Deck Your Halls This Season

Thanksgiving weekend is behind us and we are all heading full force into the December holidays. It seems as though the exterior decorations go up earlier and earlier each year in my town. No complaints from me! I enjoy taking the long way through the neighborhood on the way home to see all the lights on the shrubbery and pines, the wreaths on the front doors, and the red bows on the mailboxes. I think holiday decorating is a great way to attract attention to your home and give it a different look than the every day.

Traditionally, real estate winds down toward the end of the year, as do most businesses. People vacation, focus on family, host gatherings, etc. and sellers don’t want to have the added stress of having their home listed forcing them to entertain showings on top of all the other things on their To Do list. As Realtors, our job is to make sure sellers are getting the most exposure for their home. Whenever a seller approaches me about removing their house from the market for the holidays, I discourage it.

Here’s why:

  • Some sellers insist on taking their houses off the market which would mean that those remaining will get more attention.
  • Buyers that are out looking at this time of year are serious buyers. We all know how distracting the holidays can be. There’s always shopping to do, cooking to do, cleaning to do, wrapping to do. Serious buyers, buyers that need to make a move in the next 30-60 days, are the ones out looking. You don’t want to miss these buyers.
  • This is relocation time. Many large companies will ask employees to start their new jobs in the first quarter. Relo buyers are out in force this time of year looking to find a home for their families that will allow them to be settled in by February.
  • Your house looks pretty this time of year! Spend some time decorating outside and in to make your home warm and inviting to potential buyers.

Wishing all of your a joyous holiday season and best wishes for a happy 2013.

Allyson Kane is a certified professional Realtor(R) and is licensed in the State of Connecticut. Having lived in the area for nearly 20-years, Allyson brings hometown knowledge together with her corporate marketing background and passion for the real estate industry to provide her clients with the best professional service in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties. Wondering what your home is worth? Contact Allyson today for a full market analysis report.

Why We Really Should Be ‘Marketing Executives’

Much of what Realtors do is perceived as Sales, but when I think of a salesperson, I think of 1960 when men in suits traipsed door-to-door with gigantic vacuum cleaners or suitcases full of Encyclopedias. These were real sales people. These were unique skills that persuaded folks to purchase items they didn’t necessarily need. This is much different than what I do.

Once I list your home, I have a checklist of mini jobs to perform. I’ll be advertising the property in the local papers, scheduling Open Houses and Broker Tours, developing print campaign mailings, utilizing my social media and web outreach, and maximizing the Prudential name. By doing this, I am working to get your property the biggest and best targeted exposure that I can. Each of my listings has a personalized marketing plan based on demographics such as first-time home buyers, unique homes, commuters, etc. I am marketing your property, not selling it. I can’t force the buyers to be interested in your home. Perhaps it only has three bedrooms and they need four. Perhaps it boarders a main road and they’re insistent on a neighborhood. Perhaps they need a two car garage for their motorcycles and boat and your home only has one. Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

The selling part comes into play when the buyers show interest. Once a buyer starts to envision themselves in your home, Realtors are able to reach into their sack of sales skills and start selling. That’s when I would point out the benefits your home has to offer – for example, how the pool is great for those hot summer days or the fact that there are so many kids in the neighborhood, the local elementary school can only send one bus to the neighborhood. I’d mention how low the taxes are for such a great house or how the home is wired for a generator. This is our time to shine and get the sellers the best possible market value dollar for their home.

When you hire me to represent you as a seller, we become a team. I’m out there looking out for your best interest. You can trust that I’m working daily to make sure your house is getting market exposure through every possible avenue I can access. My passion for this job is unlike any other role I’ve ever had and I want to help you meet your goals while also meeting your expectations.

Working With Buyers in the Age of Information

Have you ever used your smart phone to settle an argument? To find out that little fact nugget that you’re blanking on at the moment? To look up what the name of that actor was is that movie? We all know that in the digital age, everyone seems to have answers to everything at their fingertips. This is especially evident in the Real Estate industry where there are multiple apps and websites that are free to any user that knows how to navigate a smart phone, tablet, or the internet. Back in the days where the Multiple Listing Service put out bound paper books, the only people with access to these books were agents. Now, we have the same information that everyone else does (but we get it sooner and it’s more accurate).

