Friday, January 14, 2011

Is Your Agent Doing Everything They Can For You?

This business is a funny one, so individualistic, so customizable.  In the game of real estate there is so much unspoken competition while at the same time, so much interdependency on others in the business.  In my first year in the business I have come to realize so much about this business that is both fascinating and respectable.  At the same time, I more fully respect the underlying reasons REALTORS are so important to the process.  Even as an educated professional who has been through several sales and purchases of property, I had no idea what service or purpose a REALTOR served.  I, not unlike many, was under the impression the job of a REALTOR was to open the doors of homes for viewing and write offers.  I had no idea the depth or breath of services they truly offer.  It is also true that I didn’t fully leverage the skills my former REALTORS had to my advantage.  No one ever told me what they could do for me, so I really didn’t know. 
If you are transferring into a community, is your agent working to introduce you to the area in which you are choosing to move?  Are they telling you about the school districts, speaking with you about local shopping options, where you can go see a movie, or what entertainment options there are in neighboring towns?  Where would you drop off your dry cleaning, or how close you might be to the local hardware store?  Has your REALTOR spoken with you about financial qualifications, perhaps helped you with what a bank would do to qualify you?  Did you know your REALTOR could help you with what your options are on buying and selling if you are going through a divorce?  Is your REALTOR out there telling the world that you are a “motivated” seller when you haven’t specifically told them to do that in writing? Is your REALTOR working for you, or are they working part time?  Is your REALTOR spending money to market your property above and beyond what their brokerage firm does? Most people know that the various firms do a great deal of marketing.  Most of the high quality firms offer great websites, mobile viewing technologies, and weekly print advertising for your property.  But are you asking your chosen REALTOR to show you, or demonstrate to you what they are doing to add value to doing business with them?  Some will tell you they have been in the business for multiple years and they have people come to them when they are ready to purchase.  This is true, and there are some truly gifted REALTORS (like Sue Byers) in our market who can simply make a few phone calls and generate either a lead or a buyer. Others will point to a billboard, or custom flyers.  But as a client, what you want is for “your” property to be in front of the most people possible on the most regular basis.  If you aren’t seeing that from your REALTOR, you should be.
When you have code questions, covenants questions, or you would like to build a new home, is your REALTOR helping you get to these answers through the appropriate channels, or are they volunteering “their” own opinions?  Be leery of the REALTOR who presents themselves as an expert in numerous areas.  It is the job of a REALTOR to help you get to the experts in a variety of fields, not necessarily to be an expert themselves.  That said, some of your more experienced REALTORS of course have experienced many different situations and may be a fantastic resource for general information about a multitude of topics.  Are you as dedicated to your REALTOR as they are to you?  There are so many misunderstandings in this area.  Some people feel they should buy with one REALTOR and sell with another.  While others feel they should call the listing agent to view their listings and if they decide to purchase, buy from them.  My suggestion is to find a REALTOR you match up with on a personal level.   Gain a feeling of trust, enjoy being around them and test their
knowledge so you feel comfortable with his/her ability to walk through this process at your side.  Once you have done this, COMMIT to them.  Let them know they are your REALTOR of choice and that you will keep them informed of everything you do on the real estate side.  I assure you, if you do this, they will think of you first when it comes to recommending a sale, or a purchase.  Always keep in mind, this is a relationship you have with someone who is helping you with, what is very likely, the largest purchase or sale of any single item you have.  Be sure it is a person of character and someone you feel you can work through issues with and trust with your most important possession,  your home, and everything in it.  Give us a call, set up a meeting.  Let’s have a conversation about what it is you want from your next transaction.  If it’s a good fit, we’ll work together, if it’s not, I would be happy to recommend someone who may be a better fit.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's Going On in Washington?

