Customer Service – How Important is the Telephone?

We all know that it’s best to return a text with a text, a phone call with a call, and an email with an email. Whichever is your customer’s preferred method of communication is the guide. However, when a request is made for the “dreaded” phone call, to what extent will a business go to avoid it?

I recently represented sellers in a real estate transaction in Destin, Florida.  We sold the house fast and everything went along quite smoothly, until the closing. Ummm, until after the closing, that is.  We closed ahead of schedule. On a Friday. The title agent told my seller their check would be delivered by UPS the next day, which was a Saturday. My sellers were living in an apartment complex and did not want to have a check for a large dollar amount sitting outside their door, so stayed home all Saturday waiting for the delivery. It never came. We left phone messages and emailed three parties at the title agency to ask for a tracking number. Alas, no one got back to us.  It was the weekend, remember.

Monday at 9:30 a.m. I called the title office. They still had not returned the calls or emails from my client or me, stating they had been very busy.  I asked the representative to call my sellers, as they did not check their email much.  She sort of apologized and said she would.  When I checked my computer, there was an email from the representative to the sellers.  She had decided not to call. I then received another email telling me the seller had not understood the delivery schedule. This was addressed to me, not the seller.  The second party at the firm decided not to call my seller, either. Finally, a third representative responded to me by text asking if the issue was taken care of. I explained that it had been, but that my customers were displeased.  Then we were dropped. The property had closed, after all.

What a difference it would have made had anyone called my sellers to personally apologize for any misunderstanding. It’s one thing when a simple clarifying request is made. It’s quite another when displeased customers ask specifically for a phone call, and don’t get it.

Sometimes it’s hard to do what’s right – like facing the client with the “dreaded” phone call. But to hear a human voice at the end of the line, talking from the heart, apologizing if necessary, is the difference between stellar performance and just getting by.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

 

Turn Over a Sale? Do the Right Thing in Real Estate (and in Life!)

A few days ago I got a phone call from an old client.  He asked me to research a property for sale for him and the adjoining parcel, checking the zoning and sales history.  I did some preliminary investigation and discussed my findings, when he told me he actually had written an offer on this property a month ago with another agent – a friend of his.  I told him he should stick with that agent if he wanted to resubmit an offer. It was the right thing to do. He reluctantly agreed, as he felt the agent was “too busy” for him.  I followed up the next day and he was taking my advice and sticking with that agent.

Would most real estate salespeople have done this? I doubt it.

Here’s another example. I received a phone call from a buyer interested in seeing one of my listings in Santa Rosa Beach.  Quickly in the conversation, he mentioned he had looked at other houses in the area. I asked if he had an “agent”. He said he did not, but that so-and-so had shown him several houses as recently as the day before. I told him to call her. He was surprised, and protested at first, but said he would. I called the agent myself to let her know. She was in shock. She said she had tried to teach the buyer client about loyalty, but he didn’t get it. You see, she would not have been paid for her time had he purchased a home from somebody else.  Realtors work on commission.  The agent told me most agents would not have returned the customer and that she would never forget it.  She said most agents would jump at the chance to show their own listing and disregard the buyer’s previous business relationship.

Being fair, being ethical, that’s more important than making a dollar. It’s called doing the right thing.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Offering on a House? How to Lose!

It’s a seller’s market on the Emerald Coast of Florida.  Real estate agents will tell you they cannot find inventory for their buyers! There are way more buyers than sellers and properties are selling almost instantly.

Instead of telling you how to WIN the house – I am going to tell you how to LOSE.  Use some of the following techniques and be sure to not get your contract accepted:

  1. Don’t have a pre-approval or proof of funds letter.  Let the seller and her agent guess if you are qualified, because you told your agent you were.
  2. Don’t offer full price or MORE.  Offer low. The seller will counter-offer yours because they don’t have other offers OVER asking (NOT!)
  3. Don’t put down a reasonable amount for earnest money. Show them how un-serious you are.
  4. Don’t use an “as is” contract.  Ask for the full repair limit, yeah – that will make you competitive.
  5. Don’t ask seller to pay only their own closing costs.  Ask them to pay everything for you. They are desperate to sell, right?

I hope you understand my sarcasm. If you are serious about buying a house or condo in Destin or the surrounding towns, don’t fiddle around.  You will likely have ONE SHOT at getting your offer accepted.  Make it strong.

 

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Free Market Analysis – Emerald Coast Florida Real Estate

Do you want to know what your property is worth?

SPECIAL OFFER! Free Market Analysis for properties on the Emerald Coast of Florida for the following towns and areas: Destin, Miramar Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Niceville, Crestview, 30A, Sandestin, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Holley by the Sea.

