Email Alerts of New Listings Provide a Good Reason for Listing Your Home on the MLS

Yes, it’s a seller’s market, and maybe you think you don’t need to hire an agent to put your home on the MLS, but the opposite is true. Take, for example, the listing which was featured in this space last week. For 7 days it was listed as “Coming Soon” on our MLS, REcolorado, during which time it was not visible to non-mem-bers of the MLS (i.e., buyers). But that listing was emailed to over 250 buyers who had email alerts set up by their agents. One of those buyers tagged the listing as a “favorite” and another six tagged it as a “possibility.”

Those numbers, however, only reflect buyers who had included “coming soon” among the criteria that would trigger an alert. After the listing changed from “coming soon” to “active” on the MLS, the number of buyers who were alerted jumped to 720 and two more buyers tagged it as a “favorite.”  When a buyer tags a listing as either a “favorite” or a “possibility,” the buyer’s agent gets an email letting him or her know which client liked the listing and may want to see it when it’s “active” and showings are allowed.

These numbers don’t include the buyers who set up their own alerts on Zillow or other consumer-facing sites, including Redfin. Also, those websites don’t display “coming soon” listings until they have been changed to “active.” Thus, buyers who had agents include “coming soon” as a criterion benefited from a 1-week earlier notice of that listing than did any of those buyers who were setting up alerts on their own.

For buyers wanting the earliest alerts of new listings matching their search criteria, please make this a reason to have an agent set up alerts for you instead of setting up alerts on your own.

Knowing the power of MLS alerts should cause any seller to have second thoughts about selling without an agent. It used to be that sellers could hire a “limited service” agent who would put their home on the MLS for a flat fee (say, $300) without performing any other service, but that is now illegal. The Colorado Real Estate Commission has ruled that there are certain minimum services which must be performed by all listing agents. Those services include exercising “reasonable skill and care,” receiving and presenting all offers, disclosing any known material facts about the buyer (such as their ability to close), referring their client to legal and other specialists on topics about which the agent is not qualified, accounting for the receipt of earnest money, and keeping the seller fully informed throughout the transaction. 

Failure to perform those minimum services could subject the agent to discipline up to and including loss of license, which has caused “limited service” listings to disappear. If an agent offers such service to you, you should report them to the Division of Real Estate.

By the way, the Colorado Real Estate Commission has also ruled that it is the duty of all licensees to report known wrong-doing by other licensees, which their competitors are happy to do. We can be disciplined for not performing that duty.

Studies have shown that homes which are listed “for sale by owner” (FSBO) sell for less than ones which are listed by an agent on the MLS, and you can see why, because the more exposure your home has to prospective buyers, the more showings and offers you are likely to receive. And that difference in bottom line proceeds can far exceed the commission you are likely to pay.

Consider this: whether or not you hire a listing agent, you’re still likely to pay the “co-op” commission to the buyer’s agent, which is typically 2.8%. The  average listing commission (which includes that co-op commission) is now around 5.5%, not the 6% everyone tells you. As a result, the savings you might experience from not hiring a listing agent could be about 2.7%, and that is likely less than the increased selling price you might get from listing your home on the MLS with a true “full-service” agent such as my broker associates and myself.

Note: Some brokerages mislead you by promoting a 1% listing commission, but when they get into your home to sign you up, they disclose that the 1% is in addition to the 2.8% that they recommend as the  co-op commission and is increased further if they don’t earn a co-op commission on the purchase of your replacement home. It is also increased if they double-end the sale of your home, meaning that they don’t have to pay that 2.8% co-op commission to the buyer’s agent.

Such deceptive advertising, to me, is reason enough not to hire such a brokerage, but it may be hard for some people to say “no” to an agent they invited into their home with contract in hand.

Unlike such a brokerage, Golden Real Estate tells you upfront that we reduce our listing commission when we double-end the transaction, and we discount it further when you allow us to earn a commission on the purchase of your replacement home.

That said, our final commission might be only 1% or so higher than what you might pay to a discount brokerage, and our version of “full service” is much more complete than theirs.  For starters, we produce narrated videos tours on every listing. Our video tours are not just slideshows with music or un-narrated interactive tours which can be dizzying and annoying. Our narrated tours resemble an actual showing, where the listing agent is walking you through the house, talking all the time, pointing out this or that feature which may not be obvious otherwise. Are those quartz countertops? Are there slide-outs in those base cabinets?  Is that a wood-burning or gas fireplace? We have sold listings to out-of-towners who only “toured” the home on video, not seeing it in person until they flew into town for the inspection. That’s the power of narrated video tours.

