Why the Rule of Location Matters in Real Estate

Why the Rule of Location Matters in Real Estate

Since I was a child I have always been intrigued by real estate, and what my parents always said “Location, Location, Location” – I have carried that lesson forward in my life, as a REALTOR and an Associate Broker in Delaware, I see examples of this rule every day, but realize that most consumers don’t really understand what that means.

The first thing to consider is the value of your time. Depending on your profession, your social relationships, education, and interests there are certain things you will find more valuable than others. Typically people value their free time, that time when they are not working, over the time they do work. How does this come into play when we are discussing real estate? It’s fairly simple really.

It matters a great deal, more so than any other factor, to better understand let’s look at an example. The best example of the rule of location in real estate is to look at any major City in the world. For this example let’s take New York City.

The location of this kitchen determines it's cost.

The location of this kitchen determines it’s cost.

I went to high school on Long Island and college there as well as in Manhattan (what most consider New York City to be, but the city proper is an area that consists of five separate boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island), so I speak from experience.

The closer you are to Manhattan’s primary business districts, the higher the cost is for real estate. Once within the City limits, in any community, the closer you are to public transportation the more premium is placed on the value of the real estate.

This rule follows to the commutable suburbs as well. For instance if someone worked in Midtown Manhattan (The area defined as between 34th Street up to 57th Street) and lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you would have the quality of life that is most desirable to those who work and live in Manhattan. The convenience and proximity of your home to your workplace, as well as the convenience of access to Central Park, the East River, great restaurants, stores, etc. You could be at your office within 10-15 minutes with little effort or inconvenience, or expense. For this you could be paying well over $5,000,000 for a reasonably sized condo, even more for a private home (aka Brownstone).

The other end of the spectrum is the individual who works in Midtown Manhattan and lives in the suburbs, whether on Long Island, West Chester County, or a multitude of New Jersey Counties, you would be looking at 10-15 minutes from the train station in Manhattan to your office, add to that the 45-90 minute train ride, plus the drive to the train station if you don’t live within walking distance, and your quality of life drops significantly. You are potentially spending 1.25-2 hours per day, each way, commuting to your office to work. If you work an 8 hours day, that ends up eating a huge portion of your day, and therefore leaving very little time for anything else.

Most of my friends who work in Manhattan and commute leave their homes before 6:00am to get a train and guarantee they are at work by 9:00am. Then on the return home, some will stay in the city for events, meetings, meals, or just to avoid the rush hour squash of the commute, and get home after 9:00pm. To then get a reasonable amount of sleep to be able to wake and do the whole thing the next day leaves very little time to do anything else.

This is where the rule of location comes into play, and should be extremely obvious to you now. The closer you are to your place of business, the less time you have to spend getting there and back, the more time you have to enjoy the quality of life afforded you by working.

When I help my clients review their options for locations, one factor that I always try to review with them is what their goal is for their real estate purchase. We will review a list of things that are important to them in their life, and also what their goals are. Frequently people are steered toward the shiny new construction projects which tend to be a lot further from the business hubs where they work.

Everyone wants new and shiny, but most consumers don’t understand that there are more important factors in a real estate purchase than the gloss of the finish. The value of location has a direct impact on the cost of real estate because the convenience of being close to the places you want to be, or need to be, does hold a premium to many.

If you have two identical 3,000 square foot homes, what would the price difference be if you were in the Wilmington, Delaware area and purchasing in Delaware (we have quick access to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, so I don’t want to stretch out of the New Castle County Delaware area).

Let’s say that the first house is 3 miles from your place of work, was just built in 2014, has 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 3 car garage and a half-acre lot. All the finishes are high end, a gourmet kitchen with granite and top of the line cabinets, hardwood floors throughout, iron banister for the stairs and cat walk, a stone two story fireplace, and architectural details throughout. The cost at the near work location is $750,000. From this house you have the option of going home for lunch.

The second house is about 35 miles away, and you have to cross the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal to get there, it is identical to the first house as it was constructed by the same builder, but in this location the cost is $375,000. Better pack your lunch – maybe even dinner, definitely a snack, with traffic, construction and congestion you will be lucky to make it home in time for dinner.

If price didn’t matter, which would you choose? Hopefully this has helped demonstrate the true value and reason behind the old saying “location, location, location”.

