Thursday, June 20, 2013
Is It A Good Time To Sell?
First, of course, we could note what others think. The recently-released May 2013 National Housing Survey by Fannie Mae showed that 40% of responders said that now is a good time to sell a home. That is up from only 16% in May of last year. At the same time, 76% of Fannie Mae's responders said that it is a good time to buy a home -- just a little more than the number of those who thought so last year. Redfin has surveyed real estate agents on the same issue. 82% said that now is a good time to sell, compared to 54% last year. On the other hand, Redfin found that only 57% of agents thought that now was a good time to buy, an 18% drop from last year.
It's interesting to know what others think, but we want to know what are the reasons for thinking one way or the other. We turn to those.
Probably the best reason for thinking that now is a good time to sell is because now is a good time to buy. "Wait a minute!", you say. "How can that be? Isn't it contradictory?" Well, no, it's not. Whether it is a good time to sell or a good time to buy isn't like a zero-sum game where what's good for one is necessarily not good for the other. Good conditions for buying can mean that there are more potential prospects to sell to. Moreover, just because the conditions for buying are good doesn't necessarily imply that prices must be low. Of course, if they are extremely high, then that won't be a good time to buy.
The low interest rates that have recently been available have done two things for sellers. They have created a larger pool of potential buyers and they also have made it possible for prices to rise without shutting out those buyers. This will not, however, last forever. Even now we see occasional headlines that say things like "interest rates recently roared back up to 4%". (Who ever would have thought that 4% would seem high?) While they currently seem to be in a floating back and forth mode, some day the Fed will reverse course and they will begin to rise.
A rise in interest rates clearly and dramatically affects prices. Suppose you had a $400,000 30-year loan at 3.75%. Your monthly payments would be $1,852. If interest rates rose to 4.75%, to maintain the same payment the loan would have to be $355,000. The drop in borrowing power brought on by a rise in interest rates can be expected to be reflected in pricing. No one anticipates that incomes are likely to rise with, and at the same pace, as interest rates.
Another reason to think that now is a good time to sell is because inventory is still low, meaning there's less competition. To be sure, inventory is creeping up in many markets, but it is still historically low (60% of the peak in 2007). Why is inventory so low? There are disparate reasons, but certainly one of them is the belief that prices will continue to rise. Some people want to wait for that to happen. It is not just owners who think prices will rise. According to the same Redfin survey, 44% of agents thought that prices will rise "a lot" in the next twelve months. Only 11% thought that last year.
Whether it is a good time to sell is always, ultimately, an individual question. What would be the reason for selling? Would it entail another purchase? Whether one is planning on moving on to a larger house or to a smaller one, one factor in answering the question will depend on whether or not that can be accomplished. Naturally, everyone wants to sell high and buy low; and, frequently we can look back and see when and where that might have happened. Timing the market, though, is no easy task and is usually more the result of serendipity than acumen.
Setting aside the financial crystal ball aspect, the question to ask is whether, in today's market, it will be possible to accomplish the next move if and when one sells at today's prices -- and one needs to be realistic about what today's price might be. Today, the question for many would-be sellers is simply a question of whether or not the low-inventory market offers a selection of acceptable replacement properties.
Of course not every sale implies a next purchase. There might already be a second home that one plans to move to; or there may be no desire to own again. If that's the situation, whether or not it is a good time to sell is an easier question to answer. You can ask, "What would make another time better?" And then ask yourself if that seems to be likely in the future.
So, is it a good time to sell? Sure. If it fits your situation.
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Activity Equals Results
I watched a video yesterday from Floyd where he shared some of his timeless truths about succeeding in real estate. What’s amazing is that, even in our swiftly evolving industry -- the same message would have been on point twenty years ago and will no doubt be just as timely twenty years from now. That message? Activity equals results.
Want to achieve more? Make more? Rise to the top of your field? Your company? Your market? Increase your ACTIVITY. Or as Floyd likes to say, "It's What You Do When You Don’t Have to That Will Determine What You'll Be When You Can No Longer Help It."
Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes as salespeople - well and as people - we make things way more difficult than they need to be. A really simple formula for success in real estate is to map out your time and commit to the activity that generates appointments. SEND. CALL. SEE. Get a list together. Build your database of sphere of influence members. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Acquaintances. People you do business with. Neighbors. Start there and stay in touch. Send them something month after month after month. Next get a geographic list of everyone in the market area you want to brand yourself in and do the same thing for them.
And here’s where the magic happens - don’t just SEND stuff. Call them. Connect. Reach out. Ask the question, "Do you have any questions?" Be the resource they need and want in a time where consumers have LOTS of questions regarding the value of their property, their buying power, investment opportunities, and what’s happening in their market. You’re not bothering people - you’re providing a SERVICE. "KEEP THAT THOUGHT," Floyd would say.
What can you SEND?
- Handwritten notes
- Something fun
- An email
- A message on social media
- An offer for an item of value
- A card
What can you SAY when you CALL?
- Hi! Just checking in on you! We’ve got a lot of activity in our market, and I thought you might have some questions - do you?
- Is there anything I can do to help you?
- I’m expanding my business and I could use your help…
- Have you thought about selling your house now or in the near future?
- Have you been receiving my information? Any questions
What do you do when you SEE them?
- Create opportunities for appointments
- Take someone to lunch
- Attend a neighborhood block party
- Organize a charity drive in the community
- Sponsor a free workshop and invite everyone to attend
- Get out there and be visible in the community you’re servicing
- Walk your farm and start making friends
Where can you get a geographic list?
We’ve got you covered there! Call our office at 866.405.3638 and we can walk you through how to order one specific to your needs.
When should you start? Again, as Floyd would say, "Well, when do you want to start getting results? Does today work?"
