4 questions for a pro: Kimberlie MacDonald, buyer's agent


Kimberlie MacDonald was a headhunter for law and accounting firms in Washington, D.C., for 10 years when Sept. 11 happened. She came to Sarasota the following year, looking for a simpler and less stressful life — and the beach.

She worked as a Realtor with RE/MAX on Siesta Key before joining Coldwell Banker two years ago. Last year, the team she works with at the State Road 70 office was No. 1 for Coldwell Banker in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

MacDonald is primarily a buyer’s agent, although she has some listings, as well. She has sold real estate all over Sarasota County, but now focuses primarily on the $250,000-to-$600,000 market east of Interstate 75, including Lakewood Ranch.

Correspondent Chris Angermann interviewed her about her take on the current market.

Q: What’s happening in real estate right now?

A: Because things have been accelerating so fast both with desire and ability of buyers to purchase — interest rates are still low — but inventory is also low. So it’s a very competitive market. I think there is some over inflation in the lower price ranges, and appraisers are doing their very best to keep up, but they’re looking mostly at formulas. So we’re running into situations — and it’s happening at least once a week in our office — where appraisals come in lower than the purchase price of the home.

At that point the buyer has a choice. If you’re paying cash that’s not an issue, but if you’re getting a mortgage, you either have to come to an agreement with the seller, or you have to come up with the extra cash to make up the difference. That is concerning at the moment.

Q: Will that change?

A: Yes, I think so. Everybody needs to take a step back. Sellers are so excited that they feel as though they’re completely in control, and they certainly are, more than they’ve been in years. But the greediness is starting to show. For example, I have an issue with one of my buyers who has to decide whether or not to make up the difference. But sitting behind that is an all-cash offer already. The house is sold: Either we make it happen above appraisal value, or it goes to someone with cash.

Another issue is multiple offers. They have become the norm again, particularly if you’re looking in the $300,000 range. Forget the market under $200,000 — it’s so difficult. There are multiple offers, and you don’t know who you’re bidding against. You could be bidding against yourself, especially if you’re dealing with foreclosure websites like Fannie Mae’s Homepath.com or HUD; you don’t have a human being to talk to. Hopefully, you can develop a relationship with the listing agent and get a little guidance.

Q: What are other issues of which buyers need to be aware?

A: Buyer should be prepared and ready to make a decision. You need to be preapproved; you need to have your approval of funds under control. Many times, I find that someone could qualify for $400,000, but isn’t comfortable there. They’re comfortable at $300,000. That’s why you need to have that financial discussion first to determine where your comfort level is. It’s much better if you have that knowledge and then when you shop, your can move quickly. If something comes up you like, do not dilly-dally.

I have a lot of customers who’ve been on Zillow, but Zillow is wrong a lot of the time. The estimates are often incorrect. I tell people, “It’s a great way to spend an evening — have a glass of wine, shop neighborhoods, look around and see what you like. But then you need to talk to someone to get to the truth of what is really happening in those neighborhoods.” We’ll do our research and find things out for you.

Q: Are there any no-no’s for buyers?

A: Yes. Don’t go to the property without the Realtor. If the house is vacant, OK, you can walk around the perimeter, but please don’t go inside the house. Don’t call the other agent directly. Don’t call the owner directly. Let your Realtor do their job, to take care of what your needs are.

I really try to do my homework well and will tell you ahead of time what my expectations are. I’ll say, “Let’s put an offer in at this level. Here’s what the home is listed at. I think we’ll probably end up right here.”

I’m pretty good at figuring out where we’re going to end up. I like to bargain. I think if everybody gives a little, everybody feels better about the situation at the end. We’ve come together and it’s good.”


Last modified: September 6, 2013
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