Meg Smith and Associates Real Estate Blog

  Sometimes Great Challenges Create Great Opportunities

We are all experiencing a time like no other. It is affecting us each in many different ways. Some of us are facing great tragedies; some of us are finding great strengths from within. All of us are learning to adjust and adapt and find ways to make the most of this time while staying safe.

As Real Estate agents, we have had to “press pause” in our industry so that we can keep our communities safe. But we continue to serve our clients.

How you may ask?

Well, there were many of you who were getting ready to list your home for the “Spring Market” before we stumbled upon this time. So what we have been discussing as Realtors with our clients are suggestions of things that they can do during this time to make their home “Real Estate Ready”. 

A basic any-day update you can do is purge and de-clutter! We all fall victim to not having the time to organize and clean out closets or drawers that have filled with things we don’t use or wear. By getting rid of things that are not being used, you open up your storage spaces so that you can clear your visible surfaces of clutter and other items. Re-organizing a kitchen cabinet for example may make room for you to store away a toaster or coffeepot that would normally sit on your countertop. This would allow your counter surface to show much nicer and larger.

A larger yet doable project is to repaint a room a neutral color. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint can make all the difference in how a room presents itself. For example a lighter color will help a smaller room with limited windows show larger and brighter.

If you are looking to really make impact, and you are handy, get to work on that home renovation project you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t had the time. A popular one that can add value and show-ability to your home is taking up an old carpet and refinishing the flooring.

As we are entering into Spring, we have nicer weather to be grateful for. This makes it easier for us not only to improve the interior of our home, but the exterior as well. Basic clean up, weeding, turning over the flowerbeds, trimming the hedges, power washing the house all can make a great difference in curb appeal.

Have a larger exterior home improvement in mind? This could also be a good time to research companies that provide upgrades or repairs to exterior items such as roof, siding, driveway resealing or repaving, window replacements etc. Many businesses will be looking for work once this pause is lifted and having done your research in advance will give you a running start.

Like any project be it big or small, take is slow and don’t get overwhelmed. Make a list, break it down and simplify what you want to achieve. Once it is completed you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and control at time where so many of us are seeking control within our environments.

We hope this was inspiring, motivating and helpful. Know that we are here for you as your Real Estate resource and we will all get through this together.

~Meg Smith

Broker/Owner

Meg Smith and Associates Real Estate

Posted by Meg Smith on April 20th, 2020 12:32 PM

Who Is Your Realtor?

Why you should choose one Realtor to help you buy a home.

I went to a conference several years ago where the speaker had talked about it. How when people were asked, “Who is your Doctor?” they could answer the question immediately. “Who is your Dentist?”  Same.  “What Nail Salon do you like?”  Almost every service job and answer came immediately. Why doesn’t the same principle apply to the question “Who is your Realtor?”

 

Your home is your single largest financial asset and yet people will choose someone who is in the business part time or a friend that they know “sells houses” but doesn’t have the experience to best serve the client.  What’s worse is some buyers go from one open house to another without any representation until they find a house they like and then begin the negotiations with the Listing Agent!  People believe that by negotiating with the Listing Agent that agent will be more willing to negotiate with them because they want DOUBLE the commission. I think nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

The Listing Agent has been hired by the SELLER to represent them. Their job is to get the most amount of money for the seller.  They do not work for you.

 

If you choose one Realtor to work for you as a Buyers Agent, they work for YOU.  Their job is to get you the best price for a house and to advise you as what the market comparables look like, what the fair market value is, what past sales look like, as well as what strategies we utilize regarding when to put in an offer.  The list is endless. It amazes me that people do not research their Realtor’s qualifications before beginning their house searching process and choose one Realtor to represent them to get them the best price for a home.

 

If you needed your appendix removed, would you choose the doctor who has just begun his career?  Or would you take the surgeon who is well known in this field and whose personality and skill match your own?

 

There is a major difference between a Realtor who works part time in this  field and one who has been in the business a while.  Negotiating is a skill. Picture it as if it were a surgery where you get better the more you do it. If you only did one appendectomy prior to being hired, don’t you think a surgeon who does 5 surgeries a day would be better at it?

 

In today’s market with inventory being so low and multiple offers being common practice, you need an agent who is readily available, knows the paperwork necessary to present a formal offer, and can look out for your best interest by having a network of lenders and attorneys to recommend to you to give you the best and most options. 

