What to Expect – Luxury Home Lifestyle Videos

When it comes to selling luxury homes, we believe videos should communicate the lifestyle – not just take you on a tour of the property.

Luxury Home Lifestyle Videos

Luxury home marketing needs to be reengineered to highlight lifestyle benefits rather than sterile features.  Here are a couple of examples we have found that illustrate what we mean by “lifestyle” focused. Most videos we see being used to sell homes show empty houses from various angles. The best real estate agents even use drones to capture aerial views and fly over the property to give the buyers a holistic perspective. However, for your property to really grab the emotional heart strings and stand out from the rest, the viewer will need to feel something.

This video shows the property from an owner’s perspective

This video shows the property from a cocktail party perspective

If your home is on the market and you are not satisfied with your marketing, you do have a choice. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth!

Special thanks to Diane Kink and The Kink Team, our partners in The Woodlands just north of Houston, TX. If you or someone you know is making a move in that area, let us connect you to Diane and her team! Contact us at 404-939-3202 or email us at Michael@BunchRealEstateGroup.com

We Need Your Recommendation!

As you might imagine, our industry is HIGHLY competitive!

We Need Your RecommendationYour recommendation would really help us out 🙂  As consumers, we use online reviews for everything these days and real estate is no exception. People want fresh proof that others are pleased with the services they are considering. That is why we need your recommendation and the Zillow online reviews are one of the most popular places for consumers to look. On behalf of all of us at The Bunch Real Estate Group, I would like to say a HUGE Thanks in advance!

The Process is Easy ( PLUS there is a reward just for submitting a review)

Just Click on the image below to get started. And yes, 5 stars is always the best answer. However, we are all suspicious and a bit cynical when it comes to reviews. So please just be truthful and tell your story in your own words.  [See some of our past reviews]

Review Us on Zillow

Why offer a reward?

You have to prove you are a human being to submit a review and that takes a couple of steps at the end to create an account (unless you are a Zillow frequent flyer with a username and password already). So, to motivate you to get you over this minor inconvenience we would like to treat you to a coffee break to rest up after your writing labors. As soon as your review is cleared and posted, we will dash to the post office and happily drop your gift card in the mail!!

Oh, and they will make you promise to be nice… (yes, Zillow does screen these before they hit the world wide web)

Review Us on Zillow

Thank you again!

Are You Choking on your Fulton County Property Tax Increase?

Are You Choking on your Fulton County Property Tax Increase? Then, the following information may be very helpful.

Choking on your Fulton County Property Tax Increase

Many homeowners have received notices that their taxes jumped 20-30% this year. This news can be quite a shock! Even so, the assessed value of many homes is still lagging way behind true market value and has been for years.  So, the big question is “why this year?” Well, if you listen to the news the Case-Shiller Home Price Index for Atlanta is trending upward at an 8-10% rate, annually – so that could account for part of it. The NEXT question will probably be “who can I talk to about this?”  Answer: Someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about the people and the process. Below is a wealth of information we received recently from an interview with Jack Florek who consults on tax appeals in Fulton County, Georgia.

Please bear in mind that the staff at the Board of Tax Assessors are just trying to do their job.

That said, you still need to advocate for your best interests and exercise your rights. In recent years, Jack says he has helped homeowners achieve tax reductions of 15-20%.  He also recommends an appeal for no other reason that to ‘freeze’ the value of your property and the corresponding taxes for 3 years. Jack is available to calculate a realistic Fair Market Value Estimate for your appeal, prepare everything you need to justify the reduction and then prepare you for the hearing. He will even represent you at the Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing if you are unable to attend. His fee is $40/hour and the process normally runs 6-7 hours plus $80 for representation at the BOE hearing.

Want more info? You can reach Jack Florek via 404-844-7131 or his email at reduceyourpropertytaxga@gmail.com

OR, To sign-up, click on this link.


In Fulton County, Atlanta Georgia, the final day

for filing an appeal is July 20th.


Fulton County Property Tax appeal rules

The Board of Equalization (BOE) is charged by the O.C.G.A. §48-5-311 to hear appeals of property tax matters that include:

  • Value – What the property would sell for in a transaction between a knowledgeable buyer and a willing seller in a bone fide arm’s length transaction.
  • Uniformity of value – Assessment values that are fairly equalized between individual taxpayers.
  • Taxability – All real property and all personal property shall be liable to taxation and shall be taxed, except as otherwise provided by law.
  • Denial of homestead exemptions – The homestead of each resident of this state actually occupied by the owner as primary residence and homestead shall be exempted from all ad valorem taxation for the state, county, and school purposes.
  • Denial of special assessments – Georgia law provides for special assessments of certain types of property such as, property used for agricultural purposes (conservation use, agricultural preferential), rehabilitated and landmark historic properties, contaminated property (also known as Brownfields), certain environmentally sensitive property and storm water/wetlands.