Listing Syndication: The ‘Dirty’ Industry Secret In the SpotLight

Listing Syndication: The ‘Dirty’ Industry Secret In the SpotLight

Wow. I don’t believe I have seen drama at this level in the real estate industry since, well – a few days ago with the approval of the Zillow Group formation, or with the Samuelson Memo.  Then there is Move Corp and it’s Heavy-Weight match about to happen in the US Courts.  The drama only exists within the industry and because people WANT it to exist. Stop, everyone take a breathe – this doesn’t matter to your business if you are “doing it right” – this only matters to a very small segment of our industry, and in that case it is a painful lesson in diversification.

Listing Syndication Doesn't Matter to a Consumer a REALTOR DoesIf you took a poll of 1,000 consumers asking them what ListHub is, what this all means, they would have no idea and probably not notice a thing.  Why would they notice anything?  If a REALTOR is doing their job well, then a client would never know, a consumer won’t know either but a consumer might not find you if you spend a lot of your marketing monies nested over with only Zillow or Trulia.  This is a reason that marketing diversity is a very wise idea.

The True Effect on REALTORS
There really should be none.  In 2015 most agents have their own websites, many have a product that offer “Broker Reciprocity” feeds via their local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  For example, I belong to TrendMLS in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, through my IDX provider I have completed paperwork, and received Broker approval to get a direct feed from the MLS for my website with my Market Listings.  I did have three such websites at one point, but today I only have one.

The Point: ListHub Dropping the Feed Won’t be Noticed by Consumer
Or it won’t be noticed by most consumers.  What I think the problem is that Trulia had a legitimate feed, and that might have been part of the value of Trulia to Zillow, or maybe not.  Don’t forget Market Leader with RealEstate.com, this is more about PR than anything else in my opinion.   I never understood WHY ListHub was providing data to a competitor, in 2013 in Orlando I asked that question directly of some folks at the Move VIP party, when I was told that the competitors were to be at a ListHub party and event – “They are our customers and pay us for the data, there isn’t really competition” the conversation went on to cover the benefit of the business relationship.

I will add that one of the people at the table for a portion of the conversation was Errol Samuelson, and I will say Errol never said a bad word about anyone ever when I spoke to him, he was always positive and believed that competition led to improvements in the industry and offerings.   Errol was very pro-Move and Realtor.com in my opinion and experience, so the news of his “defection” to Zillow was a total shock to me.

Anyone else notice the Starbucks location PR blitz via Spencer Rascoff?  It grew some nice media legs, and a few other things in the last week, in the run up to the approval of the merger you had the media blitz of the book, then a few other small and intriguing concepts like the Starbucks relation to property value, which in my opinion was a purely a PR move to get more traction – that’s what a business does to promote itself right?  This might be another move for traction, but so far the public opinion I have seen has NOT been terribly supportive, nor positive.  Don’t discount Rascoff, he is a brilliant individual and business person, his track record speaks for itself beginning with Expedia.

What REALTORS Should REALLY be Upset About
You spend your time building your real estate business, you work hard for your Seller clients and spend time and money preparing listings for market. You spend even more time managing the listings, posting them, sharing them, marketing them, and if they don’t sell – you don’t make any money.  Lots of other people do make money from your listings, but no one asks about that.

We pay to get an IDX feed from our own MLS’s, which we also pay to be members of, and then in turn that data is moved through various systems and channels to become syndicated and shared to multiple media websites focused on attracting consumers, selling advertising to real estate professionals and selling the listing leads back to us.  This isn’t the case with EVERY MLS or Association, but the practice is a common one.  I could rant on for pages, but the MLS/Big Data topic is another blog post coming soon.

The Data is the Power
The Data is where the power is, in all industries, the more reliable and accurate it is  the better the reputation of the provider.  That is really what this entire conversation is about.  The reliable data feed that ListHub provides is the basis for the value of a media site that serves consumers real estate listings, if the data isn’t accurate then the consumer will go elsewhere, without the consumers then the REALTORS won’t pay to advertise.  You go where the business is, or should.

Agents do not understand how this business really works, it’s not about your sales and the portion of the commission, it’s about the peripheral services – the title policies, escrow companies, mortgage lenders, and so on – included in this is listing syndication, training and coaching programs, partnerships with other organizations, each and every thing your Big Broker sells you have a percentage that is most likely going right into the Brokers pocket.

