This is YUGE!

I have some monumental (some might even say “YUGE!”) news!

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After a few amazing years at GoodLife Realty, my first ever real estate brokerage, I recently made the decision to “Make the Move” over to Realty Austin.  This was certainly not an easy decision to make as I have so much love in my heart for my people at GoodLife.  It’s where I started this career I love so much and the mentorship and guidance I received there will serve me well until I stop selling real estate…which will probably be when I’m 89.

That said, the resources and tools I have at my disposal with Realty Austin are going to allow me to serve my clients, customers, and friends in a way I never really thought was possible.  (More on that later…)  But let me tell you- changing real estate companies is a BEASTLY undertaking!  As part of my transition, I wanted to kind of “tighten things up” with regards to my blog, calendar, daily activities, database, etc.  I’m nowhere near complete but as part of these efforts I have switched my blog site (still barrettraven.com) over from Blogger to WordPress.  So, you might- if you’re a regular visitor to this here real estate blog- notice a few changes.

change
“A change, you say?…BRING IT!!!”

Still, the heart and purpose of this blog remains the same:  To be an educational resource for you with regards to home-buying and selling and to share my real estate adventure with you.  I’m still in the process of transferring all of my old YouTube videos over to my personal YouTube account and reentering all of the info on each one.  But you can still check all of them out HERE!

A few other quick resources:

  •  Search the MLS!  Austin’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is where almost every house is listed that is currently being sold in Austin as well as the surrounding areas.  Visit the Realty Austin website and start browsing away!
  • My bio page.  There are many of you who visit this blog to get helpful tips with real estate…but you don’t really know me!  Well, my bio on the Realty Austin is basically a blog post on its own!  🙂
  • My personal newsletter!  Shoot me your email address (barrettraven@gmail.com) and I’ll add you to my personal friends and family newsletter that I send out about every six weeks.  Realty Austin distributes their own automated monthly newsletter on my behalf and- don’t get me wrong- there is some great stuff in their created by some great researchers.  However, you can be sure the stuff you get from me directly will be hand-crafted by yours truly and is a little bit deeper of a dive into my personal life and business.

OK, that’s enough for now!  With the brokerage move, which included extensive orientation and training, as well as a few other major personal events (mostly good!), my blogging has become a little inconsistent.  But Raven is back in town and I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds!  As always, do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all about Austin, home-buying, home-selling, or…well…just about anything!  See you soon!

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Barrett Raven
barrettraven@gmail.com
512.970.2648

Fiduciary…  What’d you call me?!

In my very first real estate licensing class, my instructor introduced the topic of “fiduciary responsibility” right away.  Having majored in economics in college, I was familiar with the idea that corporate board members and officers have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders but wasn’t sure how this would apply to real estate.  One paragraph in one of the first pages of my pre-licensing textbook reads:    

“An agency relationship exists when one person (the agent) acts for, or on behalf of another person (the principal). The principal is also known as the client. This relationship is a fiduciary relationship, which means that it is a relationship based on trust. While treating all others honestly, the agent places the interests of the principal, or client, first. The agent must always remain loyal to the principal.” -Champions School of Real Estate (The Law of Agency– page 8, paragraph 1)

Shoutout to Chere- my first ever fiduciary responsibility!  🙂

In a way, I think this concept should be the foundation of every single job ever.  I mean, wouldn’t it be awesome if all of our interactions and decisions were based on trust?  However, in most jobs, you are not contractually bound to represent the interests of one person or party.  That just wouldn’t make sense for most jobs and I’m sure it’s obvious why.

One of the trickiest (and hardest) parts of this job is acting on behalf of my client in a way that is in their interest when I know that the other party will likely not be benefitting from it.  Luckily, though, I typically work with clients who are kind people and who, like me, seek to find a win-win scenario in any given situation.  In other words, I love my clients even more because, for the most part, they operate with a fiduciary mindset for others.

Below is an article I read recently on the TAR website that relates to this topic!



What “fiduciary” means and how it applies to your real estate transaction

05/13/2016 | Author: Marty Kramer

I read the most incredible thing this morning: Some financial advisers can put their own interests above yours.