Watch Floyd’s video that sparked the conversation and have a fantastic (and ACTIVITY-DRIVEN) day:
Need help automating that activity and firing up your production? Call our team at 866.405.3638 or visit us at http://www.postcardsplus.com today. Want to learn more mad skills and training techniques from Floyd? Visit his site at: https://floydwickman.com and tell them Julie sent you! Have a great one!
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Ask The HOA Expert
Answer: Not all rules are created equal. As a practical matter, rules issues rarely get into court because of cost, time and emotional effort involved. But when a matter gets into court, anything can happen. So it's always in the board's best interest to enforce all rules consistently so it won't give the judge an excuse to rule against the HOA.
Question: Our board rescinded Robert's Rules of Order as their parliamentary procedure and adopted an abbreviated version of parliamentary procedure. The board figured the "skinny" version was sufficient and could be amended as needed. In reality, this was a ploy to prevent homeowners from questioning the board's decision making process.
Answer: As long as the procedure adopted conforms to the governing documents and state statute, an abbreviated version of Robert's Rules is appropriate as long as it does not stifle debate. The full body of Robert's Rules was intended for trained parliamentarians and large groups like Congress. Insisting that all of Robert's Rules be followed is nitpicking and would surely be used to intimidate the Chair on some issue of little importance.
If the board fails to enforce a particular rule like parking in driveways for an extended period of time or is extremely inconsistent about it, a violator might rightly protest being held accountable to that rule but not another rule. One problem is that different boards sometimes enforce rules differently. If a particular board feels strongly that enforcing a particular rule that has long gone unenforced is a good thing, the matter should be discussed, ideally, in the annual homeowner meeting and at minimum in a newsletter that clearly informs all owners of the issue and the board's intention to enforce it. Catching folks by surprise is bad policy.
On the other hand, if a rule hasn't been enforced consistently, maybe it isn't needed at all. It's okay to take it formally off the books. Don't just have rules for rules sake. There are enough to follow already.
Question: Behind one of our buildings, several owners are allowing their dogs to do their business without ever cleaning up. It is unsanitary and downright nasty. Letters have been sent o these owners without any resolution. What steps can the HOA take?
Answer: They have been warned. Have the mess cleaned up and bill them for the expense.
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Are You Really Ready for Home Ownership? 5 Signs It's Time
1.You Stick to a Budget
Financial experts will tell you that creating and sticking to a budget is a sign of financial maturity. With the over 1.5 million foreclosures in the United States, it's easy to understand why this is so important. If you have already created a budget and have stuck to it, you're more ready than the next guy to own your own home. When you follow a budget, you know exactly where your money is going each month. When you know where your money is going, you know whether or not you can afford a home of your own.
2.You Have a Down Payment
The old rule of thumb still stands: Enough money should be saved for a 20 percent down payment on a house. When you put 20 percent down on a home, you immediately have equity built into the property and you negate the necessity of private mortgage insurance. Even with a 20 percent down payment, you should still stay away from home's that are out of your realistic price range. If you've budgeted for a $150,000 house, having 20 percent to put down doesn't mean that you should look for an $180,000 home.
3.Your Income is Stable
Finding a stable job can be tough to do in today's economy, but if you have a stable source of income, you can feel relatively safe making an investment in a home. If you are reliably employed, don't forget to factor in any life-changes that may crop up in the near or distant future. Do you plan to go back to school? Are you going to start a family? Budget for the home you can afford five years from now, not the one you can afford today.
4.Your Credit Score is High
The higher your credit score, the better your interest rate will be. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to be accepted for a loan. If your credit is in excellent shape, you're ready to buy a home. If, on the other hand, your credit needs some work, whip it into shape before you being the home-buying process. Before you buy a house, your debts should be paid off, any collections accounts should be closed satisfactorily, and your credit score should be in the 700's.
5.You Have an Emergency Account
Did you know that you should have enough money in the bank to cover at least three month worth of debt? If you have an emergency account, you can feel safe buying a home. Add your estimated mortgage payment, estimated utilities, and any recurring debts that you have, and multiply that number by three. The resultant number is the amount that you should have stashed away in the case of job loss, illness or other financial emergency.
If you are thinking of buying a home, make sure that you are 100 percent ready. Re-read the tips above and, if they apply to you, the dream of owning your own home is within reach. If one or more doesn't apply to you, you have some work to do. Owning a home isn't a snap decision, it's a process. In the end, you'll be glad that you took your time and did it right.
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Agents: Three Ways to Connect Creatively
Author Robin Wright is an avid blogger. Interested in buying a new home? Look at more on minneapolis real estate.|
To do that? A little creative can go a long way.
1.Tap into our Fun Days Calendar. Every month we create a list of fun ways you can connect based on both traditional - and let's face it - a few wacky holidays. It's a terrific way to spark interest with your referral clients and create a buzz in your market! For example - March 8th is Popcorn Lover's Day. Our tip is to grab a box or two of those mini microwaveable bags and send or hand deliver to six of your favorite clients with a thank you. If they're really good clients - throw in a movie or a Red Box gift certificate too! It's those EXTRA MILE things we do that make people sit up, take notice and REMEMBER you in your market. Click here to see all of our fun tips!
