Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
A Few Things to Know About Financing a Multifamily Property
There are two types of multifamily properties residential properties, which consist of two, three, or four units, and commercial properties, which contain five or more properties. Financing a multifamily residential property is very similar to financing a single-family home.
While commercial properties must be financed by specialized lenders, most lenders that finance single-family homes also finance residential multifamily properties. Here are a few questions to consider when deciding whether purchasing a multifamily property is the right choice for you.
What constitutes a multifamily property?
Multifamily properties contain two or more discrete units, each consisting of living space and a separate kitchen and bathroom.
Why buy a multi-family property?
Buying a building with multiple units can be strictly an investment, whereby the owner rents out units to tenants, or it can serve as the owners residence as well, with one of the units reserved as living space and the others serving as rentals. With a good interest rate and affordable monthly payments, a multifamily property can be a lucrative investment since it brings in added rental income for the owner.
Is financing different for owners intending to reside in a multifamily property and those intending to rent out all of the units?
In a word, yes. Investment property buyers who do not plan to live in the property will need a larger down payment to buy the home if the loan is of conventional size. Additionally the interest rates for non-owner occupied investment homes will be higher than those that are owner occupied. The rationale is that the property has more risk associated with it if the owners are not present and investors who accept more risk increase their fees and interest rates in return. . Obtaining a non-owner occupied investment home that would need a jumbo mortgage is very difficult unless you were to work with a portfolio lender who is interested in such products. Both FHA-backed loans and VA loans are only available to those planning to reside in a multifamily property. Lastly, buyers may also expect stringent credit requirements, larger required cash reserves, and possibly more upfront fees to offset the risk to the lender.
Can rental income be used to qualify for a multifamily loan?
Sometimes. If a lender is willing to consider rental income as part of the qualifying income for the loan, most often existing rental agreements must be in hand before the financing can be finalized. A vacant building is a greater risk for a lender due to concern that the units might not be filled.
Are loan limits higher for multifamily properties than single-family properties?
Yes. While conventional loans in most parts of the country carry a conforming loan limit of 417,000, loan limits for multifamily dwellings rise with the number of units in the building.
If you are considering purchasing a multifamily dwelling, meet with a loan officer to discuss your plans for the building and your options for financing. He or she will be able to answer further questions about your personal situation and whether you are likely to be eligible for a loan on such a property.
Full Story >
5 Signs Youve Outgrown Your Home
Years ago, real estate agents coined the term starter home to describe homes perfectly suited for small families and newlyweds. While these small homes may be ideal for couples or families just starting out in life, they often become too small as children are born, furniture is added, and so on.
Whether youre feeling cramped, running out of storage space, or simply need a breath of fresh air, the real estate market is flooded with opportunities for families in need of extra space or people ready to >
1. Growing Family
Across America, the most common reason for families outgrowing their homes is the addition of new children. A home that seemed perfect for a couple of newlyweds can easily begin bursting at the seams when a few children come along. If the bedrooms have filled up and toys have taken over the kitchen and family room, it may be time to upgrade to a larger home.
2. Youre Aging
Outgrowing your home doesnt always necessarily mean you need more room. Sometimes you can outgrow your home in other ways as well. As couples age and children leave the home to begin their own lives, a home that was once just the right size can become too large and difficult to maintain. Many of todays empty nesters are choosing to downsize into a more comfortable space that will stretch their retirement dollars.
3. Too Much Furniture amp; Not Enough Space for Things
As families grow, so do their furniture collections. In addition to acquiring more furniture over time, many of todays families are opting for larger, over-sized pieces of furniture as well. Having many large furniture pieces that take up too much space ultimately makes a home feel cramped and too small. This causes people to search for a larger home to accommodate their belongings and supply them with added storage space.
4. New Pets
Dogs may be mans best friend, but they also require a lot of room, both inside and out. Getting a new dog typically requires a decent-sized backyard, which may have not been a factor when you originally purchased your home. Having pets and accommodating their needs may require the purchase of a larger home with more backyard space.
5. Frequent Entertaining
Any family that likes to regularly entertain considers this factor when purchasing a home. However, as families grow and end up hosting large holiday parties for the first time, the need for more space immediately becomes evident. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may be finding out that your home doesnt share your same sense of hospitality.
6. Youve Outgrown Your Home. Now What?
These are some of the most common reasons why a once ideal home can begin feeling cramped, but every family has different needs. Getting smaller furniture or hiring a storage specialist might be an option, but when the walls start closing in, it may be a sign that youve outgrown your home. Find a local real estate agent and start searching for a new home today
Full Story >
Ask the HOA Expert: Does Our Association Have The Right To Restrict Home Security System Signs?
Question: Does the homeowner association have the right to restrict home security system signs in the common area outside of the homes?
Answer: The HOA has the right to limit signs in the common area and sometimes what is placed in home windows. The main concern is curb appeal. Uncontrolled signage creates a cluttered look and reduces property values. Small security stickers on the window can and should be allowed.
Question: Should we include landscape items in our Reserve Study? How about insuring trees?
Answer: Its wise to include "Landscape Renovation" and "Treework" in the Reserve Study. All bushes and trees have a limited life. Bushes die and outgrow their location. While trees usually have a long life, they require corrective pruning that should be done every 3 - 5 years and is expensive. Hiring an arborist to do a comprehensive inventory and report of the trees also makes a lot of sense. If each tree is tagged and referenced in the report, maintenance can be easily tracked. Consistent corrective pruning will extend the lives of the trees and keep them looking good.
