Tax assessment of homes with defective drywall will reflect loss of value.
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Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 4:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Get a loan mod first – even if you’re rejected!
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Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 4:40 am  Leave a Comment  

What’s Happening to America?
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Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  

What’s happening to America?

I arrived in this country almost 17 years ago from Africa. Images that one conjures up would be that of jungles, wild animals and mud huts, however, I was very much part of the corporate scene in a large city, much the same as Los Angeles. For years I had dreamed of one day living in the greatest country in the world – the land of opportunity…. the United States, and on the morning that I arrived, I kissed the ground in gratitude!

In order to be accepted by the US, I had to have substantial qualifications, a letter of tax clearance, AIDS clearance and Police clearance. Clearly, the US did not tolerate felons and in order to ‘fit’, I had to meet the high standard required by the greatest country in the world!

I noticed it immediately! The deterioration in the roads, the neighborhoods and it seemed as though many people were out of work – a huge contrast to my first visit, 10 years earlier, however the nation pulled itself out of that recession, so what makes this recession so different? One can lay blame at the feet of the mortgage industry and certainly I questioned it when a friend said ‘My son is a police officer by night and sells mortgage during the day’. This young man was not qualified in the mortgage industry, but I was assured that all he had to do was to sell the concept – someone else signed the client up!

What I was seeing was the start of greed. The land of opportunity had morphed into ‘the land of con artists’ and people who bent the rules to get what they wanted – money!!

With 2.9 million foreclosures in the last year, one has to ask oneself if all those foreclosures were necessary? Isn’t a roof over ones head, a necessity? As an active REALTOR(R), I tried to get inside the head of a foreclosed owner, to fathom the motivation – after all, I had worked hard and saved for years to afford our first home, and strived everyday to ensure that I kept it. Paying my bills was paramount in my life, to preserve the good name I had fought for, for over 50 years, so why were some people giving up? It just didn’t make sense, until…….

One of the reasons I am where I am today, is because I never stopped learning. To me education is vital, in order to remain competitive in my market. One of those training classes made me a Foreclosure Prevention Specialist and I was thrilled to be able to legally, consult with families, to help them keep their homes. Sadly, the more consultations I held, the clearer the picture became: since the last recession, America had become dependent on plastic – a society of people who could keep up with the Jones’s without having to afford it!

Wherever I looked, there were ads offering credit cards at zero interest, student loans and people soliciting credit availability from cars to clothing! Consumers found it easier to use plastic for their purchases, which were now so easy to come by. Gamblers purchased casino chips on-line… pornography became easy to obtain with a credit card and late night TV offered the latest in fashion and jewelry at the click of a button – all on credit card! We had entered an era where bad habits were easily hidden by the use of plastic!

Pretty soon, boats and cars entered the mix and one seminar I attended, encouraged the purchase of investment property, using credit card for the down payment! As a REALTOR(R) I can tell you that from the examination to the marketing, NOTHING happens without a credit card! Apparently, suppliers no longer use cash or check and plastic is ‘king’!

As I consulted with each family, I generated an income and expenditure account, to determine if they were eligible for a loan modification and more and more I noticed the trend – good living is what had led them to this point!

I asked one single lady what her car payment was: $950/month …. and she assured me that she couldn’t survive without her Mercedes or her entertainment budget of $500/month! That’s a mortgage payment right there, and yet when we were done, she said that she’d rather walk away from the property than change her lifestyle! I hated telling them that in order to get a loan modification, one has to prove hardship and having two luxury vehicles in the garage (both on lease) did not constitute hardship to the lender!

Another client had been on a ten year spending spree: a brand new Mustang convertible, a new career (and the training that he needed). With his HELOC (Home Equity Line Of Credit), he borrowed money to invest into a business, went on luxurious vacations and employed the services of a friend who constructed unpermitted modifications to enlarge his home! As a loving son, he set his mother up in a condo and maintained her – all on borrowed money and without a thought for either the future or of repaying the loan. When the HELOC was exhausted, he maxed his credit cards and when all else failed, he called me!

OH MY GOSH! What had happened to this great country, where status symbols and grandiose lifestyles had become more of a priority than a roof over their heads?

