Evaluating Real Estate Offers: Is it a Lowball Deal?

Real Estate offers

Your house has been listed on the market. You listed your house yourself instead of going with a realtor. You did your homework though. Each realtor you interviewed gave you a CMA. A CMA is a comparative market analysis. That means the realtor researched houses in the past six months that was similar to your house and found the price the houses sold for. In this market it is not uncommon for realtors to give you a comparative of what houses are LISTED for. Ask the realtor which they have done on your market analysis. If you want reasonable offers list your house for a reasonable price. As a general rule of thumb it needs to be around what the houses have sold for in your area. I suggest listing the house for at least 5%-15% more than what the other houses sold for because people always lowball and you will have room to work with them. If you owe money on your house this might cause a problem. You have to get what is owed out of your house or talk to the bank about a short sale.

Now that your house is listed you have offers coming in. The first offer you get comes to you only a couple of weeks after listing the house. If you get an offer that quick chances are good your house will sell and it will sell for close to what you are asking. Quick offers that aren’t far fetched mean you have listed your house at an appropriate price and it will sell if you hold out. Remember all offers are negotiable. You have to play their games if you want to get out of your house.


An offer for 35% less than what you are asking, you pay closing costs for the buyer and you fix all kinds of things in your home is given to you. What should you do? If you overpriced your house you may be able to get away with taking the offer. Should you take the offer though? The answer is no. This is a lowball offer from someone trying to see what they can get or from someone who can’t really afford your house but likes it. Either way you need to look out for yourself as well. If you want to entertain this offer you may want to counter offer. The best thing to do is find out their situation. Do they have to have you pay for their closing costs? How much can they really afford? A counter offer to this just to start out would be full price and you pay closing costs up to a certain amount. They say no and don’t want to continue negotiations. As I said, this is actually a good thing for you because they probably couldn’t afford your house anyway.


Lucky for you other offers come in. You will be able to easily evaluate offers if you list your house. A serious offer is usually full price to 10% less than what you are asking. A lowball and not serious offer is anyone looking for the house to be fixed or improved to their standards and/or 20% less money than what you are asking. Fixed houses and improvements in this market are unrealistic. Most houses are foreclosures with everything missing or beat up so don’t agree to fix anything unless it is a full price offer and the fix won’t cost much.


In this market you will get all kinds of offers because it has turned into a buyer’s market. Buyers know they will be getting good deals because there are so many houses in foreclosure so they don’t have to haggle to get what they want. If you don’t have to sell your house you may want to wait a couple years for the foreclosures to go away and the economy to improve.

REALTOR and Real Estate Agents – Know the Differences

Realtor Vs. Real Estate Agents

People often use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably. But, the fact is, a real estate agent is not necessarily a REALTOR®. The word REALTOR® is a trademarked term, yet often journalists prefer to type it: Realtor, as opposed to REALTOR®, refusing to use all caps.

Other writers choose to ignore the distinction between REALTOR® and real estate agent or licensee, and see the word Realtor becoming to real estate agent what Kleenex® is to tissue. While some may claim REALTORS® are oversensitive, and are simply trying to protect their trademark, that is not the entire story. There is a fundamental distinct difference of definition between the word REALTOR® and a real estate licensee.


Journalists who participate in this sloppy word swapping are doing a disservice to their readers, and in many ways waving a red flag declaring their own ignorance of the real estate profession.


So, what is a REALTOR®? About a century ago many in the real estate industry were viewed as con men and crooks. Reputable real estate professionals banned together and created an association to monitor their industry, and put into effect a standard code of ethics.


The National Association of REALTORS® was born. Real estate licensees who join the association, agree to adhere to a higher code of ethics, and are subject to the association’s sanctions and educational requirements. These members can then add the title of REALTOR® to their credentials.


It is not only the media or general public who get confused over the definition of REALTOR®, sometimes it is the new real estate licensee. When a member of the general public decides to become a real estate agent, they are familiar with the vocation, yet not necessarily fully informed as to the inner working of their new chosen career, such as the continual educational requirements, provisions for participating in area multiple listing services or distinctions between regional, state or national REALTOR® associations.


During real estate school instructors often point out to their students that the fulfillment of courses, and passing state and national tests will make them real estate licensees, not REALTORS®. Some simply don’t get it, at least, not at first.


