Monday, December 5, 2011

How many price reductions does it take?

 
The most common way to sell real estate in the U.S. is by listing it in MLS and then, if it doesn't get any interest, begin to drop the price until a buyer makes an acceptable offer (see above).

Most real estate agents don't realize that this method of selling is actually a type of auction.  It's called a dutch auction, just done very slowly.

By definition in Wikipedia, a Dutch auction is a type of auction where the auctioneer begins with a high asking price which is lowered until some participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price.

So, since real estate agents are already using one type of auction, why not try a more traditional auction?  An auction where you open bidding to a group of interested buyers and let them compete against each other to determine the market value. It can be done much faster and is a much more exciting way to sell real estate.

The traditional auction puts you in control. You determine when the property is open for viewing, you control when the bidding will end and the seller decides whether they will accept the highest bid.

With the glut of inventory available in many markets, auctions are gaining momentum and by using the internet, you don't need to coordinate a "live" event, all the bidding can be done online.

Not sure how you can do it in your market? Join us Thursday for our next online auction training session.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Have you been involved in HUD sealed bid auctions?


Last month, I sold my first house as buyer agent for a buyer of a HUD property in my area of St. Louis, MO

HUD homes in St. Louis are sold through an online "sealed bid" process and in case you're not familiar with it or it's different in your area, I thought I'd share some observations of the process.

1. There are no pre-qualifications for bidding, but only HUD registered agents can place bids for their buyers. Before you place a bid, you need to make sure your buyer can close.

2. Owner-Occupants have the first opportunity to buy these homes and if not sold within 30 days they open it up to investors. I primarily work with investors and seeing the condition of some of these homes, I don't understand why they make the "Owner-Occupant" period so long. Many of these can only be purchased with cash and even if they have the cash very few "Owner-Occupants" want to take on such a huge project.

3. Once the initial bidding period is over (usually 10 days) bids are reviewed daily. However, there is very little feedback, you simply get an email that it was rejected or accepted.

4. Sometimes, several days (or weeks) after a bid has been placed HUD sends an email to let you know their "minimum bid" that they will accept. This is the only part of the process I thought was helpful, and it doesn't happen for every property. It seems they only use this when they start getting motivated.

5. If your bid is accepted, you have 2 business days to sign all the paperwork (lots of it) and get it to the out of state office handling the closing. If you don't get the paperwork on time or you don't fill it out correctly, they cancel the bid and it goes back on the market. We had this happen and it's not fun. We had to submit the bid again, fill out all the paperwork again and pay to FED-EX again (won't make this mistake twice). HUD is not at all flexible with their process, make sure you read everything at least twice and review all the places needed for signature several times so you don't miss anything.

6. It took the entire 45 days that they gave us to close. My buyer was a cash buyer and could have closed in a week or less. I'm use to working on regular REO's and we've closed them in as little as 10 days after having an accepted contract. This was frustrating to have to wait until the very last day to close it. And, oh yeah, it takes a week to get your commission check after it closes.

After going through this process, I still prefer the "open bid" process where everyone knows the current high bid. However, we did build the "sealed bid" functionality into the online real estate auction system we designed so our customers have that option. We only have a couple customers using it and so it will be a while before I can determine the difference in success rates, but I'll be watching.

If you're interested in seeing how real estate agents & auctioneers are using online bidding for their own listings, join our next webinar on October 20th at 2 pm EST

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Online Auction Creates 3 Opporunities to Sell


Today I wanted to share a strategy I use that creates 3 opportunities to get a property under contract during an online auction process.

Here they are...

1st opportunity (Pre-bidding): Instead of letting people bid on the property as soon as it goes online, you can advertise it in a "preview" mode before bidding opens. By having it in "preview" mode for 7-10 days before opening the bidding, you create the urgency for buyers to submit a written offer and get it under contract so they don't have to compete. The seller can accept a pre-bidding offer and cancel the auction before online bidding even opens.

This actually happens about 20% of the time. I had an auction once where we got a written offer the first day I put the auction sign out. It turned out the buyer had seen the home when it was previously listed and finally got motivated to do something when he saw it go to auction. In this example, the seller agreed upon a price and we canceled the auction. By far, this was the easiest sale I've ever had.

2nd opportunity (Online bidding): This is the most obvious. At the end of the online auction, the high bidder puts the property under contract per the terms of the auction.

3rd opportunity (Post auction): If for some reason, the bidding doesn't meet the seller's reserve price, the auction process will have produced a list of buyer leads interested in the property. You can contact all of them, let them know the situation and give them the chance to submit their highest and best offer.

From my experience, using these 3 opportunities as part of your online auction strategy will help increase your success rate.

If you'd like to learn more about using online real estate auctions join us September 8th at 2 pm EST

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Still using slow dutch auctions to sell your listings?


