How to Do a Sales Pitch in Commercial Real Estate

In commercial real estate, you will undertake a variety of presentations, in a variety of circumstances. Most of them are business-like in nature, focusing on the needs of the tenant, the property buyer, or the property seller.

Get to the core issues

Each of these groups has unique property requirements and points of focus. It is their needs which must be identified and clearly addressed in the sales pitch or presentation. Many successful commercial real estate agents will have a preliminary meeting with the client or customer so that they can identify key issues and concerns. This allows the commercial agent to return to the client or customer in a few days with a well structured proposal that addresses the needs of the customer or client.

It’s all about THEM, not YOU!

When you design an investment or commercial property proposal for presentation, the document should be 90% regards the property and the client. Frequently you see this rule disregarded or broken with the proposal document being largely regards the agency and the personnel.

Rarely is the property transaction a simple matter of the property rental, the property price, or the physical elements of the property. In most situations, it is the combination of these things which must satisfy a fundamental equation of need that the customer or client has. In getting them to this fundamental need, you will identify an element of pain that the customer or client is experiencing. This is what you focus on.

They are Experienced

It is interesting to note that many clients and customers in commercial real estate are reasonably comfortable in circumstances of business negotiation. This means they may not tell you the total big picture or all the elements of a transaction until they are ready. Conversation and connection in the presentation process should be biased towards the client or customer using well selected questions which allow the agent to interpret the body language coming from the client’s response.

When you believe you have identified the element of clients pain related to the property transaction, you start to magnify the problem in terms of today’s market, then offering stable and logical solutions that your real estate agency business can provide to the client or customer. Invariably, the commercial real estate transaction in today’s market centres on financial matters such as:

  • High vacancy factors
  • Other property choices and chances are available
  • Underperforming leases
  • Unstable cash flow
  • Unstable tenancy mix
  • Tenanted conflict
  • Escalating building operating costs
  • A shift in demographics which exposes the property to a unstable future
  • Mortgage payment pressures
  • Age of the asset
  • Needs for refurbishment or extension
  • Competition properties attracting tenants away from the subject property

This type of information and interpretation requires your intimate knowledge of the local region. This is by both property type and by location. This is the higher value that you bring to the customer or client. Being able to distinctly define local market awareness is a major advantage in any commercial real estate presentation or sales pitch. You must be seen as the best knowledgeable solution to the problem.

From Experience

After many years working exclusively in the commercial real estate industry, I found that my unique skill was in market knowledge and the display of that in any formal presentation to the client. Being able to talk about market trends and financial performance in a solid and sound way will help the client understand that they need your services. Coupling that with your extensive and relevant database of enquiry clearly shows the client that they need you.

A fantastic commercial real estate presentation is a function and balance of lots of things. Things like:

  1. A well established pre-planning process is a strategic advantage for every commercial real estate presentation. Strategy is everything in commercial real estate. Every property presentation requires planning.
  2. Making sure you are asking the right questions of the client or prospect. Plan your questions relative to the subject property so that you help the client think about opportunity and changes that are possible.
  3. Using your market knowledge and giving good answers. Have a variety of market facts and trends available to call on. Feed them into your presentation; facts are always useful. They can also be used as a channel to direct the discussion when the client is forcing you to justify your approach or your experience. Confidence and control must be the basic rule of your property presentation. When the client takes control of the presentation you have lost.
  4. Using your experience in the marketplace so that you are telling relevant stories of success in similar properties. Stories of other properties will always interest of the client.
  5. Making sure your personal presentation is optimised for the connection in the presentation. It can be that you are using a combination of the proposal document, the marketing document, and computer slide presentation, samples of your database, photographs of the subject property projected on to slides, and photographs of comparable properties projected on to slides.
  6. Choosing the placement of people at the table or strategically positioning them in the room is always important. Much has been written about where you should sit relative to the client. The basic rule is adjacent to the client rather than across an area of barrier such as a table. Being within arm’s reach allows you to pass documentation to the client at the appropriate time. Documentation should not be provided to the client until you are ready for them to review it; otherwise it is a distraction of their attention.
  7. Make sure that your proposal is simple and yet well directed with a clearly defined outcomes of sale or lease. Many proposal documents in commercial real estate are much too wordy so the main messages are lost and not clearly defined. The best proposals are less wordy and more illustrative. The best balance of a commercial real estate proposal is a mixture of 25% words, 25% pictures, 25% graphs, and 25% white space. This becomes a document which is clearly read and understood.
  8. Combine good illustrations and photographs of the subject property into the proposal or presentation so that any lengthy descriptions or paragraphs are broken up. This will keep interest of the client in your documentation.
  9. Make sure that your marketing package is value for money, and yet reaching the target market that the property serves or needs to attract. All too often, we see examples of generic marketing by the commercial real estate agent to the broader and less specific marketplace. Showing the client that you clearly know and will attract best the target market will always help your conversion to a potential listing. Be very specific about the target market and how you will reach it.
  10. Ensure that your commission costs are fair and reasonable for the location. In most circumstances, discounting your commission should not be an option as it will make you poor and remove or detract from your enthusiasm for the sale or lease. ‘Cheap’ means ‘cheap and without focus’ and the client needs to know this. The property deserves better. You are not cheap because you are the best and you do a great job. A fair commission is always paid for a positive property outcome.
  11. Always provide testimonials that are relevant to the property transaction. When you combine relevant history and details of happy customers into your presentation you will make the client feel more comfortable.
  12. Always display clear and sound market knowledge that impresses the client relative to their property. This will include extensive awareness of comparable properties that compete with the subject property. You should be able to talk solidly about property prices, comparable rents, rental growth, returns on investment, changes to the future demographics of the area, and properties in the immediate precinct of relevance. In many cases, it pays to walk around the local area just prior to any property presentation so that you bring immediate and clear pictures of the precinct to the discussion. Many times this has been of significant advantage in my presentation processes. Talking about neighbouring properties localises the client and their thought processes.
  13. Come up with a variety of ways to serve the client. Innovation and relevance will always impress. In today’s market, this is relatively easy considering the marketing opportunities and tools provided by the internet & technology. Be proactive in your property promotion processes so that the listing for sale or lease stands uniquely different in its marketing campaign from the others in the area. This does not have to be expensive to the client or to your office, given that the internet and electronic technology is historically cost effective. In today’s market, the traditional methods of publicising the property in the property pages of the local paper, is becoming much less important in the marketing campaign. Most commercial property buyers and tenants research the market from the Internet first and foremost.
  14. Almost every property agency will say that they have excellent communication and connection skills to support the property promotion process. From experience, this is largely incorrect and typically the average commercial salesperson or leasing person will exercise ordinary communication channels with the client. Put yourself in the shoes of the client. They expect and deserve frequent updates on the promotion of the property even when nothing is happening or when the adverts are producing little response. When a property campaign is not producing the results, it is important that you act or adjust with alternative recommendations and strategic changes to the promotional campaign for the client to consider. Rarely would you get to the property campaign correct in the first week. It is in this time that you must consider fine tuning the promotion process so that the target market is being reached in a timely and effective way. This means that every property enquiry generated from your promotions must be tabulated so that you understand what channels of marketing work most effectively with the property in question.
  15. When addressing the client or the client group in a formal property presentation, the answers and information you give must be delivered well and provide relevant solid property knowledge, in a practiced and professional delivery. Any sales or presentation tools relative to the property must be relevant and you should know how to use them with exceptional skill. Fumbling and faking information is not tolerated by the client.

So there you have it. These are some of the key skills to use in a commercial real estate presentation. Whilst many real estate agents think that they are the best alternative in the market to promote sell and rent commercial property, the reality is they do not get the message across when it matters most in front of the client.

To be the best commercial real estate agent in your area, you must show that you are just so, and you do this in the first 10 minutes of the time that your presentation takes. The client will have formed an opinion by then.

Be prepared to walk away from any demands for discounting that the client or customer demands. In this market they need a great commercial real estate agent providing a great job; discounting is not an option. Show pride in your services and walk away when the client demands discount in marketing or lower commissions.

Luxury Real Estate Marketing – Reputation Outperforms Google Ranking

As a luxury real estate marketing professional it is even more important to be the Google of your marketplace (the first to come to mind) than it is to rank #1 on a Google search results page. The world famous restaurant, Lawry’s -The Prime Rib, in Beverly Hills, California, over 70 years old, exemplifies this essential principle of branding. You may not have been to one of Lawry’s restaurants (now with multiple locations around the world), but you may recognize the ubiquitous Lawry’s Seasoning Salt brand found in most markets in the US today.

