Americans are on the Move!


Biggest Home Seller Mistakes



1. Overpriced Home

Nothing shocking here. This was far and away the most common mistake sellers make that prevent them from selling their home.

If you overprice your home there is a pretty good chance no one is going to want to buy it. Real estate agents do not set the real estate market. A great real estate agent will suggest a price at which to list your home based on comparable homes that have already sold in the market. Overpricing a home to ‘see if you can get someone to bite’ is not a strategy employed by someone really serious about selling. Overpricing a home will lead to missed opportunities with buyers that are serious about buying in the range at which your home should be listed.

The first week during which a home is listed will generally be the time that the most eyeballs are on the home and the largest potential pool of buyers will be exposed to the listing. Setting a price that reflects the market is essential to selling! This is exacerbated in a downward trending market. Many a seller has lost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars chasing a market down after setting a listing price that was outside what the market was willing to bear.

Margaret Goss, a Broker with Baird & Warner on the North Side of Chicago gives you a few reasons that an agent will take your overpriced listing and then shares the repercussions of making the decision to price your home too high.

2. Showing Availability – It’s Difficult to Set a Showing

The chances your home will sell when buyers can’t get in to physically inspect the property are minuscule. Sellers need to understand that listing a home for sale is going to lead to some inconveniences in your normal routine. Many serious buyers may want to physically inspect a property during times which may not be convenient for the seller. Knowing this, motivated sellers need to understand that flexibility in when you allow the home to be sold could have a direct impact on the sale of your home.

It’s not uncommon for sellers to see 8, 10, even 20 homes during a showing tour with their agent. If your house isn’t on that list because you only do showings on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm, you will miss out on ready, willing and able buyers.

As a seller, realize that the more people that can see the home in person, the more chance you have to find the buyer that wants your home. Eric Kodner, a broker with Madeline Island Realty in La Pointe Wisconsin shares a real life example of an unavailable seller costing herself a sale and a lot of money.

3. Cluttered Space – Unwilling to Depersonalize or Remove Clutter

Sellers are sometimes unwilling to either make the effort, or unwilling to compromise how they live in their home during the time the home is on the market for showings. Serious sellers realize that by depersonalizing the home and removing unwarranted clutter, it allows potential buyers to more easily visualize their own things in the house.

When you live in your home day in and day out, you become comfortable with your own ‘things’. In many cases, however, your ‘stuff’ can make a room feel smaller than it actually is and in some more extreme cases, your ‘stuff’ can completely distract someone from visualizing the potential of a room. We know you are proud of your kids as the shrine in the living room displays all of their ribbons, trophies and diplomas from the last 20 years. But for a buyer, this is only a distraction.

Many agents will make recommendations about ways to remove clutter or depersonalize your home. Some will even suggest that a professional homestager be brought it to completely maximize the space and create a setting maximizes the buyers ability to visualize their own things. The key thing to remember here is these suggestions are not personal and you may have to be a little uncomfortable so that your house puts it’s best foot forward.

Ralph Gorgoglione, a real estate agent with the John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles reminds us that “as a seller, the most important thing to realize is that, yes, your crapola means a lot to you. But it means nothing to anyone else.” Especially a buyer trying to visualize their own stuff in your house.
4. Unpleasant Odors in the House

“Mr and Mrs. Seller, your house stinks!”

Most agents aren’t going to be this blunt. But in some cases they wish they could be. They’ll take a more tactical approach and say something like…..’during the time your house is on the market, it might be a good idea to smoke outside’.

But what they know is that nothing will stop a potential buyer in their tracks faster than a strong odor of any sort. In some cases this could just be the left over smell from last nights dinner. In more extreme cases, agents tell horror stories of entering homes that have a bad smell of pet urine or smoking.

The main concern for the buyer is, of course, “is the house going to smell like this once we move in?” Real Estate agents confirm that many a buyer has passed on a home after coming to their own conclusion on that answer.

Your agent isn’t suggesting a fresh coat of paint and new carpet because they don’t like how things look. They are making this suggestion because they realize that the smoke odor in your home is going to be a major turn off for anyone thinking about buying your home.

Real estate broker Dick Greenburg with Elevations Real Estate, LLC in Fort Collins Colorado even goes so far as to suggest “homes with bad odors don’t sell because buyers are having intense and complex negative reactions that are beyond working around.”

5. Seller Unwilling to Make Repairs Prior to Listing

No seller wants to spend a few thousand dollars making repairs to a house you are about to sell. Agents understand that. But they also understand that few buyers want to move in to a house that needs a bunch of work done immediately upon moving in.

One of your objectives to selling your home is to make it as appealing as possible to as wide of an audience as possible. If the seller is unwilling to make repairs, and a buyer doesn’t want a bunch of work upon moving in, you’ve shrunk the pool of potential buyers for your property.

