Thursday, September 30, 2010


The fall market has kept many Realtors busy and there is plenty of inventory to keep buyers busy as well. Looking for just the right property can be a full time job for buyers whose busy lives leave limited time for their search. There are almost as many real estate sites as there are homes for sale and the process itself can be both confusing and overwhelming. What’s a buyer to do? Get yourself a professional Realtor to call your very own.
Realtors work with sellers when they list properties for sale and Realtors work with buyers who are looking to buy properties. Many buyers already understand the value and peace of mind that comes from working with one Realtor who knows what his/her client wants as well as he/she knows the market and how to find it.
Dan and Margo are renting presently and they spend every spare moment looking for just the right home to purchase. They are not working with a professional Realtor and they have not yet had a professional lender go over their finances in order to provide them with a pre approval letter that determines the price range that would work for them.
After months of driving through communities all over the North Shore and stopping in to countless open houses, they drove by the “house of their dreams” recently. It looked like everything they wanted. When they called the number on the sign they learned that the house was under agreement and scheduled to close the following week. Had they been working with a professional Realtor, they would most likely have known about the property as soon as it came on the market and they would not have lost the opportunity.
Ken and Carla’s home is scheduled to close. They have not yet found their next home. Although Carla thought it best to have a professional Realtor represent their interests on the buying end, Ken did not want to be “tied down” to working with one Realtor. Every Sunday Ken prepares a list of open houses from internet sites he has located. He and Carla pack up the children and drive from one open house to the next. Each time they enter an open house they are asked to sign the guest register. There is a section of the register where a guest can sign in his/her professional Realtor’s name instead of his/her own. Ken and Carla have no such professional representation. In a few weeks they and their children will have to be out of their home and they are scrambling to make last minute arrangements without the assistance of a professional Realtor.
Mark is a first time home buyer. Like many buyers, Mark does not understand the value of working with one professional Realtor whose fiduciary duty is to represent Mark’s interests from start to finish. Instead of choosing one professional Realtor to learn Mark’s exact needs, focus all attention and apply all skills to meet those needs, Mark converses with every Realtor he meets at open houses. He also calls Realtors whose numbers appear on the yard signs and he makes appointments with them to see the properties as he is entitled to do. The Realtors he calls are obliged to disclose to Mark that they represent the interests of the seller. Regardless, Mark engages in lengthy discussions without the benefit of a professional Realtor representing his interests. Mark does not understand that he has disclosed sensitive information about his circumstances that impact his ability to negotiate from a position of strength. The seller’s Realtor must act in the best interest of the seller and in the absence of a professional Realtor to represent Mark’s interests, the seller remains in a far better position.
Mike and Karin have sent out invitations to family, friends and to their professional Realtor for a housewarming party. They understood the value of working with one professional Realtor who understood exactly how to meet their needs. On the same day they closed on the home they sold, they also closed on the home of their dreams that they purchased with their professional Realtor’s constant representation and guidance. They never spent one dime out of pocket for that protection or representation and the transition was as stress less as possible.
“Realtor hopping” or “tail spinning shopping” is for the uninformed who continue to lose out on opportunities, and run amok through a market that can be unforgiving. Every one deserves the kind of experience that leads to a happy home, so choose an experienced Realtor, say a prayer to the real estate gods and off you go!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Always Thank a Marine

