Jeffrey Hogue Realtor

Real Estate home sales, new home construction sales, commercial real estate sales, Reading PA real estate sales, Best Realtor in Berks County, Chester County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, Home buyer representation, home seller representation, Realtor since 1993. Top Realtor in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Instead of telling you how many homes I have sold and all the awards I have achieved selling real estate simply read my customer REVIEWS on Zillow.com. My customers tell more about me than I could ever say. I am truly humbled by their comments. For the absolute best real estate experience visit my website at jeffreyhoguerealtor.com.
Berks, Chester, lancaster, and Mongomery County Top Real Estate Agent Jeffrey Hogue Realtor
Is That Home For Sale or Not? Coming Soon Home Listings

Is That Home For Sale or Not? Coming Soon Home Listings

Coming Soon Home ListingsDo “Coming Soon” or “Pre-Marketed” home listings better serve the real estate industry or the real estate broker? The question depends on an understanding of the practice and how it affects the clients home selling and buying goals. Let’s get to it.

If you’ve been searching for a home, you may have run across properties with the headline Coming Soon. You call your agent to inquire about the property, and they tell you the seller is not accepting showings at this time. The logical next question is “when can I see it?” Good question! Scenarios like this play out more and more adding speculation about the real estate business, and it’s fairness to consumers.

While Coming Soon home advertising seems to be more prevalent on social media it is also promoted on mainstream home shopping websites like Zillow.com.

What is a “Coming Soon” home Listing and the Rationale Behind Them?

Simply put, A Coming Soon home listings refer to properties that are not available for showing or sale until a later date. The date the seller will accept showings is not publicized and becomes part of the mystery. Often Coming Soon home listings are not entered in the multi-list. The exception is a home listing using the Active No-Show status in the Trend/Bright MLS.

The rationale behind Coming Soon home listings is to give would-be home sellers time to make repairs, spruce up the property, and handle other personal business that may conflict with the seller’s ability to handle showings and field an agreement before it hits the full market. Pre-marketing a home may also be a way to gauge interest from prospective buyers at the proposed asking price before the house hits the full market.

Coming Soon Home Listings ~ The Dark Side

Low available home inventory can create some unusual real estate marketing practices. Real Estate brokers and agents realizing that there are fewer listings available may attempt to squeeze every bit of business they can get out of them. In some cases, the seller’s home is used as bait to attract and capture would-be home buyers for themselves or their brokerage. This practice often disenfranchises prospective buyers working with buyer agents and limits the power of the full real estate market for all. Pre-marketing homes is causing valid concern among real estate professionals prompting real estate commissions nationwide to issue guidance on the topic. Read the National Association of Realtors latest on the subject.

My Take on Coming Soon Home Listings and Pre-Marketing in general

Imagine trying to buy company stocks without a stock market. Now imagine trying to sell a home without a real estate market. The reason why markets work is due to an agreement of cooperation among the participants to treat each other fairly. Without cooperation, we would not be able to enjoy the benefits these markets provide. I believe the pre-marketing of homes by brokers and agents is an erosion of that cooperation.

There will always be rogue operators in any industry that look to bend the rules to give themselves an advantage even if it is not in their clients or industry’s best interest. I believe that the disagreement and confusion Coming Soon home listings cause to the overall real estate market far outweighs any perceived benefits. That said if a real estate agent somehow conveys that listing the sellers home as Coming Soon benefits them and they agree so be it. I often wonder how many of those agents thoroughly explain the negatives of pre-marketing a home to their clients before that agreement.

If you are planning to sell your home someday consider these points as they relate to pre-marketing; It will limit the exposure of your home to buyers; It is more likely you will receive multiple offers using the full market instead of a select small slice acquired using a pre-marketing strategy. After all, the whole reason you listed with your agent is to get maximum value, and you get that with maximum exposure provided by a healthy and cooperative real estate market. By using a Coming Soon strategy, It is more likely that any prospective buyers will come directly through your listing agent. Therefore, you may be represented by the same person who is now representing the buyer, a practice known as dual agency. If you read my articles you know I am not a fan of dual agency and do not practice it. I find it literally impossible to represent the buyer and seller in the same real estate deal.

Representing a client in a real estate transaction means putting the interest of your client before your own. I am not sure listing a client’s home as Coming Soon truly achieves that objective.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Who Are You Contacting About That House For Sale?

Who Are You Contacting About That House For Sale?

House For Sale

There was a time when real estate agents advertised houses for sale to attract interested buyers. Now houses are advertised by internet companies to attract real estate agents. The focus of real estate marketing seems to have shifted from listings to leads.

