Monday, May 6, 2013
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
And, Psst... If you're only reading this blog, you're not keeping up with the latest greatest updates from the real estate whisperer. Check out the new blog at "The Real Estate Whisperer" and join me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheRealEstateWhisperer.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
2. If you do a short sale, in most cases lenders are processing these fairly quickly – from listing to close can be as little as 60 days, 90-120 days is more common.
3. Most lenders will stop the foreclosure process if you are working on a short sale.
4. Most sellers can get full debt forgiveness from their lenders (meaning after the sale they no longer owe their lender).
5. If you get debt forgiveness THIS YEAR (this requires you close your sale by 12/31/2012), most people will not have to pay taxes on that forgiven debt. (See information on the Debt Forgiveness Act here.)
6. A seller’s credit WILL be damaged; but it is temporary. Before you do the short sale, consider your credit related needs, especially as it relates to finding your next place to live.
7. Although high security clearances often require credit reviews, I have never had a seller have trouble renewing their security clearances because of a short sale. Especially in these circumstances, short sales are preferred over foreclosures.
8. Some sellers are eligible for financial assistance when they file for a short sale… It’s mind blowing and I know it, so let me say that one again: YES, some sellers receive CASH from their lender for doing the short sale.
9. Short sale sellers without extenuating circumstances can restore their credit to above 700 – in most cases – within 2 years.
10. Most short sale sellers can be eligible for a home purchase loan in as little as 3 years (via an FHA loan which only requires 3.5% down). Some sellers can get loans sooner.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Here's why:The May market stats were just released from MRIS our local MLS system.
In Northern Virginia, compared to last year, Sales Volume is up 10%, and inventory is DOWN 20%... That means I have 10% more people buying than last year, but I have 20% less homes to show them. Simply put, more demand, less supply. And yes, that is putting upward pressure on pricing in our area. Prices in the region are up almost 7% compared to last year.
Interested in learning more? I have charts, stats and tons of info... just go to my web site, and check it out.
If you are thinking of selling, this might be a great time. I am waiting for your call or email. Let's get together!
Selling Homes and Land in the Dulles area
Saturday, June 2, 2012
In the mean time, take a look at theses posts:
To make you laugh: Your Home, as seen during a real estate transaction.
To help you get your appraisal: Get the best appraisal for your home.
Interested in learning more about our market place? Visit the Market Statistics part of my web site for the latest news, stats, and information.
Friday, June 1, 2012
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In the mean time...Got real estate questions? I got real estate answers. Email me, sent me a tweet, post on my wall, text or call me.
|Posted: March 09, 2012|
Thursday, May 31, 2012
RESPA, RESPA, RESPA...What is it anyway? The web site www.HUD.gov explains: " The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) insures that consumers throughout the nation are provided with more helpful information about the cost of the mortgage settlement and protected from unnecessarily high settlement charges caused by certain abusive practices. "
Among other things, this law has a prohibition against "unearned fees" being charged by settlement service providers to the consumer. Settlement service providers are real estate brokers, lenders, closing companies, surveyors, pest control companies, home warranty companies and almost any party whose charges show up on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement.
This portion of the law has been tested in lower courts and was seemingly interpreted to mean that real estate brokers could not charge "admin fees" or transactional costs above the commission they were charging. The courts, as I understand it, were saying that the brokerage had the duty to file the paperwork and coordinate the transaction. Therefore, brokerages could not charge an additional fee over and above the commission, to clients and customers for these tasks. As a result, many local brokerages began to rename these fees and continue to charge them, but label them as "flat fee" commissions, because that is what the court said they were. So, brokerages would charge X percent plus a flat fee of Y as commission for their services.
WELL, now NAR (the National Association of REALTORS) says that the ruling by the Supreme Court last week changes things. In this particular suit, Quicken (a mortgage broker) was being sued by customers who claimed that the loan discount fee (aka loan processing fee) violated this same clause of the law as it was an "unearned fee". Quicken defended itself by saying that the law only applied to fees that are shared with another servicer. The case made it to the Supreme Court and....(drumroll please) the Supreme Court sided with Quicken.
