Condo or Single Family Home?

Some home buyers may opt for a condo over a single-family home for a number of

reasons. A condominium can provide a less-expensive entry into the housing market,

and is a low-maintenance downsizing option for seniors. However, misconceptions

about condominium ownership abound, which can often keep potential buyers from

considering them as an option.

Many home buyers view condo fees as an additional expense, compared with owning a

single-family residence. However, it’s important to look at what’s included in that figure.

Typical condo fees generally include a contribution toward the building’s upkeep and

maintenance, but also may include heating costs, water, sewer, garbage-collection fees,

and even electricity and cable TV, in some cases.

Even well-managed condo associations may have what is called a “special assessment,”

which is an additional fee that condo owners must pay when the regular condominium

fees are insufficient to pay for a major repair. Not unlike living in a single-family home,

even homeowners who routinely save money for repairs may encounter major

unforeseen expenses, such as foundation or roof repair.

Survey: Buyers, Sellers Optimistic About Housing

The National Association of Realtors Weekly Report, quotes an article in the Daily Real Estate News published on March 14, 2011 that states:  ”Nearly 70 percent of buyers and sellers say they believe the housing market and property values will recover in the next year or two, according to a new survey by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services Inc.

What’s more, 86 percent of the more than 1,000 buyers and sellers surveyed believe real estate is still a good investment despite the souring market conditions in many areas the past few years.

Those surveyed said they also are ready to buy: Six in 10 respondents say they are more interested in buying real estate and 59 percent say they are optimistic about buying now with recent momentum from the economic recovery. They also believe they can get a better deal now because of lower prices.

But many survey respondents said that buying a home relies on them being able to sell their existing home. About 67 percent respondent said they are concerned about getting a fair price for their existing home.

“This survey clearly demonstrates that Americans continue to be optimistic about the real estate market and believe that home prices will rise,” says James Mallozzi, chief executive officer of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services. “A key take away from the survey is although consumers recognize that it is a good time to buy, they are concerned about their ability to sell their homes. This is one of the reasons the market is still struggling to recover.””

Short Sale/REO Prices vs “Regular Sale” Price

This past week I received two phone calls from worried homeowners.  They were both asking me what the difference is between the price on “stressed” homes vs the price of their own homes which they want to sell and price as a “regular sale”.

The fact is that the price of their home is definitely affected by homes that sell in their area.

Let me give you an example.   Let’s say that three or four “stressed” homes have sold in your neighborhood, and you want to sell your home for any reason, maybe downsize or moving to be closer to your family.

What will dictate the price of your home?

Well, the simple answer is that when a Buyer likes your home and makes an offer, he or she will be constrained by their mortgage lender as to how much they can offer based on the home’s appraised value. Banks and lending institutions look at the sales in your area in the last 90 days regardless of whether the sales were regular or “stressed”.  

A good Real Estate professional will forward to the appraiser certain highlight features of your home that may increase the appraised value.  Be aware, however, that the homes that have sold in the last 90 days will weigh heavily on the price of your own home.

When considering putting your home on the market, be sure to talk to a Realtor about your options.

Short Sale Agents; 5 things to expect from YOURS!



short sale information Short Sales DO require specialists 

Short Sale Agents..five things to EXPECT from yours. 


What exactly DO these “specialists” do that’s so “special?” 

1.  Certification: lots of people get certified in their respective fields and all that means is they sat through a few hours of education.  But, that’s GOOD!  A Realtor that takes the time to go to the Board and pay the money, and then participate is bound to learn something about Short Sales.  SFR certification is recognized by the National Board of Realtors and a Certified HAFA specialist can’t hurt..the more info on these difficult transactions, the better.

2.  Short Sale Experience:  Everyone has to start anything, but in the treacherous world of the Short Sale, experience is absolutely essential.  In the four years I’ve been listing and closing Short Sales, the route has changed dramatically.  It’s one thing to list a Short Sale and then hand it off to a “negotiation company”…any Realtor can do that.  But can your Realtor actually handle your property on her own???

3.  Short Sale process understanding:  Your Short Sale Realtor MUST be able to explain the process of YOUR particular situation with YOUR particular Lender BEFORE you even decide to do a Short Sale.  Expect this.  Don’t wait for the “negotiation company” to simply get it done.  Sellers must understand what they are in for..and whether or not they’ll even qualify.

4.  Short Sale Processing Steps:  This is where the experience with diffferent Lenders comes in.  There are distinct steps to getting a Short Sale Listed properly, marketing it appropriately, taking the correct and strongest offer, and then packaging the offer as that Lender requests.

