Monday, February 26, 2007

The Marine Guide to Home Selling

Alright, listen up maggots!! Cuz I’m only gonna say this once. You say you want my advice on selling your Biloxi or Ocean Springs home? You think you’re ready for it? We’ll see. Carry on to your Real Estate selling boot camp.

You have questions? Oh, you think you’re entitled to them? You want answers? Of course not, you want the truth. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!! Son (or daughter for those PC people) were live in a market where there are many homes! And those homes have to be sold by people with knowledge. Who’s going to sell them? You! You Mr. FSBO? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep cuz you want to save the commission and you curse the Realtors. You have that luxury. You also have the unfortunate “luxury” of not knowing what I know. Paying a commission, while tragic, probably will save you money. Using a realtor, while grotesque to you, probably saves you money! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want to use a Realtor, you need to use a Realtor! We use words like code, fiduciary responsibilities, and ethics. We use these words as the backbone of our lives spent learning our trade. You use them as punch lines! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain my craft to a person (PC) who tries to save a dollar by trying to learn my craft and then complains about the manner in which I explain it. I would rather you just left a comment, said thank you for the advice and went about your way. Either way, I don’t give a darn what you think you’re entitled to. (A Few Good Men parody in case your were unsure)

While that little bit was amusing I’m sure you are seeking some true content. So hear goes. The Marine Guide to Home Selling for Biloxi and Ocean Springs Real Estate.

1) Press out your uniform- What’s the most memorable moment of any meeting? It’s the first impression. When a home buyer drives up to your nice piece of Biloxi real estate it should present an overall neat appearance. The house should be clean on the outside, if you’re house is white with hints of green, chances are those green accents aren’t a fashion statement. PRESSURE WASH YOUR HOUSE!!

2) A Fresh Hair Cut- I’ve never heard anyone, a home buyer or just personal friend, say, “you know David, I just love an overgrown yard.” Signs that it may be time to cut your grass or trim your hedges are things such as: while standing at the front door you can not accurately locate your mailbox; if you walk across your yard and the grass tickles your elbows; if it rains and your ground doesn’t get wet, these are all signs that it may be time to give the yard some TLC. Don’t forget to edge around those ears (sidewalks) also.

3) A clean shave- Take down the thirteen clocks you have on your kitchen wall. You may find it to be quite the display, others see it as an eyesore they can’t seem to look paste. And besides, are you so bad with telling time that you need 13 different birds to tell you the time every 15 minutes. Try to take you out of the house so the potential buyer can imagine themselves in the home. I know you love all the pictures of the yearly families escapades, but you want to allow the buyer to visualize they will be hanging their own memories on the walls. Not wondering what you did on your vacation. Not to say everyone will mind, but remember, we are trying to appeal to the masses.

4) Shine your boots- Let’s take a walk down the sidewalk of imagination. A business man walks up to you; he’s wearing a $1500 dollar Versace suit, I mean crisp, clean, press out, smelling good, everything. Can you picture this guy? Yea, that’s right, he’s the smooth character and all the ladies want him. That’s what you’re thinking. Then you look at his shoes and he’s got on some beat up old Nike’s. Now what are you thinking? You’re mind went straight to, what the heck is up with this guy? You just forgot about the rest of the package didn’t you? Same thing happens when a buyer walks into your house. You had them up until they saw your beat up carpet. By the way, is there even a vacuum cleaner in the same zip code as this rug? WOW!! And no, busted or broken hard wood floors doesn’t give anyone a nostalgia feeling.

5) Proper hygiene- Nothing at all is worse than talking to the guy at the office that drinks coffee all day and smokes like a chimney. You know who I’m talking about? Every office has one and he’s usually the guy that always likes to get really close so he can whisper some secret message to you. If you don’t know who this guy is ask yourself these questions? Do I smoke? Do I drink coffee? Am I that guy? If you answered yes to the first two, then the 3rd question is a yes also. Sorry man. Grab a tic tac, it’ll be fine. Anyway, let’s relate this to homes. Odors kill offers!! If it stinks like a pig, I’m sure you can fill in the rest. Make it smell good. And for my last tip today.