What does this mean for real estate brokers and their "Admin" fees? Will they be re-emerging in the marketplace? Who knows. But I know this... my office does not charge admin or transaction fees in addition to our commission. In fact, Mr and Mrs consumer... when I recently moved from one office to another I ended up at such a small boutique brokerage because all the 'nationals' that I considered do charge these fees (regardless of what they are called). I stood firm against it and simply would not go to an office where I would be forced to charge these fees to my clients. I mean, really... How could I tell you "You Have A Friend In the Business"... and then nickel and dime you to death every time we did business together? I couldn't.
Whether you're ready to buy or sell a home, or just need some honest real estate advice, I am here for you:
Learn more about this case:
Speaking of Real Estate "Supreme Court Provides Clarity on Brokerages' Administrative Fees"
Monday, May 28, 2012
Today I received an email from Toll Brothers linking to a blog about why you should buy a new home rather than a resale.... and they make a few points; but they miss a lot of points. "A" for effort! Hopefully the consumers reading the blog don't actually think about what it says - or doesn't say.
In this sheet, Toll Brothers gives you expected life expectancies of varying systems in homes, and their approximation of replacement cost. Generally speaking, they are right on about the average life expectancies. According to the estimate, over a 25 year span you could be spending $133,500... that's a little more than $5K a year in maintenance (that's regardless of whether you buy new or not - that's the cost to maintain a home over those years... and it's probably going to be more than that in our area). However, if you are buying a home, particularly a resale, I recommend you get a home inspection and hire someone that will provide you with a better estimation (based on the actual home you're buying) what maintenance or replacement items you should anticipate so that you can budget accordingly.
Aside from the predictable maintenance costs of any home (new or resale) there are other things to consider. For example:
- Do you sneak to the kitchen for a midnight snack in your undies? If so, having window coverings in place might be a good idea. Resales usually come with them... new homes rarely do.
- Most people repaint. For resales, most people repaint when they first move in to get rid of the prior owners taste in wall coverings and replace it with their own. With new homes, builders recommend that owners wait a year before repainting, so until then you need to live with the builder's choice of paint and the nail pops.
- Yes, nail pops - That's why builders recommend you wait a year before repainting. At the end of a year, they will (usually) come back and cover up nail pops and other minor signs of settlement that are inevitable.... but they won't touch up custom paint, so waiting until after that 1 year walk through to repaint is a good idea, since you'll surely want to repaint after that is done. With resales, they are usually "settled" by the time you move in, so you're not as likely to find these kinds of issues.
- Do you like to have clean clothes? Most of us do... and builders rarely include a washer and dryer. Most resales come with the laundry equipment.
- Are you moving out of that stupid rental apartment to your own home so you can have a cook out on your own deck without the rental manager fussing at you? Well then, you're going to need a deck or patio. Resales commonly have decks or patios... New homes usually don't, and this is a big ticket item not included on that Toll Brother's list. Think $10-15K plus.
- Maybe your motivation for moving is that you're ready to start a family, and whether you're starting your family with dog or a (human) toddler, you may find having a fenced yard would be a plus. There aren't many builders that include that in the cost of the home, in fact, many don't even offer it as an option. But in resales, you have a pretty good chance of finding a great yard with a great fence already in place.
- Speaking of yards, do you like green grass and mature trees? This wish list item is also going to be easier to find in a resale. With a new home, the landscaping is all new, and takes much work to get established.
While buying a new home offers some advantages, it offers disadvantages, too. There is not one right answer for everyone. I am not trying to sway your opinion, just to point out some of the things you may not have considered... and things Toll Brothers certainly doesn't want you to consider when you're reading their blog or shopping in their models (where, by the way, you'll see lush landscaping and decks, and patios, and fenced yards, and custom paint and window coverings). I'm just sayin'.
Whatever the right answer for you, I am happy to help you make sure that you're buying, "eyes wide open" and not swayed by marketing materials and propaganda. That's the role of a buyers agent~to make sure you have the right information so you make the best choice for you and your family. Thinking of buying a home? New or resale I can help!
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Yesterday I received another "Mortgage Minute" video from one of my favorite lenders, Pat Cunningham at Home Savings Trust. These videos are sent to his sphere of real estate agents so we can provide updates and information to our clients. In this video (as always) he gives some good information. But the most exciting news in this update won't even impact my real estate business. It could, however, impact your life.