That’s right … as long as that financial professional recommends an investment that is “suitable,” he or she can suggest a fund with higher costs to you (and higher commissions for the adviser) than a cheaper fund that may be a better option for you.

Though that is shocking to me, I am encouraged by the following:

Many financial advisers adhere to a higher standard that puts the interests of the client above those of the adviser.
New rules are in the works to require this higher standard for advisers and brokers who work with retirement accounts.
More good news for anyone buying, selling, or leasing real estate: When you receive agency services from a licensed real estate agent or broker in Texas, that professional is required by law to put your interests above his or her own. It’s called a “fiduciary” relationship.

Even better news when you hire a real estate agent or broker who is also a Texas REALTOR®: All REALTORS® pledge to abide by a Code of Ethics that holds REALTORS® to an even higher standard than what’s required by law.

To make sure you’re getting the highest level of professionalism, make sure your agent or broker is also a Texas REALTOR®. 


Alphabet Soup!

I love learning.  I kind of have an obsession with learning new stuff.  My wife, Kristen, has actually identified a quirk (one of many) in my personality where I experience borderline obsessions with certain topics, bands, public figures, etc.  For example, in the past few years, I have immersed myself in topics like:
  • World War I
  • The gold standard (and the fiat money system)
  • Ryan Adams
  • Snapchat (my username is barrettraven.  Follow me!)
  • The mafia
  • Professional cycling
  • ISIS (most recent)
You should read this book.
 I tend to consume all resources and information pertaining to these topics, let it sit for a while, and then move on to the next one.  It’s a beautiful thing.  A few years ago, I experienced the same thing with real estate.  The only difference is- that season of learning and (almost) addiction to the topic hasn’t faded at all.  If anything, it’s intensified!  I absolutely LOVE getting the opportunity to learn new things about this business that directly contributes to improving my ability to help my clients. 

So, I had the amazing opportunity recently to have a knowledge-feast with some of the best agent in our city.  I took a series of three class that allowed me to earn a designation for real estate professionals called the “GRI”.  It’s similar to various industry designations such as:
  • CPA – Certified Public Accountant, an accounting industry designation
  • CSEO – Certified Senior Escrow Officer, an escrow industry designation
  • CFP – Certified Financial Planner, a financial industry designation

Throughout the classes, which spanned six weeks, we received awesome in-depth training on topics like fair housing, legal updates, lending guidelines, ethical pitfalls, title issues, green building, environmental hazards, and (most importantly) contracts and addenda used in a real estate transaction (among many others).  Everyday, I left our classroom saying, “I can’t believe we get to learn about this stuff!”  Some of my fellow classmates thought I was crazy.
 
The next time you get an email from me and you see a bunch of letters after my name, remember- that’s not just alphabet soup!  That’s a sign of my commitment to provide the best possible service to you and those you care about who you may introduce to me.  That should make you feel better than ISIS.  It does for me.

I even tried racing bikes myself for a season.  That ended in pain.  Lots of pain.

Below is a short press release from the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) about the GRI program.



AUSTIN – Barrett Raven of GoodLife Realty recently received the nationally recognized Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation.

    The GRI program is offered through the National Association of REALTORS® and administered by the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Graduates complete three 30-hour courses in specialized subjects such as contracts, finance, professional standards, agency, marketing, and implementing technology to improve their business. Roughly ten percent of TAR’s 80,000 members have earned their GRI designation. 

    The GRI designation signifies the graduate’s commitment to increasing their knowledge and enhancing their professionalism to perform successfully in today’s complex real estate field.









Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

There. Is. No. "Typical".

One question I often get from clients is:


“How does (fill in the blank) typically work?”  