That was Then ~ Boots on the Ground

When I started selling real estate some 25 years ago I had to be on my toes when it came to marketing homes. I had to consider which publications outside the normal local real estate magazines would expose the property to the most likely buyer. It made more sense to advertise a property that allows for horses in an equestrian magazine than a culinary publication. I also had to creatively craft property flyers and locate good places to put them. The only contact information in these property ads and flyers was that of me and my real estate company. The goal was to market the home and attract prospective buyers in the hope they would call me directly so I could sell them my client’s home.

This is Now ~ Fast forward to internet times

Today the home marketing process is more of a media and fact gathering practice. Take great home photos, compile a list of amenities and craft some appealing remarks describing the home. Once compiled the data is uploaded to the Multi-List which is then sent to sites like Zillow and Trulia. These sites take advantage of a thing called Broker Reciprocity. Basically, Broker Reciprocity is the practice of allowing brokerages to display all properties for sale on their own websites as long as they display the actual brokerage that is listing the home. With the click of a button, it takes literally minutes for a home to be found online whereas in the past it took ten times the effort to find your target market in weeks and months.

The Ambiguity Associated With Today’s Home Marketing

In a twist of marketing, the home for sale is now used by real estate websites to attract the paying agent. Of course, no agents would advertise on a real estate website that was not visited by prospective home buyers and the buyers would not go to the site if there were no home information that was provided by the listing agent. My issue is that there is little clarity on who the listing agent is on many of these websites. For Example, Zillow offers four agent selections on most home listings. The top listed agent is customarily the listing agent and the three below are Premier Agents, AKA, buyer or non-listing agents. If a customer requests information without selecting one of the four agents their request will be sent to the Premier Agent just below the listing agent. The position of the Premier agents changes every time the webpage is reloaded. I call this Realtor Roulette.

The strange part of all this is that buyer agency was born out of a desire by consumer groups to clear up the ambiguity on who represents who in a real estate transaction. It is my belief that there is just as much ambiguity relating to who represents what in real estate as there has ever been due to the interpretation of Broker Reciprocity practiced by these online behemoths.

The ambiguity on who is a buyer agent and who is the listing agent is not an accident. I was told by a Zillow representative that over 80 percent of all home shoppers who request information on a property do not choose who they want to give them that information. This often means the listing or non-paying agent never gets the lead and the Premier agent or paying agent does.

The goal of this article is to make the online home shopping public aware of who they may be contacting to offer them information on a home they desire. If you are looking for general information and are not working with an agent you may want to contact the listing agent. If you are considering seeing the home and are interested in being represented contact a buyer agent, Just because you call an agent for information does not mean you are automatically forced to work with them.

The choices you make in your pursuit of a great home are important and can be impacted by who you talk to first. Make sure it is a person you desire to speak with and ultimately what their motivation and role is.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Should You Sell Your Home As Is?

Should You Sell Your Home As Is?

Sell your home As IsA simple term like As Is can have many meanings. When used in the world of real estate, it goes to a different parallel. The ambiguity of the statement may not be what you want when selling your home, or maybe it is! Here are some things to consider when you sell your home as is.

The real estate business is always full of intrigue and surprise. Often I am presented with situations that, not just require but demand deep thinking. Sometimes that deep thinking finds it’s way into the articles I pen. This happens to be one of those times.

After negotiating a homes price and moving your stuff, the home inspection process may be next in line for things a home seller dreads the most. Not many home sales happen these days without a home inspection being part of the purchase process. The purpose of the home inspection is to find out if something is wrong with the home (Reminds me of a physical). You can’t wait for the doctor to say all is fine and you will live forever.

One way home sellers believe they can navigate by the whole home inspection thing is by offering the property As Is.

Firstly, let’s look at how our local multi-list, Trend MLS, categorizes the As-Is condition status. There are four property condition statuses for Realtors® to choose from;  Average or Above, Fix-Up/Needs TLC, Shell, and As Is. Let me state for the record that while the first three can justifiably be considered property conditions, “As Is” is more a condition of the deal or sale.

The As Is status is defined by Trend as follows, The Property will Transfer in its Current Condition. Interestingly enough, most home sellers believe that is what should happen in the first place. If there were a known material defect or an issue that impacted the safety and well-being of an occupant the seller would remedy the condition before offering it to someone else or offer the home at a discount in consideration.

Will listing a home for sale using the “As Is” status stop a home buyer from asking for a home inspection? Not likely. Buyers and their agent may not even notice the “As Is” status of the property. Even if they did, it is unlikely that it would deter a would-be buyer from asking for inspections.

Know that if you sign an agreement of sale with inspections, the buyer has the right to void the deal if there is something that surfaces in the inspection report they do not like. The agreement you signed with inspections gives the buyer the right to void or ask for repairs and therefore overrules the “As Is” status. An agreement can also have a mortgage contingency which could lead to property condition investigations through the appraisal process. A true “As Is” sale contains NO home inspection conditions whether they are from the buyer or the process of lending money to purchase the home.