2.Give people what they want (with personality!) People in your market area want hyper local information. What' happening at the schools, neighborhood events, new business information, grand openings, market stats. But you can share that in so many different ways and showcase yourself as the expert in the process. I know power teams that host a real estate Q & A once a month at the local Starbucks, and pass out newsletter type information and great advice. Other agents host workshops once a quarter on timely topics such as saving for a down payment, first time homeowners, foreclosure and short sales, etc. It shows they are the experts on all things real estate and they bring in new sphere of influence members every time! Click here to see some workshop ideas. (Scroll down to Goof Proof Tips for for Success.) Other agents who host charity events every quarter where they get the whole community involved - whether it's food drives for local shelters, coat drives for children's homes, Relays for Life and more - they show that they are right there as a team, eager to give back and making it easy for other people to do the same. That goes a long way. I know other agents who host movie night once a year and rent out a local theater and sponsor a movie for their top clients. Have fun with it! Click here to see some Customer Appreciate Party ideas.
3.Leverage technology. Are you using QR Code business cards? They're a great conversation starter (and a terrific way to instantly get your contact information in your customer's hands.) You can share with your customers how they too can use QR codes to make everyday life a little simpler. Check out http://redlaser.com/ - with its scanner, customers can not only get the information they need (like your name, number, listing information, website) but they can comparison shop prices for things they purchase every day, scan food products for allergen alerts, find local shops and more. People appreciate service professionals who are able to share not only in their OWN area of expertise - but also ones who can help them learn new ideas, insights and tools that can make their lives better! Check it out today. And if you need QR code business cards- give our team a call at 866.405.3638 and they'll hook you up!
Don't stop here! Infuse your everyday business life with some creative ideas that help you get NOTICED and stand out from your competition. Keep your eyes and ears open in your market and top agents online to see what is working for them, then model those ideas and creatively make them your own.
Need help? Call us today at 866.405.3638 to kick start your connections with some powerful direct response marketing tools! Have a great one!
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Owning a Home Makes Families Happier, Healthier
There are lots of reasons why Canada's homeownership rate is one of the highest in the world, at about 70 per cent. The best reason is because owning a home makes families happier and healthier and in most cases, more financially secure.
The latest research into the benefits of home ownership was recently completed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which worked with Habitat for Humanity to see how the lives of Habitat families changed after they purchased and moved into their homes.
Habitat for Humanity, formed in Canada in 1985, has 69 affiliates across Canada and has helped more than 2,200 low- and moderate-income families to buy a home. The homes are built with donated materials and volunteer labour. Habitat homeowners must agree to contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" towards the purchase of the home.
The houses have affordable, interest-free loans with no down payment. Monthly mortgage payments are based on 25 to 30 per cent of the owner's gross monthly household income.
The 2012 study asked Habitat families from across the country about how their lives have changed since moving into their homes.
Eighty-nine per cent said their family lives have improved since they moved, and 86 per cent said they are happier.
Eighty per cent of the families had school-age children. Most said the children had increased confidence, improved behaviour, higher grades and increased enjoyment of school since moving into the home. The children now participate more in activities outside of school including sports, music and arts and volunteering.
"A major finding from the survey was the improvement in children's school performance and well-being since moving into their Habitat home," says the survey. "To the extent that these improvements would not have occurred without moving into a Habitat home, this outcome would represent a major and long-term social benefit," the survey says.
More than three-quarters of those surveyed said their health was better than it had been in their previous housing. Most of them previously lived in rental housing and many said their former homes were overcrowded and needed repairs.
The homeowners reported fewer illnesses caused by colds, flu, allergies, asthma symptoms and stress. Thirty-one per cent said they visited the doctor less frequently now than before they moved into their new home, and about 25 per cent said they missed fewer days at work because of illness.
"Some homebuyers also commented that their previous housing had issues with mould, humidity and poor heating systems," says the report by project manager Judith Binder. "Research has shown that these factors contribute to specific health problems. Therefore, some of the health outcomes reported are likely related to the better condition of Habitat homes."
Fifty-eight per cent of the homeowners said they are better off financially now than before they moved, even though the majority say that their overall housing costs have increased. Only 12.5 per cent said they are "worse off" than previously. Almost half said they had more control over their finances now, and that they no longer had to worry about unpredictable rent increases. More than 62 per cent said they were now building equity in their homes, citing this as a major benefit of homeownership.
Asked to assess the benefits and disadvantages of buying their new home, the homeowners ranked "ability to make it on your own", a sense of stability and having a home in better condition as the top features. Being able to build equity, having more room and having a backyard were also top vote-getters.
The most-mentioned disadvantage, which was mentioned by 28 per cent of the homebuyers, is the responsibility for maintenance of the home. Nineteen per cent say the responsibility for buying property insurance and paying property taxes is a disadvantage.
"Cramped quarters, unhealthy environments, unsafe neighbourhoods – low-income Canadian families often face challenges in obtaining housing that meets their needs," says Kevin Marshman, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada. "The families who partner with Habitat are able to remove themselves from these difficult situations, build equity for their futures and begin living healthier, happier and more productive lives."
The CMHC study's conclusions coincide with a recent publication by the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors (NAR). Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, says, "There is evidence from numerous studies that attest to the benefits (of homeownership) accruing to many segments of society. Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency."
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What's Your Pinnum? New Safety Tool For Agents
You set the groceries down, call out the names of your family, and take a quick look around. Then you check your cell.
With the Pinnum phone app, you’ve got GPS meets social media. You can see exactly where everyone in your household is – your wife is on the freeway, your son is at the ballfield and your daughter is at the next door neighbor’s.
You send each of them a quick text - "steaks on the grill in 30!"
The responses come fast. "Mom’s picking me up in 10." "Can Emily come 2?" And from your wife -"My hero!"
Gathering the troops is only one of many uses for the new Pinnum app, which is free to end users like project manager Mario Moraila.
"It takes away a lot of the anxiety over being a single parent," said Moraila. "I’m often gone overnight. I can see what my son Christian is doing and – just as important – he can see what I’m doing."
