Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Offer Accepted! What's Escrow?

So, working with a new buyer, we sometimes forget that they don't really know what the heck 'Escrow' is!

Realtors, with experience, can practically do their jobs blind-folded, on auto-pilot. Those same Realtors know that our clients need us to guide them.

So, what happens after you finally get an offer negotiated and accepted? When do you get your new house keys?

Well, we do the Escrow thing. Open, go thru, and then, close Escrow. Yeah, that simple!

LOL....well, for the buyers it is pretty simple. For agents, we do a lot of behind the scenes work. A lot......if we're doing our job right!

So herein is the life of an Escrow. And, remember, Escrow is a third party, they ensure that the contract is kept to, and they can't change anything without all the principals agreeing.

Escrow is opened by the listing agent sending the Escrow Officer (EO) a fully executed (signed by all parties) contract.

The Buyer(s) bring their deposit check to escrow and, Wala, escrow is open!

With most purchase agreements, there is a contingency period. I sometimes call it the 'If This Happens' period. Most contingencies are on the buyers side. If the financing pans out, I buy the house. If the inspection is okay, I buy the house, etc. Therein, the 'If' factor. Also called by me, 'The Period of Discovery'. Buyers spend a couple of weeks discovering all they can about the house, guided by their agent, to confirm that this is the right home for them.

Title reports, Inspection reports, NHD reports, Seller disclosures, Appraisals. All of these are provided for buyer to assist in the If and Discovery.

Buyer is required to complete and review these in a timely manner. Bind the property with appropriate Hazard Insurance...AND...satisfy all their loan processing requirements.

Agents are required to make sure all this stuff really is happening in a timely manner.

The last couple of weeks is usually the stressful time. Lenders require additional items. We are pressing for a timely close. Where are those dang loan docs??? (Smirk)

What's a Loan Doc? A mountain of paperwork that buyer(s) sign to buy their home. Some items have already been signed during the Escrow period, they seem redundant, but they have to be signed regardless. Your hand will get a little cramped during escrow!

The Loan Docs are signed with your EO about a week to 10 days prior to COE (Close Of Escrow). They are then returned back to the lender for a final review and more T crossing and I dotting.

There are conditions, PTF (prior to funding) that have to be met. That is the EO and mortgage brokers responsibility. Then, and only then, we are set up to Fund.

Yippee! Make sure the buyers have scheduled their utilities as needed, call them when we have heard it Funded (the loan) and then.....the next RECORDS in the new buyer(s) name. That's when it's official. That's when the new buyer(s) really own the house they are going to call home.

That's when I have the greatest pleasure....making the call to my clients at COE to tell them they now own the home.....I just love that. Even better is presenting them with their keys at the front door.

Hope this post helps some of you. Remember, I can do this're not expected to. Don't worry, that's my job!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Next Decade in Real Estate

We're just about to head into 2011. The next decade. And again, I don't have a crystal ball, but I do have some experience.

So, in 2011, we will likely see more of what we've seen in 2010. Yeah, yeah, you already know that. But, we'll probably see more purchases again. Where we slowed down after the tax credits went away, we will see some people that just can't keep holding off on purchasing the American Dream.

We'll see some sellers that have been waiting for the market to turn around.... get tired of waiting. The reasons for waiting don't seem like the right reasons anymore anyways. They may realize that it is just too long to wait!

And, when new construction pops out? That will entice a few sellers with a little bit of equity to go ahead and sell to buy new again. We are the 'Town of New' remember?

Most people, the Real Estate Bible says, will move every 7-8 years. Even if we don't see it as the perfect time, it will just naturally happen anyways.

Mortgage rates are still really low. Under 5%. They may creep up to 6, but really, that's an amazingly low rate.

So (and I love doing these short blog posts, you see I like talking in person more), Real Estate just keeps on keeping on. And, so do I. Just call me. I'll help you in any way I can.

 Happy New Decade!

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Construction Increase, Will It Help?

I was letting the hubby sleep in today, this Christmas Eve.....and so, of course, I was reading my favorite sites again.

The last couple of months there has been some quiet talk about new construction being on the increase. I just read another one this morning. It notes that there has been some slight up and down this year in new construction, but overall, up by just under 10%.

That, to me, is a good sign. If we have the huge monies being pumped into the housing to build new construction it helps all around, don't you agree?

Generates jobs, generates sales, generates new homes for people to buy. Moves money around in our economy. All is good.

And, it makes me think that there may be a closer end to this housing crisis than we have been thinking. Give it a couple more years, about how long it seems to take to really get a good push on new construction, and we just may be seeing a brighter home front.

Merry Christmas to all, in new and old homes. I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2011. A year when we can work towards a fresh start. And, move on from the financial catastrophe we have been suffering.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Comes With 2011 ?

I started this blog to share thoughts and exchange opinions and ideas. This post is just a wondering of things to come.

What will 2011 bring?  Certainly not an end to the housing 'crisis' we are in. Not that I see in this upcoming year.

But, will the new year bring people that need to sell their homes? Of course. And, what about people that need to buy a home? You bet.

Just a really short post, one that I talk about frequently......people will always buy and sell homes....always.

Even during crisis.....and well beyond 2011.

Happy Holidays to my blog and all!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Children's Choice!

Showing a home last night, I was surprised when the Sophomore daughter walked away from her parents as soon as they walked in the door to go upstairs and investigate which room may be hers. She was quiet, but definitely wanted to see how the house suited her. We'll see if that's the home she felt good in. Particularly since it was walking distance to where she goes to school.

Last weekend, showed a home to another family and the middle-school age son immediately said he liked the house where his trampoline would fit in the back-yard. That's the one we wrote an offer on.

I read an article that confirms I'm not the only one that is seeing that children matter beyond the coloring books and candies we keep in our pockets for entertainment while the parents are house-hunting....

It's not that they make the entire decision, but not only do we have to understand our adult clients wants and needs, but their children too.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mortgage Interest and Property Tax Deductions

We've been hearing about it and it hasn't received enough votes to be put on the ballot. But, really? Take away the Mortgage Interest and Property Tax Deduction? Would that be a wise idea?

Everyone looks forward to tax time with a great amount of dread. Yet, for homeowners, the deduction of property taxes and mortgage interest paid has always helped to reduce the total amount due. I enjoy it, surely every other homeowner enjoys it as well. Makes paying income taxes less dreadful.

If it is taken away and property values are still in decline mode? In my opinion, that's just the icing on the cake to make some borrowers go over the edge to the next step. Let their property fall into default. And, then what happens? We have even more foreclosed properties.

I get that it would help with the economic situation, sort of....
But it's a band-aid for a bigger wound that would surely open....and bleed our economy even more.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Phone Call About SS?

Good Morning! I'm up, reading, thinking, planning my day. That's my Realtor life.

Today, I'm thinking about the phone call I received yesterday from one of my peeps about short-selling their home. Met with them a few months ago, concerned that the financial hardship wasn't truly there....just the value of the property had declined.

They have an agent that is being 'pushy' (their word) with them about a supposed investor that wants to buy in their track and would possibly allow them to rent the unit once it transfers ownership.

So, they call me for my opinion.....after the listing agreement has been signed with the other agent.....who isn't even a member of our MLS. Has an active license, but, in her own words, 'doesn't do much real estate.' But, has this investor buddy.

