Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Short Commentary on Short Sales

Should an agent disclose a Short Sale situation? In a recent court ruling it was determined that "When a real estate agent is aware that the amount of existing monetary liens and encumbrances exceeds the sales price of a residential property so as to require either the cooperation of the lender in a short sale or the ability of the seller to put a substantial amount of cash into the escrow in order to obtain the release of the monetary liens and encumbrances affecting title, the agent has a duty to disclose this state of affairs to the buyer, so that the buyer can inquire further and evaluate whether to risk entering into a transaction with a substantial risk of failure." Currently, about 70% of all Short Sale contracts result in NO SALE.

The key word of course is ‘aware’, and most agents hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil. Make sure you do your homework, and make sure you are represented by an Exclusive Buyer Agent who will look out for your best interests.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Find The Perfect Home Loan and Get Your Financing On Track

Here are 5 really good articles for Home Buyers to help you get better prepared for the purchase of your dream vacation home on Martha's Vineyard.

Visit for more articles like this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"The World's Gonna Find a Way" but we want it Now -- Today!

Do you remember Ray Steven’s 1970’s hit song, “Everything is Beautiful”?
I wonder how that song would play today.

“There is none so blind as he who will not see
We must not close our minds
We must let our thoughts be free
For every hour that passes by
You know the world gets a little bit older
It's time to realize that beauty lies
In the eyes of the beholder.”

For so many people, everything is not beautiful these days and life sucks. But we keep believing and trying to see the beauty in our lives. We must remain positive and hopeful.

The sing-song lyrics go on beseeching us –
“And we gonna get it all together now
Everything gonna work out fine
Just take a little time to look on the good side my friend
And straighten it out in your mind.”

We thought we were getting it all together but now all you hear is double dip recession, disrespect for our elected President and rancor among the political parties.

Working in real estate, I desperately want everything to be beautiful, but the truth is it is going to take longer than any of us thought before everything is beautiful again.

In a survey conducted by the Cape & Plymouth Business group, they concluded that the majority of respondents who were private business owners felt:
The economy will improve slightly in 2011
Small business owners will not hire additional staff
Businesses will not raise capital and if they do it will be through bank loans and private investors
Businesses will not expand or invest in property or equipment
Housing prices will remain flat
The strongest contributors to the Cape and Island economy will be Tourism/Retail and Health Care
Revenue increases of 1% - 10% are projected through local and regional sources

I guess that means there is hope, but not much confidence. Perhaps, because Cape Cod and the Islands are resort destinations, merchants are hoping people will still need mental health R&R vacations in 2011. I could use one right now, but I live here in paradise so I will simply go for a walk and appreciate what I have around me all the time.

What is not beautiful is the looming Shadow Inventory of foreclosures, and in 2011 it is predicted that nationally there will be a record high volume of foreclosures. According to Inman News, Core Logic reported that the "shadow" inventory of homes likely to be repossessed or already in REO inventory but not yet on the market reached 2.1 million units in August, up from 1.9 million units a year ago. Because home sales have also slowed, that represents 8 months supply, up from 5 months one year ago. Adding the 2.1 million shadow inventory to the 4.2 million homes on the market, causes the total supply to reach 23 months of inventory, almost double NAR's estimate in September. In the markets yet to be affected by foreclosures, prices will go down more but in markets where the majority of foreclosures have already occurred, they may have already bottomed out.

Experts predict that when tallied, 2010 will show fewer home sales than 2009 and the dollar volume will be lower than 2009. Keep in mind that 2009 was a lack luster year for sales. The beginning of 2010 was stimulated by the home buyer tax credits so we might consider that as being a false start. The fact of the matter is that there are better opportunities available right now even without the home buyer tax credit, but people are not jumping to take advantage of those once in a lifetime opportunities. Interest rates will most likely go up in 2011, as they already are right now. I doubt that will affect sales because despite the current record low rates it did not have much impact on sales this year. Without a job, job security or a steady income low interest rates become moot.

2011 will prove to be just more of the same and the housing market will not recover until people have jobs and the confidence to act upon their pent-up desire to BUY a home.

However, since Martha’s Vineyard is primarily a second home market I believe everything could be beautiful for those buyers who keep their finger on the pulse, have financial security and recognize that this is probably the best opportunity in their lifetime to own a piece of The Rock. They recognize to wait would be penny wise and dollar foolish. With 712 properties currently on the market and many properties ‘off market’ but still for sale there is a lot to choose from for a very limited pool of qualified buyers. There is no reason why a savvy buyer cannot find a good deal here. Currently, there are 70 properties either under contract or being negotiated, so some people are still singing ‘Everything is Beautiful’.

Over the years, many Buyers who have contacted me, read through the copious amount of FOR BUYERS ONLY information on my website and subscribed to my Buyer's Basic e-Newsletter have remarked that they perceive my function as one of a consultant and information provider, rather than as a 'realtor'. As an exclusive advocate for buyers I believe educating buyers is a vital part of my job. However, as a real estate professional, my business is consummating the purchase and sale of real estate. If you appreciate the consistent effort I make to bring you 'No Bull' educational information, please contact me when you are ready to buy. I want your business, so please come to me first. I can assure you that I will put your interests before my own and do my utmost to negotiate the best price and terms for you. I will work very hard to discover all the details and hidden secrets of the property you are purchasing so that you will not have any unpleasant surprises.