That’s how Moraila sold the idea of using the GPS-based app to his son. It’s not Big Brother – it’s about staying connected, feeling loved and being safe. If you don’t want to be tracked, simply turn on the "stealth" feature and you’re off the grid.
Moraila and Christian have used the app for over eight months. They enjoy creating groups to follow just like social media, and refreshing the screen to see where friends and family are and what they’re doing next.
And, suggests Moraila, the app is also a lifesaver in an emergency.
"We had a scare at Christian’s school one day. Someone had something in their backpack and the school called the parents," recalls Moraila. "I was able to go on Pinnum and pinpoint the classroom where he was and I knew he was all right."
Pinnum is also a great safety tool for women, suggests real estate broker Debbie Ferrari."
"I have 25 agents, nearly all of whom are women," said Ferrari. "I’ve always cautioned them about going out and meeting people they don’t know. If they’re on Pinnum and showing properties, we can track them down. What if they can’t make a phone call? It’s a safety apparatus. And if they don’t want the office to know where they are, they can put their phones on Stealth."
Ferrari’s husband Bill Koelzer added, "The business has changed. It used to be early evenings and weekends. Now you may show property at any time. If your wife is a Realtor and there is any deviation of where she said she was going to be and you can’t reach her by phone, I’d alert the police. You can send her location to the police and they can check it out quickly."
You can think of hundreds of examples from the news where the Pinnum app could have been a lifesaver.
"If those kids who got lost in the mountains for days had Pinnum, they would have been rescued before sundown," said Pinnum founder John Giaimo. "There’s terrific potential for police, forest rangers and firefighters to save lives."
What about ordinary flat tires and car breakdowns? You can quickly call for help and send a screenshot of your Pinnum location to emergency services. And if your phone goes dead, someone you know has probably sent your Pinnum to the appropriate authorities.
But hey, you don’t have to use Pinnum just for emergencies. It’s great for business, too.
Suggested Giaimo, "Businesses can see the movement of their drivers, field staff or equipment. Another great use for pinnum is the "Group" function which allows for Public or Private group notification, messaging and mapping."
"We have meetings frequently," said Koelzer. "Sometimes our agents are late, and you can check where everybody is and whether to wait a few minutes or get started."
It’s a great app for locating and communicating with people you know. Create groups - coaches and players so you can find the right field quickly. Friends - find the new restaurant downtown without getting lost on one-way streets.
And it’s free. Visit www.pinnum.com.
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Who Is Responsible When Your Tree Falls?
Who is responsible if your neightor’s tree falls on your property? The general rule is that unless the neighbor knew - or should have known - that his tree was unsafe - even if it caused damage to person or your property, he is not responsible. Our courts follow the old common law: it’s your property, so take care of it, unless you can prove your neighbor was negligent.
The legal answer to this is quite simple; however, the interpretation and implementation of the law is rather complex.
How do you prove that your neighbor’s tree was unsafe and that your neighbor was negligent in not assuring that the tree would not fall? What constitutes negligence?
The answer depends on all of the facts. Did your neighbor have any knowledge that the tree was a potential hazard? Should the tree owner have been on notice of a problem because the tree was not showing leaves but only bare limbs?
Did you complain about the safety of the tree, and yet he took no action?
Here we have to look to specific cases. Take the leading case in the District of Columbia (Dudley v Meadowbrook, 1961). The Defendant’s tree fell onto the Plaintiff’s property, and damaged a garage. The evidence indicated that there was no strong wind blowing when the tree fell. The Court wrote that "a healthy tree does not ordinarily fall of its own weight without some exterior force being directed against it. Though some evidence indicated that the tree looked sound, it was in fact full of decay. At least 13 years earlier it had been subjected to surgery and a large area filled with concrete."
In conclusion, the Court suggested that a land owner has a duty to periodically inspect the trees on his property or at least have them examined by an expert to determine whether they are safe to continue to stand.
In order for negligence to be found, the Plaintiff (the injured neighbor) would have to file suit against the tree owner. Most cases are not clear cut; they require extensive background research, expert testimony and a potentially lengthy trial. This is both time consuming and expensive for a Plaintiff. And it should be pointed out that our legal system has adopted what is known as the "American Rule of Legal Fees". In the absence of a written contract or a statute authorizing attorneys fees, each side pays their own attorneys fees.
And even if a lawsuit is brought, the tree owner can raise the defense that an "Act of God" (or in this case an Act of Derecho) caused the tree damage. If the tree owner was on notice before the storm that the tree was likely to fall down, this defense may not be accepted by a Court of Law. But it nevertheless is a legal defense which every defendant will raise when sued.
There is yet another defense, namely "contributory negligence". The general rule throughout the United States is that if a tree limb or a tree root protrudes on a neighbor’s property, that neighbor has the right to exercise self-help -- i.e. the offending root or limb can be cut off.
Some Court cases have determined that the tree owner was not liable, since the neighbor -- who knew that the tree was dangerous -- did not exercise this self-help. In other words, the neighbor’s own negligence defeated his claim against the tree owner.
What if your tree falls on a public roadway? According to a recent Supreme Court case in Virginia, a landowner does not have a duty to inspect and cut down sickly trees that have the possibility of falling on a public roadway and inflicting injury. This is the duty of the local government to periodically inspect to assure the safety of the public. This is also the law in the District of Columbia, where the high court here made it clear that government must exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of well traveled thoroughfares.
What is the role of your insurance policy? Homeowners should carefully review their home owner’s insurance policy -- often called the "hazard policy". Many policies are now written in relatively simple English, so you should be able to understand what position your insurance carrier will take should you decide to file a claim. In most cases, your carrier will reimburse you for any damage caused to your property when a tree falls, subject of course to the level of your deductible. If, however , no damage resulted, there will be no insurance coverage and you have to bear the cost to remove the tree.