That’s where the money is made in the real estate business, strategic partnerships and alignments, not in determining which website the consumers will find the data on.    ListHub saying it doesn’t want to share is fine by me, they are aligned with Realtor.com and therefore REALTOR.org and NAR, so it’s about time someone stood up for us – since we won’t do it for ourselves.

There is one other factor, the question of the idea of a National MLS – is that coming?  I believe that it is, but real estate is an ancient business with many archaic business models, it’s difficult to break the mold and truly innovate, or is it?  Behind the scenes there is an amazing tool that is available to all of us, it’s our NAR member benefit known as REALTORS Property Resource aka RPR.  The power of RPR is rather remarkable, I believe it is a preview of what we COULD have available at a National level, but that isn’t what it is about – it is about serving the needs of the REALTOR Member with a lot of AMAZING data, more amazing than any public, and many premium, websites I have seen.  Why are some MLS’s resistant to join and share the data WE provide them with our PARENT organization?  That’s a pretty good question, maybe a more important one to ask than getting involved in the ListHub/Zillow Group conversation.

Why not just work with what we have – I think a public facing side of RPR partnered with Realtor.com – combining the marketing power, and the lobby of the RPAC – consumers would have the best and most reliable quality of data EVER. Right?  What do you think?

 

 

 

Pulling Back the Curtain of the Real Estate Industry

Nothing frustrated me more than the current contentious state of relations between the real estate professionals, the real estate industry and the consumer.  Add to that the confusion of all the resources for finding real estate, and the lack of accuracy in some of those resources.   Media companies portraying themselves as “service” sites, while selling advertising to real estate professionals, spending to capture and establish trust with consumers, and then in turn selling the consumers contact information to real estate professionals as qualified “leads”.

In some ways it has become a game of who has the biggest budget, who can manipulate the public perception best, and therefore dominate a market.  The truth is that service is the core of the real estate transnational process.  I have spent the last 8 years helping to educate real estate professional on how to best serve the needs of their clients, through clear and concise communications, client education meetings, mutual expectation discussions and more.

Being a Consumer Advocate
During this process I have long wanted to address the consumers, the sellers and purchasers of real estate, to help facilitate a positive experience, and revise the public perception of what a “Real Estate Agent (Broker/Associate, etc)” is.  I believe that time has come, if not past, and as I see more predatory methods being used to monetize the listings of real property, the native distrust of the real estate professional by many consumers only allows those seeking to profit more opportunity.

There comes a point in time when the curtain needs to be pulled back and the “wizard” behind exposed for all to see the truth.  The goal of EstateSocial.com is to pull that curtain back, to discuss the industry, the process, to help remove misconceptions and prevent misunderstandings between consumers and professionals.

There is so much more to the business of real estate than the two aspects of the professional and the consumer (or client).  There is the brokerage model – and how the business of a real estate brokerage works.  There are many models and agents/licensees decide who to associate with.  By shining a spotlight on the industry and the process the goal of EstateSocial is to facilitate a great understanding and appreciation of what a real estate professional offers a consumer, and to help those professional understand many of the common concerns, or confusion, of the real estate consumer or client.

A Great Divide
There is a disconnect between the real estate consumer and the real estate professional.   A great part of that disconnect is the lack of understanding of how the process of buying and selling real estate works.

On the other foot, the real estate professional sometimes forgets the magnitude and impact of a real estate transaction on an individual, couple or family.

Between professional jargon and acronyms, consumers often are lest wondering what is going on.  What is a FSBO?  What is a CRS? ABR?  REALTOR or Realtor or realtor?  What is the difference, or is there a different between a realtor, licensed real estate agent, broker, etc.

Many terms are often used interchangeably in various media outlets, when in fact they are not.  Consumers need answers, and real estate professionals need reminders of why we all are doing this – as professionals and consumers – to help people.

Customer Satisfaction Starts with Understanding
Real estate, as an industry, is really about customer service and satisfaction.  Serving the needs of the client, putting their best interests first in a real estate professional capacity as their representative (aka Agent).  The consumer needs to understand that the real estate professional works for them, how they are compensated and why “keeping our options open” when looking for a property is more often a disservice to the consumers needs rather than an advantage.

By facilitating conversation, answer questions and providing explanations, EstateSocial.com hopes to help bridge the gap between consumers and professionals to provide a better understanding, mutual appreciation and less frustration on both sides.

Estate Social is a place for consumers, real estate professionals and conversations between the two.  To encourage understanding, compassion and a positive outcome for everyone who buys, sells or transacts real estate in any capacity.