Hmmmm.....interesting isn't it?

Well, I can't say anything bad about this person, that's just not nice. I don't even know her, and it's just not PC. So, I make a couple of suggestions. Say, watch out for double-ended escrow. If the investor doesn't come to light right away, decide if you want to pursue the closing of a SS. I say, no feelings hurt if they want to use her.

And, we close the conversation with.....'Contact your Accountant. Speak to your Financial Advisor. Telephone your Attorney.'

Each SS situation is different. And, it is supposed to be valid hardship. And, when you're almost a year delinquent, does it really matter if you pursue a SS or let it get foreclosed upon?

Your choices, just like your choice of agent to work with. Some are good choices, some may not be. Still yours.

Happy Saturday morning!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Challenging Seller?

So, we've got these sellers...and both say that they want to sell? But every step of the way one of them digs their heels into the ground. The other frets and tries to pull the one's heels out of the ground....but they stay firmly planted.

Until that heel planted one gets what they want....presumably. Notice I did not say that I assume that is what is going on. Because that makes an ass out of you and me, right?

Behind on their mortgage, need to sell. You'd think the heel planter would want the remaining equity, right? You'd think......but here we are another week and nothing moving forward.

I work towards helping all types of clients to obtain their goals. Whether it is buying their dream home, or selling to get the remaining equity out of the home to re-locate to another area.

Sometimes, the goal doesn't seem to be the same for everyone. And, sometimes, we don't really know what their true goal is.

'Sometimes' today.....and the heels are still firmly planted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daily Reading ..... Again....and Always

Up late last night on personal business, still read and replied to e-mails though. Love those smart-phones!

This morning I was reading my favorite news sites and saw at least one that made me perk up a bit. Most, of course, is still pretty much a bummer about our economy, but every now and again I read something that reminds me it's just a period we are going through.

This will pass.

So, I continue my reading, continue my prospecting, continue to service my clients. Snags in the road, that's all we have. And, we continue to work through those snags to get to the final destination. The sale of a home.

Again, and always, I will work for my clients. No matter how difficult each case may be. No matter how easy one feels than the other. No matter how much negative info I keep reading?

Again, and always, I will take care of you, my client. For now, for life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

As-Is Sale, Really?!?!?

When buying or selling homes, particularly in the current market, frequently the property is advertised 'AS-IS'. What the heck does that really mean?

Well, it honestly could mean a few different things, as noted in the article I have linked here:

Fortunately for my clients I cover both sides of the purchase. Whether it is my seller that is low on funds and doesn't want to do repairs or it is my buyer that is looking at a home with that noted in the Agent Confidential Remarks.

My seller? They still have to disclose everything they know about the property. I still have to do an Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID) as well.

My buyer? You bet they are going to be told to have a professional inspection completed on the property. And, I do my AVID for them also.

And, the funny thing is, frequently the inspection doesn't show anything wrong so we are good to move forward without worrying about the AS-IS statement. But, also kinda funny, when something is noted as having a problem on the inspection report, I've still asked for it to be repaired, whether standard sale, SS or does get repaired!!!

Remember, everything is Real Estate truly is negotiable ! So, don't be afraid of that statement. If it's the home of your dreams, write an offer, get accepted, and see what comes of the seller disclosures and the professional inspection. Those will help you make the decision. And, sometimes, there really isn't much wrong with the house and the seller just thinks they are covering their tush by making the agent put AS-IS in the remarks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Get Legal/Tax Advice

When a seller comes to me and asks me if they should short-sale (SS) their home, my first answer is to talk with an attorney, accountant, or trusted financial planner. I am not allowed to give tax or legal advice. I can only guide them in the sale of their home, SS or not.

I will tell them what is going on in the market for buyers and sellers of SS's. Which banks seem to be doing what. Who may have to bring some cash to the table. Which may just be a lost cause. What my experiences have been.

And, I will tell changes daily.

I can tell them which banks have been easiest to work with. Which ones have been taking the longest. Which loans may be investor owned, which may be recourse loans. But, I can't make the decision for them.

As any good Realtor knows, we can only present the information. Tell clients what they can do, how the process works.

And, guide them in making the correct determination for their personal circumstances.

There is no sure-fire way to get SS's done. There are certain guidelines, definitely, but it still feels like two steps forward, one step back.

My favorite Lauren line these days? 'Onward and Forward !' Whether it is buying or selling, I tell my clients no matter how frustrating, we just keep moving onward and forward.

We'll get it done. Promise.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful Market Stats

Happy Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend! Not too many of you thinking about Real Estate during the last few days. You'd think the last few weeks you haven't been thinking about it either....based upon the stats of this morning....and my perusal of what's happening in the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond.

But, be thankful that we are still selling homes, that buyers are still buying and that sellers are still selling. As long as homes are transferring ownership, we still survive.

It spite of everything, it remains the American own your home.....even now. Albeit that it is more difficult than you would have hoped for, Real Estate long term is still a viable investment.

Today's stats in 'Awesome Town' show that we have 1160 homes, condos and townhouses available for sale.  240 homes were sold in the month of October, only 184 sold so far this month of November. That's okay in my book. Sheesh, it is the 'holiday season'. And, it traditionally slows down this time of year. We are holding to approximately a 5 month supply. The number of homes available and the number of homes closing escrow has been the same for a while now and that's good news! Really, it is!

So, while you are probably getting tired of turkey leftovers, I'm not tired of selling homes. I'm not tired of checking the stats. Not tired of the house selling difficulties. And, I'm very thankful that my buyers and sellers aren't tired of it either.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Womens' Intuition - Is it for Real?

As a Real Estate agent I have to work for my clients best interest at all times. Every once in a while my gut tells me something is amiss. And, that's when you wonder if you're 2nd guessing yourself or if you should follow the infamous 'Women's Intuition". The thing men hate that we say we have, but that most women know we do!

In the world of Short Sales (SS's) and REO's there is quite a bit that can be in the world of unknown. With REO's it's the realization that the seller doesn't know anything about the property and therefore can't disclose to you why there is a drywall patch on the wall, or if that spot on the ceiling was before or after what appears to be a copper plumbing re-pipe patch.

With SS's, it's the wondering if there is any fraud going on, is the SS lender being informed of all the details of the sale?

I'm in another SS contract now, we're this close to complete approval, and the listing agent seems to be a little sketchy about the terms of the approval. And, I'm trying politely to determine if there is something amiss about an addendum that I don't see uploaded on the SS site.

So, I talk with my broker and concur that the listing agent is responsible for submitting all documents pertaining to the sale, that the SS lender will see the final HUD1, and that I need to disclose (remember in RE, it's disclose, disclose, disclose!) to my client my thoughts and concerns and allow her to decide if she wishes to proceed with the purchase.

Had several conversations with buyer, e-mailed agent, spoke with SS processor and am awaiting a call today to tell me if my 'Women's Intuition' was on overdrive or....if it was for real.

Crossing my fingers that my intuition was off for the day!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Toxic Clients? I Must Be Lucky...

In my almost decade of working with buyers and sellers, true, I've run across some more difficult than others. Some may need a little stern talking too. Another needs a little extra hand-holding. One may have needed more explanation than the last. And, one maybe was a bit of a yeller. Another even, a bit of a cryer.

