Realtor Joe Schwartzbauer from the Grey Duck Properties team joins the show to talk about real estate market updates.
Joe mentions that the market is starting to get back to normal from the limitations of the pandemic. He talks about the rising interest rates and possible rate-lock, the seller’s behavior and mentality, and home inspection strategies. He mentions that 42% of the latest accepted offers waived the right to have a home inspection which hinders coming up with an informed decision.
They talk about transaction coordinating companies that provide information to buyers, inspection guarantees, home warranties, and insurance claims. Joe also shares that client-facing and being with customers gives their business a boost. He highlights that getting a home inspection steers clear from expensive repairs and gives sellers and buyers peace of mind.
Get in touch with Joe via email@example.com, their social media accounts, or visit greyduckhomes.com.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Bill Oelrich: Welcome everyone, you’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich alongside Tessa Murry, and Reuben Saltzman, as always, your three-legged stool, coming to you from the Northland, talking all things houses, home inspections, and anything else that’s rattling around in our brain. Well, welcome to today’s episode. That is the third take of this introduction, because I’m slightly foggy. Unfortunately, I’m coming down off of a COVID diagnosis, I guess. I tested positive, so my head is not completely clear. Tessa, Reuben, hopefully yours are better. But before we jump into pleasantries, I do wanna introduce our guest on today’s episode, Joe Schwartzbauer. He’s a real estate agent here in the Twin Cities, and we’ve asked Joe to join us and have a conversation a little bit about the market and to talk about how his business is going in the crazy world of 2022. So Joe, if you can, why don’t you take a minute, introduce yourself, tell us your firm, tell us your area of expertise or where you work, and all that good stuff.
Joe Schwartzbauer: So my name is Joe Schwartzbauer, I run the Grey Duck Properties team, brokered by Real Broker. Office is based out of St. Paul, been a St. Paul resident for a very long time, she just moved, just this past weekend to Eagan, so we’re trying to do a little bit more work in this area. But been in real estate eight, nine years now. Absolutely love it. It’s always fun, always interesting, really, really enjoy what we do.
BO: Gotcha, and what led you to real estate? I mean, everybody’s got a different path, so why did you end up jumping into this gig?
JS: It wasn’t something I was actually looking to get into. I lived in a condo building and the guys that managed it, I actually got to know them. We spoke all the time just for whatever reasons, for maintenance stuff and all of that, and that got me very interested. I started working with them doing some property leasing and some management. And it all just kinda came together.
Tessa Murry: Joe, what did you do before real estate?
JS: Before real estate, I was in several different sales careers, essentially. We had a family business where we did a screen print, embroidery, kinda ads specialties type of stuff. Did that for a long time, did concrete in Asphalt. So I have a little bit of a construction background as well. I currently have my general contractors license, but we just kinda use that for our own projects.
BO: Well, okay, so let’s get back to the pleasantries. Joe, thank you for the intro, I appreciate that. Reuben, Tessa, how are you guys all doing?
TM: Well, I can’t complain. I’m sorry to hear you’ve got COVID, Bill. I’m glad… It seems like you’re doing okay. Made it through the worst.
BO: I’m fine, I’m one of the lucky ones.
TM: You’ve had some big changes too at home, didn’t your daughter just graduate high school?
BO: Oh, yeah. Yep, yep. She’s out of the nest currently, away now in a summer job for one of the YMCA camps here in Minnesota. So she’s gonna be a counselor for the year and we sent her off. Hopefully, she is COVID-free too. We’ve been very diligent, like I’m texting her every morning, go get tested, go get tested. I wanna make sure she doesn’t blow something up, but she seems to be fine. And so transitioning, I’m an empty nester.
TM: Big change.
JS: Wow, wow.
JS: Is it emotional?
BO: It’s all gone, all the emotion, the wave of emotion that was leading up to it was incredible. I was just on the verge of tears for a month straight, and once I’m beyond it now, I’ve been just kind of like clear-headed, stoic, all the things that were triggers for me. Like a lot of the songs I remember from when she was a girl, ’cause she sung a lot, she’s a country girl. She loves Taylor Swift and Zac Brown, and she’s always singing. And any of those songs would be like this triggers for me, and I ended up sobbing a lot. But I’m like solid as a rock now. I’m not sure what the emotional and psychological side of all of this is, but it was real. And I feel like I’ve just got a new lease on life, and I’m so excited for her and for where she’s going and all the adventures she’s gonna take.
