Nevada City Virtual Tour

Monday, August 23, 2010

7 Tips for Selling Your Home

By S t e p h a n i e A n d r e

RISMEDIA, August 23, 2010—Since the housing boom ended and the market began to shift, the phrase “going back to basics” has been tossed around quite frequently. From the way agents handle their business to the way they communicate with clients, the phrase has gotten quite the workout.

But what about consumers? They were caught up in the housing boom as well…with homes selling in a day, sometimes a few hours. Getting back to basics seems like something simple that sellers should look at as well. It might just mean the difference between selling within a month and selling within a year.

Here are some basic tips from State Farm on selling a home:

Set your price carefully
Too high and buyers may not consider it, too low and you're selling yourself short. Agents often give a free home market analysis if you ask. This gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis may also include how much you might expect to earn after closing.

Don't do major remodeling
Don't break the bank preparing your home for sale. Pricey items such as a new roof may be big hits with buyers, but rarely does the buying price end up covering the payout for such costly home improvements. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options rather than major remodeling.

Make a good first impression
Curb appeal is important. Keep your lawn and other landscaping neatly trimmed, weeded and watered. Check the exterior of your home for signs of wear and damage, such as peeling paint, foundation cracks or loose shingles, and fix what is needed. Clean the outside of the house, including windows. Many people suggest giving the front door a fresh coat of paint for that warm, welcome feeling. In addition, adding a few flowers in the spring and summer, or keeping the walks cleared of leaves and snow in the fall and winter can be inviting to potential buyers.

The obvious seller's commandment: thou shalt clean. Remove all clutter from every room, including closets. Organize your basement and attic. Have a garage sale with all the stuff you don't want to move to your next home! Wipe down and paint walls and trim if necessary. Many people advocate repainting with a neutral color palette to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers. Clean all windows, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Bathrooms should always be squeaky clean. Inspect and make any necessary repairs to the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. Highlight the bath and kitchen by selecting some attractive new towels, curtains or cabinetry knobs.

And keep it clean
Maintain the new and improved interior and exterior of your home until you successfully sell. It's hard, but it's necessary. A professional cleaning service may be able to help maintain the new clean look with occasional visits.

Light it up
When showing your house, provide plenty of light and make your home a warm, welcoming place. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine. In the event of an evening showing, make sure you have ample lighting available in all areas. Fresh cut flowers make a nice addition, and a pleasantly scented house is very inviting.

Go away
Many agents and potential buyers would prefer that the seller not be present during a showing, to avoid limiting the buyers' conversation or making them uncomfortable. Children and pets should also be absent or out of the buyers' way during a showing, if at all possible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buyers Find No Easy Sales in Distressed Homes

Buyers Find No Easy Sales in Distressed Homes

By D a v i d B r a c k e n

RISMEDIA, August 20, 2010--(MCT)--When Josh and Amanda Brandt began looking for their first house this year, they wanted what every buyer wants.

"What we really wanted was a good deal," Josh Brandt said.

The first house they found was in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. It was a short-sale, meaning the owner was trying to sell it for less than the amount owed to the bank. After the Brandts submitted a low-ball offer of $120,000, the owner of the house asked them to increase their offer to $129,000.

They did. Then they kept house-hunting because their real estate agent, Millicent Williams of Century 21 Vicki Berry Realty, warned them that they needed a back-up plan in case the bank rejected their offer or simply took too long to get back to them.

Three weeks later, just as the Brandts were about to close on a brand-new house in Angier, N.C., the bank accepted their offer.

"We got pretty lucky," said Josh Brandt, 24.

Among the byproducts of the housing bust has been a dramatic rise in the number of distressed homes on the market. Many buyers assume these properties are can't-miss deals, but the reality is that purchasing a distressed property is often fraught with uncertainty and risk.

The numbers of foreclosures and short-sales have increased as the act of losing one's home has lost the stigma it once carried.

"Foreclosures are actually getting artificially inflated to a point because people are willing to walk away," said Mike Golden, broker in charge with Century 21 Vicki Berry Realty. "Especially by people who don't have any equity because they bought in and got 100 percent financing."

Buying a house out of foreclosure or in a short-sale is not for everyone. Most of the homes will require some work, but unlike with a normal sale, negotiating repairs is often not an option, said Jeanna Reeves, a Re/Max United agent in Raleigh who has offered foreclosure tours for buyers in the past.

"They are sold as is," Reeves said.

Earlier this year, Reeves took one of her clients, Meg Lavoie, to look at a townhouse in North Raleigh that Fannie Mae had foreclosed on in February.

Lavoie is hoping to buy a foreclosed property that she can turn into a rental.

The North Raleigh townhouse had ratty carpeting, and it was clear the previous owner had owned a dog. Lavoie wasn't impressed.

"I don't want a big hole that I'm throwing money in," she said. "I don't know. It just doesn't speak to me."

Lavoie is in no hurry to buy, which makes a foreclosure or a short-sale a good fit.

Any buyer putting an offer on a house being sold as a short-sale should be willing to wait at least two months without knowing whether the bank will accept the offer, said Dave Jezierski, a real estate agent with Homes in the Triangle.

Jezierski said it's crucial that the agent listing the property is familiar with short-sales and knows what he or she is doing, otherwise the process can drag out even longer.

As for the perception that a buyer will be able to get a property for a huge discount in a short sale, Jezierski said that's largely not true.

When a bank agrees to sell a house in a short sale, it usually does its own appraisal.

Jezierski said the bank isn't likely to accept an offer that is significantly below what the appraisal says the house is worth.

"Unless the house is just pretty well trashed, it's going to be within 5 percent of market value," Jezierski said.