But, a toxic client? Can't say that I've had one that I felt was truly toxic. Maybe I'm too nice, too accepting. I don't know. I've had 3 in my career that I almost wished I'd never met....almost. I suppose they were the closest thing to being called toxic. But, of course, they were an educational experience. Taught me to look for the signs earlier. Well, 2 out of 3 did. One, blew me away completely at the end !!

And, definitely they were in my earlier years. When I didn't have so much experience, not enough composure maybe.

One was a seller. I let them list too high....Ugh! Then, worked my tush off with what I had to get it sold. Brought every piece of info to the table to help them understand, even as a newbie, what I knew we needed to do to sell their house. It's the only listing I have ever had expire. They re-listed with another agent, dropped the price, did what I had told them to do....and, gee, of course it sold!

Another seller, tough listing. Seller smoked like a chimney and the yet the home was beautiful. As always, worked my rear off to get it sold. Made nice with the neighbors to position the for sale sign. Then, after the sellers praised me all the way through....Mrs. Seller went a little crazy at the end, something about her relationship with the neighbors, and smoke came out of her ears.
But, we did close escrow....and I don't live with her....poor guy, he does.

The last one was a buyer. I suspected right from the start that it was going to be challenging working with a spoiled, foot-stomping, princess. But, I bit my tongue and worked to find them the perfect home. Kept my professionalism top notch. At the end, she didn't get what she wanted and the biggest hissy fit was thrown. I didn't acquiesce to her behavior, closed the escrow and have happily never heard from them again.

Read the article, are you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Are Your Thoughts?

I talk with clients, lenders, and other agents regularly about the situation of the housing market. About how many foreclosures are still out there. The difficulty of Short-Sales. The pricing of traditional listings. The current slow-down. How there seem to be so many avenues to help underwater home-owners...that aren't working very well. About the low, low interest rates. About where they market seems to be going.

And, today, I'd love to hear other opinions. What you think might work, what isn't working. Just to have some interaction. Just to get everyone that wants to speak and be heard to do just that today.

So, what are your thoughts?

Lot's of thought bubbles in here to fill!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mello-Roos or No Mello-Roos, That is the Question

In the Santa Clarita Valley, we have a lot of homes that have a supplemental property tax above and beyond the normal rate of approximately 1.25%.

Called a Mello-Roos (MR), a Community Facilities District Act, and sometimes a School Bond.

What is it? :

A Mello-Roos District is an area where a special property tax on real estate, in addition to the normal property tax, is imposed on those real property owners within a Community Facilities District. These districts seek public financing through the sale of bonds for the purpose of financing public improvements and services. These services may include streets, water, sewage and drainage, electricity, infrastructure, schools, parks and police protection to newly developing areas. The tax paid is used to make the payments of principal and interest on the bonds.

And, should we buy a home that has one? Yes, that is the question today.

In newer construction, newer neighborhoods, that is where you frequently find them. And, remember, Santa Clarita is the 'town of new' so we find that supplemental tax here in several neighborhoods.

What if the house we find and fall in love with has a mello-roos tax? Well, it has to be included in the monthly PITI (Principal-Interest-Taxes-Insurance) to determine if you can handle that expense. And, you have to decide if that additional expense is worth it to you to have the home of your dreams.

Keep in mind, sometimes the MR is tax deductible, sometimes not....

Ask your agent to determine what the monthly or yearly expense is and how long it is in effect for. Ask if it may change amount at any time.

My experience tells me that most clients don't like the idea of paying any extra property taxes. They want to buy their home and know that the majority of their monthly payment is going to the mortgage holder, not the tax man.

But, again, if your dream home has the MR, and it is affordable? Investigate, determine, decide and hopefully....enjoy your new home.....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Room For Improvement

Adjusted the schedule today. Completed some great prospecting early in the day, went on a lovely walk with a friend to clear the mind and exercise the body. Had lunch with the husband to fuel those same two important parts of me.

Now, I've just finished up with some follow-up, e-mailing and snail mail, and I am reading some articles, one that caught my eye.

This blog post is for all my associate Realtors, and clients too.

This last couple of years have been strangling our economy and have been testing Realtors nationwide.

Our economy is trying to work through it. And, we have to keep moving forward no matter what, don't we? As people alive today, we know that we can't just stick our heads in the sand and make it go away. We have to be tenacious. Be extremely careful, and watch every penny. 

And, my fellow Realtors will attest to this, we, as Realtors, have to not let the current Real Estate market take us down.

Because although it is harder than it's been in a really long time, we are Realtors to help people. We may all have come into this for different reasons, but we all have to serve the ultimate goal. To get our clients into a home, or get them out of one. And, to protect them.

We all have room for improvement. Take this period to learn something about yourself. Learn that you have what it takes to continue. What it takes to pass this test. Learn new ways to complete old tasks. And, of course, learn all the new ones too.

And, honestly, enjoy that it certainly isn't the same old thing every day. Being a Realtor is still one of the most rewarding careers, financially, mentally, and emotionally.

Keep on keeping on, my friends. Flourish in the knowledge that you have learned something great in this market. Hopefully something we will not have to use again in our lifetime, but definitely, we have learned some significant things.

And, keep helping the people that need our help. There are many, and we are becoming few......

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ain't That The Truth?

Reading articles this morning. I got up extra early so I could spend some catch-up time today reading and perusing my favorite housing sites.

L.A.Times was the same old, same old. Housing Wire too. Didn't get to yet, but found an article in our Inman news that confirmed what we all know about the stats of recent home purchases in relationship to first time buyers. You can read the entire article below, if you want:

Any licensed Realtor that's been actually working these last couple years knows that. And, a lot of us are thrilled that these buyers are able to afford to purchase a home now.

A few years ago, it would have been impossible. Prices were too high for the first time buyers' income bracket.

As much as this market is still in such turmoil, still such a trial to help people get in and out of homes, ain't it the truth that this is such a bright spot during these dark Real Estate times?

Look for something good, try to find the positive. Do that smile therapy and remember that first time buyers sure did need this break!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

When it Rains it Pours

Blogging is a great way to give out thoughts of the day on Real Estate. It tells you what I've been thinking, changes, stats, etc.

Have you noticed there hasn't been a post since Monday? I have and it has challenged me every day!

However, my current clients are always of the utmost importance to me, so I beg your apologies if you have been waiting for another Lauren opinionated blog post!

And, the title of this quickie post?? When I am busy, it comes in Tsunami's. When it's not, it's like a light little drizzle.

This week has been like a storm of Tsunami's !!! And, as you all know, I like it! I thrive on tension and stress. Keeps me amped. But, keeps me away from blogging.

Again, accept my apology and let me get back to work!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Times Are A Changin'

We've been busting our humps to get buyers into properties this year....busting hard! Now, in the last few weeks.....hmmm.....things have gotten a little....quiet...and it's kind of nice!

2009 and 2010 was such a nightmare of multiple offers. Trying to get my buyers into properties, before another agents', particularly when we were looking at the under 400 range.

The tax credit was extended, and then extended again. Buyers wanted to buy because home prices were more reasonable than they had been in a very long time. Interest rates were being called an 'all-time' low.

But, now, as interest rates are even lower, the tax credits have gone 'bye-bye', and the typical slow-down holiday season is upon us.....guess what? We are seeing price reductions. We are seeing properties sit on the MLS longer again. We are seeing some aggressive strategies to get homes sold.

