Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What Can We Expect For 2009?

We are very optimistic about real estate in 2009. The markets of the past few years have set this year up to be one of great healing and activity. The market slowdown of 2006, the crawl of 2007, and the economic roller coaster ride of 2008 all have served to bring Buyers and Sellers to their senses. We believe 2009 will be a year to stabilize, recover, and move forward.

Our reasons for optimism are plenty. We have the “Perfect Storm” Market for a Buyer. Interest rates are at a 37 year low with the potential for government-directed further reductions in the near future. There are many homes to choose from in most market segments and most of the deadwood, exorbitantly high priced properties, has been removed or is so out of touch with reality that it doesn’t confuse the market anymore. This is good for both Buyers and Sellers. The many overpriced listings of unrealistic Sellers previously served only to confuse other Sellers and cause Buyers to wait for the market drop. Well … the market has dropped, and most Sellers have adjusted their expectations to where they are closer to reality.

Entry level housing is currently available for payments that aren’t much more than rent with little or nothing down given the marvelous interest rates. Many first-time home Buyers are looking and acting right now before the market gets traction. They are delightfully surprised with what they can buy and how affordable it really is today.

At the other end of the market, the just, or soon to be, retired folks will soon be coming to grips with their stock portfolio losses, generally touted in the media at 40% for most of them. They are/will realize that the home they wanted to buy has also dropped that much percentage-wise, and is pretty close to the being the same percentage of their total net worth that it was when they panicked, picked up their marbles, and went home to wait and see what was going to happen.

While Sellers have gone through a tortuous 18 month steady decline in their home’s market value, for the Buyers their stock loss was “instant”, 30 days, or so. BAM! It was, of course, unbelievable. Then it was real … then really real. As they recover from their shock they will be ready to take action, and we believe real estate will be the preferred investment avenue of choice for those looking to mitigate their losses and to protect their economic future.

Our Advice: Real Estate prices are generally around where they were in 2003, and the stock market is around where it was in 2003 - they are about on par with one another. The entire world is working to remedy the economic situation. With that much positive intention it only makes sense that the collective consciousness of the Nation, now one of panic, denial, and inactivity, will change to one of positive expectation and decisive action. As it does everyone will breathe a little easier and the fun and joy will return to our industry.

This is the year of the solution and you can be a part of it. The rebound will come later, but we look to a recovery in 2009 that will establish a new foundation for our market. Get off the sideline and into the game – its where the action is!

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. carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Agent Keeps Telling Me To Reduce My Price … Can’t She Sell Anything?

Your Agent is continually talking to you about lowering your price because the market keeps dropping and your home clearly hasn’t sold. Quit the ostrich act! It isn’t your Agent that is necessitating the downward price adjustment - it takes a willing Buyer and a willing Seller to make market value. When there are many listings and few Buyers, the market value declines … supply and demand. It isn’t your Agent’s lack of selling skills or incompetence (we hope) that are causing your home not to sell if it isn’t priced right for what you are offering.

Agents don’t make the market … but the good ones monitor the variables closely to enable you to stay current in the market such as: interest rates; the economy – local, regional, National… even Global today; the inventory – existing and new product coming on line, the overall Market activity, Buyer demographics; other investment opportunities or vogues; changing area amenities, i.e.- increase in medical services in the community; and many more.

When the market runs up some Agents don’t have their Sellers make adjustments. When the property sells the Seller doesn’t know how much was truly left on the table. When the market drops it is evident to all if a property isn’t priced right – the property sits on the market … and sits…and sits. Properties that are priced right are for the most part selling. The price is up to you, the Seller, and what a Buyer is willing to pay for what you have.

Buyers today want a great buy … your Agent can’t control that. She can tell them how your home stacks up in the Market, but she can’t prevent the “lowball” offer that so offends you. She can tell them why your home is priced so well, but she can’t overcome their “media paralysis”, their fear to act because of what others have told them they should fear. Some are so afraid by what they see and hear that you could give them your home and they’d be afraid of “the catch”.

Our Advice: Your Agent cannot overcome the collective consciousness of our society which today is in such a panic that many people have simply put their lives on hold. She can, however, be realistic, positive, energetic, and attentive to your needs as she approaches her fiduciary duties daily to get your home sold by finding the good smart Buyers that are out there today taking action. Good agents can help you save, or make, money by helping you make good decisions. That can be interpreted for some Sellers as minimizing their ultimate loss. It shouldn’t be a test of wills between you and your Agent – you should be working towards a common goal – selling your home for the best possible price in a reasonable time and protecting you from problems.

Money seems to be ready to flow back to real estate from stocks given the great real estate prices, incredible interest rates, and brilliant future of real estate. As the money flows, prices will gain traction and things will turn around. This is now the peak opportunity for Buyers to make their best buys, and for Sellers to maintain their optimism about their home selling. Enjoy it – these are the Good Old Days! 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. carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

51 Comments on The Cheapest Trick in the Book!

Our last posting produced many comments from our associates across the country, here is a sampling of their response.

51 Comments on The Cheapest Trick in the Book!

It is so embarrassing to read that agents still use these old, old tricks to get a listing. Of course, I wonder why any owner would fall for that line, "I have a buyer, but. . . ", but, they still do.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I've heard of that old trick since I've been in this business.

I remember when I had a house listed for sale in MD in 2005, I was approached by just about every sleezy opportunist agent in the county. The listing for my house disclosed that the owner was an agent/broker. Apparently they didn't read that part. I just referred them to my listing agent.