As a REALTOR(R), my business quickly slid from helping people to increase their investments, to helping them get out from under debt and day after day, I was dealing with those who had allowed debt and good living to place a stranglehold on them. These were desperate people who no longer answered the phone or paid their bills, allowing them to overflow from duffel bags in the corner of the room – unnoticed and ignored and when I (and REALTORS(R) like me) arrived, the demand was to ‘help’ them.

It never ceases to amaze me how we are not part of the problem, but we have to be part of the solution and the demand is almost always the same: “It’s YOUR JOB to get us FULL FORGIVENESS of debt!” and yet many of these home owners resent the commission that we earn whilst doing just that! Understand that a desperate person is very often a hostile person, so our job is never easy, and yet, we try to remain non-judgmental, positive and pleasant. (Interestingly enough, this same client did receive FULL forgiveness of his debt and still demanded $1,500 from us (REALTORS(R) towards his moving expenses!)

I was dealing with people who had stopped paying their mortgage, yet were still eating in restaurants, buying new clothing and going on vacation! What was I missing? Then the penny dropped! When the HELOC ran out, they lived on their credit cards and when those were maxed, the unpaid mortgage payments became their lifeline! These were people who CHOSE to not pay their mortgage!

Now, I hasten to add that MANY people suffered true hardship, loss of jobs, divorce, illness – those things that genuinely prevented them from making mortgage payments, however, not all 2.9 million foreclosures were due to hardship! Many were due to greed, convenience and the government stimulus programs that made it easy for them to walk away with full forgiveness, affording them a fresh start and a clean slate! These were people who made a broken system WORK for them! There are families who have lived in their homes for 18 months, without a mortgage payment and without eviction, exacerbating the problem suffered by most of the lending companies – the lack of staff to process the ever-growing piles of foreclosures, which is taking longer and longer to process due to the increasing number of defaults!

And what is so amazing is that they don’t feel the least bit guilty! Their argument is that their loans are insured, they paid interest and that the bank gets the house at the end of the day. True, true and true! Not only is the home-owners system broken – the mortgage industry’s system is also broken!

Watch this video: (not for the feint-hearted!)


Unfortunately, this blasé attitude doesn’t stop there!

In 2008, a friend and colleague of mine sat in her office, crying. When I asked, she said that her husband had spent their rent money on car repairs – it was just before Christmas and her kids would have no gifts. I took her to my bank, had her open her own bank account and she signed a promissory note for the $2,000 that I deposited for her from my account. Three months later, because she had helped me sell my home (probably 6 or 8 hours work), I reduced her loan to me by $1,000! When the promised six months passed and her loan (now only $1,000) became due, she avoided me and did not return my calls. After another year of dutifully sending her monthly invoices, I received an e-mail stating that she had no intention of EVER repaying the loan – ‘You can garnish my wages, if you like’ was her response!

In June of last year a fellow REALTOR(R) who had fallen on hard times, joined our brokerage, but she didn’t have the $295 for the franchise dues. I offered to help her by lending her the money. She left after two months to join another brokerage and now, a year later, has told me that I will have to wait until she closes a ‘deal’ before repaying me!

Another REALTOR(R) asked me to build a website for her – the cost quoted was $790 (considerably less than most web developers), to be paid in two payments, the second payment a month after the first. The deposit was paid and the site went up. Three months later, she, too has told me that I have to wait for her next ‘close’, before she can settle her debt.

Am I the only one who fails to understand the new rules of engagement? What has happened to our great country and why has honor fallen by the wayside? Why do people not care about their reputations, any longer and more importantly, what can we do to fix it?

Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-905-9133

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

The Age Of Free Housing!
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Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 5:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Blog deals with Holding a $UCCE$$FUL Open House for a Quick Sale!
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Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Holding a $UCCE$$FUL Open House For Quick Sale

If you’re a seller, one of the big issues in holding Open House, is what to do with all your ‘stuff’ (things that you have packed to de-clutter the home) while the property is on the market? Obviously, the seller has to pack sometime and *before going to market* seems like a good time, but where does that stuff go, if it shouldn’t go into closets or the garage?

Let’s backtrack for just a minute, to deal with the packing.