There is also a confusion over the pronunciation of REALTOR®. It is pronounced real-tor, not real-a-tor.


Some real estate professionals make the conscious choice to not join the National Association of REALTORS®. This is often true for those specializing in commercial real estate.


Belonging to the association brings many benefits to the real estate professional, and to their clients. The association requires its members to take frequent ethics classes, along with other educational opportunities, and the agent is monitored by his or her peers.

Tips for Selling Your House in a Down Market

Down market Selling

As the director of media relations for the Arkansas Realtors Association, I’ve kept track of homes sales in my state in both good times and bad. Like most markets around the nation, we saw an unprecedented boom in sales in Arkansas from 1999 through 2005. At the beginning of 2006, sales started coming in noticeably slower and have continued to decline since.

The rate of declines in sales depends on where you happen to live. We’ve heard of catastrophic declines in markets where sales were outpacing other areas around the nation from 1999 through 2006 — areas such as Dallas and San Diego from which we hear all sorts of grim housing market news. Most smaller markets, however, didn’t shoot up as quickly as larger, urban areas during the boom years and the declines in those areas haven’t been as severe either. That’s certainly been the case in Arkansas, where sales have declined, but home values have remained relatively flat — good news when you’re comparing markets here against those in which homeowners are losing short term value in their houses.


But there is one thing common to almost all housing markets right now. Inventories have increased substantially, meaning sellers have found themselves in a position where they must compete with each other for buyers. That’s quite a bit different than how things were just a couple of years ago when buyers were in competition with each other and it was very common to find sellers sitting back and enjoying bidding wars driving up the prices of their homes. That shift has made it essential for sellers to change their strategies in order to find buyers.


However, a lot of sellers still behave like its 2005 when listing their homes, thus making some critical mistakes that prevent them from selling their houses within reasonable amounts of time or, in some cases, not at all. The good news is, there are some strategies sellers can employ that can dramatically increase their chances of selling their homes.


Pricing is critical


Just a couple of years ago, sellers commonly employed a common tactic of finding out what their homes were worth and then listing them for more money. If the fair market value of a home was, say, $180,000, then why not list it at $210,000 then negotiate a lower price is necessary? That tactic worked well in 2005 when inventories of quality homes were considerably lower — when demand outpaced supply — but it doesn’t work as well right now. If a seller puts that $180,000 house on the market, it’s a near certainty that he or she will be competing against a lot of other sellers with similarly priced homes. If a buyer is in the market for one of those homes, why on earth would that person go look at the overpriced one when equivalent homes are on the market for less money? If a seller doesn’t attract any serious buyers, then the strategy of listing high then negotiating downward simply fails.


Still, there are a lot of sellers out there who still cling to the notion they can always drop their list prices if their homes don’t sell quickly. Again, such an assumption is a mistake in today’s market. Homes get the most exposure within 30 to 60 days of being listed, so a seller who lists high then reduces the price later on will miss out on a lot of potential buyers. There is a bit of a stigma involved with homes that have been on the market for too long in that sellers ask themselves what’s wrong with a house that has languished without offers for a few months.


By the way, how does one go about finding that fair market value? The short answer is to hire a Realtor and let that individual run a comparative market analysis and find that value. Not everyone wants to hire a Realtor to sell a home because they don’t want to have to pay a commission. That’s fair enough, but homeowners still need to realize the importance of finding out the fair market values of their homes. A homeowner not wanting to hire a Realtor to figure out how much a house is worth can possibly figure that out by looking through courthouse records and seeing how much homes in the neighborhood have sold for recently. Also, one can definitely find out the value of a home by hiring a real estate appraiser to make that determination.


What do I offer that my competitors don’t?


With a lot of homes on the market, it’s very important for sellers to make sure their houses stand out from the pack. That can be achieved in many ways, of course, and the most obvious tactic to use it to simply list the home at a bargain. If a home has a fair market value of $180,000, then listing it for $170,000 will certainly attract buyers.


But most homeowners aren’t interested in selling their houses for less than they are worth, and there’s simply no need for such tactics in most markets. Generally, a house will sell if it’s priced well, provided the homeowner is a bit patient. To boost the chances of finding a buyer even more, consider the time-honored draw of curb appeal — if your home looks better from the street than the one for sale next door, guess which one potential buyers are going to look at first. Boosting that curb appeal can be relatively inexpensive. Make sure that lawn is mowed and edged so there’s a crisp, sharp division between the yard and driveways and sidewalks. If you’ve got hedges, trim them. Painting the front door and shutters if they look a bit ragged can boost the appeal of your home, too.