6) IF you’re 6’4 you don’t wear a small- In no way is a California King Size Bed ever appropriate for a 10 x 10 bedroom. On no planet, no market, no time!! Decorate and accommodate your rooms with an arrangement of furniture that makes it appear open and spacious. We’ll leave that at that.

So you wanted the truth? Well there you have it.

Blog Done. Carry On!!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Biloxi and Ocean Springs MS "For Sale By Owner" Tips.

"I just don't understand why my home won't sell!!" were the words cried out by this home owner. I say "is there a home somewhere in that yard?? Hello!!" Did you ever think to trim your bushes and possibly cut your grass? Now I know I'm a Staff Sergeant in the military but today and today only I will play the part of a Captain. Please call me Captain Obvious? Now I recently wrote an article on how to market your home. But how do you get people to submit an offer once they do make it your house? Read on!!

TIP #1- Clean your yard. Trim the hedges, cut the grass, make a flower garden around the front of the house. Basically look at what this guy did, and then do the total opposite!! Natural is so 70's. Now in the Real Estate business we have a fancy term which only those in the business know about, but I'm gonna tell you. Come closer, I don't want anyone else to hear me because I could be drawn and quartered. It's called CURB APPEAL FOLKS!! How can you get people to buy your house if they don't even want to step foot inside it? Believe me, there are FAR too many nice homes with well trimmed yards in Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Now Capt. Obvious doesn't want to discourage you, but if your home looks like the home in the picture you may want to wear bullet proof vests from now on; you will be receiving a lot of future drive-bys!! Plant some decorative plants in the yard, FYI 20ft bushes covering the entire front of the home are not what I'm talking about. I can not invasive enough how important curb appeal is and for less than $200 dollars you can give your house plenty of it. CLEAN YOUR YARD!!

TIP #2- "Dude, that was a killer party last night! I can't believe how trashed my house got." Famous last words of a lost sale. Clean and organize the inside of the house. Would you buy a car that was covered in the unused portions of a canary's diet? Then why
would you think anyone would buy your house when the kitchen looked like the picture to the right? Who in their right mind would want to buy a house that's been neglected for years and years? I beat these people don't even perform proper maintenance and up keep on the home. Believe me, that's the impression your putting in the minds of the potential buyer; well they were a potential buyer. You better hope they don't have friends looking to buy too. Guess whose home won't get a reference. That's right yours! I don't care how nice your home really is, all those buyers see, and think, is this "this house is disgusting; I would never want to live here."

TIP #3- Organize!! I'll say it again, ORGANIZE your house. Yes it's true. It does take a great deal of planning and foresight to make your 14x14 living room accommodate your 3 couches and 2 love seats. And yes I know, it was the crowning moment in your life when you made the impossible, possible by accomplishing such a feat. Guess what your potential buyer thinks? Can you guess what it is? "This house is way too small for me!!" Did you guess that was what they were thinking? I hope you did. (If you didn't, maybe you should think about hiring an expert to assist you in your sell, just a thought.)Now if you want to sell this house you need to make it look as spacious as possible. It should look lived in yes, but it shouldn't look like all 65 boys from last summers boy scout camp live there.

FINALLY!!! PRICE YOUR HOME CORRECTLY!!! If you want to sell it, you better know what it's worth. Now let us consider the facts. You're selling one house, that's it. How many homes do buyers look at before they buy? Lots!! So who do you think knows more about how much your home is worth? You guess it, probably them. (Plus they may have a buyers agent working for them. Those Realtors are pesky little creatures aren't they?)If you don't know what your home is worth, you better high someone who does. These are mythical creatures known only to exist in fairy tales, but I'll share another secret with you. Once again I must be very cautious, so please come close again? THERE CALLED REALTORS!!! ( That's 2 for Capt Obvious!!) Just because your moms, ex- husbands, younger sisters, ex-boyfriends, mom sold her house for $300, 000 in up state New York doesn't mean your Biloxi or Ocean Springs home is worth that. PRICE YOUR HOME CORRECTLY!!! Did I say that already?