Insurance for non-income producing trees provides limited coverage for claims >
To avoid the possibility of insect infestation, use native trees that are hardy and pest resistant. If you already have those prone to insects, consult with an arborist for the proper preventive maintenance or cut them down and replacement them.
Question: Our board often spends money outside of the scope of our governing documents. What can we do to control this?
Answer: Why is the board spending money outside of its authority? Are the documents vague on what the homeowner association is responsible for? If this is the case and it often is, the board needs to establish clear guidelines on what the HOA will, or wont, spend money for. Its called "A Budget". If one isnt adopted each year, any expense is fair game.
Question: I dont feel the board spends money in our best interests. I protest by withholding payment until year end. Recently, I received a notice saying if I didnt pay, they would put a lien on my home. Can they do this? Am I wrong to protest this way?
Answer: I assume your concerns are for the HOA as a whole and not for personal issues. Withholding assessments in protest is not the way to get your point across and, yes, the board has both the right and duty to process collection on delinquencies. Your points should be made in writing to the board. Whether they act on them or not is another question. If they dont and you feel strongly that they should, I encourage you to run for election so that you can have a direct affect on the outcome. Its every owners duty to serve.
For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to www.Regenesis.net.
Full Story >
How New Agents Can Get Listings
- Smoking Bans Being Enacted In Condominium Associations
- Secret Tax Breaks In Community Associations
- What Is a Reserve Study In Your HOA?
As a new agent, youve likely heard that "you last with listings." Listings are a great way to get your name in front of the public so you can start developing your professional reputation. So how do you get started?
Create a database
Whether you use Excel, Top Producer or your brokers client management tools, you need to develop a personal database of contacts.
Start with people you know and input as much information as you can. To make it easier, start with >
Create client profiles with name, address, profession, birthday, spouse, children, dates of contact, and attitudes about housing. Categorize them - first-time homebuyer, investor, move-up buyer, empty nester, etc. This will help you act quickly when you see an opportunity for them.
Make warm calls
No one is going to hire you if they dont know youre in business, so get the word out there that you are licensed, trained and ready to help.
While its a great idea to update your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles, announcing your status isnt enough to start your new career. You have to cultivate the >
Think of it this way - if youre building a farm, you dont stop after planting the first seed. Nourishment, water and sunshine are important, too. That means you reach out and personally call and visit your friends, >
Tell them that youre now a licensed agent and youd like to help them buy or sell their homes. Ask them questions about their goals and dreams. Take detailed notes.
Make news a reason to get in touch. Tell people whats happening with interest rates, loan programs, neighbourhood improvements, school academic teams, and so on.
Make cold calls
Youve got to start somewhere. Choose one neighborhood to farm. Start with where you live, where your broker is located, or with the type of home you want to sell such as condos, historical homes, master-planned communities, new homes, or whatever you are interested in. You can become known as the area expert.
Meet as many homeowners as you can. Hang fliers, send mailers and knock on doors and introduce yourself. Offer to provide personalized market analysis of their homes.
Nows not the time to worry about being a general agent who can sell anywhere. Your contacts will take you out of your neighbourhood soon enough without having to go to the expense of farming your entire city.
Dont overlook other potential clients
Appropriate contacts are everyone you meet. Remember that people like your barista, fitness trainer, grocer, and others you meet daily have already met you. It is a lot easier to do business with people who know and like you. Dont just pick up your dry-cleaning. Ask the name of the person, manager or business owners who serve you. Put them in your database and build a lifelong clientele.
Ask each person for their contact information, especially email, and tell them you want to send them some information about real estate and that you hope to help them one day with a move.
Dont give up
Rinse and repeat. Make your calls every day. Rotate your contacts so you are in touch on a weekly, monthly, quarterly basis, depending on the closeness of your >
The worst that can happen is someone says no. But you can turn a no to a yes with consistency, dedication and enthusiasm. Then the best that can happen is your efforts will pay off with listings and sales.
Full Story >
Make a Minor Shift and Create Major Results
- A Sphere of Influence Formula for Success
- Preparing For Objections
- Troubleshooting: How To Get More Listings Now
Burnout is often a by product in our industry. With all the technology at our finger tips, the expectations continue to escalate and agents and consumers continue to set the bar higher. Were scattered, stressed and often feel overwhelmed. A lot of the fun in what we do has gotten lost in this frantic pace and the contribution to our communities diminished.
Start the new year with a connection to something your passionate about and incorporate that into your marketing plan in even a small way. Create a niche for yourself to grow your business and perhaps contribute to your community. Theres a resurgence of >
Discover within yourself a group youd like to focus on, perhaps based on a commonality or passion. Seniors, military, families in the transition of divorce, horse properties, investment properties, or vacation homes. There are a myriad of choices available to put that spark back into your work and provide true expertise for these groups that often have very specific needs.
Once you identify your niche, create your marketing plan to connect with this audience and also a media or PR plan. Youll find your practice is more fun when you scale back your focus and can connect with your customers and clients through >
Full Story >
Top 10 Most Walkable Cities in Orange County, CA
Thinking smaller can lead to larger personal rewards and profitability
Originally posted at:http://www.firstteam.com/blog/?p=6617
The number of beds and baths in a home is not always the most important feature when deciding what to buy. In fact, according to NARs 2013 Community Preference Survey78 of home buyers find neighborhood more important than house size.
What makes a neighborhood or city more desirable? The answer is convenience. A mixed use community which offers housing as well as good stores and businesses within walking distance and close proximity to work and recreation is favorable to most home buyers.Not only are walkable communities convenient, they are also more environmentally friendly, healthy and foster a sense of neighborliness.