Third party websites such as Zillow and Trulia and Realtor.com get property information from a multitude of sources including Public Records. My husband and I bought a home in October of 2012 and the public record town website still does not have us listed as the homeowner. It’s March. Public Record is a little behind. This is why you still need a Realtor. *wink*

Buyers call us up with a tremendous amount of knowledge. They know what they want (for example, a 3 bedroom house is a nice neighborhood with a flat back yard and a pool. And, oh! We need it for under $250,000) and chances are they’ve already searched the internet and done research on their town(s) of interest. Buyers may have been watching a house in their neighborhood waiting for the price to drop or for the perfect moment to make an offer. Often, buyers call us with a list of homes they want to see and don’t even give us a chance to show them others that we think they might be interested in based on their criteria. I was this buyer. I drove our agent crazy (and she reminds me of that daily!) with email after email saying things like, “Drove by this one today! There’s a sign! Can we go see it?” or, “Did you know this just came on? I saw it on Zillow.” (Yes, she knew. And she knew a week ago.).

Buyers are educated and hold their cards close to the vest. Realtors may need to have carefully worded discussions about how we’re on their side. We are a team. And we took an oath to put the needs of our clients ahead of our own needs. My clients are important to me. I don’t have set hours. I work nights and weekends. You can email me any time. I make sure my clients are getting the best possible service and when we part ways after a successful closing, I want you to have had a positive experience, remember me in a positive light, and tell everyone you know that your home-buying experience was stress free and easy. I want you to think me when it comes to real estate services and if you can’t do that, then I’m not doing my job correctly.

If you’re thinking about buying, now is the time to do it. We believe the market is heading back up. The low of the low has arrived. If you want to take advantage of the low market, start your search today. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a link to an article on that thing called the internet that tells you so.

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Allyson Kane is a certified professional Realtor(R) licensed in the State of Connecticut. Having lived in the area for nearly 20-years, Allyson brings hometown knowledge together with her corporate marketing background and passion for the real estate industry to provide her clients with the best professional service in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties. If you’re in the market for a new home and are ready to take the next step in your search, contact Allyson today. 

“Well, Zillow told me…”

Whether I’m meeting someone for the first time or gathering at a family function, the topic of Real Estate these days always surfaces for conversation. It often starts with, “Oh you’re a Realtor? Tough market, huh.” or “How’s business, Allyson? I hear it’s just a bad time to sell.”

My question back is, “Where did you hear that?” and most of the time the answer is “From Zillow (or Trulia, or some other third party website).”

Zillow and Trulia and other sites are fantastic resources for people who are just beginning their search as buyers. They help provide a lay of the land so to speak – a 100,000 foot view of what each town is producing as far as home sales. They know what sold last month versus what sold that same month last year and they can provide a nice visual graph to illustrate that.

These websites compile their information from public record. They know what a home is assessed for (which is the amount the homeowner pays their taxes on, NOT the market value of the home), they know the price it was last sold for and the date it was sold. They are able to compare your house to your neighbors house or any other house on your block or in your town. They know how many bedrooms you have, how many bathrooms you have, how many acres you have. They know if you have a pool.

Here’s what they don’t know:

They don’t know if you just updated your kitchen with granite and top of the line appliances.

They don’t know if you have beautiful crown molding or other unique architectural flair.

They don’t know if the barn on your property has a legal in-law apartment above it.

They don’t know if the neighbors house has an easement in place allowing the other neighbor to use part of their property to access their own.

They don’t know if you have a shared driveway or own the private road leading to your house.

They don’t know that you just put on a new roof, put in new windows, replaced your boiler, or resurfaced the driveway.

They don’t know that the square footage on the tax record doesn’t include your finished basement that also includes a pool table and wet bar.

And more…

Yet they give you an estimated market value price without this knowledge; without the whole picture. These prices are very skewed from the REAL market value of your home.

When I come to your home to give you a complimentary Qualified Home Assessment, I want to hear all about your home. I want to know about the updates and changes you’ve made while you’ve lived there. I want you to point out the fresh paint, the new molding, the new windows. These are all things I will take into consideration when giving you a list price range and a sales price range. I will also take into consideration all the recent home sales and which were foreclosures, short sales, or flip homes. This is another factor that third party websites can’t figure in with their numbers.

