Friday, December 17, 2010

"I Only Work With The Listing Agent"

Frequently we get a phone inquiry at our real estate office where the caller is insistent on speaking only to the listing agent. In that instance there is no discussion. The call will go directly to the listing agent... no questions asked.

But, often, we are having a discussion at an open house, or maybe just a casual chat at a bar or a on a park bench and we will hear someone say, "Yeah, I've been looking for a house for quite a while, and when I see one I like I call on it." Our agent will offer, "Would you like me to help you with your search?"... ""No... I just call the listing agent. I'd rather work with the listing agent."

Depending on the circumstances this is where a "buyer" could use a little educating and help in the Common Sense Department. Quite often we find that the buyer doesn't really fully understand the fiduciary relationships and how working "only with the listing agent" can be a recipe for financial loss.

Simply.... Keep this in mind. When a real estate agent lists a house for sale, who are they working for? You should already know this, but the answer is THE SELLER. So when you are chatting and inquiring and musing about buying that house what do you suppose the LISTING agent is doing? Working for the seller! Not you. the seller! They are gathering information.. they are plotting ways to SELL you the house. They are scheming as to how they can get you to pay the highest amount of money and the best terms for their client... the SELLER. they are working against you.

OK... I know what you are thinking. The listing agent says to you, "I know these guys (the sellers) pretty well, and they'll listen to me. I think I can get them to cooperate with you... work with me and we'll get this done." And that all sounds good. But think about this. Is that the kind of agent tat you want to work with? The kind that told you when they listed their property that they would be loyal to your best interests and get you as much money as possible with the best possible terms.... and then they turn around and say this sort of thing to someone they just met??? I don't think so.

So here is my suggestion. Find a Realtor who you connect with. Insist on them representing you. Actually you won't have to insist on it... they will already be geared up to do just that if they are worth their salt. They won't sell you you a house. they won't SELL you a house.

They'll help you BUY a house. With good counsel and no other person's best interest even close to yours!

Happy house hunting! I hope you are in your new home in 2011!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sorry about that....

It has been a while since I wrote in here. Actually my Dad reads this and he commented on that. I have been very involved with summer type stuff ranging from real estate to family to rock and roll to recreation! But A lot of stuff has been going on in real estate so I think I'll ramp it up soon and put my thoughts out there.

In the meantime, think about mortgage rates right now... Do you think they'll get lower ? Really?

And the economy.... can it get worse... better... where is it going.

Let's talk!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Buy A House That's NOT for sale!

So, you've looked and you've looked, and you've looked. Your agent is great. Stays in touch and keeps feeding you leads. But nothing seems to do the trick.

If your agent hasn't already done it let's start thinking about buying a house that ISN'T for sale.

That's right. ISN'T for sale.

What is the harm with approaching the owners of a house that is not on the market and suggesting that if they ever gave any thought to selling their home maybe we have a buyer? I tell you I've done it. And more often than not I have gotten no response. And on occasion I've been more or less told to take a hike.

That's probably why you don't want to "cold call" homeowners and it's also why you should put this project in the lap of your agent... But if you can I.D. a couple of houses that you think you might be interested, your agent can "go to work" !

Your agent will know the way to put together a pitch that will illicit a response... say and explain the right things, so as to pique their interest, and hopefully describe your dilemma and situation to get you an opportunity.

You know what's good about this? You aren't in competition with other buyers. It's a quiet and less stressful sequence of discussions and meetings.

It will never be a "slam dunk". Who knows if it will work. But, hey.... you'll never know unless you try.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Do You Want ?

What is it you REALLY want from your agent ? You want them to sell the house, right? Or find you the best deal there is around, as the case may be! Right?

Now, if you think for one moment your agent is not all about that, then switch. But, who do you switch to? Let's face it, we all have good days and bad days! There are days when I feel like my clients have really gotten EVERYthing from me. And there are days when I maybe could've done more...

So I'm not suggesting that your agent get fired because one day he or she didn't call you back in less than ten minutes.

But, here is what I think you should expect. Your agent should use all the resources available to them. RealtyUSA agents have fantastic marketing department that can design and publish top notch pieces and campaigns. The Internet and web offer countless opportunities to get your property promoted, not to mention there is an incredible database of homes for you as a buyer! Automatic emailing should be the norm when you're looking for a home. How about single property websites... try this one:

How about Facebook? How about Linkedin ? Is your agent utilizing all the servers such as Trulia, Yahoo!, ,etc.

Here's a sample of some work done by one of my agents here in Loudonville, New York :

He's putting this up in places like YouTube.. Facebook, Google, etc. Your agent can do this sort of thing, but the next step is understanding how to use keywords and methods that will garner the most views possible!

