Customer Service? — Where has it gone?

Do you ever order something and sign into ‘chat.’  With the canned responses that do not always match up to your question do you wonder, “Is this a AI or someone with English as a second language?”  #service

Once upon a time FEDEX met guaranteed.  Today it means, ‘maybe so.’  Pay $30.00 and ‘maybe’ it will get there tomorrow.  The driver can always say they were here and no one was home because they didn’t ring the bell and I was home.  Or they could say my address is wrong.  Even though they’ve delivered many times before.  Is this reliable service? th.jpg

Perhaps not, but they have built a name for themselves and a little poor service or non-delivery isn’t going to hurt their overall bottomline. 

#Culpeper,  #living

When I asked if the Shipper would be given a discount for FEDEX failure to deliver on time I was ignored.  Even though I sat and waited for a package that didn’t come FEDEX never offered my sender a rebate or discount of any kind.  ‘I’m sorry,’ is all either of us received.   

The Pest Control People are delayed coming out because they have an issue with employees.  They assure me they are ‘fully staffed’ if the employees all show up on time, everyday.  With Low Unemployment there is an unforeseen issue few speak about…. bad customer service.  When we have so few workers… Employers higher what they can afford, those people are not always the best qualified or reliable.  We must be patient and understanding.

What does that mean for Real Estate?  Good news… people in real estate still need hours of training prior to taking an exam to become an Agent.  If they put in the time, effort and money required most truly want to do a good job.  The problem is they may not be clear what that job entails.  Further to complicate the issue is the why business is run.  Realtors are basically, ‘self-employed.’  Because they work under a Broker they are Intrapreneurs not Entrepreneurs.  They can be guided, encouraged but in the end they march to their own beat.  If that beat is continually away from the Company plan the Broker will ask them to move on and send their license in.  There will be another firm for them to work at tomorrow. 

We work on a curve.  It takes years of experience in most licensed positions to real get good at what you do.  Today, many ‘Agents’ may not be well rounded because they work in a ‘team.’  The Team Supervisor places them where they think they are best suited.  (ie:  buyer agent, closing coordinator, call center, etc.)  Real Estate is no different from other service oriented businesses.  If they are a new agent they have Enthusiasm working in their favor.  Ask them if they have a mentor or are they teamed up with an experienced agent who works along side of them. 

It makes a difference when there are issues.  That’s always when a Realtor shines.  What do they know?  Who do they know?  That can help you buy or sell a property.  An experienced Agent can help you move mountains to get the job done!  That’s why reviews and recommendations are the life blood of a Realtor!  We are only as good as our last deal.  ‘A few years ago I had buyers in Stafford, VA.  The home they wanted to purchase had an issue with mold.  I asked,’is this the home you want?’  ‘Yes!’ they assured me.  Ok, we got the home, they were disappointed because they did not get to chose who remediated the mold or how it was done.’  We must remember when purchasing a home it doesn’t belong to you until the paperwork is complete.  Up until that time it is maintained by someone else as that person sees fit!  It is not in the control of a Realtor or of you as the Buyer.

Sometimes a deal doesn’t go smoothly but it works out well for both parties, that’s a win for a Realtor.  22 Homeowner Association Violations and the home still sold ‘as is!’  The Seller had to give up some money and the Buyer had to agree to deal with the problems, but both ultimately got what they wanted.  So, the Seller is sore they walked away with less, it was still more than it would have been had they corrected all the violations!  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when dealing in real estate.  Don’t be the Seller that says, ‘I could make that repair myself,’ and not make the repair!  If you want the best price, provide a good produce!  Repairs lower that market value of a home.  This Seller never acknowledged the 22 HOA Violations, so in their mind the realtor didn’t do a good job.  How would it have worked had that Seller not had an Agent as the go-between in the same transaction?  9 out of 10 times that Seller would have had to correct all 22 violations in order to sell the townhome at the price they got on this transaction.  Why?  Because HOA Violations do not necessarily have a bearing on Market Price.  But a home in an HOA must comply with the codes of the Association in order to be sold.  An HOA can prevent a sale from happening based on the violations.  Note: had the owner taken care of the home there would not be any costly violations to correct before being allowed to sell their property.  When you buy in an HOA you agree to comply with the rules and regulations of that Association. 

th-1 . When you believe all photos online are a true picture of a home — think again!  Photos are met to show a property in ‘the best light.’  Not always the same as accuracy.

