Find the Best Real Estate Agent in Louisville KY

Bit of a bait with that title but stick with me. I’m going to show you how to find the best real estate agent in Louisville with just five easy steps! It’s definitely doable.

First off, how many licensed real estate agents are in Louisville? Well, I used to know. But then our local association changed platforms and now it’s not public. (At least any place I can find.)

It used to be about 3,800 or so. That’s a big number right? How can we pare that down?!

Finding the Best Real Estate Agent in Louisville

Five easy steps, let’s go!

Step 1: Agents vs Realtors

Venn diagram of Realtors and real estate agents.

Realtors are required to act by a specific Code of Ethics that makes them better.

Well first… did you know that there’s a difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor? Remember the ole venn diagram from high school?

Here’s how it goes:  Not all real estate agents are Realtors but all Realtors are real estate agents. See? Easy!

According to Realtor.com, there are 1,249 REALTORS® listed for Louisville, KY. Now we’re making progress!

Once there, you may sort by a number of different filters.

  1. Most Recent Activity – Hardly matters.
  2. Highest Ratings – Ratings are good. Online ratings are still good but less so because of forgeries. Here’s the thing, given the number of real estate websites, which one does the Realtor ask his clients to review him on? Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Google, Yelp, the list goes on and on. Can’t rank on them all!
  3. Most Recommendations – On this website you can Rate or Recommend. What’s the difference? Why have both?!

You can also look at Most For Sale Listings or Most Sold Listings but those numbers don’t line up with our MLS for some reason so don’t give them credit. Bottom line, positive reviews online are better than not having them but are only one piece in the puzzle.

Step 2: Part Time vs Full Time

Now that we’re down to just Realtors, here’s a super easy Step 2. You do not want a Realtor who is only part time. If this is a side-line gig that they only work after their real job, that tells you to find a new Realtor.

If their license is in escrow, even worse, keep moving!

Step 4: The Right Experience

Some agents boast 30 years in the business. This tells you they have been successful enough to make a fine career helping people buy and sell Louisville homes. It also says they may be winding down their career as they head towards retirement.

At the other end of the spectrum, new agents haven’t had the chance to gain valuable experience with the myriad of variables that can be part of a real estate transaction.

Some other thoughts:

  • Are they a broker that manages an office but also sells on the side?
  • Do they only focus on short sales or other distressed properties?
  • Some agents put all of their eggs into one basket, either by only listing homes but rarely working with buyers. Or vice versa.
  • What about relocation clients? Additional variables come into play here when moving to a new city.
  • Are they up on the latest technology? If you prefer texting does your Realtor? How about today’s big push for digital promotion? The Internet is huge.

There are a number of factors that go into finding the best Realtor for you. Interview them. Ask questions and narrow the field. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Step 3: Responsive To Your Needs

Photo of Realtor text his clients

It doesn’t matter how good the Realtor is if he doesn’t respond when you need help.

Some Realtors form mega-teams. The idea is that for the same fee (not for Buyers though, Buyers never pay commissions) the client gets the benefit of more people. Keep in mind, some of those people are not licensed. Some might be brand new. While others are only there for the paperwork or housekeeping or heck, I’ve even heard of an agent that counts the moving company as part of their “team.”

Don’t be fooled. One point of contact provides a better experience for the consumer. That consumer is you!

Step 5: Personal Referral

Last and certainly not least, is the personal referral. It’s so important to me that I include the following in the bottom of every email I send!

A referral is your greatest compliment!

Because the home buying or selling process is a long one, who knows better how the Realtor performed than the client he served? No one! Therefore, the trump card of all is a personal referral from a trusted friend.

Photo of a family who found the best real estate agent in Louisville and their dream home

Finding the best real estate agent in Louisville isn’t as hard as you think. Follow the smiling faces!

Get a great referral and you are golden!


If I can help you in any way, even answering what you might call “silly” questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m always happy to help!

Top 12 Things Realtors Hate About Home Buyers

Ok people, let’s get real.

I write a lot for Insider Louisville, as well as, my own website,  Louisville Homes Blog, but those are more manicured, civil locales.

Photo of lady on the phone with the caption, "Are you kidding me?!?"

There are definitely some phone calls that Realtors do not want to receive.

On this site? Here’s where things get down to the nitty-gritty, as my Grandma used to say. On this blog, I’ll go behind the curtain to show you what’s really happening in the crazy world of real estate.

I’ll also tell you how I really feel. No holds barred. No rules, just rightTM.

With that in mind, today’s topic is Top 12 Things Realtors Hate About Home Buyers.

Most agents won’t be so open as to share these with you but I feel like you deserve to know the truth. After all, buying a home is a very large decision. I want to know where you are coming from and you should know the same. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page and the entire experience will go much smoother.

Home buyers generally know what to expect from their Realtor. But do they know what the Realtor is looking for in return? This list will help shed some light on the subject.

Full disclosure, 95% of my clients are great and don’t check a single box on this list. But everyone once in awhile one will come out of nowhere and blindside you.