WalkScore.comis a site that measures the walkability of any city, neighborhood or address. Walk scores are calculated based on the distance to local amenities and shops amenities within a 5 minute walk are given maximum points on their scale of 1 to 100. Amenities further than a 30 minute walk are not given any points.
Weve looked at all of the cities in beautiful Orange County, CA and identified the top 10 most walkable communities to live in. At the top of the list is Los Alamitos with a score of 85, by far the highest score of any city in Orange County. Check out the complete list to find the best walkable cities where you should settle.
1. Los Alamitos Los Alamitos is in the northwest section of Orange County bordering on Los Angeles where the 22, 605 and 405 Freeways meet. In addition to having a great central location, Los Alamitos is very walkable meaning most errands can be accomplished on foot. Dont feel like cooking? Within just a 15 minute walk there are 34 restaurants to enjoy in the city
Average Listing Price:667,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Los Alamitos
2. Santa Ana Santa Ana is the largest and most populated city in Orange County. One of the most walkable parts of the city is its revitalized downtown area, a growing hub of art, culture and entertainment. Downtown Santa Ana features the Artists Village, Bowers Musuem, the Old Country Courthouse and about 156 restaurants, bars and coffee houses.
Average Listing Price:431,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Santa Ana
Image courtesy of Paulkhor
3.Costa Mesa There are several great central areas to shop and explore in Costa Mesa including South Coast Plaza Mall, the Orange County Fairgrounds, and recently renovated Triangle Square Restaurants and Entertainment. Costa Mesa also has some of the most prestigious arts and entertainment centers in the county including the Segerstom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory Theater.
Average Listing Price:807,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Costa Mesa
4.La Palma Not only is La Palma one of the most walkable cities in Orange County, it was also voted 31 on CNN Money Magazines best places to live in 2013. The city has 9,709 restaurants within 15 miles, 8.5 of residents have health insurance and nearly 80 of the population has a commute of less than 45 minutes.
Average Listing Price:607,000
ViewHomes For Sale in La Palma
Image courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust
5.Westminster Westminster is probably most well known for Little Saigon, an area within the city a large number of Vietnamese refugees claimed as home when they came to the country in the 70s and 80s. Little Saigon includes several businesses, professional services and the most authentic and mouth watering South Asian eateries around.
Average Listing Price:480,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Westminster
6.La Habra Categorized as somewhat walkable, the city of La Habra is located in the northwestern corner of Orange County with a population of 60,239. The most walkable part of the city is located along Imperial Highway nearby Montwood Park, Loma Verde Park and Portola Park in the zip code 90631.
Average Listing Price:502,000
ViewHomes For Sale in La Habra
Image courtesy of Nepenthes
7.Garden Grove Garden Groves motto is The City of Youth and Ambition which highlights the citys culturally diverse community. The Crystal Cathedral is a local icon and a popular place to visit as well as any one of the citys 3 stage theaters, the Garden Grove Playhouse, Gem Theater and the Festival Amphitheater.
Average Listing Price:470,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Garden Grove
8.Fountain Valley Fountain Valleys motto is A nice place to live which describes this suburb well. The city is home to Mile Square Regional Park, a wide variety of furniture and other retail stores, and several strawberry fields.
Average Listing Price:680,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Fountain Valley
Image courtesy of David Parikh
9.Stanton In the last 5 years the city of Stanton has had several upgrades and renovations including the opening of 3 new parks: Veterans Memorial Park, Pocket Park and Harry M. Dotson Park. There are plenty of other fun and exciting things to do in the city including a visit to Adventure city, the towns Tennis Center and the new themed play areas for children including the Pirate Ship play structure and water featureWet Saloon.
Average Listing Price:406,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Stanton
Tie 10.Dana Point Located in South Orange County, Dana Point is known for its beautiful coastal bluffs, rolling hills and charming beaches. Dana Point has a strong community feel with several annual city wide festivals like the Turkey Trot each November, Festival of Whales in March and its grand 4thof July fireworks show.
Average Listing Price:1,856,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Dana Point
Tie 10.Huntington Beach This beach city features a great downtown area and pier for tons of fun and entertainment. Big public beaches stretch across the city and a wide variety of great restaurants, boutiques and the Farmers Market can be found around Main Street.
Average Listing Price:896,000
ViewHomes For Sale in Huntington Beach
Full Story >
Top Notch Seal Beach Schools in Los Alamitos Unified School District
Originally posted at:http://www.firstteam.com/blog/?p=6623
Los Alamitos Unified
Seal Beach does not have its own school district, it is a part of the Los Alamitos Unified School District. Los Alamitos Unified has 9,570 students and spends approximately 7,808 annually per student. The district has a rating of 10/10 based on state wide test scores in all schools in the district. Within the city limits there is one elementary school J.H. McGaugh Elementary School with a GreatSchools.org score of 10/10.
Check outSeal Beach Real Estatenear J.H. McGaugh Elementary School. Good schools make Seal Beach a desirable place to live. They provide an encouraging environment for children as well as a safe and nurturing community for all residents.
Mary Wilson Public Library Seal Beach
Not just for the kids, the Mary Wilson Public Library in Seal Beach is a wonderful spot for a productive weekend and >
The library is a part of the Orange County Library system with access to hundreds of books, movies and other resources. The facility offers free WiFi, even without a library card, several cozy seating areas and friendly staff.
Preschools in Seal Beach
- Sun N Fun Creative Playground
- Seal Beach Playground
- Growing Tree Pre-School
Elementary Schools serving Seal Beach, CA
- J.H. McGaugh Elementary School
- Hopkinson Elementary School
- Rossmoor Elementary
- Lee Elementary
- Los Alamitos Elementary
- Weaver Elementary
Middle Schools serving Seal Beach, CA
- Oak Middle School
- McAuliffe Middle School
Los Alamitos High School. Image courtesy of Griffin2007.