There are many services available to assist real estate agents in helping to promote their listings (read: YOUR house)... These opportunities also are there to help agents find properties for their clients!

So what do you want from your agent? You want them to understand today's technology and resources... to increase your chances of a satisfactory outcome in your real estate endeavors.

That's what you want! Demand it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Didn't take advantage of the government's home buying credit? Might be GOOD NEWS!!!

Believe it or not I'm being told that the persons who did not take advantage of the Home Buyer's Credit may actually fare better than those who did!

On a 200,000 purchase the interest rate has dipped low enough that the difference may have save those who did NOT partake as much as $18,000 over the life of their 30 year mortgage!

Who'd of thunk it!!!???

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Move the date!

Aren't you glad you didn't hit the panic button?

I'm talking to you folks who bought a house this spring before April 30th and were told you could get the government's tax credit AS LONG AS YOU CLOSED BEFORE JUNE 30th! So what did you do? You kinda rushed and thank God! You got an offer accepted by April 30th!

Whew! But wait... a new stress thing! You need to close by June 30th! OK, sez you. But it wasn't really up to you was it? Your bank had to get their stuff done in order for you to close. Really almost had NOTHING to do with you at all.

So you kept in touch with the bank.... "are we OK ?"... "did we get the committment yet?"... "are we 'cleared to close'?"... "hey that June 30th date is getting close! We are depending on that $8,000 credit you know!"...

There were many out there who were sweating bullets! Yup, they didn't think the bank was going to get the file closed in time! Oh no!!!! In fact there were a few that were threatening to cancel ther contract because of this.

What's going on ???? Well, any time a deadline is imposed, everyone and their brother is "pushing" toward that date! The banks were "overwhelmed"! So the powerful banking world lobbied our fearless leaders and asked for a NEW date.

So guess what? Here's what your government is saying now, " As long as you really did have a contract by April 30th... we are going to extend the deadline... Your bank will have until September 30th!"

Well, it's not totally OK yet... the House has to approve this measure... but the Senate already did... Keep your eyes and ears open! Your government is all over it!

Good luck my friends!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do you know what the BIGGEST stumbling block is?

One word: Appraisal.

Yup. That's the big stumbling block. We get a buyer that wants to buy. We have a seller that is agreeable to the price proposed by the buyer. We do all the inspections. We apply to the lending institution The bank sends out the appraiser. The appraiser reports that they can't "find any suitable comps".

Now what? The bank sends a letter to the buyer and tells them that the mortgage application is denied because the house is not worth what the buyer and seller (and presumably two real estate agents) thought.

Rules and regulations tightly monitor and restrict what the real estate agents can do with the appraiser in the lines of saving the transaction. One of the most frustrating factors is that the appraisers are told they can't go any further back than 3 months. In many areas this means they really DON'T have any similar sales to use.

About the only solution is that the seller agrees to take the lower appraised price. If they can. Often they can't. Often they owe too much money. they'll end up upside down as they say in the business!

This recent re-occurrence is pretty difficult to avoid and predict.

So what can be done to safeguard against it ? My sources at 1stPriority Mortgage suggest that we avoid seller concessions whenever possible. Seller concessions as a general rule skew the actual fair market value, by adding thousands of dollars to the sale of the property.

I am counseling my agents to "think like the banks/appraisers" when obtaining a listing. That means doing an appraisal when speaking with a potential home seller that is more like what we can expect when the house goes under contract. This procedure is referred to in our profession as a CMA... comparative or competitive market analysis.

So, you as a home seller, need to make sure that the real estate agent who is pitching to get your listing is aware of these conditions. They need to be savvy and realistic in detailing their perception of where to list your property and what is the most likely sales price.

Appraisals. A tough pill to swallow right now, but it's real and it's here... right now. Be advised!

-Your friend in Real Estate... Steve

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Value of Cleaning Up!

Are you selling? Are you just going to have your Realtor "stick a sign in the ground"? Well hold on pardner... Ya gotta have heard that "'round these parts stagin' is the deal".

Seriously if you are remotely familiar with real estate you've heard that buzzword: STAGING. And really what it means is clean it up! Freshen it up! Make it shine. Package it!

As a full time professional Realtor, we see it all the time. We take buyers into a home and it's INCREDIBLE how sloppy, dark and dinghy the place is! Amzing turn off for any buyer!

Do you think Bloomingdale's would just throw the clothes on the window floor in downtown NYC to entice buyers to come in? Why do you think they pay the window dressers so much money to do what they do?