Some sellers may want to offer the buyer a credit at closing for certain repairs. Real estate broker Chris Ann Cleland, with Long and Foster in Gainesville, VA shares with us why that strategy isn’t better thanmaking the repairs yourself before putting the home on the market.
6. Sellers Unwilling to Negotiate with Buyers

Setting a market price on a home is not an exact science. Many real estate agents will give the seller a range in which they predict the home will sell. As a seller, you should always want the most money the market will bear. That being said, the unwillingness to negotiate with buyers can turn away even the most serious buyers.

Price is not the only condition which is open to negotiation. Buyers and sellers can negotiate on dates, fixtures that might stay with the home, repairs and a host of other sticking points. Sellers that refuse to negotiate and are set on digging in their heels are much less likely to find a willing and able buyer.

Don’t be insulted by low offers. Buyers want to get the home for the best price and on the best terms they can. Just like a sellers wants to sell for the best price on the best terms. It’s rare that either party walks away from a negotiation with everything they want. Motivated sellers understand this and are willing to negotiate.

Debbie Reynolds, a broker with Prudential PenFed Realty in Clarksville Tennessee, cautions sellers against being unwilling to negotiate as well as second guessing your original listing price.

7. Bad Photos in the MLS

This one will most likely fall on your real estate agent. But knowing that bad photos in the MLS can be an impediment to the sale of your home, as a seller it’s imperative that you demand great photography from your agent.

Studies show that greater than 85% of people are going online as a part of their research for buying a home. Most buyers will probably first be introduced to your home online. Poor photos could be cause for them to disregard your home before they ever set foot in it.

The photos used to market your home are generally the first impression any buyer will have of your home. When picking an agent to list your home, ask to see examples of photos from previous listings. Do their photos make you want to take a look at the home?

Never let your home go on the market without photos! If it means waiting a day or two before listing, wait. A large number of potential buyers in your market will be exposed to your home the first day it goes on the market. Having great photos the first day the home hits the market is a must.

Tammie White, a REALTOR® with Benchmark Realty LLC in Franklin Tennessee tells us why “it is crucial to have professional photographs to show off your home.

8. The Home is Just Plain Messy

You were late for work this morning so you ran out of the house without picking up from last night’s dinner. Not a big deal…..unless you have potential buyers that will be stopping by.

Some people may be able to look past the dishes stacked up in the sink, but enough buyers won’t be able to look past the mess. Remember, buyers want to envision their things in your house. The more obstacles you put in the way, the harder time they have connecting with the home emotionally.

Take the time every day to make sure everything is cleaned up and the home is in showing condition.

Woody Edwards, a REALTOR® with First Choice Realty in Chesterfield Virginia is reminded of an old saying his grandmother used to have, “never leave home until the home is in dying condition“. This couldn’t be more true than when selling your home.

9. Sellers Who Like to Play Tour Guide During Showings

Almost every real estate agent who participated agreed that sellers should leave the house during showings. Some sellers want to stick around and make sure buyers see all the important features of a home. The problem with that………as a seller you don’t know what’s important to a buyer.

Sellers that hover around during a showing will make the buyer nervous. They won’t feel comfortable discussing things they like or dislike about the house with their agent. In addition, most buyers like to explore a little bit. Interested buyers tend to do things like open cabinets and check in closets to get a better sense for the entire home. A hovering seller can make this very uncomfortable for some buyers.

Bottom line……leave the house when it’s being shown. Your presence there will only make things worse. Karen Feltman, a real estate agent with Skogman Realty in Cedar Rapids Iowa gives you a couple ofspecific ways that a seller’s meddling during showings can hurt or kill a deal.

10. Picking the Wrong Agent

You decided to list with your aunt or with your friend that just got in the business. You paid no attention to their experience or what they do to market a home. Maybe not the best idea.

Real Estate agents will often suggest interviewing more than one agent. You’ll never know if your aunt is going to do a good job of marketing your home for sale if you have nothing to which to compare her.

Don’t be scared to ask a real estate agent questions about why they are a better choice than anyone else you may be considering. Just like with any profession, there are good real estate agents and there are bad real estate agents. Anita Clark, a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker in Warner Robins Georgia shares a great list of potential questions you will definitely want to ask before you pick an agent.


Real Estate Hidden Gems


Mortgage servicer to pay $268 million to Californians

It’s part of a $2.1-billion national settlement with Ocwen Financial, which is accused of breaking state law by denying loan modifications and charging unauthorized fees.,0,1317760.story#ixzz2wRSnOS7m

By E. Scott Reckard | LA TIMES
 Number Of Foreclosures In The U.S. Rise In Third Quarter

California victims of alleged foreclosure abuses will get $268 million in relief from a $2.1-billion national settlement with Ocwen Financial Corp., the nation’s largest non-bank provider of mortgage customer service.