Growing up in West Los Angeles, Ron was fortunate to be a close friend of a granddaughter of the Lawrence Frank family. The family still owns the restaurants to this day (they sold the condiments business several years ago). Their first restaurant opened in 1938. For many years it was unique among restaurants because they just featured one entrée on their menu: standing rib roast. This was their uncontested market niche. Many restaurants copy their style, but Lawry’s still does it better than any other restaurant. And, their passion is palpable.

In 1953 Lawry’s added something special. Their menu claimed to be “the first to feature a green salad as an integral part of every meal.” The salad bowl is placed on a bed of ice and spun by the server while she shakes the bottle of salad dressing and ceremoniously pours it into the bowl from about two to feet above the bowl. This ritual is a unique part the restaurant’s brand identity, in the same way that consistently and promptly, answering emails and phone calls can be a part of yours.

In 1956 just prior to the playing of the 1957 Rose Bowl Game between the Oregon State Beavers and the Iowa Hawkeyes, Lawry’s entertained the two competing teams. This started an annual tradition of hosting a prime rib dinner for both of the teams bound for the Rose Bowls. By the early 1960s, the event had become known as the “Lawry’s Beef Bowl.” It is often covered by the media.

If you Google “prime rib restaurant in Los Angeles” all ten search results on page one refer to Lawry’s -The Prime Rib. They do not have an SEO strategy. The 9 results that follow their number one ranking on page one are all social media/restaurant reviews citing Lawry’s as the best prime rib restaurant in town. Lawry’s does not have a social media strategy. What they do have is an impeccable reputation and the mind share of the market leader. They occupy the #1 place in the minds of their target market: Prime rib lovers.

Catching a Wave of Appreciation in the Riviera Maya Real Estate Market

The Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen real estate market have had some of the world’s most interesting growth rates and fascinating examples of regional trends. During the 1990’s the little village was known as the pier town where you grabbed the ferry to get to Cozumel. Now, during this decade, this little village has become more intertwined with the international business world, and consequently, adjustments to the real estate market have been witnessed from the direct effects of the world economic downturn. The loss of jobs and loss of corporate sales in the economies of the United States and Canada have reduced the number of buyers here in Mexico. The bankruptcy of several international banks on the world wide scene has also tightened the regulations on credits and the amount of available capital for investments. These and other economical occurrences have had a decrease effect on the demand here in the Riviera Maya market place, but interesting financing options for real estate buyers have also been introduced in greater varieties from bank institutions and creative transaction models from seller-financed sales are becoming more common. With economic turbulence, also comes opportunity. Surrounding yourself with regional-market-intelligent real estate experts is the first important step towards a safe Mexico real estate acquisition and profitable investment, and this recommendation is even more prudent during times of market adjustments.

Back in the 1980s and 90s Playa del Carmen was not THE destination, it was the Pier village where you picked up the ferry in order to get to Cozumel. This soon changed as people began to notice Playa del Carmen’s beaches and its growing international community. European backpackers began frequenting the area and the 5th avenue began to make a name for itself. Hotels and investors began to notice the potential of the area quite quickly. Hotel room inventories grew from 10,000 units up to 15,000 – 20,000 by the later 1990s. Today, the Riviera Maya hotels have more rooms than Cancun. With the tremendous growth in various industries in Playa del Carmen, the population boom began and the real estate market began taking off.

Over the past five years, Playa del Carmen has been one of Mexico’s strongest appreciation markets with returns in the double digits. During the first years of the 2000 decade, many investors would purchase pre construction condo units and sell them 8 or 12 months later with 30% or more appreciation. It was a boom all over the coast. In the middle of this decade, it was quite common to hear buyers comment, “I should have bought that property 2 years ago when I first saw it!”

These observations from the buying market in 2006-2008 were also accompanied by a decline on the appreciation rates. Each year, as the price per square meter crept upwards, the rate of appreciation began losing some steam as the world economic engine began skipping some beats.

2008 and spring of 2009 brought a unique occurrence to this regional marketplace. The recession from the northern neighbors brought its first effects onto the Riviera Maya market place and in the Mexico real estate industry. The appreciation rates had flattened and begun to drop slightly. Large amounts? NO, but very interesting amounts.