If you are a homeowner that’s thinking of selling and you are waiting for Zillow to tell you when the time is right, you are missing out. Give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to meet with you and discuss your needs. Now is the time to make your move. I’m here to help.

 

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Allyson Kane is a certified professional Realtor(R) licensed in the State of Connecticut. Having lived in the area for nearly 20-years, Allyson brings hometown knowledge together with her corporate marketing background and passion for the real estate industry to provide her clients with the best professional service in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties. If you’re looking to sell your home, contact Allyson today.

The 5 Best Things About Buyers

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Candlewood Lake Marina

I tend to consider myself more of a listing agent than a buying agent. The reason    for this is merely comfort level. I like to talk about what I know. When I list a house for sale, I ask many questions about it and that gives me nearly as much knowledge as the homeowner. I do this to effectively market the property in different channels, to talk about it to other agents, and to answer any questions that a potential buyer may have.

If I’m contacted by a buyer, the chance of them actually asking about my listing is less than 5%. Typically the buyers I work with were referred to me by a friend or previous client, or have seen a house online that peaks their interest and my name happened to come up in a quick search.

Working with buyers is always exciting. It’s a roller coaster ride and we strap into the front car together. Buyers know what they want, they’ve done all their research, and most of the time, the phone call is really just because I’m the one that can open the door to let them in. It’s when we cross the threshold that the fun begins.

Here are my Top 5 Favorite Things About Buyers:

1) They are EXCITED!  Buyers are really excited about what comes next. They talk about their futures, their dreams, their plans. And as their agent, I get to be part of that! I love hearing about how many kids they’re planning to have or how the back-yard would be perfect for summer BBQ’s. I love talking with them about small changes they can make to the home to make it their own. All of these conversations are had with smiles and excitement! I always leave our appointments upbeat.

2) They trust you! After the first couple of meetings, if I’ve done my job right, the buyers know that I’m competent about the local area and the housing market and that I have a firm grasp on what they want and don’t want. It gives me a chance to do some searching and present them with a few properties they might not have seen when they initially did their own searches. I love when they trust me enough to go to a house that I think they might like even when they didn’t pick it themselves.

3) I get to brag. I absolutely LOVE telling relocation clients about the fabulousness of our little corner of Connecticut. I have lived here almost my entire life – over 30-years. I know the area well. I know the ins and outs of each town. I know about the lake, the shopping, the restaurants, the best dry cleaners, and to avoid Federal Road on a Sunday afternoon. I’m able to really give buyers a true-to-life tour of the area.

4) They’re grateful. Buying a home is the biggest investment of your life. It’s a big deal. A really. Big. Deal. And when it all comes together, buyers are THRILLED. It’s a wonderful feeling to be the one holding the checkered flag at the finish line.

5) They become friends. Homebuying is a process. At the very least, it’ll take on average 45-days–and that’s only if you get an accepted offer on one of the first houses you see*! Over that length of time, I talk to my buyers a couple times a day and we hang out just about every weekend (and sometimes during the week) to look at properties. In today’s digital age, I’m always available via text or email or even the old ancient phone call. The interaction is heavy and relationships form quickly. It might be my favorite thing about buyers–the fact that they become lifelong friends.

If you know someone that’s looking to buy or sell a home in Connecticut, contact me today! I can, and would be honored, to help.

*Exceptions include cash deals, contingency waivers, etc.

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Allyson Kane is a certified professional Realtor(R) aligned with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty and is licensed in the State of Connecticut. Having lived in the area for nearly 30-years, Allyson brings hometown knowledge together with her corporate marketing background and passion for the real estate industry to provide her clients with the best professional service in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties. 

Why Sellers Have to be Sellers Before They Can Be Buyers

I read an article a long time ago that said the Top 3 Most Stressful things in life are Death, Divorce, and Moving. There is absolutely no doubt that Death is terrible, Divorce is traumatizing, and Moving is really, really hard. Like most things, we are resilient human beings and we push through continuing to make lemonade out of lemons.
I love it when people call me and tell me they want to move, that they’ve outgrown their house and they’re ready for the next step, or perhaps they’re ready to downsize. Whatever the next phase of their lives may be, it’s typically the same conversation. “We don’t want to sell it until we figure out where we’re going to go”.

