Real Estate 411

October 29, 2013

411.pngWhen you’re buying or selling, the obvious source to get your real estate question answered is your agent but where do you go the rest of the time? As a homeowner for many years to come, you’ll need reliable help and solid suggestions.

Our business goal is to have a select group of our friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional. We want to earn that trusted position so they’ll enthusiastically refer their friends to us. Our plan to achieve this is simply to help these people with all of their real estate needs not just when they buy or sell but for all the years in between.

Throughout the year, we offer reminders and suggestions by email and social media that benefit your homeowner experience. When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we’ll pass them along. You’ll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk.

We want to be your “Go-To” person for everything to do with real estate. If we don’t have the answer you need, we’ll point you in the right direction to find it.

We’re here for you and your friends…now and in the future. Please let us know how we can help you.

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Clutter

October 25, 2013

I LOVE this time of year! This first really crisp morning in Alabama. I’ve switched out clothes in my closet which always prompts me to stack all the stuff I didn’t wear this summer and prepare my last minute donation to Goodwill by year end. I do a spring and fall cleaning. Clutter is a pet peeve of mine although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my office right now. My best friend is a clutter queen. And I mean that in the nicest way. For years I’ve hauled off stuff from her house in an attempt to help her get organized and get rid of the mounds of things she “just can’t part with yet”. I will never forget the trunk load of magazines (seriously….. it was a trunk load) I brought home promising to go through them for her and tear out the items and recipes she thought she must have. That lasted about one lazy Saturday afternoon. I then promptly delivered the remaining ones to a local nursing home. Earlier this year we tackled her kitchen cabinets. We packed up boxes and boxes of yard sale items and stacked them in her garage. They will be there when I return for a visit and most likely will be buried under more stuff. It doesn’t stress me though. My philosophy is if she can live with it then so can I. Just glad I don’t live with her full time! I’ve always been pretty much clutter free at home as I’ve found that with the more clutter in my surroundings, the more chaos I have in my life. Routine also helps me keep the clutter down. Tackling everyday tasks at home like sorting the mail, making the bed, hanging up clothes and keeping the kitchen sink free of dishes keeps me happy.

Now I never said I was a clean freak. I like to think my house is in order. But cleaning? That takes a lot more discipline than my clutter obsession. I’m still working on THAT discipline thing……

*Full disclosure upfront before reading this Blog post. I love this industry. I love my clients. And I adore fellow REALTORS® and affiliates that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. Just some real and humorous thoughts on my profession.

REALTORS® are members of a professional national association. We are held to a higher standard than simply a real estate licensee (there is a difference) and must abide by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. We belong to local associations and boards that hold us accountable to these standards. Additionally we list and sell properties, become educated with industry specific tools such as the Accredited Buyer’s Representative, Certified Residential Specialist or Certified Distressed Property Expert titles among many other worthy designations. These are not merely letters on our business cards. These accomplishments are obtained by enrolling in classes and many times traveling to other areas of the country in order to get this specialized training. The REALTORS® that continue their education are the ones that are generally the most successful and prominent in their markets.

I’d rather tell you what we do that you will never know about. We make beds and pick up laundry because you left for work early the one day we have a showing. We round-up pets and crate them before the showing. Try as we might to get you to price the property appropriately, you don’t. We spend countless hours and dollars marketing it only for you to list with the next agent at the price we asked you to list it with us initially. We negotiate on your behalf fighting to get you the best possible price. We help resolve issues by attempting to educate those uneducated agents or “some-time” agents (the part-timers) when working out details on a transaction that they themselves don’t understand. We deal ALOT with those part-time agents and frequently do their job for them because they can’t answer their phone or accompany their client to a property during regular work hours. Our regular work hours are usually between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm with no appointed time for lunch, dinner, children’s ballgames, spouse time, etc… Those of us that do this for a living in the good times and the bad work with these folks with a smile on our face. You will also never know when we get the call from the lender the day before closing and tell us we can’t close for some underwriters unknown reason. We call in favors from presidents of these companies. We beg home inspectors, termite inspectors, maintenance guys, appraisers and lenders to come up with the best possible alternative to work out the problem. Most of the time we can do it with the help of either our experience, our Brokers or sheer determination. Many sellers and buyers will never know some of the drama that goes on during the transaction. They also may never know by the time we do earn our commission check which you started asking us to cut from day one is already earned and spent on the vast amount of time spent getting your sale to the closing table. We buy our own health insurance. We contribute to worthy causes and support a strong political action committee called ARPAC that fiercely defends and protects your property rights. We attend local, state and national association events to keep informed of the best trends in marketing your home, negotiating your sale and networking with some of the top agents in the country in order to gain knowledge and sharpen our professional skills. We also do all of this on our own dime and lastly we don’t earn a penny until your house is sold at which time we have to share this paycheck with our company.

Now, with all that said I suppose you think I’m an ungrateful REALTOR®. Quite the contrary. I tell new licensees all the time two things. If you’re in it for the money you are in it for the wrong reasons and if you think this job is easy you are very wrong. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but it is also the most rewarding experience. The pleasure of helping someone realize their dream of owning a home or helping someone who is in dire straights, upside down in their equity and needs desperately to sell their home can be quite an emotional experience for us too. The last several years have been brutal for not only REALTORS®, lenders, appraisers, inspectors, but buyers and sellers also. Many have lost their homes not because they just didn’t pay. They lost their homes because the value has dropped dramatically through no fault of their own. Builders have entered our market and undercut those developers and builders that built this region for decades. Banks have tightened their lending requirements to an unrealistic degree of measure. Appraisers are forced to evaluate and re-evaluate values in order to adhere to underwriters strict guidelines. Yes, our prices were inflated too quickly and greed takes care of those who abuse it in time. We all benefited from the great real estate boom in the last decade and we have all paid generously for the fall. Now in 2013, the market has leveled out. Interest rates are still at record lows. Lenders are coming up with realistic, safe and creative ways to finance homes. Appraisers are more careful to justify their pricing. The developers and builders are learning new ways to compete with the competition. All in all I suppose in the big scheme of things everything is coming full circle. Change is good. It has been painful for everyone. Those of us who continue to survive this ever-changing industry are thankful for the wonderful relationships we continue to make along the way with the clients and business associates that we’ve come to know and love. I hope to be doing this 20 years from now. I hope I never become complacent with my service to others. And most of all I hope I can continue to give back and help others become better REALTORS®.

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interest.pngLenders, like any business, have to make a profit. The cost of acquiring the funds, the operating costs to service and the expected profit margin are easily identified. The variable in pricing is the type of mortgage and the credit worthiness of the borrower.

A loan with a 3.5% down payment is riskier than a loan with 20% down payment. If the lender has to take the property back to recover their expense, the margin is greater between what is owed and what the property is worth on an 80% mortgage.

Credit scoring is a risk-based pricing method that allows a lender to be competitive in the market for the best loans from different borrower groups. Individual lenders set their own levels for what they consider “A” credit which is reserved for the best rates. If good credit is approximately 710 to 740, scores below that are considered higher risk and will have higher rates.

Risk must be assessed for both the borrower and the property that collateralizes the loan. The borrower’s credit history and income stability are strongly evaluated by the lender but if a default should occur, the property must secure the loan to avoid a loss to the lender.

Mortgage pricing.png

The challenge for some buyers is they are unaware of what their credit score is and how it will affect the interest rate offered by the lender. It is to the buyer’s advantage to be pre-approved by a reputable lender prior to starting the process of looking for a home. In some cases, the lender can actually improve the borrower’s credit score to help them qualify for a lower interest rate.

Contact me for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional – carol.andrews@aronov.com

Skylights

October 19, 2013

I added a skylight to my guest bathroom a couple of years ago. We live in a garden home and the guest bath is rather small and didn’t have any natural light so in the process of a complete makeover I decided to add a skylight. Now, I sell homes for a living and frequently have to contend with repairs. Particularly roof repairs and had my share of skylight leaks to contend with. I did my research and found a great roofer who has since done many of my clients repairs because of the great service he gave me. It was money well spent and the ability to open up this room with natural light has been wonderful. Consider a skylight! Here’s a photo of mine and also a link to an article I thought was helpful as well. Have a great day everyone!

http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lighting/solar-tubes-beat-skylights/?cid=eo_em_ws_touch4

2013-10-19 08.33.31

Are the details important?

October 15, 2013

Dealing with contract writing is the central focus of my job as a REALTOR®. I recently negotiated a contract with an agent from another company. Upon a request to change the closing date, the agent requested an extension. My seller was agreeable and we asked her to prepare an addendum changing the closing date. She sent me a pre-printed form used specifically for a “listing agreement addendum”. Completely inappropriate for the change needed. I politely sent it back to her asking for the “sales agreement addendum”. She quickly indicated her Broker had instructed her to use the form. I again nicely explained why that was not the correct form and to please resubmit. Two days later I received the addendum again which was the correct form, but with the seller’s name wrong, the address wrong, the state wrong and the wording changed the contract date and not the closing date. Again, I sent back to her indicating specifically what needed correction. Two days later I received the correct addendum again but the closing date again was referred to as the contract date again. We were changing the closing date, not the contract date which would make a huge difference in the big scheme of the scenario. I returned yet again. She quickly called me and proceeded to unload on me as to why her Broker gave her the first form to begin with and they “use it all the time” for these corrections. As a Broker we are subject to audits by the state to make sure we are complying with license law as well as being honest and truthful to our clients particularly with doing a good job and being competent. We are also subject to lawsuits unfortunately. Poorly written contracts and failure to pay attention to detail will surely run you out of the business quickly. It is our duty to protect our clients.

In explaining this scenary, my point is what happened to quality work? This agent is a full time employee for a company not in the real estate business and a some-time agent with a some-time Broker. I’ve never met or seen either of them at a training session or a Board event which we frequently have to educate REALTORS® on negotiating skills and etiquette when working with other agents. Now granted, I don’t know them and I’m sure their intentions are well and good. My purpose in attempting to correct her was to also educate her. No matter what your industry, a learning attitude is an open attitude to improve your skills.

When hiring a REALTOR® make sure you hire one that does this for a living day in and day out. It makes a tremendous difference on the outcome of your sale.

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