High School serving Seal Beach, CA
Full Story >
Californians Facing Short Sale Will Continue To Get A Break On Taxes
While it is true that short sales are no longer such a dominant segment of the real estate market, they are still around and, many suspect, will continue to be for some time. It is a pleasure to report, then, that we have recently received some good news for California short sellers. In short, California short sellers of residential properties 1 - 4 units will continue to be protected from taxation on the "phantom income" received in a short sale.
A brief history is in order. "Phantom income" refers to the amount of debt that is forgiven when a lender is willing to accept less than the full amount owed. If you owed 200,000 on your mortgage, and the lender allowed a short sale for 180,000, you would have received 20,000 in phantom income. Phantom, because you never got to lay your hands on it. Normally, under both state and federal law, forgiven debt is taxable as income. If it werent, every CEO would arrange to be paid in the form of a loan that would later be forgiven.
In the face of a crumbling economy and a tsunami of short sales, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt >
So, does this mean that short sellers will once again face the prospect of being taxed on phantom income? The answer is "no" in the case of most California short sales. This was made clear recently in an IRS letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer and in a letter subsequently >
The IRS letter noted that forgiven debt is not considered taxable if the debt obligation is nonrecourse. If a debt is recourse, the lender is owed the difference - a deficiency - if the debt is not paid in full. In many states, mortgage debt is recourse debt. If a foreclosure auction does not generate enough to satisfy the outstanding debt, the lender may pursue the borrower for the difference. In California, though, some mortgages e.g. for the purchase of a principal residence are nonrecourse. An auction pursuant to a trust deed foreclosure will be full satisfaction of the debt, even if it garners less than the balance owed. There is no deficiency judgment; there is no recourse.
In its letter to Senator Boxer, the IRS noted the following: "In 2011, California enacted an anti-deficiency provision under section 580e of the Code of Civil Procedure, which generally prohibits a lender who holds a deed of trust on a homeowners principal residence from either claiming a deficiency or obtaining a deficiency judgment from the homeowner after agreeing to a short sale." Thus, "We believe that a homeowners obligation under the anti-deficiency provision of section 580e of the CCP would be a nonrecourse obligation to the extent that, for federal income tax purposes, the homeowner will not have cancellation of indebtedness." There will be no taxation of short sale phantom income.
Responding to inquiry on the same matter, the Franchise Tax Board said, "Since California conforms to the >
Thats good news for most Californians who may be facing a short sale.
Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.
Full Story >
Avoid Six Way Too Common Condo Buyer Mistakes
- New Rules For Short Sales
- What is a Short Sale?
- Buying Short Sale
- How to Buy a House 12-months after Foreclosure or Short Sale-New
If practice makes perfect, how can you excel at buying a condominium unit when youll probably do it fewer than a half dozen times in your life?
What about the first time you buy? Youll be working without any condo practice at all Since condo prices start in the tens of thousands of dollars and head into the millions, gaining practice as a buyer can involve some very expensive lessons.
Can you name any complex, life-enhancing task you can learn to do exceptionally well in just a few tries? After all, arent you aiming to be an above-average condo purchaser out to achieve the equivalent of a touchdown or picking a very hot stock every time you buy?
The amazing thing about Real Estate is that you can tap into a professionals years of practicebuying condo unitshi-rise suites, townhomes, houses, offices, or any type of condo youre interested in - often without cost and usually without mistakes. Watch real estate professionals excel.
When you learn how to do anything, you make the same mistakes that other "newbies" make whether its mastering a sport, acquiring a skill, or targeting an investment. Repetition of the same first mistakes leads to frustration in sport and undermines confidence when learning a skill. In investing - which is what every real estate purchase is - repeating common mistakes is frustrating, unsettling, and costs money and future returns. None of this negativity is necessary.
Avoiding common mistakes is what separates savvy investors from the masses. Do you really want to repeat the mistakes common to other condo buyers when you take your first plunge into the market or perhaps your second or third?
How do you go from zero to expert in one condo buy?
Mistake 1: When speaking to groups of condo buyers and "wanna-bes," I am always struck by how little they understand about condos in all shapes and sizes. Ownership of condominiums involves title to the space defined by the condo unit and a share in the common element which includes amenities and the land. Owners are responsible for their units monthly costs and a pro-rated share of maintenance costs for every other part of the condominium complex.
I recently contacted The MIAMI Association of REALTORS to get an insider view of condominium buyer habits from three MIAMI members: Christopher Zoller, Melissa Rubin, and Sep Niakan.
To really understand this form of real estate ownership and a specific condominium complex, Certified Residential Specialist Christopher Zoller of EWM Realty International, suggests condo buyers "seek out other owners preferably long-time owners, board members, or the manager and ask the tough questions" so they can learn the potential weaknesses and future expenses. Carefully review financial statements, upcoming assessments, and recent Board Meeting minutes to discover significant details like pending fee increases.
Zoller, who also invests in condominiums, offers other examples of common buyer mistakes linked to misunderstanding condo complexities:
- Not learning what percentage of the units are owner-occupied. The mortgage lender may not approve or give favorable financing to an association that has more than a certain percentage of investor-owned units. The buyers loan could either be denied, or the interest rate or LTV ration could be much higher.
- Not checking insurance documents for flood and windstorm coverage, and whether or not the premiums are financed or paid in full. Inadequate insurance could be costly, and not having enough reserves to pay the insurance premiums can also be very costly.