Now get out there and sell your home!!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Marketing Tips for Biloxi Ocean Springs Real Estate

People always want to know what makes a Realtor worth the commission they earn? Do you wonder the same thing too? Well when it comes to helping you sell your home it all boils down to marketing. I bet you would love some free marketing tips huh? Sure you would, who wouldn't right? So here are some for you!

1) Cable TV advertising- this works really well for Biloxi and Ocean Springs Real Estate. The reason why is because many people know channel 13 shows homes for sale all day long. Its a great way to advertise your real estate for sale in Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Here's where it gets tricky though, do you know who to call? Do you know what to say to promote your home correctly? Or better yet, what not to say? Is it worth your money if it doesn't bring in the buyers? Of course it isn't!! But I bet a trained real estate professional would know what key words to use to bring buyers to your home. But hey, you want to save money buy not using a Realtor. By the way, you may get 3 of 4 calls if you're lucky. Notice I said calls, not viewing. Huge difference!!

2) Newspaper ads- These are really a great way of letting a seller know you are actively advertising their home, other than that, they are almost useless. But just because they are useless doesn't make them cheap; if memory serves me right, it's about $25 dollars a day to run an add in the Sunherald. Oh and it's an extra $100 dollars to run it online at And remember, if the real estate your trying to sell is in Biloxi or Ocean Springs, you're probably just throwing your money away, atleast in the paper anyway. Oh yeah, and there's that little business about knowing what to say in your ad again. Boy, marketing can be really difficult if you don't quite know what to say, or not say for that matter. You may get 2 or so phone calls if your lucky and run it for a month straight. Think about it, did you look in the paper to find this info? Who does anymore? It's all about the Internet today. Which brings me to the more powerful marketing tips.

3) Multiple Listing Service- Now this is one of the most powerful methods of advertising. Why you ask? Well I'm glad you asked that question, here's why! Because the MLS is your link to every other Realtor in the area. All you have to do is be a Realtor with access and magically hundreds of local Realtors know you're home is for sale now. So plan your real estate sell well in advance so you can attend the necessary schooling to get qualified to take your test, that's right, you have to pass a pre-licensing course before they even allow you to take the test to get your license. And then guess where you get to go to take your test? Not Biloxi or Ocean Springs, not even near by Pascagoula, nope, you get to drive all the way to Jackson. I'm sure your asking, why is it so important other Realtors know that my house is for sale? Think about it, buyers, that's right BUYERS, love to use Realtors. That means Realtors bring you potential buyers and lots of them. Maybe you spotted a nice piece of land in Ocean Springs and you and your spouse have your master real estate design all planned out, it's the home of your dreams! But you've gotta sell that home in Biloxi first. Wow!! You just missed out on an EXTREMELY powerful tool.

4) Website exposure (aka Internet)- Now you want to hope on the technology bandwagon, you realized the paper wasn't all it was cracked up to be. But how do you market your home on the net? I can hear the pleads now, "help me Sergeant Real Estate, I want my home sold so I can carry on!!" OK, here's what you do. You spend countless hours researching websites that service residential real estate websites in the Biloxi and Ocean Springs area. Then you decide which one is best for you. You pay them a small advertising fee, I'm sure it will be minimal so don't worry too much about it. And presto, now your home is on one of the billions of website
online. Now you have a static website advertising your home for you. That's all there is to it. Now when someone who is looking exactly for your type of home happens to come across this website, which by the way they were linked to by mere chance by results from a search engine, they can call you and possibly be a potential buyer. Or.... you could use a Realtor who already knows the best sites to put your home on, that's right sites, as in the plural version of site meaning multiple. Sites which actually draw traffic to them. And your Realtor should have his own site which they advertise Biloxi and Ocean Springs real estate for sale. One of which will be your home. A place like or, my brother out of Tampa Florida.

Well that's enough real estate marketing tips for today. If you're planning to sell real estate in the Biloxi or Ocean Springs area, I hope you found this article helpful.

Blog Done. Carry On!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Investor Oppurtunities in Biloxi and Ocean Springs Mississipppi (MS)

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is quickly becoming a vacation getaway area. Investors and developers are begginning to build and develope the local areas into more of resort style community. Instead of new houses or apartments they are begginning to build condo's. Many housing areas that were apartments or hotels before are now condo's; and new developers are building condo's instead of apartments. This is becoming a resort area fast investors, even "The Donald" is planning a hotel and resort area for developement in the near future. I personally know of one deal being negotiated in which two hotels are being purchased for $10 million and converted into condo's. And this is from an investment company out of California. There's another projected that breaks ground next month called Bienville Quarters. For more info on that project check my previous blog on it.

I'm sure investors are wondering why I bring this up. The reason is this, as an investor you need someone who can not only help you locate property but also someone who can recognize the deals. Someone who knows and understands your goals and objectives. I also happen to be a Real Estate Investor in the local area and while not on as grand of a scale as the previously mentioned investments, I do understand the goals and objectives. Please feel free to contact me, I would love to help you.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Great home selling tips

Hello all. I was reading a post on my brothers website and thought it would be great to share with anyone and everyone. These are great tips for selling your home. Check it out!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Why Sergeant Real Estate?

I was having a conversation today with my girlfriend. During this conversation we were discussing what makes Sergeant Real Estate different from any of the other 1300 Realtors throughout the Gulf Coast. She asked me the question; "why did you want to become a Realtor?" And without hesitation my response was, "I like helping people." That's when it really hit me, that's what makes Sergeant Real Estate (me) different from everyone else. Whether you are selling your home "for sale by owner" or through another Realtor, I'll still help you if you have questions. In the Military I am an instructor. I spend almost everyday teaching people how to do their new job. Many of them are intimidated by the job, have no confidence in their abilities, and have no idea what to do to succeed. And when I'm done with them the have so much confidence in themselves and feel like they have overcome everything to succeed. It gives me a true sense of pride to know I was able to help them. Thats the true reward. It's the same feeling I get when helping someone sell their home or purchase a new one. For me, it's really all about the people. Don't get me wrong, getting a paycheck is always nice and I'm not going to lie and say I'd do this job for free. I wouldn't. It is A LOT of work. Just like I wouldn't be in the military for free, yet I still enjoy my job. But honestly, the biggest reward is the piece of mind I bring to my clients. I come across many Realtors on a daily basis and so many of them say things the ultimately boil down to wanting a paycheck. I think so many of them forget that their paychecks are connected to people's lives and it's the people they should most worry about.

I just wanted to take some time to share with you Sergeant Real Estate's philosophy on being a Realtor in Ocean Springs / Biloxi MS.

Blog Done. Carry On!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Types of Realtor and Client relationships

What is a buyers agent? A buyers agent is just that, they are representing the buyer. Their whole purpose is to help their client find the right house for them. You better believe they are looking out for their clients best interest, not yours. So if you are a FSBO (for sale by owner) seller and an agent approaches you and asks to show someone your property (in return they will probably ask you to pay them 3% for bringing you a buyer) they are working as a buyers agent. Buyers agents are a great tool for the home buyer to use though. The best part for the buyer is its FREE!!! The sellers have to pay your buyers agent, is that a great deal or what?? Most people love to use Realtors as buyers agents when they buy a home, but why are they so reluctant when they sell?