So, if you’re a Realtor reading this piece and these haven’t happened to you, then you’re either brand new (adorable) or walking around with your eyes closed. Let’s open them people!

Let’s dig in to the top 12 things Realtors hate about home buyers.

  1. Buyers Who Are Indifferent About Helping in the Home Search

    These are the buyers who give only brief and generic responses to the question, “So what kind of home are you looking for?” I’ll hear, “I want great house” or “Just a house that I’d like to live in.” How does that help anyone? Snap out of it, I’m trying to help you over here. Give me something to work with here, buddy. Often times they won’t return phone calls or emails and that’s when you really know you’re in trouble.

  2. Buyers Who Work with Multiple Agents in Secret

    Most people are good. But some are flat out dishonest. When you find out that client you’ve been working with for 3 months is out looking with another agent… well, that’s the day when you decide that a Buyer Agent Agreement will now be mandatory going forward.

  3. Buyers Who Expect to Find a Truly Perfect Home

    Photo of perfect living room with the caption, "Perfect or Bust!"

    As a culture we might be overly obsessed with perfection. In real life, there’s no such thing.

    There is no perfect home. Let me say it again, “THERE IS NO PERFECT HOME!” Ok, I feel better now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been chatting with clients who relate, “If only we could take the first floor on Glen Meadow and the upstairs of Old Gate and put it all on the lot out in Oldham County, then it would be perfect.” Yeah, of course it would but that’s not possible! Ok, ok… I’m sorry, I’m done now. *wink*

  4. Buyers Who Want to See Homes Out of Their Price Range “Just for Fun”

    Sure, it might be fun for the buyer. But is it fun for the homeowners who rushed around to clean things up and make sure the home is spotless? Is it fun for the Realtor who is going to miss his third family dinner this week in order to show you a home that you really can’t afford? I think we all know the answers to those rhetorical questions.

  5. Buyers Who Call the Listing Agent Rather Than You

    Some folks may simply not understand how things work. Others may think they are being “nice” to their Realtor by calling the Listing Agent with questions. But the bottom line is that this isn’t something Realtor like. It’s our job is to serve our clients throughout the entire process and if that means making a few phones to find out which homes have first floor masters, then that’s part of the gig.

  6. Buyers Who Believe That the Sellers Should Make Their Home Perfect Before Anyone Buys It

    Used homes are used. Things age, floors creak, doors squeak. The gleam on that new, stainless steel refrigerator fades. That’s how things work. It’s simply unrealistic for buyers to expect perfection from any property. Also don’t forget, what’s bad to one person might be charming to another. People have different tastes and odds are yours and the home seller’s are not 100% equivalent.

  7. Buyers Who Always Give Low-ball Offers

    The fiduciary responsibility of the agent is to help their clients get the best possible price on the property they most desire. As most Realtors know, low-ball offers rarely work out well for the buyer. Trust your agent to help determine market value and go from there. A number of factors will indicate where a great starting point for negotiations will be and what how low-ball offers will only hurt a positive outcome.

  8. Buyers Who Aren’t Serious About Get Loan Approval

    According to RealtyTrac, “All-cash buyers accounted for 22.9 percent of all single family home and condo sales in June.” That number has been decreasing nationally since 2010. That means the vast majority of home buyers need a loan to purchase. Some buyers wait to get pre-approved. Dumb. Some buyers drag their feet with their financing paperwork and delay their own closing. Stupid. Let’s grow up people. This isn’t rocket science.

  9. Buyers Who Go New Construction Without Their Realtor

    This might be the fault of the agent who didn’t properly educate their clients but home buyers always benefit from having professional representation on their side no matter what any builder might say. If a builder promises you a discount if you don’t have a Realtor, exactly how do you know that the price you’re getting is actually discounted? I’ll let you think about that for a bit.

  10. Buyers Who Can’t Make Up Their Minds

    Photo of a couple looking at a model house with the caption, "What exactly are we looking for?"

    Some clients know exactly what they want. Nice! Others seem to have no clue. Not as nice.

    I can hear you agents nodding. You understand this, right? Any parent surely does. In any occupation, if the one serving feels like their time is being wasted, it’s not a good thing. Because we’re talking about a very important decision, a certain amount of time to weigh the pros and cons is certainly reasonable. But there is a time down the road where the buyer needs to fish or cut bait.

  11. Buyers Who Ask for Home Upgrades in Repair Request

    The repair request process is negotiation, no one is denying that. But it’s not the Seller’s job to improve their home in order to sell it. If something is broken it can be fixed. If something is dangerous, then by all means, let’s correct it! But just because you don’t like the stained carpet in the family room doesn’t mean there’s any justification for the Seller to replace it.

  12. Buyers Who Ditch Their Realtor to Buy at an Open House

    Et tu, Brute? These may be the worst. You thought you built great rapport with your client. You gave them top notch service. Only… one day they stop returning calls or even emails. You finally catch them on the phone to find out what’s going on and they blubber, “I don’t know what happened, we just went to an Open House and next thing we know we bought it.” *silence* Well, I think it’s safe to say that’s something all Realtors hate about home buyers.

Buyers Who Aren’t Considerate of Others

I think all 12 of these could fall under the category of being inconsiderate or worse. No one wants to give their very best in time and energy to someone who’s a jerk. Let’s be better than that people!

So, the next time someone is serving you, stop and remember this crazy article you read online, and go out of your way to communicate your appreciation for their work.

You’ll most certainly make their day and you know what else? You’ll also get that nice, warm feeling deep inside that shows you did the right thing.

Speaking of doing the right thing, agents, if you enjoyed this piece please share it! I really appreciate it!

Psychology of Marketing Real Estate, Part 3: Where

The Internet of Things

The Internet has forever changed the way we market real estate.

Welcome to my third and final piece to the puzzle on the Psychology of Marketing Real Estate. This time we’ll be looking at the “where.” If you missed either of the first two parts, I’ve linked them here.

Where Part 1: Who looked at the people involved in the real estate process and Part 2: What looked at the home itself, today we’re going to focus on the places or locations where the actually marketing will take place. It’s traditionally the kind of real estate promotion that we’re all familiar with.

So without further ado, let’s begin!

History of Real Estate Marketing

Newspapers have been part of American history since the mid 1700’s. Other than word-of-mouth, they were the primary means to communication from both government to its citizens, as well as, business to their customers.

So it’s not surprising that marketing real estate via newspapers was a natural fit for almost all of our country’s history. It wasn’t until the Internet revolution that the paradigm shifted. And boy did it shift!

Even though the World Wide Web technically launched in 1991, it wasn’t until the release of Mosaic in 1993 that things really started to take off. Business flocked to the web as a vast, new landscape of possibilities.

Real estate ad in 1930 newspaper

Selkling real estate in 1930 most likely meant creating an ad for a local newspaper.

It took a few years for real estate companies to jump online for fear of losing SME-status but as with most service industries, the web won out. Today online MLS systems are prevalent. In fact, new tech companies (Trulia and Zillow) have presented a real estate facade, luring millions to their sites with public data freshly packaged to enhance the experience. Sadly, customers are largely fooled into believing their information accurate.

But I digress.

The rise of Internet real estate sites have largely displaced all real estate marketing in newspapers. There still remain a few print publications that receive attention from Realtors but those are largely niche magazines or hyper-local, neighborhood pieces.

Where: Psychology of Marketing Real Estate Methods

The real story today is online. That should come as a surprise to absolutely no one.

Because we can use digital technology to not only search through thousands of listings, we can take advantage of faster download speeds and high-end displays to see far greater images. These images cover insides of these beautiful homes, as well as, lot shapes, sizes and characteristics, such as topology, floodplain data and nearby attractions. The sky’s the limit!

The Internet and real estate is truly a match made in heaven.

We’re at the point today, that not having your listing on the Internet will mean the house almost certainly will not sell. Instead, the marketing mind needs to think about making your online listing superior.

Screenshot of a photo upload webpage

Starting with high-quality photos of the home is key but understanding how to take advantage of photo ratios, compression and other characteristics will further enhance the appeal of your listing.

There are two primary ways to accomplish this. The first is Reach. Online reach can be measured in numbers of eyes. The number of sites, the number of pages on each site, and the number of times your listing is included in search results all add up to reach.

Savvy online promotion tactics are giving certain Realtors an advantage over their competition. The psychology of marketing real estate online lauds the Internet experts over any and all old school distribution methods.

But reach alone isn’t enough. I mentioned there were two primary ways to enhance your listings above the rest. The second factor is Appeal.

Real estate marketing has always put a premium attractive, well designed promotional materials. Of course, the appeal of the property plays a giant role in attracting a potential buyer. Taking that same mindset online means performing this same tasks but with online expertise in order to maximize the effect.

For example, having professional photographs is wonderful and likely better than much of your competition. But if you don’t know how to load the optimized images with the appropriate dimensions, you’re missing an opportunity.

Each MLS system has it’s own characteristics that affect listing photos so mastering those details will give you the upper hand. Don’t skip the learning simply because it’s new or complicated. Understanding these processes is well worth the effort.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this three-part look at the Psychology of Marketing Real Estate in today’s landscape. It was fun to put it together. If you have any topics for future posts, by all means, let me know!

Psychology of Marketing Real Estate, Part 2: What

Photo of the entry to a Townhome in Louisville, KY

First impressions are a powerful thing. Make sure you listings are making highly positive ones! (Photo: www.jljordanphotography.com)

If you didn’t check out Park 1 in this series—the Psychology of Marketing Real Estate—I encourage you do so. We started with the most important ingredient, people, and now we’re moving on to the physical product itself… the home!

There’s a great deal that goes into a purchase decision involving a new home. First off, it’s one of the largest investments most of us make in our lifetimes. That, by itself, is enough to set many folks trembling.

Yet besides the money, there are a large number of complex emotions that also come into play. As with anything that we humans interact with, things can get complicated quickly.

Let’s get started!

The Psychology of Real Estate First Impressions

Psychologists have long touted the power of first impressions. In fact, they write articles, like this one, all the time.

