Don’t Cheat – Especially on your Real Estate Agent!

The Ethics of Using Multiple Real Estate Agents

Multiple Real Estate AgentsIf You’re “Cheating” on your Real Estate Agent in Park City, You’ll Probably Get Caught

I had the privilege of showing some homes to a lovely, young couple from Las Vegas. They were looking at homes in the $4-8 million dollar price range. We took a break from showings because the husband had to leave town for a week. Naturally, at that price point, the agents are present at all the homes I have been showing these clients. A few days after my client left town, an agent from my office who had met my clients at a showing told me she received a call from another agent who’s clients were from Las Vegas and closely fit the profile of the couple I was working with. We quickly determined it was not the same couple. Whew, my nice couple wasn’t cheating on me.

This incident reminded me of another that happened earlier in the year. An agent in my office asked me if I would show his client some homes while he was out of town. His client was particularly interested in one of my listings, which was an unusual “gentleman’s ranch”. He gave me the background on his client, including her name, email, where she was from, what she was looking for. I tried making contact with her several times and she was elusive in her responses to me.

A few hours later the same day, another agent called to set up a showing at the gentleman’s ranch. He gave me the background on his client and I said, “Wait, is her name X?” Sure enough he said, “Yes, how would you know that?” I said that another agent in my office had been working with her.

She was busted in the span of 2 hours. Can you imagine how my colleague felt when I told him that his client was now working with someone else?

The Value of Your REALTOR’s Time, Knowledge and Energy

REALTORs are paid on 100% commission, which means we work for free until there is a transaction that closes. If an agent spends an hour or two with you, you may think “no big deal”. It is a big deal. How valuable is years of market knowledge that is freely given to clients with no strings attached? How valuable is the time we spend researching properties, comparable sales and setting up showings? How valuable is the time we spend previewing properties every Wednesday so that we will understand the value of our market? It may be a few hours spent with a client, but there are hundreds of hours of preparation before the client is ever involved. It’s not nice to “use” real estate professionals for free advice if you have no intention of using them.

But, Your Agent Should be a Good Fit for You

Now, I am not talking about the situation where you realize that the REALTOR you started out with is not a good fit. We all have different personalities, work ethics, and levels of expertise. You deserve to work with someone who is a good fit for you.

What I am talking about is someone who using multiple real estate agents and makes each of them think they are that person’s exclusive representative. Or the person who calls three REALTORS, tells each one they are competing for the listing and then uses the knowledge imparted by the three REALTORS to sell their property to a friend. Yes, I was one of those three REALTORS and I was annoyed at the person’s lack of transparency.

Park City is a small town with a small REALTOR community. We talk to each other. Even though we compete with one another, we look out for each other. And we will almost always find out if you are “cheating” on us. So do the right thing.  If you are shopping around for a REALTOR, say so. If you are looking for help to sell a property yourself, say so. Isn’t that what the “golden rule” is all about?

Appraisers Are a Key Component to Closing a Sale

Park City Appraisers Are My Friends (And They Should Be Yours, Too)

Park City AppraisalsWhile about half of Park City home purchases are cash, the other half are not. And in our current real estate market, many “cash” offers subsequently involve financing. There is a gatekeeper to a successful real estate sale that involves financing, and that gatekeeper is the appraiser.

Yesterday I met an appraiser at one of my listings that is currently under contract. Since I have put 12 listings under contract since January, I’ve made several such trips over the past few months. I have run into the same few appraisers over and over again, including the gentleman I met yesterday.

I knew this appraisal would be a challenge. My listing is going to be the highest sale in the subdivision in 10 years. I arrived prepared. I brought a copy of the real estate purchase contract, a list of all the upgrades my client has made since she purchased the property, and a list of recent comparable sales. Together, the appraiser and I discussed each comparable sale. I left the packet of information with him when we were done.

Diligence is Appreciated

And then, to my surprise, he told me that he loves appraising my listings. He said that some agents do not answer their phones or are slow to return calls and he can barely get an appointment scheduled. He thanked me for always responding quickly, making it easy for him to appraise my listings, and meeting him each time with a packet of useful information.

So far, all of my listings have appraised. The appraiser told me that he didn’t see a problem with this one appraising either.  [Since writing this blog post, I learned the appraisal did come in at purchase price thus enabling the transaction to move forward.  A few years ago, when the real estate market was still in the doldrums, I was not so lucky.  However, with persistence, I was able to appeal the appraisal.  You can read about that situation here.

Marketing a property and being present for showings is just the first step. I stay engaged with the sale of each one of my listings until the proceeds are in my clients’ bank account. This is the only way I know how to do business. Based on the comments of my Park City appraiser friend, it may not be so typical in this town.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job! Hire the Experts!

