“I want a four-bedroom, three-bath home with a two-car garage in Academy D20.”
“$300,000 to $350,000. We would like to stay under $325,000 if we can, but we are qualified to $375,000. We won’t spend that of course, but that’s our qualification.”
It was a pretty standard scenario, except for one thing: the calendar has moved into the late fall of 2015, and the Colorado Springs real-estate market had the fewest homes for sale in two decades. Something was up. While listing levels normally decline in the fall, purchasing had picked up notably. This thin swimming pool of selection still had 50 single-family homes in the $300-350K range, and 38 more going up to $375K.
That is 88 properties, all four-bedroom, three-bath homes in D20. Photographic evidence will probably whittle the group down to about 40, and physical locations might eliminate another third, leaving 25 to 28 properties.
But that’s still too many. No buyer can hold more than four or five compelling properties in their head at once. Showing 25 to 28 homes is as much a disservice to the buyer as it is to us.
This is not a new concept. If anything, it’s a tired, ol’ antique of the 80s and 90s and the pre-Internet days when cigar-chomping real estate brokers lead their agents on “tour.” They still “tour” in Southern California. Properly touring properties is the same thing as “knowing the inventory.”
We preview—“tour” or whatever you want to call it—all the time. We do this because we would much rather not waste your time, and would much rather put the best possible options in front of you.
Among the many, many things we have discovered while previewing include former drug labs, extensive cat urine damage and rooms that—to be nice—were not included in the online photographic spread. And mold. Lots of mold. Probably developed our mold allergy from a preview.
We’ve also seen structural issues like chimneys separating from the sides of houses, actively collapsing porches and decks, foundation footers with significant water-intrusion efflorescence and concrete walls bulging inward.
Along with an impossible number of site drainage issues, from negative drainage to neighbor’s sump pits shooting water at the foundation of the subject property. And angry, possibly rabid dogs. Next door.
Other interesting discoveries: lots of chickens, a domestic flock of turkeys on Vermijo, bears and raccoons living on the property, and a billy goat that lives across the street from Divine Redeemer School. Downtown. All of these were on the properties of neighbors, so we just sort of file these away for future reference.
The First Quarter of 2016 saw listings dwindle under the never-before-seen number of 2000 units for sale. That’s when we got the crazy idea of “hey, might as well know 10% of the market”. That’s 200 properties that we have toured, and it requires looking at 15 to 30 a week, but it’s worth doing. With buyers now sight-unseen offering regularly, it makes sense to have some context for the $450,000 house that backs to open space compared to the $520,000 house that’s brand new that does not. There simply is no replacement for field knowledge.
Your time is precious. It really doesn’t take much for us to bang out a dozen properties in an afternoon for two or three clients at once, and then group-share that information among our cohorts. If knowledge is power, previewing is steroids.