Ocwen broke state law by improperly denying loan modifications, failing to honor modifications granted by prior servicers and charging unauthorized fees, according to the California Department of Business Oversight.

“Californians should not lose their homes because of deceptive and poorly executed mortgage servicing practices,” Commissioner of Business Oversight Jan Lynn Owen said Monday in a news release.

The announcement provided new details on how alleged victims would benefit from the settlement, finalized last month between 49 states, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Ocwen. It also spotlights a growing controversy as major lenders outsource their mortgage servicing operations to Ocwen and other firms that specialize in collecting payments, pressuring delinquent borrowers and foreclosing on defaulted mortgages.

The banks are seeking to limit the hassle and cost imposed by tougher regulation of loan servicing in the aftermath of the mortgage meltdown. That’s bringing a rush of new business to firms including Ocwen and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc., which traditionally have specialized in handling subprime borrowers.

But as they have mushroomed in size, the specialists have become targets for foreclosure abuse complaints similar to those that have plagued the nation’s largest banks since the housing crash.

Ocwen, an Atlanta company with a mortgage servicing arm based in Florida, began managing home loans in 1988. Thanks to an acquisition spree, the number of residential loans it services has grown from about 350,000 to 2.9 million over the last four years. The unpaid balance on these loans totaled $464.7 billion as of Dec. 31.

Mark Buchignani is among those accusing Ocwen of improperly threatening to foreclose on his home. He took a second mortgage of $39,500 when he bought a home in Phoenix in 2006. The original servicer, since replaced by Ocwen, was GMAC Mortgage, a spinoff from General Motors Corp. that had been a major player in home loans during the housing boom.

Buchignani said he never missed a payment until July, when automatic transfers from his bank account stopped going through for four months without his knowledge. He said he continued to receive emails saying the payments had been made. Since he discovered the problem, his offers to bring the account current have been met only with penalties, he said, and a recent threat to foreclose on the home.

“No amount of communication, calls or emails or faxes or letters, complaints or explanations has deflected them from piling on fees and interest and penalties and credit damage,” said Buchignani, a video-game designer who recently moved to Southern California and is renting out his house in Arizona.

“They continue to forward my communications to ‘Research,’ who then issues letters saying they will respond within 20 days,” Buchignani said. “But, of course, they don’t.”

Ocwen did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

In its recent annual report, Ocwen described itself as a leader “in foreclosure prevention and loss mitigation that helps families stay in their home and improves financial outcomes for investors.”

But advocacy groups and state regulators have questioned whether it and other big independent servicers have been able to handle the influx of mortgages.

Ocwen said last month that it had indefinitely postponed a planned purchase of servicing rights on about 184,000 severely delinquent Wells Fargo home loans with a principal balance of $39 billion. The move came in response to pressure from the New York Department of Financial Services. Ocwen said it would work with the New York regulator “to resolve its concerns about Ocwen’s servicing portfolio growth.”

Many of the servicing rights Ocwen acquired came from such household names as Bank of America and Chase. The biggest deal of all was with Residential Capital, which owned the GMAC servicing rights, and while in bankruptcy proceedings sold Ocwen the servicing rights to more than 1.7 million loans in February 2013.

ResCap, as it is known, was among five lenders that signed the national settlement requiring them to provide $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers; the others were BofA, Chase, Wells and Citigroup Inc. As a result, Joseph Smith, the former North Carolina banking commissioner overseeing the lenders’ compliance with the settlement, has now been given authority as well over Ocwen.

In an interview Monday, Smith said he hadn’t yet had time to test and report on Ocwen’s compliance with stricter servicing rules contained in the settlement. “They’re still new to the party,” he said.

“My colleagues and I are going to be working on these kinds of issues with Ocwen for the next three years,” Smith said, a reference to when his authority expires.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times,0,1317760.story#ixzz2wRSsXfpZ


Helping Your Appraiser do the Best Job

By Lew Sichelman | LA TIMES

Your home is on the market. You found buyers, a nice young couple just starting out, and they’re sold on the home. But wait — there’s one more person you have to sell: the appraiser.

You can no longer try to influence the professional who’s responsible for placing a value on the house — a value that the lender must feel comfortable with if, for some reason, your buyers don’t pay back their loan and the bank has to foreclose.

No, the days of MAI — which stands for Member of the Appraisal Institute but was euphemistically known in the trade as “Made as Instructed” — are long gone. But there is still plenty you can do to improve the chance that you will obtain the value you are looking for.

According to builders and realty agents, many a deal has been scuttled when lenders assigned appraisers who lived hundreds of miles away or were not familiar with the area. So after the appraiser calls to set up an appointment, check his or her bona fides.

