Why Are You Letting Your House Sit On The Market?

It seems, at least for now, that the days when you would slap a sign in your yard and sell your house in 24 hours are ending. Things have changed in the market in North Texas. People are tired of overspending on a home when there are others nearby that will work just as well. Sometimes, even new construction homes will sit on the market because people don’t want to spend that much.

The Number One Reason Your House Doesn’t Sell

I see it often. A perfectly good house in a great neighborhood and it’s been on the market for half a year or more. Unfortunately, sometimes seller’s are just not realistic about the pricing of their homes. Even if you have the best Realtor in North Texas, you still won’t sell the home if the price is not in line with what is going on in your area.

It doesn’t matter if you put in a $100,000 pool with lights and an outdoor kitchen. If no one else in your neighborhood has a pool like that or an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you won’t get near what you put into that pool or kitchen. People just won’t pay for it.

A decent Realtor will tell you where the house should be priced. Still there are those who insist that their house is better than everyone else’s home in the area.

An Honest Question

Market Bikes

Would you honestly pay more for something when there are other choices that will do the same thing for you? If you don’t race bicycles, would you pay $8000 for a bike when a $200 bike will do what you want it to do? I could ask the same thing about so many items we use every day.

When my grandson was born, my daughter insisted on buying Tommy Hilfiger clothes for him. When I asked her why, she said it was because she never got nice clothes growing up and she was not going to have her child be embarrassed by the clothes he wore. Ouch! When I tried to explain that he would be in those clothes for two months and they would never get worn out, it fell on deaf ears. There was no convincing her about the practical aspects of buying clothes for babies.

What About A House?

Market Similarity

I recently had a conversation with another agent in my office. He had a house listed on the market. It had been going slow and he was considering having a conversation with the owner about possibly lowering the price.

Just when he was about to do that, another house in the same neighborhood came on the market with an inflated price. Before he knew it, he received multiple offers on his listed house. Why? Because the houses were almost the same. People could look at both of them and soon realized that the house he was promoting was just as good as the other house.

Why would you spend extra money on a house when there is another one down the street for less?

Unless there are specific features or needs that one house has over the other, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

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My Return To Toastmasters

 

It’s been a few years since I was in Toastmasters International. It is an organization that helps people come to terms with public speaking. They offer education and practice in front of a group, offering constructive feedback on your progress through a series of speeches.

Toaastmasters Logo

Why Did I Go In The First Place?

When I first started going to Toastmasters, I had been a corporate trainer for years. I had been in front of groups of people in a teaching environment. There was a need to take very complex concepts and make them understandable to people who had never used the technology before.

Although it was just a part of my job, I enjoyed it immensely. After a while, I became very comfortable teaching any subject to this group. The nervousness had gone away for the most part because these were people I had dealt with for years in the work environment.

I wanted more.

Something Was Very Wrong

One day, my boss invited me to go with him on a recruiting mission. My job was to present our “pitch” for getting new people to apply at the company. When I got up to speak in front of this “foreign” group, I stammered terribly. I was suddenly so nervous speaking that I barely got the words out.

Afterwards, my boss asked me what was wrong. I knew but I wasn’t about to tell him. I was nervous because I had been speaking in front of the same group of people for so long. I had not experienced speaking in front of groups I did not know and it was completely different. I knew I needed to improve. Enter Toastmasters

What I Accomplished

After about 18 months and two different clubs due to relocation, I achieved Competent Communicator status. I think the name has changed now to Competent Toastmaster Certification but it doesn’t matter. To get to that level, I needed to give ten speeches on different topics in front of people I didn’t really know. I even gave an evaluation at a competition and came in second place. It was kinda cool to accomplish those things.

It was during that time that I applied to teach at a Junior College in order to get in front of people I didn’t know on a regular basis. My Toastmaster training allowed me to take on that role without getting into a panic.

Shortly after that, I relocated again and fell out of Toastmasters.

Why I Returned

Due to medical conditions, I had to leave my employment. I returned to school, got a degree, but ultimately decided on Real Estate as my new career.

While I was in school, there were requirements to give speeches as assignments. Again, I could feel some nervousness getting in front of people. I pushed through it though and was very successful.

I realized, getting into Real Estate, that I would need to be comfortable talking to people I had just met with confidence and assurance. They needed to know that I knew what I was doing and could help them.

As part of my transition into this career, I had mentors through my office but wanted different mentors. I thought it would be beneficial to have mentors from other industries.

My “lead mentor,” the one I  would be sharing everything with and asking for specific feedback, suggested getting back into Toastmasters as a way of improving my communications skills.