What is a sellers agent? A sellers agent is the Realtor that represents you when you are selling your home. Remember how good of a job your Realtor did for you as a buyers agent? So why do most people shy away from Realtors when it comes to selling. The honest answer, people think they can save money if they do. Did you read my blog on "Are Realtors worth the money?" I recommend it. They are responsible for marketing your property. Which sounds like an easy thing. But if you think that all that takes is putting an ad in the paper and have an open house, think again. Or better yet, read my blog on "Biloxi FSBO (for sale by owner) mistakes."
Just like with a buyers agent, the sellers agents purpose is to look out for their clients best interests. I have a philosophy, if you look at clients as a paycheck you will always be chasing a paycheck; but, if you take care of people the money will eventually come. That's how I treat my clients. I'm looking out for you. Sorry got off on a tangent. That pretty much sums up a sellers agent.

But what is disclosed dual agent? This usually works like this and this is how I explain it. Lets say after I have listed your property mister seller, a gentlemen calls me because he saw my sign in your yard, or ad in the paper, or TV ad or whatever. He says to me "I love that house, I don't care how much it is, I want to buy it right now. Where do I sign?" Wouldn't you want me to get him a contract and sell your house to him? Naturally you say yes. Well Mr Seller, when that happens I would then become a disclosed dual agent because now I represent both of you. The good news is I'm still going to be looking out for your best interests, but I will also now do the same for him. But I can't tell him anything that would be detrimental to your position nor can I tell you anything that would hinder his negotiating position. Also, if another agent in my office sells your home as a buyers agent for another client, we would become a dual agency. The reason being is because we are still under the same brokerage. I hope that all makes sense.

As a final note, regardless of the relationship you and your agent have they owe you certain rights. We call these fiduciary responsibilities. They are as follows;

Loyalty- means your agent is looking out for your best interests

Obedience- means your agent has to obey your lawful instructions.
Disclosure- means your agent will tell you everything they know about the property, the situation or whatever it may be that will help you.

Confidentiality- means that anything you tell your agent is told in confidence and will not be shared with the public. ie, your going through divorce, your spouse died, you have to move by next month, or you are willing to pay 3 times what the house is listed for, etc. The agent protects their clients interest.

Reasonable care and diligence-means your agent will use their skill and education to take care of you throughout your transaction and be there as a guide throughout the process.

Accounting- means your agent will carefully and diligently handle all moneys or entrusted documents you place into their care.

I hope this has shed some light on the types of relationship you and your agent may experience.
Remember the perfect agent for you is the one that takes care of your needs and you feel comfortable with.

Blog Done, Carry On!!

Friday, February 9, 2007

First Time Home Buyers; "How much home can I afford?"

Many first time home buyers don't understand all of the expenses associated with purchasing a home. Most people think "I'll just have to make a loan payment, that's all." Not true. You also have to pay taxes and insurance yearly, these are typically escrowed into your payments. I know as a first time home buyer I didn't understand any of this. The average home owners' monthly payments includes principle, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).

A good rule of thumb is this; the total of your PITI should be no more than 28% of your gross (before taxes) income. Many times on bank websites they will have calculators to help you "estimate" what your monthly payments will be. These estimates only include your principle and interests, not your taxes and insurance. And believe me, those two things can make your $800 dollar "estimated" payments become $1100 dollar, or more, actual payments. This doesn't include possible private mortgage insurance (PMI) that lenders require if your loan to value ratio is too high. Many first time home buyers have never heard of this.

Bottom line here is this first time home buyers; buying a home isn't rocket science but it does require some research and understanding of all the details associated with the transaction. My recommendation is to ask a Realtor for help. We don't just find you homes to look at, we educate you on the market, the procedures, the terms, and numerous other things in order to look out for your best interests. The real estate world is full of sharks who love to swallow up any new comers. As a first-time-home-buyer you should demand your Realtor educate you about the buying process and owning a home.

In summary, there are many things a first time home buyer needs to know when purchasing. You could waste countless days researching trying to figure out what it is you don't know or you could spend a few hours with a good Realtor and learn from a friend. I hope this helps you out.

If you would like more first time home buyer tips go to my website and click on "Contact Me," leave your contact info and I'll be in contact with you within 24 hours.
Blog done, Carry on!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Biloxi FSBO (for sale by owner) mistakes

What do most FSBO sellers do wrong that results in over 75% of them eventually listing their property with a Realtor? Good question. Let's see if I can shed some light on the subject.