Obviously, we’re taught our whole lives to have a Plan B. Leaving yourself homeless is a pretty reckless thing to do so what would we do if the house sold quickly and we didn’t have anywhere to go?

Here’s two reasons why this process sounds like an excellent plan at first, but doesn’t usually work in the world of Real Estate.

Reason 1: Absorption Rates
If you’re looking to hire an agent to sell your home, ask them about the Absorption Rates specific to your town and in the price range in which you’ll be selling. This is a huge factor that will play into how much an agent spends marketing your home and when they roll out that plan. It should also tell you about when you can expect to start looking for your future home. Absorption Rates by definition are an average estimate of how long it takes for your property to go from listed to contract to sold. We pull these statistics using the data from the last 6-months. To make it easy to explain, say your home is listed at $475,000. Currently there are 6 active properties listed between $475 and $500K (your competition). Over the last 6-months, 2 properties in that price range sold and 1 of them went under contract. This brings the Average Months of Inventory to 12. That’s one year. It’s just the average, so you don’t have to consider it a rule, but it should definitely be considered when it comes to planning your next steps.

Reason 2: Heartbreak
Home selling and buying are emotional. As a buyer, you have to walk into a home and be able to visualize yourself there. You want to be able to picture your kids playing tag in the back yard, posing for prom pictures on the front porch, and playing basketball in the driveway. When I take out buyers they know the second they walk into a house if its going to work for them and for their lives and lifestyle. If we head out looking too soon and your find a house you love before yours is even listed, it often leads to disappointment. The main cause of Reason 2? See Reason 1.

The Big What-If
So, what-if your house sells in a week? What if, just by chance, the first people that see it on the first day it’s listed, write an offer? What if the inspections all check-out, appraisal goes through, and you are cleared to close in 30-days? And what if, because of all of this, you have NO idea what’s out there to buy? Well, here’s why you hired an agent. Agents have connections and access to a ton of information that sellers don’t. We network with other agents and brokers. We know that there might be a house that is vacant that has been on the market for almost a year and the sellers would love to rent it. We know of plenty of short-term rentals that we can make work for you. We also know great mortgage reps that can get your own loan approved quickly and jump-start the process. This is what we DO. Unfortunately, we don’t get to do it often because the What-If scenario is rare. However, the What-If scenario is FAR from a bad thing! It’s every seller’s (and Realtor’s) dream!

If you’re thinking of selling, you should focus on just that piece of the process. Invite an agent to do a Market Analysis on your home (I offer them free! Just click here!) and ask them about things you should do to the house that would ensure getting top dollar when it sells. Perhaps it involves updating an entire bathroom, but most of the time it’s smaller things like painting, decluttering, and moving furniture to maximize space and aesthetic appeal. Once your agent has researched the comparable properties and you have agreed on a list price, the ball is set in motion. Your agent should have an extensive marketing plan to roll out during the length of your listing contract and should share that plan with you. Paying close attention to the ever changing factors such as new competitive listings, changes in the market, etc., your agent should be most concerned with positioning your house front and center. Work together to make the process smooth and as easy as possible. After all, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life. Lean on the professional to get you through! Realtors are in this business because we love it. Remember that you’re on the team.

 

Getting My Feet Wet With Video Marketing

Before I began my career in Real Estate, I worked for nearly 15-years in the field of marketing. My job titles varied and therefore, so does my experience. Coming into the working world in the late 90’s, I was right at the beginning of the Dot Com bubble (but luckily, had the sense to stay out) and the early part of my career was filled with print campaigns and fax blasts (fax blasts!). Email was used as a replacement for Office Memos, but no one had discovered the power of email marketing just yet.

Over a few years, the paradigm shifted and online marketing launched with gusto. Digital ad campaigns, email blasts, website redesigns, user generated content, blogging, Social Media(!), viral videos and more. Social Media is at the top of search results right along with video.