5.  Short Sale Follow-up:  Sellers must be told clearly what documents they need to supply to their Lender and in what steps.  Once an offer is accepted, it is my job as your Short Sale specialist, to keep Seller and Buyer’s agent informed WEEKLY as to the progress of the Short Sale.  This is the most CRITICAL and most often neglected aspect of a Short Sale. 

My Short Sale promise:  Information and follow-up regarding YOUR particular Short Sale will always be at your fingertips.  Just ask my Short Sale clients..


Buyers are looking past Short Sales for 2011..

Short Sale competition 2011 gifts to Sellers.. 

Buyers are looking past Short Sales for 2011..

An interesting thing has been happening to me and my fellow Realtors.  Buyers have become more educated about Short Sales and the process and are looking beyond those properties for their property purchases.  Short Sales still make up approximately 60% of the market, but because of the time involved with the Lenders, Buyers are beginning to include higher price/sf properties in their hunts.  I believe the “deals” are broadening into the Standard Sale markets.

If a Seller purchased their property during the heighth or before, have equity in their homes, and are willing to price aggressively, they CAN compete with Short Sales.  Short Sales are normally priced approx. 10-15% below current market values.  BUYERS, however, are understanding that buying below market in a Short Sale can entail a painful transaction time and a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Many Buyers are now willing to pay the difference (still FAR below peak prices), get a deal, and actually be able to CLOSE on their property!  A novel idea, and one that Lenders will need to look at in the coming year. 

I suspect that 2011 will see a continuation of Sellers reducing their asking prices so that they truly can compete with the Short Sales and Buyers more willing to pay the higher price for a fantastic property.  This bodes well for 2011 in the real estate world…let’s see how the Lenders respond to this new trend.

Bad Credit? No problem…

short sales, strategic problem Lenders gifts to you..more credit! 

Bad Credit? No Problem  (Courtesy of the New York Times)

Homeowners who are hopelessly underwater on their mortgages are often warned of the perils of walking away. Their credit will be destroyed. They will never be able to borrow money again.

That is what the banks say.

But they do something else.

In his front-page article on the extension of credit cards to people with blemished credit records, Eric Dash writes:

Industry consultants, in their attempt to feed the demand for finer classifications of borrowers, have coined new labels to describe different borrowers with similar credit scores.

One is “strategic defaulters,” whose credit scores were damaged because they walked away from a home when its value dropped below what was owed on the mortgage. These borrowers made a bad bet on real estate but may otherwise be prudent risks because they make a good living.

And so the banks will give credit cards to those people. They can often get higher fees and interest rates from such people, and therefore higher profits.

In other words, let bygones be bygones.

Well, not completely.  Eric tells me that most banks won’t give credit cards to people who defaulted on mortgages issued by that bank.  But if the loser was some other bank, why hold a grudge?  This you have gotta love!

I have been saying for the past 3 years at least, that the credit rating system is going to have to change..who’s going to buy homes if it doesn’t???  All my clients with Short Sales, Loan Mods, long as they keep up their other credit payments..Voila!  Watch their scores go back up within a they can buy again in a much shorter period than the threatened 3-7 years..

Real Estate Reality; Nobody wants to take Responsibility.

short sales are a real estate reality real estate reality 

Real Estate Responsibility; Nobody wants to take it! 

It is a hard time for property owners right now.  What to do?  Who to ask?  Who to Listen to?  It seems that taking responsibility for our past decisions, their consequences, our current choices and their consequences is something all of us could become better at.  It’s REALLY hard to admit you’re wrong..or were wrong about a past decision.  “Wrong” is a difficult word to say along with “I was”..almost painful for so many of us.  I wonder why?

Admitting we’re wrong means we have to look at ourselves.  Yikes..there’s a problem.  It’s so much easier to go along each day NOT focusing on ourselves.  But is easier the better way?  I don’t believe so.  Confrontation is painful when you’re doing it, but what a relief when it’s done!  That’s it!  Take the longer, more global view by accepting responsibility for your actions, remembering their consequences, learning from them and then trying to react differently the next time a similar situation comes up. 