The design of the human brain is incredibly sophisticated. Even though it gives precedence to people first, everything we encourage is being analyzed.

Because our homes are highly personal objects, especially to women. The first impression a home makes sets the stage for the final evaluation each of us assigns a property, after completing a house tour.

For this reason, it’s always (yes I said always) important to make a home’s first impression as powerful and positive as possible. (How’s that for some alliteration?)

When the home buyers pull up to the house, their brains are assessing and gauging everything from the home’s facade, to the landscaping, sidewalk, driveway and even the mailboxes. All this comes naturally to us and is performed seemingly without effort.

The strong marketing Realtor will work with their clients to optimize first impressions because simply… it’s worth it.

“You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” –Harlan Hogan

The Psychology of Real Estate Home Staging

Where the first impression stops and the official home tour begins is debatable. Typically once the front door is opened, we have now progressed into the home staging space.

Each property has it’s own unique set of variables. Some need a great deal of staging. Others look like they’re already set to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens.

Whether or not a professional home staging company should be hired is largely up to the expert opinion of your Realtor. There’s a great deal that strong agents can recommend to be done. This comes with no additional cost to the homeowner. Veteran agents have seen it all and understand the mindset of today’s home buyers.

Here are the four key points of emphasis when it comes to the psychology of real estate home staging:

  1. Size: Overall size is highly valued by home shoppers. Remove as much unnecessary furnishings as possible to enhance the space’s perceived size. Declutter and then declutter some more.
  2. Light: There’s a reason buyer’s are constantly saying, “It’s so light and airy!” That’s because people love natural light. Stage the home to highlight windows and the incoming light and don’t forget to change any broken light bulbs.
  3. Condition: Today’s buyers want move-in ready. Each project holds it’s own Return on Investment (ROI). Consult with your real estate professional to see which projects are going to best enhance a home’s appeal.
  4. Style: Here’s a tricky one. Not all buyers love the same styles. Sometimes you just gotta make the best of a bad situation. Consider specific, low-cost updates to help transition a less desirable style to what’s currently hot right now.

The Psychology of Real Estate Pricing

There’s been a great deal of analysis when it comes to the psychology of real estate pricing. Unfortunately, most of it is inconclusive. There is one great strategy though but I’ll save it for last. *wink*

A best practice, when it comes to pricing merchandise, is using even numbers for higher end products. So rather than list a luxury time piece for $899.99, a more substantial $900 says, “We don’t need to worry about the small change.”

What’s higher end than a house? I tend to agree that the psychology of a smaller, albeit just by a hair, number will have little affect on the minds of the buyers.

Another concept that is popular with certain agents is exact pricing. The idea here is that if you price a home, let’s say $237,924, the sellers have put a great deal of thought into this number so there is likely less wiggle room.

While some buyers may perceive this to be true, others will find this unusual tactic confusing. The jury is still up in the air as to whether this strategy is effective.

Screen shots of sample real estate websites and their price search tiers

Here you can see in these screen shots, different real estate websites have different search tiers which will affect how frequently your listing may appear in the results.

Now here’s the great strat I teased earlier. Given that most home buyers today are online first, we need to understand the usability of these websites. Each has tiers into their price drop-down menus. These land all over the board. Some are $10,000 apart, others $50,000 and still others let you be more precise. But here’s what happens in practice.

Suppose you are thinking of listing your home for $199,900. House hunters searching online who search for $150,000 to $200,000 will find your listing in their results. But those searching from $200,000 to $250,000 will not.

It’s better to list at $200,000 even and land in both sets of results, right? Right! Cool, huh?

Upcoming

Now that we’ve done Parts 1 and 2 in the series on the psychology of marketing real estate, all that’s left is Part 3. Stay tuned!

Part 1 – Who: Psychology of Marketing to Specific Buyer Personas
Part 3 – Where: Psychology of Marketing Online

Psychology of Marketing Real Estate, Part 1: Who

Psychology of Marketing Real Estate image of parts of the brain

The Psychology of Marketing Real Estate is rather complex but let this handy, three-part series sort it out for you.

As with any business where humans participate, there is a psychology involved. Real estate is no different.

In fact, it’s more varied and diverse because there are a larger number of roles interacting with the buying or selling of properties.

In this article, I’m going to look at the psychology of marketing real estate from the Listing Agent’s perspective. While in my home city’s market is tilted towards home sellers just a few short years back this wasn’t the case.

And even expert Realtors can learn a thing or two when it comes to such an incredible complex entity we call home buyers.

Who: Psychology of Marketing to Humans

Photo of some retirees

Marketing real estate to retirees is vastly different than to other people groups. Understanding your clients is key to being successful.

Let’s first speak to the idea of personas. According to wiki, personas came to marketing in the early 90s from a gentleman named Angus Jenkinson. The idea is simple, here it is:

A persona is a fictional person with distinct goals and behaviors.

There you go! Next, make sure your marketing messages target each persona appropriately.

Test. Measure. Tweak. And, voila, marketing is enhanced and sales improve. (For more on this topic, visit How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business.)