 

There are so many other considerations to take into account.  For instance making sure Certificates of Occupancy or CO’s are in place, attending the engineering inspection and knowing what falls under “normal sellers representations” to protect your client, and attending the appraisal and knowing how to reposition your deal if the appraisal falls short.

 

Do your research.  If you are choosing a new restaurant don’t you look at the reviews of new places to go?  What are the Realtor’s reviews?  How many homes has the Realtor sold?  What is that Realtor’s local knowledge of the neighborhoods you are interested in?

 

There is a major difference between Realtors based on their education and a Realtor based on their experience. Do you research - so the next time someone asks you “Who’s you Realtor?” you will be confident answering as you will any other question.

~Meg Smith

Broker/Owner

Meg Smith and Associates Real Estate

Posted by Meg Smith on June 5th, 2019 1:08 PM
How Real Estate Agents Get Paid

If you have ever bought or sold a home, you likely attended a real estate closing where the closing attorney disbursed checks to the real estate agents. Depending upon the sales price of the home being sold, those checks may have totaled tens of thousands of dollars and may have left the impression that all licensed real estate sales people are “rolling in dough”. The truth is, the agents responsible for the transaction did not keep the entire commission. So, how do real estate agents get paid, and how much of the total commission do they typically take home?

In order to understand how a real estate agent is compensated, it’s important to first understand the difference between brokers and agents. Real estate agents are independent contractors who must work under a real estate broker. Both must be licensed in the state in which they work, but the licensing requirements are more strenuous for brokers. Agents are not allowed to be compensated directly by the parties to a real estate transaction. All commissions must be made payable to the broker, who then pays the agent working under them who is responsible for the deal.

Real estate agents only get paid when a home sells. They do not receive any compensation until after final settlement or closing on the property. If a deal dies for any reason, the agent will likely never see a commission, no matter how many hours they have spent working on the transaction. What if the deal successfully closes? Let’s take a home that sells for $300,000 to illustrate how the agent(s) gets paid. If the commission is 5% on this $300,000 sale, that’s a gross commission of $15,000. The commission is usually paid by the seller of the home and will typically be split between the listing broker (representing the seller) and the selling broker (representing the buyer). If we assume a 50/50 split, then each broker receives $7500. At this point, each broker pays their agent, who handled the deal, a percentage of the commission. The percentage paid to agents by their broker usually ranges anywhere from 50% to 90% . For our example, we will assume a 50/50 split between the broker and agent, so that the agent receives $3750.

Since real estate agents are independent contractors, they must pay all of their own taxes, healthcare insurance, retirement savings and other expenses out of their commission. An agent receiving a $3750 commission check would be wise to put away one third, or approximately $1250 of that commission for taxes. Another 10%, or $375 might go toward retirement savings. The average cost for individual healthcare is $440 per month, so that amount may be deducted as well. That leaves the agent with approximately $1685. This amount would be further reduced by any of the agents’ expenses that were associated with the putting the deal together. These expenses might include gas for travel, and with respect to the listing agent, marketing expenses, such as postcards or other mailings and photos of the property. At a minimum, the listing agent would likely spend several hundred dollars on these items. So, after expenses, the agent may net around $1400 from this $300,000 transaction.

Real estate agents work hard, stay current on trends for their business and continually market themselves. Listing agents in particular may spend upwards of 30 hours or more for a single transaction from start to finish. Licensed real estate agents are dedicated individuals who want to help buyers and sellers attain their goals. Real estate can absolutely be a profitable career. However, no agent or broker is likely to get rich from a single deal, and that large check you may see your agent accept at closing has a lot of stops to make before any of it ends up in their bank account.
Posted by Meg Smith on December 6th, 2018 10:43 AM

  Realtors Are Like Seashells……

Growing up in Hales Corners Wisconsin, I was lucky enough to enjoy fishing and boating as part of my childhood on a Lake affectionately called “Mud Lake” to those who lived around it, and “Upper Kelly Lake” to those who did not. I have always found that when life gets too hectic, all I need to do is drive to the nearest beach or body of water and the sound of the waves or a walk on the beach makes everything calm again…..

