I feel somewhat philanthropic when working with Sellers to bring their property to market. I feel a duty to tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. According to your priorities I will customize our approach to get the price you want, when you want it.
If you are seriously interested in having me help you sell Your Tahoe Home, then you might want to read Mr. Leiberman's letter below. I have always asked my clients to share something that made a difference when they take the time to write a testimonial. I was floored when Mr. Leiberman sent me his account of our experience. I could not have described my approach to marketing homes better myself. If you'd rather we can think it through together over the phone. Either way, please know, my approach to selling will reflect your business style. If you would like to fill out my Seller’s Questionnaire it will give me material to ponder in preparation for our conversation.
Marketing wise I feel it is important to help prospective buyers, as well as my fellow Realtors, to ponder / remember your property accurately, to help them grow all the more enthralled with it. Therefore I prepare property specific websites with "sticky" content to use as a reference piece with interactive floor plans, video, and spherical tours to keep them digging deeper into how your property could be just what they are hunting for. Peruse the sites listed in my Showcase of Property Websites, then call me to learn how their design can make a difference in selling your Tahoe home for top dollar.
Below is a sketch of other ways in which we will do
all that you wish to prepare to negotiate a sale
that fulfills your goals and results in a win-win transaction.
Mr. Leiberman's account of selling property with Yvette Shipman:
July 1, 2015
Dear Fellow Homeowners, and Aspiring Homeowners too –
I was so impressed with Yvette’s performance in the sale of my lake-view townhouse at Brockway Springs that I want to describe in some detail how effectively she worked on my behalf.
Yvette also represents buyers, and I expect prospective buyers will see from my experiences that Yvette’s effectiveness for sellers is closely tied to her appreciation and understanding of buyers’ wishes and concerns. If in the future I wish to buy Tahoe real estate, Yvette will be my Realtor.
I learned about Yvette from a neighboring condo owner, who told me how pleased he had been when she represented him in the purchase of his condo. Indeed, as I soon learned, Yvette has great interpersonal skills and strategic planning ability, and she has boundless energy and sense of commitment.
Yvette told me I could have whatever degree of involvement I wanted in the sale process. Some clients want her to make all the decisions about matters such as “staging,” selection of photographs, wording of promotional materials, etc. However, some (like me!) want to be continually involved, and I was ever so pleased by Yvette’s natural collaborative style. She was always admirably patient in explaining the sale process and in answering my many questions, and she consistently sought and was receptive to my input and ideas. We worked together with spirited momentum, and the result was a fast and gratifying sale.
1. Getting Started
When I first called Yvette, I thought I was well-prepared, since I had previously bought a house in an urban area and had recently read several books on real estate sales. However, within the first 20 minutes of talking to Yvette on the phone, I learned an enormous amount – greatly exceeding in value, quality and insight the information I’d read in the books.
One of many important points I learned from Yvette is that sales in the Tahoe area have different dynamics than those in urban areas. At Tahoe, people buy mainly vacation homes and, although such homes have great appeal due to the beauty of the lake and its surroundings, most buyers regard a vacation home as a luxury rather than a necessity. As a result, it is especially important at Tahoe to do thorough, high-quality preparation before listing for sale and to follow up energetically once the property is listed. Yvette assured me she would provide that level of service, and she did, as you will see.
2. The Tour of Other Properties
I had previously been on buyers’ tours, but Yvette explained that taking me on an extensive tour was also a key step in preparing for sale, so that I could learn to “think like a buyer.” We visited a number of townhouses and condos that were either for sale or had recently sold, and Yvette explained to me the pros and cons of the various interiors, exteriors, grounds and amenities.
It was certainly informative to hear her evaluations of how the various properties compared to mine. We all have strong feelings about the property we own, and it is natural to let those feelings sway us too much. So during the tour, it was not always easy to hear Yvette’s explanation of why another property – though perhaps not impressing me particularly – nevertheless had some desirable feature that mine did not.