In the field of real estate, the following list covers the most common people types. I’ve created some fun names to make things more memorable.

Sample Real Estate Personas

  • Frank Bailey (First Time Home Buyer)
  • Mark and Melissa Fenton (Moving Up Families)
  • Vincent and Bethany Lawrence (Luxury Buyers)
  • Anabel Palmer (Business Professional)
  • Hank and Jill Farmer (Farms and More)
  • Lawrence and Gladys Ragsdale (Retirees)

[Note: Renters might be another persona but in my market, they’re most often on their own as there is little financial incentive for professionals to get involved.]

Of course, there can be other personas that make sense as well but these cover most of the real estate transactions professionals deal with today.

Let’s take a look at each persona and see what motivations are involved.

Frank Bailey (First Time Home Buyer)

For Realtors targeting this persona, the name of the game is full service. Given that these clients have never purchased a home before Mr. Bailey is going to need someone to explain all the many details and walk him through every step.

Setting expectations is especially important with this persona. No one likes surprises and no other persona is likely to be surprised more often than first time home buyers.

Mark and Melissa Fenton (Moving Up Families)

This persona has some experience with the process of a real estate transaction. They are extremely family focused and will place a greater emphasis on things like quality schools, larger lots and more spacious houses.

Targeting these topics with your marketing efforts will pay dividends. Communicating your expertise in these areas will further enhance your reputation to this people group.

Also remember, sharing common experiences builds rapport. We all should know that excellent interpersonal skills are an important asset to the successful real estate agent.

Vincent and Bethany Lawrence (Luxury Buyers)

The Lawrence persona has achieved some level of success in this world. Building up wealth isn’t easy and now they’re ready to enjoy the results of their labor.

When Realtors target this persona, marketing your own professional success resonates with the client. Setting yourself apart from the crowd and highlighting your expertise catering to the high-end of the market should be your goal.

This real estate client will likely be the most challenging of all. Expect challenges both in the home search process and with the client/agent relationship during the transaction. The good news is that compensation for these transactions are generally worth the additional trouble.

Anabel Palmer (Business Professional)

Photo of some young professionals

The Psychology of Marketing Real Estate understands that young professionals, like Anabel Palmer here, respond differently to various triggers.

Anabel is a mover and a shaker. Buying a home is just another task that needs to be “checked off” even though it is still a very important one.

Being able to save Ms. Palmer time and energy is paramount. Target properties are often located in more urban areas. Condos may be preferred to a single-family home to these busy individuals.

Put yourself inside this persona and feel what her life is like, then as her real estate professional you can anticipate her requests and have solutions at the ready.

Hank and Jill Farmer (Farms and More)

This farmer family will place a premium on the land—does it provide the necessary space and topology to accomplish their most vital tasks. The house often plays second fiddle to the parcel.

Again, Realtors that can share similar life experiences will always have the upper hand with any persona but it’s especially true with this one. Are there horses that need a barn? Other livestock? What about space for agricultural plantings?

In recent years agents haven’t specialized in specific aspects of the market but farm experts may be the one persona that thrives with a niche specialist.

Lawrence and Gladys Ragsdale (Retirees)

The fastest growing persona is this one, as more and more Baby Boomers are looking to downsize. We’re not talking about nursing homes here, just smaller homes.

Number one on the list is low maintenance. A close second is few, if any, stairs. The home’s level of finish is still very important but perhaps more so is the proximity to both amenities and family support. This persona wants to feel safe and in control.

Upcoming

Stay tuned for parts two and three of this series on the psychology of marketing real estate.

  • Part 2 – What: Psychology of Marketing the Home
  • Part 3 – Where: Psychology of Marketing Online

The Big 17 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring

Photo of a home in Louisville KY

Great home maintenance begins outside, from the roof to the foundation and all points in between. (Photo: www.jljordanphotography.com)

Looking for Home Maintenance Tips for Spring? You’ve come to the right place! I imagine you’d be hard pressed to find any Spring home maintenance tip not listed here.

Inspect Your Home’s Vitals

1. Inspect Roof Shingles, Chimney

Let’s start at the top! Whether you are the one doing this job personally, or you hire a professional, making sure your home’s roof is in proper working condition is critical to avoiding those expensive repair bills should something go wrong.

2. Inspect Foundation for Cracking

Next up, your home’s foundation. Perhaps even more important! As much as is feasibly possible, inspect the foundation both inside and out. If you find holes or low points in the ground near your home’s foundation, fill those with compacted soil.

3. Inspect Attic

It’s easy to forget about your home’s attic space as we are all less likely to be spending much time there. At the start of Spring is a great time to take a quick tour to make sure no “critters” have made a home there. While you’re up there, check the insulation to see if it’s still evenly covering where required.

4. Inspect Windows for Gaps, Screens for Tears

Many of your home’s components expand and contract with the seasons. Take some time to inspect windows for gaps that might need repair. Window screens may have been damaged by a particularly strong Winter storm.