Some more aggressive tactics to use involve throwing in a little extra with the home. In this market, sellers have had great success in throwing in a free home warranty with their houses. A home warranty is, simply put, an insurance policy that will replace or repair the major systems in a home if they fail. Buyers like the piece of mind that comes with a home warranty and sellers are attracted by the fairly low price of taking out a one-year warranty — typically less than $400 in this market.


Homeowners with pricier properties have found some success in offering very tantalizing items in their listings. While we haven’t seen a lot of homeowners throw in free cars with their houses here in Arkansas, we have seen sellers offer items such as high definition television sets, generous remodeling allowances, privacy fences and other items that buyers appreciate.


The outside of the home looks great, but what about the inside?


A home that has great curb appeal may well get a buyer inside a home, but that’s only half the battle. The inside has to be appealing, too. Fortunately, sprucing up the interior doesn’t have to be expensive. Most of the time, simply removing clutter from the interior is enough to impress a buyer. Always remember — buyers want to imagine what a home will look like when they move into it and place their items inside of it, so remove anything that will interfere with the buyer’s ability to do just that.


Removing clutter, in other words, involves more than just tidying up a home or, indeed, giving it the thorough, “both barrels” cleaning. When we talk about removing clutter, we’re talking about taking out almost everything that is too personal. Knick-knacks, pictures of family, that painting of Elvis on black velvet and other personal items provide buyers with a great idea about how a home fits in with your life, but can prevent that buyer from painting a mental picture of how his or her items will suit the space. So, remove those items. While you’re at it, remove much of what’s typically in storage areas such as closets so that prospective buyers can get an idea of how much space will be available to store their items.


Similarly, removing evidence of pets in the home is a good idea. If you’ve got a buyer who hates cats, that person will react harshly upon seeing a litter box and will likely be biased against the home. I know of one Realtor who removed pets entirely when his house was being shown — he spent a lot of time putting his dogs in his truck and driving around town with them when prospective buyers would come to visit. The theory, of course, is that pets would distract buyers from forming the requisite mental picture of how the home would suit their lives.


Another thing to consider is how much furniture is in each room. If there’s too much furniture in a room, it can looked cramped. Interestingly enough, a room will also look small if it’s completely stripped of furniture. A good rule of thumb to use is to put no more than three major pieces of furniture in a single room — in that case, three really is the magic number. A room with three major pieces of furniture just looks right and demonstrates how the space can be utilized well without making a room look to barren.


For those wanting to really spiff up the interior of their homes, fresh coats of paint and a little updating can go a long way. If you’re going to paint a room, make sure to stick with neutral colors. You may like that bold green wall with purple trim, but will a prospective buyer like such bold color choices? Also, it doesn’t cost much to update a bathroom with new faucets, towel racks and other items that will modernize that often overlooked room of the house.




A few years ago, one could get away with simply sticking a “for sale” sign in his or her yard and waiting for offers. In the current competitive market, that tactic doesn’t work as well. Hiring a Realtor can take care of the bulk of those marketing problems because Realtors have access to the local multiple listings service (MLS). Most homes are sold through MLS systems as Realtors in a given area both list and review properties in them. If Sam Seller lists his home in the MLS, it can be shown to Sam Seller even if both the buyer and seller are represented by different Realtors.


Again, however, there are a lot of sellers who had rather go the “for sale by owner” route and take care of selling their homes without going through a Realtor. While having a listing in an MLS is valuable, it’s not the end of the world for people who don’t have access to the local MLS because they aren’t selling their homes through Realtors. Still, it takes a lot more these days to sell a home than putting a “for sale” sign in the front yard, so make sure to set aside some money for newspaper ads or, if available, magazines in your area that run listings of homes.


However you choose to market your home, remember that pictures are perhaps more important than ever in selling your house. If you have a Realtor who is listing your home through an MLS, then you’ve certainly got the option of posting a lot of photos of your property in that listing. Make sure those photos are of good quality and show off the home in the best light. Avoid using photos with people and animals in them and make sure you’re not sending in photos that are dark, show cluttered rooms and etc. When going through an MLS, listings and photos are picked up by national sites such as Realtor.com — places where people around the nation go when shopping for a home.


