Current Agent Not Working Out?

    Dawn and Albert Schick knew they owned a special house. The 7,500-square-foot, Victorian-style house, located in Richmond’s Fan District at 1853 West Grace Street, had been built in 1910, and it still had all of its original moldings, chandeliers and hardwood floors. It was a grand property with particularly striking woodwork, and the Schicks had successfully converted the property into a popular bed-and-breakfast called the Grace Manor Inn. So when they put it on the market, they expected it to sell fairly quickly, even with a high price tag.

    It didn’t. And at least a partial explanation lies in the history of the street itself.

    For much of the late 1800s and early 1900s, West Grace Street had been one of the city’s premier residential streets. As city residents moved to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, though, the street’s reputation declined, and many of its grand houses were converted to apartments. In recent years, as interest in city living resurged, the trend reversed, with new homeowners converting several apartment buildings on West Grace Street back to single-family residences.

    Recognizing the street’s renaissance wasn’t universal, though. Several real estate agents the Schicks interviewed seemed unable to recognize the street’s resurgent value, Albert Schick said.

    After an extensive search, the Schicks found an agent they liked, and they asked him to list the house.

    “We enjoyed working with that agent very much,” Schick said. “He was extremely professional and thorough. Unfortunately, after 12 months, the house had not sold, and we needed to make a change.”

    So they hired a new listing agent. The Schicks weren’t satisfied with the new agent’s marketing efforts, though. Even worse, the house still lingered on the market. That’s when they approached Chris Small, a real estate broker with Small & Associates Real Estate. Small toured the property and offered a clear-eyed assessment of why it had lingered on the market.

    “He was very frank with us that we needed to make it look like a home and that it needed to be staged, repainted and modernized,” Schick said. “We were not selling it as a bed-and-breakfast, and that is what it was reflecting.”

    Small presented a plan that included coordinating with a local stager, as well as a timeline that accounted for each step of his plan.

    “He followed through on everything he said he would do and met his deadlines,” Schick said. “He kept us on task, and he got the job done. Those changes are what let a family see it as a home that they could live in.”

    The Schicks relisted the house with Small as their agent, and it sold for $1.1 million in 59 days. It was the highest price ever paid for a single-family residence on West Grace Street.

    “The price would have been even higher, if the house had been one block away on Monument Avenue,” Small said.

    So why did the house sell so quickly? It came down to finding the right agent.

    “Chris was absolutely the reason the house for sold for more than $1 million,” Schick said. “If the person selling the house does not believe it is worth more than $1 million, then it will never sell for that amount. He absolutely believed, 100 percent, that our house was worth more than that. He was able to frame the house in such a way that other people could see that, too. We give him huge kudos for that.”


    Bidding war! How to navigate a low-inventory market like a pro

    Bidding war! How to navigate a low-inventory market like a pro

    In the last several months, Greater Richmond’s real estate market has seen upticks in the number of listings that receive multiple offers and close over the asking price.

    At Small & Associates Real Estate, for example, I’ve seen multiple offers on 46 percent of my transactions this year, up from 32 percent in 2017. And 60 percent of my listings have sold over asking this year, up from 38 percent in 2017.

    Those are significant upticks.

    So why are we seeing these increases? It comes down to two words: low inventory.

    Right now, for example, there are no mid-priced listings in the Museum District. And if you look for houses that are listed for more than $500,000 in the Fan District, you’ll find just five.

    We’ve seen low inventory drive up prices in the last two or three years, of course, especially in the Museum District and the West End. But these days, I’m seeing it in other neighborhoods, too. Citywide, we have almost no inventory.

    For sellers, that’s great news.

    I can put a client’s house on the market on Thursday, have an open house on Saturday and announce we won’t consider offers until Monday. And we’ll get 10 offers on Monday.

    Of course, I did a lot of work well in advance to get the house ready – I’ve advised my client about what to renovate or modernize on the house, I’ve overseen the work, and I’ve gotten it photographed for marketing materials afterwards.

    But planning those final days leading up to the open house and the bidding process is crucial. It’s a simple strategy, but it works because it takes advantage of the low-inventory market by channeling potential buyers’ interests into a narrow time frame. And they show up on Monday with strong offers.

    Bottom line: It boosts my client’s chances of seeing multiple offers and a winning bid that’s substantially over the asking price.