Some people like to say that the glass is half empty; but not the smart investor. The current scenario in Riviera Maya presents some fantastic opportunities for the investor who is open to options from professional and market-intelligent real estate experts. Financially leveraging off of the property is becoming more common when purchasing real estate here in Mexico. Large multi-national banking institutions that weathered the fall out of the financial crises remain in the market offering their mortgage products to non-Mexicans buying properties in this country. Some of these lenders have made recent adjustments to their requirements such as lowering the LTV ration from 70% downwards to 65%. Also the FICO scores might have increased in the spring of 2009 in order to reduce risks and to approach this year slightly more conservatively. If qualified, these financing options can create some interesting opportunities for investors ready to take advantage of market pricing that is adjusting downward. Developer and home owner financing options are increasing as well. Some of these home owner deals can be very attractive with interest rates equal or quite similar to the rates commonly seen from our home countries. However, such offers need close professional review of the conditions in order to protect monies, to protect the property, and to protect all parties involved in such transactions between non-financial entities. Certain contracts and bank trusts can be established giving ample protection and security to both the buyer and seller allowing for immediate physical possession while a percentage of the commercial value of the property remains outstanding. Many people feel that the time to invest into the Riviera Maya market has passed and it is too risky given the world economic conditions. However, this is an interesting period for investment with high potential, if you are able to hedge yourself with qualified and top experienced advise.

In fact, when reviewing the factors on some investment alternatives in the market it can be noted that 2009 is an even healthier market for investment purposes than the investment environment originally witnessed during the beginning of the years 2000. At the beginning of the Great Appreciation Boom of Playa del Carmen, there were still many risks in the market, there was the risk of new developers’ lack of experience, risk of the poor reaction and acceptance of the buying market, risk of the unknown infrastructure development to support the construction growth. Today, investors have first hand, regional real estate history data. The market absorption and projections are based more on historical facts and data rather than a guessing game or correlating future results based on similar marketplaces from other regions. Risks within investment alternatives can also be managed with the assistance of a well chosen team of regional experts. Purchasing finished products, versus the unknown results of investing within a new construction might be an example of strategies to take advantage of the current market conditions. These first hand facts and historical results give you and your consultant better data to manage your investments and increase your probabilities of strong returns.

The probabilities of continued long term growth are strong in favor of the real estate investor when purchasing properties in the Riviera Maya. Obviously there is a short term downturn. But as this article discusses, if you are able to surround yourself with TOP-knowledge and experienced advice, the summer of 2009 can present some incredible and unique real estate opportunities. For those who missed the appreciation wave of the early 2000s, this is your “Second Chance” to enter into the market before the next wave.

Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of the property’s value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market information sites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of real estate information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through real estate agents listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the Internet is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site,, and to the local real estate agent’s Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today’s real estate agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides all of these services it is referred to as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to change the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers now have to property listings and other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to consumers that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about access to property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now provides ways to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of an agent referred to you offline. One such site,, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page the search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long run. It may change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate information?

Online real estate information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can save time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next step is to know where to look online for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

In the sections that follow, we provide strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information relevant to your decision to purchase the property. There are many real estate Web sites from which to choose and although we do not mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones listed here to be good resources in most cases or to be so popular that they need mention. One way to test a Web site’s accuracy is to search for information about a property you already own.

Finding Real Estate for Sale

Despite the widely available access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other Web sites (primarily operated by real estate agents). An excellent starting point for MLS originated content is the national NAR Web site,, which is also the most popular web site for searching real estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs have an agreement with to display much of their active listing inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Web site. However, to get complete information you will most likely still need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local real estate agents will also provide their customers (via email) new listings that are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This can be very helpful to a busy buyer.

There are also many Web sites that display both real estate agent listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Some of the more popular Web sites include and These sites offer other services too. For example, is best known for its instantaneous property valuation function and for providing historical information. Another source of properties for sale is the state, regional, and local Web sites associated with brokerage companies; for example, or Search engines like and classified advertising sites like also have a large number of active real estate listings.

One key difference between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, at you can shop anonymously up to a point but then you will need to click through to the agent’s Web site for more information. Many new real estate search engines allow you to sift through listings without having to fill out a form. The best strategy is to browse a few of the sites listed above to find geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. Once you get serious about a property, then that is the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choice to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.