I mentioned that I scanned and destroyed things like pictures that my kids and grandkids had done for me. Over the years (and my kids are now 40 and 35), those items, though treasured, have occupied space in folders, in a filing cabinet or container. Consider all the money you are paying for the real estate, to store these items? Consider the cost of real estate to store things like tax records, monthly bills and statements, receipts etc. These were all the things that I scanned and shredded!

Paying by the pound, when you move a long distance (like we did), makes you stop and wonder if you want to pay for paper to be transported, but in the final analysis, we took the paper, anyway! Of all the scanning and shredding I did, I amassed 25 LARGE garbage bags of paper shreds, which I used to pack things like glassware and other delicate objects, so yes, we took the paper, but in a more usable form!

Once packed, sealed and labeled on both the top and side, the boxes were put aside for storage. We managed to procure a small storage unit close to our home ($60/month – and this was negotiated down from $99/month, by providing competitors prices) where we stored everything that we didn’t want in the house during ‘market time’. What a difference this made!

Now that the house was organized, de-cluttered and clean, we were ready for market!

Flyers: Having a good flyer (I usually use MS-Publisher), with clear photos and a bullet list of features, goes a long way to reminding visitors which house was yours as they will likely see several. I would recommend using the back of the page for things like a list of upgrades and costs, neighborhood information, incentives etc. Also include things like whether your property is FHA approved or cabled for Internet/wireless etc or whether pets are allowed. These things are important to a would-be buyer. Print your flyer on good quality paper, preferably using a laser printer for good resolution.

Pre-Open House advertising: Once listed, the property can be advertised and I have about 25 Internet sites that I advertise my listings on, however 3 days before Open House, I would advise advertising on Craigslist, where photos can be uploaded. Be sure to include the date and time of your Open House. Craigslist does not permit the same advertisement within a 48 hour period, so the day before your Open House, advertise again, with a different title. You will do this because by the third day, your ad will be too far down the list to be noticed.

Post your listing on Craigslist: 3 days prior, 1 day prior and again on the day of your Open House. If you have a Facebook account (and you should have one), advertise your Open House a couple of times to your sphere of influence.

Send post cards of your Open House (if you are a REALTOR®, you can get labels from your Title company) to 200 homes in the immediate neighborhood, inviting them to a special preview. If yours is a quick sale, this will more than pay for itself!

The morning of your Open House, drop invitations to 20 homes on either side of your listing (and 20 on the opposite side of the road) inviting neighbors – they might not be buyers, but they have a vested interest in the community. Firstly, you may pick up a buyer for another property if you are a REALTOR® or you may pick up a listing, but you never know if neighbors have friends or family who might be in the market for your listing.

Signage: This is important! First and foremost you must check with your City Offices as to what the local ordinance is. Some cities don’t allow branded signs, others don’t allow flag or balloons and others (like our City did), require a permit. Some cities limit you as to how many signs you may have or where you may place them. Adhering to the local rules, enables all REALTORS® to continue doing business in peace. Breaking the rules results in ALL REALTORS® not being able to do their job for their clients!

If you are able, post a lot of signs! The more signs, the better! Be sure to use private property and be mindful of disabled people who may not detect your sign jutting out into their path. Definitely place signs right outside the property – 2 or more if you can – with flags, if possible. Post signs from the property, on all street corners, all the way to a main artery (busy road that joins to a freeway) or busy shopping mall, to divert traffic to your Open House. EVERY sign that I have, has a flag to draw attention to it and I aim at 20 signs per Open House!

Gated communities are difficult to show and it is not fair to residents, to leave the gate open all day. Post a notice on the gate, requesting that visitors call you on your cell, so that you (or an assistant) can open – AND CLOSE – the gate after each visitor. If you adhere to this simple rule, you will be more likely to have community owners list with you in the future. Always find out what the HoA rules are before you schedule your Open House.

Remove any flyers from the exterior flyer box if your have them outside! If you do this, you’ll have more people come inside to ask the price and while there, you have the opportunity to talk to them.

Prepare the property: If there are pets, ensure that they are secure and that all waste is picked up. There’s nothing worse than your Open House visitors stepping in poop and tracking it through the house! Also, Fido, might be loving and harmless to the family, but it could be disastrous for both dog and victim, if there were a bite or even torn or soiled clothing.

Check for valuables. Watches, rings and other valuables should be more secure than the top drawer – thieves are smart and often deliberately occupy the agent’s attention whilst an accomplice checks for valuables in another room.

