Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Home Again

A few days off is a wonderful thing! Especially for your frame of mind. I realized I was getting punchy before I left and was having a difficult time finding anything I liked about real estate! The couple of days home in Maryland were wonderful. We played golf in 100 degree temps (which wasn't so wonderful) but drank beer to cool off. I also played with my camera a lot and shot some cool hummingbird photos.

I'm refreshed and ready to go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Every time I catch a news report I get this sinking feeling in my gut. This bank has closed its doors. That mortgage company is failing. Doom and Gloom! Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Is it really that bad? I talked to my favorite loan officer today and he assured me that the only thing shaky is non-conforming loans. Bottom line is that if you have decent credit and some money to put down, you are golden! I sure wish someone would explain that to the press.

I'm headed out of town for a few day's vacation. It's been a busy summer and I can count my days off on one hand.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Relocating to Rochester

It's been 19 years since I relocated to Rochester, NY from Laurel, Maryland (same town as Rochester's current police chief!) To me, it was huge! I was in my early 30's and had never lived outside of the state of Maryland. I remember being here about a month and one day simply breaking down and crying. I was so tired of being lost and among unfamiliar surroundings and people. Obviously, I got over the homesickness, and learned to love Rochester.

This past week, many memories of relocating came back to me as I helped a new client buy his first home in anticipation of moving to Rochester this fall to take a job with the University of Rochester. My contact with him started with an e-mail in which he inquired about one of my listings that had already sold. I offered to e-mail him some similar properties that were on the market and from there, we began to correspond several times a day.

I encouraged him to come to Rochester to spend a day looking at houses and becoming familiar with the different neighborhoods and what various types of houses cost. He accepted my invitation and so I set up a tour of nine homes, that started in the city, then went to W. Brighton, Chili, Irondiquoit, Brighton, Penfield and Henrietta. We saw colonials, capes and ranches. And much to my surprise, by the end of the day he found the house he wanted to call home.

Once back in New Jersey, Ted e-mailed me and said he couldn't stop thinking about that house and wanted to put in an offer. And so I drew up the paperwork, e-mailed it to him he signed it and faxed everything back. I then presented the offer to the listing agent and then we had about 24 hours of pins and needles waiting to hear the seller's response. She accepted!
The next day, Ted headed back to Rochester so that he could attend the engineer's inspection. Once the house received a relatively clean bill of health, we headed over to Premium Mortgage Corp so that he could complete his mortgage application.
Relocating is not that new for Ted. In 1996 he relocated to the United States from Japan. In the back of his mind, he always thought his first home would be in Japan and so making the decision to put in a purchase offer was not a simple one for him.
It was a whirlwind two weeks, from the time he sent his first e-mail until he had bought a home and applied for a mortgage. Fortunately, Ted has several friends in Rochester and has visited here many times, which should make his move here much smoother than mine 19 years ago!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mortgage Crisis is Hitting Home

I had to make one of those God-awful real estate calls yesterday. I had to tell a family to stop packing because the deal on their home was unraveling. It seems that the buyer of their buyer's home no longer qualifies for a mortgage and since his contract on our house was contingent on the sale of his home, the deal is dieing. No fun!

And then I got another awful calls this morning that things are not looking good for a purchase for a buyer client. They have mortgage commitment and are awaiting clear-to-close on a non-income verification loan. All the rules have suddenly changed and now they need 20% down instead of 10. That's an extra $16,000. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of cash sitting around waiting for a bank to suddenly change the rules.

And in the past week or so, I've had two different buyers ask for my advice on private mortgages because the banks won't currently consider them under the current strict guidelines. Private lenders are looking for interest rates upward of 14%.

The very good news is that mortgage rates are improving (slightly, but still improving) for those with outstanding credit and money to put down.

My message to you? Do what it takes to have good credit. First and foremost, pay your bills and pay them on time. Learn the difference between money problems and spending problems. Develop a budget and spend less money than you make. Get out of debt. It's not easy and it takes a concerted effort and discipline by the entire family but a good credit score is increasingly becoming your most important asset.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nothing's Slick Right Now

It seems like real estate is meaner than ever these days. Buyers and sellers bickering over little stuff (like the cost of a broken window) as well as big stuff (who pays the bill for the new sewer line?). Nobody wants to agree to pre-possession or post-possession which means everyone needs to live in a moving van while all parties are at attorney offices conducting the closing procedures! (Rather insane, isn't it?) A neighbor refuses to sign a fence agreement because they don't give a damn if the property closes! I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
Speaking of picture, I did luck into this butterfly yesterday that was fluttering around a garden in Rush. It was the best part of my day. Hopefully I can keep this image in mind as I take irate phone call after phone call!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Where Was This Guy When I Needed Him?

Have you seen these billboards around town? We Buy Ugly Houses.com! A real estate agents dream come true!

Like most agents, when I first started in the business and didn't have much experience, it seemed like I could only get listings that no one else wanted. Believe me, I've sold my fair share of ugly houses. Now, people actually call me to sell their house and usually they are pretty nice. Just when I don't have any ugly houses to sell, this guy's ugly mug is all over town offering to buy ugly house. Dumb luck, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Frequent Misconception!

A client of my recently sent an e-mail to me about a mistake I made. As he reviewed the fine print in the contract to sell his home, he saw that he would be paying the commission for the buyer of his home.

"I've always been under the impression that the buyer paid for the buyer's agent--hence their being representing the buyer and the buyer's interest. If I'm paying for the buyer's agent, shouldn't that person be working for me rather than the buyer," his e-mail asked.

And then this week, I got an e-mail from someone who will be visiting from New Jersey this weekend to look for a new home before she starts her new job at the U of R. "Sorry I didn't ask before, but what is the fee you charge for taking me out to look at houses," she asked?

I am so immersed in real estate, that I had forgotten just how confusing this can be. It was no mistake. It is customary for the seller to pay commission for both the buyer's agent and the seller's agent, even though the buyer's agent works for the buyer. In fact, agents must sign a form entitled agency disclosure in which we disclose who we work for and who's interest we must protect.

And then there is duel agency in which the agent works for both sides and must not show favoritism to either side. Occasionally, I run into buyers that believe they will save money by using the listing agent as their agent. In most cases, the only financial gain of sharing an agent is for the agent as there is no other agent to share the commission with.

My sellers did sell their house in the city of Rochester and this week had an offer accepted in Mt. Morris. And since Mt. Morris is home of the Pledge of Allegiance, their daughter Holly, above, proved to me that she could recite it flawlessly.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Something to Churp About!

It's been busy! Five sales in ten days has had me running. I was so preoccupied with my next appointment that I almost didn't see the tiny, almost-naked baby bird laying on the ground next to my back door. So I scooped him up, made him a bed out of a candy dish and started feeding him soggy dog food. With a full belly, he snuggled up and went fast asleep. And since it was August 1st, I decided to name him August, which just happed to be the middle name of my grandfather, father and brother, all long gone.

August seems to be thriving. Yesterday we moved him from the candy dish to a shoe box and this morning he learned to walk. Maybe it's more of a crawl. One of his legs isn't working correct or perhaps he has gotten so fat from the dog food that he just can't hold himself up. Time will tell. His favorite spot seems to be curled up in the palm of my hand.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy August!

Just in case you don't have air conditioning, I thought I share with you this shot of my husband from last February and a reminder to not complain about the heat because the snow will be flying soon!