It also never hurts to search the old-fashioned way by driving through the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you are making a serious investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local business and standing in front of the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing a Web page printout.

Valuing Real Estate

As we mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is’s instant property valuation. Just type in an address and in and you get a property value. It even charts the price ups and downs, and shows the last date sold (including price) and the property taxes. There are other sites that provide similar tools such as and Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, these are only rough estimates based on a formula that incorporates the local county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly over a short period of time and do not appear to always track actual market changes, which are normally more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or other property specific or local changes. This is not to say these sites are not useful. In fact, they are great starting points and can provide a good ball-park value in many cases.

When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are other strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county’s Web site. More often than not the county assessor’s area of the Web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you want to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, the local assessor’s sites are really helpful. When you visit a county’s Web site you are getting information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information on their Web sites. Many times you cannot only see the price a previous owner paid, but the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property valuation tools too.

Given the importance of valuation to investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate agents and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to get value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is to market the active property listings of its members, the system also collects sales information for those listings. REALTOR members can pull this sales information and produce comparable market analyses (sometimes called CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a particular property’s value for the market in a particular area.

Finally, the most accurate way to value a property is by having a certified appraiser produce an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both the sold information in the MLS system as well as county information and then analyze the information to produce a valuation for the property based on one or more approved methods of valuation. These methods of valuation can include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences between the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, with an income producing property, determine a value based on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There are many ways the Internet can help you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at You can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like or review local blogs. A blog is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and responding to messages. Start by looking at and for a directory of blogs. has a “Heat Map” that shows how hot or cold each neighborhood is based on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.


When it comes to selling residential property or rental properties that cater to families, the quality of the area school district makes a huge difference. There are many Web sites devoted to school information. Check out or Most local school districts also have their own Web site. These sites contain a variety of information about the public schools and the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

A recent addition to the Internet boom in real estate information is Web sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. You can search to find an agent with a particular expertise, geographic area of specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The web site lets users quickly and easily find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. also enables agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent’s web site where you will likely find the local MLS listings.

Maps and Other Tools

The Internet has made mapping and locating properties much easier. To get an aerial view or satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to or or visit to see how walk-able a particular property is. These sites can give you an idea of the neighborhood characteristics and the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other facilities that are within walking distance of the property. provides a view at an angle so you can see the sides of houses and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree street-level view for certain neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these satellite map Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The Internet is a very effective research and marketing tool for real estate investors but is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you time and money by enabling quick and easy property research and marketing options. Sites like also help you efficiently find a REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember, when it comes to Internet strategies for real estate: More knowledge is better. You need to use the Internet to build your knowledge base on a target property or to find a real estate agent with expertise you need. However, the big caution here is that the Internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.

Home Buying Tips – How to Get a Bargain on a Real Estate Investment

Success in buying a home at a bargain price is usually dependent upon the buyer’s willingness to compromise specific lifestyle requirements, features and the condition of the property itself. In the real estate marketplace, a well staged home in immaculate condition and located in a desirable neighborhood is not conducive to being purchased at a below market price. Competition for those properties can be fierce. The typical home buyer has a check list of requirements or features their home must have to satisfy their family needs. So does everyone else and their requirements are similar. If they can’t afford their dream home, they want to come as close to their ideal home as possible. Buying a home is an emotional pursuit and for most buyers it should be. A sense of family well being is a primary emotional element in the decision to buy verses continuing to rent.

Investors, second home buyers, singles and couples with no children have the best chance of taking advantage of a below market opportunity because they can be the most flexible in their demands and therefore the competition is reduced. A single buyer might want a two bedroom with a den condominium but can justify the absence of a den if the price is right. The second home buyer may desire a beach front property but can live with beach access if there is a bargain to be had. A property that has lingered on the market because there are cosmetic issues and just doesn’t show well probably has a motivated seller that could not afford to properly stage the home to be market presentable is frequently a prime candidate for a below market offer.

Foreclosures and short sales

The buying public correlates foreclosed properties and short sales with a bargain opportunity but that is not necessarily the case. There are so many buyers focusing on these properties that a bidding war may ensue. With foreclosed property, it is the responsibility of the asset manager representing the bank that holds the mortgage is to analyze the market for each property including a market value appraisal. The real estate agent selected to list the property is required provide a competitive analysis report to the asset manager to include recent sales, current listings and a listing price recommendation. This thorough evaluation is not conducive to low priced offers.