3 Reasons to Hire a Professional to Manage your Park City Rental

Park City Long Term RentalsI specialize in helping people buy and sell homes. I spend most of my time providing real estate services to my clients. My downtime is spent with family. If you are a busy person, I’m sure this sounds familiar. I recently learned that I should “not quit my day job” when it comes to renting out the condo I recently purchased. I hope that my experience can prevent a headache for you if you’re looking to rent out a property in Park City.  This applies to both long term and short term (vacation) rentals.

Lesson Learned: Stick to What you Know. Hire Out the Rest.

  1. A professional will get the job done. As I mentioned, I am busy with real estate work. I helped 9 buyers and 9 sellers in the first 6 months of 2016. Getting my condo ready to rent, advertising it and setting up appointments are time consuming activities. In retrospect, I should have hired professional help. If you are thinking of selling a house on your own, think again. You will save time and money with professional help.
  2. They will be a buffer between you and the other party. When I receive an offer on a listing, I wouldn’t think of taking it off of the market without checking into the background of the buyer and ensuring the earnest money is deposited. Yet, that’s what I did with my own condo. A “friend of a friend” was going to rent it from me. She pursued me relentlessly and told me a sad story. I held the condo for her and allowed her to make her deposit a week before the start of the lease. Needless to say, she backed out and I lost a month of marketing time. A professional property manager would have better served my interests.
  3. They can help you figure out the price. I’ve seen this happen with listings and it immediately became apparent with the condo. If you have showings and no offers, you have a price problem. I knew I needed to either lower the rent I was asking or improve it the condo. I ended up doing both and l found a wonderful renter.

I am really good at representing people in the sale or purchase of a home. You are probably really good at flying an airplane, selling health insurance, practicing law, or being an amazing parent. It’s best to leave activities requiring specialized knowledge and time to those who are experts.

Our Unsolicited List of Long Term Park City Rental Property Management Companies

This list is totally unsolicited, but here are a few property management companies in Park City we’ve either used or heard good things about through the grapevine. Check out the list here.

What are your thoughts on using a professional vs. not? Any property managers you’d highly recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Here’s What’s Happening in Pinebrook…

Park City Neighborhood Spotlight: Pinebrook

PinebrookNestled in the mountains that surround Park City, the Pinebrook neighborhood is truly one of the area’s residential gems. Just West of Kimball Junction, Pinebrook is attractive to commuters while remaining within Summit County limits.

Trail heads, bike paths and a collection of attractive shops and restaurants make this a convenient and lively area to call home. For the home shopper there is a unique assortment of options. Lower Pinebrook offers a nice selection of townhomes and twin villas while upper Pinebrook has single family homes with ample outdoor space. The market in this area is very stable, and 2015 real estate stats show Pinebrook had among the highest number of increases in home sales.

Quarry Village

Quarry VillageThere isn’t much that you can’t find outside of Quarry Village. Here sits the quietest grocery store around, which is a big plus during the Sundance Film Festival and major Holiday weeks. There are wonderful furniture stores and a specialty running store complete with coffee shop and more.

An eclectic mix of restaurants should appeal to all appetites. Family friendly Billy Blanco’s puts a fresh twist on Mexican cuisine, O’Shucks Restaurant and Ahh Sushi are great places for burgers, cold beer and sushi and they have live music at least twice a week. For a morning on the go, Park City Bread and Bagel can’t be beat.

Sports Around Every Corner

The history of Pinebrook is steeped in winter sports. Back in the 1930s and 1940s the Ecker Hill area was known for ski jump competitions. In fact, there is a neighborhood monument that honors the successes and tragedies of the jumpers. Another sport began in the 1960’s: local four-wheel drive hill climb competitions.

Pinebrook continues to attract a sporty population. Today the area is a mecca for yoga practitioners, hikers, bikers and snow shoe enthusiasts. Located next to the winter hot spot, Gorgoza Park, a sledding hill for all ages and abilities, there is never a shortage of fun activities. The Ecker Hill Aquatic Center is also close by and is open year round.

Education Opportunities

The Pinebrook neighborhood provides the widest range of education opportunities in the area. There are a number of popular preschools as well as the private Park City Day School. Public elementary schools, Parley’s Park, Jeremy Ranch and the charter Weilenmann School of Discovery are all very close by. Easy access to Highway 80 provides a number of other specialty programs in the Salt Lake Valley.

Courtyards at Quarry Village

The Courtyards at Quarry Village are a well-designed condominium complex. These 3 and 4 bedroom units feature oversized 2-car garages, large kitchens and gas fireplaces. Situated on walking paths and on the free bus route these homes would appeal to the mountain lover who enjoys urban amenities.

If you are seeking a home or a carne asada buritto, take a peek around Pinebrook and discover one of the best neighborhoods around.