Readers Appreciate Our Free MLS Neighborhood Alerts

Back in April 2019, I offered to set up Free Neighborhood Alerts for any reader who wanted to keep track of real estate activity in their subdivision or larger area. The response was overwhelming. I myself have 42 readers who currently receive such alerts for their neighborhood.

I’m not complaining. My broker associates and I are pleased to make this service available to everyone who wants it, and we’ve become pretty efficient at creating these free alerts.

The MLS allows members to set up an unlimited number of email alerts, designed to assist buyers in searching for homes. We have adapted it to provide neighborhood alerts. Once set up, the alerts are generated automatically by the MLS. Just give us your address and the boundaries of the area you wish to monitor. The initial alert will tell you all the coming soon, active, under contract, sold, withdrawn and expired listings in that area, going back 90 days or longer.

Future alerts will come to you within 15 minutes of a new or changed listing being entered on the MLS. You will literally be up-to-the-minute in your knowledge of real estate activity in your neighborhood!

I’m happy to handle every request I get from readers, but feel free to ask any of our broker associates to create a neighborhood alert for you. They are listed below with their email addresses and are more than happy to provide this free service. Send your requests by email only, please.

In addition to setting up the neighborhood alert for you, we can also send you valuation reports on your home using two different software packages — Realtor Property Resource (RPR), which is only available from members of the Realtor association like us, and Realist — that you will find are much more accurate than Zillow’s “Zestimates,” which home owners are used to seeing.

I also like to provide a spreadsheet of active, under contract and sold listings that are comparable to your own home, which serves as a double-check on those two software valuations.

Jim Smith, Jim@GoldenRealEstate.com

Broker Associates:

Jim Swanson, BrokerSwanson@aol.com

Chuck Brown, Chuck@GoldenRealEstate.com

David Dlugasch, David@GoldenRealEstate.com

  Carol Milan, Carol@GoldenRealEstate.com

  Ty Scrable, Tyler.Scrable@gmail.com

Today’s Technology Is What Allows Real Estate to Keep Functioning

The practice of real estate has come a long way from the days when homes were only listed in books the size of a big-city telephone directory. (You do remember telephone directories, don’t you?)

Back then life was simpler, but that depends on how you define “simpler.” Purchase contracts were one or two pages instead of 20 pages, and they had to be hand delivered, as did subsequent documents such as inspection and appraisal objections. Mortgage applications and information was all faxed, if not delivered in person.

Actually, life is simpler today. All documents are typically emailed back and forth and signed electronically, except for closing (which has to be done in front of a Notary). 

As you know, homes for sale can now be searched and viewed online. An in-person showing or two is common before submitting an offer, but not always necessary. Because our narrated video tours are just like an in-person showing, led by the listing agent, I’ve had out-of-state or even foreign buyers ask me to create a purchase contract, knowing that they can always terminate (which they haven’t) when they fly in for the home inspection. Here’s an example of one of our current video tours:

Example of a Golden Real Estate narrated video tour – 1957 S. Taft St. – Listed last week

Facetime is also a great tool for showing homes. When one of our own buyers from out of state expresses interest in a home which they learned about from an MLS email alert — another new technology tool — our agent will use Facetime or take our video camera and do a narrated walk through of that listing (because the listing agent did not create such a tour), and post it on YouTube as a private or unlisted video, and send a link for it to the buyer. 

Zoom came along just in time for COVID-19, replacing GoToMeeting as the “go to” software for virtual meetings.  A classmate from long ago sent me a link for a virtual 6-person band performance of an adaptation of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” cut, with COVID-19 lyrics. What a hoot!

Even this column is made possible by technology that wasn’t available when I was a newspaper publisher. I create it on my laptop using MS Publisher, create a PDF of it, and send it to the newspaper on deadline, which is two days before you see it in print.  Then I post it on this blog, which has hundreds of subscribers, and email it to 900 people who have chosen to receive it by email because they no longer subscribe to a printed newspaper.

Of course, this newspaper, like most, is also available in a “digital replica edition” on its website, which reaches even more readers. I love technology and how it has made life simpler!