The best results come when buyers also clarify their goals, so they are receptive to opportunity and ready to act.
Mistake 4: "In this [Miami] market, the buyer needs to make fast decisions and make an offer, often at full asking price or over," emailed Broker Melissa Rubin, CIPS, CDPE, and Certified Board Mediator, of Platinum Properties International, who specializes in condominiums to serve her international clients and the national luxury market. "If they wait, they miss the opportunity and next month the same property is at a higher price."
Rubin gives this example: "A buyer sees a pre-construction property and is thinking about it. Price today is 1.0M for the 25th floor. Next month, the 25th floor is sold and the 20th floor is for sale for 1.1M. Our market is increasing so rapidly, that if a buyer can hold a unit for 15 days with the rescission period, it is a better decision to do so, and [then] change their mind [if necessary], rather than thinking about it and reacting afterwards."
Mistake 5: Buying mistakes can also be linked to short-term thinking by buyers intent on what theyll do when they move in, not on the investment value of this home purchase.
"The best approach for buyers is to recognize they are buying to enjoy the property and, over a period of time, the additional funds to secure a better property will yield them a better return," stresses Rubin. "There is huge competition among buyers now and bidding low will frustrate them and not achieve their goals."
Mistake 6: MIAMI Broker/Owner Sep Niakan, CRS, GRI, ILHM of HB Roswell Realty is very clear about the most repeated mistake buyers make: "Not buying waterfront and water view when they can afford it. Waterfront and water view units are always easier to sell and always appreciate better in the long run. Buyers loss is in significant future equity Buy what is rare and unique such as waterfront or water view."
Special Gift Offer: For the professional who wants everything... There is to know about effective communication, online and off.
PJ Wades new ebook "Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark amp; Stick" is a great gift for professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners intent on making their point with clients and those who matter, online and off. Use this promo code 40wyptXMAS13 to save 40 at a Catapult Publishing until December 21, 2013.
Full Story >
A Conversation with a Buyer Who Wants to Speak with the Listing Agent
I Want to Speak with the Listing Agent What That Means in Southwest Florida
A familiar phone call each week comes in, I want to speak with the listing agent for property such and such. A very common occurrence in our office as our website lists all active properties for sale in the six major areas that we cover Bonita Springs, Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Sanibel and Captiva Islands known as the Lee Island and Paradise Coasts. Lets chat a few minutes about representation in Southwest Florida and what you should know before making this inquiry.
Youre in a quandary, when on the receiving end, because first and foremost the person on the other end isnt really interested in anything you answer, only whether or not youll direct them to the listing agent. OK, with thousands of properties listed on our site Im always trying to figure out the easiest response since I already know the best one
Why do you want to speak with the sellers agent? If youre interested in buying a property and want to speak with the sellers agent, then I assume you believe youll get the property for less because you think the sellers agent will reduce the commission, thus reducing the price of the home. In some cases, that may well be true. My experience is the larger the company, the less likely this occurs. Typically, their policy is if the seller buys another property through them, then they will reduce the commission on that next transaction to the seller now a buyer for them. But, this is a big but, they dont like working on the if come so reducing the commission on a sale, when the seller may not buy, or doesnt close, means the reduced commission is on the if come of a buy. Therefore, the buyer asking for a listing agent would receive nothing less than the seller gave in any case.
More importantly, what does it mean when you, as a buyer, is not represented on a purchase in Florida? Quite simply, the agent representing a seller and a buyer needs written permission changing the >
What does this all mean?
Firstly, an exclusive sellers agent can tell you the asking price of a home but not provide data or advise on an offering price. They can tell you general information about the seller, but they must tell the seller everything about you and your motivation for buying their home. A sellers agent is required, by law, to obtain the highest price for the seller.
An exclusive buyers agent still paid by the seller can be loyal, trusted, and give you advice freely. As an example, your personal agent can interpret the sales data for you and suggest a price. A buyers agent can tell you everything they know about the seller and their motivation for selling and they dont have to tell the seller any information that could weaken your negotiation position. A buyers agent must tell you everything about a property. A buyers agent is loyal ONLY to you and must do everything possible to gain the advantage for you a sellers agent is opposite of that and must do everything possible for the sellers advantage.
Well, then, what can a transaction broker or agent do? They facilitate the transaction and you are a customervs. being a client or a principal of theirs. They are required to deal fairly and honestly, account for funds, use skill, care and due diligence, disclose all facts that materially affect the value of the property, present all offers in a timely manner, limited confidentiality, and only those additional duties specified in writing that do not exceed the duties above.
Essentially, these duties are more easily explained in the following manner a transaction agent or broker cannot tell the seller the buyer will pay more, cannot tell the buyer the seller will accept less, any factors that may motivate either party cannot be disclosed. They can assist the seller in setting the price but they cant assist with negotiations on price with buyers. That doesnt sound too bad. However, transaction brokers and/or agents do not have the responsibility of the fiduciary duties of obedience or loyalty to either party. The loss of these duties for either client can cause concern about agents who only seem intent on closing the deal no matter what. Both buyers and sellers can feel frustrated by this type of representation. A transaction broker or agent does not get paid if there is no sale, their commission can be substantially higher by representing both sides known as double-dip in our industry, so their incentive is closing the transaction whether its good for the buyer or seller. They are not advocating on either partys behalf and this limits their liability in the transaction. Neither a buyer, nor seller, should expect a transaction agent or broker to represent their personal interests in this type of >
Buyers may enjoy the exclusive representation by agents in Florida, at no cost, and the builders offer compensation to exclusive buyers agents - buyers agents are welcome everywhere there is a property for sale. And, this may well be the best avenue for protection that you, as a buyer, receive the best information before you buy.
If it takes me this long writing the answer, you can imagine how hard it is answering All consumers should be aware of how they are represented in a transaction, keeping in mind, that real estate agents may not exclusively represent both buyers and sellers in Florida. Non-exclusive representation transaction brokerage - means, something has to give, on one side or the other, or bothContributed by Terry L. Dona, Sales Manager - Gulf Coast Associates
Full Story >
4 Signs Its Time To Downsize
For many people, the home they live in means a lot to them. It is a source of personal and financial security, and it also holds a large amount of intrinsic value. However, times change and the house you have may no longer fit your needs. For some homeowners, your children might have moved out, leaving no use for those extra rooms or youre tired of the upkeep for such a large home. Whatever the reason, it might be time to downsize your home.
Here are some signs that might be showing you its time to downsize:
Theres Less Money for Extra Expenses
This is a sign that can apply to any homeowner. For some, they bought a home they could afford, but circumstances changed and its a strain to pay the utility bills while maintaining a healthy grocery budget.
Maintenance is Getting to be a Hassle
For singles with hectic work schedules, maintaining a yard or dealing with home improvement projects are sometimes out of the question. For older homeowners, some have the time to do yard work and fix things around the house, but not the energy.
Some seniors find that after a day of taking care of their yard, theyre too tired to take on other chores, such as cleaning, babysitting grandchildren, or volunteering.
You Have Unused Rooms
This is the biggest waste. Unused rooms still end up costing money, not only in property taxes and eventual maintenance leaky roofs, peeling paint, etc. but also in that they end up being heated and cooled, using up unnecessary electricity, gas, or oil.
For those who have semi-empty rooms, meaning that a guest bedroom is used for a month or more each year, then downsizing could cut into your life>
You Want More out of Life
If the kids have finally moved out or if youre preparing for retirement, you may be looking at a few extracurricular activities you want to pursue -- some of which might cost a little bit of money. If youd rather spend your time and money on your dream activities rather than the house, it may be time to downsize to something smaller. Less maintenance and care can free up time for you to try new things.
Deciding if its Time to Downsize Your Home
By recognizing the signs, many homeowners can accurately evaluate whether or not they should leave their current home for a smaller one. While downsizing is not right for everyone, it can be a life-changing experience for the better for many. Check out these answers to common home selling questions and see how much your home is worth to help you in the home selling process.
Full Story >
Home Buying Dos and Donts
There might not be a perfect way to purchase a new home, but there are some good ways to approach any large real estate transaction. The important thing to remember is to remember that you are the buyer during each step of the process. All other parties are hoping to profit when they close a sale, and you are the one who is putting up the money.
There is no Perfect Time to Buy
If you try to time the market to find the perfect combination of loan rates and home prices, you will probably just get frustrated. The best time to make a purchase is when you find the right house and home loan for your needs and budget.
Avoid Professional >
You are free to take plenty of advice from friends and family. They may have some very good suggestions about neighborhoods, schools, and home features. However, you cannot be certain that your cousin or brother who happens to be a loan broker or real estate agent will always have access to the best deals.
You will be likely to get the best price on your home and lowest loan interest rate if you are free to shop around, and that can be uncomfortable if you use your friends and family as real estate professionals.
Understand Sellers Motivations
Even though the amount of money that a seller still owes on their mortgage has nothing to do with the value of a particular house, it might have a strong bearing on the sellers ability to bargain with you. Additionally, sellers who are eager to move might be willing to drop the price. If you can get a feel for the sellers motivation and situation, you are much more likely to be able to negotiate on the price and other terms.
Dont Fall in Love
Try not to fall in love with any one house. Of course, you might have emotional reasons for wanting to purchase a home in a specific area. There might be intangible reasons why one or home or another is more valuable to you too. But you are much more likely to make a good deal if you handle the transaction logically.
Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
It is always a good idea to get a pre-approval letter for any house you plan to purchase. Even though pre-approvals are not set in stone, they can give you an idea of how much you can afford and what your costs will be.
Get Appraisals and Home Inspections in Advance
Get an objective appraiser to tell you how much the home is worth. Lots of sellers assume their houses are more valuable than they really are. Also, be sure to get the home inspected. That way, you will know about any problems like cracked slabs or ancient heating systems before you make an offer.
Make the Right Offer on the Right House
Make an offer on any house you want to purchase that is based upon your own research of the market value. Do not make an offer based upon the selling price or fear you will not be able to purchase the house.
Full Story >
Holiday Wish List
With the holidays just around the corner, you better get busy shopping. Heres a short wish-list of this years must-have gadgets and gizmos for the home. These modern gifts are sure to get your motor running while also enhancing the functionality and livability of your household.
For about 200 you can bestow the gift of peace of mind. One of the great benefits of going with a wi>
Keyless Home Entry
Is there someone forgetful on your list? Then you might want to consider the Keyless Pro Keyless Touchpad Lock. These locks are offered in several tarnish-free finishes, are easily installed and range in price from about 100-280. Several codes can be accepted simultaneously and the codes can be individually deleted. This means your real estate agent or housekeeper can have a different code from your family. An added safety feature is the warning alarm which sounds after four failed entry attempts. This gift is tech-savvy, practical and very affordable.
This updated electronic heater will be as much of a conversation piece as it will be a source of warmth. The has a unique modern design which combines the look of an LCD display with the toasty heat of a space heater. The functionality and price of this product, just 242, is what really makes it nice. And the good thing about this "fireplace" is that its practically maintenance free and can be moved around the house as needed.