Several months ago I listed a property and was so moved by the owner’s personal story about her Dad that I wrote about it that week. For those readers who may have missed it, I’ll recap briefly because the story has evolved this week.
The owner had purchased the property some years earlier and had planned to have her Dad move in with the family. Her Dad had served in World War ll as a Navy Coxswain who delivered Marines in landing boats to the horrific battles off the Japanese held Saipan and Tinian Islands. His life long devotion to the Marines as a direct result of what he witnessed caused him to say to all who would listen “Always thank a Marine.”
Shortly before he was to join his daughter and family at the WW11 Memorial in Washington a few years back, he called his daughter to say that he would not be able to make the trip. He told them “If you see a Marine, thank him.” Within days he died. After his funeral, his heartbroken family made the trip to honor him and they made their way to the Tinian and Saipan section of the Memorial where they placed a 1941 photo of their young Navy Coxswain.
They saw an elderly man staring down at the photo. When he asked if the man in the photo was their Dad, they nodded and the old man’s eyes filled. The daughter asked “Did you know my Father?” The old man was surrounded by his own family when he answered “You never forget the face of your Coxswain.” The Coxswain’s daughter asked “Are you a Marine, sir?” When he nodded, she said “My Father said to thank you.”
In recent weeks, the property that is tastefully decorated with military and historic memorabilia (no doubt rooted in a daughter’s devotion) went under agreement.
As is the case with many sellers who have not yet found their next home, the seller began to experience the stress of that interim period between homes. Will the right home be found in time? The closing is approaching.
While I was on vacation, the colleague who was covering for me let her know of a property in another North Shore community. While that particular property was not quite right, she drove around the area and it began to “feel like home”. As she turned the corner, she saw the home of her dreams. It was just as she pictured. It was the perfect size. It was just the right style. The neighborhood was perfect. The yard was exactly what she wanted. It was just so quaint and cute. It was also under agreement with another buyer.
My client really began to feel that she would never find a property that felt so much like “home”. She drove to the property again and again just to see it while she begrudgingly continued her search for another property. Toward that end she reviewed dozens of properties and we walked out of several more that just did not feel like home.
I had spoken with the listing Realtor and asked that she keep me posted if the transaction should fall through. She agreed to do so but she added that everything looked like “a go”.
To respond to the growing need for interim housing, several large hotel chains offer programs that meet myriad needs of folks in like circumstances. Just as my client was considering such options, she had one of those “moments” that can only be understood by those who have had such a “moment”. She began reflecting on how she had planned to have her Dad live with her in the home she had purchased with him in mind and that was now about to be sold. While she was having such a “moment”, my phone was ringing several towns away. The listing Realtor was calling to inform me of a most surprising turn of events. The home of my client’s dreams was back on the market. This adorable home is now back under agreement with my client.
As happens in this world to believers of things beyond this world, it was my colleague who was covering for me while I was away who first directed my client to this area that became so special to her. My colleague is a Marine. Just as my client was signing the paperwork that would secure her new home for her, I felt a “strong urge”to make a call to my colleague. When he answered the phone, I handed it to her so she could “Thank the Marine”.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Because the housing recovery depends on the economy’s consistent adding of jobs, it remains unlikely that home prices will increase within the next several years. That said, what is a seller to do?
Generally, there are two reasons why a seller sells his/her home:
1. The seller is under duress due to financial or personal hardship.
2. The seller’s needs change and the low cost of re-buying makes good money sense in such a market.
Sellers who stay informed of the current market conditions are more likely to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. There are as many options available to homeowners as there are circumstances. Here are some thoughts to consider while contemplating the possible sale of your home:
1. You have lived in your home for many years. It no longer meets your needs. You have a good deal of equity in the home and if you sell, you will be buying another home that does meet your needs.
If you find yourself in this category, you are very lucky in deed. No matter what the market price is for your home, as long as you make a purchase in the same market, the “hit” will be across the board. Folks refer to this transaction as a “wash”.
2. Your home no longer meets your needs and although you can afford the mortgage you have little to no equity in the home. Contact a professional Realtor and a qualified lender for advice on how to move forward.
3. You can not afford to pay the mortgage and the bank is at the door. You may be eligible for a loan modification. (Be very careful with this one. Scams are widespread and one “red flag” to avoid according to Fox News Contributor Attorney Bob Massi is when any “promise” is made to reduce the principle. It is not done.). You may also be eligible for a short sale wherein the bank agrees to accept less than what is owed on the mortgage because the home is no longer worth the full amount. Contact a professional Realtor who is experienced in short sales.
4. Your home no longer meets your needs and you are considering putting it on the rental market rather than selling it in a buyer’s market. The key question with renting vs selling is “what is your motivation?” If you wish to rent it out now and sell it “when the market comes back”, the unknown is “when”. You will have to do the numbers that involve the carrying costs of the property through the years of uncertainty against the amount of rent that you would be able to receive to offset your debt. You may also wish to ask as many landlords as you can find about their experiences.
5.Your home no longer meets your needs but you think you should just tough it out until the market “comes back”. Once again, the key is “when” you can sell your home for an amount of money that is acceptable to you. Real Trends publisher Steve Murray, a well known economic authority on real estate trends reports that a home purchased in 2005 (the height of the market) will not be worth that purchase price again until approximately 2018. These figures are based on the long road back through joblessness and historic national debt that is increasing by the moment.

There are some truths that remain clear to those who practice in the Real Estate industry. Every home sells at the right price and time. Everybody needs a place to live. The buyers are buying and the banks are lending. The July/2010 report that showed homes sales at their lowest number in 15 years had more to do with the fact that the April tax credit deadline prompted buyers to act more quickly thus lowering their numbers for July.

What is a seller to do? Keep informed and do not be afraid of this market. It is the lack of understanding that may cost you dearly. Your professional Realtor is your best defense against jeopardizing your assets in a market that does not reward gamblers or lightweights. Good Luck!