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)