Aug 19 2010

Selling a House: 4 Tips to Get More Buyers through Your Door

Sell a home tips

If you’re trying to sell a house this year, you’ve got a rough road ahead of you.

Since the end of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 long-term homeowner tax credit on April 30, the number of people interested in buying a house has plummeted by as much as 40 percent.

With more foreclosures coming onto the market, home sellers are in a tough spot: the number of homes for sale is increasing just as the number of home buyers is decreasing.

That means you might have to drop your price to catch a home buyer’s interest.

But before you go that route, you’ll want to do everything you can to get the attention of the maximum number of home buyers. Make sure you do everything on this list:

Selling a House Tip #1: Make your house look good enough to be on TV.

Today’s home buyers have watched tons of real estate programming on HGTV, Bravo, and other satellite networks that shows how to transform ugly homes into polished gems…

via Finance Blog – Real Estate: Selling a House: 4 Tips to Get More Buyers through Your Door.

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Aug 19 2010

Batting Averages for Listing Agents

Batting averages for real estate agents

By: Glenn Kelman

Posted: Monday, August 16th, 2010, 4:58 pm

Redfin just published MLS data from seven counties across the U.S. on the likelihood that a listing activated in 2009 sold by August of 2010. It turns out that the listing agent got a sale 47% of the time, a number that seemed surprisingly low to us, particularly since staging, photographing and marketing costs can add up…

via BloodhoundBlog.com | Batting Averages for Listing Agents | National real estate marketing and technology blog | Realtors and real estate, mortgage and investment news.


Aug 12 2010

Unemployed? The New HAMP Loan Modification Program Might Help You Keep Your House

HAMP

If you’re unemployed and can no longer afford your mortgage, a new Making Home Affordable loan modification program might offer some relief.

The new Unemployed Program (UP) starts August 1, 2010, and it requires lenders to reduce or suspend payments for at least three months for eligible borrowers. It is at the lender’s discretion to extend the forbearance, and the program ends once the borrower gets a new job.

According to Supplemental Directive 10-04, mortgage servicers are required to offer an Unemployment Program forbearance plan to a borrower who meets the following criteria:

1. The mortgage loan is secured by a one- to four-unit property, one unit of which is the borrower’s principal residence.

2. The mortgage loan is a first-lien mortgage originated on or before January 1, 2009.

3. The current unpaid principal balance of the mortgage loan is equal to or less than $729,750 for a single-family property. Higher loan amounts apply to two- to four-unit dwellings.

4. The mortgage is delinquent or default is reasonably foreseeable.

5. The mortgage loan has not been previously modified under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the borrower has not previously received an UP forbearance period.

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Aug 12 2010

Equifax Launches New Personal Finance Blog

Finance experts partner with credit reporting powerhouse to create online consumer finance resource

Atlanta, GA (Vocus)

Equifax announced the launch of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog earlier this week. The Equifax blog aims to inform and educate consumers about personal finance topics and features weekly insights and practical information from top consumer finance experts— Ilyce Glink (Real Estate), Daniel Solin (Investment), Eva Rosenberg (Tax) and Linda Rey (Insurance), as well as a team of Equifax subject matter experts covering select credit-related topics.

The Equifax Personal Finance Blog marks the company’s latest Web 2.0 effort to further engage with consumers and transform its website, www.equifax.com, into a trusted consumer resource and destination for topical personal finance information. Equifax also boasts an iPhone app, a Facebook Fan Page, and a new Twitter profile (@EquifaxPFB).

“Now, more than ever, consumers are searching for information and answers about their credit and finances,” says Trey Loughran, President, Equifax Personal Information Solutions. “We created the Equifax Personal Finance Blog as a destination for consumers to find sensible, straightforward information and insights to help them make informed decisions about their day-to-day finances.”

Every day on the blog, consumers will find new posts and helpful answers on topics like:

* 4 Myths About Your Credit History

* Tax Talk Before Marriage

* To Convert to Roth IRA or Not: That is the Question

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Aug 5 2010

Top 10 Home Selling Mistakes That Can Cost You : HGTV FrontDoor Real Estate

The logo used from December 1, 1994 to March 1...
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Avoid these common slipups to sell your home fast and for top dollar

By Shannon Petrie, FrontDoor.com

Don’t think spring is the only time you’ll be able to make a sale — people buy homes during every season.