“Devastating termite damage is pretty typical, right?”  (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Here are a few specific examples:

  • How long does it typically take for a seller to respond after an offer is submitted?
  • Sellers won’t typically contribute to a buyer’s closing costs, right?
  • Do the washer and dryer typically stay?
  • Do sellers typically repair any items in the inspection not up to code?
  • Will a buyer typically pay over asking price for a home like mine?
  • Homes in my neighborhood typically sell pretty quickly, right?
  • I could go on and on…

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no “typical” in real estate.  Before getting into real estate, I was a middle school math and economics teacher for about eight years.  In teaching, there were certainly many obstacles- many of them you couldn’t prepare for.  However, most of my day was literally planned out by me or someone else.  Our curriculum was planned a year in advance.  I knew what lessons I’d be teaching each day; I knew when grades and report cards were due; and if any of my students misbehaved, there were plans of action.  Especially with respect to the academic content- there were rules and theorems that had to be obeyed in order to succeed.  I mean, none of my students ever asked, “Mr. Raven, if I were to divide 56 by 8, would I typically get an answer of 7?”  

This was on the door of my classroom for a couple of years.  

So, back to real estate!  One of the things I love most about this (Realtor) job is that everything is different virtually all the time.  Every property is different and comes with its different quirks.  Every seller is different.  Every buyer is different.  Every listing agent is different.  Every buyer’s agent is different.  Every mortgage lender is different.  Of course, the market can change on a dime.  Lending laws change all the time.  Even the real estate sales contract changes occasionally.

Let’s break this idea down with one simple scenario:  I’m sitting in front of a home with my buyer clients and they love it.  They say to me, “Barrett, we love it.  But we really want to pay $20,000 less than what they are asking.  But sellers in this market don’t typically consider offers below asking price, right?”


  1. In this example, the outcome primarily depends on the seller’s motivation.  (e.g. Are they just selling to see what the market will bear?  Do they even care if they sell or not?  Or did the husband just get a job in Chicago and they need to sell FAST!?)  If the seller is highly motivated to get a sale done, they might be willing to give a little on price.
  2. Is the home priced appropriately?  The price of any given home on the market may or may not be based on reality.  In my opinion, a good real estate agent should give you an accurate projection of the market price before you ever offer on a home.  If it appears the market supports a price $45,000 less than where they are listed, there’s a decent chance a $20,000 price reduction may be successful.  Or maybe there are obvious defects present in the home that the seller did not take into account when they listed.  
  3. Another important factor in this scenario is the method and strategy by which your agent presents the low offer.  In the end, someone wants to sell their home and someone else wants to buy that home.  This is a very cooperative process.  There’s no reason to present a low offer in an insulting or condescending way.  We are all on the same team here!  As a buyer’s agent, I am still helping the seller get their home sold.  Of course, I must do this while representing the buyer’s interests.  I could write about this particular topic all day.  But if my client’s interest is to buy the home for $20,000 below asking, I believe I am much more likely to achieve that for them if I treat the listing agent with kindness and bring data to the table demonstrating that my client’s offer is a reasonable one.  (Someday, I will write a post just about this…but this one is getting too long.)
  4. Of course, there are market factors at play.  For example, if the average days on market in a particular neighborhood is 15 days and you are asking for a $20,000 price reduction on the third day, you’re probably not going to get it.  But you never know!
  5. Lastly, there is the financing component.  Are you paying in all cash?  If so you may be able to get a price reduction.  If not, how much are you putting down?  
There are even more pieces of the puzzle than this!  So, to just say that you can’t typically get this or that is oversimplifying things pretty drastically.  What a beautiful process we get to experience together!



"What’s the hardest part of being in real estate?"

