Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrate the USA…….

It is a little known fact that the American colonies separated legally from Great Britain on July 2,1776 and not on July 4th. It took two days for the Second Continental Congress to approve the Declaration of Independence during the American Revolution, hence our National Celebration “The 4th of July”.

In his letter dated July 3rd, 1776, John Adams, referring to the birth of our new nation, wrote to his wife Abigail “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the greatest anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward and forever more”.

Our superb experiment The United States of America is like none other in the history of mankind. Above all else, we have kept our promise to each other and to the world that we will preserve, protect and defend the basic right to live free from tyranny of any kind anywhere.
When we celebrate the history of our country, we remind the whole world that the right to live in freedom when threatened is worth any war that has ever been fought however dreadful the reality of the fight. The beacon of hope for which our Country stands continues to draw the world to our borders. As long as our collective view of the world remains steadfastly rooted in the spirit of the United States Constitution, we will right any wrong and overcome any challenge to our way of life.

If the Founding Fathers were observing the debates taking place between and among our political parties, economists and industries today, I suspect they might find that the more things change, the more things stay the same. We are all still “contributing” our ideas as we live in freedom under our precious Constitution. Some of our “ideas”, however, would have caused the Founding Fathers’ wigs to curl.

Centuries ago, there existed the “Debtors’ Prison” where those who could not pay their debts were sentenced. Not only was the debtor sent to jail, but he had to pay to be incarcerated. Imagine what our Founding Fathers would say about the “idea” that our lending institutions developed to create the tremendous debt under which we smother today.
During the housing and credit crisis of the past few years, Americans did not end up in Debtors’ Prison. They ended up in homes they could never afford and those lenders should now be in “Lenders’ Prison”.

The economic forecast for our Country is one of Recovery and it is on the horizon as evidenced in the most recent housing statistics today. Home sales are on the rise despite an inventory that remains high and home prices will likely begin to rise albeit ever so very slightly and over a prolonged slow period of time.

The sales of high end homes remain slow as the banks’ jumbo loan availability is significantly limited. The national inventory of homes priced at 750,000 and above now exceeds 40 months as compared with 18 months in 2007. Until the rates for these jumbo loans improve as well as the high end consumer confidence, high end properties will continue to remain on the market for longer periods of time.

Presently, about one in six homeowners owe the banks more than their homes are worth, but the economists report that most folks are current on their mortgages. The current unemployment rate is nearing 10% but the federal stimulus plan is intended to generate jobs before the end of 2009. It is still believed that unemployment will be high until 2013.
The rates will most likely remain low and the $8000 tax credit for 1st time homeowners will probably be extended beyond the 12/09 deadline.

Housing experts such as International Chairman and Co-founder of REMAX Dave Liniger, instruct that the health of the housing market is directly tied to 3 factors: affordability, interest rates and employment. He notes that there are “positive elements” in the 1st two factors, but that unemployment continues to be the “troubling wild card in the economic deck.” We will recover and we will learn from our mistakes.

Over two centuries ago on July 4th 1777, John Adams went out for a walk at night “for a little fresh air and exercise”. On the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he was stopped in his tracks. All around him he saw the “whole city lighting up their candles in the windows.” Although the new Americans lacked the technological means to communicate their universal joy, it nonetheless abounded through out every home on every street in all the states of the union.

We Americans will continue to light the candles that illuminate the purest way of life the world has ever known. It is precious. It is worth the struggle. It will always be a cause for immense celebration.

Is Real Estate For You?

Last week I sat with a group of 7th grade girls in Georgetown MA and I asked them what they thought they would like to be when they grew up. Among the future professionals were a lawyer, doctor, veterinarian, two singers, two artists, three fashion designers, a teacher and a whole lot of "don't knows". It occurred to me that in all my years of asking the same question of children, I had never heard any youngster say that he or she wanted to be a Realtor some day.

There are a plethora of TV shows depicting law enforcement. There are more medical shows than one viewer can ever see. Reality TV shows have saturated the networks and shows about the supernatural are on the rise. There are game shows, forensic detective shows, and anti-terrorist shows, but with the exception of real estate "tips" shows, there is no show that centers on the profession of the Realtor.

I think the- entertainment industry has a lot to learn about the heretofore untapped wealth of human interest stories that are; behind every door the Realtor opens.

In practice, real estate has far more to do with developing relationships than it has to do with structures, acreage or properties. Every - possible life event or set of circumstances that can happen to an individual or family has direct bearing on the Realtor who holds the key to the home and becomes a member of the family.

I suspect that most Realtors had little idea what the profession entailed until they began practicing. Even with my background as a nurse/attorney, I learned early on-that there is far more involved and required of the Realtor than bringing parties to the closing table.

The Realtor who is called to the home of an elderly seller whose spouse has just died has a lifetime of memories and minute to minute sadness to address beyond obtaining the square footage of the rooms. In addition, it may be most important to determine what support systems if any the distraught seller has to draw upon during such period of uncertainty.