Drugs are the #1 item stolen from Open House! Valium, sleeping pills, cough and cold medications and allergy pills, are stolen from Open Houses more often than they are reported. If these are evident, secure them or, if you think of it before hand, ask your seller to do so prior to Open House. I try to stay with visitors and don’t give them the run of the house.

And then there was light! REO’s often don’t have power but if you represent a seller that has the power connected, turn on ALL lights and open all drapes.curtains/blinds! A bright property looks bigger and more cheerful.

If you are able (you might ask permission), put on a CD or find a suitable music channel on TV or radio. Baroque music is best, because it enables visitors to absorb and retain what the see and told about the property (BTW. Baroque music has been proven to be best to study by, too!). Otherwise, light classical or smooth jazz will do the trick as long as it’s not too loud.

Position is King!: Position yourself between the front door and the rest of the house and not in front of the TV! This way you are available to visitors as they arrive and would-be thieves can’t slip by you. This will also give you the opportunity of introducing yourself, handing them a flyer and asking them to register in your Guest Book (you DO have a Guest Book, right?)

Get off the phone! Realistically, if you have done your advertising and your signage is good, you won’t have time to use your cell phone, but you’ll be surprised how many agents ignore visitors in favor of finishing their call. This is a complete ‘turn off’ to any would-be buyer! Don’t do it! Ask yourself if you are representing your seller, by placing their property on auto-pilot?

Listen! Although you must offer information about the property (don’t forget your disclosures!!), it is more important to ask questions and then LISTEN! Your listing might not be what the buyer is looking for but if you don’t listen, you will never know! The first question to ask is whether they already have a REALTOR®, and if they have signed a Buyer/Broker agreement with that agent. If they have, you must merely show the property and be courteous. Sometimes, buyers will tell you that they have a REALTOR®, just so that you won’t contact them, so I would suggest that you ask for the name of the person they are working with.

Have they been Pre-Qualified for a loan? Many buyers will tell you that they have been pre-qualified on-line – THIS DOES NOT COUNT! I explain to them (politely) that in order to submit an Offer on any property, they must have a letter from a lender, stating the amount they qualify for, to accompany the Offer. If they do not have such a letter, I ask if they would like me to put them in touch with someone who can get them one? If they are receptive, I will call a mortgage person immediately (while they are there) to set up an appointment.

Make sure that you have 3 or 4 mortgage contacts, because some are not available on weekends.

What is their time-line? It doesn’t matter if the buyer is at the beginning of their search – this is the best time to establish rapport, however, if they want to buy immediately, you’ll need to know this. If their projected date is some time in the future, offer to put them on your automated search program, so that they can perform their own searches in the privacy of their homes. Most of these programs come with a button that will notify you if they want to preview a property.

Follow up! This is probably the most important part of holding Open House. BEFORE THE SUN GOES DOWN, call every person who visited your Open House and thank them – you’ll be surprised how much they appreciate this! Make sure that you call them 3 days after your Open House and thereafter about once per week. You’ll be surprised how many of them tell you that you are the ONLY agent who is keeping in touch!

There are many other tips, such as baking fresh cookies at the property to permeate the air with sumptuous aromas, or holding sundowner bar-b-q’s or cheese and wine events for high-end properties, however, we need to deal with the basics first.


Althea Garner
REALTOR (R) MBA, MCI, e-Pro
Exit Beach Cities Realty
Exit Realty All Professional
Your House Of Homes Online
DRE 01516817
772-905-9133

Search over 50,000 listings at my web site:
http://www.HouseOfHomesOnline.com

Women’s Council of REALTORS(R):
VP Membership – 2010 (South Orange County)
Treasurer – 2008 (Coastal-West)
Webmaster – 2009 (Long Beach)
Editor – 2009 (Long Beach)
Education Committee – 2009 (California State)

Orange County Association of REALTORS(R):
Education Vice Chair – 2009

Today’s tech training at Exit All Professional was outstanding! These agents will ALL write Offers this weekend!

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Delivering technical training to agents at Exit All Professional, in Port Saint Lucie, today! 🙂

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 4:06 am  Leave a Comment  

How To Sell Your Home In One Day!

Blog: How To Sell Your Home In One Day!
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Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment