There’s enough uncertainty in the Global, National, Regional, State, and Local economic pictures that many prospective home buyers and sellers enter the process with much trepidation . . .
They dip a toe in . . .
then wade in a bit . . .
checking the temperature and keeping the shore close just in case they need hop out quickly.
It’s this cautious (fearful) tendency that raises the ante for us REALTORS to do some real investigation (Sleuth Work) so that the clients feel INFORMED enough to make their decisions along the way.
Many of these Home buyers and Sellers are particularly concerned with VALUE, and Raw Historical Data isn’t always helpful . . . They want to know the WHY of the History of the house.
Some Buyers have just gotten out from under owning a house that lost value during the economic down-turn and “took a bath” when selling . . . Selling at a great LOSS!
They’ve been stung once and want to be sure they don’t get stung again . . . so they are cautious.
Every Seller has a story about why they paid what they paid when they bought the house . . . these stories are many and varied.
With most every buyer, I find myself poring over the tax records to examine prior sales and mortgages to try to piece together the story of the house. I build these scenarios with the Buyers, and we try to make sense of it all.
This due diligence begins with a conversation with the Listing agent to see what we can learn. Often that yields confusing (at best) information.
Sometimes, we’ll get a Title Company to do a Title Search to get a real-time read on the liens on the property.
Was there Renovation, Divorce, Death, Foreclosure, Short Sales, Natural disaster, growing family, job relocation . . . What happened to create this trail of mortgages and apparent selling prices in the past?
We also examine prior listings to see if the seller might have had the house on the market multiple times prior to the current listing . . . and to see what the MLS history was for the house prior to this seller buying it. In this way, we might be able to discover who did the renovations – When – and WHY?
Sometimes, we’ll ask the neighbors what they know about the History of the house . . . The neighbors are almost always very excited to tell the (often enhanced) story of the prior owners.
This is fun work to do . . . and is useful. It’s sleuth work for REALTORS . . . We get to be “Private Detectives” in our own little fantasy world CSI (Crime scene Investigation).
The information we discover is useful with respect to helping the clients understand the History of the house . . . Getting to “KNOW” the house.
What it doesn’t do . . . This revelation of the History of the house usually has very little bearing on today’s VALUE. The fact that the seller bought the house for $200,000 3 years ago has no relevance to what it’s worth today.
This is an important perspective to keep while counseling Buyers and Sellers . . . It’s the current market conditions, Location, and Condition that determine Value regardless of Historical precedent.
So why do we do the sleuth work (Other than the truth that it’s fun)?
Often, we can discover bits of information which will give our client a competitive advantage. If we discover that there’s LOTS of equity, then we can negotiate lower knowing that we won’t create a short sale situation. We might discover more personal (Public record) information about the Seller that will tell us about Job relocation or other personal matters that heighten the Seller’s motivation/urgency to sell.
All of this is good information . . .
But remember . . .
Our Sleuth Work helps our client understand the Seller’s situation . . . but it does not determine Market value.
More art than science, Eh?
If you’re considering Buying or Selling a house ANY time soon, NOW is a great time to stick that big toe in the water.
Contact me, so we start the Sleuth Work IMMEDIATELY!
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