Currently, the most common way to sell real estate in the U.S. is by listing it in MLS and then continuing to drop the price until a buyer makes an acceptable offer (see above).

Most real estate agents don't realize this is an auction, a dutch auction - just done very slowly.

By definition in Wikipedia, a Dutch auction is a type of auction where the auctioneer begins with a high asking price which is lowered until some participant is willing to accept the auctioneer's price.

Since you're already doing a type of auction, why not try a traditional auction where you open bidding to a group of interested buyers and let them determine the market value. It can be done much faster and is a much more exciting way to sell real estate.

The traditional auction puts you in control. You determine when the property is open for viewing, you control when the bidding will end and the seller decides whether they will accept the highest bid.

With the glut of inventory available in many markets, auctions are gaining momentum and by using the internet, you don't need to coordinate a "live" event, all bidding is done online.

Not sure how? Join us on our next upcoming online auction training session.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do buyers overpay at auctions?

Last week, I took a buyer to a local "Williams & Williams" auction where they were selling 4 properties. The auction was done live on the front lawn of one of the properties and buyers could also participate online.

If you haven't seen Williams & Williams auctions, check out their Auction Network site which shows all the current auctions they are running. I think they do a nice job.

We were both surprised at the prices each of these properties received. My buyer is a well seasoned investor and we did our research to know the right price to pay and still be able to make a profit in this market.

In every case, the property went for at least $10,000 more than we thought it should. One of them went for close to the list price in the MLS (crazy when you consider the buyer could have bought the property months ago before it was taken to auction).

This was the 4th Williams & Williams auction I've attended locally and once again it proved to me that when the auction is marketed correctly and done right, there isn't a better way to sell.

I hope you're seeing the same success in your market.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are the banks getting more motivated?


Last week, I took a buyer into a couple of bank owned "REO" properties that just came on the market. In the past, these type of properties were initially listed too high so we would wait until a property sat a while and had several price reductions.

Now it seems, that some banks have changed their strategy and are being much more aggressive with their initial listing price.

In the couple we looked at, they were priced very fair and close to "wholesale/investor" pricing. I wasn't surprised to find out they received multiple offers and I'm sure they will get over list price.

As a real estate broker/auctioneer, I have to ask why the banks are not turning more to online auctions to sell these? Why deal with multiple offers when there is an easy and efficient way to have the buyers bid it out online? The banks already have very specific terms and contract addendum they force buyers to use, making their listings ideal for the auction process.

At some point, the asset managers need to take advantage of the best and most efficient process to sell these assets? But, when?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What are the banks thinking?

Last week, I took a buyer into a bank owned "REO" property where the bank decided to have a company come in and rehab the inside (paint, carpet, new appliances and flooring bathrooms and kitchen). You can tell they took the lowest bid for the work because the work is okay but very little attention to detail.

The property was priced right and I was sure it would go fast. My buyer is an investor so he was only interested at a price where he could "finish" the details and really make it shine (about 30% off their list price).

So, we submitted an offer at his price and they countered only $900 off their listing price. Neither of us was surprised so we didn't think much of it.

However a couple of days later, I get a call from the listing agent wanting to know if we wanted to counter again. I told her we were so far away we didn't want to waste their time. She convinced us to counter so he did only a couple thousand higher.

To our shock an amazement the bank re-countered dropping their price drastically very close to my buyers counter and he agreed to come up another thousand and now it's under contract.

I don't know the reasoning behind the banks decision, but I do know, in this case, the listing agent didn't help the bank get the most they could.

This listing agent usually has around 200 REO listings at anytime. She has a large staff, but the attention to detail gets lost in the shuffle.

For this particular listing, I mentioned the bank hired someone to update the property. After these updates were made and it was put back on the market, there were no new pictures. The listing still had the old ones that showed the distress. There was NO information in the remarks section about the updates, just the standard REO listing stuff.

Here's my point.

#1 - Why are the banks not spreading their listings over more agents that can provide better attention to detail and get them higher prices?

#2 - Why are the banks not turning their listings over to real estate agents capable of doing the best marketing available today ... online auctions? For some reason, they wait until a property has been sitting for a few months and then turn it over to large nationwide auction "clearing house" which can't pay attention to detail either (I've shared the lack of marketing and coordination from those companies in past emails).

Solution: - The banks need to get on board with the use of the best technology and marketing available today. They need to require their listing agents to use an online auction process from day 1 and sell these listings to the highest and best offer within 2 weeks or less. This would have a drastic effect on the bank inventory nationwide. It makes sense and it's simple and I'm sure it will happen at some point. Hopefully sooner than later.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Are you getting the best price for your REO listings?

At the end of January, I attended a Hudson & Marshall "live" auction in St. Louis with a buyer client of mine.

