How to make an offer on a house | 3 tips for success

Making an offer

How does the magic happen with home buying? The way they show it on HGTV it looks so easy! These 3 steps at the beginning of your search will set you up for success. You may even create your own home buying show!

As you know, today’s market is challenging, and moving rapidly. With inventory at historic lows and competition fierce, a little advance work goes a long way towards a smooth home buying process, and successful negotiations.

Top 3 tips to prepare for an offer

Whether just dreaming of possibilities or if you have a deadline to be in your new home, the following 3 steps will prepare you for success;

1) Create your team – NOW is the time to interview and hire an agent. Being represented, and securing that in writing will protect your confidentiality and strength of negotiations while you explore all options, including off-market properties. 

If you plan to finance, now is also the time to get your pre-approval ready to go. If buying with cash, your agent will need your proof of cash on file along with your buyer agency documents for your offer.

2)  Market Data – Study market trends closely. I provde market analysis for my clients to be able to track local trends, as well as detailed comparable sales analysis (‘Comps’) well in advance of making an offer.

3) Negotiation Strategies – it’s important to discuss openly with your Realtor what your negotiation style is, explore pros and cons of options, and strategize together ahead of time so that you not only will be in a position to win, but also know your “walk away” limit.

Home buying negotiation

In today’s low inventory seller’s market, it’s especially important to analyze the big picture of your win, risks you’re willing to take (or not) and your “walk away” limit before getting caught in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of a competing offer deadline.

How do I hire a Realtor?

There are 2 basic documents to hire a Realtor to represent you;

1) Consumer Notice – this is an explanation of agency, not a contract. PA law requires us to provide this disclosure to every consumer we meet.

2) Buyer Agency Agreement – once signed, this secures the privacy of your negotiations. It clarifies for everyone who you choose to represent you and protects you from agency confusion that can arise by attending open houses. 

Who represents you should be your choice, not accidental! In my agreements, I always put “on written notice” for ending the agreement. My commitment is to exceed expectations. 

If something’s not working for you, I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to correct the issue. However, please be assured our working agreement can be terminated in writing, as simply as by sending an email stating your wishes. Your confidentiality will remain protected.

Wait, do I need an attorney?

In Pennsylvania, you do not need an attorney for the home purchase process. I order title, ensure complete city certs and condo or HOA documents are delivered on time, facilitate and coordinate a smooth settlement.

You are welcome to use an attorney! It’s just not a requirement like in parts of New Jersey and New York. If you’d like referrals to several excellent local real estate attorneys, please let me know.

Many times buyers I speak to feel they might be “wasting my time” since they are early in the process. That’s so sweet! But my business model is VIP, concierge service throughout the process – from dream stage to moving in. I’m here to help!

Let’s talk! Please click on my calendar and book a no-obligation consultation at your convenience.

Bryn Mawr housing inventory – will the frenzy die down?

Bryn Mawr Homes for Sale

Bryn Mawr buyers in today’s Main Line housing market are feeling a little bit like Rocky in the 14th round, beat up by competing offers over asking, waiving of inspections, and all cash buyers. When will it die down?

Bryn Mawr Q1 Market Update

Bryn Mawr housing market results for Q1 2021 reflect the frenzy we’ve all been feeling. Inventory is at an all-time low of 1.5 months and New Pendings (homes under contract) are 150% above the 5 year trend.

Bryn Mawr Market Stats Q1 2021

Is there a glimmer of hope?

A recent national survey conducted for Realtor.com indicates a trend for 10% more homes to be listed this year and at more affordable prices. “There is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for many weary buyers,” says Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu.

How does that apply for the Bryn Mawr housing market? Surprisingly, there’s a new listing increase of 40% in Bryn Mawr for 2021 vs. 2020.

However, Bryn Mawr buyer demand outpaces today’s supply creating the 1.5 months of inventory statistic noted above.

Bryn Mawr Housing Statistics

How to win in a competing market?

We’ve been facing on average 8-12 offers on new listings within days, sometimes hours of hitting the market on the Main Line.

How to win? There are options that can help you succeed, while retaining your due diligence protections and maintaining compliance with real estate ethics and professional guidelines. Let’s start with 5 tips to help you prepare for negotiations.

