Additional Helpers

It is true that the internet has altered the playing field. Nowadays, more than ever the online marketing plan directly affects time on the market, and ultimately, has everything to do with the ultimate contract price. A well-marketed property’s advantage cannot be overlooked or underestimated.

Well-marketed comes down to a proper price, calculated presentation, organized promotion, and a coordinated public relation strategy. Overseeing each element is implementing the tactics, which remain an owner’s responsibility unless assigned to a broker.

  • Pricing is pegging the property at its current market value;
  • Presentation (staging, in realtor jargon) highlights the positives and camouflages the negatives;
  • Promotion entails announcing to (and continuously reminding) the brokerage community about the listing;
  • Public relations centers on making the property available—especially at regularly scheduled open houses supported by classified and display advertising and online updates.

Marketing Pointers and Principles

Marketing real estate involves effectively applying the four elements most products require. Our marketing plan developer is a handbook to achieve its fair-market value with three key elements—presentation, promotion, public relations. In short, everything needed and available to refer to as needed.

The show sheet guidelines provide the details, descriptions, and photographs targeted to qualified buyers. A square footage calculating manual differentiates the actual from the stated, and why it matters. A house plan interpreter demonstrates how to extract pertinent information to qualify as a comp or evaluate for personal usability. Our Personal Planner is organized for sellers, by including an owner’s checklist, as well as a complete apartment house data and unit factsheet, and for buyers, by offering every conceivable possibility or the alternative options.

Judging From the Norms

There are pointers, every step along the way, which provide guidance.
Once offered, a property should remain on the market continuously until it is spoken for. Standard apartment house units (in condition to sell) come on to the market will attract an offer—when accurately priced. While almost every property does transfer, some average a longer time frame—for example, apartment hotel apartments do require longer to market because their high monthly carrying cost and minimal tax-deductible portion.

Averting the on-and-off-and-on-again syndrome depends on the owner, and their relationship with their broker to advise against it. However, extenuating circumstance may account for longer time than expected. For instance—an unsigned contract would cause a two week delay (rarely longer); a board turndown (accounts for a three-month delay); unexpected family matters may add a few weeks, perhaps. An unknown factor during these downtimes is: How many potential buyers inquired? How many asked for a second visit? The effect of a broker saying, “It’s temporarily off the market,” is that potential buyer moves on, and they will find another property. To avoid future missteps: Potential sellers can refer to the right steps when offering their property for sale. It is within the Owner Personal Planner checklist.

Timing

Market activity fluctuates throughout the year, always did, probably always will. There are two facets: more market demand supports a higher price, and a stagnant property gradually sends (the allusion) that a seller may be ready to negotiate.

Seasonality is a matter: The two heavy selling seasons, in fact, are spring to early summer, and then early fall through early winter. A relative activity surge following a lull is referred to as “pent-up demand.” Holidays must be considered as well, because they create a lull.

The breaks, which matter most, are:

  • The Christmas to New Year lull remains in place until after the Martin Luther King weekend.
  • While market activity begins to pick up, President’s Week is again another interruption. Market activity then remains steady but relatively light until tax-filing ends.
  • The spring market ends during the days after the July 4th Holiday. Market again is light throughout the summer.
  • Labor Day opens the fall market, and activity remains steady through the Thanksgiving weekend.

Presentation

Staging can be tantamount to success. First impression is a very big factor. Properly preparing a property requires experience, (it’s a quick study for those in the know). The cost as well as the time involved depends on the starting point. The financial reward is worth all the effort, and that is a matter of fact. One quintessential example is telling.

Once upon a time a prime, nine-room Fifth Avenue apartment sat on the market, like a slug. The continuous comment was “Great space…but…this place needs everything!” Once cosmetically transformed, its new designation became “Move-in.” Selective staging significantly upped the buyer’s accepted offer. In fact, the staging cost was a fraction of the owner’s gain. The prospective buyer is rarely fooled completely; however, they perceive an initial savings, because major work can be put off to a later date.

Simple Marketing Principles

A basic marketing tenet is broad- and narrow-cast the message, with easily accessible data, tempting descriptions, and alluring professional photographs. As no other resource, photographs can depict a property at its best, descriptive text should depict its features, and superlatives cannot replace clarity. The information provided should highlight the possibilities with facts.

The components of a finely tuned marketing strategy include the broader and finite distribution methods, such as:

  • Extensive online exposure through the brokerage firm Web site, search engines, and related internet resources;
  • An initial direct mailing of a brochure. flier, and announcements to prospective buyers in neighboring rental buildings;
  • Advertisements (and continued mailings) to support the regularly scheduled open houses.

Show Sheet

No other tool tops the show sheet, brochure or online announcement—regardless of its format—to get across the “marketing” message, and to entice the potential buyers. The proscribed details below should be concise and precise and written within standard usages. Inferences matter and should be highlighted, however in a specific context.