JS: My son’s five years old now, and he just graduated from pre-K and just started a new school in Eagan this morning or a summer camp anyway. So it’s a nice new adventure for him.
BO: Soak it in.
JS: Yes, yes.
JS: Nowhere near soaking it all, as far as you, but…
BO: Yeah, soak it in, ’cause it goes by fast. But anyway, let’s kinda… Reuben, I haven’t heard from you, you’re just in the background here. Everybody… There’s a storm blowing through right now, and Reuben’s internet got wiped out, so he’s trying to do this from a cell phone. Well, let’s get back to the real estate conversation. Joe, give us the quick market update. Are we seeing some changes now, or is it status quo?
JS: I would… A lot of people are talking about a shift in the real estate world. I personally would not call it a shift, I would call this a normalization. We are getting back to the way things should be. This is starting to feel a little bit more like 2018-2019. You now have an opportunity to see a couple of houses, to have the home inspected, to not have to give up the naming rights of your first born child to the sellers in order to win on a home. So things are getting better out there, it’s… The past two years, the pandemic craziness, it’s coming to an end, and that’s a really, really good thing.
TM: Joe, would you say that’s, in part, because of the rising interest rates?
JS: Yeah, definitely. Rates can only go so high, and there is a lot of people out there. Say that you were searching for a $600,000 home, and all of a sudden the rates jumped up. Now you can only afford a $450,000, $475,000 home. Well, those homes are very, very different and a lot of people don’t want to… When they had the opportunity to buy a $650,000, but now they have to buy a $475,000 home, it just doesn’t make as much sense to continue to shop for that. So we saw a lot of buyers exit the market, but there is still a huge buyer demand out there. There’s still a ton of people as always that will enter the market and want to buy a home. They enter the market, they talk to a lender, they get approved for a loan, they say, “Okay, this is what interest rates are, this is how much I can afford. Let’s go buy a house.” So it causes a little bit of a ripple for, I would say, a month and a half or so, but I think things are starting to pick back up again right now.
BO: Joe, are the interest rates affecting the mentality of sellers? Are they looking at this like, “Well, if I’m gonna max out the value of my home, I better start moving before things get too high and people lose too much buying power.”
JS: It’s really interesting what’s going on with sellers right now. I think there was and still is a bit of a wave of panic, I think there’s a lot of agents out there that are really pushing their sellers to get their home on the market and say, “Hey, let’s take advantage of this.” Well, we can. I think we’re also gonna see something really interesting take place here over the next possible year, couple of years, which is… We’re calling it like rate-lock, where people that have refinanced their house over the past couple of years and have an interest rate of 2.5% to 3.5%, it doesn’t make as much sense for them to sell, buying a new home with a much higher interest rate. So it’ll be really interesting to see what takes place with that.
BO: I have always… And correct me if I’m wrong, because I don’t know the residential real estate world nearly as much, but I’ve always thought that as values pop and go down and rates go up and down, it’s always just a transfer at a moment in time. It’s like there are no real winners, unless you’re getting out of the real estate game, period. Like, you’re selling and you’re done. And so your values go way up, but when you sell, you gotta turn around and buy another house that’s value has gone way up. So what’s the hurry to really move, unless you need to move, right, for a job or for whatever situation in your life is making you want or need to do that? How do you feel like? Is that crazy, or is there really a way to win the lottery in the real estate world?
JS: No, I mean, winning the lottery in the real estate world takes a lot. I’ve been working with clients that have been telling me they’re waiting for the market to dip and correct for the past 10 years, and the market hasn’t done that. Trying to time the real estate market is near impossible to do. The best time to buy or sell is literally just when it’s right for you, when you’ve got that big life event that takes place, you wanna get your kids in a better school, you have to relocate for work, you have outgrown your current home, your kids have moved out and you need to downsize. Whatever these situations are, it’s all about the life event, which cause it.
BO: I tend to agree. Okay, so we know we’ve been in a wacky market, 2022. Home inspectors especially have seen it. I mean, Reuben’s had probably 250 conversations with different home inspection owners, and they’re seeing their businesses dipped. What is your strategy as it comes to the home inspection in this market? I have a follow-up to that, but I wanna know how you’re having conversations with your clients about the home inspection in 2022.