5 critical steps to create a win

  • 1) Hire a Realtor – it’s important to work with a professional that you trust. The advance work preparing for an offer helps you strategize and win. Also, select an agent who will prospect new opportunities for you through networking, as well as reaching out to off-market potential sellers. Private match making with off-market sellers is one of my specialties!
  • 2) Financial Strategy – have your financial buying strategy prepared. If you’re buying with cash, your agent will need proof of cash. If you’re taking advantage of today’s low interest rates, work with both your agent and lender in advance. It’s important to know what your offer ceiling is and explore scenarios that work for you, while creating an attractive offer for the seller. You should have those conversations well ahead of time, before you see the home you love.
  • 3) Market Knowledge – be sure your agent is providing you with up-to-date market data. If you face an “above asking” offer situation, you’ll want to be informed and aware of trends to assess what level of risk this may imply for future values for the Bryn Mawr housing market. As you’ve heard me say before…
  • 4) Do your homework – there are documents needed for an offer that should be done ahead of time, to save from the frenzy of making an offer late night on a Sunday night after the first open house. If possible, I like to go over a sample offer with my clients well ahead of negotiations so decisions can be made quickly without losing the opportunity for questions and concerns.
  • 5) Know your “walk away” number – be prepared for the frenzy. Know what your walk away number is to prevent paying more than makes sense for your individual financial strategy. This is unique for every individual, but something I discuss with each client.

Recent win in Bryn Mawr

I helped my clients recently win in a competing offer dynamic for a beautiful home in Bryn Mawr. We previously lost out on 3 offers, but this time used a different, creative strategy which retained their home inspection and appraisal contingencies.

Contact me to discuss strategies that fit for your particular goals whether you’re buying in Bryn Mawr, on the Main Line, Philadelphia or New Jersey. You’re always welcome to browse at LuxLivingGroup.com.

Should I get a radon test?

Should I get a radon test

You found the perfect home.  We schedule your home inspection and discuss the option of a radon test.  Why is this important?

Unfortunately, many buyers and even some realtors view radon testing as optional and perhaps an unnecessary addition to closing costs.

However, it’s a crucial step in your home buying journey to protect your health and safety.

Let’s go over some commonly asked questions about your home inspection and why it’s important to include a test for radon.

Home Inspection Report

Is radon that much of a risk?

Radon-related lung cancer kills an alarming 21,000 people each year, according to the EPA.  To put the risk in perspective, about 10,000 people die per year from crashes as a result of a drunk driver.

Awareness of the risks of drunk driving is much greater than radon, although radon causes more than double the deaths per year. 

Protecting your home from radon risks is an important step in the home buying process for your health and safety.

Which homes need testing?

According to the EPA, radon is found in every state.  It’s a naturally occurring radioactive gas produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. 

Because the air pressure inside your home is typically lower than the pressure in the soil around the foundation, radon is drawn into the home through cracks in the foundation. 

High radon levels occur in older homes, new construction, homes with basements and homes on a slab or crawlspace. 

Some areas typically are lower than others, however, don’t rely on rumor or neighborhood myths about low risks of radon in a desire to save costs.

What if the radon test indicates a high concentration?

The good news is that even if a home has high radon levels- anything above 4 pCi/L, radon mitigation is relatively simple. Qualified radon mitigation contractors can install a radon mitigation system that provides a permanent solution.

The system is comprised of one or more PVC pipes that run from the radon-emitting soil beneath a home up through the roof.  A fan draws air through the system so it does not encroach the living spaces.  Once installed, a follow-up radon test is completed

How to negotiate a solution

If the radon test reveals actionable radon levels, we can be ask the seller for a price reduction that covers the estimated cost of remediation or require a remediation be installed prior to closing. 

Home inspection negotiations
Negotiations to protect you from radon are part of our buyer representation service

Typical radon mitigation systems can cost between $1.000-$2,000 depending on your home’s structure and the contractor selected to perform the work.

High levels of radon are a life-safety issue, so it’s difficult for the seller to dispute as it will impact their ability to sell their home to future buyers. 

This is one of many steps in the transaction that as trusted real estate advisors, we guide and protect you through the process.

To start your home buying process, check out my Home Buyers Guide and let’s talk! Book your 15 minute consult here. We’ll review your dreams and goals, then create a customized plan for your success!

Is it time to buy a Pied-a-Terre in Philly?

Rittenhouse Square

A resurgence of the once popular Pied-a-Terre at the end of 2020 was highlighted in the December North American Luxury Market Report. Luxury buyers who have relocated to larger homes but are still not quite ready to quit the city for good are adding a Pied-a-Terre to their portfolio.

