Posts Tagged ‘real estate buyers

14
May
13

Stuff Real Estate Agents Say

realtor

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 Bankrate.com for this article
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19
Mar
13

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  

09
Oct
12

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 Trulia.com, 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!

03
Aug
12

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 Zillow.com 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

ForRent.com 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

27
Jul
12

6 HIDDEN Cost of Home Ownership

They say humans are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. But as we get older, we learn to be afraid of lots of other things, from snakes to radio show hosts on the other end of the political spectrum from ourselves. (I kid. Sort of.)

But seriously, one of the biggest, learned fears of home buyers and home owners, old and new, is the fear of unpredictability in our home-related expenses, whether it be an unexpected one-time repair or just a trickle of little, monthly costs we didn’t account for.

The fortunate thing about this particular set of fears is that you can unlearn them by getting educated about the common surprise costs that arise and managing them systematically. Here’s a how to do just that:

1. Property tax increases.  So, you got a 30-year-fixed home loan, and you set up an impound account with your bank so as not to have to worry about paying big lump sums for your property taxes twice a year. Fact is, the day could still come where you get a note from the bank advising you that your payment is going to go up – because your property taxes have increased! Property taxes are based on your home’s value, so as the value of your home rises, your property taxes will likely also go up over time.  

Talk with your mortgage professional about how homes are reassessed for tax purposes in your area: how often they are reassessed, when, and whether there are any limits on how much your taxes can go up in a given year. Understanding how tax increases work and what their limits are allows you to predict and project your worst case scenarios in terms of extra costs, years in advance.  It also helps to know that in a down market, your homes value – and property taxes – can also decrease, and to know that your property taxes are deductible on your income tax return. So, if you do have increases, you’ll have a corresponding tax break.

2.  Utilities. Garbage, gas, water – these all cost money, something that’s easy to forget when your landlord is covering them. But when you own a home, you also own these bills. During the buying process, it can be very difficult to predict exactly how much these bills will run. Your best bet is to ask the seller if they will kindly provide you with copies or at least the amounts of their recent utility bills, so that you can have some sort of basis in reality for your own budget and spending plan.  Also, it’s not a terrible idea, once you own the place, to go through and do an energy audit to find places where you can stop leaks of heat, cool air and water, and otherwise put a cap on those utility bills.

3.  Unexpected repairs.  Obviously, the reason we get disclosures and inspections and such is to minimize the likelihood of buying a lemon of a home – and minimize the spectre of unexpected repair costs. Your first line of defense at managing these costs is the one-two punch you have to execute during escrow: (1) reading your disclosures and inspection reports and getting repair bids for any issues that arise therein, and (2) obtaining a home warranty to cover things that arise later on.

Most people get #2 right, but don’t pay as much attention to disclosure and inspection report follow-up as they should. The other common fail is that people allow their home warranty to expire after a year, rather than paying the annual renewal fee (new home owners: expect to see this in the mail 10 or 11 months after closing). Don’t fall into either of these pitfalls: if you own a home long enough, chances are good that you’ll eventually have some unexpected need for a repair come up, whether it’s a plumbing snafu or a roof leak. Keep a handle on your home repair bills by keeping a home warranty in place, and keeping your home’s systems well maintained (see #6 on this list).  

Beyond that, stay smart about your financial planning by diligently saving so you have funds to tap into in an emergency, and by making informed decisions about your insurance policies (e.g., exploring flood or earthquake insurance if you live in an area where these are common hazards). Ask your home owners insurance provider to brief you on what is and isn’t covered, to be sure you’re not unduly exposed to repair costs if bad things happen.

4.  HOA dues increases.  If you choose to buy a home in a Home Owner’s Association (HOA), you’ll be given a number of disclosures about what the HOA dues are during escrow, so the dues themselves should be no surprise. What can come as a surprise, though, is the fact that dues can go up over time – sometimes in relatively shorter order. I’d encourage you not to skim lightly over what may seem like the least important of the HOA documents you’ll receive: the newsletters and board meeting minutes.  You might expect them to be full of minutae like stories about Mrs. Cranston’s rogue tabby cat – and indeed you might find that in there – but you’re also likely to find discussions of proposed HOA dues increases far in advance of them being enacted, as well as discussions about major building or complex repairs and upgrades that need to happen and how they will be paid for.

The other thing you can and should do to avoid getting blindsided by an increase in your HOA dues is to simply be a present and active participant in your HOA, including attending board meetings, sitting on the board or simply building relationships with your neighbors. The board makes many decisions which impact the HOA dues and assessments that will be levied on all members.  So getting yourself on or in the room with the Board puts you that much closer to the power position for managing your dues.

I only have anecdotal evidence on this point, but I believe strongly that HOAs where the members have close interpersonal relationships are HOAs where the members are much less likely to default on their dues – even if they default on their mortgages! Associations nationwide have been plagued by high rates of dues default since the start of the recession, and when one or five or eight members default repeatedly, everyone else’s dues are likely to be raised to cover the shortage. Having your neighbor over for coffee on occasion or watering their plants while they travel boosts your chances of keeping a handle on your HOA dues and are just nice neighborly things to do – if they help keep a lid on your costs of homeownership, too?  All the better.

5.  Special assessments.  There are two types of special assessments for homeowners. The first are assessments imposed by the City, County or State on top of your property taxes, to pay for things like street lighting, parks, first responder agencies and to help the schools out – these are often imposed after a city or district-wide vote, which helps you predict for them. If you’re planning to buy a home, often the seller’s tax bill – which you can get from them or even, in most areas, on the county tax assessor’s website – will list the existing special assessments separately from the property taxes, so you can know how to budget for them.

