Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can a Professional Photographer Sell my House?

Okay, so you're ready to put your home on the market, you have cleaned, painted, repaired, landscaped, staged and have your home looking downright perfect!  As you interview the prospective REALTORS® one states that they will have a photographer come out and photograph your home.  They tell you that visually, this is what is needed to really make your listing standout online.  You think to yourself, "self - that sounds hard to argue with" so you hire that agent and their brokerage and then....wait - and then... wait - and then...well, you get the idea.  You notice that your listing is online, but there are no photos - and since this is such a popular service, you have to wait for up to 14 days before the photographer can get to your home.  Meanwhile, in listing land, numerous buyers have passed up your listing, quite possibly never to return, because you have no photos.  When was the last time you bought a pair of boots online with no idea of what they looked like?  Right, me too.

So, how do you avoid this?  Simply, make sure your agent does not put your listing in until all photos are taken and approved by you, for one.  But there is more at work here that you need to be aware of.  Are these "Photographers" really photographers?  Or are they just someone that was hired to take photos?  In my experience with professional photographers - well, they're expensive.  They kind of need to be since one of those little cameras can cost upwards of $10,000 - not to mention the lenses, the lighting, the stands, the training, and the trade organizations.  Yes, that's right, just like REALTORS® Photographers have organizations that they belong to.  They are not required to belong to them, but much like Home Inspectors, I don't know that you would want to hire one that wasn't a member.  My point, make sure you know what you are getting.

There are, for example, the Professional Photographers of America, the American Society of Media Photographers, or more locally, the Professional Photographers of Ohio.  While membership to these organizations is not mandatory, it at least tells you that this photographer is serious - these things cost money after all.  Your first question when bringing this up should probably be to see the photographer's resume and go from there.  Also, question if they have liability insurance, and ask to see it.  If they're coming into your home, lugging equipment around, you want to know they have coverage before they knock over that gargoyle fountain your mother-in-law gave you as a wedding gift. *ahem*

Most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, do NOT put your listing in the MLS or online, without having images to go along with it!  No one will look at it, in fact they will say, "clearly something is wrong with that one.  There must be a reason the seller doesn't want to show anyone what the house looks like".  Trust me - that's what they're saying.  So while a professional photographer is great, do you really need one?  With camera technology today, most agents can take pretty good photos of your home and property.  Just make sure that they do and that they get them online when the listing goes active!  Otherwise, what are you selling?

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Long Does It Take To Sell My Home In Cincinnati?

If you are a number cruncher - you are going to like today's post.  Looking at some early numbers from the Great Cincinnati Multiple Listing Service we can determine what our Absorption Rate is, (Absorption Rate is the time it will take to sell the current amount of inventory based on current sales activity).  Based on these early numbers from our MLS, we can determine how many months it will take to sell all the homes currently listed for sale by REALTORS®.  It is important to note, that inventory numbers can go up or down at any time, which is why it is important to review these numbers month to month.

Why, you ask?  Well, it's that math that you swore you would never have to use, and it helps us to determine trends in the market.  The numbers I've looked at are for the overall market in Cincinnati, so while it gives us a snapshot of homes for sale in Cincinnati, it is a view from 10,000 feet - so to speak.

For these calculations I'm looking at Residential Sales, or Single Family Homes and Condos specifically.  So far in 2010 we have sold 12,144 of these.  That's 1,518 properties sold per month on Average.  Taking into account our current number of Homes for Sale of 14,985 it will take us 9.87 months to sell through the current level of inventory.  At the end of July, 2010 we were looking at over 12 months worth of Inventory.  In the past month or so, we have seen a decline of homes for sale - folks taking their homes off the market, less inventory, lower absorption rate.  But I believe this number will climb to much higher than 12 months by the end of the year.

Now, some perspective on that 9+months:
According to the National Association of REALTORS®  a 6 month supply is considered a "balanced market", or one where there are an equal number of properties for sale as there are buyers.  This type of market would show a stabilization of home prices as well as Days On Market.  Over 6 months is considered a "Buyer's Market", essentially inventory is high compared to the number of buyers.  In this type of market; like we're in now, we typically see declining prices and longer times for homes to sell.  Under 6 months is considered, yep you guessed it, a Seller's Market.  We experienced that in the 90's up until about 2006.  You remember, homes selling so fast it would make your head spin, bidding wars, buy a house now at $150,000 to sell it two years later at $200,000.  Allowing home owners to pull equity out of their homes and now that home is worth $125,000 - which makes it difficult to sell.

This makes pricing your home even more important!  Take the time to plan ahead and have your REALTOR® calculate the Absorption Rate for your specific area.  Real Estate is Local - in fact it's Hyper-Local.  Prices and rates between local school districts and even neighborhoods can vary greatly.  If you want the facts - ask a REALTOR® - HEY ask me!