When walking the beach on a recent trip to Florida, I thought about how Realtors are a lot like Seashells……You are walking through tons of seashells and all of a sudden one jumps out at you and that is the one you choose! There are 22,000 Realtors on Long Island. What makes one unique to you?

Buying or selling Real Estate is listed as one of the life’s most greatest stressors ranked 11th among the following other stressors:

1. Death of a spouse

2. Divorce

3. Marital separation

4. Imprisonment

5. Death of a close family member

6. Personal injury or illness

7. Marriage

8. Dismissal from work

9. Marital reconciliation

10. Retirement

11. Buying or Selling Real Estate

With this in mind- I hope you will consider the following when choosing which Real Estate Office to represent you…

1. How long has that Realtor been in the business?

2. Do they do this business Full Time- and is this their only source of income?

3. What is the reputation of the Agency within the community and what do their reviews say about them?

4. What kind of Education/Certifications does that Agent have? If they are a Broker or an Associate Broker, keep in mind they have had to take extra classes and have passed an additional State test. Furthermore, they have had to have a certain number of house sales/commercial deals under their belt in order to qualify for this certification.

5. Do they have extra certifications? For Example: CBR (Certified Buyers Representative), SRS (Seller Representative Specialist) which gives them extra knowledge to add to the transaction.

6. Do you feel Comfortable with the Agent? I rank this as extra important as during the Real Estate transaction you will be interacting with them under the most stressful of times. Do you trust them?

7. If you are hiring them to list your house- will they do your house justice when showing it? Did they ask you pertinent questions about the heating system, electrical system, the internal features of your home so that they can relay that information to buyers? (I always joke to my Agents that they better say a whole lot more when they show the house than “this is the kitchen,” “this is the living room”, etc)

8. What kind of marketing plan will they have for you? Will it be the same for your house as every other house their office has- or will they come up with an individualized marketing plan for your house to showcase your homes most distinctive features?

9. Are they willing to give you past clients phone numbers as references so that you can hear firsthand how a previous clients experience was?

These are only a few of the things you should consider when picking your Realtor. After meeting with a few, I think you will find Realtors really are like Seashells…… one will catch your attention!

Posted by Meg Smith on March 12th, 2018 11:45 AM

I Am Worth MORE Than A Robot - I Think!

So… my mother-in law gave me an article written in Newsday’s LI Business section from Monday August 7th, 2017 entitled “Selling Homes Online Listing, 2% fee…..” with the subtitle “Tech company starting “big data, “robot” real estate operation on LI.”

The gist of the article is that a company from California has opened its first Robot company in Uniondale after having some initial success in California. They are touting a lower commission rate by getting rid of a lot of the support staff and expensive marketing practices currently used by traditional brokerages such as ours. A home that utilizes this Robot technology will have a tablet-like “robot” named REX that will be stationed in listed homes that is programmed to answer some 75 typical questions.

The company will provide an agent to let buyers into the homes. They will not utilize multiple listing for their marketing.

My mother-in-law and brother-in-law asked me what I thought about this after I read the article… A myriad of thoughts and people sprang to my head.

What about the older generation who are used to sitting down and talking through the details of the deal and need to have explanations and assurances of how the process works today vs. when they bought their house 40 or 50 years ago. I thought of my dear client Maggie who was 84 years old when I helped her move from a 4700 square foot house into a 2 bedroom apartment- and we had a “move manager” work in conjunction with a moving company so that her apartment was set up in 48 hours with every box unpacked- every picture hung- so that she could move into that apartment and not feel the trauma of the move.  Could a robot manage that?

I couldn’t imagine her wanting “Rex the Robot” in or around her property.  I imagined her being a buyer- and having to utilize a robot in order to ask questions.  I couldn’t imagine that either.

I thought of a recent experience at Quest Diagnostics where they had switched to tablets for signing in- and me being pretty tech savvy not being able to figure out how to change the screen from Spanish to English… and then after I did figure it out- the next group speaking Spanish and Not being able to figure it out at all…. And the jam up of the line and people getting upset that there was no-one to talk to to try and figure out the system.   

Or comparing it to the grocery store self-help lines where the one staff member devoted to this system is busy all the time fixing the machines after people have problems. 

I am curious as to what happens when one of the questions asked of the computer isn’t one of the 75 questions pre-programmed- what then?