    Here’s a recent example. I represented a client whose house was worth $350,000. But I gave him a plan to update and renovate the house so that it met buyers’ expectations, and we got multiple offers and ended up getting $510,000 for the property.

    When I represent the seller, that’s my job. I look at the property and see what I can do to maximize the sale. And in a low-inventory market like this one, clients who follow my marketing protocol can see significant gains.

    For buyers facing low inventory, it’s a different story. Offering a low price with a lot of demands might not work. And trying to remove emotion from your decision might not be beneficial, either. People should be happy in their houses, and a part of my job representing buyers is to help them find a house that is truly a good fit for them.

    So in this market, buyers need an agent who can explain all their options. Can they make an all-cash offer? Are they comfortable buying a house without inspections? Can they make an offer without demanding a close date? An all-cash, no-inspection, no-close date offer is the best offer a buyer can make, but they each impact the seller’s likelihood of accepting an offer. And the buyer’s agent needs to explain the pros and cons of each of them.

    Perhaps most importantly, a good agent will ask his client, “How much do you want that house?” And he’ll help to prepare an offer that’s strong, and likely to win.

    Here’s an example of what I mean. Recently, I represented a buyer who was interested in a house that needed work but was in a great location. It was definitely underpriced at $440,000. So we looked at it at an open-house event, and I explained to my client why it was worth bidding above the asking price. It was on a block where all the other houses were worth more than $1 million, and once the house we were looking at was renovated, it would be worth $1.2 million. After I finished, my client said, “What do I have to do to get it?” I guided him through the bidding process, and we closed for $665,000. I feel strongly the value is there, and the buyer does, too.

    The bottom line: Buying in a low-inventory market can be frustrating, but with the right agent, you can navigate through the process and find your dream house.

    Three Listings in Three Weeks

    Here we are in February of 2018, but if we didn’t say this already, Happy New Year! As per usual, the months are starting to fly by, and our pace here at Small & Associates is nothing short of fast and busy! After an eventful holiday season, the team was ready to get back to the grind.

    In January, our agents hit the ground running and we collectively had 17 properties go under contract. Our Broker, Chris Small, had three beautiful listings hit the market and all were pending within just a few days following, all of which sold for over asking price.

    While there is no question that the real estate market is absolutely booming right now (yes sellers… we’re looking at you!), it is also not pure coincidence that our listings are moving as quickly as they are. We are able to perform so well for our clients as a result of careful planning and execution. Discover the Market Value of your home.

    If you are looking to buy or sell in Richmond, contact us now and we will get the ball rolling! Have a question or comment? Write below!

    And see what our clients are saying about us!

    “We considered four real estate agents before asking Chris Small to help us sell our house this year. We chose him because he gave us a realistic assessment of the market, the price range we should expect and the work we should do to get the best price. Chris laid out a logical plan and a timeline we could live with. He recommended a listing timeline that was different than what we were planning and I’m glad he did! Chris brought in a fantastic team of experts to look at everything from light switches to paint to www. Once we agreed with Chris on which repairs were most valuable and important, my wife and I appreciated how he stayed connected with us and the workers. I turned it over to Chris and his staff, and I didn’t have people call me asking about color choices or specific light fixtures. The house looked great when the work was finished and the staging was in place. We both agreed we should raise the price beyond our original estimate, and within four days we had multiple offers well in excess of the asking price – the best offer was almost 10 percent over asking price and completely beyond our expectations! I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good plan and sticking to it – Chris was a master at that. I would highly recommend him to anybody looking to get the highest price for their house, with the fewest headaches.”


    James was very knowledgeable and helpful as a buyer’s agent for someone who is completely new to the Richmond area. He was calm and professional when some of the process took a little longer than desired. He was a tremendous help with finding a home, knowledge of the inspectors, and knowing what  to ask for. In all, the home-buying process was made easier and the stress kept to a minimum, for as much as home buying can be viewed as not stressful.


    Chris provided me with a detailed marketing plan for selling my home as well as a checklist of items to take care of to ensure that my home showed well. He also provided referrals as needed to help me take care of small projects. His advertising was well done and all operational items (such as scheduling appointments) went well. The home sold quickly and for the price I wanted. Chris ensured a smooth closing. I was very pleased with his professional demeanor and knowledge.