For the handy homemaker on your list the iRobot Roomba 510 robotic vacuum is a must-have. This little robot zips over carpets and other floor surfaces clearing them of debris and pet hair. The 510 is the newest generation of robotic vacuums offered by iRobot. Theres no need to worry about bumps to your baseboards or furniture, this rechargeable model has a very sensitive system in place to detect the proximity of walls, furniture and other obstacles. While the iRobot wont replace your traditional upright vacuum, its a great value at 250 and can be used daily to help keep the home spic and span for open houses.
Robotic Lawn Mower
Its hard work to maintain great curb appeal, but you can make that task easier by giving the Automower solar-powered robotic lawn mower. The Automower is able to trim a quarter of an acre with 10 hours of charging. It even has built-in technology to avoid flower beds and potted plants, plus a feature that prevents it from harming pets and kids. For those seeking a green lawn but who are also green minded, the 3,100 price tag is worthwhile.
Theres nothing wrong with a little bathroom remodel while indulging the one you love. The Jacuzzi La Scala Whirlpool tub is the ultimate in luxury and doesnt just appeal to the ladies. In addition to the silent air induction system, adjustable directional jets and underwater mood lighting, it also features a 43" flat-screen HDTV complete with a DVD and CD player, FM/AM radio, surround sound and a floating remote control. This is the ultimate addition to any master suite and can be purchased for about 34,000.
If theres a fitness fanatic in your life then youve got to check out the latest in home-gym technology. The Technogym Treadmill 700i isnt your average treadmill. Its got enough bells and whistles to keep you entertained even on the longest of runs. The 700i includes an iPod dock, touchscreen, television, radio, and software capable of automatically determining a workout regimen. The treadmill is pricey at 16,000, but its perfect for tackling those New Years resolutions.
Full Story >
How To Deal With Bad Neighbors When Selling Your Home
Listing your home for sale is often characterized by signing a few papers and putting a For Sale sign in the front yard. However, with increased competition and readily available resources online, selling your home has become more intricate. Homeowners are expected to stage the house, and make it more appealing to home buyers. Pricing and condition are key factors in selling your home, but theres one last factor that could influence a buyers decision: Your neighbors.
From run-down, shabby houses to unkempt yards that show a lack in maintenance, each neighbor can impact the sale of your home. From appearance alone, buyers can be put off from moving into your home because they dont want to be near your neighbors.
To avoid this bad impression, here are some ways of dealing with bad neighbors and the multitude of situations you could face:
Dealing with a Foreclosed Home
One of the most common issues when it comes to selling a home these days is dealing with a foreclosure in your neighborhood. Foreclosed homes are, unfortunately, a >
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with foreclosed homes in your area. The first thing you should do if you notice that the home is beginning to look run down is to contact the bank that owns it. Notify them that they need to maintain the property to at least some extent. If this does not do the trick, you may be able to get your city law enforcement to step in.
Dealing with Poorly Maintained Homes
Do you have a neighbor who simply does not know how to care for his or her own property? Perhaps the grass is always overgrown or the property simply looks run down. Regardless of the specific situation, there are steps that can be taken. If you know your neighbor well enough, you may consider offering to work with him or her when it comes to restoring the property. Of course, you will want to use some tact when bringing the subject up to your neighbor, to avoid insulting him or her.
If that does not work, then you may need to get the city involved. For example, there are likely ordinances in place that require lawns to be reasonably maintained. Failure to do so can result in fines, which is usually enough to persuade the homeowner to take better care of the property.
Dealing with Loud or Annoying Pets
If your neighbors have loud or intimidating pets such as large dogs, this can certainly be a turn-off to any prospective home buyer who comes to see your listing. If speaking with your neighbor about keeping the pets quiet or making sure they are kept on the property does not work, then you may have no choice but to call animal control as a means of resolving the problem.
Dealing with Bad Neighbors
Dealing with bad neighbors can be annoying, but it should not mean that you have to sacrifice the value of your home. Keep the above tips in mind and focus on successfully selling your home.
Full Story >
Fiduciary responsibilities vs. personal responsibility
One of the bedrocks of the real estate business is the concept of the real estate agent as a fiduciary for the client in the transaction. The Fiduciary duties of a Realtor are well defined on the About.com site. I like their little memory jogger OLD CAR. The duties that they outline are Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting and Reasonable Care. With the exception of having to qualify the first one as being obedient so long as what the client asks the agent to do is not illegal, most of the rest are fairly easy to understand. The last one Reasonable Care is perhaps the one that is most nebulously defined, mainly because it encompasses the concept that the licensed Realtor is supposed to know much more about the process and thus should be able to guide and advise the client on all aspects of the process.
Thats fair enough on the surface, but just below that surface is a conflict between fiduciary responsibility and personal responsibility. A real estate transaction is a big deal, likely the biggest deals that the clients will ever make in their personal lives. Yet I have had many clients tell me that they arent worrying about things like the documents that they must sign, because as they put it thats what I have you for. Thats a red flag to me that we need to have a discussion about my fiduciary responsibilities vs. the clients own personal responsibilities.
I certainly try my best to watch out for the interests of my clients, but I also tell them, Look, youre the one signing these documents and making this purchase, not me. Ill be looking them over too, but you need to read then and understand what you are signing. On rare occasion I might get a client who realizes later that he perhaps should have looked closer at what he/she was signing and will ask, How could you let me sign that? The normal answer is that I gave it to them to read over before signing and asked if they had any questions. Im careful to make sure that I explain that the documents involved are contracts and not just a bunch or words on paper. Contracts have consequences if they are broken
I believe in total transparency in my real estate dealings; so, there are no side emails or conversations between me and the other Realtor involved that are not shared with my client. Anything that I know, my client knows that is part of the Disclosure duty in my fiduciary role. I never answer on behalf of my clients. I confer with them and then transmit their answer. They may ask me for my opinion and I will freely share that with them; however, the decision is always theirs to make.
