Posts Tagged ‘agent


Stuff Real Estate Agents Say


You say ‘cramped,’ agent says ‘cozy

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a home, but beware of the misleading or downright dishonest things real estate agents sometimes say to make a sale.

In the competitive world of residential real estate, facts often are spun to generate buyer interest. Insiders call it “puffing.” Although agents may be held responsible for telling outright lies, there is plenty of leeway to stretch the truth.

Why say a house is small or cramped when you can describe it as cozy? If it has worn carpet and a leaking roof, a creative agent may describe it as “rustic” or even “quaint.”

Rhonda Duffy, an agent with Duffy Realty in Atlanta who advocates high industry standards, says using “fluffy language” to describe a home is common. “No seller wants us to say, ‘This is the ugliest house you’ve ever seen, but I am sure it will suit somebody.'”

What follows are examples of stuff real estate agents say that can be described as “puffery.”

‘It’s in great shape,’ except for the leaks

When an agent tells you a home is in excellent condition, be cautious. Perhaps it’s true, but the term is used so often that it has become an industry cliche with little real meaning.

Agents have plenty of horror stories about competitors who lured them and their clients to undesirable homes with grandiose descriptions. Kristie Weiss, a real estate agent in State College, Pa., recently visited a perfect-looking home only to find that a plumbing problem was sending water from the kitchen sink flowing into the basement.

“It may look pristine,” Weiss says. “The floors are gorgeous, and there are brand-new countertops and cabinets, but it needs a new heating system (or) it needs a new roof. There could be brand-new shingles, but what if they didn’t do the sheathing underneath?”

She recommends having a professional inspection before making an offer on any home, regardless of the appearance or an agent’s glowing description.

Peekaboo! ‘Enjoy the ocean view!’

For some homebuyers, the ultimate dream is a house within sight of the ocean. In coastal cities, agents are quick to mention ocean views, even if they are obscured by trees or buildings. In San Diego, longtime real estate agent Gary Kent, with Keller Williams Realty, says it’s not unusual for house hunters to visit such homes, only to wind up asking sellers to point out where the ocean is. Kent says the answers often go something like this: “See that tree? Look a little bit to the left. That blue stuff is water.”

Hawaii real estate agent Randy L. Prothero recalls taking a client to see such a home. “I took him to this property, and if you stood on the roof with a 30-foot ladder, you might see the ocean through the trees,” he recalls. “We call it a ‘peekaboo view.'”

That kind of exaggeration may bring people out to view homes, but it won’t close the deal, he adds. “I find that really annoying. It wastes everybody’s time.”

‘Remodeled kitchen’ — with old counters

Kitchen upgrades can raise the value of older homes. Owners install modern appliances and granite countertops to spruce things up. The problem is that the term “remodeled” can be loosely interpreted. Prothero says he has visited remodeled kitchens only to find worn-out, 40-year-old cabinets still in place. Weiss has had similar experiences.

“I tell the truth in my listings,” Weiss says. “I will not say ‘completely remodeled kitchen’ if it is only new appliances, but there are a lot of agents out there who do. You just have to be very careful. There may be new countertops, but what kind? You never know until you get into the house.”

One phrase to watch out for is “a kitchen with everything within reach,” she adds. That’s agent-speak for really, really small.

‘2-car garage’ that fits 1 SUV

You’d think something as easy to define as a two-car garage would be difficult to exaggerate. Unfortunately, it’s common for agents to attempt to pass off a large one-car garage as adequate for two vehicles.

Weiss says the widespread use of large SUVs makes it important to make sure the home you’re buying truly has enough space for your cars. “A good buyer’s agent should say, ‘Pull your cars in the garage, let’s make sure they fit.'”

Another thing to watch out for is two-car garages that have been modified to hold washers and dryers or storage areas. They may look standard size, but might not provide enough room for two cars.

A ‘fixer-upper’ that requires a rebuild

Fixer-uppers can provide wonderful opportunities for buying homes at bargain prices. If you’re handy with a hammer and don’t mind making multiple trips to the hardware store, this may be the house for you. It also could turn out to be a money pit.

Generally, a fixer-upper is considered to be a home that requires more elbow grease than money and construction expertise. The problem is the term often is used to describe homes that are badly in need of major repairs that are beyond the skills of your average homeowner.

Buyers don’t always realize what they are getting into, says Kent. When he hears “fixer-upper,” he goes into detective mode to find out just how much needs to be done to make the home habitable. “Basically, it says the house needs work,” he says. “So you are put on notice.”

The ‘I’ll get a better price’ empty promise

Real estate is competitive, and everyone looks for an edge. Unfortunately, some agents make promises they can’t keep in order to get your business. A common ploy is to tell you they can sell your home for much more than other agents say it’s worth.

“We call it buying the listing,” says Prothero. “Usually the Realtors who do that fall into two categories: They are weak agents and probably don’t understand the true value of the property, or they don’t have any active listings, and they will do whatever it takes to get one. Some will take the listing knowing they can’t sell it at that price.”

Promises to sell homes for unrealistic amounts should be disregarded, Weiss says. Not all agents are equally skilled at marketing, but it’s not likely that one can get you far more than your home is worth. “That is just plain supply and demand, simple economics.”

Thank you to Emmet Pierce of for this article

5 Step Tax Season Plan to Avoid Your Own Fiscal Cliff

iStock_000019829771Small-Pro_HeaderThis week tax season jumps into full swing and so do the nervous ticks and twitches that come with it.

That means you have a choice. You can be one of those agents who waits until April 15th and risk an audit, or worse—major penalties. Or, you can get smart and develop a plan for attacking this and next year’s tax season.

Take the dread out of one of every business owner’s most feared seasons. Here’s how:

1. Round up your receipts and make them electronic

While you might be tempted to dump a pile of paper onto your accountant and walk away this year, consider an intermediary step that may prevent hassle and headache down the road.

Before you turn over your paper records and risk losing your only documentation of your tax deductions, turn them into digital/electronic files. 


Send your documents off to a service like or scan them yourself to create electronic copies you can store on your computer or the cloud.

While this step seems like extra work now, if you ever get audited or, even worse, your tax preparer should misplace a critical piece of paper before you even file, having a digital backup of your receipts keeps you covered.

2. Start tracking your mileage now

One of the most commonly missed tax deductions for real estate agents is unclaimed or under claimed vehicle mileage. Cars are one of the fastest depreciating purchases for an agent and not maximizing the current deductions for their use can be a major misstep.

While 2012 is done, this tax season is the best chance to start gearing up for smart deductions in 2013.

This includes using an app like Milebug or TripLog to track your mileage all year long. Both generate easy-to-use reports that are compliant with IRS guidelines and easy for your accountant to use to make sure you get every dollar possible in tax deductions.

Also, if you just got a new Smartphone, check out these other five apps that can help you save money as a real estate agent.

3. Get your extension early if needed

It’s the end of January and most agents are only going to get busier. If you don’t have a plan to tackle your taxes already, chances are you may need an extension to get everything done on time.

If so, don’t wait until the last minute to get in your paperwork. Visit the IRS’s website to download and complete the necessary documents to apply for your tax extension now.

4. Don’t neglect the obvious

When you’re tallying up deductions, don’t forget one of the most common overlooked items by some real estate agents like licensing and education fees.

  • If you renewed your license this year or attended professional development classes, those expenses are tax deductible.
  • If you used a part of your home to do business, those expenses could be deductible.

Be sure to take all of your business-related receipts to your accountant and download our helpful handout on commonly missed tax deductions for real estate to make sure you’re maximizing your deduction opportunities. 

5. Talk to your pro about your future, too

The final step in every smart agent’s tax plan this year should be to develop a plan for the year ahead. Tax laws have changed in a number of ways for 2013 that could increase your tax liability. Talk to your accountant or certified tax professional about money management tips and tools to help make sure you’re ahead of the game and ready to maximize your deductions in the year to come.

Here are five of our suggestions for avoiding tax crises this year. What would you add to the list based on your experiences?


Thank you to Jovan Hackley, a Trulia Pro Blogger For Real Estate Professionals



Buying vs. Renting

Zillow: Buying better than renting in three years or less

For many people in South Florida and across the nation, buying a home beats renting in three years or less.

Real estate website analyzed the break-even point – the amount of time it takes before owning is better financially than renting. Buyers in West Palm Beach and Miramar break even in 1.4 years, while it takes a little longer in Fort Lauderdale – 2.8 years.

The South Florida area — which includes Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — is tied with six other major metros for the shortest amount of time — 1.6 years.

To find out what the magic number is in your city, click here.

Big price declines during the housing bust and a rise in rental rates have made buying an attractive option these days.

“This is the first analysis of metros and cities that presents the buy-versus-rent decision in an intuitive way, by telling consumers how long they must live in the home before buying breaks even with renting financially,” Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said. “It’s much more understandable, and therefore useful, than the abstract notion of a simple ratio of prices to rents.”

By Paul OwersAugust 2, 2012 07:00 AM has made an easy-to-digest infographic that gives you some other  issues to consider before you make the rent-vs-buy decision.

click here to see


What Do You See, As Realtors?

Survey reveals sellers are more willing to price competitively.

Homebuyers and sellers are adjusting expectations and “getting real” about real estate in 2012, according to a Coldwell Banker report. More than half (51 percent) of agents reported that sellers are more willing to price their homes competitively than this time last year, and 45 percent said sellers are more willing to change the appearance of their homes to entice buyers than they were one year ago. (Old Republic Real Estate Digest, May 2012)


What do you see?

Are Sellers more willing?

What have some of your past sellers done?

Let’s hear…it might just help YOUR NEXT SELLER!!!



Do you work with Foreign Real Estate Buyers?

If so, here are six tips for working with them!!

Thanks to Old Republic, Real Estate Digest, March 2012 Edition.


Remember that foreign clients may know real estate, but not U.S. real estate. You need to explain local market conditions and U.S. legal issues. But be careful not to talk down to them.


Focus on clients from one or two countries, especially when you’re just getting started. In that way, you can become more familiar with the culture and establish a wider network of contacts more rapidly.


Recognize that factors such as currency fluctuations and a need for market stability may influence buying decisions. Just being able to park money in the United States may be reason enough to buy.


Take it slowly. Recognize that people from some cultures require more consultation and time to make a decision.


Develop a group of tax, legal and other experts in foreign ownership of U.S. real estate that you can offer foreign buyers as a resource. Once you’re seen as a trusted adviser, offshore clients will often look to you for assistance in other parts of the transaction, such as finding legal advice.


Help bridge differences. Simple things such as converting a price from dollars to euros or square feet to meters can make a foreign buyer more comfortable, says Berger.

 We, at Title Junction, can assist and are well versed in foreign transactions!!


Case Notes

According to the State of Florida Division of Agent and Agency Services
the following was an actual case. (Note: All administrative investigations are subject to referral to the Division of Insurance for criminal investigation.)

A Case: An Investigation of a title insurance agent alleged that she failed to deposit fiduciary funds in a separate escrow approved by the Department, failed to disburse funds in accordance with a HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and misappropriated fiduciary funds collected in the normal course of business.

Disposition: Licensed revoked and permanently barred from engaging in the insurance business.

Jennifer Ferri, Owner

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