Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Have confidence in your agent

You know what your agent wants ? Don't say, "commission", because that is true, but it's not totally accurate.

We got into this business to make money. But it has been my experience as I observe agents on the job, they really want to help their clients. That's what they really want to do!

I'm blogging on this to encourage you to think about what your agent's role is and help you to understand that the advice and counsel you get is what they think is best for you. Sometimes if you don't get the "right" answer you loose faith in your agent. Nine times out of ten, it's

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buy The First House You See

You just might you know.

It's kind of funny. I will get a call from a young couple who say they want to buy a house. So, I invite them in to do a buyer consultation. They describe to me what they are looking for. I put together a list of homes for their consideration.

We look at their selections. Often the first one is their favorite. We look at the rest, they buy the first!

So here's the "little warning" I want to give to you. If that favorite house is the first one you look at, and if that favorite house just came on the market, and if your Realtor tells you it is a really good deal and won't last long.... well, you might be put in a dilemma. You know you want to look at other houses, but you become afraid this one won't be around when you get through the rest of the inventory.

It's a toughie. Depending on your relationship with your Realtor, you will need to make a decision. If you've done a really good job describing what you want in your new home, and if your Realtor is a full time agent who really knows the market, you can make a decision right there and be reasonably confident. Your Realtor may tell you that they see the market and it's inventory day in and day out... this is a great deal.

Now. Guess what? If you and your Realtor are blown away about what a great deal it is, do you think other folks will be feeling the same way? So can you see the writing on the wall? You will very likely be in a multiple offer situation.

I am going to blog on multiple offers next.

Stay cool!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What about the sex offender list?

As a buyer you certainly want to know as much as you can about your prospective new home. In fact, you should want to know as much as you can about your new neighborhood as well.

Part of learning about your new neighborhood is knowing who your neighbors might be. What I'm referring to here is the public database of sex offenders. Law dictates that the offenders must register their whereabouts, including their residence.

The onus is on you, the home buyer to find out if there is a sex offender residing in your new neighborhood. If you ask a listing agent if there are any sex offenders living in the area, they are not obligated to say UNLESS, they actually have checked the database themselves or have been informed. They certainly can respond they don't know, if they have not checked, but if they actually have checked, they are obligated to tell the truth.

Kind of heavy material to digest, while trying to find the "perfect home", but I just thought you should know....


Monday, July 14, 2008

Buying through the listing agent

Did you go to Open Houses this weekend? If you're looking to buy a house, you very well may have.

Here's a familiar scenario:

A nice couple stops in at an open house. The person there is the listing agent. The listing agent shows them around and the couple thank him/her and leave. They like the house. In fact, they want to buy it.

They call the agent. Maybe go for a second look. Hopefully by now the agent has disclosed to these "buyers" that he/she represents the seller. What the buyers need to understand is that the agent owes complete loyalty to the seller. The agent must negotiate and counsel with the seller's best interest in mind. Who is going to negotiate and counsel the buyers?

As a buyer, you obviously want to have someone "on your side". Someone who will research and use their knowledge and expertise to help you make a sound decision to buy or not to buy... and if the decision is to buy, get you the best price and terms possible.

That all being said.... I have been in the business since 1982. The majority of my transactions have involved another broker or agent. Fact is, when I list a property for sale, I fully expect that will be the case. BUT. I have had occasions where a buyer has said they do not have an agent. I explain agency to them. They have still wanted to proceed using me, despite the fact that I have told them I work for the seller. I actually offer to refer them to another agent, if they would like. Still, "no". These people bought their house. They were happy to buy the house and felt like they got a good deal. I disagree with them, because I honestly feel the purest condition is each side having reprersentation.

Should you do this? Buy through the listing agent? In a word, no. But this may require you going out to find an agent that you trust on short notice.

I will expound on this more, if my schedule allows it....

Got questions? email me at

I'd love to help!

Have a great day... why not? It's summer!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cash Offers

Ever hear the expression, "Cash is king"? People like cash. I like cash. I can spend it right away.

But when it comes to buying a house, cash isn't always king. Often, terms overshadow the cash. Often the response from the seller may be, "I don't care... I get cash at the closing, and I am willing to wait a little longer, especially if it means more money."

Here's the thing... the best offer you could give a seller is all cash, no contingencies, close right away. An offer with a mortgage of any kind can't compete with that. Now, your Realtor, and likely your lawyer, will get a little nervous if you propose an all cash, no contingency offer. Why? Well, first you should have a structural inspection done (yes, even if you are a contractor who "knows houses"), and you certainly should do a title search to make certain the seller is actually entitled to sell the home and is the owner of record!