Nevertheless, I knew this was important information for me to have, so I made an effort to accept it. Also, the tour gave me additional appreciation of my townhouse’s positive features and indeed let me point out to Yvette some non-obvious strong features it had which other properties lacked. This was one of many instances in which Yvette was enthusiastic about getting information and feedback from me, which she then used throughout the sale process.
Another interesting aspect of the tour, and one which surprised me, was that properties for sale were not always being presented to best advantage. For example, some of them showed wear and tear that could have been fixed up with paint or modest repairs, resulting in a much better impression.
3. Preparation for Listing the Property
After I had rapidly absorbed the “learning curve” from the tour, Yvette and I began the process of preparing to list my townhouse for sale. This process required a lot of work over a number of weeks. Much of the preparation involves technology. Yvette has a strong technological orientation, and that is essential, since technology has transformed the real estate transaction process.
The internet is of course where most prospective buyers first see a property for sale, and that is how they form their crucial first impressions. The ease of internet access and the availability of vast amounts of information are all plusses. However, internet users (myself included, admittedly) tend to be demanding and impatient when on-line. If the information seen on first viewing of a website doesn’t make a strong positive impression or is too limited or ambiguous to permit conclusions to be drawn, the viewer is likely to look elsewhere and may never return to that website again. Even if the site’s presentation is later improved, that dissatisfied viewer may never see it.
Furthermore, many potential buyers and their Realtors have their greatest interest and curiosity about a listing when it first appears on the market – including whether it looks like one that could be quickly snapped up. Yvette therefore emphasized to me the need for thorough and patient effort leading up to the initial listing. The goal is not to get listed fast but rather that, when the listing goes on-line, it is so well-done that prospective buyers say, “that’s where I want to live” and are eager to view the property right away, and particularly before someone else buys it Naturally, the follow-up goal is that some of the resulting viewings lead to (one or more) offers and that an offer leads to a completed sale.
Fortunately, as I learned, there are a number of preparatory steps that can help make the initial listing and other marketing effective. Some of these steps (described below) are staging the property, photography, having the seller’s own home inspectors evaluate the property, and doing minor cost-effective repairs before the property is listed. These of course require outside professionals and workers, who (along with me) participated in what I would call a collective effort under Yvette’s leadership.
Naturally I had to pay for these preparatory steps (although Yvette pays for an initial photography session). However, I was sure that, because of the value of the townhouse, whatever I spent in on these steps would be amply paid back in improved marketability. Judging by the results, I was correct. Here is what occurred as we prepared to list the townhouse for sale:
Staging means increasing the property’s attractiveness to buyers by improving the furnishings and decorations and taking other steps to improve presentation, such as painting touch-ups and perhaps other incidental repairs.
Staging requires aesthetic judgment and an understanding of what excites and appeals to buyers in the Tahoe realty market. Yvette utilizes an excellent company (Tahoe Home Transformations / Jeanne Dunnett) to do the staging and also works with Jeanne to assure that together they implement a common vision.
The plan developed by Jeanne and Yvette had some aspects that initially surprised me and which I questioned. However, as Yvette explained the ideas behind the plan, I was able to see through a buyer’s eyes what it would accomplish, and I realized it was an excellent plan. Indeed, when Jeanne and Yvette later suggested that I authorize some additional optional staging work, I enthusiastically agreed.
Jeanne and Yvette were good listeners too. Lighting is one of the key presentation aspects which Jeanne deals with. After I understood the staging process, I made a suggestion about the lighting in a key area of the living room, Yvette and Jeanne thought it was good, and Jeanne implemented it.
The interior had looked very nice before I decided to sell, but I was quite amazed at how much better it looked after the staging. Beds, walls and bathrooms that had looked nice before sprang into new life with improved colors, artworks and décor. Rooms projected a new expansive feeling of spaciousness and proportion.