The apartment house facts includes:

  1. Address
  2. Neighborhood
  3. Dwelling type
  4. Tax-deductible portion
  5. Financing percentage permitted
  6. Current Assessment amount
  7. Ownership type
  8. Services, amenities, appurtenances

The unit data provided is:

  1. Apartment number
  2. Asking Price
  3. Monthly fees as maintenance or common charge/real-estate tax
  4. Room, bedroom and bathroom counts
  5. Private outdoor space, when applicable
  6. View or exposure
  7. Condition
  8. Dining space, kitchen type, additional spaces

Accessibility

Why is this last? Because three simple, hard-and-fast rules apply:

Availability is the sure-fire marketing element that matters most: visiting a property—as a potential showing, re-scheduled or a second or third visit—is a vital deal-making opportunity, one not lightly denied. All but an outlandish appointment should be honored, therefore.
A second factor is pre-planning open house dates, for the brokerage community and general public, which should be set at the onset, according to holiday weekends and local events, perhaps the marathon or an upcoming community-sponsored street fair. The advertising supporting these open houses—not online announcements as much as newspaper or magazine advertisement—require lead time.

The third truism is practical promotion: Follow-up calls to the buyer brokers, seemingly for “feed-back,” in reality to encourage a second visit, work. Likewise, contacting directly each potential buyer without a broker to ignite or rekindle interest by encouraging another visit. Whether a truism or old-wife’s tale, it is said that, twenty pairs of feet have to cross the threshold to bring the first offer.

As a practical note: It is far more natural when a broker makes these calls on behalf of an owner than for the owner to seem comfortable, rather than overanxious to sell the property.

House Plan Guidelines

To effectively evaluate a property requires a house and floor plan primer. The plan can qualify a comparable sample property, or evaluate investment potential, or personal usability according to needs. It is accepted that one picture is worth a thousand words, and the images provided should speak volumes. Diagrams, on the other hand, are a quick read and useful reference material—whether of the entire floor or just the individual unit.

The apartment house plan has its advantages, such as orienting the unit to the street entrance and elevator bank. The overall floor delineates public hallways and service areas, and locates the units’ placement within the building. The house plan also isolates the street-facing from rear-view apartments. A direction indicator is normally included.

A few simple and helpful axioms are, as follows:

  • Odd numbered apartment houses, for example, Nos. 41 or 411 (east or west) is sited on the street’s north side, and therefore the front units face south;
  • Conversely, an even numbered house is on the street’s south side, and therefore has north-facing front units;
  • Corner apartment houses have one façade overlooking a street, another on the avenue—affording more prime apartments, more likely with better light;
  • Mid-block apartment houses have one primary exposure only, though the rear-facing, high-floor apartments would afford more open exposures;
  • Small dwellings, loft and town house seekers, too, should be aware “dead” spaces –with no light whatsoever—(inevitably) occur.

A floor plan holds discernible facts, which are:

  • The layout or room placement, in relation to one another;
  • Room count, overall;
  • Number of bed- and bathrooms;
  • Dining space, area or room;
  • Kitchen type, galley, eat-in or open;
  • Room proportions, widths to lengths;
  • Special Considerations, such as outdoor space.

There are other clues too: the square footage and dimensions. Room dimension accuracy is easily approximated to be accurate—no standard method exists, but a myriad have been devised.

  • Window-to-wall
  • Wall-to-wall
  • Baseboard-to-baseboard
  • Saddle (an entrance piece of wood, placed as a doorsill) to the opposite baseboard

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking

First, as you scan the layout there could be suspicious “red flags.” Discrepancies between the data and facts need to be identified, and either verified there and then by the broker or owner, or marked for further review and investigation.

Then, it is only reasonable to be skeptical eyeballing a room proportion that seems out of line; one doubtful room measurement baits whether the given dimensions jive throughout. In addition, on aged available house plans, the architect’s original measurements can be partially obliterated and replaced with crisp, clear (new) numbers. To the point, the architect’s rendering consistently had exact (to the quarter inch) dimensions, round figures throughout may be questionable.

Only a redrawn diagram is available for altered units—fused spaces into one room, and certainly, when two confluent apartments joined and a “combo” was created. And so, adjusted numbers may reflect subsequent alterations, or they may be a confabulation. The dimensions must be confirmed at a later point for a property deemed worth to pursue or as a comparison. Would a flooring contractor double-check? Nor should you?

Second, square footage is the footprint, and unit of area. Area is derived by two dimensions multiplied by one another. It is meant to be an exact number: although commonly relied upon, the stated square footage is less than exact.

Facts: A condominium units’ stated square footage total includes an apportionment for common areas. As a percentage, therefore, each apartment house varies. A co-operative conversion offering plan and prospectus never state outright square footage. (Room count, position within the building, floor, and outdoor space are the elements for the share apportioned to each unit.)