Did you buy a home prior to May 2009 with an FHA loan? If so, this new deal effects YOU. Pat said they have a new option to refinance those loans - which are likely about a 5% interest rate - into today's loan prices (approximately 3.75%), and you will NOT have to pay the new mortgage insurance rates, there will be no appraisal, and no closing costs. For many of you, this could save a couple hundred dollars a month.
Watch the video yourself (note: He talks about this last, so you can skip to a little more than half way through the video if this is all you wish to hear.)
Want more information? Talk to Pat: Patrick Cunningham Main Number: (703) 766-4636 Fax Number: (703) 352-1289 Email: email@example.com
I will be forwarding this post to several of my past clients... I hope you pass this on to anyone else you know. I want you to remember that I am always looking out for you, and will be sharing news that I think you can use whether you're in the market to buy or sell, or not. So, stay tuned to my business facebook page at www.Facebook.com/TheRealEstateWhisperer.
Also, if you're a client you may notice my web site has a new format... and I am loving it. It is a work in progress, I am still customizing things, so please explore and give me your feedback. What do you love? What do you think should be added? I want it to me the type of interesting web site that keeps you coming back to use resources regularly...and something you will likely be sharing with others.As always, please know I rely on you, my friends and clients, to help feed my business. If you know of anyone who is looking to buy or sell a home in the Loudoun or Dulles area, be sure to connect me!
Friday, May 25, 2012
Because most people purchase homes with a loan or otherwise subject to an appraisal, getting an favorable appraisal is key to most home sales. You likely will also need to get an appraisal for refinancing.
The purposes of a home appraisal is to estimate market value, to make sure the bank is investing (via a loan) in a property that is worth their investment.
Recently there has been a change in the home appraisal process, resulting in more regulation. To comply with these regulations, among other things, most lenders use a lottery system to chose the appraiser for each loan.
When working with the Veterans Association on a VA loan, the VA operates the lottery system. No one involved in the transaction, not even the lender, has any ability to choose the appraiser. Outside of VA loans, larger lenders have a large pool of appraisers they work with... Bank of America and other large lenders, as you can imagine, service a huge geographical area... often, so do their appraisers. And, like in the example of the VA loans, the loan officers who work for these large lenders also have no ability to influence the appraisal... nor do they have the ability to influence decisions on who goes into the lottery, or who stays.
It's not uncommon in these situations to get an appraiser from a far off land (OK, I am exaggerating just a bit, but they are often from outside the market place) to provide a valuation for your home. Since we all know that real estate is local, this can result in a "bad" appraisal.
Appraisers who do not understand what neighborhoods are more comparable to others may pull comparables from neighborhoods that simply don't make sense. Or, if they don't often work in the market, they may not realize that (for example) in Winchester, a split foyer home sells well and in Reston a contemporary home is highly desired, but both of these housing types are considered "dated" and less desirable in Leesburg, where people seem to crave colonial style homes. They may not realize that a home in Round Hill is more desirable than one in Lovettsville because of the commute patterns. And, desirability drives value in any market.
I tend to encourage my buyers to use smaller, local lenders for a myriad of reasons. One advantage is that smaller local lenders have a smaller pool of appraisers who generally work smaller areas. While these lenders are still not permitted to "hand pick" their appraisers (to prevent fraud), they do have better quality control over the "pool" of appraisers, and the end result is a more accurate appraisal.
When selling or refinancing your home, your appraisal can affect your ability to get your loan...and if you're a seller you need the appraiser to be favorable so that your buyer can get his loan. So make sure you know your "comps."
"Comps" are simply market comparisons that reflect other homes that have sold in your neighborhood, zip code, and area. Review these comparisons by calling your agent of choice (hopefully me) for comparisons BEFORE your appraiser visits to make sure that all relevant comps are considered.
If your home is for sale, we've already been through the "presentation" checklist - and this still applies for the appraiser. If you're refinancing, take a few minutes to look at your home as though you were a home buyer, since checking that your home appears marketable and well-maintained is vital. Spend some time cleaning the home entrance and painting as necessary to spruce up the entry, making your best first impression. The rest of your home should be clean and clutter-free, as well. Appraisers assume - like most people - that if your home is dirty and toys are out front in the overgrown lawn, you don't take good care of the mechanics and the roof is probably a disaster; but if it's clean, surely all the nooks and crannies are in great shape as well.