Of course we have all seen on the internet plenty of real estate photos and basic virtual tours (automated sequences of still photographs). However, many of these presentations are rather basic and can be improved upon. Although today all Realtors must and do use technology, not all of them know how to use it well or are willing to invest the time and effort needed to use it well.
As examples of less-than-ideal utilization of the technology, one or more of the following are seen on many internet marketing sites: (1) There are not enough photos, or they are not well-enough chosen, to convey a clear impression of the property. (2) It is hard to tell where exterior photos were taken in relation to the property for sale. (3) Exterior photos are not taken with as much care as interior photos (there are a lot of “variables” and issues with regard to exterior photos and what they are meant to achieve, and careful preparatory thought is needed). (4) Exterior photos, as well as interior photos showing views, are out of date.
Also, I did not see as much use as I would expect of “spinners” – composite photographs that produce the effect of panning around in a full circle or a large portion of a circle, and which permit the viewer to look up at ceilings (or down at floors) by navigating with the mouse. Spinners are just plain fun, and they permits a user to view high ceilings in a dramatic way that conventional still photography cannot match.
I was pleased that Yvette has a strong technological orientation and excellent aesthetic sense which she applies in planning and utilizing photos and virtual tours, and she likes to include spinners in her virtual tours. Indeed, after the initial round of photography by Yvette’s excellent photographers (Kurt and Candace Williams of Photo-Tecture), I was so impressed that, although the initial photo shoot yielded very good results, I asked Yvette to plan with me to have the Williams take additional photos, including spinners, which I was glad to pay for (Yvette pays for the initial session). I asked Yvette to delay listing the property until we had in hand the results of the second shoot, and indeed the combination of the work from the two sessions made the presentation much stronger.
Here is the website for my townhouse on the Pacific Union site: http://www.pacificunion.com/real-estate/ 9200-brockway-springs-drive-34-kings-beach-ca-96143/20151244/24680521
(I recommend “virtual tour 1”, accessed from this site by the gray button in the lower right.)
Here is an amusing incident which shows how effective Yvette is and how I was constantly learning from her: When she was assembling the Williams’ work into sequences of photos and a virtual tour, I suggested leading off with a different photo than the one she had selected. However, after she explained her reasons, I agreed with her choice of leadoff photo. Soon afterwards a friend of mine, to whom I’d sent the virtual tour link, wrote back to me, entirely unprompted: “I thought your first photo was great–the beautiful oranges, the bottle of red wine, the color of the sky etc. certainly grabbed my attention.”
That of course is exactly the goal of the photography!
C. Benefits of Seller’s Having Inspections Done Immediately
Another aspect of preparation is that Yvette recommends is that sellers obtain their own home inspections before listing the property. The inspection reports can then be used to reassure buyers about the soundness of the property, so that they can consider that information in deciding whether they wish to make an offer (of course, if they do, they are free to have their own inspections done later).
Having the inspection reports in hand also enables the seller to do immediate repairs for those items in the reports that do not require too much work, with the effect of enhancing functionality and safety and of improving the property’s marketability. Furthermore, if buyers do decide to have their own inspection done after escrow begins, the list of items found to need work should be shorter, pleasing everyone concerned.
Yvette recommends a general inspection, a termite inspection and, if the property has a fireplace, then an inspection by a chimney sweep. If the inspections are not done, then during escrow the buyer will usually do inspections before deciding whether to remove the “inspection contingency.” Problems which the buyer’s inspector reports identify must then be addressed and may necessitate the seller’s giving the buyer an escrow credit to do those repairs later. Even if some later repair work will be needed, it is still good, both for viewings and for completing a sale, if as many repairs as are practical can be done before the property is listed for sale.
Thus I was glad to hire the inspectors recommended by Yvette and to have minor repairs done in response to their reports (for example, installing copper piping for the water heater pressure relief line in place of the previous flexible line, securing a loose edge of floor vinyl, moving a curtain rod so that the curtain did not hang near a wall heater, etc.).