Routine Maintenance

5. Exterior Outside Faucets

It’s generally a good idea to turn off outside faucets before the first freeze. Now that freezing temperatures are behind us, it’s time to turn them back on! Makes sense, right?

6. Service Your AC Unit

Photo of AC Unit

Taking care of your AC unit really comes down to one seasonal tune-up.

Summer may not be here yet but it’s coming. Have your AC unit professionally serviced every year. And if there’s vegetation getting too close to your compressor, cut that back to improve air flow.

7. Change HVAC Filters

Most filters are easy to change. Some take more time. But it doesn’t matter, changing your HVAC filter regularly is the best thing you can do to extend the life of your home’s largest machine.

8. Replace the Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors

It doesn’t have to be Spring but why not? Make sure you have a regular point in the year when you change your smoke detector batteries. Remember, safety first!

9. Outdoor Furniture, Grills

Now that warm temps are here, it’s time to spend some time outdoors! Let’s clean up that patio furniture and spruce up your grill. You can almost taste those delicious burgers now.

10. Prepare Yard Equipment for Spring

If you want your lawn mower to last longer, it is recommended to have it serviced each year. This generally includes sharpening the blade and replacing the spark plug and oil. It might need a new air filter too. Consistently maintain your equipment and you’ll save money in the long run.

11. Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters may not be fun. In fact, if they’re too high for your ladder you might have to hire someone. But don’t neglect this home maintenance tip because it could lead to a serious problem with water entering your home.

Cleaning Inside

12. Spring Cleaning

It’s Spring! Of course Spring cleaning would be part of Spring right? Dust those baseboards. Clean those windows. Clean out those overstuffed closets. It’s the best time of the year to take care of these tasks because we have great things ahead of us!

13. Clean Dryer Vent

Here’s one that may be new to you. Did you know that fires caused by clogged dryer vents is a very real danger? Well, it is! Take time to clean out your dryer vent every Spring and hopefully you won’t make the evening news.

Repairing Outside

14. Repair Any Rotted Exterior Trim, Repair Cracked or Peeling Paint

Wood exposed to the elements will eventually break down. Spring is a great time to walk about your home and evaluate the condition of any wood trim on the exterior of your home. Once the wood is repaired, take care of any cracked or peeling paint. Not only does it enhance the beauty of your home, it extends the life of your home.

15. Repair Deck, Driveway and Sidewalks

Your deck, patio or driveway might only need to be pressure washed every so often. But it might also need to have some cracks sealed with the appropriate product.

Going Above and Beyond

16. Vacuum Refrigerator Coils

Ok, I’ll admit it. When I first heard about this one I said, “Seriously?” But it’s true, once a year grab your vacuum’s hose attachment and clean the coils of your fridge. Don’t forget, for many of these home maintenance tips for Spring there are helpful YouTube videos that will walk you through the process.

17. Drain Your Water Heater

Did you know you needed to drain your water heater? Well, you’re not alone. Most people don’t but it’s actually something that can extend the life of your unit. Well, come to think of it… now I understand why there’s that little spigot at the bottom of mine! *wink*

When Is the Best Time to Sell a Home? Learn here!

Photo of a Louisville KY home

Obviously, not every home is the same but also your particular situation will help determine the very best time to sell your house.

One of the most popular questions I get is, “When is the best time to sell my home?” And it really increases as we get closer to Spring.

There’s a quick answer but where’s the fun in that? Instead, let’s look at the Top 10 tips that will help you answer this tricky question so you can better understand all the factors at play.

Finding the Best Time to Sell Your Home

The following advice is designed to help you assess your situation and make an educated decision based on both financial data and personal goals.

10. Sometimes There’s No Choice

To be completely honest, for many there’s no choice. Everything else in this article is meaningless. You have to sell. If an unbelievable job opportunity opens up in another city, then you have your answer! Now is the best time to sell.

It’s important to remember, when you must sell quickly, you shouldn’t play around with overpricing your house hoping to “catch someone off guard” because that’s a very, very rare event. Price it at or a below market value and move forward.

9. Crowding the Calendar

Part of what makes house hunting in the Winter less popular is the cold temperatures, and that does play a big role, but also people are busy with other things — namely the holidays.

For many, once Thanksgiving arrives, all “major projects” are put on hold until after the new year. And buying a new home definitely qualifies as a major project.

Life is hectic enough around the holidays to throw more items on your To Do list. Once the New Year is past, there are far fewer items crowding your calendar that could a great time to sell your home.

8. Take Advantage of Competition

Believe it or not, there are times where some competition is actually a good thing. For example, if you notice a couple of properties that are currently for sale in your neighborhood. Talk to your real estate expert and find out where your home’s price would be relative to theirs. If it’s lower, the other listings in your neighborhood will actually drive additional traffic to your listing!

The reverse can work against you. If your home is the highest priced property in the neighborhood, it might be better to list when there aren’t so many homes under your price point.

7. Seasonal Demand

It’s been a wide-held belief in the industry that you never list your home in the Winter. Waiting until Spring, was the thing to do. This new report says that might be a mistake.