I was watching Morning Joe this morning and had very mixed feelings about the discussion.  On the one hand, I was pleased to hear the panel agreeing that our politicians are acting irresponsible by approving this most recent “stimulus package”.  Both democrats and republicans continue to pile on the debt and spend widely.  Let’s lay this out.  The country voted decisively to send a message to the republicans after 8 years of Chaney, they voted Obama into office.  I personally think it was Obama rather than Clinton because they didn’t want the monarchy of Bush/Clinton to continue.  I also believe, not because they “wanted” Obama, but rather because they “didn’t want” any more spending from our “conservative” party.  Enter stage left, Obama gets in, on a platform of “change” and spends four times as much as the party who was “just” voted out for overspending!!!  On top of that, he blames the party who overspent for his need to… spend some more!  Now, at the midterm elections, the general public sends the democrats a very clear message that we are tired of the over-spending and oust most of them.  All the republicans ran on a platform of cutting spending and lowering taxes.  So what is the very first things they do with their new found power… tack on another “TRILLION DOLLARS”!
What the hell is going on in this country?  Isn’t anyone else scared to death of this debt?  Have we learned nothing?  Who in this country doesn’t understand, if you constantly spend more than you make… you are going to go broke.  How long do people in Washington think they can do this?  Why isn’t everyone in this country taking their last credit card and putting gas in their cars to drive to Washington to stand outside the Congress of the United States to say “What the hell?”  I actually heard a political analyst say yesterday, “We can’t get out of this financial problem by “just” cutting expenses, we will have to raise taxes eventually.”  Seriously?  We “can’t” get out by lowing spending?  Does anyone on the planet believe that?  Let’s see, I’m no actuary, but I’m pretty sure if I owe someone a ton of money and I stop spending everything I make, eventually I’ll be able to pay back what I owe them.  Am I the only one who sees the insanity of this?  We will end up like Greece or Ireland eventually… this gravy train can’t last forever.
We have become a fat, lazy, spoiled country.  People with 200,000.00 household incomes spending every dime they make and feeling like they are “middle class”.  We (and I’m part of this group) drive around in our gas guzzling 4X4 vehicles, live in our 3000 sq./ft. homes and vacation around the globe the whole time bitching up a storm about how tuff we have it.  Well, I might be driving a 4X4, but I certainly appreciate what I have and what this great country has afforded me and my family.  I truly respect those who have fought and are currently fighting for our freedoms.  I have a genuine concern for the future of our great democracy and I sincerely feel the bulk of our third generation, Ivy League, silver spoon, lawyer politicians are as out of touch with reality as the leaders of wall street were when they invented the sub-prime mortgage backed securities which led us into the financial crisis we face today.
We have to take steps to change the way this is being dealt with.  I don’t have all the answers and I could be wrong, but I know we can’t allow our politicians to continue to try and spend our way out of debt.  It simply won’t work.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Have You Been to The Theatre Lately... WOW!!!

Tonight Heather and I attended the Theatre Cedar Rapids (TCR) showing of RENT. I have to tell you, I’m not typically a huge fan of musicals, but over the past several years I have seen Wicked in Chicago, and two other musicals here in CR. This one may have been one of the best I’ve ever seen, I really enjoyed it. I sincerely believe anyone who misses the opportunity to go to a show at our newly refinished community theater is missing a huge opportunity in CR.  This venue should be recognized as the jewel it is. The quality of work being done is outstanding and the talent on the stage is incredible. I’m really excited to see the progress the city of Cedar Rapids has made downtown, way to go CR. Grab a group and head downtown for the night. Enjoy this great city!  Check out the theater:  Theatre Cedar Rapids

Monday, June 7, 2010

A trip Up the California "Realty" Costal Highway

My wife Heather and I just returned from a quick trip to California. When I was with the Transamerica division of AEGON, I used to spend quite a bit of time in LA and enjoyed most of it. Despite what you might think, Californian’s, not unlike New Yorker’s are, for the most part, great people. Oh, they are very different, but I’ve come to enjoy almost everything about them except for “where” they live. Over the years, I have become comfortable with the saying, “Yeah, it’s a great place to go visit, but I wouldn’t what to live there”. Iowa is where I want to live, raise my children, enjoy four equal seasons, complain about the heat, and the cold! I love no crime, I love no traffic, I love not having to wonder if my car will be safe on this block, and I love the fact that several people on my block have left their garage doors open all night… and nothing was bothered.

