Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Choosing A REALTOR? Look at Their Report Card.

At last week's class on "How to be a Smart Home Seller", one of the topics was how to choose a REALTOR**. I don't remember exactly where the thought came from, but off the top of my head I blurted that I would look on line at the listings of the people I was considering to see how well they were presented. The thought of using pictures of a REALTOR's listings as a kind of report card hadn't occurred to me before, but the more I consider it, the more it makes sense.

In fairness to REALTORs, there are always sellers who won't listen to reason when given sound advice. However, if every single one of a REALTOR's  listings has been photographed "as is" and looks dreadful, the unfortunate clients are living in the house instead of selling it. The likely reason is that this REALTOR isn't willing or able to give proper guidance, nor are they recommending a consultation with a professional stager. As a prospective client, I would be concerned about working with this REALTOR because no matter how much I liked them, I couldn't be confident that my listing would look any better. Since compelling on-line photographs are my most important marketing tool, I would be putting the sale of my house in questionable hands, particularly in this highly competitive environment.

For my own information, I looked on line at the listings of several local REALTORs, and sad to say, the results were pretty dismal. Their report cards put every single one of them in the "D" or "F" category in terms of how well prepared their listings looked, and whether or not they would be appealing to the average buyer. I wish I could show you those dramatically bad pictures because you'd see exactly what I mean, but I want to protect the identity of everyone involved.

This failure to emphasize the importance of creating cosmetic appeal isn't a new story. Far too many REALTORs still don't realize that it's all about the pictures, and unfortunately the results are all over the internet. With over 95% of today's buyers shopping on line at home before contacting a REALTOR to see the house in person, this is a significant problem.

When you're choosing a REALTOR, be sure to look at their on line "report card" and ask questions about their approach to marketing your house. To sell on the best terms, you need to work with someone who gets it.

**The answer is on the basis of merit and compatibility. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Carpenter Bees Will Be Active Soon

 I'd never heard of carpenter bees until we moved here, and even then it took a while to find out what was drilling symmetrical holes in our front porch ceiling, and on the back deck, and leaving piles of sawdust. I soon came to learn how pervasive and destructive they are.

When Roger does exterior estimates he often finds significant damage from carpenter bees, and repairing the holes is an important part of his work prior to painting or staining. Unfinished wood, or wood with a deteriorated finish, are the most susceptible to carpenter bee damage, and at our house we were happy to find that the bees were less inclined to nest in wood that Roger had recently stained or painted.

carpenter bee
There are hundreds of species of carpenter bees around the world, with the most common in our area being the Xylocopa virginica. Carpenter bees aren't all bad. They're important pollinators, particularly now with colony collapse disorder killing millions of the bumble bees we count on for our food supply. Although they look similar at a glance, the carpenter bee is the larger of the two and has a shiny, black metallic abdomen, while the bumblee bee has yellow and black hair on all body parts.

A carpenter bee hole is easy to identify, but then what? The important thing to know is that a female bee is inside building nests, and you need to do something before her family gets larger.

Carpenter Bee Hole
The Bee's Nest Inside the Wood

It's not enough to fill the hole and hope for the best. Carpenter bees come back year after year, and if an old nest is occupied, females will drill new ones and things can quickly get out of hand. 

I don't like to indiscriminately spray poisons all around our home, so I consulted the North Carolina State University web site for the Department of Entomology to see what they suggested.

Unfortunately, these experts aren't encouraging about our ability to prevent carpet bee damage, but they do have some ideas about how to control it.

If carpenter bees have struck at your house, Roger can work wonders to repair the damage to stained or painted wood. Call me for an estimate at 828-692-4355.