Beautiful Packages…

Brands Like Tiffany’s and Sotheby’s Deliver the Whole Package

TiffanysWhen you see a box from Tiffany & Co., no matter what is inside, or how much it costs, the Tiffany box makes the gift special and its presentation an emotional experience. Similarly, when homebuyers see a Sotheby’s International Realty sign, they know that there is something special inside.

Sotheby’s International Realty enables me to offer “million dollar marketing” for all properties, from a $91,0000 residential lot to a multi-million dollar home. When a property is branded as a Sotheby’s International Realty listing, the “ordinary” is transformed to the “extraordinary”.

Through Sotheby’s International Realty, I create an emotional presentation for each of my listings. The professional photography, virtual tours, descriptions and branding, allow me to highlight the special content of each property I represent.

It costs no more to be represented by the best real estate brand in the world. If you know anyone who is thinking of selling a Park City property, please let me know. I would be delighted to share the unparalleled exposure I can provide as a Sotheby’s International Realty agent.

Update from Sotheby’s International Realty 2016 Networking Event!

Dinner with 2,300 Sotheby’s International Realty Agents

Laurie McClainI just returned from Las Vegas, where I attended the Sotheby’s International Realty 2016 Global Networking Event. My goal was to develop relationships with Sotheby’s agents who live in places where my Park City friends & clients transact real estate.

The event did not disappoint. I had lunch Laurie McClain (pictured above) from Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in San Diego. Two months ago, Laurie referred clients to me who had recently purchased property in San Diego but were having trouble selling their Park City home. Their Park City home had been listed for 9 months with very few showings. I sold the home in 45 days. Our clients are beyond happy with Laurie and me for helping them achieve their goal of moving to San Diego.

I met Jay Kipp and Moire Holley, from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle. Jay specializes in waterfront properties and Moire specializes in urban condominiums. Rob McGarry, my personal realtor, is a top producer with Vista Sotheby’s International Realty in Manhattan Beach, California. Charline McGee is a great agent in Naples, Florida.

I broke bread with other agents from Newport Beach, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Mill Valley, California. I enjoyed a drink with the agent who started selling real estate in Kauai, Hawaii back in the 1970’s. I met agents from Australia, Cyprus & Spain.  All are part of the Sotheby’s International Realty family.

If you are looking to buy or sell a vacation or permanent residence anywhere in the world, please let me help you find an exceptional Sotheby’s International Realty agent.

How to Evaluate your Park City Home

Automated vs. Professional Real Estate Valuations

Park City Real Estate Valuations

Do you need a Real Estate professional to determine the value of your home?

There are several automated real estate valuations on the internet, the most popular being Zillow’s “Zestimate”. In a location like Park City, where every neighborhood was built during a different time period and the majority of homes are custom built, there are tremendous variations that an analytic computer program can not account for.

Where Online, Automated Valuations Fall Short

1. Location

  • Does the home back to open space or a golf course?
  • Is the home close to Highway 80 or SR 224?
  • Is the home south-facing?

2. Lot

  • How large is the lot?
  • How close is the nearest neighbor behind the lot?
  • Is the lot flat or on a hillside?

3. The Home

  • What year was the home built? Has the home been updated?
  • What is the finish level? Granite countertops or Formica?
  • What is the style of the home? Mountain timber? Brick?
  • What is the condition of the home? Is it beat up from small children and pets or is it pristine?
  • What is the floor plan like? Is there a walk out basement or window wells?

All of these qualities go into the calculation of a home’s market value. I make it my business to preview as many properties as possible during our REALTOR open house tours. This allows me to compare the value of one property against another. Real estate valuation is both an art and a science that requires an experienced professional.

2016 Housing Forecast Stats

Good Real Estate News for Utah!

Housing Forecast

Last week I attended the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Regional Conference in Park City.

Lawrence Yun, PhD, the NAR’s Chief Economist gave a presentation. I always love hearing his opinion on the real estate market. These slides were taken with my iPhone during his presentation because I wanted to share a few of his key points with my clients and friends.

His housing forecast for 2016 is quite interesting. There will be more new homes entering the market, but existing home sales will still rise. Median price growth is expected to slow to 4%, which is still above the traditional average of 3%. Mortgage rates are expected to remain flat during this election year.

Top and Bottom States for Jobs

Best and Worst JobsAs I have written before, Utah has the best economy in the United States. I was surprised to see we have fallen to second in job growth, but the fact of the matter is that Utah is gaining a lot of jobs. And job growth means employees who need to live somewhere. Park City has always been a top choice for executives relocating to Utah with their families. As I have written about previously, even Park City is seeing job growth in the technology sector.

Would Home Sales Rise?