You need to make your place shine! Most of what needs to be done is very inexpensive. And don't start thinking that your asking price is so low that it's not worth it! No matter the price, it should be cleaned up.

Loose door handle? Fix it! Broken pane of glass? Fix it! Leaky faucet? Fix it! Drawer won't close all the way? Fix it! One of the carriage lights is out? Replace it! Carpet looks old and dirty? At least have it shampooed.

We're coming into the busy real estate season...

Clean up!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How Do I Get My First Time Home Buyer's Credit?

It's getting that time of year where some of our clients... first time home buyers especially in this context... are doing their taxes and want to know about how to get the First time Home Buyer's Credit... Here's some stuff...

Both first-time home buyers and long-time owners can qualify for a credit. A first-time home buyer for the purposes of the credit is someone who has not owned a home (or whose spouse who has not owned a home) during the three-year period that ends on the date of purchase of the new home. If you purchased on November 30, 2009 you must not have owned a home since December 1, 2006. The earliest date to qualify for this credit is January 1, 2009.

To qualify for the credit given to long-time home owners, you must have owned your current home for any five five year period during the eight year period ending on the date of purchase of the new home. The earliest home purchase date to qualify for this credit is November 8, 2009.
For either credit, if your date of purchase is in May or June 2010, you will need to prove you entered into a contract to buy the house before May 2010. Read below to determine what documentation is necessary.

Members of the military and the “intelligence community” have an extra year to purchase a house and qualify for the credit.

Restrictions for qualifying for the credit

Even if you qualify as a first-time home buyer or a long-time home owner and you have purchased a qualifying house within the permitted time frame, you might still not qualify for the credit.

You will not qualify if:

You purchased your house after November 6, 2009, the price of the house may not be more than $800,000;

Your modified adjusted gross income is $95,000 ($170,000 if you are married filing jointly) or more and you purchased your house before November 7, 2009. A phase-out of the credit begins with a MAGI of $75,000 (or $150,000);

Your modified adjusted gross income is $145,00 ($245,000 if you are married filing jointly) or more and your purchased your house after November 6, 2009. A phase-out of the credit begins with a MAGI of $125,000 (or $225,000);

Someone else claims you as a dependent on their tax return;

You purchased your house after November 6, 2009, and were under the age of 18 on the date of purchase;

You are a nonresident alien;

Your house is located outside the United States;

You sell your home or it ceases to be your main residence before the end of the year in which you purchase it;

You received the house as a gift or inheritance;

You acquired your home from a relative or a related corporation or partnership;

1. You need IRS form 5405 "First Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of The Credit. The form will guide you through the process, ensure you qualify for a credit, and determine the amount of your credit.

2. Collect your required documentation. You will need the Form HUD-1 Settlement Statement or other settlement statement outlining the names and signatures of all parties to the sale, the property address, the price, and the date of purchase. If you do not have a settlement statement, as you might not if you purchase a newly-constructed home, attach your certificate of occupancy.

If you are under contract but have not taken occupancy of the house by the time you file your taxes — and you still qualify under the date restrictions above — include pages from your signed contract including the signatures and names of all parties, the property price, the address, and the contract date.

If you qualify as a long-time homeowner rather than a first-time home buyer, include Form 1098 (Mortgage Interest Statement), property tax records, or homeowners’ insurance records. The forms must cover a full consecutive five year period within the eight years ending on the date of the purchase. Be sure to send copies of these forms, not the originals.

3. Complete your Form 1040. Include your bottom line on Form 5405 on the appropriate line on your income tax return. On the 2009 Form 1040 return, it's line 67. If you use the Short Form or Form 1040EZ you won't be able to do this.

It may not be a bad idea to hire a professional to assist you with or to do your taxes if you are skittish about these sort of things... It is a considerable amount of money and you want to make sure you get it right! Otherwise rock on!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NEW improved FHA Policy Changes:Tougher to get a FHA loan.

Here's the lowdown:

Mortgage Insurance Premium... which you may see as MIP is going from 1.75% to 2.25% ! I am of the understanding that this will go into affect in the spring.

Seller Concessions... FHA has allowed up to 6%... This will be reduced to 3%. This change could happen in the early summer.

Credit scores... Used to be the minimum credit score was 620... the change will be 580. If the score is above 580 the applicant may qualify for the 3.5% down payment. If the applicant's credit score is below 580 they will be required to put at least 10% down. This change may take place in early summer of 2010.

