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Gathering Information

Gathering Information

First, I was on our local CBS News, “Eye On Money”, this week, discussing 2023-year end numbers. You can watch the clip here.  Numbers don’t lie and they’ve led to the current state of the market, which brings me to this week’s Jeff’s Journal topic….

They say one spouse complements the other.  Or for every Felix, there is an Oscar.  Well, in this case I had two Felix’s.  This older couple had to have everything just perfect.  They had purchased a home with me, and it was not an easy search and transaction as everything had to be perfect.

I was also hired to sell their home, but when they came to me wanting to do a rental with someone they had just met it kind of shocked me. The reason is that being a rental landlord is not for the meticulous. A million things go wrong, and you have to have thick skin. In addition, a percentage just destroy the house. Everyone’s dog is a “show toy poodle” who never leaves the crate and doesn’t bark.

So, when I was assured that this was a nice young man and to put together a contract, I thought I’d gather some information.  For those of you youngsters who don’t know who Oscar and Felix are, google it.  That’s exactly what I did on the nice young man and found an arrest record along with poker playing. On social media, there he was with cigar and poker parties, puffing it up.  One copy and paste of the photo to the meticulous people and it was “let’s just sell the house!”

During the pandemic the market was simple. Take it or leave it. Cash offers. Bidding wars. No inspection. 7-day closings. Escalation clauses. Today, it is more “Even-Steven”.  There is still low inventory but not a lot of transactions. Mid-February is about the time deals start to get put together in earnest. See Florida Seasonality. Therefore, it’s critical that real estate agents gather information for their clients. Here are 11 tips people selling and purchasing their home should expect and insist on from their Realtor Consultants….




  1. How did your clients come up with the purchase price? It’s a question your Realtor needs to ask for a multitude of reasons. One of which is you might hear back that they thought they would just test the waters. Other times the buyer has good reasons and can justify it. Regardless, if you don’t ask you don’t learn. It’s like spitting into the wind in the dark.


  1. Why was the deposit X? If it is less than 5%, this question always should be asked. Deposits can be big warning signs. As a rule of thumb, I follow the 5-10 percent rule. If my client vacates the home, and their stuff is on the truck and they must then move it back, it’s typically not worth it along with losing the heart of season. If you received a 1% deposit with a 60-day closing on a million dollar home right now, how would you feel if you walked away with $10,000? Keep in mind you have to move your stuff back in and have lost the most critical part of the season. Having a good deposit gives you leverage in case the Buyer tries to get out of the contract.


  1. Tell me about your folks so I can pass along when my clients ask? Usually, we are there to give this report but finding out as much as the you can about the Buyer of your home is key. If they know the area and have friends here, there is a better chance of closing. People who have no ties are less invested and less likely to go through with a transaction. Do they have a home to sell?


  1. Google them. Sometimes you see surprising things. Last year, we saw one Buyer who committed a number of frauds, and it gave our client pause on dealing with an offer.


  1. Do they have a preference of when they would like to close? This will give you motivation. Someone who needs to get in fast might pay more but could also disappear from you faster. If you want a longer closing, it also means you might lose them if you won’t compromise.



Most of these questions are exactly the opposite of the above questions and should be asked before you put an offer in.


  1. Google and Social Media. Less important here as when you are making the purchase but sometimes it can give you clues as to motivation and the type of person you are dealing with.


  1. Tell me about your folks? For the same reason as above.


  1. Have they had offers? This one is different. Sometimes the Realtor blurts out that they have turned down one number, but they will accept another one. Ask a question and let them talk. As they say, you aren’t learning if you aren’t listening.


  1. Where are they going? This gives you clues if they have carry cost and further motivation.


  1. Ideal time to move? Gives you more clues if they are in a rush.


  1. How did they come up with the selling price? Again, sometimes you hear that they are just trying for a number. You never know what the other Realtor is going to say. Hear what they have to say and how they came up with the value. Sometimes, they might not be aware of comparable or maybe their reasoning makes sense. You can’t negotiate well if you don’t understand how it was priced.


I hope you found this advice as good as Poker Royal Flush!  Next week I’ll discuss more on working the offer to have a better chance of completion in this market.


Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet.  Some publications he has been quoted in.

Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World –  The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!

Feel free to ask him a question directly at including a complementary  valuation of your home.

Posted in Open House Blog, Real Estate Tips on February 2, 2024 at 11:01 am.


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