And, my buyers are happy!

And, that makes me happier too...

Because, getting people in and out of homes is what we do.

So, if you've been wondering if now is a time to buy? Yes It Is !!!! But, plan on staying in it for a while. Don't consider flipping right now. Just a great time to buy a home. With a little Short-Sale magic, and some patience on your part, and a Traditional or REO seller that doesn't want to hold the property to 2011? Now is when real buyers come out. Now is when the real sellers sell.

What are you?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You Tube?

I'm blogging at least every other day. I enjoy it. Makes me feel like I can reach out to my clients and friends about my thoughts on Real Estate. I certainly hope some of you enjoy reading the posts. My personality, undoubtedly, is very apparent in my writing. Feel free to make comments about these blogs any time you wish. I enjoy seeing your feedback.

Today I was talking with my beautiful big sis about Blogging, Facebook, know the Social Networking stuff. Eve's Wine 101, that's my sister. She is great at her blogging, etc. AND, she does a Video posting on YouTube pretty regularly. Of course, she suggests that I do the same.....

So, the reason for today's post? To get your thoughts on me posting YouTube video's for you to watch. I hate pictures of myself, most of us do. But, if you guys think that you'd like it, I'll go for it!!!

Of course, I have to get the camera first!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Halloween Trick or Treat

Today I had to look for something just a little different. It's close to Halloween, kids are getting ready for 'Trick or Treat'.....and, the Realtors I know are all hoping for a treat.

Any Realtor, by now, has been working with Short Sales (SS) if they've been working at all. It just is what it is. And, it is quite the master Trickster that navigates through the SS system. Most of us have gotten close to that master category.

Sometimes, however, you have a client that asks you if they should just let it go. Forget the SS, and let the bank take their home away. That is a personal choice of theirs to which I can not give them advice. I can only tell them what a SS is like. The pros and cons as a Realtor knows them. I always insist that they speak to their favorite Financial Planner, Accountant and/or Attorney. That is the person that has to help them decide if SS or foreclosure is the right option for them, not their Realtor.

Clients sometimes ask what happens if their home gets foreclosed on. Does someone come knocking at their door to tell them to get out? Will it be in the middle of the night? Will there be people peeking through their windows waiting for the auction on the courthouse steps?

Something like this?

Quite possibly yes. Well, not exactly like this of course. But it will feel like it. It will be a scary thing for most anyone that decides to let the bank take their home.

Short-Sale or foreclosure is a personal decision, and can often be frightening.

Make sure you discuss your decision with trusted professionals, well before someone like Mike Myers comes peeking in your window!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Ways To Go Yet

I met with new buyers yesterday evening. Newlyweds....well, a couple of years under their marriage belt. They are looking for their first home, and they are self-proclaimed Newbies! I love Newbies! I swear they called themselves that before I even had the chance.

Newbies seem to gravitate towards me because I am an explosive fountain of information and overly happy to share what I know. As we're driving around, looking at homes, chatting all they way about things they need to understand. Because they know nothing. I am lucky because I do normally get clients with more than average intelligence so they learn quickly!!

Not the topic of the post, just a little backround.

We sat in my office for a little over a half an hour before we headed out. And lots of questions about the process. How I take care of my people. What do we do first?

Some consideration if he wants to make a job change in the near future. With the same company, that should be aok. Double check with my favorite mortgage broker first though.

And, although the question did not come out of their mouths', I did speak from my heart and told them the truth that we may still see some decline in value before we are going to see any appreciation. And, that the appreciation would most likely be a 10 year growth.

In my opinion only, of course......

Their eyebrows did a little peak and "Really?" was their reply.
"Are you sure?"

Never 100% sure, but I told them what I felt we were looking at over the next year or so, and the next decade. And, that they needed to be certain that this is where they want to live regardless of job changes. Buying now and having to relocate in the very near future was a really poor situation to possibly be in.

For these Newbies, starting the home search now was appropriate. It was in their best interest.

But, we definitely have a ways to go yet before we are done with the current market......quite possibly a long my opinion.....and the news as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cool Fall - But Please, Open Your Door

Here we are right before the holidays and guess what.....if sure feels like we are a little cool in home sales. Although the stats would say we are holding as steady as just a couple weeks ago. Still, out and about it, definitely feels a little chilly.

The tax break is done, the summer season is over. Holidays are upon us and I've got buyers that still want homes!

If a realtor comes knocking on your door, and you think you just may want to sell?
Open The Door!!!

But only if you're sure it's a Realtor and you really do want to talk to him/her. We are all looking for listings, some via phone, some knocking on doors.

There are still lots of buyers out there and Realtors need equity listings. We can quite possibly get yours sold quickly to one of the real buyers out there still looking even though it is the holiday season.

And, really, wouldn't that make such a great holiday gift...for seller and for buyer?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do You Think Short Sales Can Be Gotten Under Market?

We've got 4 different types of listings in the current market. Traditional sellers...the ones with some equity. REO' Investor, or flipped ones, that have been bought and are being re-sold for profit. And, the Short-Sales (SS)...we should all know what they are by this time. Seller owes more than the home is worth and is asking the bank that holds the mortgage to be shorted on their balance due. Therein the Short Sale (SS).

I wrote an offer on a Traditional sale this week. Cute home, nice neighborhood. Decent floor plan. Required some work. Lots of deferred maintenance that needed to be caught up on.

Listed @ 318. Recent comp closed in early July for 320, the most recent sale in that track.

We definitely wrote a low offer. My buyer needed to keep plenty of cash in her pocket to do the needed repairs. And, those were the ones we could see with our eyes. Not to mention what the home inspector might find!

I explained to my buyer that I doubted the seller would go for it. Don't get your hopes up. Maybe insult the seller, maybe a counter offer close to list price.

But, that's not the point of this post.

The point of this today is that the listing agent, someone I respect very much, had a completely different opinion on Short-Sale values/comps than mine. And, I was really surprised.

That agent for the recent sale did what a lot of agents do, list SS's low to get an offer in. She listed it at 299, and it sold for 320. Took four months to get it closed.

In that time period the SS bank does a BPO, Broker Price Opinion. And, that BPO is done so that the SS bank knows the values of the homes in the see if the offer submitted is a valid offer. The BPO is done by someone not involved in the transaction so as not to lean in one way of another.....that would be fraud.

Aha! Here comes the fraud factor. And, one I never want to get involved in. The only way that SS could be considered as undervalued is if there was some fraud. These banks want to get their money, take as little loss as possible. But, yes, sometimes there is some fraud.

Now, come back to the current listing and offer situation. When we discussed the recent comp. She said there was one for 350. I said the most recent was in July for 320. She said "But that was a Short Sale". Like that was invalidating the comparable sale. Huh, really? No.

Appraisers look at sales in the area and make their adjustments based on conditions, amenities and location. If the SS was in spectacular condition, that one actually was, and the Traditional needs work, this one definitely did......those value corrections will be made by the appraiser.

Under market SS? Don't count on it. If it is listed under market, there will be a multiple offer situation to drive it right back up to market value anyways.

Just like that recent sale in July.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Closing Escrow

Ah, the last week or so before closing an escrow.....

Everything is smoothly coming along. As smooth as it can be with a Short-Sale transaction. The bank agrees to pay some additional termite work. The retro-fit is manageable. Everything is scheduled to be done on time.