Appeals

Property owners who filed an appeal to the Board of Tax Assessors within 45 days of the postmark date on their assessment notice are called an Appellant. The appeal is reviewed by the Board of Tax Assessors and if the Board’s decision is a “no change,” the appeal is forwarded to the Board of Equalization.

Hearings

Appellants (people who filed an appeal) will receive a notice of the date and time of the scheduled hearing. All appeal hearings are held at 141 Pryor Street, Suite 5001 located on the fifth floor of the Government Center. The Board of Equalization is comprised of property owners appointed by the Grand Jury of this county. In addition to being property owners, the appointees to the Board of Equalization (BOE) must also be qualified and competent to serve as grand jurors and be high school graduates. Each member must satisfactorily complete 40 hours of certified training before he or she can participate as a member of the Board. Each member must also complete an eight (8) hour continuous education class annually. To reschedule your hearing you must notify the Board of Equalization Office a minimum of 24 hours in advance of your scheduled hearing at (404) 613-7792. To withdraw your hearing you must notify this office in writing a minimum of 24 hours in advance of your scheduled hearing.

Attendance

An Appellant may appear before the Board of Equalization or with a representative or authorize a representative to represent him/her in their absence. However, the taxpayer shall specify in writing to the Board of Equalization the name of such agent or representative prior to any appearance by the agent or representative before the Board.

Evidence

Documentation you may consider presenting to the Board of Equalization may include: Evidence of purchase price; Appraisals; Photographs of the interior, exterior, and surrounding area; Evidence of sale Prices; Comparable property values in your area (Typically, ONLY information from the prior calendar year qualifies).

Superior Court

The Appellant or the County Board of Tax Assessors may appeal decisions of the Board of Equalization. The notice of appeal shall be filed within 30 days from the date on which the BOE decision was mailed. The appeal to Superior Court is a jury trial and Appellant may wish to consider engaging an attorney. The appeal must be filed with the Board of Tax Assessors by the owner or his/her attorney. If anyone has any questions concerning an appeal or wants additional information about the Board of Equalization you may contact the office at (404) 613-7792.

Board of Equalization (BOE)

Melvin B. Richardson became the Director of the Board of Equalization Office in October, 2009. As the Director Melvin is responsible for the administration of policy development, operational management, and analytical reporting of the adjudication of all certified appeals. The Board of Equalization is governed by Georgia Statute O.C.G.A § 48-5-311 which requires fair and impartial appeal hearings to property owners regarding disputed assessment valuations issued by The Board of Tax Assessors in the annual Tax Digest.

Fulton County
Board of Equalization
141 Pryor Street, Suite 5001
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 613-7792

Thumbnail info from the Fulton County Chief Appraiser and the Director of the Board of Equalization (BOE) at the Property Tax Town Hall hosted by Commissioner Lee Morris on June 24th:

Chief Appraiser:

  • Has over 45 full-time appraisers working for him.
  • Has 349,000 residential properties to assess each year.
  • Has 22,000 commercial properties to assess each year.
  • His appraisers use a software package called CAMA. Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) . (system contains ‘Models’ that characterize like properties such as type (e.g. Ranch, Colonial, Craftsman, etc.), bedrooms, baths, square footage, construction material, type of garage, etc.) [Note-1}
  • Fair Market Value is computed based on above category models and complex algorithm. [Note-2]
  • No physical audit of the entire 349,000 residential inventory since 1995. [Note-3]
  • Going forward, they plan to use aerial imagery from Pictometry to look at your property. [Note-4]
  • He does not have control of the BOE process.

Director of the Board of Equalization (BOE):

  • Has enough trained people to make up 13 Boards. (see below)
  • Averages 8 Boards per day [Note-5]
  • Boards adjudicate Fair Market Value appeals and denied Exemption appeals.
  • He described what to bring to the Board to make an argument for your Fair Market Value.
  • His Boards are funded by the judicial office of Fulton County, not the Board of Assessors.

The Board of Equalization is comprised of property owners appointed by the Grand Jury of this county. In addition to being property owners, the appointees to the Board of Equalization (BOE) must also be qualified and competent to serve as grand jurors and be high school graduates. Each member must satisfactorily complete 40 hours of certified training before he or she can participate as a member of the Board. Each member must also complete an eight (8) hour continuous education class annually.