Condos in Philly’s Center City offer strong possibilities for Pied-a-Terre living. Located centrally between New York City and Washington, DC. Center City condos offer an ideal location for water lovers who enjoy the Jersey Shore and Florida, but want to keep a place in the city.

Best Center City Pied-a-Terre locations

To start, I’ve highlighted three neighborhoods that offer a prime variety of lifestyle options for Pied-a-Terra condos in Center City.

Rittenhouse Square and Mid-Town Philly feature what has historically been the ideal location for a Pied-a-Terre condo due to amenities, shopping and nearby dining.

Condo options along the Delaware River Waterfront offer a third alternative with more open space, garage parking and waterfront views.

Rittenhouse Square

What makes Rittenhouse Square a great Pied-a-Terre location? Dining, shopping and amenity rich condo living all within walking distance to 30th Street Amtrak Station. Enjoy an easy rail commute to Manhattan or Washington DC.

Living on Rittenhouse Square starts under $200K for a studio across from the park at The Dorchester where you can also enjoy an affordable 2 bd on the 20th floor for under $300K.

Although hit hard by fears of COVID-19 and this summer’s social unrest, Rittenhouse Square remains a highly desirable place to live. Amidst the uncertainty this year, Rittenhouse retained its grace and charm for local residents.

Welcome to Rittenhouse Square

While it’s too early to call a recovery, statistics for Rittenhouse Square show an upturn since August when we had 19 months of inventory.

Currently the Rittenhouse condo market remains a buyers market at 8 1/2 months. There’s a slight switch towards a seller’s market for single family homes with 5 1/2 months of inventory.

As with all statistics, it’s not only how you look at it but what you look at. This shift also reflects 66 homes and condos on Rittenhouse that have been taken off the market in the past 90 days.

Mid-Town Philly

Perhaps the most iconic, amenity rich Pied-a-Terre luxury condo lifestyle in Philadelphia is offered by The Residences at Ritz-Carlton.

Conveniently located in mid-town Philly near Dilworth Park, regional rail, dining, shopping and Philly’s theatre district.

Currently the lowest priced offering is Unit 5 G, a 1 bd / 1.5 ba condo listed at $485K.

Owners benefit from top tier amenities and service as well as world-wide travel perks. A great asset for post-COVID luxury living.

Year-end statistics indicate a strong buyers market with 19 months of inventory. Now could be a great time to buy at The Residences at Ritz-Carlton.

Other mid-town favorites suitable for an affordable Pied-a-Terra condo include The Phoenix located a few blocks from The Ritz-Carlton, Packard Grande, The Aria and The Ellington.

Delaware River waterfront

Living along the Delaware River waterfront offers easy access to Center City living, yet a bit more remote with expansive views and parking.

Welcome to Delaware River front living

There are several condo options along the river front.

Waterfront Square is one of only 2 gated communities in Philadelphia. Amenities include 24-hour doorman, valet parking, ocean front lap pool, on site dog park, fully equipped gym and waterfront walking / biking trail at your door.

Built in 2006, different towers offer different views, but all enjoy the remote, secure location with easy access to Center City living. Or a quick commute on 95 or 76.

Photo courtesy of Waterfront Square – click for video preview of upgraded 1 bd unit

As an example of affordability, Waterfront Square Unit RR1106 sold in October for $262,500. This one bedroom on the 11th floor of The Regatta Tower featured stunning city views.

Waterfront Square Regatta Towers
Unit 1105 in The Regatta Towers – sold for $262,500

Other towers overlook the Delaware River. A strong rental history provides an option if your lifestyle changes.

RIVERFRONT Pier 3 and Pier 5 Condos

Also along the Delaware River but walkable to Old City and Society Hill, Pier 3 and Pier 5 offer unique waterfront lifestyles near Penn’s Landing, Spruce Street Harbor Park and Cherry Street Pier. Enjoy nearby shopping and dining with easy access to 76 and 95.

In addition to Delaware River views, enjoy private decks, on-site oceanfront lap pool, secure garage parking and front desk service.

Should I buy a Center City condo now?

As you can see from these trends, micro-markets are shifting quickly as buyers and sellers adjust to a real estate market driven by COVID-19 based demands.

While no one can call a market except with hind sight, this growing national trend could indicate an opportunity to invest in a Center City condo now, before values rise.

To meet your needs, the best information is detailed and specific to your goals. For a confidential consultation, book a chat with Susanna here.