Loan docs are on order, Prior to Doc conditions were met. The list of Prior to Funding is under control.

One week to go.......can anything go wrong?

Oh Yeah.....but it's still all going to be okay. I promise.

I always warn buyers that the last week or two prior to close of escrow is the most tense. They think everything is moving along fine and someone asks for another document. Something turns up that still needs to be done. There is a cross missing on a T or a dot missing on an I.

But, we, the agent, escrow, and lender....we manage it for our clients. Generally without them even knowing.

It's the finesse of getting everyone on the same page to close on time....that's the final challenge (and fun for me).

To you, the buyer? what I tell you to do when I tell you to do it. Trust your agent. We know what it takes to get it closed. Do so, without delay. There is generally no wiggle room in the end. Got to get it done, and now.

When there is no tension at the end, it's amazing. But, when there is, just let your agent guide you through it.

We Get 'Em Closed (that's for you Shannon!), and quite a bit more often than you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for the Positive

I was chatting with a past client yesterday morning....a usual routine for me....and we talked about the negativity in our economy right now. Talked about how hard it is for some of us to continue to smile brightly amidst all of the downbeat news everyday.

Reading articles this morning, more of the negative. I kept reading til I found something that made me at least smirk :
(No, this isn't me!)

And, it's the first section of this authors article this morning found in the Money & Company section of the LA Times:

Absolutely amazing isn't it? Citi got bailed out, as did so many, and they now have a huge profit? Well, that's just dandy. I bet they have their Privacy Settings perfect....and I also am betting big bucks that they can still find an airline to fly them first class!

While the rest of us are networking on Facebook to get any profits, we still fly regular cramped class when we fly.....if you can afford to fly anywhere.

But, Mary and I remained positive during our chat yesterday that eventually this economy will get better. We are sure of it! Think positive....while it's hard to do....gotta do it. And, if all else fails...Remember 'Smile Therapy' from Ally McBeal show years ago and just SMILE SMILE SMILE !!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Morning - Up & Reading

I'm meeting with a client this morning that is considering selling his completely paid off Valencia home and downsizing to a smaller senior friendly home.

So, I'm up doing my morning read and start with the L.A. Times.....just what my mouse clicked on first this morning. And the article I read almost made me laugh out loud.

I read it and thought, nowhere does it say they should learn from us Americans! But they should. Take us as an example. Where building was out of control, and investing in real estate was ridiculously easy. Where money was super cheap and people that didn't have enough money could find it anywhere. And, when inventory dwindled and prices went thru the roof, we continued to find ways to get money dirt cheap! And, BOOM.....wait....again for emphasis..... BOOM, and Kaplewie! The bubble burst.

And, we have the worst housing market seen in a long time, a really long time.

Now, the China situation isn't exactly the same as ours. But, similar enough that I hope they do learn a little something from us. And, obviously the author of the article felt that we here in the states would find that we are not alone in some of the mistakes that were and still are being made in the housing industry.

If they don't learn quickly, they'll start seeing the same things we've been seeing for a while now......
And, it's not a pretty sight

Waiting for the end to get here. But, until it does, ask my clients what I say ... "Onward and Forward!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Clients

Most Realtors are always looking for new clients. Of course, so am I. It's part of what I do, look for new.

And, I start with the current clients in my search for new clients. My intention in Real Estate, and in life, is to always treat someone the way I wish to be treated. I try very hard to never stray from that age-old concept.

Current clients are the ones that become past clients. And current clients needs are of utmost importance when they are in my care. So, I return their calls in a timely manner. Do my work, prod them along. Help them complete their goals in home sale or purchase. And, I do it all with the utmost respect and diligence.

"The best compliment I can receive is a referral from you." 

How many agents have we seen put that on the back of their business card?

It is very true though. It is proof that they felt you did the absolute best job for them that they are referring one of their friends or family to you.

But, they can sometimes forget about you a couple years later.....if you are not continuing to do the best job for them by keeping up communication. Letting them know that you still think of them as people. Contacting them to let them know you are still a Realtor. And letting them know anything new about the current market.

Has to be done. All the time. If you want to keep up the stream of New Clients? You have to do the absolute best for current clients....and still remember them when they have turned into past clients.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Should I Sell Now? How About Buy? Should I?

Poor Realtors, we are always the one that people turn to if they want to know if now is the right time to buy or sell. Dependant upon the market, it can be an easy answer or a difficult one. I won't pretend and say this isn't a difficult market.

But, I will stand on that the time to buy or sell isn't just about how the market is doing. It's about how the client is doing. Their family, their job...their needs and wants.

Now is a great time to buy a bigger home, you can get a lot of house for a little bit of money. Time to buy a first time home? You bet! We haven't seen homes priced like this in quite some time. How about an investment property? I'd say so, but do your homework first. We have seen a lot of investors buying up property, a lot of homeowners displaced by foreclosure renting after losing their homes. Those renters will buy again in the future and the investment property may be vacant a bit, or certainly not getting what you were getting on a per month basis. But, maybe you need a tax write-off.

Selling now? Standard sales are the nicest to see on the market in this fall of 2010. (Temperatures Saying Otherwise) We get seller disclosures, we get to close escrow in a more timely manner. And, thankful for an appraiser, we don't pay more than the property is worth......unless we are willing to do so of course.

But, why are you selling now? Moving out of state? Go ahead and sell. Downsizing, sure. Want to buy bigger, go for it. Think the bottoms not yet here.....who the heck knows!

To the nuts and bolts of this post now......

No One Has A Crystal Ball....

I'd be retired if I about you? We'd certainly do things different if we could read the future. But, where would the fun be in that? LOL.....well, might be a little bit of fun!

I've always felt that the time to buy or sell was very personal. Every person, or family, may have one reason or another that the time is right or wrong for them.

I love my home. I bought it almost 5 years ago for over 600k and now it's worth a little more than 1/2 of that. But, I still love my home. It works for my family and we're not going anywhere. So, now is not the time to sell for us. If my little crystal ball told me I was going to win the lottery......things would probably play out a smidgen differently.

For today, I keep my home.....for tomorrow, who knows. It's a personal choice for me and should be for you too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Interesting SCV Market Stats Today

Today is a typical Realtor day. It changes moment to moment. I confirmed showings for tomorrow afternoon earlier this morning. Then corresponded, and talked, with current clients and associate agents as well. Then re-scheduled this afternoons listing appointment due to a client illness.

So I elected to post a blog this afternoon about the current stats in 'Awesome Town' (that's the publicists name for us) Santa Clarita. Aren't we cute? See the link, we really are called this:

And, our towns' stats were rather interesting, to say the me.

Encompassing Santa Clarita is Acton to the East, Westridge and Stevenson Ranch to the West. Newhall to the South and Castaic to the North. All lovely little neighborhoods in between included.

A nice number of active listings. 1158. A wonderful number. Great amount of properties closed escrow (I'm using the full month of September for this posting). 256. Currently we have 421 in escrow taking back-up offers and another 406 in escrow not taking back-up offers. 93 properties are on Hold. Can't even get into those.

But, what I find worthy of noting, is the number of cancelled, withdrawn and expired (CWE) properties in our MLS. In the month of September it totalled 163. Only 35% more properties closed escrow than were removed from the market by other means. Very different from September of 2008 & 2009! Each of those years were about 1/2 %, yes 1/2 of 1 percent of homes that were off market due to reasons other than transferring ownership.