Note:

  1. Potential for error is large. Both in terms of record accuracy, data entry error and appraiser understanding of the algorithms in their sophisticated software package. http://www.msgovern.com/software/detail/govern_cama/
  2. The current data base falls short of ALL the possible number of models that exist.
  3. No physical audit of the entire 349,000 residential inventory since the 1990’s.
  4. Time to hide that swimming pool or patio or gazebo you had installed without a permit.
  5. Potential cases heard per year = 23,040 (8 boards x 12 sessions/day x 240 days/year; assuming no cancellations)

Want more info? You can reach Jack Florek via 404-844-7131 or his email at reduceyourpropertytaxga@gmail.com

Living in Chastain Park

Living in Chastain Park is an experience that is hard to describe. And yet, it’s a neighborhood people rarely want to move out of and here are some reasons why…

Chastain Park

North Fulton Golf Course

Chastain Park as a neighborhood is a collection of around 1500 homes that surround the park. The park holds a wide range of amenities with the North Fulton public golf course being the largest landmark in the middle. As you can see in the map below, Chastain Park is located inside the I-285 “perimeter” interstate loop just north of Buckhead.

Chastain Park

Want a bird’s eye perspective? Click on the photo below

Chastain Park Bird's Eye View


Real Estate:

Single family home prices in 2015 ranged from $425,000 up to $8,900,000 with the average sale price in Chastain Park currently running around $1.1M. To put that in perspective, the figure below shows the Median Home Sale Prices in each MLS area in the Metro Atlanta marketplace. Chastain Park straddles the boundary of Areas 21 & 132 (dark green in the figure below). Here is a quick link to view the homes currently listed for sale in Chastain Park.

If you have a Pinterest account, you can view sample home styles and neighborhood photos on our Chastain Park Pinterest Board.

Chastain Park


Amenities:

Chastain Park has one of the most diverse mixture of amenities of an park in the Atlanta. Below are photos of some of the primary venues.

Chastain Park

Chastain Park has wonderful wide concrete walking pathways around the perimeter.

Thanks to the Atlanta PATH foundation, concrete pathways were constructed around Chastain Park and today they are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Chastain Park PATH

Chastain Park Trail Map

Click map above for more info on The PATH Foundation

For more information and a trail map, click here. There are multiple loops winding around the park venues and mileages are marked for those with distance walking goals. Public parking is limited to the north part of the park and can be found primarily along West Wieuca Rd and in parking lots by the Chastain Horse Park.

The path is widely used at all times of the day with the flattest sections being along West Wieuca Dr and Lake Forrest Drive. The topography is rolling along Powers Ferry Rd on the left (western) side and there really are just a couple of steep sections.

The Chastain Park outdoor amphitheater hosts a wonderful blend of artists during the summer concert events. Check out the concert line up!

One of the most magical parts of attending a concert at Chastain Park is the picnic atmosphere. Pack as much as you want to haul and make it as fancy as you want. For most concerts there are reserved seating tables for six down front. It is very common to see candles, silverware, wine glasses and gourmet dishes as patrons unwind under the stars.

Living in Chastain Park

The ballfields host baseball and fastpitch softball teams in the spring and then convert over for football and baseball teams in the fall.

The ballfields and gym are managed by the Northside Youth Organization (NYO) which has provided team sport experiences for countless young people over the years. Click on the link above to check out all of the sports opportunities available at the park!

Living in Chastain Park

The Chastain Park Gym

Chastain Park Gym

The Chastain Park pool is operated through a public/private partnership with the Chastain Park Athletic Club.

It is also home to the 2014 ASA Champions Chastain Park Tidal Waves! As a public facility, residents of Atlanta can swim for FREE during certain hours daily.  Click here for full details and hours of operation.

Chastain Park Pool

Chastain Park Tennis Center

The Chastain Park Tennis Center features 9 hard surface lighted courts and is home to some 40 USTA & ALTA teams. Activities through Universal Tennis Academy are going on constantly thru Chastain’s MeetUp app.

Chastain Park Tennis Center

Chastain Horse Park

As one of the premiere equestrian facilities in the area, the Chastain Horse Park provides riding lessons and boarding along with therapeutic riding programs. The facility also provides event space for lease and pony parties for birthdays.

Chastain Horse Park

The Chastain Park Playground

The Chastain Park playground is nestled under the big oak trees between West Wieuca and Park Drive.