And according to Robin Manougian, an insurance agent in Silver Spring, Maryland, "should a live tree be struck by lightening - which is a covered peril in the policy - the insurance would pay for the tree up to the policy dollar limits, but generally not for the removal of the tree."
But, do you really want to file a claim against your insurance policy?
We have all heard stories that the carrier -- when faced with a claim -- will either significantly increase the next years premium or decide not to renew the policy.
Thus, if your damage is minimal, give serious thought to picking up the cost yourself. Let’s say you have $4000 in damage and your deductible is $2,000. If you file a claim, and you can produce proper evidence that the repair cost is really $4000, you will receive $2,000 from your carrier. But is this money worth facing possible non-renewal (or an increased insurance premium) next year?
If there is damage to your property, talk with your insurance agent, but make sure that he/she understands you are only seeking information and advice -- and are not yet ready to formally file your claim.
There is a long -- often convoluted and contradictory -- legal history relating to the development of "tree law". Our legal system is predicated on what we refer to as the "Common Law" -- the laws which came over from England before the founding of our nation. Under the common law, the land owner owed no duty to those outside his property to correct natural conditions on the property -- even though those conditions might present a hazard to outsiders. My home was my castle and I was master of that property.
But as our nation grew from a rural to an urban environment, this common law rule began to lose its impact. Houses were next door to each other, and homeowners had to be concerned about injuring or damaging their neighbor -- or their neighbor’s property.
Accordingly, Judges faced with such tree-falling cases began to carve out exceptions to the common law. Some Courts held that a falling tree was a trespass; others held that such a tree was a nuisance. Both theories evolved into the current rule of law, namely that the tree owner is only responsible if that owner was negligent.
The clear moral to this legal history is that litigation may not be the best approach. If your neighbor’s tree falls onto your property -- whether or not it causes damage -- you should talk to your neighbor and propose that you share in the cost of removal and repair. Clearly, this is probably the least expensive way to resolve your issues, and you also can avoid filing that claim against your insurance carrier.
How do tree owners protect themselves to avoid the allegation of negligence? One safe harbor is to have your trees periodically inspected by a certified arborist, and get a written report stating that the trees are healthy.
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Why Do-It-Yourself Real Estate Isn't Wise
There are a number of reasons why some DIY projects turn into a nightmare that results in more time, energy, and money spent trying to clean up the mess than if you'd hired a professional in the first place. As a business owner of a video production company, I've seen this happen too many times. Professionals who work in specialized fields are used to doing their jobs. They can create a video, for instance, quickly and efficiently whereas a novice might take months to get it done and then it looks like amateur work. That can mean lost time, money, and, in the end, the main gain is tons of frustration.
This same idea is why DIY real estate isn't likely to be a wise choice for most people. Shopping for a home or selling a home requires a good amount of knowledge about the industry, the neighborhood, marketing, negotiation, home staging, and more. Most consumers simply don't have all those skills and when it comes to buying or selling their own home, whatever skills they have can be compromised because personal emotions get involved.
A common mistake DIY (or for-sale-by-owners) sellers make is pricing their homes too high. Often sellers look at how much they owe on their homes and try to work backward from there to determine a price. The problem with that is, the buyer isn't concerned with how much the seller owes. The buyer is comparing the home to those in the neighborhood. But often cash-strapped sellers are looking to make a bit more so they may try to push the price higher in hopes of creating more cash flow.
Listing a home for more than its competitive value can prove to be very unsuccessful. A lot of times, an overpriced home will get very few showings. The longer it sits on the market, the more "stale" it gets. When buyers and their agents see this, they often know to play the waiting game and let the humble fall begin for the seller. Eventually, there will be price reductions. How quickly this happens will depend on how motivated the seller is to close on the home.
Another reason hiring a professional real estate agent to handle your real estate transactions is smart is that it gives you an ally and someone to answer your questions. These days, real estate paperwork is getting more complicated and plentiful. When you attempt to go it alone, you're taking on a lot of responsibility and risking making some very big and potentially costly mistakes.
I always recommend getting a firm understanding and education about any project you're working on even if experts are hired. For instance, I had a water pressure plumbing issue recently and learned that even our own city officials didn't completely understand the plumbing solution that was needed. By talking with experts and doing some research, I may have saved myself from some even bigger plumbing issues down the road. But I didn't tackle this problem alone... I hired experts who had the job done in a few hours. The difference was not only receiving peace of mind but also quality care and expertise. A home is a major purchase/sale. Choose wisely how you proceed through the transaction.
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Building Your 30-Second Elevator Speech
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The Bank has Threatened Foreclosure on My Home - Now What Do I Do?
The very last thing you needed at this point in time was for the bank to start harassing you, demanding immediate mortgage payment and threatening you with foreclosure. As if you did not have enough to deal with already! You are late with your car payments and repossession could happen any day now, not to mention the never-ending calls from collection agencies demanding money that you don't have. What can you do?
I want you to realize that you are not alone; in fact foreclosures are a major challenge for thousands of families across the United States and Canada. I know that having this piece of important information does not help you solve your problem, but understand that others are experiencing similar financial struggles.
First of all, you must keep cool, stay calm and avoid panicking - especially in front of your family. You need to maintain a level head in order to survive this ordeal. I know that your current emotional state is unbalanced at this moment and the constant calls and letters from the collection agencies are not helping to improve your state of mind. You must take charge of the situation! Do not allow your spouse and/or children to see you afraid or in a panic mode; instead, encourage them with the assurance, "We will make it through. I'm not yet sure how, but I know that everything is going to be ok."
