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.

Home Buying Myths..or maybe Dreams???

#Home Buying Myths..or maybe Dreams????

Home Buying Myths..or maybe Dreams????  Whenever a first time home buyer thinks about buying, there is often alot of emotion tied up in those thoughts.  It’s a dream come true in many ways, and so many Buyers come into the process with unrealistic expectations and extremely high emotions.  If you’re looking to Buy, don’t let your heart control your head..this is still first and foremost..a business transaction.

1. “The Perfect home is out there!”  Not!  So many new buyers tend to focus on the one thing that’s wrong with a home instead of the 7 things that are right with it!  Buying a home is an exercise in compromise.  You can’t have it all.  Decide which items on your wish list are true “Deal Breakers.”

2.  “My Home will speak to me.”  Really??  Buyers so often get caught up in how the home “feels”.  Homes can be staged to evoke certain feelings.  Don’t overlook reality because of emotion.

3.  “But it says in the Listing discription..”  Listing agreements, agents, even tax rolls can be wrong.  Count the bedrooms and closets yourself, bring your tape measure and a notebook.

4.  “If they accept my offer right away..it was too high!”  This would be “Buyers Remorse”, and it’s common in our uncertain market.  If you are comfortable with that price for that house, stick with it.  In a business deal, the idea is to make all parties feel like winners.

5.  The Value of my Home will increase…eventually”  Not necessarily.  In fact, forget that when you are buying a “home”.  Unless you are an experienced Investor or Flipper, don’t expect your home to increase in value over a certain amount of time.  Buy it to live in, take the mortgage Tax deductions, and enjoy!

Short Sale Servicers; Many don’t know any more than we do!

Loss Mitigation departments Short Sale servicers leave us feeling like this…

Short Sale Service Departments; Nobody knows nothin..

well, this in tongue in cheek since some of the personnel I talk to do seem to know SOMETHING.  However, I’m going to relate a true story for those of you who may be calling your Loss Mitigation departments and actually believing what they tell you….

‘Chase Loss Mitigation..may I have your Loan # please?”

“Yes, it’s 9999888999. ”

“Thank you for that information.  Now if you’ll just answer some questions about the property…”

And so I do.  Loan #, Borrowers names, socials’, property address, living there or not…blah, blah.  Then my well-trained Loss Mitigation expert says, “Your negotiators name is Lisa P”

“Can you connect me to Lisa P?”

“NO, I cannot.  That’s outside our guidelines, but if you’d like me to leave her a voicemail, I can try that.”

“Well, may I speak with her manager”

“No, that’s outside our guidelines.  We are not able to give our manager’s names or contact information”

“May I speak to YOUR manager?”

Pause….”uh, no, that’s outside my guidelines…..”

Click.  I’m done with this one.  Re-dial.  Same number, same department, different voice.

‘Hello, this is Chase Loss Mitigation.  My name is Michael, how can I help you?”

Same exact information exchange. 

Michael:  “Your negotiator is Lisa P.  Let me see if I can get her for you and if not, I will get you to another negotiator for this file, since I can see it has been assigned quite awhile ago.”  Ah-ha!  I’ve struck GOLD with this one…

Michael comes back on…”Apparently, now your file has been transferred to Texas and I have another negotiator assigned, let me give you her personal name/phone # and fax #”….and so he does.  I thank him, hang up and call her directly…

You see the issue????  Hours on the phone/file is not unusual.  They hope, they want you to go away.  Tired and discouraged.  This article from today’s New York Times talks about how the new report has found that the Servicers indeed did awful thing sduring the Foreclosure mess but…..no penalties!!   And so it goes…http://tinyurl.com/6bnqh8n

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.””

What’s going to happen THIS year in Real Estate?

Shopping for your home Home Shopping; Skip the Predictions! 

What’s going to happen this year in Real Estate? 