Be sure to subscribe below to stay in touch!

Home buying tip: How to hire a buyers agent

How to hire a buyers agent

Are you out looking at properties, but haven’t had a business conversation yet with your buyers agent? If so, please check out my first time home buying mistakes because that’s exactly what I did!

It’s time to change directions, interview and hire a realtor who will represent you throughout your home buying journey.

What HGTV and a Google search won’t tell you

Easy access to real estate information online can make it seem like your realtor’s job is mostly to open doors.

Home search online

However, who opens the door becomes your agent during negotiations unless you have a signed Buyer Agency Agreement.

Crafting an offer, negotiating and navigating through the settlement process is where your agent’s knowledge and experience can make or break your success.

Agency and representation during the home buying process is not covered on HGTV or in most online articles. Yet who represents you is a key factor in your home buying success.

What does it cost?

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, typically the buyers agent commission is paid through a cooperation with the seller’s brokerage. In essence, other than a small administrative fee at closing, it doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket to hire an agent.

It can cost you thousands, however, in lost opportunities or poor negotiations to not select your own representative. For example, learn from my first time home buying mistake below.

Have a laugh on me

In this video, learn from my first time home buying mistakes in the 90’s and why I’m passionate about helping others understand agency:

Before we open doors, I meet with my clients (on Zoom, FaceTime or in person) to go over home buying goals both for lifestyle and finances.

Let’s put a plan together for your success!

How you prefer communication, your time frame, and style of negotiations are critical elements of our successful working relationship.

In essence, we interview each other and then make a decision to work together proactively to accomplish your home buying goals.

Did you know?

Unless you have a signed Buyer Agency Agreement, the realtor you book a showing with is not bound to your confidentiality. Your privacy for negotiations is only protected by hiring a buyer agent with a Buyer Agency Agreement.

Also when you visit an open house, if you aren’t protected by a Buyer Agency Agreement, the agent can claim to represent you even if you don’t choose to work with them.

When we meet, I’ll go over this in more detail and explain how it can significantly impact your bottom line.

To get started, click on my Home Buyers Guide with tips on how to interview your agent and prepare for a successful home search.

Check out what my clients have to say about working with me – AskMeAboutSusanna.com then let’s talk!

From New York to the Suburbs of Philly

Moving from New York

Have you heard about the exodus from dense urban centers like Manhattan to the suburbs?

There’s been a lot of press covering home buyer demand moving from dense urban areas to more open suburban lifestyles across the country, from San Francisco to New York.

Gary Vee recently posted about how changing work from home trends are going to dramatically impact real estate, now and into the future:

Yes we can contribute this rush to the suburbs as a post-COVID market impact. However, the effect of COVID-19 on the housing market is complex. Much like the ocean, there are trends that appear like a big wave – but there’s also cross-currents and potential undertows.

Okay, you can tell I lived by the ocean for a very long time! I still take my shoes off when I come home 😎🏄🏼‍♂️

Fleeing Manhattan to the suburbs

One of the big waves that got a lot of press is the huge uptick in demand for suburban living from Manhattan. The NY Times reported in August New Yorkers are fleeing to the suburbs; the demand is insane’ :

“Moving companies have said they cannot keep up with the demand. Metropolis Moving in Brooklyn said the number of quotes for out-of-state moves jumped by more than 200 percent in May and in June.”

Moving from Manhattan to Suburbs

Most of the press highlighted an increase in demand for suburban areas close to Manhattan like Northern New Jersey. However, here in the “6th borough” of Philadelphia, we’ve welcomed a lot of New Yorkers as new neighbors on the Main Line and in Center City.

Main Line suburban living

While a large Main Line 6,000+ sf estate home on 3-5 acres sounds ideal after quarantine with multiple generations all working / schooling from home, the reality of remote large estate living isn’t for everyone.

What sounds good at first can settle into a different set of frustrations, such as upkeep and maintenance. Reminds me of my clients on Kauai who visualized a 5 acre home, only to realize in Hawaii 5 acres is like managing a farm! The lifestyle they desired was in reality better met with a home on a 1/2 acre parcel.

Family fun in Center City

Many people moving from dense urban areas crave more space but still long for a cosmopolitan lifestyle that can be comfortable and safe for the entire family.

The Main Line is comprised of townships which started as villages, and they retain quaint character along with rich history. However, in the heart of Center City there’s a village that offers the best of both worlds.