I thought back to all the times I had given a speech at Toastmasters and the valuable feedback I had received. I knew that I could not only continue to improve my communications skills but could also focus more on my leadership skills. Together, it had the potential to change my effectiveness in my career and dealing with people I already knew.

So here I am, getting ready to give the first speech over again, just like the first time I attended Toastmasters. It’s the “get to know me” speech, The Ice Breaker Speech, so my new group can know my background. It’s the easiest talk since I already know the subject – me!

I will post occasionally on my progress and even include video when I get it.

What About You?

There are many reasons to join Toastmasters. There are probably more reasons not to go. However, if you want to improve your speaking ability in a variety of ways, give it a try.

See you at the next meeting or competition.

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

That Feeling Of Despair

Despair - What Have I Done

Now What?

The New Year has begun. Remember over the holidays when everyone over-ate, over-spent, and generally over did it all? You woke up a day or two later and thought “What have I done?”

Despair - Overwhelmed

The House

The same thing can happen with a home purchase. It’s called buyer’s remorse. It’s not quite as easy to “return a house to the store.” You own it now. You’ve moved in and now you’re starting to rethink what you have done. Don’t worry, it’s a normal thing many people go through.

Despair - Own It

How To Combat Those Feelings

  1. Embrace what you have done. You are a homeowner now! What a great thing. It might seem like the costs are huge and there is no way you can really afford what you have done. Take heart. If you worked with a Realtor and a Lender, part of their job is to make sure you don’t overextend yourself. You actually can afford the home you are in.
  2. Make it your own. No house is perfect. Not even a new construction home. It’s quite possible there are things you will want to do to improve the property. Remember that it is your home now, not the previous owners. You can paint with whatever colors appeal to you, you can also change counters, drapes, and any other improvements you would like to make. Take it slow and start small. Paint one room. It doesn’t have to be done overnight. More than likely, you will be in the house at least seven years so plan things, save some money and be smart with the change decisions you want to make.
  3. Enjoy. You have spent a lot of time looking at properties and finding just the right thing for you and your family. Rest in the knowledge that you make an informed decision and it was what was best for your family at this time. The feelings of remorse will go away when you start making changes and making your new home more – well – homey!

If Something Changes

Job loss, illness, family dynamic changes, more family members moving in or out. All these things can affect your ability to maintain the house you had so many hopes for.

If something happens that prevents you from enjoying the tranquility of your home, don’t despair. Keep your Realtor and Lender informed of changes within you family. They are there to help you. If the need arises that you need to change things, they can help figure out alternatives or sell the property if that is the best course of action. They have spent a lot of time with you, building a relationship. It was never intended to be a “once and done” setup. Every day, there are new programs being developed that could change your outlook even if there have been dramatic changes to your family.

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Making Goals Can Be Challenging

Goals are essential to growth. Whether it is a business goal or a personal goal, without them, we all wander around aimlessly. When I worked in a corporate setting, We had daily, monthly and annual goals for production. Those decisions were made by others who were higher up in the organization. There were budgets, earmarks, and sometimes even rewards in place to help meet those goals.

Personal goals are a different thing altogether. For whatever reason, it seems personal goals are a lot harder to accomplish. Maybe it’s because society is so focused on making money so we can have a life or that we always find ways of letting other things get in the way of our personal desires. Maybe we need to micromanage our personal lives better.

Making Goals - Goals

Helpful Goal Setting Ideas

Making goals has always been a challenge to me. I think it is because when I do, sometimes things get in the way. Instead of adjusting or setting new goals, I try to force the same ones even though they are no longer realistic.

Here are a few things that have helped me get better at making goals that I can achieve. They are challenging enough to keep me moving forward.

  1. Make a one-page business plan. I have one that I took from a video and made my own. If you would like a copy of the template, I can send it to you. Simply email me and it will be on its way.
  2. Make monthly, annual, 3-year, and 5-year goals. Start with the five-year mark and reverse engineer the goals. By reverse engineering the longer term goals, you can make your smaller goals granular enough to be able to accomplish them.
  3. Make sure your business plan is a living document. By living document, I am referring to the idea that your longer-term goals need to be adjustable. If you are getting ahead (or behind) in your ability to reach your goals, you need to be able to adjust your plans.
  4. Make personal goals measurable, attainable, and time restrictive. Having a “To Be Done By” date will help motivate you to complete the task. Simply saying something like “I will lose weight this year” doesn’t mean a whole lot.
  5. Don’t forget to plan your family/personal time. This should probably be done first. Try not to let anything interfere with those plans.