Lenders representing foreclosed properties are already faced with the prospect of losing money on the sale therefore they are resistant to the cost of extensive renovations. As a result, properties in poor condition are most likely to be had for a below market price but they are also a higher financial risk because of repair issues that may not be obvious from a routine inspection. Frequently the handyman special is not so special in the end.

Short sales can be an even higher source of frustration. When a property is listed the mortgage holder has only agreed to entertain an offer. Often acceptance of an offer requires several layers of approval which can be time consuming. If there is a second mortgage on the property, the second trust holder is likely to derive little if any of the proceeds from the sale and is therefore unmotivated to accept the contract. Sometimes the first and second mortgage holders will negotiate a compromise but that also can take an extended length of time.

Time on the market

The most revealing indication of a property that is ready for a below market offer is one that has been on the market for a period of time greatly exceeding the average for the marketplace. Realtors have this information through their multiple listing services. This is an important consideration because the longer the time on the market the more pressure the seller may feel to just get it done. If the seller has purchased a home elsewhere or is in temporary housing until the home is sold, that is an indication of a high motivation to sell. A seller who is facing eventual foreclosure or has been transferred by his employer and is paying rent as well as mortgage payments is certainly highly motivated.

The Realtor

Buyers should make their intentions clear when selecting a realtor. Chances are that the realtor will play the real estate low offer game if the client is forthright in their intentions in the beginning and declares an oath of loyalty providing the agent is patient enough to work diligently researching properties and presenting under priced contracts on multiple properties. Most realtors are not indisposed to hard work if they are certain that they will eventually make a sale. The buyer’s agent does not normally have knowledge of the sellers motivation to sell but the listing agent usually does. Whereas the listing agent has an ethical restriction against disclosing the details of any seller dilemma, they will usually encourage or discourage a low priced offer in discussions with the buyer’s agent.

Keep it simple

When submitting an under priced offer it is critical that the contract be as clean as possible. A lender letter of buyer pre-approval is normal procedure with any contract offer but a letter of underwriting credit approval subject only to the property purchase and acceptable appraisal is much more powerful. It means that the buyer’s application has been processed and reviewed by a mortgage underwriter, providing the seller a higher comfort level with the buyer’s loan credentials. Contracts should be void of seller requirements such as repair items and contingencies. A “clean” contract with a substantial earnest money deposit and a quick settlement stands a much better chance of being accepted at a below market price.

Counter offers

When a contract to purchase is presented, the seller has three options; accept, reject or counter the price and/or terms. A common strategy by real estate investors is to write contracts on multiple properties and instruct the buyer agent to inform the listing agent of that event discouraging any thought by the seller that a sizable counter will result in a ratified contract.

Positioning for a bargain is frequently a matter of taking advantage of the desperation of the seller whose home has been on the market for months without a viable offer. It is a brutal game but the alternative for the seller may be much worse than selling at a reduced price. The primary dilemma of the buyer is that in today’s market the seller frequently can’t accept the offer because the proceeds of the sale will not cover the mortgage.

2012: Market Prediction For Buyers, Sellers and Investors for Real Estate in the San Diego Market

If 2011 was any precursor, it makes it difficult to make any prediction for what the market will do in 2012. As a result, many of the predictions you will hear about for this year may be totally worthless given the amount of change that is in store. In the past we’ve offered insight as to what the market will look like and what we can expect moving forward and throughout the year, and we’ve had success in this regard. However, something is different for this year. It seems that there are too many “ifs” out there to pin-point exactly where we stand and to justify a full blown economic recovery in 2012, especially where residential real estate is concerned. There are far too many outlying macro-economic and Geo-political instability issues that fly in the face of what a foundation for a recovery looks like. Many pundits and “experts” predict nothing more than a sputtering real estate market for 2012 and not the type of housing recovery that spurts the economy the way we need it to. Nevertheless, regardless of what’s going on in terms of a national or global scale, it’s important to remember one thing: everyone needs to know that real estate is local. What I mean is that what is going on globally doesn’t really affect the value and desirability for homes in San Diego County. In other words, if a listing is not selling, it is probably due to the fact that it’s priced too high and not because the stock market tanked today, or because of the earthquake in Japan. Conversely, the price of oil and the tensions in the Middle East shouldn’t take a commanding role in the decision making process when buying a home. Yet, buyers and sellers tend to complicate the issue and bring the context of their real estate outside the realm in which it should be, which is local.