Want to draw your own conclusions? Or shall I guide you? You're reading this so you're interested in my opinion.....I can only presume. ;o). And, it will change tomorrow or next week based upon outside pressures.

Let's face it, the majority of those properties were not successful SHORT-SALES (SS). And, they've gone back to the bank or are at least on their way back to the bank. The stats show about 1/2 of those CWE's were SS....I would have to beg to differ. I've been wading through our MLS long enough to know probably about another 30% just aren't noted as SS's in the correct box in the MLS. They may be noted in the public remarks, the private remarks, the direction remarks. However, a lot just don't get entered in the right place. 
View Image
It completely annoys me!

Sooooo, I may never do a stat report again......well, definitely not until we are done with 'Special Circumstances' like I'm thinking.....maybe in a couple more years!?!?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is there some other reason?

You just have to wonder how come they are all halting foreclosures now, over not validating signatures. Except Wells Fargo, that is. Read the article from Housing Wire.

This has been buzzing around all week. B of A just moved it up from 23 states to all 50, judicial or non-judicial...doesn't matter. You stop paying your mortgage, you get notices, you get foreclosed on. Really, pretty simple.

So, they screwed up....and now we are going to have further delays in returning to a normal market?!?!?

I'm sorry, but something truly makes me wonder what else is going on behind those banking doors.....


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Home Seller Anxiety

Atypical I am reading real estate news this morning. I do it every day. Sometimes twice a day. Housing Wire, LA Times, Inman News, MSNBC. I have to keep up on this stuff, don't I?

Today I found a fun one, well for me at least:

All about the woes of a home not selling. The author has a nice sense of humor and I enjoyed her article. She continues on to let the reader know how she handled the sale of her Arizona home. How challenging it was and what she did to finally get it sold.

Reduced The Price !!

Now, she hated that idea in the beginning, and she explains why. Apparently she tried several avenues prior to reducing the price. But, the author determined that the anxiety wasn't worth the money. Smart lady. A little late, but intelligent decision overall.

She Wrote A Book:

And She Writes A Blog Too:

So, for any of my sellers out there reading this, listen to your agent! And, other agents reading this, share with your sellers!

Nice to see, in writing, another clients' woes and what she finally did about it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Title Reports - What a Realtor Should Read

Part of an escrow includes a preliminary Title report. It tells us who legally owns the property, any easements, liens, rights to the property other than the owner of record, and additional items that educate the buyer about the house they are considering making their home.

Most buyers don't know what to look for in a title report. I was trained to read them, really read the reports. I look for unusual items on all of them. And, when I see something that looks odd, I always ask for the underlying documents. That is the more detailed documentation of the item on the report. Should help to explain what exactly it is.

This morning, I did just that. Two items showed easements on the property that my client is buying. We were pretty certain there were easements based upon the property location, but I felt we needed to dig a little deeper.

Oh, boy, here comes another 15 pages of documents. I'm not an attorney, but I trudged thru the legal jargon and actually enjoyed reading the documents.

One page was hand written in 1876 ! Yes, I say, 1876 !

Needless to say, I couldn't read that one! The rest of the 14 pages I did though. And, it showed me that there was in fact an easement. Put in place many years ago for the good of the people.

I then forwarded it all to my client, with my humble opinion attached to it.....we shall see what he thinks of it......if he even reads it...... ;o)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Halting of Foreclosures

The hottest ticket in the Financial/Real Estate news is the halting of foreclosure statements we've read all over the place in the last few days. Read the article below:

So, really what do we think that means to us?

Well, in my humble opinion, it just means a further delay in weeding out the bank-involved properties. Which means a further delay in coming to a stable, 'normal', Real Estate market.

The financial institutions have been in a mess for several years now. And, the honest admission that foreclosures were being granted, by some of the biggest companies, without validating important information, was no surprise to many of us I'm sure.

So now, the horse comes after the cart, and they are halting foreclosures. Really now, will any homeowner in that position continue to make their mortgage payment? Will that house not end up foreclosed upon anyways?

At least they haven't put a halt on Short-Sales.....yet. But, Wells Fargo isn't offering much of an extension on those anymore now either. Others will follow. They do seem to do that.

So, all these bail-out, buy-out, incentives, stopping, starting ideas.....just clear it out and get it done, I say. I've been saying that for a couple years now. All this date estimating of when the market will be normal. All these thoughts that we are getting stable. News about appreciation. News about hitting bottom.

No one can predict any of that when there is still constant change in the financial market. Predictions are valid for a moment, then ...whoosh....another idea and that prediction becomes invalid!

But, I do still swear by Real Estate as being a great investment. Long term, just like stocks and bonds. A great investment financially, a great investment for you and your familys' happiness. Rocky roads are hit along the house highway, for certain this is one of the rockiest in years, but the road to happiness is paved with good intentions, isn't it?

I'm just not so sure that some of the above mentioned good intentions were all that good..... ;o)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weeding out Homes For Buyers

When I first meet a buyer I like to take them out for a 'Get Your Feet Wet' day. I really don't expect the buyer to find the perfect home on the day they take their first ride in my car. I can't remember ever having that happen....really, ever.

We will have talked on the phone to discuss their want list. What areas, what price range and what amenities.  I believe I have slightly touched on this topic before but this is more about what I do than what changes of their minds they make.

I do my Realtor research, schedule several showings and in the car we go! And, on that first day, sometimes the second, I keep fairly quiet. Offering not much in the way of opinions, just listening. Watching and gathering their emotions and thoughts.

Things they have said on the phone, don't always match what they see when we are sprinkling their toes with the first water drops of a home search excursion. 

That first day tells me a lot about what type of people I am going to find a house for. What is important to them to make their family happy in a home. And, it's not always how big the family room is, or how many trees are in the backyard.

That day tells me how an open floor plan feels to them. How claustrophobic they get with the neighbors house looming over them while looking at the backyard of the house with the fabulous pool. How sensitive their hearing is to white noise vs. no noise of the neighborhood up on the hill.

Wet toes tell me if they truly are do-it-yourselfers, like they said they were, or if they really need a 'model home' house.

And, once that first or second trip out with my clients is done, their feet are wet up to their ankles and we are rocking! And, I have a much better understanding of who they are and what will make them happy.

So, I weed out homes. Search, network, view. All for the sole purpose of finding the right house for them.  I weed out the ones that are too noisy, the ones that the neighbors can see right into their backyard. I remove the ones that don't have a big enough kitchen. Ones that need too much work.

Almost all of my clients I communicate with just about every day or so. And, most of my buyers I give them complete free reign to our MLS. We send notes back and forth to each other. When they say, "What about this one?" I know there just aren't enough trees on the block. I know that the dining room won't fit their lifestyle. And, I know that the one that has the door that opens up to the deck that they say "What about this one?" is already on our list to see on our next ride in my Lexus.......and that just may be the one that soaks them all the way up to the top of their head!!

Honk, wave, and see if there are wet foot prints by the passenger side of my car the next time you see me with a client! You'll know it's been a good day!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Referral Network - I Love Realty Executive Agents!

Just a shorty today. Not super opinionated either.

I work with a great group of agents at Realty Executives out here in Santa Clarita. We help each other every day. Selling listings, networking for buyers. And, we even help people with painters, electricians and landscapers. Sometimes, selling furniture or rescuing animals as well.