Queen Village – cosmopolitan, historic and friendly

Philadelphia’s first neighborhood and rich in history, today Queen Village simmers with modern energy, making it an ideal neighborhood if you love fashion, food and fun but want a low-key local village lifestyle.

Hear first hand insights from my Queen Village clients who love the charming, safe, friendly, village lifestyle with cosmopolitan amenities:

Two “suburban” features that are the hardest to find in Center City are a large, fenced yard and 2-car garage.

You’ll find both at 814 S Swanson, the perfect Queen Village luxury home that offers a large fenced yard, 3 outdoor decks, 2-car garage, elevator, home office and in-law suite:

Time will tell if our new friends from New York settle into the large homes on the Main Line for good, or perhaps desire a more cosmopolitan lifestyle and shift towards a different kind of quiet village community with cosmopolitan, funky vibes such as Queen Village.

Please be sure to subscribe for future updates and comment below with your thoughts and insights.

Are Open Houses Safe during COVID-19?

How have open houses changed with COVID-19?

Visiting Open Houses has been a favorite activity of home buyers for decades. Long before HGTV, this was an attractive, non-committal way of exploring neighborhoods, or getting good interior design ideas.

In fact, my husband and I made an offer on our first home after visiting an open house back in the 90’s. I had visited EVERY open house for many weeks to get an understanding of the market. I knew when we saw this one it would go fast and it was priced right.

Open Houses Now

Times change, and home buying in 2020 especially!

With a 2nd wave of COVID-19 lurking around the corner I ask the question- do you feel your safety is protected at open houses?

If you skipped the video, I understand! 😊 Long story short, I’ve been using open houses as an opportunity to preview homes on behalf of my clients.

What are we seeing with open houses post-COVID shutdown on the Main Line and in Center City?

Surprisingly I’ve found a wide range of COVID-19 precautions in use and quite often, lack of.

What are the guidelines?

Just to be clear, the guidelines and requirements from the National Association of Realtors AND the State of Pennsylvania require:
✅ masks for everyone (I also provide gloves)
✅ COVID-19 health questionnaire, filled out, signed with contact info
✅ no more than 3 people in the home at a time

COVID-19 Open House following Correct Guidelines
How I hosted a recent Open House for my sellers; health screening, waiting area outside. Gloves provided!

At recent open houses I’ve hosted at my seller’s request, out of curiosity I’ve asked people what their experiences have been, and how they feel about it. Me playing ‘Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking”, on the street reporter‘ (more 90’s flashbacks) 🤣💥

What I’ve heard from you

Many commented that it was uncomfortable, but also expressed a desire to look at homes casually trying to sort out what their dream buying goals are – and learn neighborhoods. Just as it always has been.

One lady thanked me for providing gloves. She said has had to do the “Molly Shanon” from Superstar to avoid touching anything as she walks through other open houses!

I’m proud to say our broker at KW Main Line requires us to strictly abide by these standards. However, at other open houses on the Main Line, I’ve seen realtors letting unlimited groups of people in the house at the same time, and no COVID questionnaire – but at least they had masks on!

It’s always been my business practice to put my client’s needs first. Providing virtual access via video and live streaming is something I adapted early in my career to make it more convenient for my buyer clients, whether they were early in the process or trying to make a short term decision.

Now, more than ever, this type of VIP, concierge service offers you both convenience (saving time) and safety!

What are your thoughts?

Please share and comment. Are you attending open houses instead of booking an appointment? May I ask why? Look forward to hearing your input.


How I sold a Queen Village luxury home sight unseen during COVID-19 shutdown

Queen Village Luxury

Buying sight unseen is a bit scary, to say the least. To do it during COVID-19 shutdown took some real courage from both buyers and sellers.

809 S 3rd Street in Queen Village – SOLD for $1,075,000

While I’ve helped clients buy sight unseen since 2008 using custom virtual real estate technology and video previews, this was a very unique experience navigating the COVID-19 shutdown.

In fact, we closed and I still haven’t seen the home!

Each home purchase is a journey, a unique experience. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to assist my clients, making dreams come true.

It’s not just a transaction – it’s a life changing move and I take my clients’ trust in me to heart.

What the journey looked like

This story starts before COVID-19. In fact, I first met my clients at an open house a few years ago. If you’ve met me, you already know that I’m not a high-pressure sales person but view my role as a trusted advisor with a passion to help people accomplish their goals.