Whether you’re marketing through an MLS or otherwise, it’s always a good idea to have photographs available. If you can get those photographs posted on high traffic Web sites, you’ll wind up with more buyers.


Know your market


Here in Arkansas, we’ve seen the housing market slowdown in the higher price ranges, whereas things are moving along well in the lower and mid-price ranges. The reason for a lot of that slowdown is, of course, that builders were very interested in constructing expensive homes a couple of years ago because there was a lot of demand for them. A lot of buliders ignored the middle price ranges, resulting in the current situation in which there are a lot of expensive homes in inventory and an actual shortage in some other price ranges.


So, someone selling an expensive home has a tougher row to hoe than someone with a house in one of the lower price ranges. Finding out which price ranges are moving and which ones aren’t can be a very important factor to consider if you’re thinking about selling a home. Doing some research before putting your house on the market can save you a lot of time and aggravation — whether homes in your price range are selling might well be the deciding factor as to whether you’ll list your home and try to find some buyers.


But what if you’ve got to sell that expensive home? The good news is that there are still a lot of homes being sold and sellers that are marketing their homes well and making them attractive for buyers are finding that, with a little patience, they’ll receive some good offers. One thing we’ve found is that a lot of buyers have caught onto the fact that they’ve got a lot more buying power than they did a couple of years ago and are out to find some bargains or, at least, get a home for fair market value. Pricing your home well and marketing to those buyers will typically pay off in the end. You might have to wait a bit longer to sell your house than you did a few years ago, but you will eventually sell it.

Real Estate Titles: Understanding Your Agent’s Credentials

Real Estate Credentials

When choosing a real estate sales agent to represent you in a sales transaction, you may wonder what the initials are behind an agent’s name. Familiar initials are GRI, CRS or ABR. There are also words, such as Realtors, Designated Broker or Associate Broker. But what do they mean, and what do they mean to the client?


The first familiar word is Realtor, which can sometimes even be confusing to real estate sales agents who are just entering the profession. Not every licensed real estate sales agent is a Realtor. A Realtor is a member of a professional association, which has been created to promote a higher code of ethics for its members.


A Broker or Associate Broker starts out as a sales agent. In Arizona, you must have three years experience as a licensed sales agent before you can aspire to be a Broker. Those who earn their Broker’s license must completed specific extensive education requirements and past state tests. After earning your Broker’s license, you may choose to be a Designated Broker (DB) or Associate Broker. Sales agents must work under a Designated Broker, who is in essence “the boss”. If you are an Associate Broker, you also work under a Designated Broker. Many sales agents decide to progress to Broker for the education, and have no intentions of becoming a Designated Broker.


GRI stands for Graduate of Realtor Institute. It is a designation developed for members of the National Association of Realtors, and is offered through state associations. To earn the designation requires 90 hours of coursework on various topics, such as marketing and real estate law. The classes, which can be used to fulfill the agent’s ongoing education requirements, tend to be more extensive and require testing, unlike standard continuing education courses.


CRS stands for Council of Residential Specialists. This designation is considered the highest awarded to a sales associate in the residential field. To qualify requires recognizing both education and experience.


ABR stands for Accredited Buyer Representative, and focuses on training for buyer’s agents. The applicant must fulfill both requirements of education and experience, and must pay an annual membership fee.


SRES stands for Senior Real Estate Designation. This designation is earned by Realtors who complete coursework on how to best meet the needs of homebuyers in the 50+ age group.


There is a wide range of designations and certifications, many of which require good standing membership in the Realtor Association. It is not uncommon for a commercial real estate agent to not be a member of the Realtor Association. There are a variety of designations that may or may not be sanctioned by the Realtor Association.


Many required classes, either to fulfill continuing education requirements, or to complete a designation or certification course, may help the agent better serve their clients. The next time you choose a real estate sales agent, check out their initials and titles, to determine which agent might better serve your needs.

Real Estate Market on the Rebound

Real Estate Market

Fluctuations in the real estate market have made headlines across the country for the past year. Many for the down turn have blamed sub-Prime lenders and secondary market loans in the real estate market. Lenders who allowed the processing of home loans to individuals who just simply could not afford “that much house” prompted a multitude of real estate foreclosures from the east to west coats, leaving virtually no area of the nation unscathed.