Yes, we really do.

At least once or twice a week, one of us has a client that needs some type of service done on their home or some help with something not even house related. So, we send out an e-mail to all of our associates and BAM! we get several replies back.

Nothing is better than a personal referral. Sorry Yellow Pages, no letting of the finger walking here.

This morning it was a painter and floor re-finisher. Last week, furniture. Once it was tile in a bathroom. Sometimes it's a little more personal.

A few weeks ago it was a dog that was displaced by foreclosure. One agent sent out the e-mail, posted it on Facebook and many of us got involved. Was the dog saved? You bet.

Was the furniture sold? Don't know, but probably. Did I get a painter referral? Of course, and already forwarded it to my client. Floor Re-finisher, not yet, but surely will. And, the painter referral I received? He needs the names of the floor people I get. So, we continue to network and help each other.

I wouldn't work for any other company.......we're like one big happy family....I think we're the best.....and the Daily News readers think so too.......

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Santa Clarita - 'The City of New'

I do the majority of my business in the Santa Clarita Valley. It's where I've lived for almost two decades so I know it well. I do help clients in the San Fernando Valley, and I know the regulations that are different from here, but I don't know the town, as much as I should, to call myself a specialist there.

Santa Clarita has been around for many years, constantly growing and changing. We have homes that are over 50 years old and then, reason for this blog post, many, many homes that are less than ten years old.

So, I nick-named SCV the 'City of New' quite some time ago and I still frequently call it that. 

Everyone loves the shiny new car, the new dress, the new shoes, the new fish in their aquarium (for Mike), the new golf clubs. And, I've found that most buyers, shopping for homes in SCV, like newer houses better than older homes.

Now, I'm not saying people don't like the charm of older homes, with mature trees and frequently bigger lots. I am only telling you what I've seen over the last decade of selling homes here in SCV.  Because SCV has many newer homes, that seems to be what the clients gravitate toward. And, really, for a while, we had a lot of new construction going on which made the kitty of newer homes larger.

There is less to do with newer homes, less to repair, less carpet that needs to be changed, less tile that needs to be replaced with granite, less single paned windows that need to be changed to dual-paned, less galvanized plumbing that should probably be switched to copper.

The newer homes are like the shiny new toy for your childs' birthday!

The reason I bring this to your attention is just to think about my favorite thing, re-sale. While you are buying a home that has had a lot of upgrades, over the last 30-40 years and the trees are nice and big and shady? It's still an older home. And, when you have the competition of all the new ones, it does make that home a tad harder to sell.

There is a buyer for every home, absolutely. But, when buying and selling homes in the City of New, I see that the buyers are entranced more with shiny and new than shady and older.

Me? I want a nice big rambling old single story on a few acres with lots of big shady trees. But, I'm not one that always goes with the majority. ;o)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inventory Increasing - REO Incentives Should Help

Although inventory is increasing, slowly, but still increasing, there are all kinds of ways to help buyers get into properties. Read the info below about buying REO properties. There are a quite a few in the 'shadow', but release 'em, we'll help ya buy 'em, and the incentives make everybody happy!

Special Offers

New Buyer and Selling Agent Incentive on HomePath® Homes

Fannie Mae is offering buyers up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance and a $1,500 bonus for selling agents on HomePath properties through December 31, 2010.
Buyers and selling agents must meet the following qualifications to be eligible for the incentive:
  • HomePath property sale must close on or before December 31, 2010 and close within 60 days of offer acceptance
  • Only owner occupants purchasing a HomePath property will receive up to 3.5% in closing cost assistance
  • Only selling agents representing owner occupants purchasing a HomePath property will receive a $1,500 bonus. To be eligible for the agent’s bonus, the initial offer must be submitted on or after September 23, close within 60 days of offer acceptance and close on or before December 31, 2010. No bonus will be given for investor purchases.
  • Buyers and selling agents must request incentive upon submission of initial offer in order to be eligible. 
Note: Offers submitted after November 15, 2010 may be difficult to close by incentive deadline of December 31, 2010.
Terms & Conditions:
  • The 3.5% seller contribution is to be used towards closing costs, including a home warranty, if desired and available.
  • Retail and public entities are eligible for the incentive however pool and auction sales, and sales to investors are not eligible.
  • Fannie Mae reserves the right to remove any property from promotion or end the promotion at any time. Any dispute over the payment of a bonus shall be resolved by Fannie Mae in its sole discretion.
  • Buyers should consult their lenders for guidance on financing. Lenders and mortgage products may impose their own limitations on the use of the 3.5% incentive. For example, the lender may consider the incentive a Seller Contribution and limit the amount to 3.0%. In those instances, the remaining 0.5% will no longer be available to the buyer.
 Courtesy of

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Complete The Purchase Agreement, Fill in all the Blanks

When we are writing an offer for a buyer on a prospective home, there are many pages to complete.

Back in the day, we did it all by hand. Hovering over the contract to make sure we didn't miss a single spot. Now it's all in cyberspace and computerized. Wonderful! I love it, I can write a contract from any computer, anywhere that has Internet access!

I still hover over every spot the cursor bounces to so that I don't miss anything. And, I go over the contract 2 to 3 times to check again.

And, fortunately it 'prints' in blue with a yellow background to make it easier. You'd think it was a no-brainer!

Many times however, when I am representing the seller, I see an incomplete offer or one with mistakes. Some spots are like a multiple choice, I get that. But, some are just missed, like they didn't go to a single 'Contract for Dummies' class. I bet some of you can spot the error in the above contract and you're not even a licensed Realtor!

But, my company, has regular brush-up sessions for our agents. New contract classes when there is a change. We are taught over and over again not to make a mistake.

Because if we do, that's just a lawsuit waiting to happen.  I read the below article this morning and it prompted my blog subject. It's a great article and makes me laugh. The author seems to have my personality and she's not even in California. Maybe I should contact her and make friends!

Remember to have your agent review the contract with you and look for missed or mistaken could save you a large headache later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Realtor With a Personality

Right now I've got 3 clients under Short-Sale contract waiting for approval. And, a few more not under contract. We keep looking at other properties, but one of them is so unique and so perfect for this particular client we have a hard time motivating ourselves to look at anything else. And, we are (imagine my thumb and forefinger together) 'this close' to written approval!

So, we keep in contact. I let him know what's going on with the Short-Sale and any new possibilities that are out there. He calls me if we haven't spoken in a few days.

This client is the 'Whisper' house client blog I wrote about a few weeks ago. I've been telling him to read the post since I wrote it. But hey, life gets in the way and he hasn't taken a moment to read it (nor give me the music CD of he and his brothers band!) until the last couple of days.

He called me yesterday to say hello and tell me he read the post. He then says just the nicest thing. That I'm not what he thinks a typical Realtor is. That I don't treat him like just a client. That a lot of people may not know about my personality and that I should utilize that somehow in advertising.....something along those lines.

I laugh and laugh and laugh. When I write my posts, preview and subsequently read them....I think, boy oh boy, anyone who knows me realizes that they are always written completely by me. I don't have a professional blog poster that I pay. All of them come from my head and today, from my heart.