JS: So we work with a transaction coordinating company, and we followed their stats to provide those numbers to our buyers and give them the information so they can make the best decision possible for themselves. So this transaction coordinating company who… The transaction coordinating company writes offers for real estate agents. So a lot of times we’re busy. We can’t be writing every single offer, so we enter it into a system, they produce the paperwork for us, we review it, then our buyers sign it. So they keep track of what is going on in the market. One of the things that they track a lot of is how often inspections are being waved on winning offers. We saw those numbers go up as high as 57% of accepted offers. We’re completely waiving their right to have an inspection. Now, to me, that’s insane. I don’t think anybody should ever do that. There are certain cases, if you’re buying a small condo, that there just isn’t as much to inspect, but it’s still worth having that inspection done because you just never know. We never ever recommend to our clients to waive their inspection. We give them the stats as far as what’s going on and tell them that they need to make the best decision for themselves.
Reuben Saltzman: Joe, if I may, I got a couple of questions now. Number one is you mentioned this transaction coordinating company, I would love to hear more about what this is. This is something I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of before. I would love for you to kinda do a half of a deep dive into what this is all about. And then also I’m curious, maybe your answer will explain this, but I mean, you say that you’ve seen up to 57% of transactions have been skipping the home inspection, I’m curious what size sample that is? I mean, is this a sample of 10 agents, is it a sample of 100, 1000? Can you elaborate on all of this for a minute or two?
JS: Yeah, definitely. So a transaction coordinating company… As a real estate agent, my highest and best use is being client-facing, being out with customers, showing them properties, doing the actual negotiations, not doing the paperwork. The paperwork is something that really slows us down and is the minutia of this business that nobody really likes to do. So for me, myself, what I typically do is I write my own offers, but once that offer is accepted, I hand it off to my transaction coordinating company. They’re making sure that all of the Ts are crossed, the Is are dotted, and if we need to make any additional addendum or amendments or anything like that to our documents, if we need to write up an inspection request or be sure that the appraisal has taken place or all of these other steps within the process, they’re doing that for me. Because it takes a lot of time and we would prefer that, and for myself and for my agents that someone else is doing that. I would prefer that my agents are out showing properties, talking to new clients, networking with other agents, all of that type of stuff. So that’s essentially what a transaction coordinating company is. I hope that kind of explains it, anyway. It’s surprising a lot of people don’t…
BO: That was good. It was good.
JS: A lot of people don’t understand that it takes a lot of time to do paperwork and paperwork doesn’t make me money. Talking to new people makes me money, so that’s where I wanna focus my effort anyway. As far as the transaction coordinating company, they write, on average, about 500 offers per month. So that’s about the sample size for it, anyway. And we know that that’s not a massive number, but 500 for us is a pretty good number to understand what the market is. And these guys work generally in the Seven County Metro, so they’re really, really big on tracking numbers. They show the number of the offer price to list price and kinda give us a percentage with that. They give us a lot of data to work with that really helps our clients make sure that they can win when they want to win anyway.
BO: Is that data private or is that something that good folks like Structure Tech can get their hands on?
JS: So the company that we work with, they’re called Home Free TC, and they are absolutely phenomenal. They are on Facebook. I would highly recommend looking them up, liking their page. They do it about once every two weeks and, for sure, once every month anyway, and give out all the data, so everybody can go on there and check it out.
TM: Are there companies like this, and for other major cities or is like, is this a national company and they focus in the Twin Cities?
JS: They are a local company, but they do work, I believe, in Wisconsin and Alaska now. So they need to be locally licensed with your local MLS in order to be able to write offers for you. So every major city around the United States has one of these companies, has multiple of these companies. There’s at least probably 20-50 of them locally here. It’s just, they’re behind the scenes. So their real estate agents know about them, a lot of other people, even within the industry, don’t even know that they exist. The latest numbers that came out… And I’ll just give you these anyway, this was two days ago that these came out, 42% of accepted offers have their inspections completely waived right now.
JS: It’s staggering. It’s a staggering number. It is unbelievable that there are still so many people doing that in today’s market. I will tell you for us and for our clients, I would say our number for total offers written or total offers accepted, we’re probably more like maybe 5% to 10%, somewhere in there of clients that have chosen to waive their right to inspection. And I will say we have a lot of other ways that we write our offers with these inspections in order to still protect our clients.
TM: Joe, can you share some of those secrets? I mean, if you’re comfortable doing that with our audience, we’re curious of how you’re making strong offers without having to waive the inspection.
