Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Taxes, Zillow and the Price of Homes

I have a listing in Marion County. New construction, but when I entered it into the MLS the address didn’t match the tax id. The seller had been receiving tax statements, so I couldn’t figure out the why.

Called the county. Pushed the required numbers in order to talk to the required three people, finally landed at the map room. “Oh! By golly, looks like I entered the lot number instead of the address!”

That was nearly four weeks ago. Tax id and address still don’t match.

Pause here to note that that is one of the organizations Zillow relies on for accurate market information.

But this isn’t about Zillow.

I received an email a couple days ago on a listing I have on Craigslist. He or she – it was anonymous except for the email address – was wondering why the list price was so much higher than: the market value according to the county.

Oh, dear.

This led to an exchange where I tried to explain that the Market Value as assessed by the county – and it doesn’t much matter what county – only exists to make Zillow look somewhat accurate. There’s exactly zero correlation between assessed market value and sales price. I even sent this person county value/sales price ratios from within a mile of this home over the last three months: 57%, 15%, 25%, 27%, and – 7%. I pointed out the home was listed with the county as a single story five bedroom; it’s actually three stories and four bedrooms. I explained that if he were to do a search of every home 3900 to 4100 sf (this is 3997) listed or sold in Lake Oswego in the last year, this would be the least expensive, and it’s not a fixer, it’s completely updated on a quarter acre. Perhaps he should see it?

No deal. The county was his number and he was sticking to it.

Oh, well. The real value of any home is the price a seller is willing to accept and a buyer is willing to pay. In any free market he’s absolutely sanctioned to make decisions on whatever criteria he thinks work, be it horoscopes, numerology, crystals, or county assessments.

My suggestion, of course, is: hire a good agent.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Value of Us Pt 2: A Day in the Life

Good heavens, where have you been?

Earning a living! Busy time of year.

Give. Me. A. Break. Everyone knows realtors work two days a week – half days at that – and make in the high six figures. That’s why, frankly, I deserve some of your commission.

Oh, dear. You of all people are buying into that?

Are you denying it??

Of course! But only on the basis that it’s nonsense.

HAHAHAHA! I know work; try wearing this hat all day! Here’s your test: what did you do, say, yesterday?

Made a flyer for a new listing, just like Sixty Minutes said.

SEEE?? I was right!

Well, not quite. That was from about 7am to 8am, if you include the time it took to print one color copy for duplication. Note I’d already spent about a week and a half with the seller – a good friend – prepping the home, taking the pictures and getting it ready to list.

Then you took the rest of the day off?

Then I drove to the RE/MAX office, met up with another realtor who I’d asked to co-list with me. The home’s in an area I’m not familiar with and overlaps another MLS; she knows the area well, is a member of the other MLS, and it’s worth half the commission to give the home every chance to sell.

Heyyy, that’s my commission you’re giving away!

After we made copies of the flyer, we took the hour drive to the home, walked it for another hour making notes, putting up signs and lockboxes, and talking marketing strategy. Then we drove back to the office.

Just in time to get in eighteen holes!

Right. Just in time to spend a half hour on the phone with the county to try to get the tax id and address to match – the map room had entered the lot number instead of the address, throwing off every site that tried to link to it. Time to enter all the info and data into the MLS, time to write and post ads on Craigslist, Zillow and Trulia.

Time to follow up on an inspection report and a foot-dragging lender regarding a property in escrow, a property sold to wonderful buyers with whom I’ve worked for over a year to find just the right home. Now that they’ve found it, they’d like no glitches. Time to rewrite and repost copy for another listing. Time to parry silly requests from a listing agent on another home in escrow, requests that would only annoy the buyer I’m representing. Time …

OKOKOKOKOKOKOK! I get it! You had a busy day! So what’d you do Sunday?

Before or after the three hour open house?

I take it I don’t get any of your commission?

I – and every good agent I know – will do anything and everything possible to see that you get the very best representation you could possibly get. Everything, that is, but give you my commission.

I'm convinced!

Of course you are; you're my adorable adopted granddaughter!