Buying or selling a home can be an intimidating and often overwhelming experience. This is why you need not just an experienced professional but a team of real estate professionals on your side. I was recently able to talk with a friend of mine, Pete Formica, a licensed Real Estate Agent and the Team Leader for Keller Williams' Safe Harbor Team. He has been a licensed agent since 2000 and has worked through the ups and downs of the market over the past decade and half.
The Safe Harbor team consists of 7 team members (5 agents and 2 full-time assistants). Instead of working with someone who has to do every part of every transaction, clients of the Safe Harbor team work with specialists who help make sure nothing slips through the cracks. The agents on the team even specialize in working with buyers or sellers. This allows them to become experts in their craft along with helping them focus on building out their network of other pros to make deals happen.
According to Pete, one mistake that many people make when looking for a Real Estate Agent is only meeting with or interviewing one potential agent. He warns that not all Real Estate Agents are alike. You need to find someone that has great negotiation skills as well as someone you like and trust. Their negotiating ability will help you get the best price in the shortest amount of time possible.
When interviewing potential agents, buyers or sellers should have a list of questions to ask their Realtor. Here are a few important questions to start with:
- What is your average number of days on market? The average in Cleveland is around 100 days while the Safe Harbor team is significantly less at 34 days.
- What is your average sales price to list price? For Pete and his team they are at 99.7%, while the average is at 97.5%. This may not seem like much, but when selling a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, those decimal points are very real money.
- How many homes sold in the last 12 months? 100 for the Safe Harbor team.
- Do have a written plan of action? A written marketing plan to get the property well known?
- Do you prospect for buyers and how?
- Do you have a full-time support staff?
- Are you a full-time or part-time Realtor?
Finally, I was curious about the current Real Estate market so we spent some time discussing the current Seller's market and what that means. Pete said that we are currently in a Seller's Market in the Cleveland area because we have less than 6 months of inventory on the market. Once we get above 6 months the demand will start to fall behind supply pushing things to a Buyer's Market. Currently, in most of Cuyahoga County there is only 2-4 months of inventory.
The market is changing though and there are natural cycles that take place approximately every seven years. Pete predicts that we are roughly 24 months from being in more of a Buyer's Market. One big factor is the interest rates on lending as well as the tax code. As interest rates go up or access to financing becomes tight it becomes more difficult for someone to have the money to purchase instead of renting. One factor affecting the real estate market is that the average age of first-time home buyers is increasing. It is currently around 33 as school loan debt and other factors affect many younger people's ability to save enough money to purchase a home.
It was a great pleasure understanding real estate much better by talking with Pete. He is an educator at heart and he enjoys answering questions from his clients and taking them through the process. He did say that for most people it takes around 90-120 days from the beginning of the purchasing process to closing and getting the keys. If you're planning to sell your home soon, I suggest you read about what color you should paint with to increase your home's value. You should also learn more about Pete Formica and the Safe Harbor Team at Keller Williams. You can call them directly at 440-399-1270.