JS: Yeah, I’m an open book, I come from a mindset of abundance, and there is plenty of clients and offers and properties out there for all of us to still win and all of that. So one of the… A few of the strategies that we use, one we call an inspection guarantee. And that is typically where we say, “Hey, we are gonna have an inspection on this property, but we’re not gonna negotiate on any single item with an estimated repair cost of $2500 or less, $5000 or less, $1000 or less,” whatever that client, whatever that buyer feels comfortable with, so that gives the seller’s peace of mind that we are not going to nickel and dime them to death on all kinds of these small items. We don’t expect them to replace that GFCI outlet by the sink that’s been there for the past 30 years that we all know needs to get updated or make sure that all of the smoke alarms are working and all of that, we can replace those things.
JS: We’re not looking for small items, we’re looking for big deal breaker type items. The other way we go about it is simply kind of a pass-fail that, “Hey, we are gonna have an inspection, but we’re not gonna negotiate on anything.” But that still gives the buyers the right to have an inspection and it still gives the buyers the right to walk away from that property, which is very important. I will say, it’s been very rare in my career that I’ve had a home inspection done on what looks to be a solid home, and we find something that is $5000 or more in a single repair, it just… In my opinion, it doesn’t happen that often. Most people that are selling their home, and I will say most people, maintain their homes and they’re living in their home, and they kind of understand, for the most part, what is going on in their home. These big, expensive repairs are typically the unknown and the unseen. The fireplace that hasn’t been used in 20 years, and it’s completely deteriorating, and that can be a bit more of an expensive issue, so that’s where home inspections are really important because it’s the unknown, it’s the stuff that people just simply don’t know about even while you’re living in your home, that’s a bigger issue than it seems.
BO: That makes a lot of sense. And Joe, you said it’s rare that you come across an item that’s five grand or more, is that because you guys have pretty good eyes and ears, and when you’re looking at a house, it’s not that they don’t exist, it’s that you’ve already identified them, you’re like, Hey, look at that, that looks like it could be an issue type of thing, or are you just seeing higher quality homes that really have been maintained better than others?
JS: I think it comes from experience, without a doubt. I’m really big on, alright, let’s tour a home and we’re walking through that home. If those buyers really are deciding at that point that they think they wanna write an offer on the home, I’m gonna continue the tour, let the tour take place. Once it’s essentially over, we walked through everything, I tend to have a conversation and say, Listen, this seems like what you guys are gonna wanna write an offer on. Let’s do another walk through. Let’s spend a little bit more time here. Let’s walk around room by room with more fresh eyes to look at everything again, because the first time walking through a home, you’re really just seeing the visuals of the home, how it’s laid out, some of the finishes of the home, and you’re typically, at least as a buyer, you’re not seeing the finer details, you’re not seeing that outlet that looks like it’s actually charred behind the curtains over there, [chuckle] or the smaller… The foundation type issues and that type of thing. It’s something that I am looking at as I’m walking through the home, but buyers aren’t typically seeing it. So I’m pointing some of that stuff out without a doubt as I’m walking through the home the first time, because it’s part of my value as a real estate agent, is being able to understand what is solid on a home, what is a concern on a home, and all of that.
JS: But that second walk-through tends to be a really, really important step. We actually have a walk-through inspection checklist that myself and I ask all of my agents to use, simply that is looking at the perimeter of the home, the foundation, the gutters, the roof, the chimney, check out the furnace, the AC unit, the water heater, all of the items, the breaker box especially, is that breaker box labeled? ‘Cause if that breaker box is labeled with what each of those breakers are, to me, that’s always a good indicator that this seller knew a lot about their home and knew enough about their home to understand which breaker controls which area, and if it’s labeled properly, that gives me some really good peace of mind about the home. That’s a small thing I know, but to me it makes a big difference.
BO: I love the hack.
BO: Just the little things. In fact, I love the inspection checklist, like, did somebody put eyes on X or Y or Z, and that just makes a ton of sense, but if I could get back to something you mentioned earlier, ’cause I’m curious how this plays out in the conversation between the buyer and agent, you said when it comes time to write the offer, you guys almost always recommend a home inspection.
JS: Always, always recommend. [chuckle]
BO: Right. And I’ve always heard that that’s a liability kind of safety net, and it’s even better to offer two or three names instead of one name, so the buyer has agency in this decision, they can make their own decision and move forward, but when people opt out of the home inspection, do you think that’s often driven by the agent really saying, Hey, we need this to not have any attachments, strings attached to it, or is it the buyers just saying, I’ve missed on 17 houses, and by God, I’m getting this one, or I’m shutting down for a couple of months?
JS: I think it’s on the agent. There are far too many agents out there that are saying, If you wanna win on this property, this is what you need to do. We do have a document within our MLS that does say, “For your protection, get a home inspection.” And it is something that is required for buyers to sign. So do buyers fully read that document when they’re signing the offers and their agent has told them to waive their right to have an inspection? That, I don’t know, and I totally can’t say. I know what we do, and I know it’s very, very important that we recommend that people always, always get a home inspection. Yes, we do have three home inspectors that we recommend, and it is kind of like you said, agency, we wanna give them the option with it, and I have an email essentially that goes out that says, Hey, these are the top three home inspection companies that we work with, here’s a little insight about each of them. There’s this X company, and they’re the cheapest that there is. They’re gonna do a home inspection, it’s not gonna be super thorough, but it’s a home inspection. If you’re not [chuckle] gonna spend a lot, go with these guys.
JS: Here’s kind of a mid-level type of a home inspection, they do a pretty good job, a lot of clients end up using them. I can’t say anything bad about them, I can’t say that they’re top notch either. And then their Structure Tech, who does absolutely without a doubt, the best home inspection that there is in the industry, and uses some of the most advanced tools and gives you one of the best reports that is available on the home, so you can know exactly what is happening in this home that you are purchasing and now you can make the best decision for yourself if you wanna move forward or not.
BO: Those are very kind words.
JS: We did not pay you to say that, did we Joe?
JS: No, you did not. Not at all. It’s really true. I have an email that literally kind of verbatim says that, where I say X inspection company, there are names for those guys as well, but…
TM: I just have one question going back to the transaction coordinating companies that you guys work with, how many agents in the real estate industry here in the Twin Cities would you say use a company like that to help them out with their paperwork? Is it a large portion of agents?
JS: The stats are 10% of the agents do 85% of the transactions, so I would say probably about 10% of agents use them, and it’s not something that is required if you’re only selling three homes a year, five homes a year, even 10 homes a year, even 15 homes a year, when you start to sell more properties, it’s something that I will say is required in order for you to live a balanced life and to have time to make sure that you are doing all of the proper things for your clients, because there’s a lot of paperwork and stuff can get missed when you get really busy.
TM: Just the things that you’re doing for your clients, like the walk-throughs with your background and contracting really helps being able to identify some of those big red flags up front for your clients and saying, Yeah, these are some things that are gonna be expensive to repair, fix or maintain down the road, but you’d rather be spending your time doing those things for your client than, I get it, filling out the paperwork.
JS: Yeah, yeah, it’s important to be focusing on what we’re good at and… Yes, I have a background in construction, but I don’t wanna be a home inspector. That’s not who I am, and yes, I can tell people that, Hey, if you wanna replace this kitchen because it’s big, you can spend $30,000, you can spend $60,000, you could spend $100,000 on the kitchen, it all depends on the level of the finishes that you’re gonna choose, but I think that with me being a general contractor, that’s the biggest value that that has, that I can give them some estimates on what stuff is gonna cost to fix.
BO: I think, Joe, you just kind of pull the curtain back a little bit, and I appreciate this, ’cause I know where Tessa is going, it’s like, Well, but this is kind of where Tessa is coming from, and no offense, Tessa, but it’s from inside our world, looking out, like Oh, everybody’s gonna wanna be helpful in the way we are. No, not so much because in Joe’s world, he’s working with title companies, he’s working with mortgage companies, he’s working with buyers, he’s working with sellers, he’s working with sellers agents, there’s a lot of balls in the air in that juggling act that you just don’t wanna take on more than is absolutely necessary, and I think when you partner with a good home inspection company, or at least understand their process as well, You can understand how you can incorporate their processes into your processes to help you eliminate work that would otherwise have to be completed by somebody on your team.
TM: And reduce your liability too.
JS: Yep, exactly. A lot of it is about liability, I wanna stay in my lane and focus on what I know and what my area of expertise is.
BO: Hey Joe, this process, where do you spend the most amount of time in terms of vendors who are participating in it? Is it with title agent companies? Is it with mortgage officers?
JS: I would say it’s pretty much split equally between inspections, title companies, mortgage companies. We’ve got our processes really dialed in, and after the initial paperwork, it doesn’t take us a ton of time anymore, and really that is thanks to the transaction coordinator company because they are reaching out at certain milestones to make sure things have taken place and they’re doing that form.
TM: How long, Joe, did it take you to get all your systems figured out and dialed in and figure out the companies that you worked with the best? I mean, how long have you been doing real estate? I don’t think we asked you that question, did we?