There are currently almost 23,000 Agents that are affiliated with the Multiple Listing Service on Long Island (one of the largest groups in the country) and they are not going to be utilizing these agents to sell their homes? So who is going to help these homeowners sell their homes?

For anyone who has bought or sold a home recently, you know the process is extremely stressful and there is a lot of emotion involved in the entire process. You are selling a place that you have called “HOME” and moving to another place that you hope will be better than the place you left behind. Many times this move is not by choice.  Job loss, divorce, a death in the family, medical issues-these are all reasons people have to move, which makes a difficult process even more difficult!

With HGTV programs- buyers expect houses to be perfect.  No clutter, not too many personal items, no toys strewn about (I joke that I have been in real estate when kids could actually PLAY with their toys when I showed a home!!!). With cell phones- the buyers want to schedule an appointment immediately- when they are driving by- so a house must be ready to show instantly. More stress!

I think the value of your Realtor is being able to answer all your questions as situations arise. We can listen, guide, encourage, advise, assist. These are qualities we give to both a buyer and a seller.  I think that this is a business that doesn’t fit into a computer program of algorithms….. it is a PEOPLE business- where people need their Realtors to answer and guide them through the whole process.

When I look back at my career in Real Estate (and I do call it a Career) I feel the greatest accomplishment of this job is making a transaction happen as seamlessly as possible……. And solving problems as they arise (and the problems can be endless!). The process is exceptionally emotional and exceptionally stressful- and I believe Professional Realtor can make all the difference….. so… I like to think we truly are worth more than a Robot!

What do you think?

Posted by Meg Smith on August 24th, 2017 9:35 AM

The LOVE of the Move……..A Realtors view February is Valentines Day and what better month to choose the topic of LOVE as it relates to our profession. Being a Realtor means falling in love with new homes, new décor, and new locations of interest every day.

The job of a Realtor does not stop at the front door. Once inside we can easily see the love you put into your home and know instantly how to share that feeling with buyers. One very important question we always ask our sellers is “What do you love most about your home?” For some it seems like an odd question, but realize that we, as professionals, don’t just sell your home, we sell futures. We sell hopes and dreams and lifestyles. The love you show to your home will shine outward for buyers to feel and appreciate. Happiness is a big home seller.

So many people say less is more, and this is true in many instances. Light, bright and airy sells, but that does not necessarily mean empty. We want for home shoppers to be able to envision themselves in your living room by your fireplace and have them able to make it their own, but sometimes we can make a home too empty, to cold, and too unfeeling. Don’t take all of the happy and hide it. Don’t remove all of your family photo’s or memoirs. Let buyers know that love lived there for you….and it will for them also.
Posted by Meg Smith on January 31st, 2017 2:24 PM


Our Changing Market and How It Affects You

If you or anyone you know has been looking to buy a home recently, you are sure to hear some very interesting stories as our market takes a very sharp turn to an extremely favorable sellers market.  

Some of the challenges that buyers are experiencing can only be explained with an explanation of the market conditions.   You fall in love with a house and make an offer, only to find out there are multiple offers on the property and your agent tells you to come up in price.  You come up in price, but its still not enough.  You lose the bid for your “dream home” and have to start again.  How is it that a highly qualified buyer can’t find a home? 

It’s a struggle most home buyers are facing now.  The market dictates our path of home ownership.  A sellers market occurs when there is little inventory, and great interest rates on mortgages.  There are more borrowers approved then there are houses to fulfill the demand.  This easily becomes a sellers market and a higher price point is obtained through a system called supply and demand.  Homes are selling higher than expected because we have a shortage of homes.

An experienced realtor can help you get through this difficult market, but it is important that you choose someone with experience in this type of housing climate.  A seasoned agent will be able to walk you through this process and best advise you on how to obtain your goals.  Most importantly, once  you obtain an accepted offer, you should work expeditiously to have that home inspected so you may move to contracts.  Remember your deal is never secured until fully executed contracts are signed!

Likewise, we at Meg Smith and Associates stand ready to help sellers in this market negotiate the best offer for your home, and follow through in the most professional manner.  Call us for all of your real estate needs!

Posted by Meg Smith on November 22nd, 2016 10:18 AM
I am fortunate enough to have two groups of friends which have graced my life for 17+ years… One is my Book Group, the other I’ll call my New Year’s Crew.