Anyway, back to our trip, during our 10 years of marriage we had talked several times about doing a trip and renting a convertible to drive up the coast along Highway #1. So, this past week, we took four days and did it. It was truly a great trip. You can view some of the video’s we shot along the way at my You Tube site if you’d like. We go to see a great stretch of road along the coast, visit several great places and spend some time in Napa for the last day and a half of our trip. The trip was great, but that’s not why I’m writing. All the way along the coast, I kept seeing real estate signs, I took note of all the places we stopped and tried to peak at the real estate companies ads along the way. The one feeling I was consistently left with was gratefulness. How lucky we are to live in an area of the country where we can have so much for so little. The average price for a home in Midwest is around $140,000.00. In California it would cost you over 300,000.00 for the same level of property. We are so fortunate to have the market we have, our average price has actually risen over the past 8 month time period where as what you find in more major metro areas is that they have remained flat. Depending on which source you read, or which publication you trust, the number of foreclosures and short sales is still slightly on the uptick, but will never reach the levels they have seen in almost every other part of the country.

Be grateful that you paid what you did for the home you now own, and thank your lucky stars it is not currently worth “half” what you paid for it just over two years ago. We live in a part of the country where pulling 60K worth of equity out of your home, or paying interest only loans on a half million dollar flat with a one stall garage isn’t a reality, but we are also comforted by the fact that we are the 13th ranked location to live according to Fortune Magazine. We live a great life, we have a solid community which cares for its people and nurtures its youth. Be happy with what you have, and encourage others to join this great community. Work hard to help your neighborhoods, be proud of where you live and what this community can mean to you, your family and the generations to follow. It’s all worth it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oh What a Feeling!

Remember that saying as you watched the person on the Toyota commercial jump into the air? I wonder where those people are today, possibly feeling a bit different about the brand they chose, and perhaps not. Isn’t it funny how a brand is so subject to not only the happenings around it, but to the way in which the leadership of that brand reacts during a crisis. There seems to be almost a daily example of how people’s reaction to a given set of circumstances can dictate the result of the situation. Entire cottage industries have been built around coaching and teaching people in the spotlight the right way to react to certain situation. This seems to be so literally true, that it has actually become a tool which can be put to use in a proactive way. For example, I seem to be falling from the spotlight, so I’ll create a stir in the media by doing something which gains everyone’s attention, and I already know how I’m going to respond to it. (i.e. Britney Spears)

The point for this short article is to relating this back to the experience of working with clients, customers, vendors, and even fellow realtors. I recently received a great email about the concept that 10% of live is made up of what happens to you… and 90% of life is decided by how you react. This concept may have underestimated his theory because it may apply to almost every scenario of life. Marriage, children, and work all fit this mold and when you start to think about how we react to any given situation, my guess is you’ll come to the same realization I have. So the next time a customer disappoints you, the next time your kids make you mad, think about how you react and see what happens.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jason and Sue Join Forces

To Sue & Jason's Clients:

It is with great excitement and anticipation that we announce Jason Vestweber has decided to join Skogman Realty! Jason will be joining forces with one of the region’s most successful and seasoned realtors, Sue Byers. Together Sue and Jason exhibit a dynamic we feel will suites our clients extremely well. Sue brings over three decades worth of both brokerage and realty experience. She is a certified relocation specialist and her extended family has been in the residential and commercial real estate business in the Easter Iowa area for well over 50 years.

Jason is a native Iowan who grew up on a farm in North Central Iowa. He moved to Cedar Rapids in 1999 and shortly after married his wife Heather. They have two beautiful children and have been married for the past 10 years. He has a passion for Cedar Rapids and loves living and working in our community. He and his family currently live on the Northeast side of Cedar Rapids. Jason recently stepped away from a corporate career with one of our community’s premier employers, AEGON, to join Sue and Skogman. Jason brings well over 15 years of customer service, technology, and communication skills to this dynamic team. His ability to work with others in a productive, positive, and logical way will serve both him and his future clients extremely well.

We are extremely happy to have Jason on our team and know he will represent the very best as both a partner and realtor in the years to come. Please reach out to both Sue and Jason with congratulations, and know that they are here to serve all your residential, commercial, new construction, and relocation needs. Sue and Jason will be located on the third floor of the downtown Skogman location.

Congratulations Sue and Jason, we welcome you to the Skogman organization and we know you will have a great future here! Please contact either Sue or Jason at any and visit Skogman’s newly updated and state of the art websites where you will find answers to all your real estate questions. You can also find Sue and Jason on Facebook and Twitter, please contact Jason for details.

Sue Byers
319-521-1234 Mobile 

Jason Vestweber
319-551-0373 Mobile

Kind Regards,

Chris Skogman
A real estate licensee in the state of Iowa