When I’m working for sellers, I’m always looking to get the property in front of the most people; casting wide nets on social media networks and in advertising campaigns. I always offer my sellers tailored marketing plans specific to their listed property. While a Visual Tour video might make it to the top of search results, it loses a viral component. Buyers want to identify with the property. They want to see someone point out the positives and unique property features before they can really begin to envision themselves in that home. By being in front of the camera, I’m able to engage my audience, bring them up to speed on exactly where we are with regard to nearby roads, the neighborhood itself, as well as the actual property details. I’m hoping this is what would cause someone to ‘share’ the video.

Personally, this is a big deal for me. As someone who has always hated the sound of her own voice and feels much more comfortable scripting from behind a computer screen (with the luxury of a delete key), video tends to be off the cuff, quick thinking, real time, and consistent eye-contact. I launched out of my comfort zone and gave it a shot.

My first Property Listing Video is currently in production and I’ll be happy to share it with you here as soon as it’s complete. Here’s a sneak peek still shot taken by my seller while I was recording.

Spring Market Is Here! And It’s Early!

shutterstock_8794708Everyone in the coastal northeast is digging out from Blizzard 2013 and cursing the Groundhog that promised us an early Spring. Perhaps he wasn’t talking about the weather!

Realtors spend most of January and early February prospecting and preparing for the Spring Market which typically begins in March. However, this year it appears to be quite early. New listings are hitting the market in abundance every day. Come March, the choices for buyers could be quite overwhelming. If you’re a buyer, this is a GREAT thing. If you’re a seller, you might want to consider listing your home sooner rather than waiting to come on the market with everyone else in March.

Want to List Your Home?I can provide a full Competitive Market Analysis for your property within 24 hours of a short, 30 minute visit to the home. I will give you a full analysis of what similar properties in your neighborhood are listing for and selling for as well as input for preparing your home for “Show Condition”. Prudential CT Realty is a FULL SERVICE agency and we are trained to provide our sellers with the best possible customer service which includes our professional take on what items  you might need to remove from rooms or, small, inexpensive updates you might want to make in order to get the most money for your property.

Ready to Buy?
Lets spend some time together! Give me a call or send me an email so we can arrange a short meeting. I can tell you about available properties that meet your Wish List criteria. I can also make referrals to area mortgage brokers, movers, insurance companies, and more to help make your buying experience as stress free as possible. Remember that third party sites such as Realtor.com or Zillow.com aren’t completely up to date. For the most recent and accurate information, contact me today!

DAN0641-THUMPAllyson Kane is a certified professional Realtor(R) aligned with Prudential Connecticut Realty and is licensed in the State of Connecticut. Having lived in the area for nearly 20-years, Allyson brings hometown knowledge together with her corporate marketing background and passion for the real estate industry to provide her clients with the best professional service in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield counties. Wondering what your home is worth? Contact Allyson today for a full market analysis report.

From Marketing to Real Estate. Why?

I’m often asked why I chose to get into this field… especially now with all the market trends the way they’ve been. Call it a leap of faith. Call it following a passion. Call it crazy. All of the above are true.

What’s also true is that these two businesses are so closely related. Realtors are marketers. We are marketing your property so it gets exposure – and not just plain old exposure, but the right exposure to the right buyers. We are marketing ourselves to potential clients. Why should you list with me? Why should you choose me to represent you as a buyer? These are all questions I answer daily.

As a Realtor, we’re responsible for ourselves, our listings, and our clients. We are aligned with Brokers that trust us to represent them. We are people that are not just marketing a product, but marketing a business, a brand, an industry overall.

I have over 12-years experience in marketing. Over the course of those 12-years the internet has gone from being something we used to check email (one email account for the entire office) to something that without access to, our daily lives come to a screeching halt. I’ve been responsible for marketing plans that started out with line items such as ‘Mailing 1, Mailing 2, Postcard 1, Postcard 2’. If I handed that marketing plan to a Marketing Director today, they’d laugh. Where are the targeted media buys? Where are the email blasts? Where is the social media strategy? My how things have changed!

As a Realtor, I’m ready to leverage my background knowledge to propel me forward in my new career. And the fun is really just beginning.

Are you an avid user of social media? You can find me on Facebook and on Twitter.