In addition, Yvette and I felt it was prudent to do several other minor repairs not listed in our inspectors’ reports (either because they were done before the inspectors’ visits or were beyond the scope of the reports) which would enhance appearance or functioning and likely please prospective buyers. These included caulking around bathroom sinks, replacing worn interior door lock mechanisms, improving electrical switches, etc. All seemed to me to be easy and cost-effective steps to take.
D. Choosing a Listing Price
Of course a crucial aspect of sale is setting the listing price. I had read that setting the listing price is often regarded by sellers as the most difficult part of the sale process. Obviously, too high a price makes negotiations more difficult and discourages some buyers from making offers at all, typically resulting in longer times to sale, while too low a price gives away money.
Yvette spent a great deal of time assisting me in deciding on the listing price. Naturally she knew from experience what the narrow range of reasonable listing prices would be, but I had to make the final decision, and I was determined to understand the market considerations as well as I could.
Yvette provided to me and helped me evaluate not only completed sales and current for-sale listing prices but also earlier pricing data for sold and for-sale properties. That enabled me to gain a good understanding of how different property characteristics contribute to market value and of which approaches to pricing tend to be successful and which do not.
Everyone has a different sense for how they approach the pros and cons of choosing a higher or lower listing price balance. Yvette made a point of understanding how I approach the tradeoffs, and it actually became easy for us identify what (for me) would be the right listing price.
4. The Sale and Escrow
As a result of all the preparatory work and Yvette’s continuing assistance, the process of the sale itself proceeded quickly and well.
After the property was listed, the buyers (very soon) saw the listing on the internet and contacted Yvette. The buyers did not yet have an agent. They and I decided we would like to have Yvette act as “dual agent” for us all, and that worked out very well. Reflecting the care taken in setting the listing price, just four days after the property was listed the buyers made an offer that was quite close to my listing price, and I accepted that offer the same day.
When no prior inspections have been done and buyers accept an offer, there is naturally a scramble to have inspections done. But when, as here, inspections have already been done, the escrow period is more orderly and can more readily focus on the many other tasks that need to be completed. Escrow proceeded quickly, with Yvette guiding the process. When it turned out that one matter might call for certain interior construction work in the near future, Yvette suggested an allocation of cost between the buyers and me, to which they and I agreed. Escrow was completed in just under 30 days.
Yvette works with a mortgage broker who has extensive experience at financing the purchase of condos and townhouses. Although his services were not needed for this sale, he is a valuable resource, since technical issues sometimes can arise regarding financing for condos that differ from those for single- family houses.
5. Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Although my involvement in selling Tahoe real estate is concluded, I am glad to have learned from Yvette a great deal about the real estate sale process, including many interesting specifics which apply to the beautiful and always-fascinating Tahoe area.
I am a software engineer, and my experience with this sale certainly confirmed the maxim that technology will be playing an ever-increasing role in buying and selling real estate. As described above, I was pleased to see that Yvette is enthusiastic about and skillful at handling technology, including the striking “spinner” photography. However, technology alone can still do only so much. Yvette also demonstrated fine aesthetic judgment in composing my “virtual tour”, which encompasses both still photos and spinners. Her aesthetic sense was also evident in her coordinated work with Jeanne Dunnett on the staging and in numerous small touches she suggested to make the townhouse more attractive.
Yvette was also easy to communicate with, careful and thorough in all that she did, and always upbeat and energetic. When any point arose that was of concern to me, she would take as much time as needed to address it. (How did she do this and handle all her other matters? There is only one way – she starts her day very early, finishes very late, and works efficiently all the time in between.)
So if you wish to hire – or just talk to – a Tahoe Realtor, I hope you will contact Yvette. If you do, I expect you will find you won’t want to or need to talk to anyone else.
If you would like to talk to me about my very interesting and successful experiences working with Yvette, please call me at 510-684-6752.