I have occasionally hit agents who make statements like, Im not going to let my clients do that. While I may express a strong reservation or provide additional information to help with a decision, I do not make that decision for them. Even first-time buyers should never be treated like children who cant make their own decisions. First-time buyers many times just need a more detailed explanation of the issues and the choices and potential consequences of each choice. I take the time to go over that with my clients. I suppose that falls generally under the Reasonable Care duty, but it is one that is often ignored, especially by seasoned agents who dont feel that they have the time to explain every decision. Instead they either make the decision for the client or cajole them into their own point of view.
But, back to the central point; no matter what type of client or agent is involved; it is ultimately the buyers and sellers who are signing all of the documents at closing they are responsible for their own actions. Having a fiduciary agent does not preempt or replace personal responsibility. An agent could be trying their absolute best to perform their fiduciary duties and still let something slip by them. If it ever came to it, a court might fault them for not catching the error, but it is unlikely to hold them legally responsible, unless evidence of gross negligence or obvious fraud or malfeasance is found.
Brokers and agents have Errors and Omissions insurance to cover inadvertent mistakes and part of the coverage provided by the Title Insurance also might come into play, if the error involves something that Title Company should have caught. If the agent was trying their best, they will have fulfilled their fiduciary duties. The buyer or seller must also have been fulfilling their duty to themselves of exercising good personal responsibility. Thats not what you had me there for.
Full Story >
2013 Strategies For Softer Housing Markets
Across the U.S., housing is currently at a five-month supply. Thats considered a healthy sellers market. But when supplies build to seven months or more, the advantage moves to the buyer.
If youre a seller in a market that was hot but now not, you may be wondering what went wrong. Should you pull your home out of the race? Not if you want to sell.
Markets are constantly in motion even when they appear to be resting. The retreat in sales volume or sales prices may be short or it can last for a long time.
Most factors that impact housing are out of your control. You cant influence mortgage interest rates or create jobs that bring down the unemployment rate. But there are things you can do to help your home sell in a softer market.
Ask your real estate agent to give you a market analysis that will help you understand three-month to six-month trends. Youll be better prepared if you know that it may take longer to find a buyer.
Compete on condition
The closer to move-in ready you can make your home, the better. Put your home in clean, white-glove condition and stage it attractively to show off its best features.
Plan for demanding buyers
Buyers may ask you to pay closing costs, or to provide a home warranty, or make other concessions. Your real estate agent should be able to tell you which incentives may work with your listing. So be prepared to leave the washer/dryer, stainless fridge or your favorite chandelier.
If you want a quick sale, price below current comparables. If you can afford to wait longer to sell, price at current comparables. Whatever you do, dont price above the market.
Expect low-ball offers
No matter what price you put on your home, you are bound to get ridiculously low offers. Thats the culture we live in. Encourage your agent to answer politely and to provide a copy of the comparables so the buyer can see youve priced to be competitive in the current market.
One thing you can count upon is that a softer market will get firmer. All it takes is home buyers willing to invest. By giving them a great home at a great price, youll make it easy for buyers to say yes.
Full Story >
Town Of Huntington Approves Tax Relief For Superstorm Sandy Damaged Property
Property owners in the Town of Huntington who were affected by Superstorm Sandy will be able to apply for a refund on part of their 2013 property taxes.The Town of Huntington voted unanimously on December 6 to grant tax assessment >
A refund for 2013 town taxes will range from 15 - 100 of a propertys improved value. The tax >
You must file a NY State and supplemental Town form by January 21, 2014, and provide specific documentation to receive a refund for 2013 town taxes.
You can also call the Town of Huntington Assessor Roger Ramme for more information at 631-351-3226.
Follow me onTwitter.
Subscribe to my ezineHolistic Realty News.
Set up by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in 2009, the Home Affordable Refinance Program HARP is a special program for homeowners who have negative or almost negative equity in their homes. The program helps them get their mortgages refinanced. When the prices and values of homes dropped drastically, the balances of existing mortgages became much higher than the value of the homes. Homeowners could not refinance mortgages because the ratio of the loan amount to the home value was over the 80 allotted by lenders.
The Home Affordable Refinance Program has two purposes. It provides a way for homeowners to refinance their mortgages when they have negative equity and cannot qualify for normal refinancing. It also allows the homeowners to qualify for the program without having to purchase mortgage insurance. When the program was first created, homeowners could only qualify if their existing mortgage was no more than 105 higher than the homes value. The limit was raised to 125 before the end of 2009. In 2011, the limit was removed completely for a period of 30 years.
In order to qualify for HARP, there are certain criteria that must be met. Most lenders follow the governments requirements as follows:
Before you contact your mortgage company to request refinancing under HARP, you should gather the documentation you will need. This documentation should include:
With this documentation available, you can contact your mortgage company and talk with a representative about the process of getting your mortgage refinanced under HARP. They will give you all their specific requirements and instructions for turning in all the verification documents that are needed. Make sure your loan company participates in the program, but any company that has loans that are owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae must be participants.
The Home Affordable Refinance Program is specifically designed to help homeowners who have reached negativity equity through no fault of their own. The whole basis of the program is to reduce payments or interest rates to bring the loan to value ratio down and make the mortgage affordable. It also helps reduce the term of mortgages, allowing them to be paid off much faster. With the help of the federal government, homeowners can now avoid foreclosure.