Chastain Park Playground

planned expansion is underway to more than double the size of the current footprint and add bathrooms.Play Chastain

Chastain Arts Center

The Chastain Arts Center provides a wide range programs, camps and exhibits available to the general public.

Chastain Arts Center

Another park venue is American Legion Post 140 which is tucked in the south corner of Chastain Park overlooking the path.  It is also available to rent for parties.

American Legion Post 140

If you or someone you know is considering a move to Chastain Park, contact us today.  We are working daily remain the local expert real estate expert and the best resource for Buyers and Sellers in the Chastain Park neighborhood.

Email us at michael@bunchrealestategroup.com

Visit Us at ChastainPark.info

Follow us on: Pinterest and Facebook.

 

What to Expect – Contract Deadlines

Here’s What to Expect with the Contract Deadlines

Contract Deadlines

Deadlines drive the process once the contract is Accepted and Binding. The above dates are typical milestones in the home buying process. If you are the Buyer, this is YOUR show and your team needs to hit their marks so your Earnest Money is not put at risk. The explanations below have been prepared based on the 2015 version of the Georgia Association of Realtors (GAR) residential real estate contract forms.

Deadlines, Days and Times of Day

  • Offers have Time Limits – Contracts have Deadlines.
  • Contract Deadlines are measured in Days – which end at midnight.
  • Contract Days are Calendar Days unless otherwise specified in a Special Stipulation. Business Days are very hard to define.

Binding Agreement Date:

The Binding Agreement Date is the date when an offering party receives written confirmation of the other party’s total acceptance of the presented offer terms with no changes.  The keys here are:

  • Written Confirmation
  • Total Acceptance with NO CHANGES

If anyone is making changes, you are still in the counter offer process. Until there is a set of offer terms that gets accepted by the other party without change AND within the Time Limit of Offer, there cannot be an Accepted Contract. Once this happens, that Accepted Contract becomes Binding when both Buyer and Seller have copies of the final accepted terms and the last person to receive their copy writes in the Binding Agreement Date. The Acceptance Date and the Binding Agreement Date do NOT have to be the same day.

The Binding Agreement Date is Day 0 (zero). In order to give specific Contract Deadlines, we will assume the Binding Agreement Date is the 2nd.

Date Earnest Money is Due:

This date is typically specified as a certain number of days from the Binding Agreement Date. If this number is 2 days, then the Earnest Money is due before midnight on the 4th. Failure to provide this could constitute Default.

Source of Funds is Due:

This date is typically specified as a certain number of days from the Binding Agreement Date. If this number is 5 days, then the Earnest Money is due before midnight on the 7th.Failure to provide this could constitute Default.

Due Diligence Period Ends:

This date is specified as a certain number of days from the Binding Agreement Date. If this number is 10 days, then the Due Diligence Period expires at midnight on the 12th. So, what happens at 12:01am on the 13th? The Buyer is deemed to have accepted the property “as-is” AUTOMATICALLY. This means there will be inspections, negotiations and contractor estimates going on prior to this deadline to come to an agreement regarding property condition. If no agreement is reached prior to the expiration if the Due Diligence Period, the Buyer can either send Seller written notice of termination or be willing to accept the property “as is” (in which case the Buyer does not need to take any action).

In builder and relocation contracts, this process will probably be different. Check the specific language in your contract.

Appraisal Contingency Ends:

This date is specified as a certain number of days from the Binding Agreement Date. If this number is 18 days, then the Appraisal Contingency expires at midnight on the 20th. So, what happens at 12:01am on the 21st? The option to ask the seller to reduce the price down to an appraised amount lower than the Purchase Price is forfeited. In order to request an adjusted Purchase Price from the Seller as a result of the appraisal, a written amendment making such request must be submitted to the Seller along with the appraisal PRIOR to the deadline.

If you are the Buyer, make sure your lender gets the appraisal back in time to submit an amendment to the Seller if necessary. The Seller does not have to grant an extension and you do not want to be forced to beg for one.

Financing Contingency Ends:

This date is specified as a certain number of days from the Binding Agreement Date. If this number is 21 days, then the Appraisal Contingency expires at midnight on the 23rd. So, what happens at 12:01am on the 24th? The option to get out of the contract due to loan denial is forfeited. In order to terminate the contract as a result of loan denial, a written letter citing the reason(s) for loan denial must be received from the Lender and submitted to the Seller PRIOR to the deadline.

If you are the Buyer, make sure your lender gets the loan approval from Underwriting with some time to spare. More importantly, if your loan is going to be denied, make sure your lender issues a complete and conforming loan denial letter BEFORE the deadline so it can be submitted to the Seller. The Seller does not have to grant an extension here and you do not want to be forced to beg for one.

