Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Texas Home Buyer Two Steps Around Her Agent

A friend stopped by the Home Girl's office yesterday. She was terribly upset because a client that she had worked with for over a decade was terminating their agency agreement.

It's painful to be fired. Ask any number of the currently unemployed who have been terminated or laid off due to downsizing and the lousy economy. Sometimes the termination is justifiable because of the employee's actions or non-actions, and sometimes not so much.

But no matter the cause, the sick feeling in the pit of the stomach is right there, a tight, nauseating knot that lasts for days. Even when the the termination makes sense, it hurts.

In the private sector, employees are paid for their services. In fact, if an employee is not paid for work performed, then a complaint can be filed for theft of services. Governor Perry signed SB 1024 eliminating a loophole that previously existed for a criminal theft of service charge. Under prior law, a party obtaining services from another under a promise to pay could avoid a criminal charge of theft of service so long as the party was making minimal payments. Read more here:

My colleague did not have such recourse. The buyer felt that she had "found" her home without assistance.
  • She failed to take into consideration the hours that were spent setting up searches using specific criteria requested by the buyer.
  •  She did not take into consideration the number of homes that had already been shown to her.
  • There was no accounting for time spent researching property values in communities in which she had expressed an interest.
  • No mention was made for reimbursement of travel or gas expenses.
This is just a partial list. This buyer just didn't understand or care what her friend and agent was doing on her behalf, spending considerable time (and time is money) and concentrated effort.

This agent is sharp. Had the buyer mentioned that she was not finding her desired home, that her needs had changed, then the search would have been tweaked and more homes may have been available. There was a signed buyer agency agreement and an established relationship of many years.

Instead of communicating her wishes to her agent, the buyer called ANOTHER agent to show her a property. Kind of like a first date with somebody when you are married to somebody else. I guess the showing agent didn't ask the right questions (are you working with an agent?), had no ethics, or the buyer answered, "not really".

When I receive a sign call and ask "are you working with an agent" and the potential buyer answers "not really" , I usually cringe and then proceed to lose the lead by saying something intelligent like,
 " Seriously?, What does that mean? Not really. Do you or do you not have an agent?".

These questions are not an effort to be lazy, to not show my own listings, but are used as an effort to be ethical, to respect the efforts that another agent has invested into his or her client, and to avoid the confusion caused by an existing buyer's agency agreement versus the procuring cause argument that will probably be offered by the agent that showed the one property that my friends client "found".

As Realtors, we have an obligation to be ethical. Customers are under no obligation to share in that responsibility, but clients have signed an agreement to be loyal. It just seems to me that you got to dance with who brung ya, and if you don't want that, then break up before the dance begins.

Post script.  I was able to visit with my colleague today to see how things were going.  It turns out that she did have a conversation with the "new" buyers' agent.  The agent did ask the questions, but the answer was the usual - not really, not a signed agreement. ( I guess the buyer forgot  - hmmm)   The new agent has offered to pay a referral to my colleague.  I don't really think this is a win-win.  I am happy that my friend is getting a little compensation.  My opinion of her former client is not so great, slightly better of the other agent, but now I am the one with a sick feeling in my stomach and I don't feel like dancing with anybody.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Preparation Tips Inspired by HGTV's House Hunters

The home girl loves HGTV's House Hunter! I don't really consider it to be entertainment.  At least for me, the show is more like "home" work. I try to guess which home the buyer is going to select, using the keen skills that I have developed over the years, watching their reactions, their body language, what they say and more importantly, what they don't say about each property.

This show is so staged that it's fairly predictable, and let's face it, most buyers are not professionally trained actors.

This episode that I watched this morning was focused on a soon to be married couple buying in the Richmond, Va. area in the $200,000 ish price range. The real estate agent did a great job of finding suitable properties close to the price range for this couple, although I don't think the editors/producers/writers of the show encouraged or allowed her to offer very much advice to the buyers.