As your Realtor, the best I can do is keep you informed…truthfully.  It is my job to keep up on statistics and this would have to do with the dire predictions regarding the dropping median price in our Valley.  I DO believe it will continue to drop throughout this year.  Why???  Because the median is where half the homes priced above that number sell and half the homes priced below that number sell..it is a floating number entirely dependent upon the price points of various areas.  Here in the desert, we are now experiencing a large drop in the higher end markets, thereby pulling the median down.  On the other hand, I know of developments where I have Buyers waiting to find that house in THAT development..they are waiting for the Short Sales and REO’s to come along.  The home they buy is not going to pull the median down because they will pay more..possibly having to raise their initial offer above List Price because there are other Buyers thinking exactly the same thing!

Stay Focused!  Keep your eye on the exact thing that you want..don’t be swayed by the media.  Follow the SOLD comps for a period of time with regards to what you are looking for.  If those SOLD comps are only making lateral moves, expect that price/sf to remain the same..perhaps even go up slightlyy because BUYERS are setting that price/sf. 

Stay Focused!  If you are buying in a higher priced market, and are willing to wait for that home that you have your eye on, you ay get it for less. 

If you are a Buyer that is very flexible with regards to floor plan, orientation of the home on the lot, upgrades in the home..you can sit and watch the market until the home comes up that suits you.  If you are a Buyer that will ONLY settle for a particular floor plan on a particular street in a particular development, then pull out that SOLD comps for the past 6 months to a year and study them.  Don’t wait too long..there is still pent up Buyer demand for many areas of our desert.

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.

Your Local Lenders may serve up the tastiest Loans!

Shop your local Lender market Local Lenders may serve up the tastiest loans.. 

Local Lenders may be the answer for Borrowers..

I always ask all my Short Sale potential Buyers to be pre-approved by a local Lender, Franklin Loans.  I receive nothing extra from this, I get nothing from this referral other than the knowledge that the Buyers can qualify for their Loan through a Local Lender that I have worked with for many years.  Local Lenders have an eye for the local market.  If you’re an out of state or out of town or out of country borrower, it’s not as important to you perhaps, but if you do live locally, a local Lender can often really help you out.  If you have an extremely high credit score..again not as important, but so many Buyers now have dings, lower credit scores due to a Short Sale of their own in their past, a job loss or transfer..any number of variables…

Local Lenders tend to place more weight on factors other than credit score when assessing loan applications (from REALTOR mag.)  They look at how long applicants have been with their current jobs, how often they make deposits into their savings, do they have a history of late payments, of over drawing their checking, and many other factors.  This can often tell them more exactly whether or not this potential borrower can truly afford the Loan payments.  So..if you’re looking locally, why not shop around and use a local Lender that has been servicing and under-writing loans in your market for years?  You might be pleasantly surprised!

Short Sale, Foreclosure, REO; What’s the difference?

Short Sale VS Foreclosure confusion Short Sale & Foreclosure confusion.. 

Short Sale, Foreclosure, REO; what’s the difference? 

Wow has our world of real estate changed!  Most dramatically since 2007 when the term “Distressed Properties” started appearing in the media.  What the heck did that mean?   Your house was distressed?  It didn’t feel well, it’s plumbing was whacky?  What exactly was everyone talking about?    Most everyone now knows that the term “Distressed Properties” encompasses Short Sales, Foreclosures and REO’s..properties that are distressed because in the current market, the homeowners are upside down on their mortgages (owe more than they are valued at), and this causes the property to become “distresssed”.

A Short Sale is not something that I would wish on anyone, yet it is certainly the lesser of two evils when compared to the Foreclosure.  The biggest plus of a Short Sale VS a Foreclosure is NOT a lesser impact on your credit score.  That MAY occur if I can get the deal closed in 4 months or less.  But no matter how diligent I am, I cannot make the Lenders or my negotiator work any faster than they want to..and that sets the timeframe.  However..now that there is a history of Short Sale VS Foreclosure data out there, it has become apparent, that a Short Sale on your record vs. a Foreclosure is clearly different. 

 Should you go apply for a new Loan, the Lender looks much kinder upon a Short Sale (it shows that you took action BEFORE the lender had to repossess the property or sell it through auction).  Lenders will look at a home buyer with a Short Sale on their record for a new loan within approximately 24 months.  A Foreclosure is probably going to shut that door for approximately 7 years!  Fantastic reason alone to stick it out with a Short Sale.