In my opinion, a seller would consider using the “As Is” status to convey that the home is in as sale-ready condition as they are willing to make it and will be transferred to the new owner that way. In some cases, I would advise the seller to have a pre-listing home inspection done by a certified home inspector. This way they would have a third-party professional opinion as to the condition of the home. If the pre-inspection uncovered an unknown adverse condition, it could be addressed immediately either in fixing the issue or adjusting the sale price to compensate.  Now the “As Is” status, and likely the sale price would hold more gravity.

One of the perceived negatives to using the As Is status is that some home buyers will think the home is in disrepair. It is my opinion that not many people use the property condition status to search for homes. If a buyer were looking to purchase a home to fix up, they would search using the Fix-Up/Needs TLC or Shell statuses.

I, for one, like the As Is status. It clearly defines the position of a home seller. As long as all the laws are followed that adhere to State Property Disclosure Law, I see little downside to the practice.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

What’s Your Home Saying to Prospective Buyers?

What’s Your Home Saying to Prospective Buyers?

When a home buyer enters a property they have never been to before their physical senses are hard at work. They walk more slowly, look harder, and have a heightened sense of smell. Everything needs to feel just right, and yes, they are listening to every sound the home makes. This article’s focus is on how to enhance the sounds that encompass a house, in other words, what’s your home is saying to prospective buyers.

There are some things a homeowner can change about their home and some they cannot. Examples would be someone who lives close to a highway, airport, or railway. There is little chance the road and airport will close while you are trying to sell your home so the sounds that emanate from them may affect your ability to sell it. There are, of course, some ways to reasonably manage the soundstage that envelops your property or at least not make things worse.

“Sound” Home Marketing Ideas

Does the front door creak? Find the oil can and use it on all door hinges in and outside the home. Is there a screen door that makes a racket or shuts loudly? Fix it, replace it or remove it! Do not have the lawn cutting service show up during a home showing.

Are there animals making noises? Try to remove them before the showing. Story Time; I once listed a home where the owner had a large cockatoo as a companion. It did not take kindly to strangers and was not afraid to let them know it. Feedback from showing agents was not kind. The agents labeled the house “The Bird House.” It is good to make a home memorable and unique, but I am pretty sure this was not the “unique” many prospective buyers were looking for.

Are their dripping faucets or toilets that will not stop running? Fixing these drips and leaks is a must. Often you can hear a running toilet throughout most of the home. If you have hot water radiators, make sure there is no air in the system. If there is air in them, they will make quite a racket. Often buyers will turn lights on in the baths and in many cases they hit the vent fan switch. Replace or repair noisy vent fans in the bathrooms. Creaky floors can be an indication of faulty construction or structural issues. Most times this is not the case, but a buyer may not stay to hear the explanation. Contact a flooring contractor to quiet them. There is a kit known as “Squeak No More” for use on squeaky carpeted floors.

The typical interior staircase produces more squeaks and squawks than a flock of angry geese. One reason is that Staircases are assembled from dozens of wood parts. Over time, these parts expand, and contract and the joints between them loosen up. As a result, every step you take emits an irritating creak or groan. If this is the case at your home have a qualified contractor take a look.

Turn off the ringer and answering machine of your phone during a showing. No one wants to hear a phone ring 7 or 8 times to be followed with a message while they are previewing a home.

The Sounds of the Outside World

Homeowners who have lived in their homes for many years tend to shut out sounds others less familiar will hear. When preparing for showings, keep the sounds of the neighborhood in mind. Things like barking dogs, loud activities, traffic, and the like should be considered. If you live in a well-populated area, consider shutting the windows. Other remedies include upgrading wall & attic insulation which will help quiet the home as well as caulking around doors & windows. If you have single pane windows, it may be worth replacing them with dual pane windows for added soundproofing and efficiency.

Some home buyers value privacy and quietness above all. Those home buyers are often hard pressed to purchase a home in an area where noise is prevalent. Making your home less susceptible to the sounds of the outside world may be the answer. Ultimately the house must uniquely speak to the buyers. Make sure your home is not saying things that will bring the home’s value into question. Sometimes, it is not what you say that matters; it is what buyers hear.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

Thoughts About the Berks Property Tax Appeal Process

Thoughts About the Berks Property Tax Appeal Process

Property Tax Appeal

The glaring property tax issue seems to shine more brightly in Berks than almost anywhere else in Pennsylvania. Is it time we start thinking of ways to help ourselves. Could that help begin by revisiting how the process of property tax appeals are handled?

Virtually everyone who owns property in Berks and many that do not are aware that property taxes are out of control. Our Pennsylvania State Legislators cannot seem to agree on a fix. For this and other reasons, I have long been a proponent of not waiting for someone else to help our great county out of its property tax misery and take action unilaterally.

