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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sellers: 10 Things Not To Do When on Vaca

Are you planning a vacation this summer?  Great.  We all need a little R&R. If your home is listed for sale, DON’T do the following: 

1) Say "No showings until we return".  As long as we can reach you within 24 hours, we can always negotiate by email/fax/etc.

2)  Drop off the grid.  Don't go to the Himalayas or somewhere that Kinko's or equivalent doesn't exist.  We need to be able to reach you if we get an offer.  We don't expect you to answer your phone at all times, but don't go somewhere that your cell phone is in constant "Searching for Service" mode.

3)  Set your thermostat to the extremes.  Yes, you might save a little money, but you don't want buyers to be uncomfortable when looking at your home.

4)  Forget to get your mail held while you're gone.  And if you still get the newspaper, either stop delivery or ask a neighbor to collect for you.

5)  Order anything from Amazon or the like to be delivered while you're gone unless you've made arrangements with the neighbors.  Packages setting on the front steps for days are a signal you're not home.

6)  Post about it on Facebook, or Tweet, or Blog, or LinkedIn or ANYTHING that announces to the world that you're going to be gone.  Bad guys have access to social media too.

7)  Forget that your flowers need watered and your lawn mowed.  Hire someone if you need to, but don't let the hard work you've done on curb appeal go downhill while you've got your toes in the sand and a Corona on the table next to the chair.

8)  Forget to tell your agent you're leaving town!!  We'll probably need to alter the showing instructions so you don't have to approve the showings while you're gone.

9)  Forget to take out ALL the trash before you leave.  Get the kitchen, the bathrooms, ALL of them.  You do not want the first impression of the buyers to be "EWWWWW" because you forgot about the leftover salmon you tossed before leaving.  That also means take care of the dirty dishes and dirty laundry before you go.  AND don't forget kitty's super atomic deposits in the litter box and Rover's landmines in the back yard.

10)  Forget to ask a friend to check the locks after showings.  Hate to say this, but sometimes agents aren't as careful as they should be about making sure a home is secure before they leave.  Going by and checking post showing is something we've regularly done for clients out of town.  Wish it wasn't necessary, but it's good to be cautious.

We could add some more to this list, but you get the drift.  Be careful, be available, and leave your home ready for the buyers to fall in love with it!

If you have other questions regarding real estate, call me!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Housing Cycle Reaches Low Point

This piece, by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of REALTORS.  was recently published in the May/June 2012 REALTOR Magazine, is short and direct.  I'm hopeful you find it as useful as I did.

Home sales volume last year was up modestly over 2010, but there was an important shift in their composition: Investors were stepping up to buy while households dropped back. There’s a positive side to this. Our surveys show that households getting into the market are doing so for all the right reasons. They’re seeking a different home or another neighborhood. They’re not buying just so they can flip the house at the first sign of market change.

These buyers are getting in at the low point of the housing cycle, so meaningful wealth gains over the next few years are inevitable even though financial considerations are not their principal motivation. From 1981 to 2011, despite the housing bust years, home values more than tripled. For that reason, households who bought 30 years ago are sitting pretty financially. Renters’ typical net worth, by contrast, barely changes, so renters today have about $4,000 in net worth, not much different than they had a few years ago. Compare that to home owners, whose net worth is typically around $160,000. That’s down from $230,000 at the height of the housing bubble, but it remains in stark contrast to renters.

Looking ahead, we could see a greater unequal distribution of net worth over time as home prices rise. Those who will benefit the most are those who, like many investors and some households, are buying during this low point.  Unfortunately, many would-be buyers are either hampered by today’s excessively tight credit requirements or earning too little to qualify. On the first problem, we will continue to urge lenders to return to reasonable, pre-bubble standards. On the second, those who lack the income to buy face challenges that go beyond our ability to help. At a minimum, we can encourage young people to stay in school, since high school dropouts are far more likely to struggle economically throughout their lives than graduates.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HARP 2.0 Refinance Program

The government's new HARP 2.0 Refinance Program is available to U.S. homeowners as of March 17, 2012.

If you're underwater on your conforming, conventional mortgage, you may be eligible to refinance without paying down principal and without having to pay mortgage insurance.

What is HARP?

HARP was started in April 2009.  It goes by several names: the government calls it HARP, as in Home Affordable Refinance Program.

The program is also known as the Making Home Affordable plan, the Obama Refi plan, DU Refi +, and Relief Refinance.

In order to be eligible for the HARP refinance program:

1.  Your loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
2.  Your current mortgage must have been secured prior to June 1, 2009.

If you meet these two criteria, you may be HARP-eligible.  If your mortgage is FHA, USDA, or a jumbo mortgage, you are not HARP-eligible.

To speak with a qualified lender to discuss your options, I can provide you a name upon request