In case you haven't seen a Hudson & Marshall auction, they do a very nice job. You can check out their upcoming auctions at their website HudsonandMarshall.com

The auction was for 57 homes around the St. Louis area. The 2 properties he was interested in were at the end of the list so we observed for about an hour before he got to bid.

It started out with about 125 people but when we got to his 2 properties only about 30 people were left. As a result, he ended up getting an 8-year old home in a very nice area at an amazing price. He'll easily make $40K+ when he resells it in 3 months (required holding time by Fannie Mae).

During the auction, I kept track of the winning bid amounts and after it ended I went to Hudson & Marshall's site to see which properties actually sold (Bank has to agree to winning bid). As it turned out, only 20 of the 57 sold (35%).

In reflecting on this experience and the process, I thought I'd share some ideas that would have made this auction more successful.
  1. Get the local listing agent involved - For whatever reason, the local listing agents in my area don't update the MLS listing with the auction information. Typically the REO agents have lots of properties so someone (i.e. Hudson & Marshall in this case) should be contacting them and making sure they update the MLS listing with the auction location, date & time.

  2. Incorporate online bidding - The technology exists to allow online bidding during these "live" events. There is no reason they couldn't have reached at least 100+ more people online in addition to the 125 in the room. That creates more competition and will end in higher winning bids.

  3. Reach out to buyers agents - Hudson & Marshall could put a marketing campaign together aimed at buyers' agents to bring their buyers. They are a fun way to buy and although the agent only gets a 2% commission, it's one of the easiest transactions I've ever done. Hudson & Marshall collected earnest money did all the contract work etc. I showed the house to my buyer, came to the auction and collected my check at closing. That's it!

  4. Local advertising - I don't know where Hudson & Marshall advertised for this event, I never saw it. I found out because I frequent their site looking for deals for my buyers. However, there are great inexpensive venues such as local real estate investor meetings. They could have easily doubled their on site attendance with an email to these groups in my area.
These are just a few ideas, but the bottom line is that there is a "HUGE" pool of buyers looking for these bank deals and there is big missed opportunity by not marketing them properly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's mostly about the marketing


Last month, I shared some ideas on helping buyers be more comfortable bidding online.

Since then, I held a 7-day online auction for a property in St. Louis and thought you might be interested in the results.

First, despite the winter weather conditions, it was very successful getting buyers into the house. The house was a bank foreclosure so it had no heat and with temperatures in the 20's and 4 inches of snow, the house felt colder inside than it was out.

I held 3 open house previews Friday, Saturday & Sunday but only for 1 hour each (I didn't want to sit in a cold house longer than I had to). During those 3 days I had 65 people come through, which I felt was an amazing turnout considering the conditions. I used Craigslist and yard signs for most of my marketing.

Unfortunately the bidding didn't meet the sellers reserve, but we are still negotiating with the winning bidder and I'm hopeful it will go under contract soon.

Once again, I found that marketing a property using an auction gets people to notice and into the house (even in less than ideal conditions).

Regardless of the final results, I always learn something. Here are my takeaways...

  1. Friday open houses aren't very popular in St. Louis, I only had 4 people come that day.
  2. Saturday & Sunday open houses are well attended.
  3. Seller needs to be more motivated (He is now and has come down on his "reserve")
  4. Put it in the MLS sooner - I didn't put it in the MLS until Saturday, thinking I could find a "pre-auction" buyer looking for a non-MLS "deal" and not pay an agent co-op. By the time most agents saw it in the MLS, the bidding had ended. (Won't do that again!)
  5. With NO heat, warm boots and two pairs of socks are a MUST.

If you're interested in learning more about using online auctions to sell your listings, join us on our next webinar - Real Estate Online Auction Webinar

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Last month, I shared how I've found some "hidden" deals for buyers in my St. Louis market on Auction.com (REDC auction company)

I'm still finding them, and the reason they are "hidden" is because of the lack of coordination and communication between the local listing agent and REDC. A big opportunity for the local listing agent who takes ownership of the process and does the online auction themselves.

In addition, I've been contacted by at least 2 buyers a week wanting to know where to find the "deals". I think it's because the word is starting to get out in the media that the real estate market has hit the bottom and on it's way back up.

Many of these buyers are intimidated by online auctions because they are still "new", so I started to give some thought to what can be done to help buyers be more comfortable with the process.

Here are some initial ideas (some obvious, but surprisingly often not done)...

  1. Clearly communicate the dates and times of the open house previews
  2. Create short video that answers FAQ's and invites them to contact you with additional questions
  3. Make it easy for buyers to ask questions (email, phone, online chat, text, etc.)
  4. Give the winning bidder 5 days to do inspections after the auction (not done with traditional auctions)
  5. Don't use a buyer premium, collect your commission from the seller
Do you have any additional ideas? I'd love to hear them.

Interested in our next online real estate auction training session? Register Here