The Spring Market Has A Soundtrack by Amy Curtis

Remember Ally McBeal? She was the main character in the tv show of the same name popular in the late 90’s.  She was the quirky Boston attorney who always had music (mostly Barry White) “playing” in her head.

Well…I’m feeling like Ally McBeal these days…I too have music “playing” in my head.

This spring market is barely underway and  business in my neck of the woods is surprisingly busy already…buyers buying, sellers listing. Every day it seems I’m having the same conversation with buyers and sellers. Buyers asking for suggestions on what kind of offer to make on a property they’ve seen, sellers wanting to know the right pricing strategy for their home. This spring market has brought about a “new” conversation, about the “new” market we’re finding ourselves in this spring 2013.

If you’re a buyer looking for a “steal”, it’s looking like that window of opportunity is quickly closing. Inventory is shrinking, prices are stabilizing, the pool of buyers who want to purchase has grown.   So, when you find the home of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer, low ball probably won’t do. You have to be realistic.

You…Got To Be Real.

If you’re looking to sell your home this spring, you can take comfort in the market’s improvement. It’s true, the market is improving. Inventory is shrinking, in some areas and price ranges there’s even an upward push on prices. But you can’t let all this rosy real estate news go to your head and fool you into thinking it’s 2006 again. Recent comparable sales matter. Your competition and the current supply of inventory matters and the anticipated appraised value of your home matters big time. So, you have to be realistic.

You too…Got To Be Real.

Which brings me back to Ally McBeal. Ally had Barry White songs playing in her head.  Well for me, it’s not Barry…. I have Cheryl Lynn in my head.  In this already underway spring market, during my days of conversations with buyers and sellers I hear her belting out one of my all time favorites…and it’s the soundtrack for the Spring 2013 market…


The 2013 Spring Market has a soundtrack and it’s my advice to you…

Got To Be Real!

Hiring an Agent by Amy Curtis

image courtesy of
image courtesy of

Maggie has been cutting and coloring (yep it’s a must) my hair for the last eight years. Maggie is good at what she does. She gives a really good haircut, and when it comes to color, she’s the bomb. Maggie is a stylist at a pretty exclusive, pretty pricey, salon in my hometown, Orland Park. I think there are probably a bunch of really good stylists there. I could probably go to any one of them and be happy with my haircut and color. I’d expect that they would know what they were doing, expect that they were up to date on the latest trends and products and styles. But I choose Maggie. Getting your haircut is a personal thing, you expose alot of yourself sitting in that chair. It’s a vulnerable place to be. In that chair, you express your doubts about your appearance, your hopes for a good outcome…and when you’re in the middle of your appointment and the dye has been applied and your hair is just sort of sticking out all over and you look incredibly ridiculous…well, you wouldn’t want just anyone to see you like that!  I choose Maggie. She knows what she’s doing, she does a good job but I choose Maggie because I trust her, I feel comfortable with her, she suits me. She might not be the right stylist for everyone, but she’s the right one for me.

I’d approach hiring an agent in much the same way.

The criteria for a hair stylist is obviously different from that of a real estate agent. The “knows what they are doing” in real estate  includes thorough market knowledge, tech savvy, marketing and negotiation skills. A good company with strong market and internet presence is a good thing too.  And when you’re hiring  an agent, you should expect that. But once the criteria is met, comfortable is important. Trust and the right fit is important. Just as sitting in the stylists chair with your hair sticking out all over the place, buying or selling a home is a vulnerable and personal place to be. It’s about your finances,  life decisions, all your personal stuff. You’re not going to want just anyone in  on all of that! So find the agent that’s the right fit for you. The agent you feel comfortable with, the agent you trust…hey…maybe even the agent you wouldn’t be embarrassed to run into at your next hair coloring appointment!

I’m off to a listing appointment…wonder if I will be the right fit for them.

Blouses and Houses by Amy Curtis

I don’t know how many mistakes I’ve made shopping clearance racks.

In hot pursuit of a bargain I flip through the garments, searching…20% off, flip, 40% off, 50% off, and then I see it, the 70% off tag, the $8 reduced from $29.99 blouse!! I feel that thrill of the kill rush and tell myself that this blouse, this bargain is so definitely $8 bucks worth of cute I’ve got to have it!

Or so I think. The thrill of the kill quickly wears off and inevitably, the blouse sits in my closet unworn.  The blouse doesn’t fit me well, or it doesn’t really suit me, it’s not my style or it just isn’t all that cute after all.

Was it a thrill to find such a bargain? Oh yeah!

Was it rock bottom cheap? Definitely.

Do I love the blouse? Not so much.

Turns out I was more attracted to  the price than the blouse itself. Since I don’t like the blouse and am not going to wear it, then my great bargain wasn’t such a bargain.  My great  bargain, while inexpensive, was just a big mistake!

This wild housing market with its distressed properties and overall depressed prices has brought out the bargain hunter in all of us.  Fixated on the bargain, driven by the thrill of the kill, the hunt begins!

It makes me cringe.

I cringe  when I hear a client tell me they want to focus their home search only on those distressed properties they’ve heard about it, those great bargains that are out there. I cringe when they tell me the story about their friend, brother, cousin, boss, mom’s friend from work who got this unbelievably incredible super fantastic great bargain deal on a house and they are excited to get the same.

I cringe because I worry that maybe they’ll pounce too quickly on a bargain house, that they’ll buy because of price  and just like my clearance rack blouse, once the thrill of the kill has worn off,  they will find themselves with a house that doesn’t suit them or fit their needs, a  house that just isn’t the home they wanted.

I cringe because a house is such a huge expensive investment.

I cringe because home is too important a place to sacrifice love of house for a bargain.

Should the home of your dreams be one of those distressedbargain properties so be it, but if it’s not. keep searching. Buy a house you’ll love.  Bottom line, no house is a bargain unless you love it!

So my advice…

When you need a bargain fix, buy a blouse; but when it comes to a house, buy the one you love.

Happy shopping!