Contact me for a custom analysis of your property value, including lots, houses, townhouses and condos. In addition, I will answer your questions on property improvement to let you know what upgrades may get you a better value, or suggestions to get your property ready to list. There is no obligation.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Mortgagor or Mortgagee?

One of the most confusing terms in real estate is “mortgagor”. Or should I say “confused” terms? It doesn’t follow the logic, seemingly, of similar words. Let’s take a look.

The “grantor” is the seller and “gives” the real estate to the “grantee” (the buyer).

The “lessor” is the landlord and “gives” the lease to the “lessee” (the tenant).

The “optionor” is the giver of an option to buy or lease to the “optionee”.

Are you catching the trend, so far?  But wait!

The “mortgagor” is NOT the giver of the loan.  And the “mortgagee” is not the recipient of the loan – it’s the opposite!

The mortgagor is actually the borrower, the “giver” of the security interest (or collateral) in the real property to the mortgagee (the lender) in return for the borrowed funds.

Got that?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Is it Better to be “Right” or “Polite”?

This morning I received a somewhat terse email from an agent asking for a document related to a home sale. The agent represented the buyer and asked me to get a contract addendum to her right away.  Normally, I’m quite fast routing documents, so thought it was odd that I hadn’t already sent it. It’s been one of those weeks. Anyway, I responded quickly and said I would follow up.  I went ahead and found a copy on my phone and sent it to the agent. Since I hadn’t finished my morning coffee, it dawned on me slowly. Hadn’t I already sent it to her and to the title agent a few days ago?  I checked back and there it was – sent to both parties with a subject line.  Can you think of how many people would have re-forwarded the email to show that the task had already been completed? Or said – “I already sent it to you”?  The point would be to make the other party feel like a dummy.  To feel less competent. To show off our better work practices.  I think this is tempting in human nature. I did not. I never said a word. Would you?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Who is the Ideal Real Estate Seller Client?

Every real estate agent, or any company for that matter, has its “ideal” client. Or should.

Here is mine:

  1. My sellers communicate with me. Nothing is more difficult in causing a sale than having a non-communicative seller. If my seller responds to my emails, texts or phone calls, I know they are interested. If I don’t get a response from a weekly or bi-weekly email, it’s hard to keep the excitement going.  If my real estate seller asks me questions, has ideas, engages, listens or even complains (oh my!), then I have someone motivated to sell. I like that.
  2. My sellers trust me. If you don’t trust your agent, don’t hire them. I recently had a case where a potential seller wanted me to abide by his guidelines for advertising, wanted to write the ads himself, had requirements on the type of weekly report I was to send him, on how I would structure my market analyses, which comparables I would use and within which geographic area, down to the mile radius from his property. He required that I be present at each showing. He instructed me on how to make property flyers for his house. I had to decline the listing, telling him there were too many restrictions on my ability to organize and direct the marketing and sale of his property with my personal and professional style.
  3. My sellers have confidence in me. The last thing you want to worry about are the details of selling your home. You want a real estate agent to “guide” you to the finish, right? I tell my sellers “Don’t worry about it! I’ll worry about it for you!” They know I will get the job done. (See Number 2 above – Trust me.)
  4. My sellers know I am human. I try to be perfect (ask my friends), but heck, everyone has a bad day. I remember the kind seller who cancelled her listing when I would not do an open house, home suffering massive back pain, my normal tempered speech coming out a bit abruptly as I explained that open houses are normally a waste of time (shout out to Bill Gassett). After that it became tense and she pulled her listing off the market. (That’s second to the lady many years ago who told me, after she asked how I was and I stated I was home with the flu, that my “day was going to get worse” as she therefore was not going to hire me.)  Come on people!
  5. My sellers are realistic. Once we get going with the marketing, rarely a property will sit there without activity, unless it’s highly unusual or very niche (and I have ways around that). When I say “let’s look at the price”, please, let’s look at the price. Part of this falls back to me, choosing the rational seller, but that can be tricky sometimes!
  6. My sellers thank me. There, I said it.  This is raw emotion speaking. People like to be appreciated. You don’t have to buy me a present (although I’ve had some lovely flowers and chocolates in the past), but a “thank you” really makes my day. How may I make yours?

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Life Without the Mid-Bay Bridge, Oh My!

