Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We Can’t Reduce Our Price Any More … What Can We Do?

Whether you can’t, or won’t, reduce your price, we understand that it is frustrating to sit in this market without action. The best way to generate action is to reduce your price to be the best priced property on the market for what you are offering. Having said that, here are a few options available to you other than a price reduction.

For some Sellers a lease/option can help you achieve your goal. A lease option is in actuality a lease agreement, and an option to purchase agreement, that are tied together by language in the agreements. A lease/option provides you with cash flow from the option consideration and monthly lease payments while you wait to see if the option will be exercised. Since the price paid at the time the option is exercised is agreed to at the time the option agreement is signed, it is usually a higher than market price. This is because of the extended term of the option period, typically 12-24 months, and the anticipated increase in market value at the end of the term.

Lease/options can be a risk for both parties since nobody really knows what prices will do, but it gives the Seller cash and cash flow, and buys time for the market to change. The Buyer can get in to the home knowing that they have the opportunity to buy it in the future. This works well if they, too, are waiting to sell, repair credit, or any number of reasons that are holding them back from a normal purchase in today’s wonderful Buyer’s market. The fact that Sellers today are considering lease/options is another sign that it is, indeed, a Buyer’s market.

If you know where you want to go after you sell, look in that market for somebody that is looking to move to our community. A simple ad in their local paper might produce a Buyer that can’t sell their home. So what do the two of you do? Trade your homes! You might advertise your willingness to do so in your local
Carson Valley advertising. We’ve found that people looking to move to the Carson Valley look here in preparation for their move. A needle in the haystack? Yes, but with the right intention you just might beat the odds.

Our Advice: There are a number of other options, each with its own inherent risk factors, and one should be careful when considering such an option. These include selling with a Contract of Sale, All Inclusive Trust Deed, or simply renting your home until the market recovers sufficiently to allow you to accomplish your next real estate objectives. Auctions have a certain intriguing appeal, but have not proven very successful from our observation unless it is involves a distressed property, or a very unique and expensive property. Be flexible and maintain a bigger perspective when weighing your options.

Remember, it is only money. Don’t let yourself get so affected by this market that you lose your health or family … money can be replaced. Experience is Priceless!
Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Easily search the entire
Northern Nevada MLS or email Lisa and Jim with questions or for additional information.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So Many Stories ... Who Should Buy in This Market?

This market isn't for everybody, however it is a time of opportunity for many. With good credit scores and/or ready cash, it is a good time to buy Carson Valley real estate, Search Carson Valley Real Estate.

So who should buy now? If you are a nervous investor, it's a good time. It's kind of like voting early and not having to listen to the political ads anymore. If you buy a property that you want, you can stop listening to the doom and gloom media bombardment. You can be comfortable with your investment and know that whatever happens, you have it. Unlike stocks that leave you with a certificate when their value diminishes, you will always have your real property. Buy quality at a good price and relax. It may go down before it goes up, but you've made a decision and can get on with your life.

If you are a first time home Buyer, count your blessings that the market has checked. Today's prices are much less than what you would have paid a year or two ago. In fact, you likely would have been priced out of the Carson Valley at that time. Are you going to wait and try to time the market drop, or are you going to buy now and start enjoying the many benefits of home ownership? Remember, you aren't making a one year investment - home ownership should be considered with a longer hold perspective. Consider that in Douglas County 48.9% of the people lived in the same house in 1995 and 2000 - just about half the people didn't move in five years!

If you are looking to move up or down in the market you are really moving "sideways", the homes you are selling and buying are relatively priced. If you are moving up - do it before the prices rise and you will enjoy greater appreciation when they do with the more expensive property. Moving down? Do it before the prices rise and you'll enjoy a lower loan amount and, possibly, rate, for the term of the loan. Don't put your life on hold until "someone" says it is time to act - control your own life and real estate happiness by taking action now. Your buy and sell prices are even in their respective market segment.

If you are a savvy investor, this is a wonderful time to make your intentions known to your agent. Opportunities now appear on a regular basis. If your active agent knows your investment objectives, i.e.- a place for your child(ren), appreciation over five years, change portfolio location, etc., you have a much better chance of successfully achieving them in the next six months, or so. Be ready to act and stay open minded.

Our Advice: If you have a credit score below 720 it is probably in your best interest to work on increasing your score before you buy. If you don't you will likely pay a higher interest rate and could very well get the run around when it comes time to fund your loan. When the market was soaring people looked past these negatives figuring that their anticipated appreciation would offset the higher costs of the loan. Today one can't count on short term appreciation - plan on holding. Get yourself ready to act. When the market turns it will be like a dam breaking and you will have a lot of competition for the quality offerings that you don't have today.

Timing the falling market to catch it at the bottom is like the proverbial "catching a falling knife" ... it is hard to do. If you know you want to live/invest here, and have confidence in the Carson Valley community, then you can buy with confidence ... now. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , visit our websites at or call anytime at 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We Are Renting and Our Landlord is Having Money Problems … What Happens to Us?

One of the hidden casualties of the foreclosure crisis are the tenants. When the landlord doesn’t make the mortgage payment and the property sells at a foreclosure sale, most leases are worthless. Statistically, just over 20% of all foreclosures are rental properties. A foreclosure will most often trump a lease – the note and Deed of Trust were in place before the lease agreement was signed. Regardless of how long you’ve rented your home, how early you pay your rent, or how much you have improved the property – if the owner of the house isn’t making the payments you have great exposure of being evicted with very little warning after a foreclosure sale. Note: this does not occur in a conventional sale situation where the Buyer acquires the property subject to your lease terms and conditions.

Some precautions you can take include looking at your owner’s information online at the County Recorder’s site - you can get the name of how they hold title at the County Assessor’s site. If you see a Notice of Default, check the date. You will have approximately 120 days after that date before the property will sell. If you see a Notice of Sale, you have about three weeks. Either way – call your landlord to see if they intend to correct the situation … and how. He should understand that the consequences of his loss will dramatically affect you.

If your landlord is in default you might want to pay your rent into an escrow account and contact an attorney who specializes in foreclosure property issues. Other options: You can file a legal action against the landlord for non-performance on the lease, and try to recover expenses, damages and costs of relocating you incur as a result of the foreclosure. You can also try to contact the new owner (after the foreclosure sale – they likely won’t talk before the sale) and try to negotiate a short-term occupancy offering to protect the property for them while you search for new housing.

Our Advice: Keep an eye out for signs that your owner might be in financial trouble. Are people driving by looking at your house … even stopping to take pictures? Is the property suddenly on the market at a low price? Is your landlord suddenly screening calls? If you have a friend or relative that is renting be sure to share this information with them. Forewarned is forearmed. Imagine finding out one day that you have but three days to get out of your home! You will have to find a place, pack and move … or your belongings could be put on the street. It is a tough situation, but it is legal and real. Of all the proposed mortgage industry crisis solutions none so far have included remedies for non-owner occupied, investor owned, properties. If your landlord is in trouble he had better have resources to solve his problem for there is little chance help will be coming any time soon to stave off an imminent foreclosure.

No matter how good of a relationship you have with your wonderful landlord … desperate people do desperate things. If they are being squeezed financially and it becomes you or his family that will feel the pain … start packing. Be prepared and you will be fine. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Great to Live In Northern Nevada!

You mention that our market will recover in the future … how are you sure?

We believe that the reasons for the “discovery” of the Carson Valley as a wonderful place to live will continue to attract people wanting to move here and enjoy it on a daily basis. The local natural beauty is a joy every day – whether a beautiful sunset or a raging storm boiling over the mountains – it is simply gorgeous. We are ideally located in relationship to other Western States and we have a true Western mindset in our community – better yet - a Nevada mindset.

Our biggest faith for the future of our community, however, is the people. We believe the people of the Carson Valley are one of its biggest assets. A close look at the goings on around town reveal a consistent giving nature in the population. Traffic backed up and heavy – there’s the guy waving you in from the side street. Animal on the road – people will nearly wreck their car to save the animal and will cause a traffic jam while they get the animal to safety.