What I loved about this particular show was the predictability of the choice the buyers were going to make. The buyers' final choice was to exceed their budget and buy a newly constructed home. Seller's should watch this to see what they are up against when trying to sell a home in a buyer's market.

One buyer remarked in both resale homes that the carpet was nasty, and that she couldn't stand nasty carpet. My TV is HD and it really didn't look THAT bad, but I must admit you could see a few dirty spots, so it probably wasn't in pristine condition. It's just hard to compete with new. 

She made a comment in one home about a cheap plastic door. It appeared to be a type of sliding door between a hall and living area,  probably set up for temporary privacy for an office or other purpose. It could have been easily replaced. It's just hard for weird and temporary appearing to compete with new. 

You can follow the show here:  Richmond Mom

The outcome of the buyers' decision could have been so different if the sellers in either of the previously owned homes had taken the initiative to properly prepare their homes for sale.  There were missing or burned out light bulbs, missing chandeliers, dirty and stained carpet, outdated countertops in addition to non-curable problems such as dangerous dogs next door and a three story drop from the deck. 

The non curables can be cured with the difference in price, but the real objection coming from the buyer seemed to be the dirty carpet, the cheap door and the missing tub in the master suite.  All of the previously mentioned items,  even a remodel for the tub and the cost of a new refrigerator would probably be less expensive after negotiations than the cost of new construction. 

In a buyers market, or really in any market, sellers should stage their homes to compete with new consruction, price to deal with non curables and prep their homes to show at their absolute best. 

There are plenty of ideas on how to stage your home to sell.  I can't find any that are as detailed as I would like for them to be, so I am writing a detailed check list on how to prep your home for sale.  You can get all the information by following this blog.  Just watch for it!


Don't miss out on an opportunity to be on HGTV.  They are coming to San Antonio!  Learn more by reading Randy's blog:  We are giving an additional bonus if they select one of our buyers.  Check it out!  Hurry!

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas.  If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at

Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at please call me at or (210) 867-8743, Visit me at or follow my blog at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

San Antonio Parade of Homes 2011

The Home Girl went to the Parade of Homes this morning! 

Every year the Greater San Antonio Builders Association puts on a show featuring the biggest, brightest and best homes, decorating, landscaping, pools, outdoor kitchens, outstanding craftsmanship, awe inspiring designs and ooh la la  that they have to offer. 

And OOH LA LA, it was!  They sparkled and shimmered with contemporary features. Silver metallic, or textured faux paint finishes added drama and elegance.   Beaded chandeliers were in abundance.  In most any home, the lighting fixtures were refreshingly different from those we have seen in Parades past.  There were sparkling glass accessories and lighted onyx sinks .There were crystal knobs on cabinet doors.  Glass tiles, marble flooring, marble, granite, Silestone, or under lit honey onyx counters could be found almost anywhere you looked.  It is truly amazing what a million or so will do!

There were outdoor living spaces so grand that you would never want to go inside.  One home even had disappearing glass walls that actually opened to the outdoor living areas, literally bringing the outside in.  Or the inside out, I'm not really sure, but it was quite nice and one of my  favorites. 

All of the houses but one had pools.  Two had fire and water features which kind of made me think of the fifth element.  High on the hill, we had wind, some of the most expensive earth in San Antonio,  fire, the negative edged pool had a gas line just beneath the negative edge so you saw a line of fire just above the edge.  It took my breath away! The other pool had a water fall flowing over an outdoor fireplace. I guess the fifth element would be a buyer for any of these homes.  I would be happy to assist and can be reached at  :-)

With most of the homes in the million dollar and up range, that I nor most of my clients would be able to afford the extreme luxury that was shown at the parade of homes.  What it does for us is open us up to new ideas, style changes and the opportunity to pick the minds of some of the best builders in the business. 

The Parade of Homes will be running through Sunday, September 11, 2011
For More Information: Schedule, Ticket Information and Map

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at  Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at .