I had just made it across the Mid-Bay Bridge to White Point Road and then to my home in Bluewater Bay. I had groceries in the car from my stop at Publix in Destin, as I frequently do on my way back from the office in Miramar Beach.  I either stop there or at Whole Foods to get our nightly dinner.  Being as obsessive compulsive as I am about food quality, I carry insulated bags in my car for groceries.  I worry about the food getting warm, even though it’s only about twelve minutes to my house from Highway 98 (I did say OCD, right?) For some weird reason, (probably another OCD) right after I put my groceries on the kitchen counter, I popped open Facebook before unloading them.  There was a community post for the Southwind neighborhood where I live in Bluewater Bay.  It said the Mid-Bay Bridge had been closed indefinitely for repairs.  Of course, I thought this was a joke.  I had just driven across the bridge, right?  Huh? There was a link and I followed it, still thinking it was a mistake or old news.  Then I went directly to the Northwest Florida Daily News website and there again, was the article. The Mid-Bay Bridge had been suddenly and indefinitely “closed” for repairs.

How could this be? I had driven across the bridge only five minutes earlier! I had seen no closure signs.  The only clue was earlier in the day, on my morning trip to the office, which by the way, normally takes 17 minutes, when I saw four large trucks parked and about a dozen workers with orange vests peering over the edge on the northbound lane on the side of the bridge nearer to Destin.  I had thought they were either doing repairs or inspections or looking for a body (I hate to say it, but I’ve seen that before). Alas, no. It must have been part of their re-inspection of the corroded tension cables, so they say.  I was in a state of shock. How would this affect my commute to work? Sure, I can work from home in my business field (real estate), but I need the “office” atmosphere to put myself in the mood.  I whipped out Google Maps on my phone and asked for the shortest route to 12889 Emerald Coast Parkway from Bluewater Bay.  It was buzzing all over Facebook that Google Maps were already updated and were not showing the availability of the Mid-Bay Bridge route.  Google Maps showed me the fastest path was Highway 20 through Fort Walton Beach, stating the time to arrival would be 54 minutes.  Posting this immediately on Facebook, receiving dozens of “friends” comments, I was told that Highway 20 to Highway 331, then through Santa Rosa Beach would be faster.

I had to give this the college try the next morning. I already knew (told you – OCD), that to get to Publix in Freeport took about 22 minutes.  It did. But how much longer would it be to get to Miramar Plaza? By the time I passed Sandestin, no, Sacred Heart Hospital, no, Walmart in Santa Rosa Beach, I had about lost it. There was no way I was going to have to do this again to get home, right? Call me spoiled. Tell me how it “used” to be in the good old days “before” the bridge. Tell me to toughen up “we used to do that all the time”!  I’ve got to counter you there – what life choices would have been made or not made had there been no Mid-Bay Bridge? I probably would have moved to Fort Walton Beach, had an office there, or one in Destin with a home in Destin.  NOT moved to Bluewater Bay with an office in Miramar Beach. (OK?) Anyway, after reaching my office (subtracting six minutes for a gas stop and Starbucks – bought as a present for myself for the commute turmoil), it took me a total of 58 minutes to reach work.  Typically, as I stated, it is 17 minutes.  My next issue was timing going home. I cannot drive in the dark. I’m one of those people with poor eyesight, contact lenses, coke bottle glasses, and get very distracted with headlights on me driving in pitch black. Since it gets dark about 5:00 p.m., I knew I would have to start home by 4:00 p.m.  After consulting with my engineer husband, he suggested I leave no later than 3:45 p.m.  The other catch was the gym time. I work out at Gold’s Gym in Destin and normally go there at 3:30 p.m. each day to exercise for an hour.  To keep up my gym routine, I would have to leave work at 2:45 p.m., lift weights for about 30 minutes, then scramble out to Highway 98. I did this. Stressed out the whole time. Ineffective work out.  Driving home was another story. It was now “rush hour”.  I could tell it would take longer. When I hit Highway 331, the sun really illuminated the cars in front of me, so much so that I didn’t notice the brake lights on the car I was following. No, I did not get in an accident, but definitely screeched the brakes. Pay attention, Wendy! By the time I got home it was an hour and fifteen minutes later.

Here is where I am today. Home. I’ve decided that driving for almost two and a half hours a day to work on my P.C. for three hours makes no sense. And I will go batty. So, I am remoting into the office computer and trying not to get distracted by doing the laundry, cleaning, playing with cats and writing blog posts.  I actually joined Bluewater Fitness yesterday, as it’s only three minutes from my house.  Am I being productive? No.  Not really. As I sit here typing away in my pajamas at 10:30 a.m.