Secondly, realize that you can't afford to sit and do nothing. The bank can and will take away your home if you do not take some sort of action. Apart from harassing you to tears until you make up your late payments, foreclosure is the only legal tool that the bank has at its disposal to recover its losses.
The worst thing that you can possibly do is to ignore your problem. We sometimes mistakenly believe that 'to do nothing' is to postpone a decision, when in actuality 'to do nothing' is to make a choice by default. You literally cannot afford to make the same mistake that thousands of people have already made. The consequence of doing nothing affects not only your finances but also your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The truth is that
your situation will not improve and go away on its own. The bank can and will repossess your home if you do not take the appropriate actions.
Another obstacle in the foreclosure process is the lack of reliable information available. The majority of books and general postings on the internet are on "how to take advantage of great foreclosure deals." They want to exploit your current financial situation for their own gain. There is very little information out there that helps the struggling homeowner avoid going into foreclosure. It seems that everyone is out to get you: the bank, the collection agencies, and now, the real estate investors.
There are a few things that you can do to improve your situation:
First, take an inventory and figure out exactly where you are in the foreclosure process.
Once you have received the "Petition to Foreclose" letter from the court, respond within the allotted time (in most cases it is 21 days). The foreclosure process is time sensitive and varies in every state in the USA and in every province in Canada. If you fail to respond, you will forfeit your rights as a homeowner and you will be unable to defend yourself in a court of law. The foreclosure process will continue without you. Therefore, you will lose your right to defend your interest in your home.
Seek legal advice. You may feel that you can't afford it, but the reality is that you cannot afford not to get legal advice. It is extremely important that you do so as soon as you possibly can. Since the real estate laws vary in every state and/or province, and you need to know how to protect yourself within the court system, you must gain knowledge of your rights and obligations specified under the law as a homeowner.
Share your financial situation with family and friends. No one likes to talk about finances or the lack of them, especially when their finances are not good. We pretend that our finances are in good standing and we hide the truth from our loved ones and pretend that everything is fine until it is too late. When a foreclosure order has been granted to the bank, a bailiff will come to your house and remove you, your family and all of your possessions from your home. Understand that there is nothing to gain by hiding the truth. I am sure that there are people in your life who care about you, and if you open up to them about the truth of your financial situation they will be able and willing to help you. Believe me, there is less shame in telling friends and family members that you are struggling financially than to have to tell them later that you have lost your home in a foreclosure.
And above all, please remember that everything is going to be ok.
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Household Pests Can Cost More Than Pest Control
An adult flea can bite up to 400 times a day.
Cockroaches can live for weeks without a head.
A queen termite can lay 1,000 eggs a day.
|Joaquin Benitez personally experienced foreclosure and is the author of the new book, The Foreclosure Phenomenon: How to Defend Your Home from an Impending Foreclosure, available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.|
Got the willies yet?
Household pests can do a lot worse.
According to Lucy O’Neill, a columnist for the Improvement Center, household pests are everywhere and some can be dangerous.
Home remedies may work for some, but you may need a professional for others.
Sure pest control can cost, but pests can become even more expensive if they spend too much time visiting and damaging your home.
The Improvement Center’s infographic below takes a look at some common pests and explains why you need to evict them for good.
Mouse over the image and click to enlarge.
Courtesy of: ImprovementCenter.com
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New Builder Campaign Should Boost Cobroker Sales
A DeadlineNews.Com Silicon Valley Contributing Writer, with a penchant for the quick, story-telling capability of infographics, Mark K. Hicks is broker/owner of The Seabrooke Group in San Jose, CA. Hicks, who takes a "client for life" approach to business, has more than 20 years real estate experience, including creative financing, foreclosure acquisition, probate sales and tax-deferred exchanges. Network with Hicks on LinkedIn.|
A multimillion dollar internet marketing campaign is now underway called Start Fresh. Buy New, and its sole purpose is to win the hearts, minds, and buying decision of the 35% of the new homes shoppers considered to be in the 'indifferent' segment. They will buy new or resale.
None other than Builder Homesite, Inc (BHI), the consortium of 32 of largest production homebuilders in the United States is behind this internet campaign and it is powerful.
BDX, the interactive division of BHI, said this in its June 4 blog:
"BDX is promoting the site through over 37 million advertisement impressions each week and reaching nearly 50% of new home shoppers. With over 50,000 weekly visits to the "Start Fresh. Buy New." website, potential home buyers are now equipped with the knowledge of what attributes really make a new home more desirable than a used one."
According to BDX, "the campaign highlights the numerous advantages of buying a new construction vs. a "used" (i.e. existing) home. StartFreshBuyNew.com includes educational facts, useful features such as a Cost Savings Calculator as well as intriguing diagrams on how energy efficient appliances and features operate.
"While the site is informative and has already been nominated for design awards, "Start Fresh. Buy New." also boasts some impressive results which prove visitor interest in new homes.
"The campaign is driving over 10,000 visits per month to NewHomeSource.com, a site that connects new home buyers with builders. In fact, new home searchers who spend time on the "Start Fresh. Buy New." site are converting to leads on NewHomeSource.com at a rate of 40% higher than the site's average visitor.
"With research predicting the demand for new homes to grow to nearly 1.2 million each year, the market is clearly rebounding and will benefit from this focus on new home buyer education", so says BDX.
BHI did its homework, via a first of its kind market study to determine who buys what kind of home , new or 'used', and why. During their research they discovered that 35% of home shoppers are 'indifferent' meaning the will purchase new or existing if they can get what they want.
This is an interesting find for general real estate agents, because it says that if the agent is not qualifying the buyers for new homes, they could be missing sales, a lot of sales.
BHI is out to convince 35% that they should purchase a new home, because the study helped BHI come to understand that existing homes is their competition, not the builder down the street.