We were awakened at 5:00 a.m. last Sunday morning by the doorbell. It was our neighbors, Paul and Sue Brunnelle, telling us the sheriff’s office had called them reporting that our horses were out. Great! It was dark. It was eighteen degrees. Did we say it was five in the morning? The problem – we couldn’t find the horses in the dark. The neighbors didn’t just go home and get back in bed. No, they drove around looking for the horses, located them down the road eating another neighbor’s lawn, and helped us walk them home. All the time with a smile on their face and reassurances that we would find them that cold dark morning …It’s the people!

A few weeks back one of our neighbor’s replacement dairy heifers was out and on a busy road. A caring couple stopped to tell us, and we all went out to help the scared animal. It was nice to see all the cars, a busy road at a busy time, stop … and the drivers smile … understanding the situation. People also “stop” in the Carson Valley to help individuals and families in need … whether from health, accident, or life circumstance misfortune. The Carson Valley takes care of its own … every time. It is a true community of great people that let you live your life without intrusion, and rally to help those in need - whether animal, child, or family - when needed.

Our Advice: Real estate values will always fluctuate, but what is important in the long run is that the integrity of the Valley remain intact so the lows are higher and the highs dependable. We are confident that the People of the Valley will see that it does. The quality of life that is so dear to those that live here … and those that want to live here … is essential to the overall real estate values. There is no doubt that it will, in time, serve to protect local real estate investments … including those made in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Have faith … in the people.

Buy now with confidence. The many reasons you want to live here are exactly why your Carson Valley real estate investment is safe.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our agent talks about a BPO … what is that?

A BPO is a Broker Opinion of Value. A BPO is used by real estate agents to determine a competitive listing price on a property by showing Sellers what other similar homes have sold for in their neighborhood. A BPO is similar to what agents call a CMA, Comparative Market Analysis. The main difference we see is that BPO forms are usually provided by a lending institution and ask for more property and area detail than does a CMA.

A real estate agent can only perform a BPO for the purpose of listing and selling a property. An agent that prepares a BPO for any reason other than listing and selling a property, and receives compensation, is in violation of Nevada law. In recent years many new agents, or agents with time on their hands, performed BPO’s for out of area lending institutions for a nominal fee. With the plethora of short sale applications and impending foreclosures there has been an increase in demand for BPO’s by lenders. They use the Broker prepared BPO to assist them in determining a course of action. It is less expensive than a “walk through” appraisal by a licensed appraiser, and can usually be delivered to the lender in a very short period of time.

The Real Estate Division of the State of Nevada Department of Business and Industry recently made the real estate and appraisal communities aware of their intention to enforce the appraisal licensing laws. It is pretty simple to determine given the following definitions: “Appraiser” defined: “Appraiser” means a person who prepares or communicates an appraisal; “Appraisal” defined: “Appraisal” means an analysis, opinion or conclusion, whether written or oral, relating to the nature, quality, value or use of a specified interest in, or aspect of, identified real estate for or with the expectation of receiving compensation.” If an agent is not licensed to perform appraisals per NRS 645C, and does so for a fee, he is subject to a fine of up to $5,000. This includes BPO’s if the agent is not listing or selling the property.

Our Advise: In this price-conscious market it is very important that you have accurate value information. The sales and listing data used to price a property must be understood and often interpreted. Knowledge of local issues is important including situations that would invalidate a comparable sale, i.e.- a less than arms-length transaction, or extenuating circumstances that contributed to the action decision of a Buyer or Seller. Appraisers watch the data very carefully as do experienced agents. Agents with little experience, those with the time on their hands to do a BPO, are often erroneous in their determination because of their lack of knowledge. They may not even be aware that they aren’t allowed to do a BPO for a fee.

Good agents and appraisers help the Sellers, Buyers, and Lenders in evaluating their investment. A knowledgeable opinion of value is essential in the real estate industry – just be aware of who is doing yours, what their qualifications are, and what their objective is. It can have a direct impact on your transaction … or cause a lack thereof.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or email us at , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We are ready to buy … how to we get a good deal?

You have asked the question that is stopping many from acting … congratulations and thank you for doing so. Good real estate deals are available, but it takes work and knowledge to find them or to satisfactorily negotiate one. That might seem contradictory to what is the popular opinion of the market, that it’s a Buyer’s Market, but it simply reflects the price resistance of Seller’s. The art of buying “right” today is to determine which suitable property has ownership that is ready, willing and able to sell to you at a price you will pay.

Some good buying opportunities right now are bank owned houses. The banks have good incentive to sell their properties and are usually willing to look at bona fide offers. It takes time and a lot of documentation procedures to keep their legal department happy, but the results can be worthwhile. An example is our recent sale of a home the bank foreclosed on at $299,000, listed for $259,000 and we sold for $253,000 with the bank paying $8,000 of the Buyer’s closing costs. The Buyer made a good deal by taking action.

You and your agent can find bank owned properties from several sources including , , and . The site tracks government loans, ie.- FHA and VA. On most of these you can sign up for notification when new properties are available. Some have a monthly cost for the service. Your agent likely subscribes so you won’t have to.

It is also possible to negotiate a good value with non-bank Sellers. If there is enough equity, and motivation, many Sellers will consider a reasonable offer. It may be less than their lingering hopes, but with the right perspective they will see the benefit of accepting the offer. Agents can help them with perspective, i.e.- how they stack up in the market, what the market is doing where they are moving to, and what may happen if they don’t sell for another six months, etc. so they can make their decision with confidence.

Our Advice: Don’t try to think for the Seller. Only the Sellers know how your offer will affect them, and what the real value of the offer is to them, from their perspective. Many Sellers and their agents hide the true motivation, their real reason for selling. Your offer may free them to continue with their lives, and only a Seller faced with accepting an offer knows what that offer means to him. Taking action is the only way to find out. In the spirit of “Nevada Real Estate”, remember the gaming mantra, “You can’t win if you don’t play!”. Make an offer.

Don’t get hung up on what others think of the market. Consider you, your investment objectives, and how you can achieve them… today. These are challenging, fun, and rewarding times.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We heard a lot about short sales and foreclosures, but nothing lately … what’s up?

Just a few months ago, the phrase “short sale” was on every real estate practitioner’s lips. It was the ready answer to the plethora of over-encumbered properties and was the key to making Buyers and Sellers happy at the same time. Every agent talked about it, and the Lenders even started opening up to the concept. So what happened?

There are several contributing factors that changed the short sale miracle into a problem. In a reasonable short sale situation, the Seller agrees to sell to a Buyer at a fair market value, which is below the amount of the existing loan. The Lender, instead of going to the great expense, risk, and liability of taking the property back by foreclosing, agrees to take less, and the sale proceeds.

What is hampering the short sale process today is that many of the “creative” loans that were put in place a couple of years ago involved a Second Deed of Trust. The Second is just that, Second … behind the First. When the value of the home is less that the amount of the First, the Second is wiped out in a foreclosure. They are also wiped out in such a short sale. Many are trying to negotiate something with the holder of the First so they get something by cooperating, but absent that, there is no incentive for them to cooperate … and most don’t.

Another detrimental factor of short sales is the time and mechanics involved. Most Lenders will not look at the application unless the borrower is behind in payments presenting a dilemma for owners current with their payment. Once you miss a payment, you have about four months before your home is foreclosed on. This situation forces the owner to miss payments and then watch the time go by to their deadline. It is frustrating as the Lenders want everything to be via FAX and email. There is no phone communication… paperwork gets lost… time goes by… and nothing is certain. Buyers don’t like waiting with so much uncertainty about the outcome.

Our Advice: Buyers were initially excited about short sales because it was a way to get a home in good condition at a good price. There wasn’t the risk associated with buying foreclosure properties in which case you can’t see the interior when you buy it. Most foreclosures these days are going back to the bank as the loan is higher than the value and a short sale couldn’t be worked out. You can buy bank owned properties at or below market after they get them back and evaluate what they have, but it is rare these days to get a good deal on the courthouse steps. Short sale sellers – get a good short sale agent and make a run at it, and look to your options. Buyers – do not discount short sales on principle these days, rather look at the circumstances of the individual property, the loan, and the agent involved. You can make a good deal with good business practices. Foreclosures and short sales … a game of patience.

This market requires hard work and short sales require extraordinary hard work. Be realistic… be fair, and all will benefit. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My neighbor doesn’t keep his property up … will that affect my sale?

In this Market of 2007 all things come in to play when you are looking for an edge in the market place. Neighbors are an important consideration for most Buyers, especially when the homes are positioned close to one another. A good neighbor is something worth disclosing for added value while a bad neighbor should be disclosed to prevent any ensuing litigation for non-disclosure.

Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold. Lasting friendships for parents and children are created by living next to one another and having a great neighbor relationship. That doesn’t mean having dinner together every Saturday night, but it does involve watching over one another’s children, property and pets. It can involve giving a lending hand when needed, and exchanging pleasantries when you see one another. A united and strong neighborhood is a safer environment that creates a harmonious living standard. That doesn’t include an overbearing Homeowner’s Association group which can actually have the opposite result on the neighborhood. There are some such HOA’s in our area that have a detrimental effect on their neighborhood in their zeal to protect it. As with anything in life, balance is needed to be a good neighbor. Don’t snoop or pry, and don’t shutter yourself out of existence.

We know of a circumstance where the neighbor’s children had friends with motorcycles that came roaring in to the neighborhood all hours of the day and night to listen to the band practice in the garage. The Sellers of the house next door were going out of their minds from the continual invasion of their quiet enjoyment of their property, but, despite numerous police reports and visits, the problem persisted. They felt trapped – emotionally and financially. They were concerned that they could not ever sell and that was in a good market! Fortunately, they sold, with a proper disclosure, and made their move to the tranquility of the Carson Valley.

Bad neighbors can have a negative impact in different ways. The above is not obvious unless you are around when the invasive sound is occurring. More obvious are unkempt properties, i.e. - dead lawn, overgrown with weeds, and junk or debris strewn about the property. Such properties bring down the overall value of the neighborhood and can undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on a potential Buyer of your property.

Our Advice: If your neighbor has let his property go there are some things you can do about it … carefully. The first is to understand what is happening in the household, i.e. - are they facing foreclosure or bankruptcy? You can offer, gently, to pay for the cleanup as it would greatly benefit you in your selling efforts. If they are uncooperative, or vindictive, call the County Code Enforcement Officer. That process takes longer, but will resolve the problem for the benefit of the entire neighborhood. If you don’t take action on their property you will have to on yours … by a major price reduction.

Neighbors and neighborhoods are a big reason why people move to the Carson Valley. Let’s keep it a place where people can still talk over the fence, or bring dinner to the sick person next door … your neighbor.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Predator Lender Law

I heard “no-doc” loans are now illegal in Nevada … is that true?

Effective October 1, 2007, Nevada amended its unfair lending practices and mortgage fraud provisions. The changes regarding low, or no document, home loans are vague resulting in temporary confusion in the loan industry. The language is seemingly simple,”…it is an unfair lending practice for a lender to knowingly or intentionally make a home loan, other than a reverse mortgage, to a borrower, including without limitation, a low-document home loan, no document home loan, or stated-document home loan without determining, using any commercially reasonable means or mechanism, that the borrower has the ability to repay the home loan.” It did cause some to incorrectly think no-doc loans were a thing of the past.

The intent of the law was to disallow approving loans based solely on equity, what is known as hard money loans. According to the primary sponsor of the bill, Markus Conklin, Vegas, it was intended for consumer protection, not to “slow up the process for qualified people” attempting to purchase homes. Discussions between credible lenders and the State resulted in an understanding that such loans can be made as long as "any commercially reasonable means or mechanism" was used to determine that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan. Such means or mechanisms would include, without limitation, credit scores, (an online service that reports appropriate compensation for jobs), a detailed discussion between the lender and the borrower about the repayment of the loan, etc.

Reputable lenders have always used reasonable means and mechanisms to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. They have done so for the protection of their investors as well as that of the borrower. A good lender cares about you, truly cares, and isn’t just looking to fund a loan to get a commission. They will question you about your investment objectives, your cash flow, potential repayment sources, and determine a loan program that will work well for you and your situation.

Our Advice: The new law protects the unwitting consumer from predatory lenders, and won’t have much of an impact on the business practices of good lenders. No document loans have their place in the market and are a viable option for certain acquisition circumstances you might find yourself facing. Take the time to discuss your repayment options with your lender so you know how the loan will ultimately affect you and your investment. Pay attention – ultimately the decision is yours and you should understand what your options are and the effect your final decision has on you. This is true with any borrowing situation you are considering.

Don’t experiment with lenders. A good lender is a vital component in your real estate program and we are fortunate to have several in the Carson Valley to serve you.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stealth Agents

We responded to a Craigslist listing and got a real estate agent … is that legal?

Absolutely not – it’s called a “blind ad”. Real estate agents must disclose their licensed status in all advertising – it’s the law in the State of Nevada. Further, if the agent is a Realtor they are also violating the Realtor Code of Ethics. The public has the right to know if they are being “sold” something by a licensee and not an unlicensed owner representing himself. This is a very basic law and practice, but in this challenging market some agents are desperate … and desperate people do desperate things.

It is unfortunate that some are driven to gain advantage over their fellow practitioners by what they perceive to be cleverness when in fact it is shameful. We are witnessing it with increasing frequency in our local market and we do take action. We first warn the agent out of courtesy. If they don’t change their ad and disclose their licensed status they are reported to the Board of Realtors and the State of Nevada for the appropriate policing action. There are reasons for the existing laws… consumer protection… and they must be complied with. There isn’t a place in the real estate business for scofflaws as evidenced by the widespread lending fraud recently perpetrated by unscrupulous lenders and real estate agents. That practice is substantially to blame for the current loan industry crisis.

The Internet and newspaper classifieds are good tools for buying, selling, lending and borrowing … as long as it is done in the appropriate manner. There are a lot of people trying to get in your pocket these days. Are you getting unsolicited emails? Phone calls? Everybody has a “better mousetrap” to make you money, save you money … something to do with your money. There is a catch – somebody is making money along the way. Be careful – you can make money in this market but you shouldn’t be compromised by unethical/illegal behavior in your effort to do so.

Our Advice: If you find yourself in a situation where you asked for “free” information on your home value, “free” foreclosure information, or details on an offering you thought was a private party, and you are suddenly faced with dealing with an agent … run! Even an agent offering his own property for sale is required by law to disclose his status. There is no plausible explanation for this behavior other than blatant deception against the public … you. It is not how professionals conduct themselves in their business. Stick to professional representation when you need real estate services as this is not a market for amateurs. If you experience a “stealth” agent “strafing” you to do business by all means report them to the Board of Realtors, 775.885.7200, and/or the State of Nevada Division of Real Estate, 775.687.4280. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing. If an agent is unethical and illegal in their initial contact with you, where else are they compromising their integrity and your financial and emotional safety when it comes to buying and selling real estate?

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Decluttered and Lowered Price

Decluttered and Lowered Price

We have packed the clutter and reduced our price and still don’t have action … now what?
Congratulations! By packing your clutter and reducing your price you have made your home market ready – a great first step. Now you need to look with a critical eye at what you are truly offering. Buyers are looking at a lot of property these days. Some will look at ten homes in a day, whereas just two years ago they might not have had ten to select from in total. How do you really stack up?

Did you simply box up the knickknacks, or are you decluttering the entire home and garage? With the majority of your prospective Buyers being visual personality types it is important that you eliminate what they will deem a “visual nightmare”. Cobwebs inside and out, pet “landmines” in the backyard, dirty dishes and clothes, peeling trim paint, must/mold/smoke odors … all must be addressed unless you are priced such that you substantially compensate the Buyer for these deficiencies far beyond the actual cost, or perceived cost, to mitigate them. Most often you won’t have the opportunity to negotiate these deficiencies with the Buyer – they will select another property. If you do, you will usually end up paying dearly for your lack of preparing your home for market. It is best to prepare in advance.

Regarding the price – did you merely take it from 10% over to 3% over market? Are you the very best thing out there for what you are offering, or do you need to adjust it further to compete with properties that are actually offering more for the money, or are in better condition? Buyers are incredibly price-conscious these days … sometimes to their own detriment as it is causing them at times to not act, or to not buy the home they want if they don’t get a pre-conceived discount from the List Price, regardless of how well the property is priced. Be price smart if you are committed to selling in this Market.

Our Advice: Unless your potential Buyer has a specific reason to buy your home, i.e.- their child lives next door, they want to ride their horses on the BLM land next door, your 20 foot ceilings will accommodate the Christmas tree they want, etc., you must continually monitor the competition. Remember, the other homes for sale are your competitors, and they, too, want to sell. They are watching you! They will seek advantage so they, too, can get on with their lives. You and your agent should be watching the market on a regular basis, several times a week. Also, pick up the little things around the place – consciously, or subconsciously, the Buyers will notice what you do … or don’t do. As you know, you never get a second chance at a first impression so make sure your first one counts! With few showings it is important to make each one count.

If you want to sell don’t wait to get your property perfect – get it on the market and start working on it. Your agent will work with you on what is truly important to accomplish before having any market exposure, and what will help to give you an edge as you gain market momentum.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , or email us directly at 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What is the right price in this market?

The home we want is priced right … what should we offer?

Many Buyers are compelled to offer low because they’ve read, or been told, to do so. Others think they have to do it because somebody did it to them in another market. If the home you like is priced right … get what you can and buy it.

Smart Buyers are making offers based on their knowledge of the market and hopes for a good deal. Ultimately they are accepting a negotiated price and getting what they want at a good value regardless how it compares to the listed price. We recently saw an offer 22.2% below the list price of a well priced property. The Buyers had to try it and they did. Fortunately, they knew the market and recognized that the property was well priced. Ensuing negotiations resulted in a price but .7% below the list price, less than a 1% reduction! Both parties were happy and achieved their objectives.

The values are all over the board these days. We recently showed property and found homes three doors apart, the same plan by the same builder, that were priced $30,000 apart. They were essentially the same house. One was priced right – the other deserved a “wake-up” offer. In another neighborhood we experienced a discrepancy of $60,000 between similar homes. In that case the lower home was priced by a very active local agent that had great knowledge of the market. The other agent was from out of town and unfamiliar with the market. Sometimes out of town agents are relatives, but more often they are sought out by Sellers because the local knowledgeable agents wouldn’t tell the Seller what they wanted to hear. Both of the homes $60k apart are still unsold, but which do you think has a better chance of selling?

Sellers and their agents must look realistically at what they are trying to achieve and plan accordingly. It doesn’t matter what you paid or what you owe – market is what market is. If you want, or more importantly, have to sell then get a realistic Realtor. One that will tell you the truth and make a plan that works for you for your situation, not just say what you want to hear so they get a listing hoping one of two things happens: 1. they find a fool and his money – rare in today’s market, or 2. they list high at what you are hoping for, and then beat you up for a price reduction week after week, you concede and their slimy tactics are rewarded … for them.

Our Advice: Because of the great discrepancy in prices in the market place one must be really sure when pricing. If it is priced right … really right … you will sell. What your home was worth in 2005, or will be worth in 2009, is irrelevant. If you want to sell today you can … if you are positioned in today’s market in a today manner. That includes price, condition, showing availability, experience … and intention. If you don’t need to sell – don’t right now.

If you need or want to sell … do it right, price it right, and you will be moving. The days of the uneducated Buyer are over. If you are waiting for someone to come in and pay too much you might as well hunker down for a long winter. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Can we avoid probate any other way than a trust?

Can we avoid probate any other way than a trust?

In Nevada there is another mechanism that allows your heirs to receive your property without probate other than by you creating and managing a trust. Nevada is one of but eight states in the nation that provide for Transfer on Death Deeds. It has only been available for a couple of years, and can be a very good tool for estate planning. We’ve only recently become aware of it and thank local attorney Karen Winter for introducing and orienting us to this means of conveyance.

With a Transfer on Death Deed (TODD) the owner(s) execute a deed and name the recipients of the property, those they intend to inherit it. The Deed must be recorded prior to the death of the owner. Once recorded, the owner may continue to do with the property what he wants with no restrictions. He can re-finance it, sell it, or even record another Transfer on Death Deed changing the recipients. If it is sold the TODD is voided. Likewise, if a subsequent TODD is recorded the first is voided. The owner even has the right to rescind the TODD at any time. For details read NRS 111.109. It is easy reading as far as laws go.

This is a reasonable tool for estates in which the real estate comprises the majority of the estate’s value. What happens is on the demise of the owner the property is immediately conveyed so it is no longer a part of the estate. In many cases, the result of removing the real estate is the resulting estate value is small enough that probate is not required thus the heirs avoid the expense, time and aggravation of a probate. Note that the property is immediately conveyed – the Executor of the estate consequently has no power/effect on the new ownership of the property. The Executor may be an owner, but the property has absolutely no relationship to or with the estate.

Our Advice: Though the law specifically states a married grantee may receive title as “sole and separate property” without a quitclaim from their spouse, be advised that to get title insurance when selling the property you will likely need to get one. If you are considering using this tool be very careful in assessing who you are going to give your property to. You can give it to multiple parties in various ownership percentages, i.e.- one gets 16%, another 23%, etc. Understand, however, that you are creating a “partnership” of sorts which inherently creates a precarious situation. Make sure they get along. If they don’t they may have to resort to a partition lawsuit to unwind their common interest. Make sure, too, that you address how the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance will be paid while they own the property.

A Transfer on Death Deed can be the best and worst of things – think it through before you use it. Properly used it can put your mind at ease and save your heirs a lot of money, time and aggravation. Make your intentions and desires known, make a plan, and execute your plan. Questions? See your attorney and/or CPA.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where Have All the Buyers Gone?

We’re on the market but aren’t getting showings … where are the Buyers?

Our initial response is to address your price … are you priced right? That is elementary and essential. Assuming your price is right let’s look at today’s Buyers. Buyers today are very informed. They generally know the market, what is going on in the community, what is going on in the financial/lending world, and the many other factors that can affect market dynamics. This information is available on the internet, in print publications, and other media. They know what is happening so-o-o … “Where are the Buyers?”

There are Buyers actively shopping and making offers to buy. Their quantity is not what it was a couple of years ago, and there are many, many more properties available for them to buy. What is changing is where people are buying. When the Carson Valley real estate got too pricey a few years back people went to Dayton for affordability and investment opportunity. As Dayton got priced up they went to Yerington. As the prices came down this scenario unwound, the Yerington market slowed, Dayton slowed and they came back to the Carson Valley which is now quite affordable.

It doesn’t end there. Our market has been driven by people moving in from out of state, primarily from California. For some time we’ve waited for those people to sell their homes thinking that their slow market was causing our market to stall. Now we are seeing some of those markets so price decimated that the need or desire to buy in our market isn’t what it was. Investors that were investing in Northern Nevada can buy properties in their local market in the $300,000 range that were in the $500,000’s a few years ago. They are investing locally. Likewise, people that wanted the lifestyle of a $500,000 home, and were coming to Nevada to get it can stay home and achieve it today without moving to Nevada. Those coming for tax relief? Most people in the $300,000 price range aren’t that dramatically affected by the Nevada tax relief and many are now staying home.

Our Advice: If you are determined to sell in this market … price it right. There is no substitute. Your agent can’t buy an ad big enough to overcome improper pricing. Look ahead – where are you going and what will selling your property do for you. The market will change in time – it is up to you to decide if you are going to wait for it, or act now and achieve your immediate real estate goals. Don’t be hung up on price or value – it is your position in the market that counts. That will get you where you’re going.

Be aware of where you are positioned in the market. The Buyers know your market position… which may be why you aren’t getting showings.

Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472. Email us at

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Physical Condition of Foreclosure Properties

I’m going to bid on a foreclosure property … how do I know its physical condition?

That is one of the inherent risks of buying property at foreclosure auctions … you generally don’t know the condition – especially the interior. If the property owner still occupies the property you can’t access it unless it is listed for sale and you can set up a showing. If it is vacant you might be able to peek through the windows, but you are technically trespassing. Generally, you are buying the proverbial “pig in a poke”.

The Lender doesn’t own the property until after the foreclosure, and then only if there are no bids to match their minimum bid amount and they end up receiving the property. That situation presented a dilemma for the Nevada Legislature with the Seller’s Real Property Disclosure form they require for all residential transactions. In a foreclosure sale the Owner isn’t selling the property, and the Lender never lived in it. How could the Buyer be protected from known defects? Who is responsible for disclosing them?

Recognizing that the Owner isn’t involved in a foreclosure sale, the State added a clause in 2005 that requires the Trustee or Beneficiary to disclose any defects of which they are aware. The situation is still problematic for the Trustees or Beneficiaries usually have not been in the property – ever. They might, however, know of problems related to the property and are now compelled by law to disclose those before the property is conveyed. Such problems can be a neighborhood issue, something like all the windows having been vandalized, or the roof being blown off. Any defect required by a law to be disclosed must be disclosed if they have knowledge of it. Perhaps, there was correspondence from the Owner to the Lender relating the need for a new roof and a request for relief from payments so they could afford it. This type of knowledge must be related to a new Buyer by the Lender.

Our Advice: Despite the legal requirement for disclosure, proceed with caution. The Lender most likely has no knowledge of the condition of the home. If the Owner wrecks havoc as they vacate the property just prior to or subsequent to the sale the Lender would have no knowledge of the damage. Lenders usually want to sell ‘As Is”, and may ask that you waive the SRPD requirements. If you are to waive the requirements remember that you must sign the waiver document and have it notarized to be valid. A Buyer can waive the SRPD requirement in any transaction as long as it is notarized.

Be smart in your foreclosure acquisition. Your successful bid might seem like a good deal until you walk through the front door, or when you get a physical inspection to ascertain the condition of the home. Build a cushion in your bid for the unexpected … you can expect it.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Selling Smart in Today's Market

How in the world can we be smart in today’s market?

Everyone wants to be smart in their real estate moves. Really, most just don’t want to be dumb. Unfortunately, many are now considering non-action for action and are hiding behind the mantra of, “We’re not going to give it away!”

It isn’t that kind of market, folks. Consider what the Chief Executive of Countrywide Financial, Angelo Mozilo, the Largest U.S. mortgage underwriter, said on July 25th, “No one saw the deterioration of real estate values coming.” He went on to say, “The Company is seeing home price depreciation at levels not seen since the Great Depression.” If you still can’t adjust your expectations to reality, or if you are wondering why you weren’t told about this think about the above statements. The number one man of the largest mortgage company in the nation says they didn’t see it coming. Don’t fault yourself, or your agent – take action now.

We’ve recently seen amazing Seller resistance to price adjustments in all market segments. It has been frustrating for agents offering professional insight and perspective to Sellers in denial. The results are numerous agent “firings” of customers. This is when they give back the listing because they feel they can’t get the job done at the List Price in today’s market. Given that Mr. Mozilo thinks it will be mid-2008 or even 2009 before things come back, it is important to evaluate your situation with brutal honesty. Listen to your agent.

Our Advice: Quit worrying about what your property was worth in 2005 – that was then. Don’t scheme about how you can take advantage of an unsuspecting out-of-state Buyer – Buyers are smarter now and nobody pays too much in this market. If you have an opportunity to replace your residence with something equally affected by the market as your present property – sell and buy and get on with your life. If you have health or family issues that are affecting your need or desire to sell – price it right and get on with your life, prioritize right between money/health/family and your decision should be easy. Don’t try to fool your agent into believing your value story – if they believe you then you haven’t selected the right agent to work for you. Your agent must take a risk right now. Your agent must tell you what you don’t want to hear … the Truth. The risk of disappointing you now greatly outweighs the risk of really disappointing you in six months. The good ones will take that risk to serve you professionally – it’s up to you to listen and take action.

Property is selling … at interesting prices. Yours can sell – when you remove the blinders and have an honest look at where you fit in today’s market. Buyers are “pricing forward” in their offers – something Sellers were doing not too long ago in the other direction. If you don’t have to sell now … don’t!

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who Pays Which Closing Costs?

How do we know who pays what part of the closing costs?

Your question is timely. With the influx of new agents in the real estate industry in recent years some of the traditional closing cost splits in Douglas County have been addressed differently in offers. All closing costs are the subject of transaction-specific negotiation, but there is a “baseline” of how closing costs are treated so one knows if they are being offered “less” or “more” than what they could customarily expect.

One of the biggest costs of a real estate transaction is title insurance. It has long been the custom in Douglas County that the Owner’s Policy be paid equally by both parties, and the Lender’s Policy be paid by the Buyer. Just over the County line to the North in Carson City the policy is that the Seller pay for the Owner’s Policy. Sometimes Carson agents working in Douglas that aren’t familiar with our custom ask in their offer that the Seller pay for the policy. What is happening now is many local agents are providing for the Seller to pay the cost of the policy as a matter of course, not negotiation. Either practice, innocent of malice as it may be, can cause consternation on the part of Sellers resulting in unnecessary negative emotion in the negotiations.

Inspection costs such as Physical, Pest, Roof, Septic, Water Quality, etc. are typically Buyer paid costs. Both sides, however, benefit from inspections – Buyers can consider it “insurance” that they aren’t buying the proverbial “pig in a poke”, and Sellers have the liability relief of having a licensed third-party inspecting the condition of the home. These costs can be reasonably negotiated due to their mutually beneficial nature.

Our Advice: Some folks get upset when they sell if they paid half the cost when they bought and are now expected to pay the entire title insurance cost. What ultimately counts is the net proceeds check you receive. Don’t get hung up on principle issues if the dollars meet your wants and/or needs. Buyers should be advised that the Seller isn’t “getting in their pocket” against what is normal if they counter a customary item in a customary manner, rather they are treating them in a manner they deem to be fair. Having the Buyer pay the entire cost would be seeking a financial advantage. Despite traditional customary practices, it is not unusual these days to see Sellers paying much of the Buyer’s closing costs as an incentive for them to select their property versus another.

Both sides of a real estate transaction are negotiating for their financial benefit. Closing costs can total thousands of dollars so it is important to understand who pays what and why. An understanding of what is customary helps all parties understand how they are being affected financially, good and bad, and keeps unnecessary emotion out of the negotiations.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Short Sales ... Quick are They?

All this talk about short sales … how quick are they?

The name “short sale” doesn’t reference the time involved, rather it describes the situation when a lender or bank agrees to accept less for the property than is actually owed on the mortgage. It is a realistic phenomenon in real estate markets such as we find ourselves in today. The majority of the prospective short sale properties today involve, in one way or another, a high purchase price or refinance done in 2005, an adjustable rate mortgage that is adjusting to normal from the teaser rates, or a high loan to value, i.e.- 100-125%, sub-prime loan. Any one of those items can create difficulties, two or more leads to sleepless nights.

Public myth to the contrary, the lenders don’t want to own the properties they loan on - they want their payments. If payments stop coming they have the option to foreclose. In a market that has declined they are faced with a difficult choice – take back the property, or settle for less than what is owed. Taking less than what is owed and avoiding the foreclosure process, with its many uncertainties and delays, is now seriously considered more than ever before. Some lenders have established departments for just this process – an unthinkable idea just a few years back.

A lender looks at many things when considering a short sale. Some are obvious like whether or not the homeowner is deserving of a short sale. Do they make a substantial amount of “verified” income? Do they have equity in other real estate? Is it in the bank’s best interest to take a short sale or repossess the house and sell through a Realtor? How many properties does the lender have in default? How flexible is the investor backing the loan? Is there a third party servicing the loan? Are there stipulations within the mortgage note or mortgage insurance precluding selling short? Is the property owner’s cause for default/foreclosure justified? There are other “secrets” that are known by trained short sale agents that are used to determine the feasibility of successfully executing a short sale.

Our Advice: If your payments are a struggle, or just aren’t happening, don’t deny the reality of the situation. Take action. If you wait too long you may have no option but to experience a foreclosure, or to delay the inevitable with a bankruptcy filing. If you take action you might very well get yourself out of your situation sooner, save the mental/physical wear and tear on you and your family, and incur less of a credit ding than the other options. Don’t prejudge what you think will happen – you might be very surprised at what can really happen for you. Find out the truth about your specific situation and you will have the ability to implement an action plan.

A lot of people are talking about short sales – deal with those in the know to get your situation properly resolved. Some are going to classes, getting educated to help the public. Check with your agent for guidance, or find one that is short sale knowledgeable. Short sales are a tool, but there can be unexpected consequences and they aren’t for everybody. This is but a moment in time and time will heal this … if you act now. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Homesteading My House

I’ve heard I should Homestead my house … what does that mean?

The Homestead Act today doesn’t mean you can squat on 160 acres of public land and eventually own it, rather it is a means to protect equity in your home against seizure, forced sale by general creditor claims, and judgments that might be entered against you. The amount of protection was recently increased in Nevada to $550,000. The Homestead Act is one of the gifts the Constitution of the State of Nevada gives to homeowners and yet it’s amazing how few people actually take advantage of it. Most of the people we speak with don't even know it exists.

Here’s how it works: You must own or be buying your home or mobile home in order to file a Declaration of Homestead. The home must be your principle residence, not a rental or investment property. It doesn’t matter whether you are single, married or an unmarried head of household. You may homestead your mobile home even though you don't own the land the mobile home sits on. Some mortgages may prohibit homesteading, check with your lender to ascertain their position on you homesteading your property.

Be aware that a homestead will not protect your home or mobile home if the judgment or lien is for: Taxes, the mortgage or deed on the home or mobile home, improvements made on the home or mobile home, mechanics liens and other liens on the home or mobile home, any debt or obligation you willfully and voluntarily incur.

Thanks to legislative changes this year, you can protect $550,000 of your equity. If your equity exceeds $550,000 you should go ahead and homestead understanding that you will only be able to protect $550,000 of your equity. To protect your property all you need to do is: Obtain and fill out a Declaration of Homestead form., Sign it before a notary and print your name beneath your signature., Record it at the County Recorder's office of the county in which the property is located. There is a nominal recording fee. You can record your homestead at almost any time, even if you have already lost a lawsuit or had a judgment entered against you.

If you have already filed a Declaration of Homestead on your property remember that you will need to prepare and record a new one if you: Sell your home and buy another one, move your mobile home from one lot space to another, marry, divorce or become widowed, get a new loan.

Our Advice: Filing a Declaration of Homestead is easy and is such a valuable tool that we recommend all Nevada homeowners utilize this very inexpensive means to protect their home equity.

You can obtain a homestead packet at most office supply stores, or contact us by phone or email, or simply stop by at 1320 Highway 395, Gardnerville. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs … Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What in the wide, wide world of real estate is going on around here?

What in the wide, wide world of real estate is going on around here? How is the market?

The market is still feeling its way along with surprises on a regular basis. Some segments are seeing no activity while others are active, but dropping in value. Buyers and Sellers are trying to determine the reality of their position with influences from National media, real estate agents, and general talk around town. Nobody wants to make a mistake which is causing some to simply not act – a market dynamic in itself.

A look at MLS statistics for the area shows sales year-to-date are about one-third of what they were in 2005. Average sales prices for the same time are off 20%. Our real estate market is comprised of many segments throughout the Valley each which must be specifically analyzed to have an accurate understanding of that market, however these generalized numbers will serve our purpose here. Values are down – undeniably – in some areas more than others. Some areas have actually dropped 20% since April alone! You can see market trends for your neighborhood if you go to, put in your address, and look at the chart. We don’t recommend using their values without the interpretation of an agent, but the trend lines on the chart will illustrate what we are saying. If you are going to sell you must be priced right and ahead of the market as it adjusts. Knowing of its brisk decline if you are in such a neighborhood will enable you to be priced right sooner so you will sell before you have to drop it even further.

If you are in a market segment that has had little, or no, activity since the first of the year, i.e.- homes in the seven figure range, you have a different dilemma. How do you determine market value when there is no market? This was evidenced in a dramatic fashion in Elko County in the 1980’s when there were no sales of ranches for a few years. A Buyer with a bundle of cash wanted to buy several ranches and the lender wanted to make the loan. The appraiser used a trend line to predict what the value might be if the sales continued as they were. The loans funded and escrows closed. When the next sale happened it was below the last sale used to establish the trend. Notwithstanding the high sales of the properties using an “estimated” value, the values had in fact decreased and were less than half the “estimated” value. The “estimated” Buyer lost every ranch to foreclosure. Our situation is not as dire with wonderful residential properties, but the circumstances are familiar. What does one offer? You can use replacement cost with consideration of the hassle factor. You can determine what a specific property means to you and your circumstances and offer accordingly. You can simply take a run at it, professional jargon. What we do know is that you won’t enjoy it if you don’t own it.

Our Advice: Buyers should make their offer. You might buy a property at a price you are comfortable with, or at least you’ll know if the Seller of the property is willing to negotiate to a price acceptable to you. With interest rates still relatively low, prices low, and our “Chamber” attraction items still intact, it is a good time to buy. If you are Selling – decide if you really want/need to sell right now. This is not a market to “see if we can get our price”. If you don’t need to sell now … don’t. Wait for the anticipated recovery. If you are “upside down” in your property, owe more than its value, don’t list high with low hopes – talk to a true real estate professional with short sale skills about how you can get out intact financially and emotionally healthy.

Don’t get paralyzed by the market dynamics. Things can change daily. Talk to your agent with candor and you will be able to make the right real estate move for your circumstance.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Nevada Real Estate Legislative Changes

We wrote an offer and our agent negotiated directly with the Seller without their agent.

Strange as it may seem, that is now legal if the right forms were signed by the Seller. Effective July 1, 2007, Sellers and their broker can sign a form authorizing an agent representing a Buyer to negotiate directly with the Seller, and a form waiving the right of a Listing agent to present offers to their Sellers. The obvious question is, why would a Seller hire an agent and not have them represent them? This new law is in response to a new breed of agents. There are agents that will charge a very nominal fee to put your property in the Multiple Listing Service … and that is all. They don’t show the property, represent the property, negotiate the sale, or deal with any of the escrow-related inspections, repairs, negotiations and documentation. They are what we call zero-service agents. Not minimum-service agents, another genre of agent, rather zero-service.

Their lack of any involvement in the transaction was presenting difficulties to other agents who were faced with presenting offers to people they didn’t represent. Technically, they were breaking Nevada real estate and agency law. The legislature made some changes, not to accommodate the zero services agents, but to protect the agents that were actually selling the homes those agents had signed up. To do so they had to create a form to allow an agent to negotiate directly with someone they don’t represent, and a Waiver Form allowing the listing agent to not present offers.

In a seeming contradiction of terms, the Waiver form says, “By signing below I agree that the licensee who represents me shall not present any offers made to or by me …”. It continues to put the burden on the Seller to know what to do and advises consulting an attorney. Combine that with the other form that has the following statements: “…a Buyer’s agent…may present offers…and negotiation directly with the Seller.”, “Negotiate” means (a) delivering … an offer, counteroffer, or proposal; (b) discussing or reviewing the terms of any offer, counteroffer, or proposal; and/or (c) facilitating communication regarding an offer, counteroffer, or proposal and preparing any response ads directed.”, “…additional contact from the Buyer’s agent may be required to obtain disclosures and other documents related to the transaction.”, “Seller acknowledges and agrees that Buyer’s agent does not represent the Seller…”. We don’t understand why one would hire somebody and allow them not to do what it is they were hired to do, but now it can be done and not jeopardize full service practitioners.

Our Advice: Understand what type of service you are getting when you sign a listing agreement. If you have little equity, or even if you are upside down in your home, a full service real estate agent with the right knowledge can get you out of your difficulties. There is a difference between what we call zero-service, minimum-service, and full service real estate practitioners. Know what you are contracting for and understand, whatever your chosen avenue to your close of escrow, what counts is the amount of your proceeds check, the integrity of your transaction, and your protection from potential legal difficulties.

All is not what it appears to be in life. With full knowledge of the reality in this matter the decision is easy – check it out! Don’t put yourself adrift on life’s sea – it’s your money, your time, and your peace of mind you are protecting.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Farm Equipment on the Road.

Why is all this farm equipment on the road … shouldn’t they have to move at night?

Welcome to Carson Valley and all its charm. The farm equipment moving down the highway this time of year helps to make the Valley what it is. A farmer moving a swather or harrowbed from field to field is actually fun to watch. They must move the equipment from field to field during the day and night as their schedule and the schedule of nature dictates. This is what makes the Valley green and maintains the open spaces you enjoy.

Most of the roads in the Valley are secondary agricultural roads. They were designed and built to carry occasional traffic and farm equipment. The traffic we see on them today was inconceivable when they were built. That not only makes for tight quarters when you see a swather on the road, but it also contributes to unexpected traffic flows at times. There aren’t traffic lights to break up the now-seemingly-constant flow of traffic. That is resulting in people having to enter the traffic with less lead time than before. If somebody is entering traffic ahead of you and you have to slow to allow them to enter please think before you react. You can honk your displeasure at somebody having the audacity of pulling out in front of you, or you can understand that it is a growing pain and you might be in their shoes next week and would appreciate the consideration of the driver letting you in to the traffic flow. Let’s leave the honking to the city, folks, and understand that we all need to get somewhere. Common courtesy.

Our Advice: Appreciate the agricultural heritage of the Carson Valley if you live here. The local farming was started to support the mining industry located elsewhere in the region. There are but remnants of it now, and those people are doing what they can to work with the incredible influx of people that has occurred over the past 20 years. Appreciate the farming you see now for, economics being what they are, you might not always see it. Farm equipment is very expensive and the price paid for crops hasn’t gone up much accordingly. It is more of a way of life than a real profit center. Enjoy the results of this way of life – the beauty of the fields, the big equipment moving and working, the seasonal farming activity changes, the peace of working with the land. The more you relate to it the more you will enjoy where you live. It is a major part of what makes living here special.

Just like the zoo – who’s watching who? Watch the farmers play and understand … they are watching you, too. They are inevitably considerate to your needs when they see you around. It’s easy to coexist when you respect one another and one another’s needs. Do your part and your life will be that much more joyful.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Water Under Our House ... Now What?

The inspector found water under our house but we live in the desert … how can that be?

Water is an amazing thing and proliferates in many ways in the desert. It is important when you sell that your home be inspected for water leaks, standing water, and potential or existing water damage. As innocuous as it seems, water can become a nuisance and possibly terminate your sale – even in the desert. Inspections protect both Buyers and Sellers.

Water in a house can only come from a few sources- leaks in the water system, surface water flow, or underground water. Leaks in the water system are usually quite evident. They can be hard to track down if concealed, but the leak can ultimately be found, and once identified, the problem can be corrected.

Surface water, too, is usually quite evident. A stream of water flowing towards a dwelling is not that hard to notice. This isn’t always a torrential flood situation, but can be a neighbor watering too much, a broken pipe on another property, etc. In such cases the water flow itself is evident if witnessed, but if not seen, the path the water followed is usually apparent. Unless a catastrophic event, this is also usually easy to mitigate.

Underground water can be a bit trickier to identify. Is the source a spring or is it migrating water? Water will flow to the lowest point ergo water migrating to a crawl space from over-watered lawns is not uncommon. This can usually be identified and remedied easily. It is a bit more difficult to identify water migrating down to your property from up the street because of a clay strata that prevents the water from percolating. In that case the water just appears in a pool under your house with no apparent source. Frustration is then spelled w-a-t-e-r. Call in the experts – there is an answer to the problem.

Our Advice: Check your crawl space periodically to make sure that you don’t have an unknown water problem. Be sure to do this after a big rain, or during the summer months when everybody is watering their lawns. Make sure you don’t "excavate” while gardening around your foundation as you could create a negative grade that would allow water to flow under the footing. If water does pool under your home be sure to move it out with a sump pump that takes the water a good distance away from your foundation. Occasional water isn’t a bad thing if you get it out in a timely manner. If you allow it to linger, or flow steadily, you will ultimately have substantial damage to your structure that will be costly to repair.

Accept the paradox of water problems in the desert, and protect yourself and your investment. The term “liquid assets” does not apply to real estate unless you are prepared to price it appropriately.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Buy now and adjust our payment later.

How can we buy now and adjust our payment when we sell later?

You are fortunate to be in the position of buying now and selling later. It is the ideal scenario for this market, and, unless you are paying with cash, can present challenges if you don’t plan and execute correctly. One of the biggest things Buyers consider is their monthly payment. If you are counting on the equity from your existing home to make your payments comfortable, the traditional thought is that you must sell before you buy to achieve this efficiently. Today, however, you could be better off buying first and selling later.

It is understood that you stand a better chance of getting a better price if your offer is not contingent on selling another property. Even if you have two house payments for a period of time, the negotiated savings of a non-contingent offer often offsets a large part of, if not all of, the additional carrying costs. When you sell and want to reduce the payment on your new house is the rest of the puzzle. Traditional thinking is that you get an adjustable-rate or interest-only loan that will adjust the payment amount after you make a large principal reduction. This can be a good way to go, but there are some items to consider: 1. The rate can adjust before you make your principal reduction. 2. You could pay a 1% conversion charge to convert to a fixed rate. 3. There can be a prepayment penalty for a reduction that large, as much as 6 months interest.

A good alternative is to tell your lender of your intention to make a big principal reduction in a short period of time. Your lender can place your loan with investors that will allow your loan to be “recast”, recalculated. They will look at the loan balance after you pay it down substantially, and adjust the payment according to the new balance and remaining term of the loan. Your interest rate is unchanged, you have minimal paperwork, the fee is usually a nominal $250, and you have the peace of mind of a lower payment for the life of the loan. This is a relatively new practice that isn’t widely known. Approval by the ultimate investor is essential. Be sure to work it out up front as there are other criteria that can limit your options, ie.- it can’t be a HELOC, can’t be an ARM or Interest Only with an adjustment scheduled in next two years, is subject to the terms of the original promissory note, etc..

Our Advice: If you are looking for long term payment stability and are frozen from acting on a new home until you sell, consider one of these alternatives. It is a great time to buy. If you are certain that you will be buying in the Carson Valley then we suggest that you figure out how you can do it now. All things considered, when the market again rises it is doubtful that we will see buying opportunities like this ever again. Discuss your options with your agent and plan a course of action. Look at least six months ahead in your real estate plans. Look at the total cash flow picture. When the dust settles what will your results be? You might find the well executed circuitous route the best in these times.

With a good plan, and by taking action, you can add to your net worth while moving forward with your moving plans. You could be settled while others are still watching … wondering what to do.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Verbal Real Estate Offers

We want to save time by making a verbal offer but our agent recommends against it.

Your agent understands that if it isn’t in writing it is exceptionally difficult to enforce a verbal real estate agreement. In other words, if the Seller agrees to your offer and later won’t sign your written agreement there is little you can do without high risk, cost, and time … if at all. Many things can happen before a verbal agreement is memorialized … most of them bad for a Buyer. The Seller can have a change of heart, another offer can materialize, or the Seller’s Aunt Tillie can agree to give them money so they can wait for a better offer. A written offer that they sign when they are inclined to do so is an enforceable document.

If you do happen to connect on a verbal proposal, work to get a written contract as soon as is practicable for the protection of all parties. Verbal offers usually consist of price, escrow period, and maybe one or two other featured items. There are many other components to a transaction so it is important to agree on all of them quickly. If you don’t initially call out something that is out of the ordinary, there is an implication that you are going to handle the other terms and conditions in the customary manner. This is where integrity comes in – yours and that of your agent. You have given your word … what does it mean? It isn’t a time to further gouge a motivated Seller – you lost your moral chance to do so when you chose to make a verbal offer.

If you’ve selected several properties and want to make several offers looking to get the best price, have your agent write multiple offers. It is easy with computers these days, and you can have many offers working at the same time. In a Seller’s Market the Seller can contemplate multiple offers from multiple Buyers. In a Buyer’s Market the Buyer can submit multiple offers to multiple Sellers. Be aware, this situation can backfire on you. Why should a Seller accept a low offer from you if there is a chance that you won’t select their property to buy - the Seller’s low-price threshold is now known to people other than their agent. Sellers also know that if a Buyer doesn’t want their house more than another the price they receive may be less than optimum. Often Sellers, or their agents, are reluctant to compete in a multiple offer arena. Adjust your offer strategy appropriately for multiple offers so they will work effectively for you.

Our Advice: The main reason you wouldn’t put an offer in writing is because you think it too onerous to waste your time on. What do you really think of the home? How long do you plan to live in it? If you are buying it below market today and will be in it to see the market recover, why let a minor price difference keep you from the environment you really want to immerse yourself in for the next few years? Price is important, but it isn’t everything. Buy what you want, buy what you can afford, and buy with peace of mind. The best priced home doesn’t always meet this criteria.

If your offer is worthy … put it in writing. If the Seller signs it you have a deal. If it is to be your primary residence, remember what is really important to you and create that reality.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781-5472

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Making your home stand out in today's competative market.

We really have to sell … how can we stand out from the other homes?

It is important for Sellers to realize that Buyers have many options in today’s market. They are well informed, have access to a lot of information via the Internet, and are making wise decisions. Assuming that you are priced right, a must in today’s market, there are other things you and your agent can do to attract a Buyer’s attention. We think it is vital that you do them for your own success.

Start by looking at your home from the street. Is your landscaping up to snuff? Are the weeds pulled, lawn edged, street gutters clean? This is your Buyer’s first impression and it will set the tone for them to look at the interior. Put your Buyer hat on – what does it look like? Is it inviting? Are there cobwebs on the lights and eves? Clean them off!

As you enter your home what does it look and smell like? Is it inviting to the new viewer? Do they have to step over things to meander through the house? Is your dog barking incessantly at them … or worse? It is important that a Buyer enjoy looking at the environment and visualizing themselves living there. With that in mind – can they see the walls or is every inch covered with pictures? Is your dirty laundry contained, or is it in a pile in the corner waiting for Saturday morning? There is a difference between “living in” your house, and having your house “market ready”. That difference is important in today’s market and those that go the extra mile … agents and Sellers … will get separation in the market and stand a much better chance of selling in a timely manner.

Our Advice: Recognize that everyone has to work harder in today’s market. The agents are working harder, but many Sellers haven‘t accepted their responsibilities for getting their home sold. It is imperative that you do the many little things that will enhance your home in a Buyer’s eyes and memory. Work to sell your home and enjoy the fruits of your labor at the close of escrow. You can help to control your own destiny – positive or otherwise. Get rid of the clutter, clean everything … often, and make sure your home is readily accessible for showings. You have plenty of time for privacy in your new home – welcome a showing when it comes your way because many Sellers aren’t getting calls for showings. If you don’t want to make the necessary effort then adjust your price accordingly – buy the luxury of not preparing your home for sale by discounting your price dramatically.

Buyers have a lot of choices today … help them choose your home. Work on it as you would your used car – clean up, wash, polish, show it with pride. If you do that, and are priced right, you can start wrapping the china!

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We are having trouble making our payments!

We are having a hard time making our payments … what can we do?

You’re not alone if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. The housing boom took homeownership to nearly 70%, but some homeowners are having problems making their payments and they can’t refinance. Lenders invented new types of mortgages recently to help families without cash for a down payment, or with less-than-perfect credit. These “subprime” loans have higher interest rates and costs such as prepayment penalties (usually six months interest minimum!). They often start with a “teaser” rate followed by significant increases over the remainder of the loan.

Compounded by the Market correcting, the situation has caused many to be in the predicament of facing much higher payments, high cost to refinance or sell, and market values that would require them to write a check to sell their property. If you are having trouble paying your mortgage for any reason, or expect problems, you should work with experts and your lender to find a solution. If you fall behind and don’t take action, the lender will foreclose on your home. The sooner you act, the better the chances you will avoid foreclosure.

If you have, or are considering getting, one of the following types of loans be advised that they have a particularly high risk of failure: Interest-Only Mortgage – you pay only the interest on the loan for the first 5-10 years, nothing on the loan amount. After the interest-only period the payments are much higher. Payment Option Adjustable Rate Mortgages – you decide how much to pay each month. You can pay less than the interest and add the unpaid interest to the principal you owe, or you can pay just interest, or you can pay enough to pay the loan off sooner. This can have a big payment shock, and get you “upside down” in your property quickly. 2/28 and 3/27 Mortgages – you’ll have a fixed payment for the first two or three years before your payments adjust.

Our Advice: There are options for working with your lender that can prevent a foreclosure. If your payment is squeezing you we suggest that you get counseling immediately. Be careful of questionable counseling companies that want a fee and “will hire an attorney” for you. There are non-profit Neighbor Works organizations working with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation that can help you. Call 1-888-995-HOPE, day or night (24/7), English or Spanish, to get help. You can find the nearest Neighbor Works organization at The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website has a list of approved counseling organization by state,, or call 800-569-4287.

Don’t play ostrich! Take action and control your destiny. Don’t let the pressure build, get a plan and work it. Help is available in more ways than ever before – utilize the resources available to you for your financial, emotional and psychological well being.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Reconveyance of previous loans on real property.

We went to close and our old loan still showed up … what happened?

When you have Title Insurance in a transaction these things can happen … thankfully. That is why you get Title Insurance. Old loans that have not been reconveyed show up quite often on Title Reports, and can cause havoc in your escrow. The situation is becoming more prevalent with the rampant refinancing that was going on over the past few years. Lenders were exceptionally busy and details, like sending your reconveyance document for recording, were overlooked or missed.

Two documents are generated to memorialize and secure your real property loan. The first is a Promissory Note, your promise to pay. This specifies the loan amount, interest rate, term, and other special features. This is between you and the Lender, it isn’t public information. The second document is a Deed of Trust. This is the security instrument. It references the Promissory Note, and describes the property securing the loan, i.e.- your primary residence. This is recorded and gives the public constructive notice of the encumbrance against your title.

When you pay your loan off the Deed of Trust should be “reconveyed”, given back to you, the borrower. This is where things break down and your title can be clouded. It is particularly dicey these days as loans are sold and sold again in a National arena. Instead of needing a document from a company in Reno you might find yourself talking to a computer on the East Coast. A good title officer will work with you. If a sizeable new loan is currently in place the title officer knows that the old loan had to have been `paid off before the new loan would be funded. They still prefer the proper documentation, but they understand that the risk of the underlying loan not having been paid off is minimal. Title Insurance, like any other insurance business, is a study of risk. The perspective of risk is where your agent can help you mitigate the impact on your escrow closing if there is a title problem involving reconveyancing.

Our Advice: When you pay off an old loan follow up to make sure that the lender recorded the Notice of Reconveyance. They got their money – you deserve your documentation. Work with a knowledgeable, flexible title insurance company. Some are rigid and won’t adapt to reality … at your emotional and potentially financial expense. Most will work with you to minimize their exposure, that of the Buyer, and to close in a timely manner. Be proactive – make sure the details are handled in your transaction, don’t assume that they have been just because they were supposed to have been.

Title Insurance is the “dry” part of the real estate business, but it the essential core. Many people, including agents, ignore/neglect title issues. What is your property value if you’ve a defective title? Title problems can truly render a property worthless so pay close attention to your title matters because … title matters!

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates,, 775-781- 5472