    Chris “rescued” my wife and I from a very unresponsive broker who was not getting the job done! Even though there was an oversupply of Fan homes in our selling price range, Chris took over the listing on a Wednesday at the end of June, staged an open house the very next Sunday, kept traffic flowing until we had a contract and CLOSED on September 1st!!!! Incidentally, after the contract was signed, Chris continued to really earn his commission. He worked with the cooperating broker to increase the Buyer’s initial offer enough to cover much of the renovation costs we incurred getting the house ready for market. He lives and owns property in The Fan, loves the neighborhood and is an indefatigable worker on his clients’ behalf. The lucky Sellers will call Chris first!


    I bought my house from an agent working for Chris is 2006; Chris was my first call when I decided to sell in July, 2015. He made the entire process seamless from the professional pictures taken of my home and the online exposure provided to the open house, contract negotiation, and actual closing date. He provided honest and professional advice and guidance during all stages of the sale and I was able to move out of town prior to closing with confidence that all remaining steps of the sale would be handled properly. Chris is obviously one of the most knowledgeable and experienced agents in Richmond and he and his team produce the results that buyers and sellers alike are seeking.


    I interviewed several agents to handle the sales of my mother’s estate properties. Chris was incredibly knowledgeable about the real estate in the Fan District and gave such detailed answers to my questions that I felt he was the agent to handle the sales. Chris seemed to anticipate problems that might come up and suggested solutions in case they did. Chris was always available, got back promptly and handled the negotiations for the 2 adjacent properties on Floyd Avenue. I would say that Chris and I were very often on the same page in the negotiations so it helped things go smoothly in spite of some difficult negotiations with the buyer.


    Chris helped us buy our first home in the Fan! He was a great agent, and guided us through the buying process in an extremely competitive market. His knowledge of Richmond, specifically the Fan and Church Hill, was super helpful as we looked at homes and put together offers. We would recommend Chris to anyone looking to buy a house in the city!


    Chris had a real sense of the local market, and he came to the interview very well prepared. He’d also had previous success selling in my West End area. He was very good at that. His comps were very local and specific to my neighborhood, Colonial Place. He knew what houses had gone for in my area very recently, and he knew how to price per square footage, based on the condition of my house. He really pushed the price up from what I had thought we’d ask. It was great. The house went on the market Thursday afternoon, and it had more than 35 private showings by Saturday afternoon. Then Chris had an open house on Sunday, which was when the house was sold.  And that’s how Chris said it was going to work. We went to Washington, D.C., for the weekend, and when we came back, the house was sold at full price in an all-cash deal. It couldn’t have gone better. He had a plan, and he worked the plan. That included having a schedule for photo and video sessions, as well as an extensive social media plan. He also had a schedule for rolling out the sale. I really appreciated that. He was very organized, and that was very helpful for me. Yes, because Chris is knowledgable and very well organized, and he’s a pleasure to work with. I always felt I was kept up to date. I never had to wonder what was going on. He has made a good name for himself in the Richmond market, and other realtors respect him.


    Last year, while we were having no luck selling our house in the Museum District for $508,000, Chris Small sold a similar house on our block for more in the first week it was on the market. So we asked him to list our house. He had very good advice about what it would take to sell it, and he made sure the work got done efficiently. When we brought the house back on the market, it sold the first weekend for $590,000 – $30,000 over his suggested list price. I was amazed. We had a great experience with Chris, and I’d highly recommend him to others.


    He suggested repainting some rooms in modern colors, bringing in modern furniture to replace our antiques and adding a large island to the kitchen. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear somebody critique your house, but we agreed because it would open the house to buyers we would not have gotten otherwise. Shaunna and Brad agreed to the plan. They settled on an asking price, too: $570,000. Then, after Chris inspected his team’s improvements and alterations, he suggested that Shaunna and Brad do something unexpected: raise their asking price to $599,950. We got the first offer seven days after we listed it. It was three percent below our asking price. Then, the next day, we got an offer for $600,000.

    Shaunna and Brad

    He was very frank with us that we needed to make it look like a home and that it needed to be staged, repainted and modernized. He followed through on everything he said he would do and met his deadlines. He kept us on task, and he got the job done. Those changes are what let a family see it as a home that they could live in. Chris was absolutely the reason the house for sold for more than $1 million, If the person selling the house does not believe it is worth more than $1 million, then it will never sell for that amount. He absolutely believed, 100 percent, that our house was worth more than that. He was able to frame the house in such a way that other people could see that, too. We give him huge kudos for that.

    Dawn and Albert