Closing Date:

Closing Dates are not suggestions or “on or before” dates (unless specified as such).  There is language in the contract that allows for an adjustment if the date specified in the contract falls on a weekend or bank holiday (yes, in the heat of the moment this can happen).

Possession Date:

This is usually stated as a specific date or “At Closing” (which is a date and a mutually agreed upon scheduled time).

 

What to Expect – Factors Affecting Resale Value

When it comes to Factors Affecting Resale Value – Some are obvious; some are not.

Some issues are obvious – some are not. But take heart, there are always clues! And, some depend on price point. One interesting observation we have made over the years is that Agents who work with both Buyers and Sellers have a higher sensitivity to resale issues on the purchase. These agents know the pain first hand from having dealt with resale issues in the past as a Listing Agent. Conversely, an agent who specializes only in Buyer transactions may not weigh the issues below as conservatively.

Factors that DO affect a Home’s Resale Value

Location

  • Corner of Subdivision Entry (noise, privacy)
  • Lots of striping at the neighborhood entry – you KNOW there is a traffic problem when DO NOT BLOCK is written on the street.

Issues that affect resale

  • Corner Lot (lack of privacy)
  • Next Door to Neighborhood Swim/Tennis facility (lights, noise)
  • Next to Neighborhood Detention Pond (maintenance, bugs, unknown, unsightly)
  • Straight ahead at a “T” intersection (headlights at night)
  • Way back in large subdivision you can’t give easy directions to visitors
  • High Tension Powerlines nearby (not talking about older neighborhoods with above ground power lines serving individual houses). High tension powerlines have large metal structures and you can usually hear a slight buzz or crackling when you are close by. Electromagnetic fields (EMF’s for short) are usually the concern and you can find research from both sides. Aesthetically they present a hinderance in real estate even if there is no health danger.
  • Pipeline Easement (you can see these in the field – there are no trees and have plastic markers at street crossings). If you are using an online mapping tool, watch for uniform linear areas where there are no trees like the one running diagonally through the photo below.

 Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.04.08 AM

  • Busy Road with a Double Yellow Line
  • Elementary School District
  • Does the House/Neighborhood need Good Schools?

Lot / Setting

  • Culdevision – A word that describes a small development of perhaps 8 homes on one street with a culdesac
  • Front door threshold is below street level (curb appeal / possible drainage issues)
  • Steep Driveway (less desirable)
  • Landscaping versus other homes currently on the market
  • Unsightly Neighbors and Views
  • Smells (commercial uses, water treatment treatment facilities, paper mills, agricultural areas, etc)

The House Itself

  • Synthetic Stucco (stigma)
  • Split-level style home (hard to renovate and expand; limits buyer pool)
  • Master Bedroom Lower than the front door (odd floor plan)
  • Less Than Three bedrooms on the main floors
  • Walking through the front door and directly looking at a wall
  • Finish-able Basement (Ceiling heights lower than 8ft)
  • Main Level Ceiling heights (Higher the better)
  • Garage (Size vs Price Point)
  • Garage below the main level (Drive Under)
  • Garage Front Entry (vs Side Entry)
  • No Basement
  • On Septic System
  • Private (non-shared) Master Bath
  • Pocket Renovations (Renovations REALLY expose dated areas)
  • More that 2 sets of Stairs
  • Flooring Material Consistent throughout (Max 3 different materials)
  • Furnishings Match the Price of home
  • Value Above my neighboring Peers
  • Architecture inconsistent from most in neighborhood
  • Swimming Pool in backyard
  • “Added Value” improvements are not obvious and/or widely valued
  • Deferred Maintenance
  • Unanswered questions
  • Dirty bathrooms
  • Messy garages and basements
  • Significantly Larger or Small than neighborhood average
  • Smells ( pets, smoke, musty or strong air fresheners = likely hiding something )
  • Class Action Building Materials (Siding products, polybutylene, Chinese drywall, laminate wood flooring, Atlas Chalet Shingles, Zurn Pex plumbing fittings).