Those of you that have read my blog or know me personally know that I have had my own humble opinion of how mortgages in the past have been handled and even whom I felt should shoulder the blame. In my view the government's "involvement" and regulating, while well intended (remember our parents' generation expression? "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!" ?) was the biggest contributing factor toward bad loans all across the fruited plain. Banks were encouraged/forced to extend credit to people that had no business buying a home on credit. I see here the advertisements and commercials: "No credit? No problem!" The government promoted home ownership as the "American Dream". And we, as a society, well how could we keep anyone from their dream?

I'm sorry... I'm getting a little off track here. The bottom line here is that the federal government is going to change the way FHA gives out mortgages. I suspect that in the short run it will be somewhat painful. I hope in the long run it will keep us from running into trouble again. But you know what? Our politicians will fix that!

Rock on my friends!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I MIGHT be talking to you....

This is a "stab in the dark". I am never real certain as to why people do or do not read a blog. But nevermind. You're reading this one so I'll get right to it.

Today I want to throw an invitation out to someone... maybe you... who knows?

The invitation is this: Call me and talk about a career in real estate.

Here's the deal. I'm not going to tell you it's easy. I'm not even going to call it fun. I'm here to tell you that it's a great profession that like anything else in life has it's pluses and minuses. But I am also here to tell you that you can make a pretty nice living being a Realtor. I'm also here to tell you that it does not happen over night. So if you're the kind of dreamer that wants to get their license and immediately start raking in the dough... well, don't bother calling me.

I'm on a new hunt. I want sincere enthusiasm. I want an agent that is going to be hurt, when they hear about a person who bought a house and had a horrible ordeal with their agent. I want people who don't like it when they hear detrimental things about their profession. I want agents who are going to take the job of representing clients seriously. I want agents who are looking at the big picture. I want people who are willing to work at improving our image. I want people with vocational pride.

And if you're lazy... and prone to taking the easy way out... and persuaded to cut corners... don't bother. And I think people who are like that really know they are like that. So be real honest with yourself. In fact I would ask you, if you are like that, to not only skip contacting me to help you get started, but to stay out of our profession all together. We don't need that.

If you want to make up your mind that you are going to treat it like a business... you are going to dedicate yourself to be the best you can possibly be... you are planning on putting in the time.... you are planning on making every day productive and gratifying, not only for you, but for your clients and everyone around you... then call me. I want to help you. I want to invest in you.

But just remember... this real estate business is not for everyone. And as far as the people who can't or shouldn't be in... it doesn't mean they are bad people... I just happen to know, it takes a few special attributes to do this and do it right.

Want to know more: email me a note: I'll shake it down straight for ya!

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Mortgage Rules... how does that affect YOU?

If you are taking the time to read a real estate blog you are, no doubt, aware there are many changes in the real estate business... more specifically in the financing end of it. One of the most notable is NO MORE PRE-APPROVAL LETTERS. Sort of.

Based on the new federal banking rules mortgage brokers cannot issue a pre-approval letter without also submitting a binding Good Faith Estimate. They may, however issue a pre-qualification without disclosing a new binding Good Faith Estimate to the borrower. No pre-qualification letter can have a property address without issuing a binding Good Faith Estimate. The word I am getting is that every single issue must be addressed before the bank can say. "pre-approved" or "approved".

So what does this mean to us Realtors and our buyers and sellers? Well, it may mean more time. It takes time to get all the information gathered. If you want to shorten the amount of time it will take, the professionals (read: Realtors) must be sure the seller has ALL their documents ready and completely up to date. Contracts must be tight. That means no changes and/or adjustments. If there are changes and/or adjustments they MUST be communicated to the originator and this will often mean a re-opening of the file and re-consideration of the factors previously reviewed.

I suspect that once the loan originators and lending institutions get further along with these changes things will settle down. Right now they are all very "uptight" about how to properly execute the loan documents. They have been spending hours in classes just to get up to speed, and I am hearing that they are being told that these regulations are extremely rigid and that I believe is causing a lot of anxiety!

So the bottom line is this... If you are a seller... have all your documents and pertinent information regarding your real estate in order and close at hand. If you are entertaining an offer be certain that the proper steps have been taken by your buyer and their lending company. If you are a buyer... ask your loan originator if they are completely familiar with the 2010 GFE/HUD Settlement Statement and the new RESPA regulations. And as always do NOT hold back any information or documents from your loan expert. That will only slow down the inevitable.

When this sort of change occurs in any industry, it is even more important to utilize the services of a professional that you know and can trust. If you don't know someone, I bet you know someone who does... call them!

Good luck! And don't forget... if you are going to take advantage of the new home buyer tax credit, you need to be under contract by April 30th!