Home Sales Rise

Dr. Yun touched on the factors that are associated with increased home sales. As you can see on the slide above, “job creation” is “super good” for rising home sales. He associates rising mortgage rates and too fast rising prices as “not good” for home sales. The good news is that he predicts mortgage rates will remain stable through 2016 and the Park City data shows a very stable real estate market. Dr. Yun also predicts that as housing prices come back to where they were before the recession, sellers who had negative equity and could not move are creating pent up demand as the timing is finally right for them to make a change. The “boomerang buyers” in his slide are those who had to wait 7 years after a foreclosure or bankruptcy and are now able to re-enter the market.

It’s always informative to hear national experts discuss real estate. Dr. Yun’s slides and comments further convince me that the Park City real estate market is sound and will remain stable throughout the year.

Vail’s effect on Park City this season…

Vail’s Purchase of Park City Leads to Increased Visitors

ski utah epicAccording to Bill Malone*, President and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, “droves of spring break vacationers and people visiting from Latin American countries led to a successful March”. Malone expects to see increased visitors from Australia due to Vail Resort’s recent acquisition of Perisher, Australia’s largest ski resort.

Although March is always a big month for visitors to Park City, I found it fascinating that in his recent interview with the Park Record, Bill Malone specifically cited visitors from Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. In my casual conversations with people on Park City’s ski lifts, many told me that they were visiting Park City for the first time using their “Epic” ski pass. These visitors had traditionally vacationed in Colorado, but wanted to give Park City a try since it was included on their ski pass. Vail’s Epic pass is sold in 50 countries around the world. In a recent press release, Vail’s CEO, Rob Katz noted, “..we are pleased with the double-digit visitation and revenue growth at Park City, following our transformational capital investments.”

epic passIt is difficult to draw visitors to Park City the first time. However, once first-time visitors experience the charm of Park City and the ease of traveling to our resorts, it is likely they will return.   There is also that possibility that they will like Park City so much, they will want to invest in a permanent or vacation home in Park City and become part of our community. Vail’s acquisition of Park City Resort and the presence of the Epic Pass in Park City is truly a game changer for our community.

The Evolution of Park City…

From Townies to Techies: the Changing Economy of Park City

Silicon Slopes Park City

Park City has evolved from a mining town to an enclave of startups and entrepreneurs.

Since the very beginning, Park City has always been a destination town. Yet, the reasons for the destination have shifted; silver mining made way for skiing and resorts and now new businesses are sliding right in. Here we take a look at how Park City is currently enjoying a boom of entrepreneurs.

Mountain Companies

A few big names come to mind when you think successful business and Park City. The first, Skullcandy, makes action sports audio equipment. Originally starting in Park City a few years ago, they made the decision to close all Los Angeles offices in 2013 and continue in PC exclusively. They felt that their consumers needed to be in the same location as their sales and marketing operations. Currently 175 full-time employees report to their headquarters.

A second success story is Backcountry.com. The e-commerce recreation equipment retailer, which began in 1996 in a garage in Park City, has evolved to be considered one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. Currently they manage an impressive array of outdoor gear sites and have expanded to Western Europe.

Access to Capital

Business insiders nod toward the Park City Angels when talking success. This angel investment network is the largest in Utah, with 45 dues-paying members. The group invested a whopping $6.55 million in Utah startups in 2015 alone. In respect to access to capital, this puts area businesses ahead of those in the more urban tech centers of Salt Lake City and Provo.

Access to Talent

Capital isn’t the only asset that Park City is close to. Easy access to Salt Lake and Utah County programmers are a huge bonus for a new company. Since Salt Lake and Provo have an active tech talent pool, it’s easy to lure neighboring engineers and programmers to new and exciting projects. Many commuter employees don’t mind the 50-minute highway drive and public transportation options are always improving.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle

For years Park City has welcomed startup and technology growth. In 2012 The Boyer Company built The Park City Tech Center, a state-of the art business and technology research park located just 30 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport. 10 minutes from the closest lift chair and steps away from nordic skiing and mountain biking trails, it was just announced that a new tenant is moving in to the center, Skullcandy.

The Effect on Real Estate

What does the changing dynamic of our economy mean for Park City real estate?  It means that Park City is diversifying from a seasonal resort community to a place where people can find high paying, professional jobs.  Currently, many of Park City’s skilled workers commute to Salt Lake for jobs and many of Skull Candy, Armada, and Rossignol employees commute from Salt Lake City to Park City for work.  The increased availability of full time employment in Park City allows Park City to transition from a resort community, to a vibrant community where people live, work and play.  The skilled employees in Park City’s tech community will create an increased demand for homes priced under $1 million.  We will always have the resort community, but the diversification of employment, especially high paying, skilled jobs, is great for our community and real estate market.