Chart of homes sold within 90 days

Most experts would call for a Bell curve here, but Redfin’s data says otherwise. This chart shows national number but, of course, each market behaves differently.

There are more buyers in Spring but at the same time, the increased number of home listings might wipe out that benefit. Speak with your Realtor to learn about your specific market conditions.

Here in Louisville, inventory is currently at incredibly low levels.

6. Time of Ownership

Whenever you buy a house, the closing costs  are part of the transaction. The longer you stay in a home, the longer those closing costs are spread out over the span of years.

So, if you just recently moved into your current home, selling it now and buying another will lump each of those extra costs into a shorter time frame. These are dollars that could be set towards building equity.

Bottom line, the longer you live at any address, the more those transaction costs are spread out over a number of years and improves your investment. Now, home repairs, that’s a different story.

5. Optimum Condition

If your house isn’t ready… it’s not ready! Just like people, your home only has one chance to make a great first impression.

Don’t put your home on the market if there are still a number of updating projects to tackle. This is a big deal!

Today’s buyers are looking for move-in ready homes, so let’s give it to them! Faster sale, that’s a good thing, right? Your updated home will look amazing in the high-quality photographs which will help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

4. Days on Market

Every home seller wants a quick sale. (Acutally, there are cases where this is not true but that’s a story for another time.) How much fun is it to continually have your home ready for some buyer to barge in at a moment’s notice? Don’t answer, I already know. It’s a giant bother!

Therefore, if your home has been listed for a very long time, it’s smart to take the listing down, perform some updates and (possibly) lower the price. Each house is different and other variables come into play but buyers always see it as a negative when a property has been listed for a long time.

3. Hot Property Types

Some times there’s a rush on a particular home type. Currently, first floor master bedrooms are more desirable than homes that have the master on the second floor. The whole baby boomer bubble and all.

If you’re lucky enough to have one of these hot property types, the higher demand will mean a higher sales price. List it sooner rather than later. But don’t neglect the other items on this list to do it. Consider all the factors, then go!

2. Low Interest Rates

The lower the interest rate, the more house buyers are able to buy with their money. Most of today’s buyers will finance the lion’s share of the home’s cost. This means interest rates play a huge role.

Because interest rates are still at historical lows, now is a great time to lock that rate in with a new mortgage. It wasn’t that long ago when interest rates were double-digits… whoa! Now, we’re spoiled by these crazy, low rates.

1. Your Situation Trumps All

This should be quite obvious but just so we’re all on the same page, there’s an uber important factor to answer the question, “When is the best time to sell a home?” and that factor is “When you want to!

There’s a giant benefit to being properly motivated, right? Being excited about the process of housing hunting is huge! Some find it a taxing time so if everyone is “on-board” the whole process is more fun.

Your next home is the incredible “carrot before the horse” when it comes to getting your current home sold. Get psyched about your next, new home then hit the ground running.

How to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent – Set the Right Goal

Screen shot of Google results for search how to become a successful real estate agent

It looks like there a lot of people who want to know “how to become a successful real estate agent.” This article charts to the clearest path.

One of the most searched for themes on all of the Internet is:

how do I become a successful…
how do I become a successful blogger
how do I become a successful student
how do I become a successful author
how do I become a successful real estate agent

It’s obvious that people are searching. What’s not clear is how to achieve it. With more than 30,400,00 Google results to this query, that’s an ocean freighter, sized load to delve through.

Before we get to any recommended best practices, it’s important to take a step back and analyze which goals you can choose from in the crazy, up-and-down world of real estate.

After considering the choices, it might surprise you to learn which one that I put at the top of the list for successful agents.

It’s not setting goals. It’s setting the right goals.

Let’s brainstorm! When you think about successful real estate agents, what comes to your mind?

Photo of a Mercedes E550

This Mercedes certainly looks like the kind of car a successful person would drive.

  • Do you think about having your face on billboards across the city? Maybe a glossy ad on the back cover of your favorite local magazine?
  • Do picture yourself behind the wheel of a new Mercedes E550? Oh wow they are beautiful.
  • Does the image of you attending a closing every single business day for a month really get your blood pumping?
  • How about getting that phone call from a celebrity who heard you were the best agent in your city and he’d like to use you to buy a million dollar mansion?

These are all things that might come to mind when you think of becoming a successful real estate agent. And to be truthful, they’re not necessarily wrong.

Most people would start by defining success in the world of real estate in terms of dollars made or properties sold. Companies like REMAX, Century 21 and others have yearly award banquets to honor their “most successful agents.” And these are the criteria they use, when deciding who to hand those brass embossed plaques… that we then take and toss in the storage bin in the basement.

If I may, I’d like to offer a different goal. Making the multi-million gross sales club is difficult. My goal is not so hard.

Trying to sell 100 homes in a year is incredibly difficult. But I have a goal that if you set your mind to it, I guarantee you can achieve it.

Curious? Just a minute more and I’ll share my secret with you.

Good is the enemy of best

Have you ever heard this saying? Good is the enemy of best. I can hear some of you now… “Tre, you’re not making much sense here.” Fair enough, let me explain.