Mistake #10: Waiting until spring to sell

Sure, spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate sales, but people buy homes 365 days a year. Plus, off-peak season buyers tend to be more serious, and fewer homes on the market means less competition for sellers.

Don’t be daunted by the thought of selling during the summer, winter or fall. Instead, draw in buyers by playing up your home’s seasonal amenities.

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Aug 3 2010

Associations Can No Longer Ignore FHA Approval

By Christopher L. Gardner, J.D. Print Article

July 16, 2010

The screaming and cursing you hear in unit 404 isn’t coming from Mr. Armbrister’s television—Armbrister has just learned that another potential sale of his condominium unit fell through due to the buyer’s inability to obtain financing. In this case, the buyer wanted to purchase Armbrister’s condo unit with an FHA loan—Armbrister’s homeowners association, however, had neglected to obtain FHA approval.

FHA loans, which are mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, accounted for a mere 1.7% of new mortgages as recently as 2006. Today, almost half of all new mortgages are FHA—yet there are still many misconceptions associated with their use and their benefits.

Due to the elimination of ‘spot approval’ in February 2010, an entire condominium development must now apply to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and be granted FHA approval before someone can purchase or refinance a unit using an FHA loan. Before its elimination, spot approval allowed an FHA buyer or refinancer to conduct a transaction in a specific condominium unit located in an unapproved complex.

Management companies and homeowners associations constantly ask why their condominium developments should seek FHA approval. A recent survey of more than 12,000 home buyers conducted by the Home Buying Institute indicated that the vast majority of respondents (87%) planned to use an FHA loan for their purchase. Given the prevalence of FHA loans in today’s housing market, the simple answer is that unit sellers in an association without FHA approval are severely limiting the pool of potential buyers. Thanks to the law of supply and demand, fewer possible buyers mean units will often sit on the market for longer periods and sell for lower prices. Even non-sellers are affected as lower sales prices for neighboring units often result in lower appraised values for all units.

Why have we seen such a surge in FHA borrowing? First, the general unwillingness of today’s lenders to extend credit and an almost complete withdrawal of private capital from the home mortgage sector forced HUD and FHA to take action. They ultimately crafted policies to increase FHA availability in order to help stabilize the housing market. FHA loans encourage lenders to lend, assuring them that they will be paid back by the federal government in case of default.

Second, as many residential real estate agents know all too well, the sudden and inevitable collapse of the high-risk subprime mortgage industry left a tremendous void in the marketplace for those buyers that did not have the 20% downpayment typically required when obtaining a conventional loan. This void is nicely filled by FHA loans, which require as low as a 3.5% down payment.

Finally, the significant increase in the maximum FHA loan limits from $362,790 to $793,750, means that an FHA loan is now relevant and appropriate for a much greater percentage of home purchases and refinances than ever before.

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May 26 2010

The National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics: What Does it Mean for Consumers?

How does the Code of Ethics affect everyday real estate practices?

If a REALTOR® represents you, whether you are buying or selling a home, you can count on that REALTOR® to:

1. Be honest with all parties in the transaction – not just with you, as his or her client, but also with the other real estate practitioner and his or her clients.

For example, if REALTORS® represent a buyer with a spotty credit history, they can’t be dishonest with sellers about this fact. At the same time, REALTORS® can help their buyer clients collect and assemble information, such as credit reports and audited tax returns, to demonstrate that the buyer has addressed the problem and improved their situation.

2. Put your interests ahead of his or her own, at all times.

A REALTOR® makes every effort to understand the housing needs of his or her client, thoroughly researches available inventory, and shares all relevant information with the buyer so that he or she can make an informed decision. This service is provided regardless of the compensation available.

3. Disclose all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction to both buyer and seller.

If a REALTOR® believes information provided by a seller is questionable, the REALTOR® is obligated to investigate. REALTORS® should recommend that buyers consult their own experts, such as home inspectors, to address concerns. For example, if a home seller asks his or her REALTOR® to conceal the fact that the roof leaks, the REALTOR® cannot comply; if the seller insists, the REALTOR® should end the business relationship with that seller.

4. Be truthful in all communications with the public.

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May 23 2010

Broker Terminology

Broker Terminology

Logo of the National Association of Realtors.

Image via Wikipedia

As you begin your house hunting, it helps to keep straight the various terms for real estate licensees.