Do you need a Realtor when purchasing New Construction?  Hmm.  Do you?  Can you negotiate sufficient outlets in each room without a huge up-charge?  How about a finished basement?  Or are you sticking to the base price?  If so, will you get out of the home the amount you put into it in 5 to 7 years without upgrading?  An experienced Realtor can guide you through what is and what isn’t worth upgrading.  They are experienced in negotiating on your behalf.  Many have relationships with builders they work with on a regular bases.  #newconstruction, #Realtor, #Broker

We work on commission… each job is a new experience.  Most people work on Salary.  No matter how well you perform when you’re on salary you are paid.  On commission you may work very hard and should be compensated for your efforts.  If you do not work when on commission, there is no pay.  It is a service most people do not want to do or do not have the experience to do.

Culpepercoverphoto.jpg

Reflection

While attending my step-daughters college graduation this past weekend I was struck with how time changes…. I may still feel 30 something, hmm!  So often I hear, “when I was… or when we were…. we….”  Times change, standards change.  Our 20somethings are not as prepared to venture into the world as we were expected to be at 18.  Our generation has worked so hard while our children were young that  we often try to make up for the lack of time that can never be recovered.  We often fall short when it comes to preparing our children or sharing our values, hopes and dreams on a day to day bases.  Life is only the dash between 2 numbers… how do you want your children to remember your dash?  Were you to busy to go for a teddy bear picnic, or and imaginary tea party with poo?  Are they going to remember how much you worked rather than the moments you shared?

I have a 10 year old step-son that wasn’t thrilled with attending a college graduation.  To make it fun we rented space at Great Wolf Lodge and invited all of our children to come and participate.  Not only with the formal Graduation to mark this moment of time for Leslie, but they will all have a memory of family time even though most of them are now young adults venturing out into the world.  As I grow older I often step back and reflect on how to continually connect with others across the generations.  I am grateful for this weekend in which I could see that reflection in action.

How many times must you hear?

How many times does a Seller need to hear how important it is to CLEAN UP the INSIDE and the OUTSIDE of their house before they understand it effects the value?

Over the last 2 years I have seen thousands of dollars left on the table due to Seller’s choosing not to make the effort too ‘DEEP CLEAN’ the inside of their house or Clean up the Outside of the house!  They always blame the agent because we live in a society that doesn’t not want to be responsible for their own inaction.

As a Realtor, we can ‘ADVISE’ you in the way you should go.  We DO NOT make the decision for you.  Nor do we do all the work for you.  We may help you, or direct you to where to find help.  But, ultimately the work completed is up to you!  Where should you invest your money to get the biggest bang for the buck?  CLEANING INSIDE AND OUT!!

If you have a beautiful home inside, but lots of rundown cars outside, no curb appeal and green algae growing on the side of your house very few people will see inside.  Some will turn away at a door gouged with claw marks, or peeling paint.  Are you creating a scary movie set or are you staging a house for sale?

You may need to drive down the road and come back to your driveway with an impartial look in order to truly answer this question.

You laugh, but I have seen homes listed at the top of the market with clawed up double doors, algae growing on the white vinyl siding, and seedlings in the gutters.  Let’s not mention the junk cars next to the driveway and the pink sofa on the front porch.  People may turn away from this clutter, because they do not want to envision themselves living here.

Your goal as a Seller is to create a vision of beauty to attract a Buyer.  There are two main buyers in today’s market… the Investor, who is going to offer 70% under your list price so they can clean up the house and flip it or rent it fast.

And the second is someone who wants to move-in ready without much work or effort.  This group wants to see the walls painted neutral colors they can live with, and every thing clean and done.  They will pay extra for not having to bring it up to their standards and to have a few newer appliances or a new roof or HVAC system.

So, you need to ask yourself… “am I willing to do what it takes to get Top Dollar for my home?”  Or, “am I content to take less just to get it sold?”

Deep cleaning, doesn’t mean just having a ‘clean home;’  I’ve been in a home that had boxes stacked to the ceiling of the living room.  They were neatly stacked and the walkway to the kitchen was clean and dust free.  But the house was ‘Cluttered!’  I couldn’t see it and it felt dark and claustrophobic!  If you want a ‘decent price’ do a decent job!  Declutter inside and out!

In the photos above one room is empty, but doesn’t show well because the vinyl is old and doesn’t belong in a family room.  In the other the carpet is clean but the shelves and hearth are cluttered.  Less is more when selling a home.  A Staged home sells better than a vacant home… if ‘Staged’ well.

You want a mowed, well kept lawn.  If your front door is scratched… Paint it!  If you can’t paint within the lines – pay someone else to do a great job!  Clean the gutters and siding.  If the roof needs replaced, and you can swing it… do it!  If you have old vehicles in the drive, or off to the side… remove them.  If you have a long drive in need of gravel… get a load of gravel, raked out.