Factors that DO NOT affect a Home’s Resale Value

  • What a homeowner paid for it
  • What a homeowner owes on it
  • What a homeowner wants for it
  • What the neighbor says it is worth
  • What a seller’s appraiser says it is worth
  • What an uneducated agent says it is worth
  • What an agent in another city says it should be worth
  • How much it would cost to rebuild it
  • What the Zestimate is
  • What the tax assessment says it is worth

What to Expect – Who is On Duty and When

Once you choose to work with The Bunch Real Estate Group, here is what to expect – Who is On Duty and When

On Duty

As a client, you will have VIP access to our team. That means we want to hear from you if you have any questions, comments, needs or concerns. Real estate sales is one of the most “over-promised” and “under-delivered” industries. We get that. So, when it comes to being available for you we are going to our absolute best. We feel like you deserve that!

A Typical Week

A typical week for us has week days split between marketing in the mornings and appointments in the afternoons. Hopefully the enunciation makes that easy to remember: Mornings = Marketing, Afternoons = Appointments.  Mornings are filled with outbound calls and correspondence for our listings to make sure we are getting them in front of as many buyers as possible. Michael handles this personally. Mornings also include research projects for our Buyer clients. Afternoons get booked with appointments with clients and future clients. Saturdays are worked by appointment and could be booked out a week or so in advance. Sunday mornings we are closed and Sunday afternoons may very well be filled with hosting Open Houses. Then, on Monday we regroup and do it all over again. Here is an introduction to our full team.

I hired Michael Bunch. When can I talk to him?

The whole reason we have a team is so our clients can have access to a human being when Michael happens to be unavailable. This means that Monday – Friday you will be talking to our COO, Tracy Bunch, in the mornings because Michael is on the phone constantly up until about 11:00 am each day. If you are a seller this should be awesome news! If you are a buyer this should also be awesome news because your market research and/or viewing appointments are most likely being handled. Most of our “emergencies” involve offers and Tracy is well versed in how to keep those moving along. We have yet to run into a morning issue that Tracy can’t handle OR that is so urgent it can’t wait until 11:30am. After that, Michael jumps on whatever client needs have arisen. Feel free to leave a message – we will be back in touch sometime between 11:30 and 1:00pm.

All of our clients have access to Michael’s cell number and can reach out anytime. We are committed to being present wherever we are though. So, when we are with a client we will not be fielding texts and calls. Once the appointment is over, messages and voicemails from clients like you are the first to get a response.  If you are interested,  below is what Michael’s typical calendar looks like.

 

On Duty

After Hours

Real estate is definitely NOT a 9:00am to 5:00pm job. Of course we work in the blue zone (above). We are constantly working to add talented team members behind the scenes to maintain the highest level of service we can muster. We may not be able to compete with Amazon and Zappos by being available 24/7. But we will be able to outperform most real estate agents in our industry. Give us a try! We love to please people.

Keller Williams Realty – Business Minded Agents

When it comes to Keller Williams Realty – Running like a Business is in the DNA

IMG_2218

Keller Williams Realty has grown into a very successful real estate company. That success is especially intriguing given that they have done so operating on only about half of the profit due to its Profit Sharing model with agent stakeholders. In an era of consolidation, mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies – Keller Williams Realty has…thrived!

IMG_5076

Harvard Case Study

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 6.16.53 PMThe Harvard Business Review has performed two case studies on Keller Williams Realty. Both are available for purchase. Keller Williams Realty (A) as they call it describes the economic and cultural models that have led to the success of Keller Williams Realty. Keller Williams Realty (B) is a follow-up that explains the actions taken by Keller Williams in response to the residential real estate market downturn in 2008.

So what is the big deal? The big deal is that models and systems that empower agents to build interdependent businesses of their own. Not dependent – Not independent. Interdependent. A partnership. The old saying goes “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is the way Keller Williams Realty approaches the agents who choose to affiliate with the company.

Building a Brand

Most companies go to great lengths to build and protect their brand. That holds true for most real estate companies as well. Brand recognition and perceived credibility generate consumer confidence. That consumer confidence makes the phone ring and cash register light up. But the reality is that this brand building is a double-edged sword for the agents in a real estate company. Branding does build credibility and name recognition which helps agent win business in a competitive interview. However, calls and online inquiries are captured by the company and are then sold in some fashion back the agents. The company controls the leads and who gets them.  That means the company also controls how much the agent will get paid in exchange for those leads.  This is true for all industries. So who is the brand really being built for?

Profit and Profit Share

In most jobs, you go to work and the company pays you for it. Making money is up to the company (and the stockholders if it is publicly traded). With real estate agents, it’s actually the opposite – the agents pay the company to work there. Real estate companies operate by collecting money from the agents on the sales they make. In exchange, the company provides various administrative, marketing and training services. Generally, this happens under two models: 1: Commission Splits OR 2.Monthly Fees. With Commission Splits, the agent does the work and closes the deal.  The commission check is issued to the company and the company takes anywhere from 50% (for the lowest producing agents) down to 20% (for the rockstars) of the commission earned. The exception is relocation business where third-party relocation companies enter the mix and even superstars end up sharing about 50+% of the commission with their company.