There are times when you do a good job. The client’s home closed. The funds are out of escrow. The moving trucks have come and gone. And, of course, you received your commission check… we can’t forget that.

But on your drive home you may think, “I could have done a better job.” And that’s true! All of us, every one, can do better. We can move up the rankings from good, to better, to best.

So, are you ready? Here it is. This is the goal that I think all of us should rank first.

Be the best real estate agent your client has ever had.

Now, it’s not easy. It’s going to take some hard work.

You’ll need to answer your cell at times you’d really rather not. You may need to show your buyers a couple of homes, you know deep down, they will never buy.

Photo of a happy young lady

When your real estate client feels like the woman above, that’s when you’re on the path to true success.

But by going to the extra mile, by always showing up with a smile on your face ready to serve your clients to the very best of your ability, to quote Charlie Sheen, you’ll be winning. I believe that the highest goal of the most successful real estate agent is 100% customer satisfaction.

Now, you will not achieve this goal with every client. Sometimes things happen that are beyond your realm of control. That’s life. But that doesn’t mean this should cease being your primary goal.

Want to know how to become a successful real estate agent? Create clients that are raving fans of you and the service you gave them.

Then, almost miraculously, the other goals on your list are going to happen as well.

Tre Pryor is an Internet-veteran turned tech-savvy Realtor. One of the top Louisville agents, you can find his work at InsiderLouisville.com, Louisville Homes Blog or follow him on Google+ or Twitter.

Property taxes too high? Here’s help!

Photo of woman on laptop looking at her Property taxes too high bill.

Does it look like your propetry tax bill is too high? Never fear, here’s what you do.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin

Today’s tax environment gives new meaning to his nickname, Poor Richard. Am I right?

Once new tax systems are instituted our government is jealous to keep them in place. Sure, taxes may drop for a season but they’ll be back.

Now, property taxes may be some of the most irrational of all taxes. Stop and think about it. You’ve already paid some kind of tax when the purchase took place but the government isn’t satisfied, not while you still have more money they can take.

Property taxes too high? Should you throw your hands up and give in? This reminds me of another quote.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. – Jimmy Valvano

I wrote on this topic back in 2011 when the WSJ quoted Jim Kane as saying, “More than half of homeowners are paying too much in property taxes.” What was true then may still be true for you today.

But how do you know?

Step 1: Determine Market Value

In order to learn if your property taxes are too high, we need to learn true market value. Having an appraisal done will give you a value but before you decide to pay $400-$500 to an appraiser, call your trusted Realtor to do a manually adjusted competitive market analysis (CMA) before you spend any dollars. A quality Realtor, who wants your business in the future, will do this for free.

The manually adjusted process is the same one an appraiser will use. Many times a diligent agent will produce a more accurate value than the appraiser.

If it turns out your home’s current market value is less than your tax assessment, contact your PVA and ask for an adjustment. This should cost you nothing and could save you hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars a year.

Step 2: Appeal the Decision

What happens if the PVA refuses to budge? Remember Jimmy’s words, don’t give up! Pack up your documentation and appear before the Board of Commissioners in person and state your case.

Believe me, it’s worth the time you invest because the assessed value is often used for 2-3 years before a new adjustment is made.

I’ve seen enough cases where the value was reduced to know that many local tax assessment organizations can be reasonable, if approached through the property channels and with the appropriate attitude.

Then, if you’re really smart, you’ll take the money you saved in property taxes and make some top return on your investment home improvement projects.

USAToday Ranks Louisville #2 Best Cities for Local Food

Louisville #2 Best Cities for Local Food

Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

I rarely tire of hearing great things about my city, Louisville. Well, I don’t actually own the city, I just live here, but still… I’m a huge fan.

So it’s great to hear national praise like this—the USAToday Reader’s Choice Awards ranks Louisville #2 in their list of Best Cities for Local Food. Jammin’! (Do kids still say that?!)

Here’s an excerpt from their site:

In a city known for small-batch bourbon, it’s not surprising that the restaurant scene likewise revolves around local artisans. Carefully curated relationships with area farmers lie at the heart of the menu at Proof on Main and Harvest, both downtown. One of the original farm-to-table restaurants in Louisville, Lilly’s highlights free-range beef, organic vegetables and artisanal cheeses. At 610 Magnolia, Edward Lee puts a contemporary spin on Southern fare, while Chef Anthony Lamas highlights fresh seafood at Seviche.

Planning a trip and want to know what other cities have great, local food? Check out this Top 10:

The top 10 winners in the category Best Local Food Scene are as follows:

1. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
2. Louisville, KY
3. Nashville, TN
4. Providence, RI
5. Raleigh, NC
6. Asheville, NC
7. Oakland, CA
8. New Orleans, LA
9. Portland, ME
10. Charleston, SC

The process worked like this. A panel of experts picked the 20 nominees. Once done, the rankings were determined by popular vote.

On the other hand, if we the secret keeps getting out, our traffic will only grow worse. So… please no more national attention. Thanks!