Keep the faith, “The world's gonna find a way.”

Monday, December 06, 2010

How to Overcome the Fear of Buying a Home In This Economy?

The first questions any buyer must ask themselves today are:
1) Can I afford to buy a home?
2) Can I afford to keep and maintain a home?
3) Can I sell the home quickly if I need to?

Can I afford to buy a home?
Before you get into a car with your buyer agent to drive around looking at homes, do yourself a favor and find out how much home you can afford to buy. That means going to a trusted lender and painting an accurate picture for them of all your finances – how much cash you have for a down payment, the extent of your debts, employment – everything! Do you know your credit score? Today there is more to consider when buying a home than simply PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance), but if you keep this in mind you are now free to begin the fun part, looking for your dream home at a price you know you can afford. Your buyer agent can give you a list of lenders to contact and make sure our excellent local banks are on your list. Prices and terms have never been better than right now.

Can I afford to keep and maintain a home?
You found your dream home and the seller has accepted your Offer to Purchase. Buying a home today means you had better plan on keeping it for at least 10 years. This is going to be a very slow and long recovery. This is not an economic environment conducive to quick money making turnovers. This is the time to buy ‘generational properties’.

This is all the more reason you must factor in repairs and maintenance. Big ticket items like roofs, siding, windows, fuel tanks, heating systems and water heaters all have life spans. If the roof is 25 years old you can probably plan on having to replace it within the first 5 years you own the home. If the oil tank is the old single-wall design it needs to go right away.

As part of any Offer to Purchase contract there must be a contingency for a Home Inspection. The inspection will seek to determine the condition of the home construction, its systems and appliances. Ongoing maintenance and replacement expenses need to be factored into any budget so it behooves you to use a good structural inspector and additional specialists if necessary. You want to find out as much as you can about the house before you buy it. If the structural inspection shows significant deficiencies see if you can negotiate concessions with the seller to offset the repairs, or if the onus becomes yours at least get repair estimates to determine if you will have the funds to make the repairs yourself. This way if you won’t have the additional funds, you are still able to reconsider your purchase so you don’t get yourself into a bind.

Can I sell the home quickly if I need to?
Location, Location, Location. The majority of buyers today begin their search for a home on the Internet, but what does the Internet tell you about location, very little. Advertising and marketing is all about selling the sizzle. Even though false advertizing is against the law and also violates the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, we see subtle prevarications all the time. So, don’t believe everything you read about a property on the Internet. Google is not enough. You need to get up and get out and get educated. The purchase you are about to make is too big to have a casual armchair attitude about it.

Martha’s Vineyard is a complex market and one that most buyers know very little about. That is why you want a real estate market expert who will advise you about the area you are considering for your purchase. You want someone who does the research and will give you accurate information. What is good about the area? What is bad about the area? Is there any forecast for change in that area? Knowing about an area will give you a good idea of how easy it would be to sell a home should you have an unexpected emergency?

As I said before, it is going to take years for the real estate market to recover, which is not to say you should not buy a house now, but do your homework and wait for the right house at a price you are comfortable with.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

ADVICE TO SELLERS – Not from me, a Martha’s Vineyard Broker, but from a nationally renowned ‘Expert’.

If you have ever watched the NBC Today Show and their ‘Today’s Real Estate’ segment, then you have listened to the self-professed real estate expert and mogul, Barbara Corcoran who has been in the biz since she was in her early 20’s. Her latest advice to Sellers is as follows – and I totally agree with her.

1) If you have listed your property for sale and it is not selling at the listing price, lowering the price in small increments does not get noticed and never gets attention. It is better to take a one-time big chunk off the price. That will get noticed.

2) If you list your property with a seller agent, stick with them unless they have done something absolutely awful and unethical. Changing agents only serves to confuse the market, and since agents sell 90% of the houses, you don’t want to confuse the agents either.

Here on Martha’s Vineyard, and throughout the national real estate market overall it has been common practice for seller agents to accept overpriced listings.

In some cases seller agents have given unrealistic inflated opinions of value in order to charm the sellers and get the listings. Or even more often, the seller agents let the uniformed and biased sellers price the property contrary to the studied opinion of value offered by the professional seller agents.

I have argued this point with some of my colleagues here on Martha’s Vineyard for years, but I do respectfully – and I do mean ‘respectfully’ understand their point of view. Why do they take an over priced listing instead of walking away from it? Their usual defensive response is, “If I don’t take the listing someone else will.”

Come on SELLERS, get real.

Do you want to sell NOW? Be honest, do you need to sell and cut your loses? If you price your property correctly it will sell, and if you don’t price it correctly just assume that you have not listed it. Matter of fact, the only purpose your property will serve is to help sell comparable properties that are priced correctly.

If you don’t have to sell, relax, sit back and wait. Don’t worry; the market will recover some day soon.