JS: Yeah, I’ve been doing this…
BO: I think he said eight years.
JS: Yeah, I’ve been doing it about eight or nine years now, and it’s taken about eight or nine years, and it is a continuing process that we will never be finished with. If things change in the industry, if vendors come and go type of thing, we are always looking for the absolute best to work with, to give our clients, the best experience possible, and it changes, it changes over time, and we work really hard to make sure we are on top of it and kind of at the forefront of it.
BO: Joe, if you could wave a magic wand and add one thing, for example, I wish my home inspector could help me do this, what would that be?
JS: Might blow you guys’ mind here, but I really think that… Do you guys know what a home warranty is?
BO: Oh, yes, for sure.
JS: So I think Structure Tech should offer home warranties. I think the fact that structure tech has walked through the property and understands that property can offer a home warranty that fits that home, and it could be a whole separate business for you guys, because there’s a lot of people out there and a lot of agents out there they do recommend home warranties, I actually buy a home warranty for every single one of my clients that purchases a home because it’s a one-year program, it covers a lot of the stuff within the home, and Structure Tech understands the condition of that home and can understand what they think is gonna fail in the next year and could offer a warranty fitting for that home.
BO: Interesting. Okay.
TM: Yeah, that is a great question, Bill. And Joe, thank you for sharing that insight with us.
BO: You use the same home warranty company every time, Joe…
JS: We do.
BO: Or do you have two or three others?
JS: There’s one home warranty company that has just better reviews than the rest of them, they’re called Cinch, and they’re just… They’re a really great company.
BO: Okay, so you know, going into this, you’re not gonna get kind of the old bait and switch from a warranty company like, Well, that’s not covered, or that’s not covered, and then this turned out to be a false sense of security when it came to warranty?
JS: I will tell you that home warranty companies are a company, and they are gonna try and find a reason to be profitable. And they’re probably gonna try and find a reason to not cover the item. You do have to read the fine print, but for the most part, this is the best one that we’ve found.
BO: Yeah, so I’m gonna ask Reuben, Reuben, you know the ethics, the SOPs, the ashy side of it, so much better than the rest of us, and to do what Joe is asking, I think there’s merit in what he’s saying. How does it mesh with just the professional associations and our vow to not do certain things?
RS: There is no conflict whatsoever as far as I’m concerned, as far as I know. This is perfectly fine. Now, one question I do have, however, is that there’s a lot of home inspectors who will offer a 90-day warranty or a 100-day warranty, some version of that, and they just say, This is part of my home inspection, they offer it for free. And the companies who back the home inspectors, so they can offer this, they offer these for free to the home inspector in exchange for the client’s data. It’s basically we’ll give you a warranty if you sell your client’s information to us. That’s one way it works. Another way is that the home inspector pays for it, and they pay like 10 bucks of warranty or something like that. It’s such a low cost that it’s not a huge deal to them. There may be some other models that I don’t know about, but I’m just wondering how that relates to what you’re suggesting, Joe.
JS: I’m not super familiar with the 90-day warranties that inspection companies are offering, it’s… Honestly, it’s not something that I’ve heard of before.
BO: Okay. Joe, let’s do this, let’s just have you answer this question, do you have to share any data with your warranty company that would be useful, like is there an exchange of data for a better price so that company can turn around and maybe profit from that data?
JS: We have to share the… Obviously, the property address, the buyers name, phone number, email, that type of thing, because they need a way to contact them, they need to send them the paperwork, they need to be in touch through email. So are they selling that data? I sure hope not. [chuckle] I guess, I don’t know that for sure. It seems like everybody is collecting data these days.
BO: Yeah, here’s the thing, Joe, and here’s where Reuben was going with this. I think I know where he’s going with this. There is a large company that started up, they’re check guys that got into the home repair warranty space, and what it appeared is it appeared to be some data grab and then they got in trouble with that because people didn’t understand what they were gonna do, so there’s always this little bit of backlash, like what are people gonna do with my data, and I’m not just picking on this one person. As you said, it seems to be what everybody wants, all of the social medias and that kind of thing, they want… They want something useful from you to provide you this really affordable service. So I think what Reuben was doing is looking for the smell test, like are these people like, like good people, and they’re doing the right thing, and they’re honoring their warranties as you expect they would, given whatever. If a furnace is 27 years old. I don’t think a home warranty should cover replacement for it personally, maybe your people do.