Someone asked me this question a while back and, at the time, I had no answer.  Well, actually, my answer would have been “Nothing!  It’s all great!”  However, after thinking about it for a few months, I think I’ve discovered my three least favorite parts about being in real estate.  So, here they are!…
Stomping signs is not too bad.
  1. Turning my brain off.  I know this might sound like a back-handed compliment to myself but I promise- it’s not.  I think about real estate A LOT.  It’s almost an obsession.  I think about investing strategies, building code, inspection reports, contract amendments, prospecting scripts, marketing, negotiating techniques, listing appointments, buyer’s consultations, surveys, foundation reports, new developments, etc.  The list is nearly endless.  I even find it difficult to fall asleep (or sometimes stay asleep)- not because of anxiety- but because of excitement and an inability to turn it off.  So, there.  There’s one!
  2. Telling sellers that their home is not worth as much as they think it is.  To most people who have lived in their home for more than five years, their home is literally priceless (to them).  After all, “Little Luke took his first steps in that playroom!”  Or “We had our first meal as a married couple in this dining room!”  Or “My wife went into labor while I was hammering the last nail into this deck!”  Here’s the thing:  Buyers don’t care about all of the happy memories you made in your home.  Buyers care about your home being cheaper than the comp down the street.  Most sellers, after they see market statistics in their neighborhood, tend to be pretty reasonable.  Still, there are some who take it as an insult when you try to give them a snapshot of reality.  Inevitably, those sellers will hire an agent who tells them what they want to hear.  Then, when they get no showings or offers after a month or two on the market, they are convinced to lower the price to market value.  That’s just not a game I’m willing to play.
  3. Watching buyers come to the realization that their budget will not afford them their dream home.    Let’s face it;  it is incredibly difficult to save $20,000 (i.e. a 10% downpayment on the $200,000 home).  What’s sad is that $200,000 is not going to get you into something you’re going to want to live in…not in central Austin.  I try to set expectations up front about home values with clients who haven’t entered the market recently.  However, it’s still hard to see great people who have worked so hard to save money be discouraged when they see that there is nothing in Clarksville, their dream neighborhood, even close to their price range.


There you go.  Those are the hardest parts about being in real estate!  In the end, I guess you could boil down the last two problems to this:  It’s a bummer to have hard conversations with people- especially when finances are involved.  It’s so necessary though!  

 

I thought I saw a dead body in this bathtub.  Property listed at $289,900
 
Soon, I’ll need to write a companion piece to this one called “My favorite parts about being in real estate…”  The only problem is that post will need to be a 309-part series because there is WAY too much I love about this job.    

 

 

Barrett Raven
barrettraven@gmail.com
512.970.2648

Real Estate Jargon: "What the heck is a comp?!" pt. 2

Before I really jump into the mechanics of how to actually look for comps, I thought it would be important to “set the stage” a little bit.  I’m realizing as I unpack the term “comp” that there are SO MANY words and phrases thrown around that most people really don’t understand at all.  For instance, on more than one occasion I have had clients who were confused about when their property was actually “sold”.  I’m going to do my best to keep trucking with our “comp” endeavor and try not to take all the potential rabbit trails we cold be led down.  

Ira thought he needed these binoculars to find comparable properties until he watched my video!
 
Check out the most recent video post below where I unpack a few terms that we must understanding before continuing this convo.  If the video doesn’t show up below, click here to watch it on my YouTube channel.
In part III of this discussion, I’m going to elaborate a little on why you should only used “sold” properties for comps.  I edited out that explanation in this video because it made this post way too long…and we all know that nobody’s ever accused me of brevity.  🙂

Barrett Raven
barrettraven@gmail.com
512.970.2648

What renters should do NOW before buying a home

I LOVE this article from the Texas Association of Realtors website.  Below are three very easy things you can do if you are currently renting and are thinking of buying sometime in the near or distant future.  
(background photo courtesy of ehealth.va.gov)

11/14/2014 | Author: Summer Mandell

If you’re a renter thinking about buying your first property, you can be proactive about buying before you even start your search. Here are three steps you can take toward homeownership without signing any paperwork.

Try out a homeowner’s budget. Although you can’t predict all homeownership costs down to the last penny, you can get a rough estimate of how it will affect your budget. Consider how much you can afford, potential mortgage payment, your local property taxes, and repair costs you might want to consider as a homeowner. Remember, you won’t have a landlord to call when the dishwasher leaks.

Check your credit report. Request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. Pulling it before you start your property search can be smart—you’ll have plenty of time to fix any errors you may find. If there are legitimate flaws with your credit, you might be able to take steps to improve it before applying for a loan.

Make a realistic wish list. There’s probably not a property that will have every feature you desire, but it’s good to generally know what you want. While a property with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, don’t rule out the potential of one with a not-so-appealing exterior paint job.

It’s never too early to talk to a Texas REALTOR® when you know you’re going to buy property. A Texas REALTOR® can answer your questions about the homebuying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.