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Joanne Knauf (Valley Realty Associates) Real Estate Broker/Owner



Joanne Knauf
location_on Harrisonburg, VA — Valley Realty Associates
Get to Know Joanne Knauf
In the real estate market, and in most businesses related to the sale of a product or service, buyers are extremely important. At Valley Realty Associates, we believe in serving buyers in a way that will insure they will always come to us for their real estate needs. The Process of Working with Buyers 1. Initial Interview - Our first and most important tool in working with buyers is our ability to "listen." Too often, agents rush to show a potential buyer everything but the kitchen sink. This results in wasted time, wasted energy, and makes for a much longer buying process. At Valley Realty Associates, we believe in finding out what the buyer needs and wants. We discuss their goals and dreams and make every effort to match both with the perfect home. During the initial interview, we also discover their expectations and attempt to work within them. We use the internet to show buyers exactly what is available in their price range and in doing so manage their time and ours more effectively. We also discuss financing which will be addressed next. 2.  Establishing the Ability to Purchase - Never has there been more emphasis by sellers on buyer qualifications. It is critically important that we determine the financial ability of a buyer. In doing so, we prevent their frustration of falling in love with a home, only to find out they cannot get the financing to purchase it. By having frank and open discussions related to the buyer's financial ability, we can avoid both disappointment and embarrassment. At Valley Realty Associates, we work with lenders on a daily basis and we attempt to keep informed as to current rates and programs as well as any new regulations that might impact our buyers. We encourage our buyers to get pre-qualified with a lender. Not only does this establish the range of home prices that they can realistically afford, but it makes their offers even stronger. A contract with a qualification letter is given more consideration by the seller as they are assured that financing is not an issue. 3.  Showing Property - At Valley Realty Associates, our agents believe in going the extra mile (literally) to show a potential buyer homes. After determing the price point, and the areas desired, we will show a buyer every available home on the market. We believe in giving them as many choices as possible so that they can make the most informed decision possible. 4. Keeping the Buyer Informed - If a buyer's dream home is not readily available, we will create a custom profile within the MLS system, and through our website to keep the buyer informed as to any new homes that come on the market. By creating a custom profile, they will have access to information about homes meeting their criteria on a daily basis. If they see a home that peaks their interest, we can quickly make an appointment to show them the home. Timing is everything, and we believe that in order to properly serve our buyers, we must be diligent in getting them to see a property before someone else can make an offer. 5. Negotiation - Agents at Valley Realty Associates are trained to negotiate the best price for buyers. At the same time, we place value in making fair and reasonable offers that will insure that the buyer achieves their goals. We believe that a transaction must be good for both parties and to that end we attempt to negotiate a fair price for our clients. Throughout the negotiation process we use the Realtor Code of Ethics to guide our behaviors and the Goldern Rule. We make offers promptly, respond to questions quickly, and do everything in our power to make the transaction go smoothly and quickly. 6. After the Contract is Accepted - After a contract has been ratified there is still much work to be done in order for a sale to come to fruition. We consider it out duty and responsibility to assist our buyers at every phase of the buying process. We arrange for inspections, work with lenders to expedite financing, and will assist our fellow agents if necessary to make things go as smoothly as possible. During this part of the buying process we will stay in daily contact with the buyer to guarantee a minimum amount of anxiety and to answer any questions that may arise. Keep in mind that we will work in a way that will make our buyers just as proud to refer us as our sellers. Referrals are the lifeline of our business and we strive to treat both buyers and sellers in such a way that they will be anxious to tell their friends and family about the excellent service we offer. 7. After the Sale We Don't Disappear - As stated several times previously, we are constantly working in such a way that you will be confident in referring us to everyone you know. We know that one of the most effective ways to insure client loyalty and client referrals is to stay in touch after the sale. We expect you to call upon us to help you with the myriad of things that happen to a home over the course of time. We will even keep a key in our secured key box so that you can gain entry to your home when that sudden gust of wind slams a door and locks you out. Our staff and agents will go the extra mile for each of our clients. For example, our staff will prepare a CD containing all of the documents related to your transaction so that when tax time comes around you will have all the pertinent documents in one convenient location. Customer service is good business and we believe in serving our clients for life. Oh, by the way, we are never too busy for any of your referrals.