For buyers in this market:

For San Diego, our market is looking quite good relative to what is happening in the rest of the country. This market is now 5 years removed from the onset of the housing correction. We don’t predict a full blown recovery this year, however we do see a fantastic buying opportunity for this and next year. Affordability for a home buyer today is the highest that it has been for decades. We see that San Diego has corrected, on average, about 25% below its peak and prices have stabilized for some time now. To further sweeten the current situation, we should all know that mortgage interest rates have been hovering around 4% which is near the lowest ever seen. To underline how substantially different a buying opportunity is today, and why it’s such a great time to buy a home, let’s consider what the typical buying situation right before the peak of the boom looked like, and compare it to today’s market.

For this example, we take a 2 bedroom 1 bath entry level home in the metro area of San Diego. This area of San Diego has corrected lower about 25% off the peak values of 2005, which is right about the average of the downturn/correction in price for the county in general. In 2005, this home would be selling for $500,000+ and you would absolutely be competing with several other buyers in the market place. There were only a few thousand homes available throughout the county at that time and the market had a crazed atmosphere, and many a times a buyer would have to write several offers on several properties and compete aggressively before being able to get their offer accepted. Many times your offer would have to be several thousand dollars higher than list price to win-out on a home over the stiff competition. Mortgage interest rates around this time were in the mid 5% range, and because everyone could qualify for a loan, there were a lot of people looking and able to buy. In terms of a monthly payment, this home with a 20% down payment would be about $2800 per month.

Today, on the other hand, this same house can be bought for about $375,000. Mortgage rates are hovering around 4% meaning that this same home at a 20% down payment would cost roughly $1800 a month for the mortgage. Furthermore, the supply of homes on the open market is much greater than that of 2005, meaning that, for the most part, buyers aren’t normally having to compete with other buyers on every home they see. Deals are out there and many of the potential buyers are still on the sidelines waiting for some sign to let them know that it’s OK to enter back into the market. Well, this is me telling you that THIS is the BEST time to get in the market if you are able. Lots of people would love to buy, but the stringent loan guidelines force many to take measures to improve credit or save more of a down payment – they couldn’t buy even if they want to because they cannot qualify for a loan. Even so, many buyers are fearful that prices will continue to erode and there is a lack of consumer confidence within the housing market and the economy in general.

With that in mind, I truly feel that 2012 will essentially bring a change of attitude and perception for the housing market. It won’t happen immediately, but how did you feel reading the above comparison on the same house from 2005 compared to now? Not only is the home $125,000 less expensive, but your payment would be $1000 less each month and you can lock a 4% loan fixed for 30 years! The prices in many places are nearing the point where it costs almost as much to rent compared to buying – this unique market situation (where rent vs. owning being nearly the same cost) isn’t supposed to be happening in San Diego because it’s such a prime real estate market, but here is where we find ourselves in 2012: a market with ample opportunity, and the only direction I see the real estate market going in this county is up.

Over the past several decades we have been witness to booms and busts (recessions) in the economy. The average boom lasts between 3 and 4 years, and the average bust, or recession typically lasts 12 to 18 months. This is what has been experienced historically since the early 20th century. Put into today’s context, the boom that preceded the “great recession” that we have been muddling through the past several years was an economic boom of fantastic proportions, so it would make sense that the bust that follows is somewhat equal in its extent as the economy works out the kinks and problems that got us to where we stand today. In 2012 we are now 5 years beyond when the correction and recessionary phase first began. This is a long time, but after a 10 year boom, the economy needed just as substantial a bust to bring the fundamentals to a more healthy position in order to move forward into the future for the economy and housing market as well.

I am not saying that we have been in a recessionary period long enough, so we ought to be looking better soon just because. I am taking the historical context of our past and applying it to the situation we find ourselves in today and it does make sense. Further, we are seeing gains in consumer confidence, as well as reductions in unemployment. We have continued to grow as a population over the past couple years without adding much at all to the supply of homes, so we can potentially find ourselves in a housing shortage at sometime this or next year and this is something you would never hear the media report on – it’s just not sexy or bloody enough. Nevertheless, the underlying fundamentals are changing for the better, and in a short amount of time we will find ourselves in a better market environment. However, the best opportunities are the ones that are found now in the depths of the correction before everyone enters the marketplace to compete with everyone else – that’s when we will see values beginning to rise again.