JS: Most of these home warranty companies, they’re going to… Prior to replacement, they’re gonna try and fix it, they’re gonna try and put a Band-Aid on it for the time being, and the hope is, Hey, we put a Band-Aid on it, they bought a one-year home warranty. By the time that something else goes wrong with it, maybe those clients didn’t renew their warranty and didn’t go for a second year or third year or something along those lines. But as far as we know, they are… They’re a reputable company. They are nationwide. If you go on any real estate forum and just search for home warranty companies, Cinch is gonna be one of the top ones that comes up with some of the best ratings that are out there. So we back them because we’ve used them for a long time, and we haven’t had negative negative reviews from our clients anyway.
BO: Well, that’s good to hear, ’cause you assume in a free market, the cream is gonna rise to the top, people are gonna see through the BS, the cheap home warranty that is “Not really a home warranty,” but it makes you feel good that you have something in place. You can go fight with somebody if you need to, I’m optimistic when it comes to these sorts of relationships that… People will do what they say they’re gonna do. Otherwise, they’re not gonna be in business for long.
BO: And so if this company has got a good reputation, they’ve been around for a long time, the real measure… The real parameter of any of these types of companies is how harder they’re to work with, and if they’re faster to work with, excuse my French, people are gonna move away from them very quickly, so…
JS: Yeah, it’s a touchy situation. And whenever I… We are presenting it to the buyers that, Hey, this is the home warranty, we’re really upfront with them about it, that I let them know kind of what I said earlier, that they are a company, they’re gonna try and find a reason to probably not cover it, but it is gonna help you more than it’s going to hurt you, is where we go with it, and because we offer it as part of our service, it doesn’t cost our buyers anything. So this is something that we’re offering to them that is hopefully gonna help them out. Cinch actually has a program where if you have a insurance claim at your home, they can pay up to, I think it’s $1200 of your deductible for that insurance claim, so that right there is a really, really great little bonus for it. We really like the company, and I think it’s a good value add as far as something that we’re able to provide to our buyers.
BO: Well, I like this conversation. I think it’s something we should sort of mastermind around a little bit more to figure out what this could actually look like and all the ins and outs… It raises more questions than it does answers, but Joe, before we wrap, I wanna give you the opportunity to talk a little bit about the networking group that you’re setting up, and if that’s kind of confidential information, I won’t go there, but I certainly wanna give you the platform to speak about it here.
JS: Over this past year, I have done more transactions due to the agents that I know, that I ever have, and I saw a big hole in our industry that agents were… With all the technology that’s out there, text messaging, email, that type of thing, agents are not doing as much face-to-face interaction as they were previously, and I wanna personally know more agents, I wanna speak to them face-to-face, I wanna shake their hand, I wanna have in-person conversations. So I decided to start putting together a monthly networking group. Typically, we have a panel of speakers that shows up and talks about a topic that is relevant in today’s market. We’re doing this once a month.
JS: It’s on the first Tuesday of every single month at Malcolm yards in Minneapolis. We have a room reserved in the back, we can hold about 70 people in there. We’ve had between 50 and 70 people show up at every single one. The most recent one that we had, it was some of the best feedback that I could get, I had three different people come up me and say, Hey, thank you so much for doing this, I just spoke with so and so, I’ve done a couple of transactions with them, we follow each other on social media, but we’ve never met in person, and we actually got to meet, and we shook each other’s hands, and we actually hugged, because we felt like we knew each other, and that, to me, was just really, really great that we are actually getting people together, and it’s been phenomenal. I’m really excited to continue to do this in the future and provide a lot of value for agents as well.
BO: I like that. So how long has it been running?
JS: We’ve done it for three months now, and it’s just really been phenomenal, it’s been a pretty simple thing, we put it out on a few local real estate agent forum pages that people can show up, and it’s free, and we just… We want people to show up and enjoy, get some value out of it.
TM: Joe, where would someone go if they’re interested in being a part of this, to learn more?
JS: They can reach out to me personally, they can find me on all the different social media channels, they can follow Grey Duck Properties on all the different social media channels. I run a Facebook agent only page called The Grey Duck Sandbox. It’s a Facebook page that I’m essentially giving away a lot of value, the stuff that’s working for myself for my team. We’re just trying to elevate the craft of real estate locally here, and if we can all do better together, we can all serve our clients better together, and unfortunately, I think real estate agents sometimes are looked at about a step above used car salesman, and I’m really trying to change that.
TM: Oh, that’s awesome.
