By Stephanie Sims
What do agents wish for, besides a perfect housing market, credit rules back to normal as opposed to stringent and world peace? Here are a few Chicagoland agents’ wish lists. If we work together to fix the industry, maybe some of these wishes will eventually come true.
The most important thing I wish would be true is for the consumer overall to understand the difference between information and knowledge. There is so much info out there now, and the consumer is more empowered now than ever with information – but that doesn’t mean they have the knowledge to apply to every scenario. They’re not making the best choices they could make. I have to do tough love listing appointments where I have to be almost aggressive because they’re not right, they just have information – but they think they are right.
I wish bank-owned properties were valued differently. Right now, bank-owned properties are listed 50 percent of the time with agents who don’t know how to do REO sales. Before these were normal, certain brokers specialized REOs, and that was their niche. Now, I understand people from the south side are assigned properties in St. Charles, and they underprice it because they don’t know St. Charles. The banks don’t always choose an area specialist, and in this day and age, it wouldn’t take long to find the top agents in the area. I also wish the banks would take the highest offer on REO properties. I understand their theory in taking low prices, but when these properties are already priced low and then the banks take offers that are 25 to 30 percent less, how is that stabilizing value?
I wish Realtors would change their language and the way they speak about real estate with the general public. People are looking to us for knowledge and direction. Over and over again, when Realtors run into people at Target or the gas station and are asked, ‘Hey how are you doing?’ they want to talk about their deal from hell instead of plusses in the market. With every challenge there’s opportunity – we could really bring market back. Trying to find positives isn’t misleading the customer, but just collectively being conscious about how we are speaking. We should speak about the pros of the market. For instance, it’s a great time to buy!
Tamara O’Connor, Premier Living Properties
I wish there were more government incentive programs that are not only attractive to first-time homebuyers, but also to move-up or move-down buyers. For first-time homebuyers, there was a $15,000 tax credit. The government used to have a tax credit for secondary homebuyers, but they took it out and left just the first-time buyers incentive. There’s no incentive for someone who’s losing money on a home to sell.
As far as short sales and foreclosures go, it would be helpful to sellers as well as buyers if there were specific plans and timeframes in place for lender response and procedures. Sometimes we present four or five contracts and the banks take 60 days to get back to us. Foreclosing on a home doesn’t get rid of bad debt, and buyers don’t want to hang around and wait for the bank’s response. It’s a lose-lose situation for the seller. In addition, inventory is big – there are so many foreclosures and short sales on the market. I wish lenders would respond within an appropriate time frame because appraisers use these properties in reports, and they pull property values down.
Jeff Binkowski, Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell
There seems to be a really big disconnect between banks and agents who are trying to sell foreclosures and short sales. Sellers reap some benefits because the transaction shows ‘settled’ rather than ‘foreclosed,’ so they have a chance to rebuild their credit a bit quicker, but the banks take up to six months or longer to approve offers. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they’re overwhelmed by the number of short sales – paperwork can sometimes be 40 to 50 pages long, and if something is missing from that, they’ll literally set it aside. In the meantime, buyers walk away from properties or properties decline in value more. I’d love to see more communication between the banks and agents.
Also, I wish agents would be nice to each other. It seems like everyone is so frustrated. There is a tremendous amount of tension when negotiating any deal, and it can be a long time before there’s any cooperation from the other side. And something I wish wasn’t true: buyers believing they can make an offer for half the list price and sellers believing their home is still at what it was valued three years ago. I wish they’d look at the data we provide!
Alicia Fedro, Prudential Starck
I have a simple wish list that starts with streamlining the short sale process. If we could get that going, it’d dramatically help prices turn around. The whole reason short sales are discounted are because it’s such a long process. In addition, the banks could do a better job of agents used for REO sales. In my experience, that’s not always case, but I can think of examples where I’ll call a company with hundreds of listings, and can’t get in touch with a live person, and can’t get a response in a decent amount of time.
I also wish for industry-specific apps for signing documents on a tablet or iPad. There are apps out there, but not necessarily real estate-specific. If we could stay on the game and create apps for agents to use when out in field with buyers, that’d be on my wish list. Of course, I’d like an iPad 2 for my business – that’s on my own wish list.
Mike Long, Long Realty