Profit Sharing in the real estate arena was pioneered by Keller Williams Realty. After having operated on a typical Commission Split model, the company incorporated a Profit Sharing model in 1987.  Gary Keller invited the top agents in the office to a round table discussion and the result was the creation of the Agent Leadership Council (ALC).  Through the ALC, the agents joined in the management decisions and the results are summarized in this ProfitShareWhitePaper. Giving agents a voice in the operations of the office and a share in the profits gave each of the agents a greater stake in the company’s success. One interesting by-product of the Profit Sharing model was transparency in the books. In order to maintain total accountability for the integrity of the Profit Sharing program, agents needed full access to the company’s income and expenses each month. They got it! To this day, the finances of every Keller Williams Realty office are open for review by the agents.

Recruiting

All real estate brokers recruit agents.  It is how every real estate office is grown.  Keller Williams Realty just mobilized its agents as “helpers” by setting up a reward system called Profit Sharing.  No profit – no sharing.  No signing bonuses. No purchase required. In fact, for an agent to receive Profit Share, an agent they refer must join a Keller Williams Realty office AND that office has to be profitable AND that particular agent has to contribute to the profitability. No one profits until the referred agent succeeds. Keller Williams Realty office owners agree to operate within the cost model and the office cost model derives its income from roughly 52% of the total profit generated by the sales. That means approximately 48% of the total monthly profit goes back to agent stakeholders as a reward for finding talented agents to grow the offices. It doesn’t take higher commissions – it takes lean business operations, systems and models. Makes you wonder about the other real estate companies out there… What are they doing with all of that money? No wonder Warren Buffet and Rupert Murdoch are buying real estate companies…

Rewards are actually not limited to the U.S. though. There is also Growth Share.

Training / Running Like a Business

The_Millionaire_Real_Estate_Agent_cover_ls_1_10Keller Williams Realty is often described as a Training Company cleverly disguised as real estate sales company.  That must hold some validity because in 2015 the company was named by Training Magazine as the #1 training company in the U.S.  – up from #2 in 2014. Training IS a major emphasis at Keller Williams Realty. In fact, the leadership is so committed to training that new programs continue to emerge to help agents build their businesses. Real Estate is one of those professions that can eat you alive and burn you out if you don’t set some boundaries. Classes at KW run the gamut from sales skills to incorporating to exit strategies. There is even a test for determining if you have a real business. It ends with the question “Do you have a Board of Directors that can fire you?”  All KW training is based on sound fundamentals that apply to any business.

Culture

All the training in the world can be wasted if your company feels like a boiler room. Culture can be very difficult to describe but very easy to feel.  Keller Williams Realty is very intentional about culture.  While no system is fool-proof and with 108,000 agents across the world, there are inevitably examples where these values are not consistently demonstrated. And yet, having a set of stated values does set forth a lighthouse of what the company stands for and wants to be known by.  Taking a stand sets a standard by which all business activities and relationships can be measured. Gary Keller has be quoted “Don’t judge me by the people I hire. Judge me by the people I keep.” Not everyone is a good match for the values outlined below and that’s ok. There are other choices.

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Top 5 Keys to Awesome Home-For-Sale Photos

Here are our Top 5 Keys to Awesome Home-For-Sale Photos

When your home is for sale, you get about 2 seconds to grab an online Buyer’s interest with your lead photo. I cannot over emphasize the importance of high quality professional photography. Your lead photo needs to tell a story! When you are selling your house, you basically enter a beauty contest. The goal is to stand out and capture the buyer’s eye. Yet, we continue to see uninspiring lead photos.   This is a speed round where you have to stand out from the other houses being sifted through.  Beyond that, you will only keep the person’s interest if your photos are REALLY good – or really bad (there are websites for this).

1. Make Sure you have Blue Skies in the Background

If a picture is worth a 1000 words then blue skies double that. Stalk your house for the best time of day for the exterior photos and make sure you plan WELL AHEAD to get shots with crisp blue skies. Don’t let the weather leave you in the grey.

159 Interlochen Dr_Michael Bunch-25 copy

On the other hand, cloudy days are the best for the interior shots because the light from the windows is easier to manage. You can still get good shots like the one below but you really have to work at it to keep the shadow distractions to a minimum.