All of the media hype, which surrounded the down turn of the market over the past year, may have influenced the overall state real estate sales. Summer is traditionally the high time of the year in the real estate market, and industry experts are predicting a turn around for both homebuyers and sellers. Many real estate companies are sponsoring television commercials and print ads promoting the stability of the real estate market. Leery homeowners are once again feeling secure enough to put homes back on the market in the hopes of a quick sale. The largest obstacle to overcome for homeowners is the fear of earning market value on their property. Real estate appraisers are legally bound to utilize sales data, which is a maximum of one year when appraising any type of property to ascertain the comparable market value.


For the real estate market to get back on its feet, a median number of listings must become available. Lenders are remaining a bit hesitant when approving loans, with stricter guidelines surrounding the applications process. Those who do receive loan approval are entering a buyer’s market. Such a market dictates lower prices than the norm, with sellers facing a disadvantage when attempting to gain top market value for a piece of real estate.


Many of the homes placed on the market at this time are from buyers who need to get out from under a payment they perhaps cannot afford, and are attempting to avoid foreclosure themselves. Real estate auctions on foreclosed homes are also a large portion of the market at this time. Some homeowners are in a difficult situation, finding themselves holding two mortgages. Homeowners who were in the process of relocating, or purchased another home are a large part of the current market.


Potential real estate buyers can get a quality home at a bargain when purchasing a foreclosed property, but need to enter into such a transaction fully informed. When purchasing an auction home, the ability to inspect the home prior to purchase usually is not an auction. A buyer should research the possibility of back due real estate taxes, liens, and condition of the home before placing a bid. Homeowners who loose a home due to a foreclosure can often leave the home in less than pristine condition. The owners before the sale often strip foreclosed homes of light fixtures, flooring, and appliances. The court cannot issue transferable title until all bank owed, or other liens are satisfied. The new owner assumes all such encumbrances when purchasing foreclosures.


A large numbers of homeowners are considering selling a home without the aid of a real estate agent by sticking a “For Sale by Owner” in the front yard. Websites such as www.forsalebyowner.com are attractive at first glance. The possibility of saving money paid in commission to a real estate agent, and establishing their own asking price entices many homeowners to try selling piece of property on their own. By averting the appraisal process, the true market value of a home remains an unknown variable. It is entirely a misconception that such an option is a good idea. Lenders absolutely will not approve a loan for an amount higher than the home is valued. While asking $269,000 for a home in initially sounds good to an owner, it often leads to a dead end when attempting to complete a transaction. Finalization of a purchase contract cannot occur if a buyer cannot secure funding.


Further drawbacks with attempting to sell real estate without a licensed professional involve a lack of marketing, and buyer confidence. Ethical restraints which real estate brokers and agents must adhere to, do not apply to individual homeowners. Prompt and full disclosures of latent defects, deed restrictions, and permit violations. Buyer confidence in the integrity of the home is worth far more than a commission of the sale price to a real estate agency.


Industry experts are once again placing their faith in the market. Listing a home or other piece of real estate will result in an eventual sale, but at a likely less inflated value than in recent years. The most successful sellers will be those who adequately prepare their property for showing, and enlist sales professionals to market the home. Buyers themselves can also secure the assistance of a real estate agent, to ensure their potential home is a good buy, and free of defects.

Tips for Successful Real Estate Flipping

Real Estate Flipping

One important skill you need to develop is how to analyze real estate deals, to be able to tell a bad deal from a good deal. This will make a difference in determining your overall profit. It is best to be sure you have accurate information on the area you are thinking about investing in. You need to farm a certain area and become familiar with it or have a real estate professional that you can consult. You will also need to be able to determine which things on the property that will need to be repaired to achieve a reasonable market value and a good estimation of what those repairs will cost. Always leave room for unforeseen difficulties and obstacles that may arise.

Negotiation is another important part of being a successful real estate investor. This can make a big difference between having a large income generate a considerable amount on the table. You want to make sure that you are building a profitable business that will keep growing over time but you do not want to play mind games with a seller to get them to sign a contract. Your negotiation skills will improve over time when dealing with sellers, contractors and other professionals that you will be working with.


You will also need to work on building your networking skills as they will have a large impact on your bottom line as you will likely be relying on other professionals to help move your real estate deals along. Some professionals you may be networking with are real estate agents, tax advisers, attorneys, contractors, and title companies. You will need to network continuously in order to choose the best people for these important positions.


Your marketing skills will also be very important in building your real estate flipping business. Sometimes this marketing might include flyers, signs, classified ads, direct mail, and word of mouth. Having a well set up marketing plan in place will free you to work new deals while your marketing strategies are operating to bring in new prospects.


It is necessary for any successful real estate flipping business to have good organization. One or two deals working at once can be handled pretty easily but when you have four or five going on at once it can get very confusing if you are not well organized. The deals will be at different stages at different times and you need to be very organized in your planning in order to get them all closed on time. Your organizational skills will keep everything running smoothly and efficiently.


Building all of the above skills will help you to achieve maximum success in developing your real estate business. Keep improving on these skills as you go along and watch your business grow.

Mobile Alabama Real Estate – What You Don’t Know Could Be Costing You Money

Real state

Mobile-Alabama-real-estate and the process of purchasing or selling property are points that are looked at in depth in this article. Many things can impact the prices of real estate, and you will learn some facts that will help you. This information can provide you with crucial financial insights if you want do business in the Mobile Alabama real estate market.

When you compare Mobile-Alabama-real-estate statistics to those in other areas of the nation, there are some variations you should probably know about. Before enlisting a professional agent to help you hunt for property, it is often sensible to learn some information about the market on your own first. You will probably be interested to know that the cost of the average home in the Mobile Alabama real estate market is $147,000.00. And the number of homes now on the market gives you some idea of the likely competition you can expect. At this time, a total of 480 houses are up for sale. This is exactly the kind of information you want to know about homes in Mobile, or anywhere else you might be considering.


If you want to enter the Mobile Alabama real estate market, you should ideally choose an agent who specializes only in that area. If you’re going to be buying real estate in Mobile but selling a home that’s located in a different area, then use a local agent there to sell your home. So there could be two realtors helping you in this case. When you’re buying Mobile real estate after selling elsewhere (or vice versa), you should be using realtors who specialize in each of the markets involved. This is the best way to ensure that you are dealing with a professional for each transaction.


Or you might not now live in the Mobile real estate market, but for whatever reason you’re going to be relocating there. If you are moving in from someplace else in the state but looking at homes in Mobile, then you need to take some time to learn about the area before you come. And if you’re relocating from another state then you will need to make a direct comparison of the markets from cities nationwide.


The Mobile Alabama real estate area has an average annual income of $31,445.00. This is in comparison with the median US income of $44,512. The average home has 2.46 people. This data covers an area in which 27.4% of the households include children. This information is particularly important for parents, since it provides some insight into the quality levels of neighborhood schools.


The percentage of the population in the Mobile real estate area that are single males is 14.9%. And 15.6% are single females. Allow yourself about 22.9 minutes to get to work if you are planning on driving. According to national data, the average commute is slightly more than 26 minutes.


Bottom line, you must remember to use a local real estate agent when you are looking to buy or sell property. If you are selling real estate in Mobile, find an agent who can sell it for you. When you’re looking to buy a home other than in the Mobile Alabama real estate area, make sure you find a good agent there who will be able to find you the home that best fits your requirements.


You’ll have to think about a lot of different things when selling or purchasing real estate. The right home for you depends on a variety of factors, including not just the cost of the home, but also individual circumstances. Since you have some good information about the Mobile Alabama real estate market now, you should learn even more in order to make a very important fiscal decision that will affect your entire financial life.




Terrific Gifts for Real Estate Agents

Real Estate agents often give their clients nice gifts when they get to the closing table, and many people think the agent’s ‘gift’ is their commission, but real estate agents work their tails to the bone, and a little something extra would be nice. On the other hand, you may have a spouse who is a real estate agent. Maybe your daughter has just passed her real estate exams and signed on with a broker.

I have been a real estate agent in Washington (the state) for a few years now and here I will suggest gifts that I like for myself, and that your real estate agent will probably appreciate for your thoughtfulness and support of them in a very tough, stereotyped profession.


A Great Cell Phone with camera – Real estate agents use their cell phones every day, often ALL day, and need to have a quality cell phone, with a great plan. Believe me, as a real estate agent I use lots of minutes, sometimes 3000+ minutes, so check to see what overage minutes cost. Another consideration is network reliability in the area your real estate agent works. I have used the camera on my cell phone to quickly let clients know about homes that are just on the market, giving them a head start to purchasing their dream home, and believe me, they appreciate it! You can get a great general overview of cell phone providers and plans in your locale by entering your zip code at Lower My Bills, http://www.lowermybills.com. You can select ‘compare’ and have a side-by-side look at all available providers in the area.


Personal Protection Devices – Sitting in an Open House or meeting unknown ‘clients’ for walk-throughs can be scary, even for seasoned real estate agents. Most real estate brokers tell their new agents about personal safety, but many include horror stories. The two best personal protection devices, in my experience, are common sense and preparation, but, of course, you can’t wrap those in gift wrap. The next best personal protection devices are cell phone belt clip (your cell phone is of no use in an emergency, when you leave it in your purse or briefcase); a LOUD personal alarm (if nothing else, makes the bad guys’ ears hurt like heck!) and a belt-clip with a can of pepper spray, available at Defense Express, online at http://www.defensexpress.com.


Thomas Guide (map book) for their locale – For locating that new listing and being right on time for your appointments, almost nothing beats a Thomas Guide. Easy to understand formatting and indexing make this an invaluable tool for active real estate agents! Often available in bookstores and stationery stores, even from out of state, you can get a real estate a local issue at http://www.thomas.com.


GPS Unit – Most geocachers get into the sport to use techie tools, namely a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. I love my mid-price range GPS from Garmin, http://garmin.com. My Garmin eTrex Vista GPS has a larger screen (great for my old eyes), a very detailed basemap that really helps in my orientation to new locations, a terrific compass, and even an altimeter to tell me how far up I have climbed. It was very reasonably priced at around $275, and the sturdy case makes it a really great GPS!


Fun and Funny!


Talking Realtor Doll – Just for fun, this talking real estate doll sounds just like a Real Estate Agent eager to close on a “really big” sale. Press this doll’s belly and you hear the standard phrases of the trade…. “Do I have a house for you?”, “location, location, location!”, “The seller is motivated” and “Just needs a little TLC”. It is silly, funny and a great conversation starter for the real estate agent’s desk. 7″ high and so ugly it is cute, the real estate talking doll comes in male and female versions and is under $20 at Lawyer Jokes and Gifts, online at http://www.lawyer-jokes.us/lawyer-gifts.


Choose one or choose them all, and give the real estate agent in your life a great holiday gift, that they can use in their successful professional life for years to come!

Short Sales – Questions and Answers

Short sales are on the rise across California. Many people are becoming affected by it either directly or indirectly. To help give you a better understanding of short sales I have interviewed Chris Plumb who holds a California Real Estate Brokers License.

Tell me a little bit about yourself?

“For the past sixteen years I’ve served as a Mortgage Underwriter, Mortgage Loan Processing Manager, Residential Property Manager, Realtor, and Real Estate Broker. I’ve dedicated many hours to educating myself as a knowledgeable real estate professional. In today’s difficult real estate crisis it’s vital to have the knowledge to properly service homeowners and future homeowners. In 2009 I received the CDPE designation (Certified Distressed Property Expert). A CDPE is trained to help homeowners who have a mortgage in distress. In 2002 I received my B.S. degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix. Because of the education I’ve received, I’m equipped to help clients with their immediate, short-term, and long-term real estate needs. High levels of customer service are important to me, and I strive to ensure that each individual benefits from my experience.”


What is a short sale?

“A short sale is when a lender is willing to allow a homeowner to sell their home for less than what they own on their mortgage.”


Why is there currently a rise on short sales in California?

“Short Sales in California are on the rise because of unemployment and adjustable rate mortgages. Until companies have the ability to employ new people, we will continue to see more short sales in California. But what is more alarming is the amount of adjustable rate mortgages that are due to adjust. During the real estate boom investors thought it would be a great idea to loan money to people for less than interest only payments. These loans were called pick-a-payment or option ARM’s loans. Basically a homeowner could pay less than interest only on their mortgage.


If a homeowner is paying less than interest only, the amount that would have been paid with an interest only payment then has to be placed on top of the loan balance. In most cases a lender will only allow this type of payment to be made for 5 years and then the payment skyrockets. Well…the rockets are going to burst in 2010 like fireworks on the 4th of July. Wells Fargo who bought Wachovia who bought World Savings currently has over 4,000 loans alone in the Sacramento region that is currently in trouble. It is projected that 14,000 loans in the Sacramento region with Wells Fargo alone will need a loan modification or short sale. As the Team Leader of Connect Realty Fair Oaks, I have prepared my team to assist homeowners who are in distress and we are aligning ourselves with Wells Fargo to assist these homeowners and other homeowners.”


Other than losing their home are there any other personal drawbacks?

“If a short sale is not property negotiated by a Real Estate Profession, a homeowner may be stuck with the difference between the amount due and what the amount the home sells for. In many cases a Real Estate Professional can negotiate with the lender that the lender waives their right to collect on the difference. It must be clearly stated on the short sale approval letter from the short sale lender that they waive their rights to the difference. If it does not state this on the approval letter, the lender has the right to collect on the difference.”


“In most cases the homeowner will be sent a 1099 for the difference. A homeowner needs to consult with a CPA or Tax Attorney to see if there will be tax implications.”


Can one person’s short sale negatively impact the surrounding community?

“A person’s short sale can have a negative impact on the community if the short sale lender sales the home for less than current market value. In most cases the short sale lender will not allow a short sale to be sold for less than 5% of the current market value.”


What can people do to avoid a short sale?

“A homeowner can avoid a short sale if their lender is willing to modify their mortgage by reducing their interest rate. Lowering the homeowner’s interest rate will reduce their mortgage payment. If the payment is manageable, the homeowner may be able to afford the new mortgage payment.”


Can anyone benefit from a short sale?

“Only a person in financial distress can benefit from a short sale. A loss of job, a divorce, and a loss of income qualify for a financial distress. If a homeowner is merely upside down on their home and can afford their mortgage payments, they don’t usually qualify for a short sale. Always consult with a Real Estate Professional who is trained to handle short sales to see if you can benefit from a short sale.”


Any advice for anyone who is facing a short sale or investing in one?

“My advice to someone who is facing mortgage distress is to consult with a Real Estate Professional that has earned a designation to assist distressed homeowners. I highly recommend working with a Real Estate Profession that holds the designation of CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert).”


For more information about short sales visit The Plumb Team website.

Will the Real Estate Market Get Better When a New President is Elected?

It is no secret that the real estate market in the United States has been on a decline. They are no clear signs that this will be changing in the near future. I’m sure that there are many Americans that would like to forget the past eight years that George W. has been in office. Everyone is hopeful that a new president being elected will help the economy and also help the real estate market in a positive way. Regardless, nothing is guaranteed. With what we know of the two front running presidential candidates, we can assume what effects they may have on the real estate market.

Republican candidate John McCain would rather see this situation pan out on its own without the interference of the government. He proposes that if there is any government assistance with the real estate problem in America, that it should not be permanent. The only possible permanent changes will be to the financial regulatory system. If there be any financial assistance to the public, he proposes that it only go to those owning one residence, in order to save their own home, not those with second and third mortgages. McCain has been open to suggestions for solutions in the real estate area, but has not made the issue part of his campaign on the grounds that he does not want to make any promises that would not be able to hold in the act that he is elected president.


The other front runner is Democratic candidate Barack Obama. He has proposed a plan for housing reform, which includes a system that is supposed to help with the well-known foreclosure issues. It talks about the federal government helping people with financial problems by refinancing existing mortgage loans or even possibly buying out those mortgages. He proposes changes of the regulatory system to keep closer a closer eye on financial institutions. He would also like to see those citizen’s who do have mortgages to be able to get better tax breaks.


The real estate issues in America are obviously very important to the public. Both front running presidential candidates recognize this. Where the two differ is on the amount of governmental involvement. Throughout U.S. history, presidential candidates have always addressed the issues that concern the public in their campaigns, but have not necessarily delivered, once elected to office. So even though Obama has made it clear what he wants to do with the real estate problem, does not mean that it will come to pass in the act that he is elected president. Republican candidate McCain has not taken a clear stance as to what he will do if he is elected, regarding the real estate issues, which is somewhat alarming. Regardless of which candidate is elected president, there is really no sure way to know what will happen with the falling real estate market in the United States.