1) Incorrect Pricing. Overpriced listings will simply not sell. Here in Biloxi we are moving towards more of a buyers market. In the past year selling a home was as easy as listing the home and waiting for buyers to beat down your door. This is no longer the case. People are smart when it comes to buying, they use Realtors who know the market. Did you? So why are you so scared to use one to sell? So now if the buyers Realtor sees you have your house overpriced they will steer their clients away from your property. Realtors work for THEIR clients best interests. That's on the off chance the Realtor drove past your house and saw your "For Sale By Owner" sign. Did you also know the most productive period during your listing is the first few weeks. Your home is new on the market and everyone is dieing to see it. Price it incorrectly and you won't even get a phone call, much less a visit.

2) Thinking Refinancing Appraisals are Market Value. The appraisal you got when your banker refinanced your house is tilted in their favor. Consider the motives that a mortgage banker might have for getting an appraisal slightly higher than market value, and you can begin to see why. Here's an example: My brother, who is also a Realtor in Tampa, refinanced his townhouse in Riverview and got a refinancing appraisal for $190K. Due to his expertise in, and knowledge of, the area he knows for a fact that no property has ever sold higher than 180 in his community. Think about it. You finance more money, they charge you more money right? Who is really winning? Not you, the bank. Only a professional, standing in your living room, looking at your home, can effectively tell you what the value of your property might be.

3) Limited Marketing. I know what you're thinking. Place a classified ad and hold an open house. Sorry, but that's not going to cut it. Statistics tell us that only 1% of homes are sold from open houses. And, only 3% are sold from classified ads. So, if you've done both, you've only given yourself a 4% chance of selling your home. You have to be creative and learn to market property if you want to sell FSBO. What's the trade secret? Market to Realtors, not buyers. Realtors will get the home sold.

Want to learn more? Please contact me at my email or by phone. Thanks for reading.

Sergeant Real Estate

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Are Realtors worth the money?

I know many of you ask yourself this question all of the time. Along with many others such as; Why should I pay you, your job isn't that hard?; Why should I pay you 6 or 7 % when other companys will do the same thing for a flat rate?; I need all my profits to buy a new house; along with dozens more. The truth of the matter is we live in the information age now and anyone can find out about just about anything using the internet. Well lets look at this scenario. Can you research brain surgery on the internet? Yes!! Do you feel that makes you qualified to perform one? Of course not. The same goes for selling a house, just because you've read about what has to be done does not mean you can wake up tomorrow and do it; not even if you stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Secondly, signs and advertisements don't sell homes, Realtors do!! Of course you have to advertise the home to bring in "potential buyers" but once they are there it's up to you to sell the home to them, and more importantly not drive them away. Do you know how to anticipate what a potential buyers questions may be? Realtors do, it's what we are trained for.

Statistics say that people who sell "For Sale By Owner" really have no idea what the value of their home is and often times sell for 15% less than their home is worth. There are people out there that make a living off this stat, they are called Real Estate Investors. So even when you pay your realtor fees you still make more money. It's simple math folks, 15- 7 = 8% in your pocket.

Will you job let you off anytime of day to show your house? Mine will, in fact doing just that is my job when you hire me, or any other Realtor for that matter.

Flat rate fee organizations (whose name I can not mention but which is very popular) charge a flat fee and do minimum advertising and marketing to make sure you home is sold. Not to mention when they do list your home they do not put it into the MLS ( multiple listing service, one of the most powerful advertising tools) for 3 months. How many buyer's did you miss out on during that three months? How much money did you spend in mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes? ALOT! Your home is kept from the most powerful selling tool, Realtors!! Plus when they do list the home in the MLS they then ask you to pay 3% to the selling broker/Realtor. So now you've paid a Flat Fee, plus 3%, and your home was tied up for 3 months with minimal exposure.

So are Realtors worth it? Every penny!!

If you want to know more please email me. I would love to help you out with any questions.