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2. Conquer the Lighting

One of this biggest challenges and the biggest secret weapons with Home For Sale Photos is lighting. Managing the windows and utilizing dramatic interior lighting can make or break the photos.  The first photo below shows what happens when the equipment can’t manage competing light sources.

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Lighting can be affected by the home’s furnishings as well. This is when experience and professional equipment makes all the difference! The darker areas in the photo above force the viewer to have to concentrate to figure out what going on in the photo. The photo below shows how crisp balanced lighting can be. Photos with balanced lighting make the viewer’s brain go “ahhh”. You can feel the difference.

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3. Manage the Hue

Awesome Home-For-Sale Photos have true colors. Amateur photos can take on the hue of the decor and finish materials.  We actually see professional photos with overly yellow and blue hues. There are several photo apps available that will allow you to adjust the hue and modify the photos. Go for the truest color you can get!

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The photo above feels tinted with green when compared to the photo below. This is probably a result of trying to work around a low light situation. When your house’s appeal (and Sale Price) hang in the balance, you really need cool crisp true colors in your photos! Otherwise, you may seem dull against the competition.

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4. Get the Angle

Head on photos rarely do justice to the room and the Dining Room photo below is no exception. Views on an angle almost always look better and convey a sense of lifestyle and story. The photo below seems like just a room.

Head On

Here is a photo from the same house on the same day showing how getting the right angle can tell multiple stories about the room and its relationship to the adjacent areas in the house. You actually see the Dining Room, Kitchen, Hallway, Main Stairs and Foyer – all from one photo.

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5. Make sure the photos are in focus

You would think that this would be obvious. And yet, we see listing photos all the time that are not in focus. Interestingly, not being able to manage the light affects focus and hue too. Here is another area where you don’t want the viewer to have to work to work for it. The focus can easily shift to the photo and the incompetency of the listing agent rather than the wonderful features of the house. When photos are fuzzy and poorly lit it lowers the energy for the whole experience.

MasterNow

As a contrast, the photo below is in focus so that the focus can be on the feeling of the room – not the feeling of the photo.

Bedroom 4

Want more information? Email us today and we will be in touch very soon. michael@BunchRealEstateGroup.com

 

What to Expect as a Seller

Welcome to our What to Expect as a Seller page.

What to Expect

Selling clients of The Bunch Real Estate Group enjoy access to some amazing real estate coaching throughout the entire process in addition to our What to Expect library shown below.

Our Pledge

Commited to QualityWe pledge to provide you with excellent service in the preparation, marketing and sale of your property. We will use the highest degree of professionalism when representing you and your property. Your total satisfaction is important to us.  Should you ever have any concerns or questions, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can work to resolve the issue together.  Please keep in mind, YOU are always in control when you work with us. Our Listing Agreement is not meant to confine you in a relationship that is not working but rather to simply provide a reasonable time window for us to aggressively market your property AND answer the crucial question as to what qualified buyers are willing to pay for it in today’s market.  If at some point you feel we are not the right partner for you in this mission, our Listing Agreement gives you the ability to unconditionally cancel at anytime prior to your property going Under Contract.

Before Your House is Listed

  1. Our Team
  2. Who is on Duty and When
  3. The Listing Agreement
  4. Continuous Price Watching
  5. Two-way Staging
  6. De-Cluttering
  7. Assist with Contractors
  8. Generate Floorplans
  9. Pre-Lising Appraisal (As Needed)
  10. Disclosure Forms to Reduce Liability
  11. Property Strengths Assessment
  12. Professional Photography
  13. Order Yard Signage
  14. Customize Marketing Plan
  15. Establish Showing Protocol
  16. Order FREE Home Warranty Coverage (If Available)
  17. Pricing and Resale Factors
  18. Set up the Seller weekly conference call schedule

Being On the Market for Sale

  1. Day One – Input into Listing Services
  2. Showing Feedback and Agent Interviews
  3. Create Slide Show and Feed into Social Media
  4. Week One – Listing Syndication
  5. Add to Luxury Websites
  6. Agent Caravan
  7. Week Two – Preview Nearby Competing Properties
  8. Open House for the Public
  9. Prospect for Buyers

Going Under Contract

  1. Negotiating the Offer(s)
  2. Screening the Buyer’s Lender
  3. Enforcing Deadlines
  4. Managing Due Diligence
  5. Assisting with any needed Repairs
  6. Managing the Appraisal
  7. Reviewing Final Closing Numbers
  8. Closing Day

Celebrating

  • This happens when the check clears or wire transfer arrives in your account.