1.  Establishing an Accurate Value - The most important thing that a Realtor can do for a seller is to properly evaluate the home's assets, the neighborhood, and the overall market in order to do the one thing that will result in the fastest sale...ESTABLISHING AN ACCURATE PRICE. At my firm, we go to great lengths to research the market and to give you an accurate opinion of your home's market value. This can be done in a number of ways. The most common practice for establishing a home's market value is to do a comparative market analysis, using data from the local multiple listing service. However, there is another way that we use whenever a client is willing to go the extra distance. We like to call it an "on the ground" comparative market analysis. Without going into too much detail, we like to have our clients become a member of the team and have them take a field trip with us to look at their competition. This approach, paired with local sales statistics provides the seller with the most realistic idea of what their home is worth at any given point in the market. If your home is properly priced, not only will days on market be reduced, but a quicker sale often translates into much more money in a seller's pocket.

2.  Education - The second thing that we at Valley Realty Associates do is to educate the seller. By that, I mean we provide them with the information they need to prepare their home for sale. Nothing is off the table during these sessions, as our goal is to help a seller successfully sell their home for the most money and in the shortest period of time. We discuss potential repairs, cosmetic improvements, furniture placement, how to prepare the home for showings, what to expect when an offer is made, what we do when a home isn't selling, and anything we feel is important in assisting a seller in achieving their goals. By the way, a large part of our conversation is about the seller's goals. If we have a better understanding of their motivation for selling, it can be of tremendous value when offers are received.

3. Multiple Listing Services - After the listing is signed, we get your listing into the multiple listing service as quickly as possible. In doing this, we are putting the information about your home in front of other agents and potential buyers so that they consider your home as one of their choices. At Valley Realty Associates, we so strongly believe in marketing to our fellow realtors that we belong to not one, but three multiple listing services and are a part of a multiple listing alliance with the Charlottesville area MLS. Our listings are seen by agents belonging to the Harrisonburg Rockingham Association of Realtors as well as the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors and by members of one of the region's largest services; the Metropolitan Regional Information System which covers the Northern Virginia area. We believe that there can never be too much exposure when marketing a home. Our sellers deserve the best we can provide.

4. Internet Marketing - According to the National Association of Realtors, over 80% of home buyers begin their search for a home on the internet. Having purchased a home less than five years ago, I can attest to the fact that we did a tremendous amount of research using the internet before we bought our home. The days of giant MLS books being closely guarded by Realtors are quickly passing. Consumers want information and they want it now.

    Property Web Sites - With achieving maximum exposure for your home in mind, Valley Realty Associates has adopted a policy of creating a website for everyone of our listings with links from the MLS and links from our company and agent sites. We believe that we can showcase your property on the internet in a variety of ways and provide the consumer with the most and best information about your home. Your property's website will consist of dozens of photographs designed to show the strongest features of your home and make the potential buyer want to see it in person. We use professional quality digital photography to create web galleries and virtual tours that are second to none. Our property sites also include floor plans when available, location maps, plat maps and any information that we feel will increase the chances of a potential buyer wanting to visit your home. Here are links to some of the property sites we have created for our clients.   Coltsfoot Lane      Kimball Springs    Crossing Creeks

    Realtor.com - We also showcase your listing on Realtor.com, the largest real estate website on the internet. We pay additional fees to make sure your home receives maximum exposure. Showcasing a listing allows us to display numerous photos of your home as opposed to the single photo that comes with a standard placement. It also gives us the option to highlight the listing with graphic design that makes it STAND OUT from other listings.

    The Real Estate Book Internet Exposure - Even though The Real Estate Book is mainly a print form of advertising that we regularly utilize to improve our client's exposure, it is a little known fact that listings displayed in The Real Estate Book are syndicated to over twenty additional internet. This additional exposure gives your home even more potential for being seen by potential buyers. Click Here to view the quality sites that your home appears on when we put it in The Real Estate Book. In addition to this, we can provide your listing with a web ID that when entered on The Real Estate Book's website will take a potential buyer directly to your listing.

    You tube and Craigs List - Just when you thought there was nothing else we could do to market your home on the internet, we have found some new and exciting ways to make your home stand out in the vast cyberspace of the internet. Each property is placed on YouTube and Craig's list. Properties placed on Craig's list are updated weekly to insure they stay near the top of the list for maximum exposure. For each property, we use a special software to create a video with property images and music and then place it on YouTube for the entire world to see.

5. Custom Brochures - Soon after our listings go into the multiple listing service, our graphic designer creates a colorful and informative brochure in an electronic format that is emailed to hundreds of professional Realtors just to provide them with more information and a gentle reminder of how wonderful your home is. In addition, detailed brochures are created specifically for your home so that your home's information is available each time it is shown to potential buyers. After visiting as many as a dozen homes in one day, it can be quite confusing for potential buyers and difficult for them to remember the details about each home. Having an informative and colorful brochure to take with them helps them to keep the memory of your home fresh in their mind. Click here to see a sample.

