Shiny Penny

I learned a valuable lesson hiring a Realtor, and I would like to share some details about the experience as I think it is pertinent to many common situations.

Last summer my family decided to liquidate a real estate asset as it is located in a far away market and the market factors were favorable.  I traveled to the site to assess the value of the property and decide on a strategy to market the home.  While visiting it became clear to me that we could spend quite a bit of money “doing it right” and really turning the home into a turn key property or we could settle on a sales price that would be less than full retail.

I called several agents in the region to negotiate the listing.  It was an enlightening experience to be on the other side of the transaction.  First, I realized that my own preference is someone that keeps normal business hours and promptly responds to an inquiry if they are unavailable at the time of the initial contact.  Second, I am a person who learns by experiencing.  I find it invaluable to visit a site when discussing a property.  I prioritized agents that were willing to meet me onsite on short notice.  Fortunately my search paid off as I located an agent, Patty Schwed of Harry Norman in Atlanta, that taught me a valuable lesson in facilitating a real estate transaction.

Those of you that know me will probably agree that I am the type of person that really appreciates the complexity of most situations.  One of the scariest things I encounter is something that really appears to be simple at first glance.  I rarely believe that life or real estate is simple.  Interesting as it may be, my favorite way to analyze a situation is to reduce it to the most simple contrast I can find and try and weigh the two different perspectives.  Upon meeting Patty she immediately sensed the conflict that I as a client was feeling deciding whether our strategy to net the greatest gain from the property should involve some restoration work and improvements or simply settling for the value in the current condition.

Although on the surface this can seem like a very simple decision, I believe that often it is not and there is chatter among real estate professionals that feel the same.  First, some clients like to do their own improvements.  The “sweat equity” and making the choices about materials, colors, contractors, and methods actually encourage real ownership.  Perhaps for every owner that wants sweat equity and real ownership there is a hardworking owner that does not want to spend their free time working on their house?  Fair enough.  But, the two parts of the equation that tipped the balance in favor of selling the property “as is” were in fact a bit more complicated:  a) we were not local to the market to supervise contractors and b) the basis in the house was close to market value and we didn’t want to outstrip the values on the neighborhood and be trying to sell the “most expensive house on the block” which could take far longer than an “as is” sale.  In essence, the fact that the property was accessible to more buyers at a smaller purchase price encouraged us to bet on finding a buyer who would want to do some of their own work and/or choose contractors and do the improvements their way.  One important caveat being that the home was in good enough condition to pass the appraisal process for even the most demanding loans.  Often a distressed asset will not qualify for financing in which case you should probably reach out to a qualified real estate professional such as myself for a bit of a deeper look at which repairs will bring the greatest increase in value.

Patty, who is an efficient and honest agent, immediately came up with a very precise and in my mind wonderful analogy… the shiny penny.  Do we try and find someone who will pay more for the brand new fresh off the mint never in circulation penny or do we bet that in the masses someone will see the beauty in the tarnished penny and decide to add luster at their own volition.  Thanks Patty!  For teaching me a little about Real Estate and for professionally handling a tricky transaction.  You can find Patty here: