Nikon D5300 Real Estate Photography

Most people don’t think about it, but Real Estate photography is a science all it’s own. For the most part outside pictures are a snap. You can walk back and forth or zoom in and out until the house is composed within the picture. Of course you need to deal with shadows and in the winter, white snow will throw off the color balance. No problem. A computer program like GIMP can correct for the color imbalance. During the summer bright sunny days cast dark shadows that need to be corrected.

Outside pictures have issues, indoor pictures is where the challenges really show up. Bright light through windows can throw off the camera meter. Corners can cast shadows if lighting is not properly arranged. Depending on the camera, the program may have issues with natural wood tones. All of those issues can be corrected with a good computer program. The real challenge in real estate photography shows up in small houses and small rooms.

When you look at listings on the Internet, you can instantly tell the difference between pictures taken with a good camera and a cell phone. Some cell phones have put a lot of research and engineering into phone cameras to the point, it may be difficult to tell the difference between pictures taken with a professional level camera and some of the top quality cell phones on the market today. Top quality cell phones work fine in most rooms, but when it gets to small bedrooms and bathrooms, they show their restrictions.

Researchers specializing in camera lenses have recognized the need for extra wide lenses required in the real estate photography industry. The age old problem was, extra wide angles caused distortion. Straight lines in walls and ceilings would appear curved in pictures. Somehow engineers have been able to overcome that undesired effect. There is still a form of distortion, but for the most part bending has been eliminated. The latest series of lenses used in real estate photography give the impression of wall and ceiling lines extending into infinity like a 3D perspective drawing. There always seems to be a draw back. Using that draw back to your advantage is where the science comes in.

Some computer programs for photography are designed to reduce distortion and do a rather fine job. The goal is to produce a picture as close to what the human eye actually sees. Which is rather impossible. But we can come close and in some cases make rooms look better in pictures than in real life.

Do great pictures sell a house faster and for more money? Some claim they do. Many real estate agents ignore the requirement for quality pictures due to the cost involved. Every listing will eventually sell. But after how many price reductions? Some houses do sell quicker with quality pictures. It all depends on the market. In a seller’s market when new listings get 3-4 people inside to view the property within the first week, pictures may not be a major issue. But in a buyer’s market when buyers can take their time and have a choice of 3-4 houses that fit their price range and need, pictures can make a world of difference. At least the difference between a written offer and serious buyers clicking on the next listing on their laptop or phone. Eventually sellers will depend on quality pictures to sell their homes. It is a matter of being ready when the need arises. Improvements in photography are coming along at an alarming rate. By the time an armature catches up, the market could change.

Crossroads Real Estate Marketing

Selling High and Buying Low

How do you sell your house in the best market with the highest price, then buy a house at the lowest market price? That is very difficult to do in the same seasonal market. Especially if you are moving up. The housing market is the housing market. Prices are set by supply and demand. And markets can change overnight.

For years I’ve been watching and studying the local housing market. During a sellers market, I encourage my clients to sell. During a buyers market, I encourage my clients to buy. That sounds simple, it is simple, and it works.

Wisconsin has seasonal markets. That does not mean all markets are equal. Some markets are more stable than others. Some markets are rather volatile. You have to know which local markets quickly change and when they change. One client was able to sell a house at top dollar at the peak of the selling market, and a few months later was able to shop for a home in one of the best buyers markets in years. That was due to normal seasonal changes and one of the earliest and worst winters ever seen. 2019 was a rather strange market as a whole with some expected and unexpected changes. In this particular case, the buyer received about $20,000 more for the house he sold then he could have sold for if he waited 6 months. In the buyers market he is looking in, prices have dropped an average of $10,000 to $20,000 in the location and price range he is searching in.

Not everyone has the ability to sell during the best selling markets, then wait a few months to buy when prices show a seasonal drop. That may require owning a second home to move into, or to rent for a time. We would have to look at the options as a case by case basis. On the other side of the coin, buyers may be able to buy at the lowest market prices, pay two mortgages for a few months, then sell their old home at the best market price. That of course takes money and planning. And a few calculations to see if the wait is worth it. Some risks are always present. No one can guarantee higher or lower market prices a few months down the road.

Selling high and buying low is no guarantee. Based on historic sales, we will see seasonal trends that effect housing prices that could swing as high as 10%. On a $200,000 house, that could mean a $20,000 gain on the sale of a house in the best market. It could also mean a $20,000 savings when buying in the best market. When you are looking at a $40,000 total savings, you may wish to take a look at your options in regards to timing. No one can guarantee any change in regards to home prices in any percentage, but there are ways we can look at historic data to make an informed decision. In every housing market, information is power. You owe it to yourself to gather and examine that information to make an informed decision.

Although delayed home buying and selling is not for everyone, we can take a look at your particular situation to determine the best market to make your move a reality. It all depends on if you are moving up, or moving down, in which market, and of course the location and style of your existing home. A lot of factors are involved. No two cases are the same. But in a market where timing is everything, the right season can save you thousands.


Right to Farm Law Update

What do you think, “Right to Farm Laws,” do for you? I know there are two sides to every issue. Homeowners want to pursue peace and quiet in a clean and wholesome environment free from harmful and annoying noise and odors. On the other side of the story is a family trying to make a living with enough troubles from changing weather, regulations, increasing taxes, and operating costs.

The usual story we hear concerning farming is after a new subdivision is built, people move in, and the country life does not agree with their dreams and what they imagined before making the move. So someone or a group files a complaint and then a lawsuit against the farmer or farmers in the area. The lawsuit may be as trivial as too much noise in the early morning to chemical over spray. Which may cause health issues. On the other hand, odors from chicken farms, manure spreading, and other sources are other popular complaints. Does the new neighbor or neighborhood have the right to put the farmer out of business, or make them spend countless funds to rectify a situation they lived with all their lives? My suggestion is to investigate the situation and location before you decide to purchase any home inside or outside the city. You are not only moving into a home, you are moving into a community.

It seems there is no open and shut case or clear explanation when it comes to farm rights. Everything hinges on who or what was on the location first. If the farm was conducting general business before a new residential area was added, the farm will generally have certain rights to claim. If a new operation is added that turns out to be a nuisance, the new residents may have a complaint. Every complaint is heard on a case by case basis.

Problems may arise. Remember, farming communities were based on the neighbor helping neighbor policy where a face to face meeting and a hand shake is worth more than gold. Talk it over with your neighbor. See of you can come to a solution, or find out the nuisance is only temporary. A good talk can solve problems and help you sleep at night.

This link is a rather detailed explanation of Wisconsin farm laws, and protection for farms. It is rather general. If problems escalate, the best step is to consult with an attorney who is familiar with farming laws and protection.

Frequently Asked Questions Real Estate

Smart Phones and Homes

There is something you may not have considered with your next home purchase. What if your next home includes some of the new so called, “smart devices?” What if the Seller has set up their home with door locks, surveillance, heating controls, and other controls on the house? If the proper measures are not taken, the Seller will still have access to your new home and control over features you don’t want anyone to control.

Buying a home with smart features requires another layer of preparation and for lack of a better term, set up. No one wants a former owner with access to video cameras, heating units, stove, refrigerator, nor the front door. So how do you protect yourself against the possibility of invasions when the house is transferred from one owner to another?

Smart Home Options

It seems there are a lot of options when it comes to purchasing smart home equipment. Most easily link to a smart phone app that offers a variety of options. When you read up on some of those options, it becomes apparent that some companies didn’t plan for the sale of the home and those features. What are the options? Depending upon the actual product, there may be no option other than to remove the equipment. At whose expense? Other smart home products offer a seamless transfer from one user to the next. Some products may offer agreements that can be included in the Offer to Purchase and final closing documents. That type of information is important. A good Listing Agent can and should investigate those types of scenarios and plan ahead. Those types of features need to be disclosed during the sale process.

Changing Smart Home Users

Smart devises normally operate through an application on a smart phone. They all require a password that is saved to your phone. The easiest way to transfer ownership of smart devices for the home is to:

  • Install the smart devise app on your phone.
  • You will need the password from the previous owner to access the devises.
  • The previous owner can change their password to a temporary password to transfer ownership and control.
  • The new owner enters the current password, accesses the account, then changes the password so only they have access to the smart devises.
  • Other set up may be required.

It’s a good thing we have the Internet and companies who market smart devises for homes have websites. Those websites have instructions and manuals that can be downloaded and reviewed. Most also have online support. Check with the Seller before the transaction is complete to get details on support. Is the support free? Is support limited, or lifetime? Are there fees involved in a transfer? Are there monthly fees involved? There are a number of questions that could come up. All of these details have to be addressed before the final closing and transfer when the home will be occupied by the Buyer.

Crossroads Real Estate Site Logo

Real Estate Pricing Today

Everyone knows, each neighborhood in the city has its own unique real estate pricing today. Older sections of the city have one price. As you move out from the center of the city, construction in the 1940’s, then 1950’s have a different real estate price today, as well as different styles of homes. Homes built in the 1960’s have similar styles and real estate prices today. Once we get into homes build in the 1970’s, real estate prices go up and the styles have a different flare. Homes built in the 1980’s and later are in high demand, and real estate prices today reflect that demand. Then we reach that section of homes built in 2000 and later. Homes that far out from the center of the city are larger, have more updates, and of course higher real estate prices and with that comes higher taxes.

You can pretty much determine your location based on real estate pricing today. There are of course a few deals known as fixer uppers. In most cases, foreclosed homes. As we progress into sections with higher priced homes, the number of fixer upper units decreases. But the number of buyers increases to a degree that those fixer upper prices are only a little below market value. There is little wiggle room when you add the purchase price to the cost of repairs. Those may be a good investment for the buyer who plans on buying the home then remodeling it to suit their taste. But for the investor, it could spell doom when the cost of their initial investment and remodeling exceeds the market real estate pricing today. Add into that a few months of taxes, and the investor feels like their time and effort were eaten up by the tax man.

There is one section of real estate pricing today few people consider. That’s because most people are drawn to the general location of the city, and the suburbs that surround it. When we look at those real estate prices today, we can draw a set of rings around the city and see prices and taxes change. Just outside the city, prices sky rocket because of the high demand. But outside of that price range, we generally see prices begin to drop back to moderate levels. If we looked at a map, we would find one price drop after another in both purchase price and taxes.

When looking for a new home, location is said to be the most important factor. What do they mean by that? In reality location equates to drive time. People are willing to pay so much for a home within a 10 minute drive from work. Even more for a home within 20 minutes from work. Go past that 20 minute drive time and we see prices begin to drop. But those real estate prices today are generally based on a center point established long ago, before suburbs began planning industrial centers. The thing is, many workers purchased homes between the industrial park in the suburbs and the center of the major city. In hindsight, moving in the other direction would have been the smart move.

Over the past 10-15 years small towns have grown at astonishing rates. Property values have increased and so have taxes. Many people have found jobs in and around those small towns and made the move to country living. They are living their dreams.

Finding the best value in a growing community is now becoming the new trend in Real Estate. It takes a little more research, but in this computer age, that information is only a few clicks away. All you need to do is decide which direction to go, and we can look at that radius away from the central city that offers the best prices, lowest taxes, and greatest opportunities.

Reason 29 NOT to Buy Online Leads

There is a reason I use networking and meeting people in real life to propel my Real Estate business. Here is a real life story about one of those meetings.

I was helping a friend with a project. We needed a professional. My friend did business with a local establishment years ago. So we stopped in to get some professional advise. We found the owner of the business there alone. No production. Nothing going on. My friend showed him the part, and the answer was not what we expected. The owner was not enthused about the project. He told us about the past few months of his life. Government regulations were tightening around him like a noose. He lost a brother, and a number of close friends over the past year. He needed a new roof and just wanted to sell the property and get out of business to start something new.

To make a long story short, we sent another friend out to quote on the roof. It was less than half the price of some of the other quotes the business owner accumulated. The stories I heard touched me. We of course offered our services to help with the move, and send some contacts to look at some of the equipment. I decided to offer my services to sell the property at a commission rate well below normal.

When we walked in, we saw a man that was ready to give up. We are all from the same era and swapped a number of stories about the good old days. We came up with a loose plan to get the ball rolling on plans to close up shop and sell the business. The business owner told us about plans for the future and now my friend and I are part of those plans. We had so much in common. The business owner has a new outlook on life and new friends with the same general interests.

Some times money isn’t everything. Nothing like that ever happens when you pay for services that are taking over lead generation in the Real Estate Market. Computer robots carrying on a conversation —- come on now. We are dealing with real people, with real lives, concerns, worries, problems, and details that only come out with eye to eye contact and a handshake in the end. With new plans to meet and hang out in the future. And why not offer a lower commission. Helping one friend led me to that sale. It didn’t cost me a dime. So why not turn the savings over to someone trying to navigate through rough waters in life? Isn’t that what friends are for?

Robot or Real

This didn’t take long to come up. I feel I have to put in my 2 cents on this subject.

Are you communicating with a real Agent or a computer? That is one of the questions I want to address. The new wave in Real Estate uses computer robots to communicate with customers on the Internet. Computer programs look at an email or correspondence a customer sends from the Internet. The computer program uses software to analyze the correspondence it receives and attempts to answer questions.

The reason I have to put in my 2 cents here is because I just read a question on the Internet about using this latest technology. An agent wants to know if they can collect a commission from a Buyer because that Buyer was sent information over the Internet using the latest technology. I didn’t think it would come to this. But this poses a threat to everyone involved. This has not been tested in court, but if the question does go to court, it will create a headache for everyone involved.

Imagine clicking on one of those CONTACT buttons you see all over the Internet. You are interested in a house. Of course you want to see the house in real life. Instead someone, a computer sends you a virtual tour. You don’t care about that virtual tour. You want to hit the road and walk through the property. The CONTACT form on the website collected your name, phone number, and email address. You figure out you are not receiving the personal service you expect and deserve. So you go onto the next agent and make a phone call, set up a showing appointment, sign and Offer to Purchase, and eventually go to a closing. After all that waiting, filling out forms, sending all that paperwork to the right people, getting your loan approved, and taking all the right steps, you finally sit down to sign the final papers and get the house of your dreams. Then the closing agent takes out a piece of paper and tells you some agent wants you to pay them for services. What services? After some thought you remember trying to contact an agent on some site, and a virtual tour popped up. You dumped that avenue and went with an agent who knows how to answer their phone and do their job. Everything looked fine, but this problem came up at the last minute. Just when you thought you were out of the woods, technology rears its ugly head. It sounds like a scam, but that other party had you click all kinds of agreements you didn’t bother to open and read.

This hasn’t happened yet, but we all know scammers have been using hidden agreements to make money for years. Phone companies use agreements that protect their interests and take away all your rights. Other companies use the same tactics to ensure payment and leave you without a leg to stand on when you seek arbitration or other means to resolve the issue. In short, people and companies use technology to make sure the deck is stacked against you.

What can you do to protect yourself? Number one, deal with a real Agent, not a computer. Never check any type of agreement on any website. Especially without reading it. It’s best to talk with a real Agent on the phone. They should have questions for you. They should know how to find what you are looking for, offer options, and know all the steps involved in buying a house.

Computers are great for helping us to do our work. Computers have lists of homes and property. Computers can filter properties down to a short list that fits your needs. Computers help us to get paperwork done faster, and filed where we can find it when we need it. Computers do a lot of things for us. But when we try to get a computer to do all our work and communicate for us, it spells disaster. I can’t imagine an Agent who wants a computer to speak for them, but it is happening today. It’s up to you to choose who you want to work with, a computer or a real person. Which do you prefer and deserve?