Appraisal tips: A Housing Scene column in the March 16 Business section on how to get the best appraisal for your house incorrectly identified John Brenan as director of appraisal issues at the Appraisal Institute. Brenan is director of appraisal issues at the Appraisal Foundation. The column also was incorrect in stating that the Appraisal Institute was created byCongress to set appraisal standards and appraiser qualifications. That description applies to the Appraisal Foundation. The Appraisal Institute is a professional organization based in Chicago. —

“The best way for owners to combat potential problems is to ensure the appraiser is qualified and competent,” says Ken Wilson, president of the Appraisal Institute, a trade association based in Chicago. The organization was created by Congress to set appraisal standards and appraiser qualifications. “Consumers have every right to demand the use of someone with field experience in their market and knowledge to handle the assignment properly.”

Ask your lender about the appraiser’s professional designations. How long has he practiced? What level of experience does she have with your market and your type of property? Is he familiar with the neighborhood?

Of course, you spruced up the house when you put it on the market. You painted, perhaps, and you certainly fixed that broken window in the master bath. And you put away all that clutter in the kitchen.

Now make sure the house is just as dandy when the appraiser finally arrives. Tidy up. Get the dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher. Clean off the counters. Pick up the dirty clothes from the bathroom floor. Change the furnace filters.

Also, send the kids off to the neighbors’ or out to the movies, and lock up your animals.

None of this will add or subtract from the valuation. But human nature being what it is, it will convey the notion that the house is well-maintained, says John Brenan, director of appraisal issues at the Appraisal Institute.

Although you cannot try to directly influence the appraiser — offering a free dinner at his favorite restaurant, maybe, or a little cash under the table — you can speak with him. It’s a myth that you can’t.

“Conversation is not only allowed, but it is vital,” Brenan says. “The appraiser needs to be able to discuss pertinent items about the house or contract.”

When the appraiser arrives, present him with a list of everything in and about the house that you believe adds value — new windows, perhaps, or an addition above the garage. You are not trying to influence the deal, per se. Rather, you are “simply documenting,” Brenan says. “You are not saying you need an extra $5,000 because you put on a new roof last year. You’re just saying that you put on a new roof.”

Your list should include a detailed description of any improvements or replacements, the dates they were made, who did the work (backed up by invoices to show they were done by a professional as opposed to a weekend do-it-yourselfer), a brochure to show the quality of the materials and building permits.

Also list any ways your house differs from others on your block: different finishes used, your better view, your larger lot size. “The list goes on and on,” Brenan says. “You can’t provide enough information about the house, the neighborhood, the schools. It will help give the appraiser a better understanding about the market.”

Also give the appraiser a list of comparables, or “comps,” which are similar properties in your neighborhood that sold recently. The appraiser may well already have the exact same houses, so at the worst, your list may be redundant. But then again, he may have only one or two.

Either way, Brenan says, “as long as you don’t make any demands, a good, competent appraiser should appreciate” the help.

Some appraisers still balk at accepting such information. One recently told Jill Sackler, an agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty in Merrick, N.Y., that he was no longer allowed to do so. But Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, a Rutenberg agent in Crystal Beach, Fla., had the opposite experience recently…..

READ the rest of the article here…,0,186251.story#ixzz2wRE25z1c

Distributed by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Southern California is a Real Estate Seller’s Market this Spring

San Pedro one of our local cities made it into this LA Times Article for Top Buyers Markets…

By Tim Logan | LA TIMES

As the busy spring real estate season gets into gear, sellers appear to have the upper hand across much of Southern California.

Open house in Venice

That’s the word from Zillow, the real estate data website that tracks housing markets nationwide. It released a report on the top 10 buyer’s and seller’s markets in the U.S. Wednesday morning, and Los Angeles made the list as the fourth-strongest market for sellers right now. Riverside ranked sixth.

A strong seller’s market, says Zillow, doesn’t necessarily mean its prices are soaring — and indeed median prices have been flat here in recent months — but rather quick sales, few price cuts, and homes selling at or above asking price. In buyer’s markets, sales are taking longer and price cuts are more common.

Right now, Zillow said, there are big differences in different parts of the country.

Of the top 10 seller’s markets, seven are in the West and two are in Texas. San Jose, San Francisco and San Antonio topped the list. For buyers, nine of the top 10 markets are in the Midwest or Northeast, with Cleveland, Philadelphia and Tampa, the only Florida market on either list, the most buyer-friendly.

“The real estate data in markets on both coasts are telling markedly different stories,” said Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries. “Real estate has always been local, and as the spring market gains momentum, this old adage will only become more pronounced.”

Zillow also crunched data at the local level to see what neighborhoods are good for sellers, and for buyers, around Los Angeles. Red-hot Eagle Rock took the top spot for seller’s market, followed by Canyon Country in Santa Clarita, Tujunga, Mar Vista and Valencia. The top buyer’s markets included the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Glen, Northwood in Irvine, San Pedro and Venice.,0,5284349.story#ixzz2wR5zXOh2

This Month in Real Estate- March