purchase as well.  All this takes coordination with the lender, title company, and the next home you’re purchasing.  We handle all the details for you so you can enjoy the process.

So, this weekend go out and enjoy the outdoors.  When you’ve had enough sun and heat, check out our websites and search for the next home that will meet your needs better.  We’ve even got boat clubs we can recommend, which might save you some money.  Some buyers elect to go this route and not buy a waterfront home and still enjoy the fabulous boating we have here in SW Florida.  Others want that boat right at their house.  Either way, we can help.

Stay safe, enjoy the weekend, and Happy House Hunting!

Ellis Team Weekend Open Houses

Open House Saturday 1-4 PM

1742 Ardmore Rd

$273,240

Edison Park Home

Open House Sunday 12-3 PM

3681 Gloxinia Dr

$225,000

Sabal Springs Home on Private Lot

Open House Sunday 1-4 PM

914 El Dorado Pkwy E

$925,000

Cape Coral Waterfront Open House

Open House Sunday 1-4 PM

14528 Aeries Way

$450,000

Eagle Ridge Home on Private Lot

 

Remember all that talk about rising rates in 2019 and how it would impact buyers and sellers?  Rising rates absolutely impacted buyers in 2018 in a negative way, but we’ve gotten a reprieve of sorts in 2019 for various reasons.  The US-China trade war benefits home buyers and sellers, and we’ll explain how.

US-China Trade War Benefits Home Buyers and Sellers

Rates slipped back in the 1st quarter of 2019 because economic conditions didn’t warrant rising rates, and because inflation had been tame.  Back in April we wrote about rate drops as everyone speculated how long they might last. Rates are affected by economic news and wildcards, and a wildcard just happened.

As soon as China announced retaliatory tariffs on the US last Monday there was a flight to quality, which means investors put money into the safety of 10-year US treasury notes.  This drove the yield curve down quickly.  As we know, most 30-year mortgages are pegged to the US 10-year Treasury note so this trade war became an instant boom to buyers and sellers.

How long will this window last?  Your guess is as good as anybody’s.  If the trade war becomes protracted, it could lead to inflation as goods and services become more expensive.  Or perhaps companies will find suppliers in other countries and the effects will be minimal.  Because this could cause a global slowdown, it could tame inflation worldwide.

Some have suggested the US could devalue the dollar which would help trade imbalances and really put pressure on China.  To do this we could lower interest rates.  There are a lot of strategies in play right now, and nobody can predict what will happen with certainty.

Our best advice would be taking advantage of the low rates while they last.  They could be here for a little while or they could vanish like a blip on a radar screen.  With rates around 4%, buyers’ purchasing power is about 11% more than it was last year.  This opens more buyers for each home, and let’s buyers stretch higher if they need to.

Lower rates should also help the housing market.  Last year there was downward pressure on prices because of rising rates.  With rates lower again that pressure has abated.  Job growth has been stellar, so if rates stay this low, we could have a pretty good run with increasing home sales.

We’re not sure buyers understand the opportunity they have right now.  Sellers have the same opportunity, because when they sell, they usually buy another property.  Those sellers that sell and buy now will save big money on their next mortgage, if they act soon enough.

We’re not trying to be the expert and tell you how long this will last.  We are telling you there is an opportunity for those in a position to take advantage.  Borrowing costs can make a huge difference in the long-term success of your financial well-being.

There is more inventory for buyers now.  Many sellers couldn’t sell before because there was no place for them to go.  That may not be the case now.  Go to www.LeeCountyOnline.com and look around.  You’ll see more homes on the market than last year, and there are some excellent buys if you know where to look.

This website allows you to see all the homes on MLS in real-time.  No more waiting for days or weeks for new listings to appear on those other sites.  If a seller reduces their price, you’ll be the first to know.  Our website produces listings in real-time so you have a definite advantage.  The best listings go before they even hit those other websites, so you can beat out other buyers to hot new listings.

Our agents are out showing daily, so we know the best homes.  Give our agents a call at 239-489-4042 and we’ll be glad to help you.  If you have a home to sell, ask for Sande or Brett Ellis.

Let’s find you your next home before rates go up again.  We’ve got a window.  All we know is it’s open.  We don’t know for how long.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

Which is more valuable, your home or your data?  iBuyer Programs Steal Your Home and Your Data so let’s investigate what an iBuyer program is and what its goals are.

iBuyer Programs Steal Your Home and Your Data

iBuyer programs offer an easy button to sell a home, with a catch.  These are investors looking to scoop up homes at a large discount.  Essentially you sell your home so far below market value it becomes lucrative for an investor to buy and flip your home.  They make all the profit.  In other words, you’re giving your home equity over to them.

iBuyer programs are nothing new.  Investors have been posting those pesky road signs all over the place offering to pay cash for your home or buy ugly houses for decades.  Today’s iBuyer program is different, because they have another motive.  They want your data.

iBuyer programs realize once people see their offer then subtract fees, closing costs, and repairs after their inspections, over 90% of sellers become disgusted and turn them down.  By then, it’s too late.  They’ve captured all your data.  They sell that data and make millions.  Their goal is to make billions.