If in 2005 you gamed the market, there would be a 20% chance we could continue to go higher in values, and an 80% chance that we were due for a correction. (Of course we all know what happened, but this is what I would advise without knowing what the future had in the cards.) I feel just the opposite for today’s market; there is more likely a chance the market continues to improve rather than stagnate further. Take into account the fantastic interest rate environment, the reduced prices and the options that buyers have by means of the overall supply of homes on the market, and you would conclude that there is a great deal of opportunity in the marketplace, and it is a great time to be a buyer of real estate right now. We are advising our clients to consider entering the market or investing now before interest rates rise or you get priced out of the market, or competition increases substantially – or a combination of all 3.

Over the course of 2012, who knows what can and will happen on a national scale, but San Diego will continue to progress, steadily doing its thing, and being one of the front runner cities that is leading the nation out of recession and into the recovery. Expect to see that the general consensus for real estate to improve. Expect modest improvements in prices at a strong single digit growth rate. You can still expect to see a lot of superfluous hyperbole within the media on a national scale when it comes to the housing market, but know that San Diego has a strong industry base that creates decent jobs, substantiates prices, and allows for upside and growth. We’ve been brought into the fire, and we are on our way out. It’s important to strike the opportunity while the iron is hot, and while there is still a considerable amount of people who still don’t believe we have hit bottom yet.

For Sellers:

Because we will not be vacillating much in price in the near future, holding out to sell for a higher price may not be the most advisable thing to do unless you can hold out and wait for years. I know a few owners who think that the future of home prices will depend on if a republican or democrat is in the white house – although this may have some effect in the long term and on a very indirect basis – remember, all real estate is local. I feel that holding out a year or so won’t net you too much more or less than where we stand today, so it makes sense to make a move now so that you can take advantage of the great buying opportunities in the market for your replacement. For those homeowners who are considering doing a short sale, 2012 is the last year that the IRS will exempt the forgiven debt for anyone that completes a successful short sale. If it’s your primary house, and you are underwater, you will have to pay income taxes on the forgiven debt after the end of this year, so talk with your Tax professional, because if this is something that is the best financial path forward, then it’s important that you act quickly in order to get the ball rolling as it does take 4 months at the least for a successful short sale from start to finish. Overall, there are opportunities in this market for sellers as well as buyers, just make sure that your moves align with your long term goals, and utilize your professional Realtor or financial professional for assistance.

For Investors:

Multi-Family property is a property type that we feel very strongly in favor of for the foreseeable future. More population and fewer buildable areas in San Diego means more density, and therefore more demand for multi-family housing as it is both affordable and convenient (usually in densely populated areas) For these reasons, we are advising our investor clients to consider 2-4 unit and 5+unit apartment unit investments as a wonderful strategy moving forward. This property type has more immediate and long term upside not only for the reasons mentioned above, but also because rents have not decreased as much as prices have over the past 5 years, yet the prices for investment properties have come down considerably. Even if you are an investor for a single condo unit, prices have come down so much, yet as I mentioned above, rents remain high, and cash-flow is easily realized, but more importantly, appreciation is on the horizon. In so many cases, you cannot go wrong when the underlying real estate being invested in is San Diego where it truly is paradise.

All in all, we look for 2012 being a “turning point” type of year. One where not only the fundamentals begin to substantially change for the better (like unemployment and local GDP) but also the public perception of real estate in general. The market is poised for a decent year, but not a full blown economic recovery like some would hope. However, many continue to believe that the market will continue to erode and worsen, and we just don’t feel that this is in the cards given the information and analysis we have reviewed. If you can get into this market, buyers can realize a solid performing asset at a great price and lock in phenomenal interest rates, and investors can acquire a fantastic opportunity including both cash-flow and appreciation. For sellers, there’s not much to gain or lose short term in this market, unless you are considering doing a short sale. No matter what your situation, I hope you make 2012 great and take advantage of the great opportunities that lie ahead. Success and prosperity is ahead, please be ready for it!

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