Thank you  RG, for realizing that I am a human being first, Realtor 2nd. I am a successful Realtor in a difficult time, and I think, it has a lot to do with my skills and a little something to do with my personality, most definitely.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Looking For New Listings

The last few weeks, my prospecting has been more aggressive than usual. I don't like to be the type of Realtor that just calls about Real Estate. I like to talk with people about all kinds of things when I get them on the phone. I'm not just a Realtor you know.

But, with the low inventory, and most of them being Short-Sales, I've been using a valid statement that most people would think is bogus.....and frequently is.

"I've got about a half dozen buyers I'm working with right now. If you know of anyone, with or without equity, that is even slightly thinking about selling? Pass them my info, maybe we can get a buyer and seller together quickly."

It's the truth. I've never used a B.S. line in my career. I've knocked on doors in particular tracks looking for a seller to match with a buyer. I've told buyers I have upcoming listings they may be interested in, and I do this to match with a seller.

It is what I do. But, particularly now, I've been vamping it up. Have to. Have to get my people into homes or I get frustrated for them. They get depressed. And, then my counseling has to kick it up a notch.

So, if I call you, or knock on your door? And, tell you I've got a buyer or a seller? It's true, let me know if you hear anything.  It doesn't always pan out. The seller doesn't always have what the buyer wants, the buyer doesn't always like what the seller has. But, the more momentum that I put out there, the more likelihood of something coming together for my clients.

And, I do what I do.....for my B.S. here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Open Houses - Should I or Shouldn't I?

When I first started in Real Estate I did Open Houses like there was no tomorrow. I did one almost every Sunday and probably about every third Saturday as well.  And, it paid off. Well, I sure think it did. I ended up meeting a lot of people, learned a lot about the tracks in Santa Clarita and made several extra sales that I could attribute to the Open Houses I had done.

Over the years, I've cut way back on hosting them. When I take a new listing, I like to do them for the introduction to the neighborhood. I want to get feedback and maybe find a neighbor that has a friend that is thinking about moving into the neighborhood. I'm pretty forthright with my seller, letting them know that an Open House is not the top way to get a home sold.

It does help with feedback on condition and price though. The general publics' opinion. I prefer pricing suggestions from my associates, and their visits without an offer written, tells me over-priced. And, I share all information with my clients, whether from public or professional.

I've noticed some of the 'big-dogs' doing open houses a lot more lately. I consider myself a 'little dog', FYI.  And, although I feel I'm working my tush off, I am considering getting back into the Open House mode. It's a lot of work, repetitive work, turn-around is good....if you make a connection.

You see, I'm not a pushy saleswoman. Never have been. I'm an honest, shoot from the hip, tell it like it is lady. If I meet someone and we make that connection while hosting, then I know we'll do business together and form a relationship.  If someone breezes through and won't look me in the eye, I don't even bother asking them to sign the register.

Challenge starts with the juggling of regular clients that want to see me on the weekend and spending 1/2 a Sunday doing an Open House. Well, maybe I'll just start with two a month.....for now......and see what kind of connections are made.

Hope to meet another seller that decides to list, and it's the perfect property for one of the buyers I couldn't go out with because I was hosting an Open House!!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

MLS Info - Can be a bit of a Gamble

Some of the information entered in our MLS is automatically placed there. Based upon the APN, it auto-populates the entries in several different spots. Those we can almost always count on to be correct.

There are many more, about 9 pages worth of information, that a Realtor needs to input so that the MLS is accurate in the listing presentation to other agents and the general public.

Therein can lie one heck of a problem. Quite of bit of it is subject to the inputters opinion. 1/2 bath, that's the one with a toilet and sink, right? Yep. And a full bath, should have a tub/shower, sink and toilet, you'd think so. That infamous 3/4, what's that? No tub, but a shower. And, to muss things up a bit more, we keep having things added, or changed, so that it is easier to input or makes it easier to know what the property has.

Goodness, when we added the Special Conditions? That threw a wrench in it. And, it was put there for Short-Sale info, REO info. Good stuff, need to know stuff......if it's put in the MLS right.

Phone numbers are all over the place. Sellers phone numbers should never be in the public remarks, neither are gate codes. Well, we see them now and again.

Lockboxes that are supposed to be at the property, based upon the MLS, aren't always there. Maybe a combo box, with no mention of the combo in the agent private remarks on our printout that is in our hands. There's a little check-box for this one.

And, my favorite notes on the MLS print-out sheet? In ours it's the little teeny print down at the bottom in blue:

The accuracy of all information, regardless of source, including but not limited to square footages and lot sizes, is deemed reliable but not guaranteed and should be personally verified through personal inspection by and/or with the appropriate professionals.

The purpose of this blog post? To remind everyone that we really do need to inspect, inspect and inspect. Really need to view lots of properties almost as if we haven't read anything but the price on the MLS.

But, even that is erroneous sometimes, more often than the good agent would like to see, I can tell you that.  A house that should be listed for 450 is listed for 375?  Gets clients excited unnecessarily and causes more frustration for client and agent alike.

So, go with an agent that recognizes the errors, purposeful or not. One that knows at least a little something about what kinds of things may be wrong. One that does a tad of research on title records or looks for old listings that may tell you if that's a 1/2, 3/4 or really a full bath with that downstairs bedroom......or, really, should they just have called that bedroom an office when you see there is no closet once you actually get there?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Current Short-Sale Story

I think it's going to be okay.....I hope. My client really wants this home.

Right now I'm working with about 1/2 dozen buyers, one seller fixing up their home in prep of showing, but mostly buyers.

Obviously, a lot of the properties we are looking at are Short Sales. Yuck! But, I have to show properties, don't I? Something will stick and we will get a buyer into a house to make it their home.

I've got this one buyer that we've been working together for a few months. Atypical time period. We've written offers on probably a dozen or more houses. I can't recall a single Traditional listing in the bunch. We look in San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita Valley. What he wants isn't so hard to find. His financing makes it a little challenging to get accepted though.

We did get him under contract on a Short-Sale (SS) in northern SFV about a month ago. Great property, okay house. Really, the location and property is what sold him on the house. It's just perfect for him. Really fits who he is. Remember the 'Whisper House'? This is it.

Yesterday I get an e-mail from the listing agent that he needs more financial information from my client about his loan or, and it felt a little threatening, he would have to consider one of the six other offers he had sitting in back-up.

We've been in this for just about 30 days now, but it's been moving along at lightening speed and we've been thrilled.....until yesterday mornings' e-mail.

Needless to say, me, and my buyers lender, got our feathers in a ruffle (or whatever that phrase is) !

Remember, everything with a SS is contingent upon the SS lender(s) accepting the terms of the offer.

So, delicately, but firmly, we go through at least a dozen e-mails back and forth, with the lender CC'd in. Talking with my client to let him know we have a little hiccup and he has to consider sending private info to the listing agent.....we're not liking that, but he's (close the little one's eyes here) truly orgasmic about this he's ready to do that if need be.

The agent promises that he really wants my buyer to get this property, said he didn't expect it to move this quickly, but felt that he needed to protect his client by making certain this loan would close.

Completely understandable. Wish it was done at the beginning, but we all understood. So, near the end of yesterday we send everything to him with personal info blackened out, and his associate is reviewing it this morning to provide the confidence he needs in this final SS hour.

Hoping that it all works out, we have scheduled another visit to the house this afternoon. I am on edge of course though!

Life and times of a working Realtor in the fall of 2010....