Here’s how it works.  First, you get an offer.  It’ll be low, perhaps 10% or more below market value.  It gets even better.  They tack on fees, typically in the 5-7.5% range.  Then they add closing costs in the 2-3% range.  Then they do inspections, because up until this point they haven’t even seen your home.  It’s all been done using data points and algorithms.  The report comes back, and they decide you need $15,000 in repairs plus your kitchen needs updating, so tack on another $20,000.  At this point, the seller is furious.

The seller says no, and the deal is off.  The iBuyer program knows how much you owe on the home, how old your roof, appliances and air conditioner are, what improvements are needed to the home, where you’ll be moving once you sell, and much more.  How? Because you answered their questions to continue through the process.  You didn’t like the ending, but you were curious through the process to see what number they would give you.  They had you at hello.

So, you say, “I’ll sell my home with a broker and keep the profit yourself.”  That’s ok, because they refer you to “top brokers” in the area.  You guessed it; they collect a referral fee from agents they recommend.  They may not be the best agents, but surely, they are agents paying them a fee.

Have you seen ads on TV promising to find the best agents in your neighborhood?  HomeLight is one that comes to mind, and they are also an iBuyer.  Contractors, remodelers, home improvement stores would all be interested in the age of your appliances, or what your kitchen and baths look like.  Same with flooring.  Now they have pictures, because you guessed it, the inspector took pictures during the inspection period.

Outside mortgage companies have your info too because they bought your data.  They know your phone number, email address, how much you owe, where you’re going, and more.  The simple offer you were curious to get has become a treasure trove of data.

If you sell your home to the iBuyer, they win big.  If you refuse to sell, they still win big.  The only loser is the poor seller who was just curious to use the easy button and sell their home if the price was right.

Keller Williams is coming out with an iBuyer program to prevent this.  We have no intention of selling the data.  We’re not going to refer it out to other agents.  If the seller doesn’t like the cash offer, they’ll use one of our agents to get full market value.  We have our own mortgage company that offers a zero-lending fee loan.  So, we’re not selling to other mortgage companies.  We’re not selling to contractors or home improvement stores.  We simply want to provide the iBuyer option so people don’t go to other places that will sell your data.

Our program is rolling out to 8 markets this year and more after that.  If you’re thinking of selling your home and want full market value, Always Call the Ellis Team at Keller Williams Realty Fort Myers & the Islands 239-489-4042 Ext 4 or visit www.SWFLhomevalues.com

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The number one question real estate agents get asked is “How is the market?”  Often, people wish to know what it means, and how we’re doing against other parts of the state, especially nearby counties.  Today we’ll look at Fort Myers-Cape Coral home sales versus Naples and Florida real estate sales to get an idea.

Fort Myers-Cape Coral Home Sales Versus Naples and Florida Real Estate Sales

In March, Florida home sales were unchanged and median prices were up 2% over last year.  Year to date numbers tell a similar story.  In Fort Myers-Cape Coral, home sales were down 4.4% in March while median prices were down 3.7%.  These are continued signs of a shift occurring in our market.  Year to date numbers show home sales down 8.5% while median prices rising 1.4%, but we think median prices will reflect lower numbers going forward.

Naples homes sales were down .4% in March while median home prices were down 7.9%.  Year to date numbers show closed sales up 1.1% and median prices down 7.7%

Because these numbers reflect year over year numbers, many customers, and agents alike don’t understand what’s been going on in the market.  When a market begins to shift, it takes up to a year for people to see it in the numbers, even though the trend has shifted.

Market Shift

For instance, the Fort Myers-Cape Coral market began shifting last Fall, but because we compare year over year numbers people didn’t see the negative numbers until now.  Agents felt it as sales slowed and listings began to expire.  Seasoned agents knew and adjusted.  The sellers that listened to their seasoned agents got out and the ones that didn’t listen, or weren’t working with a seasoned agent who’d been through a shift before could still be on the market or expired.

Perhaps we’ll do another story about invisible inventory.  Invisible inventory refers to the old saying that if your home is priced over the market then it’s not really on the market.  It’s overpriced and won’t sell.  It’s invisible to buyers because it’s attracting the wrong buyers.

So, what are sellers to do in a shifting market?  They could wait it out.  Some sellers decide to wait a few years until the market recovers to a price they like.  The thing about that is they miss out on low interest rates today if they’re financing their next home.  And, while they wait for their home to go up in value, their next home is probably going up too, so they don’t gain anything, only lose.

Sellers could try to sell themselves and save the commission.  This rarely works out as only 4% of lookers can actually buy now.  We have a free report on how to sell your home without an agent should you like to try.  It’s packed with helpful tips, so just email me and let me know Brett@topagent.com

Sellers could try a discount broker.  Problem is, you can’t save your way out of a shift.  I can’t tell you how many homes we’ve listed and sold after a seller has tried the discount route.  You might as well try it yourself than pay an agent for little to no service.

Marketing Matters

Marketing matters now more than ever.  Like we’ve said, just listing a home on 100 websites isn’t marketing.  We have a database of thousands of buyers because we market so much.  Call us and we can see if we have a buyer right now looking in your neighborhood.  Chances are we do, and we can do an instant search to see who they are.  If not, our marketing creates buyers specifically for our listings.  Let us show you how we use cutting edge technology and marketing muscle to market your home.

Call Brett or Sande Ellis 239-489-4042 Ext 4 You’ll be glad you did.  Or go online www.SWFLhomevalues.com to get an instant estimate of your home’s value.

Good luck and Happy Selling!