But, if you feel that you want to make a cash offer , go for it! Just keep your feet on the ground. If there are no other offers on the property you can probably start a little lower than asking price, but I have a question here. Don't you too?


Why are there no other offers on this property? If it's such a a good deal why is no one else interested? How long has it been on the market? How long ago did these people buy it? Why are they selling? Have they had any offers? If so why did they not go through? Did they fail the structural? Did the bank get an unfavorable appraisal?

So, go ahead with cash, but don't be reckless! And if you do buy the property on a cash offer... try to get your inspections and searches done. then, maybe after a bit you can go get a mortgage on the place and buy another!

Hey.... Are you trying to buy a house in the Capital Region? I can help you, you know. Been doing it since 1982! Send me an email! I'll get you started!

See ya!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

The mortgage crisis

I've been away a few days....
Ever had a kidney stone?
My advice.... don't!

Anyway... The news on the national level is loaded with bad news surrounding mortgages. And of course, it's not being made up by the media... there is a real problem. At some point it will get "righted", if you'll allow that word.

But for you.... here is my suggestion. Remember real estate is local. It involves you and a house you want to live in... LOCAL. It will involve local real estate agents and local attorneys. Make sure it involves a local lender. I really am wary of on-line lending companies.... and especially the come-ons they project by way of emails, etc.

Use a local lender... wherever you are. chances are pretty good the transaction will go smoothly.

Look, my office sells upward to $50,000,000 a year in real estate. As the manager I oversee all these transactions... The ones that have mortgage issues are almost always out of town crazy companies that we've never heard of!

Work locally. You'll be OK.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have kidney stone to get rid of. I hope.

Rock and Roll forever!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cleaner is Better

You know, when you make an offer on the house that you want.... if you REALLY want it, the best offer is a full price cash offer with NO contingencies.

Right. BUT. We all know, most of the time that is not the best idea... or even practical. There are, and should be, many factors that affect your offer. Not the least being your Realtor's counsel on the true fair market value of the house. He or she should be assessing the value based on statistics (not emotion), and giving you guidance. Other factors may include financing limitations... geographical location... the need to sell your current home, etc.

So what I want to get to here is a trade off. If you need to impose conditions on your purchasing a home, you need to understand how it will be received by the seller. The more restrictions/conditions you put in the contract the more likely it will be that the seller will back away. But, what do you think has the best chance of overcoming that ? I'll help you here... money. The more conditions you impose, the higher your offering price should be. Most of the time.

Please understand that this is not a cookie-cutter process. There is no set in stone formula... but this approach I have just discussed with you is based on my experience and observation of what offers work, and what offers don't.

Have a great hot summer day!

Your friend in real estate.... Steve

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Your agent should present your offer... IN PERSON

I'm not happy with the way real estate offers seems to be presented these days. At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, I will tell you that the new technology has paved the way for a more efficient but less effective way of communicating offers.

Bear with me for a second. When I began selling real estate in 1982, faxes were rare... email was not even on the radar screen. So when we got an offer from a buyer, I would call the listing agent and arrange to meet them and their client (the sellers) to present the offer. IN PERSON! I would most often end up in the kitchen of the sellers and would be given an opportunity to discuss the virtues of my offer. I would invariably describe my buyers... lay it on thick about how wonderful they were... talk about their hopes and dreams... refer to how their family is much like the seller's family when they started out... I would use all sorts of communication skills and techniques to promote my buyers' cause. When the seller responded in a less than desirable way... I could see it... I could hear it... I could FEEL it. I could deal with it. Right there and then. And we usually could find some common ground. We could usually sell the house.

Not today. The listing agents want the offer faxed to them. Or emailed. The buyer's agent never gets a chance to get in front of the sellers... belly to belly... man to man... face to face. And sadly, what I think is going on is that the listing agent doesn't even TAKE the offer to the sellers. They are calling them or even faxing the offer to their OWN client.

Why? I think it's partly because they are afraid. They... the agents, are like most humans: They don't like confrontation. And presenting an offer, that is NOT FULL PRICE is a confrontation. Depending on how low the offer is and how crazy the terms might be make the confrontation better or worse. But THAT was what made us real estate agents! Not everyone had it in them to do this. But doing this more often than not helped get houses sold.

So my advice today... try to get your agent to present the offer in person. Hopefully you have selected a Realtor who is well trained and has the personality to be able to walk into enemy fire and keep cool. They can take the initial response, and work it in your favor and get the offer accepted.

Then you won't be wondering this: "Did my offer ever actually get presented?" Because they way it is being done most often today, if you ask your agent that question they may well respond, "Well, I think it did... I, uh, faxed it over to the agent and have a fax transmission sheet that says it did."

Hoo boy.

Have a super day... you deserve it!