Real Estate is just one small area where we can ALL accept responsibility for our own decisions.  I had to look at the home I’d purchased in 2004, then refinanced in 2006.  My experienced Lender and friend, couseled me, I took his advice, BUT..ultimately, it was my own fault for accepting his recommendations and going forward with the paperwork.  So..the house depreciates more than 50%, I’m underwater, I panic, stress out and don’t sleep for approximately 1 year and then what???  Ah-ha!  Stop crying! Look at the REALITY of the current market (for me, this was 2008), do some extensive research and then make a decision and live with the results.  I did, and immediately felt the relief of a plan take shape.  There is NOTHING more stressful than living in the ether world of grayness and indecision.  As Cher said in the movie ‘Moonstruck’, “Snap out of it!!” Continue reading

Realtors and Risk; Keep it Simple!

Disclose what you know about your homes! No surprises, No Attorneys!

Realtors and Risk; Keep it Simple! 

Once a year, Realtors are supposed to take 3 hrs. of DRE qualified classes on Risk Management.  I think it’s absolutely essential and always learn something new..and am reminded of something else that I should be careful of.  The time is NEVER wasted!  In the current real estate climate of Short Sales and REO’s, it is even more imperative that Realtors take their time with Disclosures..and Sellers do too!

No surprises…no attorneys..that’s it in a nutshell.  When we are doing our visual inspections, which are NOT legally required in CA., but are often required by our Brokers, we are to note “visual” sights.  Now, the interesting thing here is that it has recently been decided in court that the word “visual” means all senses.  So..if I see, feel, smell, hear something that might “surprise” the Buyer, I am to note it on my Disclosure form. 

As a Seller, it is much better and will keep you out of the courtroom if you Disclose, disclose, disclose!  Take your time filling out your State required TDS (Transfer Disclosure Statement).  Be as concise and honest as you can. surprises for your potential Buyer, no attorneys in your world.

Short Sale Hardships..who cares????

Lenders need to accept the Short Sale gifts..Short Sales are gifts to Lenders

Short Sale Hardship..who cares??? 

It would seem sensible that in this current housing mess, the Lenders would be..well, sensible.  Not so.  Understood by all of us that there were people that scammed the system by using straw buyers, taking out loans that they could not understand or ill afford..blah, blah.  BUT..the fact remains, that every single vacant home drives the values of neighborhoods even further into decline.  SMARTEN UP LENDERS! 

The Lenders will eventually loosen their “hardship requirements” for Short Sale approval.  Any dummy can see that..there is no other way to keep occupants in their homes, utilities paid, pools maintained, landscape up, and vacant home numbers down.  Are they there yet?  No.  I actually had a CHASE short sale declined last week because the “Seller obviously wasn’t in hardship because I can see right here that she used her charge card to buy something at Victoria’s Secret.”  Excuse me????  And you care because????  Oh, that’s’s a moral thing.  Get off your high horse and use your brains.  When a Seller is not in huge financial distress, but their property has dropped 50-75%, it is now a non-performing asset.  What smart investor/owner/human alive would continue to throw money at it in this economic world?  I asked the negotiator that and he was silent…

Why not ask these Sellers to throw in cash to get the Short Sale approved?  My particular Seller was very willing to do just that..still, they chose to send this home to Foreclosure.  That’s smart.  The sale is approximately 6 months away, the Seller has now turned off all utilities, cut off the landscaper and pool maintenance, and let the property manager go..yep, that’s going to really help the value of the residence.  And did I mention that my offer was ABOVE THEIR BPO?  I’d guess the Brains at Chase just left approximately $30,000 to $40,000 on the table..that costs each of us taxpayers money, AND drives down the neighborhood prices AND increases the odds of Vandalism, which further decreases the value.  Good move Mr. Lender. 

Common Sense and Banks NEVER should be put into the same sentences….

Short Sales..Banks actually responding???

Short Sale Response Short Sales can wear you out… 

Short Sales..Banks actually responding?? 

I received calls from 3 different Lenders this past week.  What???  The Banks called ME on Short Sales?  Hard to believe, but yes, true.  I almost had to stop walking and put my head between my legs to keep from feinting.. 

“Who is this?” I asked

“Shelby with Chase..regarding your Short Sale for Mr. Black…” 

“Are you sure????”  I insisted.  “This is the REAL Chase?”  It was….I think.

Anyway, I think a couple things might be happening with regards to Short Sales.  It’s the end of the year and the Lenders are ready to write off some of their loans truthfully.  There is a foreclosure problem brewing, no matter what B of A is telling us, and lastly, I guess maybe they figure Some money is better than No money for that property…

Makes me hopeful that all my Short Sales will close by the end of 2010, and that my new Short Sale Listings will move through the system faster in 2011. 

Interesting article from today’s LA Times on B of A…