The second type are assessments imposed on HOA members when the building or complex needs a major repair that the HOA has insufficient funds saved up for, or a large, unexpected repair needs to be made. For example, I know of a number of California HOAs that imposed special assessments to replace the buildings’ roofs when many insurance companies stopped covering buildings with wood shake roofs.  

Again, staying involved with your HOA and board helps keep you apprised and avoid being completely shocked by special assessments, but it also behooves buyers of homes in HOAs to look carefully over the HOA financials, including their reserve account statements and their plans for maintaining the buildings over the years.  Many HOAs do a great job of planning to replace roofs, windows, private roads and walkways years in advance – and saving up for these projects – to minimize the chances of having to make surprise special assessments. And others, well, don’t.

6.  Basic maintenance. When I bought my current home I gutted it to the studs and remodeled it completely, including all new appliances and systems,so I haven’t had to do many fixes on broken things – knock wood. Yet and still, every year, Spring rolls around and I end up spending a nice chunk of change just keeping the place in tip top shape, from having the gutters and carpets cleaned, to having the windows and exterior power washed, to having my backyard (known affectionately by my friends as Jurassic Park) weeded and the paint touched up inside and out.  Being aggressive about maintaining your home on an ongoing basis allows you to avoid bigger, scary repair bills later on – but it does cost.

The only way I know to manage these costs are to plan for them – I keep a running spreadsheet of little fixes, touch-ups and mini-upgrades (e.g., putting in a dimmer, etc.) I want to do to my home. That allows me to plan and budget for them all year round, so that it’s fun and exciting when the time rolls around to do them. Some maintenance costs, like pest control, may be available on a monthly contract with your vendor, making them much more predictable. Finally, these are costs that are well-suited to being minimized by a little DIY weekend work – if you’re so inclined and you have the time, you might be able to do these sorts of basic maintenance items yourself to keep the costs down considerably.

All: Have you ever had a surprise cost burst your home ownership bubble?  What was it, and what advice would you give for avoiding hidden costs to new home owners? Let Title Junction know!

Thanks to this great article from Tara-Nicholle Nelson, a broker out in SanFran, Cali. You can read more fromhere at her blog at http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/

01
Jun
12

How much would you bid?

As long as there’s a bid, a private island in Fort Myers will sell “absolutely.” The owners of the 1.4-acre island on the Caloosahatchee River have scheduled an absolute auction to sell it, meaning it will go to the highest bidder. There’s no reserve, or minimum price. “First of all it’s rare to be able to offer an island to begin with. And then it’s even rarer to offer it at an absolute auction,” said Lamar Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher Auction Co., which is handling the sale. The online auction is slated for June 4-7. More information can be found at http://www.fisherauction.com. Private islands have become popular with millionaires and movie stars, looking to get away from it all. Some rent them, others buy them. In the Bahamas, private islands are often leased by the government, not sold outright, Fisher said. The island up for auction in Fort Myers is undeveloped and only reachable by boat. It was taken back by the lender, Pan American Fund LLC in Fort Lauderdale, after it filed an action to foreclose on a mortgage on the property in 2007. The former owners, Arthur Paul and Pearl Hoffman, who have a home in Cape Coral, turned over the deed to the lender to avoid foreclosure in April 2008, court records show. The island’s assessed value is $42,000, according to Lee County property records. By the numbers.The island’s assessed value is $42,000, according to Lee County property records. There is no running water or electricity on the island. The zoning allows a single-family estate, with docks, to be built, or a small bed and breakfast could be put up on the island if Lee County commissioners approved the necessary variances. Arthur Hoffman said he was considering building a single-family estate or a bed and breakfast on the island, but then ran into financial troubles after several banks reneged on their loan promises, triggering lawsuits. He opened a bed and breakfast, the Long Horn Inn, in Texas, but he also had to give that up to the Pan American Fund, which continues to operate it, he said. A representative with the Pan American Fund couldn’t be reached for comment. Hoffman was unaware of the auction planned for the island he and his wife used to own. Fisher Auction is aggressively marketing the island and its online-only sale. “We’ve had tremendous responses so far, from several foreign countries and of course from throughout the U.S.,” Fisher said. “It would shock me if we didn’t have any interested bidders.” He said potential bidders have shown interest in developing it as a corporate retreat, a bed and breakfast and a fishing camp. The island has deep-water access to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, along the Caloosahatchee River. It’s about six miles east of Interstate 75, just east of Fort Myers Shores and 1.25 miles west of the Franklin Locks. Denny Grimes, a real estate broker with Denny Grimes & Co. in Fort Myers at Royal Shell Real Estate, said a customer called him the other day asking if land prices were going up like home prices and he shared the disappointing news that they weren’t moving up yet. “There has probably never been a better time to buy land because it’s at an all-time low,” he said. If the island sells, he expects it to be developed, but not right away. “Somebody is going to finish the dream,” Grimes said. “It will happen and it will be a cool place one day.” With a bed and breakfast, he said, the island could be a draw to boaters, who are always looking for a place to go and something fun to do. Asked if he had any guesses on what the highest bid might be at the auction, the auctioneer said he didn’t. “That’s the magic question,” Fisher said. “We will find out on June 7.” To qualify, bidders must wire transfer $50,000 into a trust account no later than June 6. “I believe somebody is going to get a great deal,” Fisher said.

Article by: Laura Layden, Marconews.com

What do you think? How much would you be willing to pay for an island assessed at $42,000? Let Title Junction know your bid!

08
May
12

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)

TITLE JUNCTION WANTS TO KNOW :

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!!!

 




Jennifer Ferri, Owner

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