The study showed that 84% of all homebuyers will contact a Realtor for help. So it doesn't matter who generates the interest in resale or new. Realtors are going to get their share. In this case, however, part of the share will be asking to see new homes because they saw the benefits of new vs. used through the campaign.
That's where the good news about the Start Fresh. Buy New campaign comes in for real estate agents and why we said at the top it could be time to revisit your new homes cobroker skills and feelings about showing new homes. Whether you show new homes or not, may not be your call, thanks to the Start Fresh. Buy now campaign.
BHI is spending millions to convince home buyers to buy a new home instead of 'used' one. You might think that this will drive more prospects directly to a new homes builder. Not so fast.
The campaign will increase the thirst to see new homes, but they will still seek out a Realtor to help them see it. Does this bother BHI? Not at all. In fact, they just completed an unreleased market study to determine what Realtors think about selling new homes and why.
According to a National Association of Realtors study, Realtors cobrokered 63 percent of all new homes sold in 2012. This an even more amazing number when one realizes that general agents are not trained or for the most part encouraged to show new homes. One reason cobrokering is so important to homebuilders, and it is a big one, is that the broker is delivering ready, willing and able prospects to the builder's front door.
So here where this leaves you, the real estate agent. Based on this campaign you can:
Expect to have more prospects wanting to 'see some new homes' as well as resales. You need to qualify every prospective buyer for a 'new' home.
Expect more of your prospects to have previously registered with a builder before they met you. Know how to deal with this issue. It is not as serious as it sounds.
Expect to get that Monday morning call about how much your prospects appreciate the last two weeks you spent with them looking at resales, but they fell in love with a new home over the weekend and bought one, without you. But wait, maybe you don't get the call, if you qualify and show new homes upfront, right?
The least you can do is check out what the Start Fresh. Buy New campaign is saying and offering. Then do as the song says. "Get ready."
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Mortgage Rates to Remain Volatile Until Feds Meeting
According to the most recent survey of wholesale and direct lenders performed by FreeRateUpdate.com, current conforming 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.500%, 15 year fixed mortgage interest rates are as low as 2.500% and 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.250%. Low rates require that borrowers have good credit and qualifications that meet lender guidelines. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, mortgage applications decreased 11.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending May 31st.
The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index dropped by 2%. With news of rates possibly on the rise, the Refinance Index fell 15% and reached the lowest level since the end of November 2011. The refinance share of total applications fell to 68% and was at the lowest level since July 2011. HARP loan activity remains stable and unchanged at 32%. HARP refinances are for underwater mortgages that were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. The HARP program runs until the end of 2015.
FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.250%, FHA 15 year fixed rates are as low as 2.750% and FHA 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.750%. Even though FHA has gone through guideline changes, home buyers will continue to use them because of the numerous benefits they offer, including accepting lower credit scores than conventional mortgages. FHA closing costs (APR) are high because of the upfront mortgage insurance premium and other FHA fees, but seller concessions up to 6% can still be used for this purpose. With the FHA streamline refinance program, homeowners can move to a better mortgage without the need of an appraisal, a credit history or other documentation. Borrowers who have loans that were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009 can use the streamline program and will receive reduced upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums. This offer is available until the end of 2013.
Jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates are as low as 3.625%, jumbo 15 year fixed rates are as low as 3.000% and jumbo 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates are as low as 2.500%. Obtaining low jumbo rates requires that borrowers have excellent credit and substantial qualifications. These loans require substantial documentation and, very often, two appraisals due to the high cost of the property. While jumbo loans may be more difficult to obtain as compared to conventional loans, there are more lenders available which has increased competition. Borrowers who need jumbo loans must do their homework ahead of time in order to obtain the best loan and rates available.
MBS prices (mortgage backed securities) continued to be volatile over the past week. Mortgage rates move in the opposite direction of MBS prices. The April trade deficit rose to $40 billion which was below what was expected. The ADP forecast for May for private sector jobs was at 135,000 which was well below forecast of 170,000. Jobless claims dropped to 346,000 which was slightly below consensus.
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HOA Advice: Stay Ahead of the Curve
Painting is one of the largest elements of routine common area maintenance for many HOAs. Poorly maintained paint will fail prematurely. Touchup should be done annually. Wood trim should be painted every 3-4 years. The complete painting of buildings should be done every 6-8 years.
Drainage. Rain gutters are an important component which need twice annual cleaning (more often where there is heavy tree coverage) to help insure proper water run-off. Clogged and overflowing gutters cause premature trim and siding rot.
Light fixtures and poles need to be serviced regularly. Salt air, in particular, can rapidly deteriorate and short-circuit light fixtures.
Concrete sidewalks and slabs need to be inspected annually for cracks and raised areas, as well as degradation of the surface. Raised areas create a trip hazard which can be corrected by grinding or removal and replacement.
Asphalt needs to be repaired and seal coated every 3-5 years to properly protect it so it will achieve its maximum useful life of 25-30 years.
Roofs need to be part of a Spring and Fall maintenance plan. They need to be inspected, repaired and cleaned by a qualified roofing maintenance contractor.
Roof Gutters & Downspouts should be cleaned at least twice a year, more often in "hotspots". Failure to do this causes backups and overflow that damages paint, siding and landscaping.
Recreation Areas. Playground equipment should be inspected and maintained to ensure child safety.
Directional Signage should be in good repair and easily readable in order to assist emergency response services like police, fire and pizza delivery (joke). Directories with name and addresses also facilitate emergency response. The directory should be regularly updated for accuracy.