6. Print Advertising - Although more limited in its ability to expose your home to large numbers of buyers, we believe that it is still important in reaching those in the local market who may pick up a newspaper or a copy of The Real Estate Book. We regularly subscribe to The Showcase, a weekend insert in the Daily News Record and The Real Estate Book (previously discussed). Though not as widely seen, display ads in the local newspaper are also archived on the newspaper's website.

7. Home Warranty - Each one of our listings is automatically placed under a no cost (small decuctible applies if there is a loss) home warranty that runs the duration of the listing. For the seller, there is absolutely no up-front cost. If you don't have a claim resulting in a loss, you pay nothing; absolutely nothing. What this means to you is that  you can rest assured that if anything covered under the warranty plan (too numerous to mention here) breaks, it will be repaired or replaced and only a small deductible wlll be charged. We have replaced everything from hot water heaters to garage door motors, to dishwashers, to heating and cooling equipment under our home warranties. You can also offer the home warranty to a potential buyer as an incentive to buy your home and pay for it at closing. Offering a home warranty gives the potential buyer a feeling of confidence, knowing that if anything breaks it will be repaired or replaced under the home warranty.

8. Feedback & Contact - If there is one thing that creates more stress for sellers it is the unknown. You have done everything asked of you to present your home in the best possible light for a showing, and you then enter the "ZONE OF SILENCE" where apparently the phone lines and cell towers cannot penetrate. At Valley Realty Associates, we realize how frustrating this can be and we understand your anxiety. We believe that we have a duty and responsibilty to provide you with feedback as soon as possible. The feedback may not always be what you want to hear, but nonetheless you need to hear it. Our administrative staff asks each agent that shows one of our properties to provide us with prompt feedback. To that end our staff has designed an electronic feedback form that we ask each agent to complete and return to us.

We also believe in staying in touch with our clients on at least a weekly basis, if not more often. You see, we like and appreciate our clients, and we never take for granted, the fact that their trust and confidence is being placed in our ability to do the best job possible. Our clients are our best source of new business through referral of their friends, family, and associates. Therefore, we must do the very best job possible in order for them to feel confident in giving us referrals. To date, over 90% of our business comes from client referrals. Oh, by the way, we are never too busy for any of your referrals.

9. We Answer the Phone - This may seem to be a strange thing to discuss, but if you have ever had your home listed with a Realtor, and could not reach them by phone immediately or at least in a reasonable period of time, you will understand why I am placing emphasis on this topic. Our cell phones are with us at all times and we believe in answering them. One never knows if the call is from a potential buyer or fellow Realtor wanting to see your home, or even better; write a contract on your home. Never underestimate the value of being able to reach your real estate agent. If you can't easily and quickly get in touch with your agent, there is a good possibility that neither can potential buyers. Note: We also answer our phones promptly in the evening and on weekends, and holidays.

10. Security & Privacy - There is nothing we take more seriously than the security of your home and the privacy of our client's information. We use the Sentrilock lock box which not only provides a secure place to protect the key to your home, but it also keep a record of who has shown your home and when. We educate our sellers to put away all valuables and important documents that might lead to stolen property or identity theft. For those clients who do not want a lock box used, we keep a copy of their key in a locked key cabinet in an undisclosed location in our office. When showing your home or any home, we take the time to double check doors and windows to make sure your home is secure.

11. Yard Signs - Our yard signs have been professionally designed to do one thing...attract the attention of a potential buyer. Their color and format is guaranteed to catch one's eye from a considerable distance and draw them to your home. Whenever appropriate, we also use directional signs to assist potential buyers in finding your home. Our signs work 24/7 to advertise your home in every kind of weather.

12. Teamwork - Each member of our staff and each of our agents work as a team to sell your home. Each agent and staff member understands the mission of Valley Realty Associates and knows that our clients are the most important people in the world. When one of our agents is not available to serve a client, another agent will step in to assist the client. We work harder because we depend on client referrals to grow our business.

13. Ethics - Every agent and staff member at Valley Realty Associates is committed to the Realtor Code of Ethics and each of us strive to treat our clients the way we would want to be treated. It's not complicated and it is just makes sense to be fair and respectful. If we fail to treat you fairly, you certainly won't be sending us referrals. Be ethical, fair, and professional makes good business sense. We placed this information here, not because it is least important, but because it is the most important element of our business and we want you to leave this site with that in mind.


Joanne has carved her niche in the Shenandoah Valley/Harrisonburg real estate market and has proven her dedication to the clients she serves and the community in which she lives.