Each year many home buyers and sellers ask me about the property tax appeal process here in Berks. The central question asked is “when can I appeal the taxes.” To appeal your property taxes, you have to fill out an application and submit it to the Berks County Assessment Office between July 1 and August 15, a 46-day window. You can find the Assessment Appeal Application on their website at http://www.co.berks.pa.us/dept/assessment/Pages/default.aspx. It is unfortunate when someone asks me this question on August 16th. They now have to wait a whopping 10 1/2 months to appeal their property taxes. At best they will not see any relief for almost two years! You see if by next year they successfully appeal their property tax the results of that decision would not take effect until the following tax year.

The exception to the assessment period rule is new home construction. When someone builds a new home, they receive a new assessment, and they have 40 days from the time they receive it to appeal that assessment no matter what time of year it is. Any change to the assessment is enacted the following fiscal tax year.

I understand there are economic expenditure reasons that these timelines exist but maybe some consideration should be given to broadening the appeal period. Along with expanding the assessment period I also suggest allowing the newly appealed tax assessment to be enacted within 60 days of the ruling.

Many of our seniors are on fixed incomes and take property taxes on the chin. It is hard for even seasoned professionals to stay up-to-date or easily understand complicated issues relating to the latest information on property taxes like the common level ratio, property value fluctuations, and policy issues.  I would recommend allowing our seniors to appeal their property taxes anytime much like those purchasing new homes. I would also suggest swiftly enacting the newly appealed tax assessment to for Berks Countians over the age of 55, so they get immediate relief.

If we here in Berks continue to wait for the Pennsylvania State Legislature to get the property tax situation worked out the issue may reach a critical stage if it has not already. Our property tax situation here in Berks will not be solved by continuing to do the same things and expect different results.

Remember the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Every little bit can help.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

The Value of Great Home Photos

The Value of Great Home Photos

Great Home Photos

DRONE THIS!!!

What we see influences our purchase and life decisions. In the case of online marketing, it is essential to present any product accurately and favorably. Great Home Photos are a way of getting the point across as long as they are a good representation of what you are selling.

Fifteen years ago when a friend told you he or she was dating online, you may have thought they were desperate or worse. Today many take the plunge into online dating without a second thought as it is considered a mainstream way of meeting that special someone.

I have never personally dated online. I found my “Special Person” before it was the in-thing. Curiously, I have asked my single friends about their experiences in the online dating world. They tell me that their online dating success or failure has volumes to do with their biography, or profile, and the accompanying personal photograph.

The vast majority of people using a dating website service submit a photograph of themselves that is flattering. It would be unlikely that they would snap off a picture using their iPhone just after waking and post it as their feature, first impression photo. Unfortunately, it seems that some unwitting real estate agents still post pictures of their customer’s home on the web or Multi-List Service that are less than flattering or accurately represent the house they are selling.

Home marketing seems to relate to the online dating trend closely. Taking professional photos of the homes I market entices prospects to take the next step. They reach out to preview the house (a date). If the home lives up to the online presentation, there could be an agreement (engagement). If all goes well, there will be a settlement (marriage). It all starts from behind the computer screen. I am merely a matchmaker.

Unflattering or inaccurate home photography naturally results in fewer home showings just as unflattering people photos would result in fewer dates. Photographs of an open toilet, clothes washer, overexposed window, underlit room or crooked house will not help a home get a “date.” There are times when a home is photographed to look better or bigger than it is. This misrepresentation often leads to letting down the prospective buyer. It is hard for me to believe this is what some home sellers signed up for when they list their property. Home sellers are often asked to make dramatic changes to their property through staging techniques. What good is it if no one can indeed see their efforts and hard work because of faulty or over edited photographs?

I have been practicing photography since I was 13. That was 42 years ago for those of you wondering how old I am. As a photographic specialist, I blend my artistic ability with technical skill. Architectural photography is one of the most challenging forms of the art. The dark rooms of today do not involve chemicals and red lights. They require advanced technical skills using programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. The cameras and lenses I use to photograph my customers’ homes are professional grade and used primarily for architectural (real estate) purposes. I am also skilled in High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography and interior strobe photography techniques. These are the two most common styles of shooting used by home photographers today. When I go to customers homes to take photos, I bring a whole studio of equipment not a point and shoot camera. I even own a bucket truck (cherry picker), so I can get the best exterior shots of the homes, no drones here!

If you are thinking of listing your home, preview my work here https://jeffreyhoguerealtor.smugmug.com/ and give me a call. While many agents use photographic services, I still take my own photos. Photography is a passion for me and also helps me get more acquainted with my client’s home. If you are buying a home, there are plenty of eligible home matches in the photo galleries that need a date. Be aware; they are all looking to get married.

Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue