Posts Tagged ‘First Time Home Buyers


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

6 Legitimate Reasons to Think Twice Before You Buy That House

think twiceBuyer’s remorse is no joke. It has killed many a home buying deal. But buying a home is serious, life-changing business, so some level of deliberation, concern and even rethinking the whole thing, before signing on the dotted line, is actually sensible and smart.

So it can be tough to know the difference between (a) the normal, unwarranted buyer’s remorse every home buyer should expect, think through and move past, and (b) the mental alarm bells that should be heeded because there is truly good reason to revisit whether this purchase is the right thing to do.

Home buyers, we’re here to help. If you’re suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse at any stage before your contingencies are removed, list out the things that come to mind when you fantasize about backing out of the deal.  If your list contains any of the following items, express your concerns to your spouse or co-buyer and your agent. Then, consult with your mind and your heart about whether you’re ready to move forward – or not.

    1.    It’s too expensive.  If you’re buying a house in 2013, it’s completely understandable to have a moment of panic at the sound of the price you’re paying or the sight of all those zeros. It’s a big purchase you’re making, possibly the biggest one you ever will, and those who enter into it with not even the slightest twinge of being nervous might not be taking it as seriously as they should.

That said, fears that a home are too expensive vis-a-vis the other recently sold homes in the neighborhood or the town’s market and future appreciation prospects in general are worth exploring and evaluating before you decide on your offer price or sign a final counter-offer. Your agent can help you understand the complex interacting factors you should consider, including the likelihood of the home to appraise at a given price point and the historical data on sales and home value trends in your area.

    2.    It’s too expensive for you.  For years, I’ve heard buyers express concerns about being ‘house poor,’ meaning that they spend so much on their monthly mortgage payments that they are too broke to do much else. Unless you’re fortunate enough to live in one of those parts of the country in which it is less expensive to own than to rent a home, it’s almost inevitable that there will be some sort of lifestyle revision you’ll need to make post-homeownership.

Most people who have been renting for a long time will find themselves having to make some sacrifices after they buy, in terms of eating out less, going out less, splurging on vacations, clothes and other discretionary spending – this is just par for the course, sensible, and not a good reason not to buy.

On the other hand, there are occasions in which buyers are approved for mortgages beyond what they can truly afford and maintain financial integrity, in terms of still having enough money left over post-mortgage payment for saving, investing and other monthly budget line items that the mortgage banks don’t consider (e.g., children’s school tuition, medical expenses, etc.). If you have set yourself a home buying budget lower than your lender has set for you, get and stay clear on what the wiggle room is – if any. If you feel like you’re exceeding it or getting in a red zone with a particular property, heed those internal read flags.

  3.    The location is not quite right.  I’d probably rank location choice right up there in the top 3 home selection regrets I hear after the fact from home owners.  Clearly, the location you can live in is limited by your budget – you can’t expect to live in Beverly Hills on $100K.  But I’m talking more about the various location choices and judgments every buyer has to make within their price range:

  • between a home in the city, near work, or a home in the quiet suburbs where you get much more space – and a much longer commute,
  • near shops and conveniences, or off the beaten path
  • next door to a school or at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac
  • in a row of townhomes with shared walls and an HOA or in an older neighborhood with lots of land between homes –

    you get the gist.

Location compromises should be made carefully and consciously. If that electrical pole in the front yard really bothers you and you talk yourself out of that concern, ask yourself: are you going to end up hating to drive up to your house every night?  The neighbors who seem to take a lot less care with their yards now might become a real thorn in your side over time.  That extra 20 minutes of commute time might not be as minor a lifestyle change as you can talk yourself into believing – in fact, researchers have found that the longer commutes lower overall happiness, so don’t lengthen yours without serious consideration.

In particular, don’t dismiss noise and traffic concerns without giving it real thought – a friend of mine quickly moved his young family out of the home they’d bought in a new town when they realized that the street was so busy that it was nearly impossible to even pull in or out of their own driveway – much less to let the kids play outside.

To finish reading 3 – 6, CLICK HERE  


Questions about choosing a Title Company

Here in Lee County, you as a seller have the right to choose the Title Company to handle the closing of your property. At times, sellers choose to let their Realtor help aid in this decision.   Here are some frequently asked questions that we often here from our clients:

“What coverage do I need?”

The average policy is pretty standard. Owner’s policies typically protect against a number of contingencies, like forgery, fraud, spousal claims, and undisclosed heirs. Lenders policies will protect them against lien position and against loss should a title problem arise. A lender’s policy ONLY protects the lender, NOT the owner.

“Who usually pays?”

The party responsible for paying for the two policies varies from state to state and sometimes from county to county. In some areas, the buyer may pay for one; the seller, the other. That doesn’t mean if the buyer pays, he can’t haggle for all or part of his costs, everything is negotiable. In Lee County, the seller usually picks and pays for title insurance for the new owner, while the buyer will pay for any lender’s policy in connection with a loan.

” How is a Title Company chosen?”

If you are paying for the title insurance, you have the right to select which ever title company you prefer. Though if you’re not paying, but want to be able to choose the company, be prepared to share some of the costs. Your Realtor  if represented by one, will also help with this decision if need be.

“How is a closing date chosen?”

A closing date is chosen by the buyer on the real estate contract once presented to the seller. If all accept, then the “close date” on the contract will rule. However, in certain circumstances, this can be amended.

Still have questions…

We are here to answer. call Title Junction at 239-415-6574.


Survey: Rising Prices Motivate Buyers to Purchase Now

The expectation for prices to continue rising is creating urgency among consumers to buy now, according to a Redfin survey of 1,084 active homebuyers.



The percentage of homebuyers who believe prices are bound to move higher in the next 12 months increased to 71 percent in the fourth quarter from 61 percent in third quarter, according to the survey. The fourth quarter share is also more than double from 34 percent in the first quarter.

More respondents cited rising prices as an incentive to purchase a home now, with 33 percent falling into this category compared to 29 percent in the third quarter and 19 percent in the first quarter.

While rising prices are causing some buyers to purchase now, low inventory is prompting others to hold off on their search.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents say they plan to take a break and wait for more listings. Meanwhile, other buyers are compensating for the lack of listings by expanding their search area, with 46 percent indicating they are expanding into areas not previously considered.

Buyers still cited low interest rates as the leading reason to buy this year, but the share decreased to 57 percent in the fourth quarter from 64 percent in the third quarter.

According to the survey, Americans appear to be less discouraged by the state of the economy.
Just 22 percent of respondents say a weak economy is a major concern for buying now, a decrease from 27 percent in the third quarter.

As prices rise, the survey also found that during the nine months between the first quarter survey and the fourth quarter survey, the percentage of buyers who were also potential home sellers doubled from 8 percent to 16 percent.

Repeat buyers are also planning to make upgrades with their next purchase. When asked about the planned size of their next home compared to their current home, 49 percent indicated plans to buy a “much bigger” home, which was the most common response. In addition, 41 percent plan to buy a home that is the same size but nicer, more affordable, or in a different location. Redfin says it expects “2013 to be the year of the move-up buyer.”

Article By: Esther Cho,



Home Sales And Home Prices Are On The Rise


Home sales this month rose 7.8% from last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.82 million units, a 9.3% increase from last year.


Distressed homes (which include short sales and foreclosures that traditionally sell for 15%-20% less on average compared to nondistressed homes) accounted for 22% of August sales, down from 25% of sales last month and 31% of sales last year.  Although the amount of distressed properties is decreasing from month to month, they are still high by historic standards.



Home prices continue to rise due to shrinking inventory and an increase in demand. The current median home price is $187,400, up 9.5% from a year ago and down just 0.2% from last month. This has been the six consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, the largest year-to-date rise since 2005.

Thank you to George Freelove with Keller Williams Realty

Battle of The Sexes: America’s More Love-able Property Features

It is DEFINITELY no secret…MEN and WOMEN are, well, just wired different!

But one thing has shown this to be untrue when it comes to the battle of the sexes…it is the features of a home that motivates them to buy!

So what are the most lovable features between the sexes?

In the most recent survey done on, both men and women agree on which top features make them fall in love with a home, while there’s just a small difference in what they love the most!

When we asked first-time coupled home buyers “which home amenity would make you, personally, fall in love with a home?,” here were their top answers:

Amenities All Respondents Men Women
Master Bathroom 70% 64% 75%
Walk-in Closet 63% 55% 72%
Gourmet Kitchen 56% 51% 62%
Outdoor Deck 55% 51% 58%
Wood Floors 50% 46% 53%
Pre-wired for entertainment system (e.g., home theater, surround sound) 35% 42% 28%
Pool 27% 27% 26%
Hot Tub 24% 26% 22%
Other 15% 15% 15%

Both agree that the master bath, walk-in closet and gourmet kitchen are top priorities when it comes to finding their dream home. What does this mean for agents showing homes to prospective clients? Make sure to highlight key motivating features when showing homes to first-time buyers, also make sure you know what your clients favorites are ahead of time.

Last but not least, what do you think is missing from the list? What features are you finding that are making homes more love-able in your area? Let Title Junction know!


4 out of 5 Renters Want to Buy

82% of non-homeowners plan to buy a home and are willing to make sacrifices in their daily living to make that goal a reality, according to a poll by Century 21 Real Estate.

Half of those polled said they would cut back on dining out, 49% said they would cut back on shopping for non-essential items and 47% said they would give up luxuries in order to be financially able to purchase a home.

A key obstacle to buying a first home, however, is the down payment and qualifying for a loan. The poll found that 45% of those responding said they did not believe they could qualify for a loan or have sufficient funds for a down payment.

And a new poll by the Trulia real estate data company suggests consumers are perhaps overly optimistic about the trend toward higher home prices over the past several months, with 58% believing values will return to boom-year highs within the next 10 years.

The company also said Americans are again looking for large homes to buy. It said 27% of those polled would like a home with more than 2,600 square feet and that 11% would like one with more than 3,000.

***Real Estate Digest, Sept 2012

Jennifer Ferri, Owner

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