Sellers Beware Predatory Buyers & Misleading Marketing

Unless you have been living in cave like a hermit, you are probably aware that the local real estate market is doing well.  Here in the Athens area, we are seeing a return of value in the condo market along with increased values in the traditional housing market.  I have expressed my thoughts on these gains in past posts, but overall there are many factors helping our market.  Interest rates, population growth, low supply, and the overall economy are some of the main factors.  We are even seeing a historically low supply in areas of student housing with Cap Rates below 7%.   At this point, I have not seen a dip in the demand or jump in supply so I think the market will hold for a while longer barring any unforeseen changes in the economy.  This is all good news for property owners and sellers, but when the market is strong mistakes can still happen.  One of the biggest mistakes I see sellers and property owners make is selling under value.  This usually happens one of two ways.  The seller is either desperate and needs to sell quickly or they have been misled by a “predatory buyer.” In most cases, if someone needs cash quickly they have to take a lesser price to speed things along.  This is unfortunate but a reality.   However, what bothers me is when an investor or even other real estate agents use deceiving practices to buy or list a property.  Allow me to explain:

I am sure most of you that own a property have received something in the mail where a person or a business claims “this is my final offer” or “my last attempt to buy your house”, and the worst one “please call me about an urgent matter concerning your home”.  In other cases, they simply explain that they buy homes and have an interest in your property.  Most people understand that these people are willing to buy, but only at a price that makes sense to them.  And that price is usually low.  Let me be clear that some properties that are not kept up or have an obsolete floor plan do provide good opportunities for people to add value and flip the house.  I would not call this predatory, but simply seizing an opportunity.   On the other hand, we are starting to see a new model in larger cities where people will buy your house in cash to help you move.  In theory, this sounds like an intriguing new model in the housing industry.  However, I would have some reservations before entering into one of these agreements.  First of all, people are usually in business to make money.  And people can’t always make money if they buy your property at fair market value.  I understand this business model attempts to provide some certainty, but it may leave you with less money.  If you are considering this please take the time to ask some questions.  For example, how did they arrive at the purchase price?  What will they do with your home after they buy?  Are there any extra fees? How long have they been in business?  Please take the time to research the process before you agree because if something sounds too good to be true it often is too good to be true.

Lastly, there is another method that agents might employ to gain business.  In some areas, we see real estate agents offering to buy your house if they cannot sell it for you.  This tactic is really frustrating for me as a realtor, a broker, and business professional.  I take what I do very seriously, and I work hard to do it with integrity and class. Therefore, I would never purposely mislead someone with regard to my services.  I have never listed a house with an agent that promised to buy it, and I am not personally aware of any realtors that have bought a client’s house in one of these agreements.  That doesn’t mean it may never happen, but based on my experience it seldom does.  Working in real estate is extremely competitive, and agents need to be aggressive in marketing not only to gain business but to help their clients.  So please beware a realtor that promises to buy your house if it does not sell.  In most cases, this is likely a bait and switch tactic. They simply want to get their foot in the door so to speak.  If you call them they may very well agree to buy your house, but I can assure it will be at a price well below its value.  As I stated before, people are in business to make money not to lose money.  And they cannot make money on your house if they pay too much for it.  If you choose to call a realtor because they promise to buy your house, do the same thing and ask some questions.  How much will they pay for the house?  How did they arrive at the price?  What will they do with the house if they have to buy?  How many houses have they actually bought?  In closing, I would like to make sure property owners educate themselves when selling and make sure they read the fine print.

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