BO: Joe, are you including any of the out-state agents that are rocking and rolling too, because a lot of successful people down here oftentimes are looking north or west or northwest to find a second home, and sometimes the quality isn’t always the same when you get far away from the city center.
JS: Yeah, this is absolutely open for anybody in the country. We have agents from all around the country in The Grey Duck Sandbox page as it is. Unfortunately, our networking events, I have my videographer there filming, but we don’t film the entire thing. We really want people to show up and be there in person, but I always have a notetaker there, so all the value we can then share later on The Grey Duck Sandbox page.
BO: You know, for consumers, getting the best agent is really super important ’cause it can make a break some pretty long-term investing that they’re gonna do in a property or whatever, and I don’t mean to say that there aren’t great professionals away from the city, that’s not what I mean, at all. I think there’s… It’s just making these connections sometimes is a lot more difficult when you’re far away, and you don’t know… Come down once a month. It seems like…
JS: No, it makes a lot of sense when we’re building this sandbox, is what we call it, because we wanna play in a sandbox that is full of people that are doing a really, really great job, and we wanna elevate others to do the same. When you are out in smaller towns, rural communities, you may not have the ability to connect with agents that are networking together, sharing the ideas of what they’re doing, what is working, what is not working, these inspection guarantees that we’re doing. We’re also doing items where with those inspection guarantees, I didn’t mention this one earlier, but where we are actually saying that, Hey, we are gonna waive our rights to have… Or we’re gonna waive our inspection contingency, but we are still gonna have an inspection on the home. So essentially, what that means is that the buyers still get to have an inspection, but if they choose to walk away from the property, they’re gonna forfeit their earnest money to the sellers. So that’s another option as far as what we’re doing, and that’s something that I don’t know that a lot of other agents are doing out there. We just have to get creative with our offers to make sure that our buyers are still protected, but can still win on a home.
BO: Yeah, well, let’s putting your money where your mouth is.
BO: I mean, I love it. I love it. Okay, so I’m gonna bear my soul, I think real estate is a local game. I think people who pick smaller areas and know them well provide higher levels of service just because there’s so many nuances to some of this. And so as COVID hits and people look like well, I could live out in the country as long as I have a high speed internet thing… Having a city agent go out to the country seems like it could be potentially disastrous, but having a city agent who’s got a great connection to somebody who’s in a rural area who can provide great service together feels like a win-win, so I love networking, and I think getting the best is really what we’re trying to do for all clients in every situation. It’s what we try to do as a home inspection company, make sure these clients have all the knowledge they need to make a good decision. We then give it to the agent and say, You guys figure out what you wanna do with all of this, and we’re here to help if you have any questions kind of thing, but…
JS: Yeah, vice versa.
BO: But I love the networking group.
JS: It’s the reason that we recommend you guys. We wanna work with the best, and it’s… You have three years in this industry, we’ve found who the best is, and it’s the reason we keep coming back to you guys over and over.
TM: Too, I was just gonna say, Joe, it’s really refreshing to hear a real estate agent who… You obviously really care about your clients, you see the importance of educating them in what they’re buying, getting the home inspection, and you figured out ways to still protect their best interests and help them win and elevate others in your industry to do the same. I just have so much respect for that.
JS: Thank you, I really appreciate that. If any other agents out there are listening, or actually looking at growing your team and expanding to other markets and all of that type of thing, feel free shoot me an email, Joe@greyduckproperties. Give me a call, find me on social, all that type of stuff, but I’d love to connect with anybody across the country.
BO: That’s awesome. Thank you. And Joe, I know a good building science speaker. If you’re looking for anybody to talk about houses at one of the networking events, just get a hold of me and I can connect you with someone.
JS: We have a couple plans. We have plans for next month, but the month after, we don’t have a topic yet, so we are planning on getting you guys in there and having you guys give a really amazing presentation.
BO: Joe, we need to put a wrap on this episode, but can you go ahead and just give out your name, your email address, or your website, or the best way for people to get a hold of you before we put a wrap on?
JS: Best way to get in touch with me, email is firstname.lastname@example.org and its G-R-E-Y. Instagram is therealjoeschwartzbauer or Grey Duck Properties on Instagram. Facebook is the same. Phone number you guys can find that on the internet, I’m sure. [chuckle]
BO: Okay, alright, well, thank you very much. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. One last thing here before I wrap the show, and I forget to do this all the time, but if you have any questions, if you have any comments, if you have any suggestions, please send them to email@example.com. Again, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s it. That’s the final word. Have a great week. We will catch you next time.