Agent is a general term for anyone empowered to act for another. Many agents you meet have been hired by the seller and have special fiduciary duties to the seller (more on that important point later.)

Broker is a legal term for someone licensed by the state to negotiate real estate transactions and to charge for services.

Salesperson is the term for the holder of an entry-level license; a salesperson is allowed to assist a broker who is legally responsible for a salesperson’s activities. In some areas the word agent may be used for a salesperson, as opposed to a broker. A salesperson may not operate without supervision and may collect fees only from the sponsoring broker as a share of commissions earned by the salesperson’s efforts. In a new home purchase, the salesperson or builder sales consultant is generally employed by the builder to sell new home neighborhoods, with a license usually overseen by a “broker of record” within the building organization.

REALTOR® is a trademark designation (properly capitalized, like Xerox, Kleenex or Coke) for a broker (in some areas a salesperson) who belongs to a private organization called the local Association, or Board, of REALTORS®, a state board of REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS®. REALTORS® subscribe to a code of ethics that goes beyond state license law, and usually sponsor a local Multiple Listing System, which offers access to houses listed for sale by many different firms.

REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® is the term used by some boards of REALTORS® for salespersons associated with member brokers.

So as you start your search for the best agent, should you prefer a salesperson or a broker? There’s something to be said for each. In general, you can expect a broker to have more education and experience. On the other hand, some long-time salespersons remain at that status simply because they prefer not to go into business for themselves. And you could run into a well-trained, highly motivated newcomer with the time and enthusiasm to do a first-class job for you.

via Home Buying: Chapter 2 Introduction. Continue reading


May 23 2010

10 Things to Know About Real Estate in 2010 – US News and World Report

Larry House - Front Yard Patio View

Image by Lagravier Real Estate via Flickr

Prices bottom, mortgage rates increase, and foreclosures move upstream

By LUKE MULLINS

Posted: December 21, 2009

Is 2010 the year to buy a house? It certainly looks that way: After a steep run-up in prices during the first half of the decade, home values have plummeted back to 2003 levels. Fixed mortgage rates are sitting near record lows. And the foreclosure epidemic

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May 23 2010

Choosing an Agent: Tests to Apply

Here are a few tests to apply when judging a broker:

Does the broker explain your state’s law of agency at your first meeting and make it clear for whom he or she is working?

Does the agent return phone calls promptly? This simple question is a good screening device, whether you’re looking for a broker, lawyer, or plumber. In these days of cell phones, pagers, voicemail, and e-mail, there is no excuse to be out of touch. Does the agent explain things so you can understand them? This attribute is especially important for first-time buyers. If you can find an agent who is a born teacher, you are in luck. (The fact is, many brokers are former teachers.)

Does the agent seem ready to invest time in you? Where the broker is holding an open house that’s on the market, does he or she just wave you through, asking as you leave whether you’re interested in that house and letting it go at that? You want someone who, if not busy with other prospects, shows you the house in a professional manner, asks questions about your needs and wants, and offers to sit down and discuss other places on the market if you’re not interested in the house you’re touring.

Does the agent seem to have knowledge of the Internet? Some agents carry a laptop computer with them wherever they go and are able to pull up pertinent information and new listings on the spot. A computer has become a valuable hi-tech sales tool and a convenient and ready resource for savvy brokers these days. If Internet communication is important to you, ask agents if they e-mail their clients with information on new listings as they appear.

Does the broker suggest an initial session in the office, rather than simply meeting you at the house you called about? To get good service, you need a sit-down financial analysis and discussion of your whole situation in a confidential and professional setting.

Does the agent ask questions about your finances soon after meeting you? This may not be proper etiquette in ordinary society, but it’s the mark of an efficient broker who aims to give you good service. Suggesting a prequalification or a full loan preapproval is better yet, so that you have placed yourself in a position of strength and credibility as a buyer. If you haven’t already spoken to a loan agent, the agent may suggest someone with whom he or she has a track record of success.

Does the broker explain up front if he or she is acting as a seller’s agent? In most states, this information must be given to you in writing upon first contact.

When suggesting potential houses for the first time, did the agent show you listings that convince you that he or she has been listening and understands what you are looking for? If you’re shown houses with the wrong number of bedrooms or ones clearly out of your price range, this may not be the agent for you.

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