(c) 2010, The News & O bserver (Raleigh, N.C.).
Distributed by Mc Clatchy- Tr ibune Information Services.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

1031 Exchange Trends

There are a few trends that I've been noticing with our 1031 Exchange clients over the last 12-16 months that are worthy of comment. First of all, many investors seem to be trading out of large properties and acquiring single family residences. In fact, one of our recent clients just sold a large apartment building and acquired seven single family rentals. The motivation for the investor was simple, the single family rental properties produced a solid cash flow and the investor expected the SFR's to appreciate better over the long term. The other trend I've noticed is that many of our clients are doing just the opposite - taking advantage of the market dynamics to trade up. One of our clients recently sold his 2 unit property and acquired his first commercial building. It's interesting to see trends going in opposite directions, but it may be a simple fact that it's a lot easier to find value in today's real estate market. If you have any questions or would like to start a 1031 Exchange, please call me anytime at 877-311-GARY.

Monday, August 9, 2010

7 Short Sale Selling Mistakes

7 Short Sale Selling Mistakes

Why Some Short Sales Never Sell

By E l i z a b e t h W e i n t r a u b, Guide

Time is of the essence if you're considering a short sale.

Some short sale sellers are finding out the hard way that it's not easy to sell a home as a short sale. Short sales are a complicated process which, if not handled properly, can backfire and / or cause the sellers to lose their home through foreclosure proceedings.

Here are some of the common mistakes sellers make with short sales:

Short Sale Mistake #1: Priced Wrong

Some are too high, some are too low and some are priced just right. Short sales that sell are priced appropriately. The price should be attractive to the following parties:

* The Short Sale Bank
* The Buyer
* The Buyer's Agent
* The Seller
* The Buyer's Lender

Appealing to all five of these entities may seem impossible to do, but it is possible. There is an art to pricing a short sale.

Short Sale Mistake #2: Inexperienced Listing Agent

Particularly in falling markets, agents who have little business are attracted to short sales like moths to a flame. Sellers should find out how many short sales a proposed short sale listing agent has actually closed apart from the number of short sales the agent has listed.

If many of the agent's listings have been on the market for more than 90 days without an offer, something is seriously wrong. Agents who succeed in this business have a minimum of two years of experience negotiating with short sale banks.

Short Sale Mistake #3: Bad Marketing

Some agents believe pricing alone will sell a short sale, and they persuade sellers to place a ridiculous price tag on the home. Then the agent purposely refuses to adequately market the home. Not only does the price need to be reasonable, but the home deserves the same type of treatment as any other listing.

Short sales should be exposed to the widest possible pool of buyers, which means plastering that listing on all the major web sites, and includes doing direct mail marketing and networking.

Short Sale Mistake #4: Showing Restrictions

Buyer's agents, bless their overworked and tired hearts, will sometimes take the path of least resistance. If the listing requires an appointment, a buyer's agent might pass over that home in favor of a listing without appointment restrictions.

When a buyer's agent calls to announce a showing, the response should be, "Come on over. We're ready!" Short sale listings that restrict activity such as no showings on Sunday, for example, may never get shown at all.

Short Sale Mistake #5: No Photographs

Submitting a listing to MLS without multiple photographs -- or worse, no photograph at all -- is like slamming the door in the face of buyers. Buyers aren't likely to return. A listing with missing photographs sends messages that say nobody cares if the home sells and there's probably something wrong with it.

On some web sites such as, listings with the most photographs are ranked higher, and those without drop to the bottom.

Short Sale Mistake #6: Poor Property Condition

Short sale homes benefit greatly from home staging. Sellers need to prepare the home for sale and keep it in pristine condition. If beds are unmade, toys are scattered about and the kitchen sink is filled with dishes, buyers can't see past the mess. Moreover, some buyers are worried that if the home is in disarray during a showing, the sellers may trash it upon vacating.

Short Sale Mistake #7: Uncooperative Sellers

Sellers need to submit required documentation to the bank in a timely manner. If the package is incomplete, the bank won't process the file, and that will delay approval.

If a seller refuses to submit personal financial information and a reasonable hardship letter, the seller will not qualify for a short sale

FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners

RISMEDIA, August 9, 2010--In an effort to help responsible homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided details on the adjustment to its refinance program which was announced earlier this year that will enable lenders to provide additional refinancing options to homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. Starting September 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain ‘underwater’ non-FHA borrowers who are current on their existing mortgage and whose lenders agree to write off at least ten percent of the unpaid principal balance of the first mortgage, the opportunity to qualify for a new FHA-insured mortgage.

The FHA Short Refinance option is targeted to help people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth – or ‘underwater’ – because their local markets saw large declines in home values. Originally announced in March, these changes and other programs that have been put in place will help the Administration meet its goal of stabilizing housing markets by offering a second chance to up to 3 to 4 million struggling homeowners through the end of 2012.

“We’re throwing a life line out to those families who are current on their mortgage and are experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined,” said FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens. “This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”

FHA published a mortgagee letter to provide guidance to lenders on how to implement this new enhancement. Participation in FHA’s refinance program is voluntary and requires the consent of all lien holders. To be eligible for a new loan, the homeowner must owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth and be current on their existing mortgage. The homeowner must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements and have a credit score equal to or greater than 500. The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence. And the borrower’s existing first lien holder must agree to write off at least 10% of their unpaid principal balance, bringing that borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115%.

In addition, the existing loan to be refinanced must not be an FHA-insured loan, and the refinanced FHA-insured first mortgage must have a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 97.75 percent. Interested homeowners should contact their lenders to determine if they are eligible and whether the lender agrees the write down a portion of the unpaid principal.

To facilitate the refinancing of new FHA-insured loans under this program, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before October 3, 2010.

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