Friday, July 16, 2010

Should I Use a Broker, a Realtor, or Someone Else?

Who should you use to represent you in a real estate transaction? An agent? A broker? A Realtor? Here's a brief explanation of real estate agency.

An agent is someone who acts on behalf of another person. A real estate agent acts on behalf of his client to buy or sell real estate. In California, the "agent" is the agency for which the individual "agent" works. I am an agent, but I work for the agency, Ming Tree GMAC Real Estate. Ming Tree GMAC is the agent of record.

Per California law, each agency must be run by a Broker of Record. This is a person who has been licensed as a real estate broker by the state, and who takes responsibility for all of the real estate activities that occur under the license of the agency, or brokerage. A Broker of Record might choose to hire no one, and to operate as an independent agency. In that case, he is the broker of record, and the salesperson; he must keep up with the latest court cases and laws about real estate, the latest technology, the latest marketing strategies - he is a one man shop! He does it all.

Other brokers of record might choose to hire other real estate agents to work as sales people within their agency. These sales people can have a brokers' license (often they are called broker associates) or a salesperson's license. In this type of agency, the broker of record concentrates on the legal issues, institutional marketing, and support systems of the agency; the salespeople focus on meeting with clients and selling real estate. While a brokers' license does give a certain amount of additional credibility to a salesperson, it doesn't necessarily make them a better agent. One of the top agents in our office only recently got his brokers license, after he had a successful 15 year career as one of the top agents in the county!

Brokers of record, broker sales people, and licensed sales people are Realtors if they are members of their local Realtor association, like the Humboldt Association of Realtors, their state association (California Association of Realtors) and the National Association of Realtors. These associations are trade associations, and all of their members are designated as Realtors.

I am a real estate sales person licensed to sell real estate throughout the state of California. The agency for whom I work, Ming Tree GMAC Real Estate, has approximately 30 sales agent, an office manager, a transaction coordinator, an agent education coordinator, and a marketing coordinator. All of this help means that I can focus on my clients and meeting their real estate needs. Call me at (707) 499-7111, or drop by my website so I can help you with your real estate needs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Much Is My Home Worth?

Clients always ask me, “How much is my home worth?” The first step is remembering that neither you as the seller, nor I as the real estate agent, have the power to make your home sell for a certain price. It is the market that determines the fair market value of your home. What is the market? It is the price at which 2 buyers are willing to argue over your home. How can you ascertain what that price will be?

The most general way is to look at the asking prices of homes that are similar to yours. Go to the search page at, type in the general characteristics of your home, including the neighborhood, and discount the prices by 10%. This will give you a pretty good rough estimate of the value of your home.

As you get closer to selling your home, give me a call (707.499.7111) and I will prepare a CMA, or Competitive Market Analysis. In a CMA I gather the most recent sold homes, pending sales, and active homes that compare closely to your home in regard to house specifications and selling features. I make adjustments, and am able to determine a price range where your home is likely to sell. In general, sold homes will tell you what you are likely to sell your home for, while homes actively on the market tell you what your home will not sell for.

I provide CMA’s for my clients free of charge, so if you are wondering what your home is worth, give me a call at (707) 499-7111, email me at, or drop on by the website!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

June 2010 Humboldt County Real Estate Market Statistics

The numbers are in, and our real estate market statistics for June 2010 here in Humboldt County, California are hanging in there. Our "Active Homes," while rising, are still staying below the levels of the last couple of years. “Normal” for this time of year is up to around 650; we’re above that at 709.

Our level of "Sold Homes," 89, is as high as it's been in 2 years. The combination of lower inventory of homes on the market, and the higher volume of sales should support prices, keeping them from going lower, and perhaps even encouraging a modest price increase.

But not this month. Our "Average Sales Price" is down, considerably lower than any recent years, but at $261,265 it's still pretty close to the $275,000 to $300,000 range we've seen for the last 18 months. The trend line is erratic, and only time will tell if this is a downward “bounce” or a trend.

The "Median Sales Price" is down as well. I suspect these averages are down because of a higher rate of "starter home" sales caused by the government home buyer credits than any fundamental shift in the market. Only time will tell.