Divorcing couples will often require the services of a Realtor in order to sell the marital home. These are generally not happy times for families engaged in the process of separation and it is not uncommon for the Realtor to be privy to emotions that range from sadness to rage. Moreover, the Realtor is often scrutinized by little eyes and ears whose lives are torn and it can be heart wrenching to be the subject of their gaze.

So multifaceted can the personal, practical and legal needs of the entire family be during such tumultuous times, that a new Divorce Certification Specialty has emerged within the profession. (The first and as far as is known only Divorce Certified Realtor in New England is located at this office. You may call for contact information.)

The Realtor who approaches the front door of the home he or she listed and finds the door unlocked or ajar has a judgment to make right there on the spot. We caution our Realtors to return to the car and telephone the police immediately for the safety of the Realtor as well as the protection and safety of the clients. There are too many stories of Realtors and or clients who have been the victims of violent crime while engaged in the practice of real estate. at other professional advertises the times, dates and address when the door will be open to a home? The professional Realtor is trained how to avoid and prepare for such circumstances.

On a lighter note, Realtors have opened bedroom closets and have come face to face with apparatus usually found in adults only locations. It has also been the case that the adults were found wearing the apparatus during a scheduled showing they "forgot about".

Sellers report the presence of ghosts to Realtors who would then require that flood lamps be provided for any after hours' showings.

When the seller neglects to secure the cage lid before leaving the home, the six foot boa is more than capable of greeting the Realtor and a prospective buyer at the front door.

Should your water; break during your visit to the Open House, the Realtor will time the contractions till the paramedics arrive.

I believe that one day I will ask the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and I will hear "I want: to be just like the Realtor who made a difference in the lives of my family and me."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How Can The Market “Come Back” If It Never Left?

This morning a young gas station attendant noticed the real estate signs in the back seat of my car. He was very excited as he said “The market is really coming back!” Although the market never left, I knew what he meant as a consumer who learns what he can from the news media. The market consists of a property, a seller, and a buyer period. Properties are bought and sold every day everywhere. Factors such as the economy, supply and demand may affect the market, but the market itself goes on like “Old Man River”.

One key point that appears to be misunderstood by many consumers is the fact that the increase in market activity does not mean increase in home prices. It means increase in the number of homes that are being sold now. Home prices will increase again, but those prices will not be increasing anytime soon. “Real Trends” ( is a resource upon which Wall Street and the Real Estate industry rely for accurate research data. The CEO is Steve Murray who found that the prices of 2005 will not be seen again until about 2020. “Standard and Poors” estimates that the price of a property purchased in 2003 has returned to about that same value right now in 2009.

During the height of the market in 2005, a listing Realtor could hang a Purchase and Sale contract out the car window and buyers would chase that car down the street in bidding wars to entice the seller to accept over-asking prices for the high priced properties. In the years that have followed that hay day, the inventory has increased with over priced properties that have languished on the declining market for longer periods of time. In addition, as a direct result of the irresponsible lending practices over the past several years, we have seen the tidal wave of short sales and foreclosures that have contributed to declining prices.

The pricing overall has been corrected and homes are more affordable now than ever. The very low interest rates and tax credits for first time homebuyers have enticed consumers to act now, hence the increasing market activity of homes being purchased.

If your present home no longer meets your needs, price it intelligently, not “hopefully” and it will sell to a buyer who will purchase it intelligently not “dopefully”. One of the most common concerns voiced by sellers is “I don’t want to give my house away and then have to pay too much for the house I buy.” The market exists and continues across the board. All home prices were high in the hot sellers’ market, and all prices began to fall in the buyers’ market. If you sell at a lower price than you had hoped for, know that the seller of the home you wish to purchase has had to do the same with you.

Another common concern voiced by sellers is “I don’t want to put my house on the market until I know which home I will be purchasing.” The key to a successful move is to focus on the sequence of events that must take place for the most successful outcome. Unless you are able to carry two mortgages until your home sells, you must sell your home before you can purchase another. Being on the market can be very stressful for a number of reasons, so here are some tips to navigate from one address to the other and minimize the stress. You must have a plan.
Put your property on the market and price it intelligently with your chosen trusted advisor.
Looking for the right home can be a full time job. Work with your trusted advisor to narrow your search and save countless hours.

Be sure you have an updated pre approval letter from your lender.
Have a contingency plan in place in the event that your home sells before you find your next one. (Selling your home is the biggest hurdle and it should be a cause for celebration, not concern.) Many folks can rent storage and stay with family. One other increasingly popular option for that “in between” time are short term rentals at major complexes and huge hotel townhouse accommodations for relatively affordable costs. These interim accommodation places are on the rise in response to the growing need of consumers. (Ask us here at the “Crossroads” about discounted rates that a major hotel chain offers to our clients who use our name).

Know that when you put the cart before the horse, you will inevitably walk into the house of your dreams only to find that it will be purchased by another buyer who took that leap of faith and got his property sold first. No seller wants to wait until you sell your property when there is a ready willing and able buyer standing next to you at the open house.

The market is not “coming back” because it never left in the first place. Take that intelligent leap of faith and know that every home sells at the right price and time without exception. Good luck and we’ll be here to take that leap with you!