Making Goals - Achieve Greatness

Granular Planning

In a recent post, I talked about Implementing Micro-habits. In that post, I referenced the idea of starting slow and building. In a business setting, it isn’t always possible to take it slower. In that case, we need to be able to plan, even on a daily basis, what needs to be accomplished.

My weekly planning involves sitting down ahead of time and planning the next week. However, the first thing that gets scheduled is my family time. No scheduling is worth sacrificing your family. Work should always be secondary to your family needs. What meetings do I need to have and when? What needs to be done with social media? What advertising needs to be accomplished? What education do I need to do to stay fresh in my field? We should be learning something new every week. How many people will I be contacting? What social events will I be attending?

Make sure you leave some downtime in your schedule to allow for unexpected details that arise. You never know (especially in real estate), when you will need to make a special property showing based on your client’s schedule.

Turn It Off

Don’t forget to have the ability to turn your business off from time to time. It’s easy to get wrapped up so much in your business that it consumes you. Don’t be afraid to set a schedule for yourself and your business. Sure, things are going to get in the way sometimes.

My wife and I have very different schedules. We try to schedule Friday’s together. In real estate, I tend to work more on the weekends and as a Pastor, my wife works Sunday thru Thursday.

Things tend to get in the way. Sometimes, I end up having to show properties on Friday’s or my wife might have to service a wedding or funeral. We have the goal of having Friday’s together. When something gets in the way, we try to make arrangements to have a meal together on another day. It’s not perfect but it seems to be working for us so far.

It certainly helps us to have a work/life balance. It allows us to connect with each other and share precious time together.

What is important to you in your work/life balance?

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Implement Micro-Habits

Congratulations! You’ve set goals for 2018. Maybe you called them Resolutions. Either way, they include things you would like to accomplish in 2018. How can you make sure you achieve the goals you want?

Micro Habit Motivation

Micro-Habits!

Micro-habits are small steps you can take towards your goals. Goals are challenging and should stretch your abilities. Sometimes they can feel daunting, especially when the date to accomplish them is getting closer and you haven’t fully dedicated the time for the goal.

One of my goals for this year is to write a devotional with my wife in time to have it published and ready by Advent 2018. It’s January 2018 so we have plenty of time to get it written, edited, and published. However, if we wait until October to start on it, the likelihood of having it ready will be slim.

Looking at the whole thing can be overwhelming. Instead, we are breaking it up into mini-goals or micro-habits to get the work done.

For instance, we have a goal of writing one devotional per person, every two weeks with the first one due on January 21st. By the 28th, we will have the devotionals reviewed by the other person.

We have also written down the parameters for each devotional. Each devotional will include a TITLE with up to six words in it. A SCRIPTURE with no more than three verses in it. The DEVOTIONAL itself which will be written at 350 words and then edited down to 300 words max. A THOUGHT OF THE DAY which is a 2-3 sentence review of the main thought for the devotional. That portion will be written by the other person. Finally, we will have a PRAYER which will be 2-3 sentences. The main goal of the devotional is to have 40 days written for the time of Advent.

We have a secondary goal to write another devotional for Lent 2019. By planning now, we can have everything in place. The hope is that by having a schedule for Advent now, we will be done writing it in about 5-6 months. But when I schedule it out, it will take about 10 months to complete. To remedy that, we will be adding a few weekends where we focus on writing devotionals and get several done at one time. This will shorten the development time and help us finish early.

Accountability

With a schedule in place, we can hold each other accountable to get the work done. By writing our plan here, we are also having you help us to be accountable since you will get the progress report periodically about our process.

Habits take about two months to become routine. Of course, that is if you are doing them every day. I know it seems like a lofty goal but our goal is to write 35-36 words per day towards the devotional. I’ve written a lot more just in this post so 36 words seems to be not much of a challenge. However, the challenge is more about setting the schedule and accomplishing the daily goals we have.

Micro Habit Automation Systems

Your Turn

This type of goal setting or micro-habit creation can be applied to everything. It helps to keep you focused on the larger goal while not getting overwhelmed. Any process can be broken into bite-sized pieces that will ultimately lead to the accomplishment of your goals.

Whether you are in sales and need to generate a certain number of quotes, or designing the latest automation system, simply break down the larger items into smaller bits until the bits are small enough to accomplish.

Just as our devotional book is broken down into 36 words per day, your loftiest goals can be accomplished using this method.

Got a project that needs organizing? Let me know how this process works for you.

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Why Get A Home Inspection?

Home inspections protect both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. If you don’t think so, skip it and watch the sparks fly when something goes wrong.

Home Inspection Foundation

New Build Inspection

Why would you need to have an inspection on a new construction home? After all, the quality craftsmanship should be enough to guarantee an issue free lifestyle.

Wrong!

Just because you are buying something that is considered “new” doesn’t mean that it wasn’t built by hand, by people making a whole lot less than what the house sells for. Even if you have the best craftsmen involved in the construction of a new home, things can be missed. People can have a bad day. The materials could simply be sub-par. Whatever the reason, getting a home inspection can save you a bunch of grief.

My wife and I purchased a new construction home. Everything looked great when we purchased it. That new home smell was there and as we slowly unpacked out stuff, it became more and more ours.

About six months after moving in, I noticed some water near the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because the sprinklers had been running. The next day, I still saw water on the sidewalk and driveway. I also noticed that the grass between the sidewalk and the road was soggy.

I called the builder to have them come out and check it out since the house was under warranty. Sure enough, someone forgot the glue on the pipe connecting to the water meter at the curb.

Thankfully, that was a minor inconvenience.

My neighbor was talking to us one day and mentioned how the upstairs in their house was very hot. They had called the builder out to check it out and found that the switching mechanism for the air conditioner had not been hooked up correctly. As a matter of fact, a new device needed to be installed to make sure it worked long term. I called the A/C guy to check out unit out also and sure enough, we needed the same thing.

I’m not saying that a home inspection will catch everything. After all, we had a home inspection on the new construction home and there were still things missed. However, spending a few hundred dollars on an investment of hundreds of thousands seems to make a whole lot of sense.

What About Resale Homes?

Again, I default back to the idea that for a few hundred dollars, the inspection will help protect your investment of many thousands of dollars.

So many things go wrong with a house. How well did the previous owners care for the foundation, the plumbing, and the main systems in your house? Without an inspection, you are relying on word of mouth that everything is ok.

How would you feel if you purchased a home and found out years later that there had been a fire in one of the bedrooms and instead of replacing the studs, they coated them with a sealer and covered up the damage with drywall?

Don’t think it can happen? I encourage you to look up the horror stories that home inspectors share and see what it looks like.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, email me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be. I’ll send you a free buyer’s guide.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

The Option Period

In my last post, I promised to write about the option period in a contract.

Well, here it is.

The Option Period - Options

What is the Option Period?

The option period is written in the Texas One-to-Four Contract for residential real estate transactions. It is a negotiable period, typically about a week long that allows the buyer to back out of the contract for any reason. The cost to the buyer is typically about $100 for every $100,000 price of the home. It is negotiable for the price and the number of days. A Realtor® can help determine the best course of action for the market. The cost can be rolled into the cost of the house at closing if it actually gets to closing. However, it is non-refundable and goes to the seller. If the buyer decides to walk away from the contract, the seller gets the money.

What do you mean they can walk away from the contract for any reason?

Exactly that. It gives the buyers an unlimited ability to walk away. Most of the time, the option period is so that the buyer can get inspections of the property done so they can be comfortable with the house. If for whatever reason, a seller decides to not inform the buyer that there are foundation issues or if the seller does not know there are foundation issues, the buyer could find that information out during an inspection and decide not to purchase. Of course, there are those who might have buyer’s remorse and decide they want out of the contract because they no longer like the color of the paint on the wall but that is quite rare compared to other reasons.

What is the benefit to the Seller?

The benefit to the seller is that they are offering a goodwill gesture to the buyer in the hope that the sale will take place. They are also indicating confidence that the house is ready to go. Depending on the market, the seller has the option to shorten or lengthen the period of time to get the inspections done. While the house is under contract, no one else can be shown the property.

The Option Period - Choices

Much of the benefit of the option period is for the buyer.

The market itself drives what happens with the option period. Recently in North Texas, the market was extremely hot. Houses were on the market for sometimes less than one day before a contract was signed. Sometimes, that made it difficult to find a home inspector and schedule the inspection. The number of days might need to be increased so the buyer could do their due diligence. Other times, the contract might be submitted on a Thursday evening. If it was accepted, the buyer might not get an inspection setup before Monday or Tuesday.

Keep in mind the purpose of the option period. It is to give the buyer the opportunity to review the property and make sure it meets their needs.

The market has improved some since the summer so it is possible that option periods could be shorter now. Again, a Realtor® can help negotiate those terms for you.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS

Plano, TX