Yesterday one of my real estate friends called me and said he heard the Mid-Bay Bridge had re-opened. I screamed with joy.  He called back five minutes later and said he misunderstood and was wrong. I was crushed. All day long I scour the internet looking for articles about the Mid-Bay Bridge. Any hint or hope of it re-opening soon. I feel for all my friends who MUST commute and are not able to work from home. People who travel from Crestview or Niceville to Destin or Miramar Beach. Eglin AFB workers who live in Destin and go to the base.  Of course, duh, safety is first.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave the hard-core investigating to the reporters and I will try to stop bird-watching long enough to get some work done.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

UPDATE: Breaking News!! The Mid-Bay Bridge is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Wednesday evening, January 16, 2019!  My life is complete!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Email Newsletter Reactions – Good and Bad

 

I usually send out about five email newsletters per year to my database, once every couple of months.  These contain a few local real estate articles or blog posts that I’ve recently written. The articles may be about houses or condos for sale, pending or sold, local information, “Diary of a Realtor” stories, and other items about the Emerald Coast real estate market or real estate in general.  The reactions from my customer base can be quiet at times. For example, I may get no responses at all. Sometimes, however, I get a call to list a property or for more information about local real estate for sale.  A few days ago I sent out a quick email newsletter about a charity event in Miramar Beach at The Wine Bar in Grand Boulevard to welcome the holiday season and raise funds for an autism support group in Walton County.  I received two email responses.

Email Response #1:

Subject Line: STOP EMAILING ME (all caps)

Content: QUIT EMAILING ME (all caps)

Email Response #2:

“Thank you for thinking of us -we would love to go but will be headed out of town that day for a few days. Please let us know of any future events like this as we would love to attend.”

I felt really bad that the first party was annoyed with me. I immediately emailed her and told her I would remove her name from my database.  The second party’s response made my day, however!  If you would like an occasional local real estate update via email, let me know or subscribe here.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

Selling Your Fort Walton Beach Apartment Complex? Get Ready for Questions from Buyers

Are you thinking of selling your Fort Walton Beach Florida apartment complex or multi-family, duplex, triplex, four-plex etc?

  1. What is the apartment complex occupancy rate?
  2. What are the rents?
  3. Are all the rents for each apartment the same?
  4. Do the rents correspond with unit sizes?
  5. How long have the tenants been there?
  6. Are the leases on month-month, six month, one year or other?
  7. Are any rents paid in advance? If so, is there a discount for advance payment of rents?
  8. What is the main source of the tenants for the Fort Walton Beach area apartment complex? Is there a specific industry drawing tenants? If so, is the industry cyclical (such as tourism) or is the industry growing or declining? For example, if a new manufacturing plant is being built, that would be very attractive to a landlord. However, if companies are shutting down, that would be a negative.
  9. May I have the last three years profit and loss statements?
  10. What condition is the roof? If the roof age is questionable, have a roofer inspect it prior to selling, repair if necessary and give a life expectancy statement.  If you don’t wish to do so, get bids for roof replacement from three reputable roofers, as the buyer certainly will if it’s in question. This will save you valuable time during the buyer’s feasibility period.
  11. What improvements have been done to the apartments?
  12. How old are the air conditioning units?
  13. How is the plumbing? How old is the plumbing?
  14. What does the area look like? Is it near new shopping, old shopping, schools, water?
  15. Are there other apartment complexes nearby?
  16. Are there vacant lots adjacent to the apartments or  multi-family units? If so, what is the intended use of the adjacent parcels?
  17. What does the apartment complex owner pay for? Water, sewer? Garbage? What is the cost for each?
  18. Is flood insurance required? Has the property ever flooded?
  19. What are the other insurance costs for the apartments? If insurance is high, why?
  20. Is there a survey for the apartment complex? Can more units be built? What is the zoning?
  21. Has there been any construction done without a permit?
  22. Repairs or renovations to the apartment complex or multi’s such as electrical wiring not done to code?
  23. Are there leaky windows, doors, or pipes?
  24. Is there any mold? Has mold been remediated in the past?
  25. Is there lead paint? Was the property built before 1978?
  26. Termite issues? Is there wood rot on the exterior of the apartment complex?  Wood rot is very common in Northwest Florida.
  27. Has there been any property line or zoning disputes?
  28. Neighbor issues?
  29. Is there noise from airports or other affecting the property?
  30. Have deaths occurred at the Fort Walton Beach apartment complex?
  31. Are there any liens on this property?
  32. Is there protected wild life that has prevented building around the complex?
  33. Is there weather damage to any of the units?
  34. Has the soil been tested for development?
  35. Has there been an offer on the apartment complex or contract that fell through? If so, why?
  36. Why is the apartment complex owner selling?
  37. What were the recent and past capital improvements, capital expenditures (CapEx) for the multi-family apartment complex?
  38. Do you have a platform online to attract tenants?
  39. Do you have an apartment complex Facebook account for your Fort Walton Beach multi-family?
  40. Do you have a website?
  41. Do you have a 1-800 number?

These are just some questions you should be prepared to answer if you want to sell your Fort Walton Beach area apartment complex.

Are you looking for professional assistance in selling your apartments or multi-family units? Give me a call.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, DeFuniak Springs and Freeport, Florida.

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!