They remembered me “because I was nice” and contacted me when they were ready to upgrade to a larger home due to a baby on the way.

While they have a lovely home in Queen Village, they needed more space but also wanted parking, first floor living area and outdoor space in William Meredith School district for under $1M.

Time to find that “forever” home to be filled with love, laughter, little people and years of happy memories.

Prior to the coronavirus we saw a few that might fit, but something wasn’t just right. When you have buyers that want what we fondly call a “unicorn” (a unique property that’s hard to find) it’s time to get creative!

Finding that perfect match!

You might call me a real estate “match maker,” connecting buyers and sellers to create success for both.

After doing extensive outreach, letter writing and research within their micro-market, I found a narrow selection of possibilities. One was of particular interest and a potential perfect match.

Both the owners and my buyers were flexible on timing, but the little one on the way wasn’t waiting for Gov. Wolf to lift the real estate COVID-19 shut down!

Buying sight unseen

By law, I literally could not physically do any real estate related activities – not even place a sign or lockbox.

The owners did not want to list their home, and in fact had no sense of urgency about selling. However, after a few conversations, emails and Zoom calls, they were open to a potential “match” with my clients.

After a Zoom call and walk through with both buyers and sellers, they loved it! I knew this one would be a huge regret if we let it get away.

Their inclination was to wait for the COVID restrictions to be lifted and then make an offer. We discussed the possibility of a sight-unseen contract but understandably that made them feel uneasy.

As an advisor, it’s my role to offer possibilities and explore options not previously considered. Recognizing that the market would be more competitive after the shutdown, and their rights would be protected by the “sight unseen” contract addendum, the buyers agreed to do what they never thought they would – make an offer without seeing the home in person!

How does a sight unseen contract work?

Because of COVID-19, I suggested to the owners they go under contract as For Sale by Owners rather than have me represent them. By law they could interact with the buyers in ways that I could not, and it would also ‘sweeten’ my buyers offer price by reducing their cost of selling.

We minimized any in-person contact throughout the process. The owner privately contacted the buyers for their walk through during the “sight-unseen” contingency period and they weren’t in the property again until our final walk through on day of settlement.

Home buying during COVID19

With all parties grave concern regarding COVID-19, I did not go in the home even at the settlement day walk through but stood by outside to answer questions. Once this pandemic is over, we will all celebrate in person and I’ll love seeing what they’ve done with the place.

I’m so happy for all involved! The sellers found a perfect new home and did a sell/buy double closing on the same day. Everyone was a delight to work with.

Happy ending

Putting my clients needs first is more than a slogan, it’s at the core of my personal and professional ethics. I’m only successful when it’s a positive result for my clients. Your success is my success!

“Susanna Kunkel did a wonderful job of finding our dream home in Queen Village! She went above and beyond in the time of the pandemic to find us a home that wasn’t even on the market. It doesn’t get much better than that! She is a thorough professional who knows the ins and outs of the business and with tons of contacts. In addition she has always been accessible to us and super easy to work with. She genuinely cares about her clients. We highly recommend her without any reservations”

To explore how you can buy or sell using “sight unseen” strategies, or at least minimize your risks during COVID-19, please contact me for a confidential consultation.

Open House signs antique? like typewriters?

After returning to an “open” business environment after three months, the future of Open Houses seems to be bordering extinct. Or more accurately obsolete, like the typewriter.

Can you write with a typewriter? Yes, but why would you? Can you have an Open House? Yes, but with all the restrictions necessary and appointments required, why would you want to go?

Open House Pivot

Pivot is a word often used to express the dramatic and rapid changes impacting the real estate market due to COVID19. Some changes were underway but became accelerated, like virtual selling.

Others, like Open Houses, have completely “pivoted” to something other than what they were.

The non-committal and casual nature of Open Houses was a way to explore local real estate without an agent, or appointment.

Virtual Open Houses were a work around during our COVID19 shut down, using video previously taken or with the owner’s cooperation via Zoom video conference.

The new standard is to present a virtual Open House on Zoom with the agent guiding a tour of previously recorded video or navigating the Matterport 3D layout. Appointments are required, and if you “stop in” late you miss the video tour.

While it’s better than nothing, and a way to get a “peak” at the interior of the home, it’s not the casual easy way to explore real estate that we have enjoyed for so long.

Virtual Selling – the new standard of practice

In today’s market, virtual selling should be a standard of practice. I’ve sold homes virtually using video since 2008. It doesn’t make sense to book an appointment for a video tour that I already have access to, or should.

Every listing should provide a video tour. For my sellers I do a marketing video, think of it like a movie trailer;

Then I do the actual walk through video which takes you through the home as if you are there.

The home buying process has “pivoted.” Home buyers used to wait to interview and hire an agent until they were ready to buy. Now it’s best practice to do that at the beginning of your search.

Likewise, your pre-approval is needed early in the process as it’s required along with a COVID19 form to book showings.

Open House Standards Due to COVID19

Now that physical Open Houses are allowed, understandably there are awkward restrictions. As an example, here are highlights of a current brokerage’s Open House guideline for agents;

1. Sales associates and all open house visitors must wear a mask.
2. Social distancing rules should be maintained.
3. Disinfect all high-touch areas prior to and between each group of visitors; provide hand sanitizer if possible.
4. Sales associates should limit open house attendance to one group at a time to maintain appropriate distancing and accompany them through their tour to minimize unintended touching of surfaces. Additional groups can be asked to wait outside and to maintain social distancing while doing so.
5. Maintain a record of everyone entering the property, including name and E-mail address or cell phone number.

COVID19 is “here to stay” – we must adapt

The Economist recently published – COVID 19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt :

“The worst is to come. Based on research in 84 countries, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reckons that…without a medical breakthrough, the total number of cases will climb to 200m-600m by spring 2021.”

We cannot just return to “business as usual” as the battle against this pandemic is far from over.

Protecting buyers and sellers from unnecessary public exposure and utilizing current technology to present a virtual buying experience is now a necessary standard of practice – not just an option.

While our local market is now pushed to pivot in this direction, it’s long overdue in terms of providing the highest level of service to our clients.

Home buying is a journey – not a transaction

I provide information, support, advise and guidance from early exploration of the market through negotiations and closing as my personal standard of practice. Sometimes the answer is to not buy, which is perfectly fine. It’s all about what’s best for you!

The rush to provide virtual Open Houses has been a push to generate “leads” or meet prospective buyers. Open Houses have always been more of a networking opportunity for the agent than a true selling tool for the home owner. Virtual Open Houses provide marketing exposure for the agent but present an awkward experience for buyers.

Virtual Home Buying Service

Using virtual selling expertise, I create video walk throughs of properties throughout the home buying process to narrow down selections and fine tune the home search for my clients. That way, the showings we book in person are in reality 2nd showings. This saves time, protects home buyers and sellers from unnecessary exposure and streamlines the home buying process.

Open House Signs – an antique?

When I sold luxury real estate on Kauai, my open house signs were often stolen and used for fighting rooster sheds, an illegal but popular local sport.

One way of repurposing them but not a big demand on the Main Line!

While I haven’t thrown my Open House signs away, they are in the back closet for now! My ‘go bag’ is full of video equipment instead.

Home Office Design Tips

What used to be a “like to have” on buyer’s wish lists has become a “must have” not only now but into the future as our way of life has changed due to COVID-19. Working from home, remote college classes and public schooling at home make this a very complicated, challenging part of interior design – and a must have as we face an ongoing battle over the next 18-24 months.

Award winning interior designer Christina Henck, owner of Henck Design offers Home Office Design Tips LIVE that can help even the most awkward home office convert to a functional, pleasant space. Check out Christina’s Portfolio of amazing transformations in Center City and the Main Line and click below to view our LIVE broadcast.

Complications of multi-generation home schooling and working remotely can overwhelm and challenge even the best planned home office.

I don’t feel so bad about my home office “studio” in the man cave when I see national late night hosts like Seth Meyers broadcast from his attic! 🙂

Having a well designed home office is no longer just a luxury amenity. Working with luxury buyers relocating from New York recently, we needed to find space for both parents and the kids to be able to work/school from home, along with space for music and art.

Luxury amenities like a home office and home gym don’t have to come at luxury prices!

Two examples for you – both under $300K!

Gorgeous move-in ready Germantown rehab offered for only $219K and includes finished basement perfect for home gym, plus 3rd floor loft that can function as a 4th bedroom or large home office.

For an urban, hip lifestyle – cherish the exposed brick and luxury details in this Fishtown rehab at 2360 E Harold St. Make the 2nd bedroom your home office, gym or art studio and walk to the best food, parks, bars and community activities that make Fishtown a #1 choice.

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