Reserve Study. This is a 30 year plan to manage and fund (usually) large projects. A Reserve Study will help the board to schedule, budget and properly maintain the common elements. It is highly recommended that the study be done and updated by experienced professionals like PRA (Professional Reserve Analysts) members of the Association of Professional Analysts. See www.apra-usa.com for a directory PRA members.
Use these hints to help craft your own Preventive Maintenance Plan. Deferring maintenance is a sucker bet that will come back to bite. Stay ahead of the game.
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Reverse Lead Calculator - Determine Your Lead Generation Needs
Virtually every real estate professional has some idea of how much commission income they would like to earn annually. Unfortunately, few Realtors® know exactly how many leads they need to generate in order to actually attain their desired income levels.
Market Leader has developed the Reverse Lead Calculator to help real estate professionals determine their lead generation needs. By using insights from a 2012 Hebert Research study, this lead calculator can tell you exactly what mix of online leads you need to generate every month - from sources as diverse as Craigslist and social media - to earn your desired commission income.
The Reverse Lead Calculator does more than spit out numbers. Unlike other lead calculators, it shows real estate professionals how far they are from their income goals and then gives marching orders on how many leads they need to generate, by type, to reach those goals. No malarkey - just instantaneous, easy to understand advice on how to run your business!
How to Use the Reverse Lead Calculator
Market Leader’s Reverse Lead Calculator requires real estate professionals to enter six numbers representing everything from the amount of leads they generate every month to their average lead close rate. This section will walk you through each of these numbers.
The first and arguably most important number you will enter into the Reverse Lead Calculator is the amount of money you want to make in commissions every year. The average U.S. real estate agent earns between $34,000 and $45,000 annually, but web-savvy Realtors® can reasonably expect to earn much more.
Enter the amount of leads you currently generate into the second textbox. This number provides the calculator with information on how far you are from your commission income goal. The Reverse Lead Calculator will give you lead generation recommendations based on this figure, so be as accurate as possible!
Next, enter the number of leads you are nurturing and have stored in your database. If you do not know how many leads you have in your database, or do not have a lead database at all, please note that even agents who want to earn modest incomes need to generate dozens of leads every month. Without a proper database or relationship management software, it is next to impossible to track all the leads that come your way.
The higher the price of homes in your area, the more commission income you will earn per transaction. A real estate professional only needs to sell four million-dollar homes to earn $100,000 a year! Enter your area’s average home price into the calculator’s fourth textbox. If you are unsure about listing prices in your area, check the "Local Info" section of RealEstate.com.
The fifth number found on the lead calculator is the average commission percentage you earn for every transaction you close. Most agents earn a 3 percent commission for every home they sell.
The final textbox addresses the rate at which you are able to close deals with the leads you generate. Regardless of how accurate you find the default close rate, the implications of this low percentage remain the same: You will not be able to close the vast majority of leads you generate! This fact underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy pipeline of leads; the more leads you are nurturing, the more likely you will meet your gross commission income goals.
Once you have entered these six numbers, click on the blue "Calculate" button and your results will appear below it.
Don’t be alarmed by the volume of leads you need to generate in order to meet your gross commission income goal. Thanks to the rising popularity of the Internet and recovering U.S. housing market, online lead generation opportunities abound. If you would like to learn how you can generate the additional leads you need to meet your income goal, fill out the blue box on the right hand side of the Reverse Lead Calculator page. Clicking on "Check Availability" will send your information to a Market Leader account representative who can teach you how to generate leads online or sign you up for one of our many educational webinars on this subject.
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California Legislators Hold Distressed Homeonwers Hostage To a Hike In Recording Feeds
Generally, California tax law conforms to Federal tax law. That is, the numbers may differ, as in different tax rates, but the structure of the two laws are generally the same. Thus it was that California tax law conformed to the Federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. This was the law that spared distressed homeowners from having to pay tax on the “phantom income” which represented debt that was cancelled in a short sale.
The Federal law originally extended from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009. The California law covered the same period. When the Federal law was extended to January 1, 2013, California did likewise. But when Federal law extended again to January 1, 2014, California didn’t get around to doing the same. So, in the current legislative session, CAR sponsored a bill to conform, retroactively, to the Federal extension. The legislation (Senate Bill 30) didn’t appear to be a problem. It was not the kind of bill that many legislators are likely to oppose.
In this same legislative session, though, another bill has been introduced which CAR opposes. That bill, SB 391, is a proposal to impose a $75 recording fee on all real estate documents except those recorded in the course of a standard sale that is subject to a documentary transfer tax.
We are not talking about a small number of recordings. The proposed fee would apply to such documents as a quit claim deed, a lot line adjustment, a homestead declaration, or refinance documents. The bill, if passed, is estimated to pull in from $300 million in a slow real estate year to $720 million in an active one.
Funds raised from the passage of SB 391 would be directed to various affordable housing projects administered by the department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
Certainly, CAR is not opposed to affordable housing. CAR established the non-profit Housing Affordability Fund in 2002. Over the years it has provided financial support to scores of programs initiated and carried out at local levels. They range from down-payment assistance programs to funding Habitat for Humanity projects. But CAR does not think that state-sponsored affordable-housing programs should be financed on the backs of existing homeowners. If the legislature wants to fund such programs, they should seek general obligation bonds to do so. But that would require a vote of the general public.
Inasmuch as SB 391 is deemed to impose a new tax, it needs a 2/3 majority in the legislature to pass. Even in the present democrat-controlled legislature, that is a high standard to meet. CAR opposition could likely prevent it. Hence the political shenanigans. When the Senate Appropriations Committee passed SB 30 - the bill to exclude homeowner debt forgiveness from taxation - they also added an amendment. SB 30 only becomes effective if SB 391 - the recording fee bill - is passed.
So, what to do?
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