Appraisals - no matter how scientific they appear on the final report - are incredibly subjective. If you hire 10 appraisers you will get 10 different values of the same property. So, make sure you make things as easy as possible for the appraiser, and present your case for the value.
There are some things you can hand to your appraiser when they visit:
- Floorplan and plat, for starters - because they will have to create one if you don't give them one.
- List of selling features of your home - the view, size, location, bump out, "options" when the home was built - anything that makes it better than most of the homes your house might be compared to.
- List of recent upgrades and updates, and include costs if they were significant (a $45K kitchen remodel is much more impressive than a $10K kitchen remodel; and be sure to include anything that improves energy efficiency - this is a focus in today's market).
- Listings for comparable properties with notes about the significant differences between your home and the one that is there (backs to highway, doesn't have a basement, etc.).
If I have listed your home you can rest assured that I will be providing this information to your appraiser - I may meet them in person or just provide the information electronically to him in advance. I will also do my very best to project to them that I am an expert in the market place, and that I am available to assist them if they need additional information, have questions, or find conflicting information. Being personable and approachable is an important factor in opening these lines of communication.
If you're refinancing, then I can still help you get these things together - just give me a call.
Once completed, an appraisal may take a week or so before you can get a copy, but do get a copy. If the appraisal is lower than you need, there are ways to request changes, and I can help you with that, too, so that you can accomplish your goals.
Don't hesitate to call me if I can help! Remember, with me, you've got a friend in the business!
Thinking of selling or refinancing? Check the comps - order a free report at www.SalesInMyNeighborhood.Info
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I hear this from friends quite often... "I want to get my real estate license. I think I'd make a good real estate agent. I like looking at houses."
While the meat of the business is far more than looking at houses, the truth is that most agents fail because they can't find the people who want to look at the houses - or at least not the ones who wish to purchase them and are ready, willing and able.
See this post on Trulia, where someone posted, "I recently got my license, activated it and got my MLX lots of money invested.. I signed on with a brokerage that supposedly has one of the best training's out there but all they have told me is to send out cards and call my family..seriously...is there any brokerage firm that will actually say "hey agent here is a property go sell it or here is a buyer find them a house? or do i practically walk around in the dark questioning why i ever decided to make this my career and feel completely alone?"
Sadly, this agent will not likely make it. You see, the brokerage hired you to find business... not the other way around. And the brokerage was right when they told her to talk to the people she already knows - Are they willing to hire you? Refer you?
In this market, I know I would not hire someone who is new. Buying or selling a home a HUGE investment decision and very complicated and when you hire a real estate agent, you're relying on their expertise. Expertise you get from doing business. In some cases a new agent may not know as much as their consumer. It takes years and years of experience.
Luckily, when I entered the market as a new agent, I was not new to the business - I'd been working in real estate for decades, and so the transition was easier for me.... but it still took adjusting. I wasn't used to having to ask for business or referrals either. My advantage was once I had the "lead" I had the experience to justify them hiring me. But what if you were a home maker or negotiated labor contracts for a living? Not only are you not used to having to "find" your next client, but once you have them you're not really sure what to do.
Sure, some people get lucky - and I am often surprised by some of the people that make it in this business. It can defy logic. Maybe that will be you. But if you're that lucky, maybe you should just play the lottery.
Bottom line, here is my advice to anyone who wishes to get into this business... You are starting a new business, you are self employed, you are not getting a job. It is not the same. And, the projection on what you should make the first year... Here's how you figure it out:
How many people do you know RIGHT NOW who will buy or sell a home in the next 12 months? Of those, how many people will hire you to help them? Multiple that number by 75%, and those are the clients you'll have this year. Guesstimate your income per transaction based on sales price and the normal commission charged in your area, and then take out the costs for your broker, taxes, and expenses. (Generally an agent gets to keep 30% of their gross earnings.) That is what your projected income will be in the next 12 months. Are you excited? Probably not so much, but it's the truth that no one else wishes to tell you.
Yes, marketing helps, but the cold calling, bulk mail, door knocking, etc. can only do so much. It's a drop in the bucket, because everyone who talks to you will not hire you. Some will. Many won't. Once they do, if you do a great job, then they will refer you and use you again. That's why it's worth it. It's never about today's sale. It's always about tomorrow's.
Having shared all of this info, I have a message for my friends, family, and clients: I hope now YOU realize why I need your referrals, why I need your business, why I work hard to try to be the smartest, best, most loyal, most helpful, most competent real estate agent you know. If I have managed to establish that impression in your mind, take a moment to think about who you know that needs my help, and then connect me. I will be forever grateful. Without the support of my friends, family, and past clients, I would have no business. Thank you, thank you, for your continued support.
Equal Opportunity Housing
|Posted: February 03, 2012|
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Saturday, May 19, 2012
This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a client and local business man. He is a well established, experienced home improvement contractor. Recently, he had a past customer call him and say that a potential buyer for her home had a home inspection done and that inspector reported that the bathroom fan this contractor had installed was not vented to the outside. Of course, the contractor had installed the fan and he showed the customer where the vent was. This tainted his opinion of home inspectors. I understand.
When he told me the situation, I rolled my eyes. As a listing agent I have seen many poor inspections come back to me... Most are accurate. Most are fair. Some are not. Some are just wrong. Sometimes the home inspector will think he's earning his fee by scaring the potential buyer. Sometimes the home inspector will think he won't get another referral from an agent if he points out all the flaws.
So, what kind of home inspector do you want? I say my buyers want a fair home inspector... one who will not provide a "good" or "bad" opinion, but will report the facts, objectively... In my view a home inspector has multiple roles:
- Inspect the property and discover significant flaws. They will also discover relatively insignificant flaws, too, but let's be honest... there are a bazillion parts to a home and no one person, in a matter of two hours, can discover every flaw. You want to make sure they catch the big stuff... it's probably OK if they didn't catch something small.
- Report the property flaws objectively - without scaring the potential buyer or glossing over facts.
- Provide an accounting of systems... most buyers do not know from walking through the property and reviewing the marketing materials what kinds of systems are in the home. I want a home inspector to tell my buyers what's inside this particular "People House", how old it is, and how it works.
- Provide usage and maintenance information... Even if you've owned homes before, that doesn't mean you've owned this kind of system. A good home inspector will not know everything, but they will definitely know the most common types of systems. They should be able to tell you how to operate the system and what their maintenance requirements are, as well as their average life expectancy. Proper use and maintenance of systems increases the life expectancy dramatically. That's why some homes have 30 year old water heaters that still work. But, let's face it, that one won't last long, so you need to know that it's going to need replacement soon. And you need to budget for it.
- Provide insights on repair items - How difficult is it to repair? What might it cost? Is it something Harry Homeowner can do, or should this be left to a contractor?
What if an inspector stumbles across something that he doesn't know much about? Well, he should be able to record certain information, and give you resources. For smaller systems, like a security system for example, the owner may have a manual and be able to provide information on how to use it. And that might be all you need. For other situations where the owner can't help you fill in the blanks, you should get enough information from the home inspector that you know what questions to ask and of whom to ask them.
The inspector's role is NOT to provide advise on contract issues to the buyer. An inspector should not say "you can tell the sellers they have to fix this" because your inspector is not your REALTOR... and he probably doesn't know what your contract says nor does he know the dynamics of the transaction like your agent does. Trust your agent here.
So, should you take your agent's advice about what home inspector to hire? I suppose it depends on the competency and trustworthiness of your agent. I'd like to tell you that you can trust us all... but as in every profession, there are people who are trustworthy and competent, people who are trustworthy but not very experienced and therefore less competent, and people who are experienced but are really just in it for the quickest cash possible. Hopefully, you've found an agent that is trustworthy and competent... and if that is the case, then I think your agent is going to know better than the yellow pages who to hire. After all, they are helping a lot of people buy and sell homes, and that experience and guidance is why you hired them.
I will also tell you that sometimes, agents have a "go to" person, or two... but those people may get too busy sometimes to help you. In those cases, your agent may have to make calls to other agents they know and trust to get other recommendations. It happens. But you'll notice that if your agent is good, he or she does not go to the yellow pages to find you another recommendation...and if they do, watch out.
Buying a home is a pretty big deal... one not to be taken lightly. Although some buyers don't feel the need to do an inspection, I always encourage it. (Check out this post to learn why.) My husband would not allow a professional inspector when we bought our homes - and boy did I live to regret it. I am older and wiser now. If we ever buy another home, not only will I get an inspection, but I will know who to call, too. It will be the same person I recommend to you.
Remember, with me, you've got a friend in the business!