Beware: The cost per square foot total is misleading when casual (exaggerated) square footage is divided into the asking price—the greater misstated (inflated) the more deceptive the total square foot total. Worse-case scenario: a totally unscientific formula was used. For example, the major rooms’ area—in feet, from a questionable source—are squared (width times length), plus, a set add-on (say, 15 percent) to accommodate closets, niches, and (undefined) whatnots, is used.

Reading a Floor Plan

A comparison walk-through priority list involves:

  • Confirming the info provided;
  • Evaluating the stated valuable considerations;
  • An investor, in addition to confirming the data and the condition, evaluates the positive and negative features needed for the rental market

As the owner-occupant the considerations are all of the above, plus a comprehensive survey for the ordered priority list—first impressions do not always tell the tale for your particular needs.
Put on blinders: the décor is irrelevant. Look past it.
Exposures, light, view, require going to the window, opening the window treatment, and see for yourself.
Allowing your mind’s eye to focus on the general flow (both between public rooms as well as the public rooms in relation to the family bedrooms), so then your eyes can take in what you are actually seeing.

While in a room, refer back and forth to the plan in order to ameliorate a less than well-developed spatial sense. When making a dimension calculation, choose one approximation method and stick to it. Pick from among the following constants to apply:

  1. Beforehand measure your foot length, use it to walk-off your steps from wall to wall, and do the math as a reliable approximation.
  2. Eyeball the window width to guesstimate how many would fit along the exterior wall, and do the math as a somewhat reliable approximation.
  3. Choose a piece of furniture to gauge the wall length it is on: a sofa seating three is six feet long, a love seat is four feet long, and a piano is five feet long. And, do the math as a less vague approximation.

When approximating, give the benefit of the doubt as is on the show sheet or diagram. Otherwise, note the doubts and keep your thoughts to yourself.
Finally, for future reference and comparison, take notes regarding your overall impression of the condition, and then assess the kitchen and bathrooms individually. In addition, visual devises (a well-placed smoky mirror, for one) can belie the eyeball approach. Therefore, make a quick judgment for future reference, whether or not the photographs are an accurate depiction.

Getting the Gist

After the qualifying apartment facts are gathered and the questionable aspects are clarified, the purpose to study a floor plan is the unit’s relevance to you as an investor or owner- occupant.

The criteria are parallel: usefulness.

The living space desired (needed) is subjective—and relative—and so much depends on the layout’s flow, room proportions, but ultimately, their placement in relation to one another. Ingress and egress through another area, for instance, is or is not workable. Certainly noteworthy, since the space must accommodate particular individual needs.

Next are your high priority and other considerations. Go down the list, and evaluate the very most important ones—outdoor space, especially. Note the missing items that could entirely disqualify the property, such as a windowed-eat-in kitchen or formal dining room or fireplace. Note each item on your list or you may be asking yourself, where were the air conditioners?

Follow the flow: going forward from the entry orient the public rooms from the family area—the bedrooms and bathrooms. Take the room and number of bed- and bathroom count. Take in the living room proportion—noting window placement and irregularities, and the dining type—room or area, and scan the kitchen—as open, galley or eat-in.

Next, it is true that every apartment needs one good room—look first for that “good” room. Then, focus on the living and entertaining space. Among these clustered areas, check out that the rooms are clearly defined, the entry foyer leads to the living room and dining area, that separate areas or niches are functional, and that the convertible (multiple-use) rooms—a separate library, perhaps—access a nearby bathroom. Or, that the servant’s quarters could be put to practical use.

Then gauge whether the family bedrooms and bathrooms are well located in relation to the entertaining areas. Their relative bedroom sizes are judged according to one another.

  • The master bedroom should be easily differentiated: larger, more closet space, en-suite bathroom, and double-exposure are common.
  • Bathrooms matter, so note their size, and then evaluate whether each is generous, adequate, or small.
  • Also, note whether there is a window according to the layout.
  • Closet space is always a plus, so critique as adequate or not.

Personal Planners

For a seller this review is a checklist to put the important priorities upfront. Moreover, the planner includes an array of criteria to match a seller and one qualified buyer. The system will prompt you to clarify your ideas and to provide a flexible structure in which to make notes. Take your time to collect your thoughts and outline your goals. With our step-by-step plan, you can pinpoint pricing and clarify marketing decisions before listing your unit.

For a buyer the Personal Planner gives you a detailed approach to establishing the criteria and what priorities you value most in your next home. Using our Personal Planner will clarify your thoughts and outline your goals. It crystalizes the search parameters. One way to amplify the value is to save your entire original notes–especially with additions or changes to the original parameters. By doing follow these easy guidelines, you can review all the steps taken in depth, and it enables you to arrive at a successful realistic conclusion, which will be very useful as reference during future negotiations.

Here are the considerations for a seller and buyer.