My Book Club began 17 years ago – When Madeline was 10 months old. I would have attended any group once a month just to have adult conversation and to discuss anything other than “The Big Purple Dinosaur.” My Book Group was originally a collection of six of us which expanded to a group of thirteen at its highest. We have settled into a comfortable long term eight. We are an eclectic group of eight, all connected to each other in some meaningful way. We have shared losses of parents and siblings, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and more. I venture to say that we have a bond that is quite indescribable.

Once a year in August we meet on Fire Island to enjoy late summer beach time and squeeze in a Rocket Fuel if possible. It was this past August when the question was first posed – “So Meg, What’s your end date?” I was like, “End date for what?” And the group looked at me like I had to know the question.

 “For Retirement.” 

As my husband’s company had transferred him to Florida and he’s been doing the reverse commute for two years, the next question was “Florida or New York?” The general consensus was that as soon as Madeline graduates from High School I will close the doors of Meg Smith and Associates Real Estate and begin a new life and career in Florida.

First of all – For those of you who have two kids in college – one cannot just quit a well paying job and start over when you need to be at your peak in earning potential. And… What my husband and I have worked so hard to build is just beginning to hit its stride. I am not from New York. I did not have school friends or relatives to help me to get my first deals in Real Estate. I had to do this on my own – one baby step at a time.

I started my office with the singular goal of hiring the “Right Agents.” (I did not hire hardly anyone the first year so that I could get the technology and systems in place.) My first Agents were for the most part women who were re-entering the workforce as their kids were heading to school for the first time. They had high powered jobs “Before Kids.” They were almost embarrassed to say “I haven’t worked for the past amount of time because I stayed home to raise my children. Having been a stay at home mom for many years – I know that job is truly a tough one.

My first group of Agents and I would meet every Tuesday and I would cook lunch for them and we would sit around the conference table teaching each other – throwing ideas around thinking about how we could help each other grow our business. Many local Mortgage Lenders, Lawyers, different professionals came to those meetings and said how they felt honored to “Break Bread with us.”

Fast forward to our six year anniversary on May 1st. I have a Staff of over 30. We can’t sit in the conference room anymore because obviously there isn’t enough room. Our weekly meetings still consist of us trying to figure out how to increase each others business because we are a TEAM. My original goal of creating an office that makes a difference in our field and in our community is evident every day. I look at the group of Agents who have joined me and I could not be more honored or pleased.

So – In answer to the question – I don’t know when my “End Game” is – but thank you New York for making me feel like this is my home. Meg Smith and Associates Real Estate is here to stay.
Posted by Meg Smith on September 7th, 2016 12:19 PM
Many people believe the job of a Realtor is to list, sell and market homes. While this is true, a Realtor is hired to work for YOU. If you are a homeowner looking to list your home, more than likely you are looking to sell for the highest price that the market can bare. The Agent that you choose to hire has to tackle the job of marketing your home, but more importantly they are hired to represent you, and it is their job to see to it that their fiduciary responsibility to you is first and foremost.

If your Realtor requests that your home listing remain exclusive with their firm, what does this mean? Well, for starters, if you are looking to have less traffic in your home, and keep it rather quiet and private, this may be the way you want to go. However, if you are looking to get the best price for your home, this alternative is more than likely not the best choice.

The Multiple Listing Service has approximately 20,000 realtors, which enables us to share our listings with one another, allow for showings and hopefully offers. Having your home exposed to this many Agents means each Agent can tap into their individual data base of buyers and share your home with them. Chances are, one of them may be the perfect match for your home. If you are not able to reach these buyers, how can you be sure that you are getting the right price for your home?

Some agents like the comfort of dealing with one agent, and if that is the case, ask that agent to accompany showings, but don’t exclusively limit yourself to one agency when the best chance of getting the best price is to open it to all others. If you were looking for a job, would you interview with only one firm, or would you send your resume’ out to many to increase your chances that the best opportunity would present itself?

Selling your home is no different. In being completely honest, the only person that is benefiting by your exclusive listing is the agency you hired. The chances of their firm gaining the full commission compensation rather than having to share it is in their best interest…but is it in yours?

To truly understand the difference in listing your home as an Exclusive or as a Multiple Listing Property – stop in and speak with one of our associates. Let us explain the difference! 631-647-7013

Posted by Meg Smith on April 4th, 2016 11:25 AM