Inside: Clean and tidy goes a long way.  If your Kitchen and Bath are dated, but well done and you have no money to update; Shine the cabinets.  Clean and shine as much as possible.  Pack up or through out anything you can live without.  You want to give a sense of space that has been cared for in every room of the house!  If need be… wipe down walls, remove pictures and priceless possessions from prying eyes.  You can leave a few photos or paintings… but keep it minimal.  Repaint walls that have a lot of scuffs, or are colors wrong for the use of a room.  Neutral color or white is far better than an all black kitchen.  Most people want to have a lot of natural lighting.

Just because HD TV makes it look easy… doesn’t mean that it is.  If you need repairs done it pays to hirer a professional.  They may cost cash up front, however, ask if they’re licensed and guaranty their work in writing.  You want someone to take responsibility for the repairs in the first year after you have sold the house.  If not, the buyer maybe be able to come back after you depending on where you live.  Do you want to take that chance?

 

Rash Season

brown pendant lamp hanging on tree near river
I Photo by Rachel Xiao on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year when you want to be out in the yard or garden or enjoy a hike.  You feel invigorated by the Great Outdoors!  Then you wake up the next day to ….  what is it…  loads of itchy, red dots and blisters spread in various parts of your body!

Ugh!  Why didn’t I stay inside?  Why am I drawn outside

only to awake to spots!   If you’re like me, you would rather seek a home remedy rather than run to the doctor.  When the tried and true wasn’t getting quick results I turned to the modern day encyclopedia… yep the Internet.  Loads of ideas and options there.  What kind of cream should I try next?  I was amazed at how common and widespread itchy skin rashes appeared to be on the web.  The conditions is linked to a variety of causes: poison plant life such as: poison ivy, poison oak, sumac, general allergies, eczema, parasites, etc.  Over-the-Counter medicated creams like hydrocortisone or corticosteriod creams, age old standby of menthol or camphor, help tame the itch and clear up the rash.  Oral antihistamines may also relieve itching.  It’s important to note that different causes may require different treatments.  Regardless, the more you’re able to avoid itching the easier it will be to contain and dissolve the rash.  It seems recommended you only use these creams for no more than three weeks at a time.  If a rash continues after that or you have a sever case it is best to seek a health care professional.  Be sure to wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap to avoid spreading.  When all else fails consider it a lesson in patience…. because most rashes do heal if you can bear the itch!

62087104_10213692839347476_2415182568648343552_n

Seller Tips

You’re Ready to Make a Move!

Where do you begin?

Open Kitchen
eat & socialize here

Look around your home.  Think about what made you move there to begin with.  Was it the yard, the kitchen, space in the garage?

Great! You’re there!  Look at your motivating corner now.  Is it cluttered?  Do you need to rent a Storage Unit to begin the process storing personal items before you list the property?  Less is more when selling property.  Storing helps you with your resolve to make that move because you’ll already be boxed and wrapped and ready to go!

What can you ‘live’ without for the time it takes to sell your house?  Anything not used weekly or daily is a great place to start.  Can you simplify your closet to just 5 – 7 outfits for a while?  Do you ‘over stock’ supplies like toilettes, pots & pans, extra dishes?  They can all go to storage to make your place seem larger, clean and neat.

When was the last time the walls had a fresh coat of paint?  This may be the time to paint them light and airy.  Deep clean carpets.  Does the wood floor need a new coating or just a buff?  Have you resealed the grout lately?

NAR repeatedly says year after year ‘curb appeal matters!’  Walk out to the road and really look at the yard, and home front.  What could make it more appealing?  Does the front door and shutters need a fresh coat of paint?  If so, use something with shine rather than matte.  You want the front to stand out!  Does the front or sidewalk need a pressure washing?  This is a great time to get it done!  Do the shrubs need pruned or replaced?  Does the grass need mowed?  Would flower in pots or boxes, or along the sidewalk make it more charming?  When was the last time you mulched the beds?  Fresh mulch is an appeal to the senses!

Some Realtors offer ‘Staging Advice.’  Others recommend a professional ‘Stager’ to come to your home as part of the listing.  Often you get what you pay for.  In todays market you may pay a lower commission, but pay extra for services.  Consider what is best for you.   Based on your situation how quickly do you want your property sold?  Are you prepared to ask for the highest price in the market while doing the least amount of work and paying the least amount of commission?  Great! Expect to sit on the market a while.

If you want it sold fast… put aside your ideas that you have the best home on the street, listen to an experienced Realtor when you ask for advise.  Be willing to pay a little more to get your property sold quickly.  A little effort will go a long way!