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Dealing With Distressed Property Buyers and Sellers

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TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE NETWORK, June, 2009-Cheryl Scott-Daniels
ERA Select Homes
Years in real estate:
22
Region Served: Lower Fairfield County, Connecticut
Average sales price in your market: Differs significantly by town. For example, from January through April, year-to-date, the average selling price for single family homes in Westport was $1,310,274; $1,002,041 in Weston; $564,497 in Norwalk; $863,750 in Wilton; $679,028 in Fairfield; $1,359,222 in Darien; $1,550,000 in Greenwich; and in New Canaan, for just the month of April, $1,410,000.
Average number of days a home spends on the market: Houses often get re-listed, but this also differs by town. During the last listing prior to sale, the records currently show: Greenwich, 163 days; Darien, 108; Fairfield, 93; Westport, 132; Weston, 124; and Easton, 162.

cheryl-scott-danielsHow are foreclosures and short sales impacting your market?
In the towns that we service, we have seen only a few foreclosures and some short sales, but not the large amount that we hear about in other parts of the country. We still have people trading up and down-some to larger houses and some to smaller houses. However, when we work with buyers and sellers who are involved with a distressed sale, they require lots of care, and these transactions require time and focus. We draw upon our deepest knowledge of all phases of real estate and, obviously, we are empathetic with those who are affected by the loss of their homes and the buyers who must endure the difficult process.

How does your team handle distressed properties? Is there a particular team member who specializes in short sales, for example?
No, we truly function as a team. Depending upon the specific transaction and issues, at times I get more involved in our agents’ transactions than at other times. Everyone is very supportive of each other and all of our clients. Each agent is equally educated to ensure that everyone is qualified to handle these particular circumstances.

What type of information is critical to both homeowners and buyers involved in a distressed property sale/purchase?
For buyers, a thorough physical inspection is necessary because of the deferred maintenance common to short sales and foreclosed properties, where the owners have been financially stretched. Additionally, depending upon the specific type of deed granted, a thorough search of town records to reveal all of the liens on the properties is necessary. Additionally, the transaction can take a very long time. The lender, investors or courts can take 3-6 months to approve a sale, so the buyers must have closing flexibility.

For sellers, working with them to get the highest possible price by presenting the property in the best possible light without spending money, is important. Helping them to prepare the proper documents to present their case to their lender to gain approval for a short sale is crucial. Reaching the authority who is the decision-maker at the lending institution is extremely difficult, but the only way to get an informed decision. Also, persistence is absolutely necessary.

How do distressed properties present opportunities for move-up and first-time buyers, and how do you convey this message?
Lenders don’t want to build inventory; they want to move it so there are some good values to be found. Buyers must be able to have occupancy flexibility in order to capitalize. They should also be prepared to do some work on the property they find.

What advice do you have for dealing with lenders, attorneys and others who are often involved in a distressed property sale?
Communication between all parties is important. There are no bad questions. I tell my buyers and sellers to ask any and all questions, and that patience will help them through the process. Lenders should try to accelerate the process and make faster decisions. A standard process among lenders would be helpful.

Why did you become a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®? I liked the content of the materials. I respected RISMedia’s ability to produce great-looking materials, and I expect their already-existing network and broad reach will quickly broadcast the message of Top 5. This will enable consumers to find the right agents in order to make the best decisions for them and their families.

How are you utilizing Top 5 consumer materials (i.e., brochures, door hangers, Resource Center videos and news, etc.)?
We are using the Expireds brochure to reach potential new clients. I am reaching out to other Top 5 Members around the country to exchange ideas and possibly build relationships which might produce business in the long term. We are also making the Top 5 consumer videos available via our websites. We use the What Every Home Seller Should Demand brochure in our pre-listing packages.

What was it about Top 5 presentation that most resonated with you?
The professionally-produced print and digital materials which reflected the input of experienced experts were a great enticement.

How is Allan’s understanding of the real estate business and real estate consumers of benefit to the Top 5 Network?
Allan is passionate about real estate, has years of experience and has probably heard every story there is to hear. He is very willing to share what works and what doesn’t.

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?
The best possible client counseling and service you can provide creates clients and referrals for life! Balance is a bit difficult for me. Not uncommon in real estate, my clients call, e-mail or text me as early as 7:00 a.m. and often after midnight, every day of the week depending upon where in the world they happen to be traveling, working or living. Clients need help, and when it comes to their family and their home, they are often very stressed and in need of rapid resolution. I try to be there for them, so I work at balance. I try to make time for a nearly daily workout and some time each week to enjoy my family.

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