SHORT SALE:  Before Auction.  Owner’s Lender agrees to sell the property for less than the amount owed against the property.

FORECLOSURE:  Before Auction.  Owner has stopped making payments, Lender has given notice of intent to sell at Auction unless payments are brought up to date.

REO:  Real Estate Owned.  Foreclosure property bought by the Lender at Auction when no other bids satisfied the Lenders’ note.  Lender normally sells these properties through their REO division, or a Broker.

In our Valley through 2010, approximately 50% of home sales were “Distresssed Properties”, so they are having a definate affect on our market.  It has been interesting to watch Short Sales move through certain neighborhoods of our Valley cities.  From the first Short Sale in a neighborhood approx. 4 years ago to today..there are fewer and fewer and more and more standard sales happening.  Are the markets appreciating?  Very few..but they are no longer depreciating in many, many neighborhoods and that’s a great sign.

A true Short Sale Story; this happened yesterday..

short sales can wear you out Give in to Short Sales! 

A True Short Sale Story; this happened yesterday. 

Chase may be one of the first ‘BIG’ lenders in 2011 to start digging into their Short Sale Cases and trying to figure out what to do to unload more of their non-performing assets..hmmm..what a novel idea!  They now have a “Pre-listing” team.  This means that Short Sale List Agents, can actually contact them BEFORE the home is active, and get the Short Sale ball rolling.  I haven’t done this yet, but am looking forward to trying to figure out this latest attempt to speed things up in 2011.

Something very interesting and unusual happened yesterday with CHASE.  I got a call to ME on my own personal CELL from a CHASE negotiator.  She didn’t have any of my files so it wasn’t anybody that I had been working with.  She was calling me on a Short Sale that CHASE had turned down in October because “your Seller is not in a Financial Hardship”.  On this particular file, I had brought them an offer approx. $20,000 ABOVE market value (CASH), and my Seller was bringing $10,000 more CASH to the closing.  As most of you know, if CHASE turned the deal down, the home (vacation) goes forward to the Foreclosure Sale.  My Seller turned off all utilities, pool and landscape maintenance, and stopped paying HOA’s.  Why should they continue to maintain a home, hoping to Short Sale it, when the Lender has determined that the home would be better off vacant, rotting and open to Vandals as it heads to the Foreclosure Sale???

So..to continue my story.  This negotiator asks me if my Seller would like to Short Sale this SAME home!  CHASE has apparently, “changed their guidelines for hardship”, and would like me to Short Sale the property.  Could this perhaps have something to do with the Foreclosure mess, (where IS that original note, Mr. Lender?), or has CHASE simply written off this loan as of December 2010, paid their CEO’s their Bonuses based on the inflated note values in their 2010 portfolios and are now willing to dump these properties without the hassle of foreclosure?  I’m just saying…

So..my Seller says “yes!”  I call the Buyers’ Agent, who, bless her, has already written 3 offers with this buyer on this home..each lower as time progresses.  She writes an offer $15,000 lower , (way to go CHASE!), and we’re off and running. 

That’s one file..then I ask this same mysterious and wonderful voice on the phone to check another rejected CHASE Short Sale for me.  One loan, primary Res, an egotistical maniac for a negotiator who would NOT order a new BPO even though his came in $125,000 ABOVE market value, and bless THIS woman..she looks at my next file.  “yes,” she says.  I agree.  (I almost stopped breathing at this point..who IS this woman?)  I will order a new BPO for this one, and we will keep this offer active and continue to work this SHORT SALE. 

 ”Understand,” I tell her. “My Seller is so disgusted, that she will NOT deal with this same negotiator, and if he is assigned to the file, you can pick up your keys on the front porch of ANOTHER abandoned home.” 

“This call is being monitored so I cannot respond to that comment, but I assure you, this Short Sale will be assigned to a different negotiator.” 

OK..so that’s TWO Short Sale files that were stuck in the Short Sale bank mud, and are supposedly moving forward again..fingers crossed, and eternally hopeful..I begin my daily follow up on my Short Sales with two NEW (not really) files..keep you posted…

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:  OK..so 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 somewhere..in 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..