Thanks for writing about his subject. Perhaps it will make a few agents think twice about using such disgusting tactics. TOTOH, it could give some ideas.
Oh well.

12/18/2008 05:05 AM
Lenn Harley Homefinders.com MD & VA Real Estate

Thanks for sharing with us - great advice ----
12/18/2008 05:29 AM
Norma J Elkins Realtor Elkins Home Selling Team ( Exit Triple "E" Realty)

They should lose their license for such actions. Why regulate a profession if you don't intend on weeding out the bad ones.
12/18/2008 05:41 AM
Greg Bell (Bell Inspection Service)

This is a great topic to write a post on. I recently went on a listing appointment where the 1st agent said the home would sell for 760,000 and I thought it needed to be priced at 650,000. Imagine the look on the seller's face. The sellers got an appraisal and called me back & said it appraised at 650,000. I did get the listing.

It doesn't pay to be dishonest in this business & we should work to get our seller's homes sold not list a home to improve our inventory in the market!
12/18/2008 05:50 AM
Laura Karambelas-Chicagoland Real Estate (Baird & Warner)

"Sharks don't feed on Sharks", that's what an attorney told us long long ago. Most of the time it's more trouble and more work than it's worth to report these slugs. Add to that , its a lot of negativity and who needs that in this business climate?

12/18/2008 05:53 AM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

Whne I worked at a franchise office I watched an agent making those calls from the office. His line was "we just sold the home at so and so address and we have still some ready buyers looking in that neighborhood".
What a crock
12/18/2008 05:53 AM
Fred Pickard Innovations Realty Inc

We have that kind of situation. We are adjacent to an "Upscale" Resort community just 15 Miles west and up the hill, "Lake Tahoe"- you might have heard of t. Some of the Agents up there like to tell sellers in the valley below that they are a better choice as a listing agent because they are accustom to deal with the high end buyers.
Funny ... the MLS statistics show that most of the upper end sales in our market are NOT orginated from those Brokers.

12/18/2008 06:01 AM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

Jim, I had one here recently called the seller and you know the rest. I explain to my seller what should happen next time if the agent call's. Well you know the agent called again. I then called her and told of the problem I had with these types of actions. You know she called again to the seller. Now we are handling it between brokers. If she does it again it will time to call the Board. If you have a offer bring it so we can all make money and sell property.
12/18/2008 06:19 AM
Frank Rubi -Louisiana Real Estate- (7824 Real Estate of Louisiana, LLC.)

It is agents like this that bring a bad name to other ethical agents. Good post.
12/18/2008 06:51 AM

Jim, the list of scams pulled by some Realtors is a long one and unfortunately it only adds to the bad image of the good Realtors. I think every Ethical Realtor unfortunately faces these scam things all to often in their career, not only have I received the calls you mentioned in your post but I've actually been out on appointments and been told these things by Sellers. The problem for me has been that since they don't know me yet, they tend to believe the b*ll sh*t from the other Realtor(s) and many times they list with them.

Do I get the deal after the Listing Expires, usually not since the Seller is either embarrassed to contact me when they expire and they list with someone else or their house eventually went under agreement during the first Agents time.

12/18/2008 06:52 AM
Christopher Bonta,Realtor/ Integrity and Honesty (Better Homes &Garden/Masiello Group)

Posting this is a good thing.
Shining the light on unethical practices helps all of us.
Educating the client and setting expectations helps a lot.
12/18/2008 07:11 AM
Erby Crofutt, the Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4UClose Home Inspections & Radon Testing (www.b4uclose.com))

Jim - Some agents will do anything to get a listing; including the unethical. The consumer needs to be aware of these deceptive ploys and be wary of agents that use them. Unethical agents give everyone a bad name.
12/18/2008 08:28 AM
Jon Wnoroski, Summit County Realtor (Geneva Chervenic Realty, Inc.)

It's very interesting that this is such a common problem and that its experienced by agents all over the country. We should all be working to clean up our industry. We'll admit,we have been lax in following through with this in the past. Maybe if we all took a firmer stand we could make a difference.
12/18/2008 09:37 AM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

I would rather have 0 listings than a listing that was owned by a client who felt like I cheated, lied, and basically hated me!

I may satisfy your transaction and years down the road you forget my name, but remember "He was good". But a disgruntled client will remember you always. Somebody will ask them for the name of an agent and they will reply "I do not know of a good agent, BUT I can tell you NOT to call (insert name here).

12/18/2008 10:00 AM
Chad Baird (Re/Max Spirit)

We see this around here. Sometimes agents use the one party listing to segway into an exclusive right to see. Other agents may suddenly develop a run of buyers to show a specific home to a week before the listing expires, just to leave cards on the counter a couple of times just before expiration to get a food in the door for a listing.
12/18/2008 10:34 AM
Brenda Carus (Re/Max Towne Square Realty)

Chad - we agree with you! Our reputation and good name is much more valuable than a 6 month listing contract.

Brenda - How about this one! The agent that writes a note on the back of their card to the Seller while on MLS tour saying, "Call me when your listing expires." Ever had that happen? We have.
12/18/2008 11:13 AM

by Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

Yes it is an old trick, unfortunately in this market sellers are desperate sometimes. It like preying on seniors. It seems that those the most in need get the worst treatment. Usually, that type of agent only gets business in a dishonorable manner.
12/18/2008 12:59 PM
Richard Stabile Bergen County New Homes Builder Realtor (REMAX real estate associates)

The sleaziest one happened to my mother. About a week after my Dad died a Realtor called my Mom and said she had heard that her husband had recently passed away and wanted to know if she was ready to put her home on the market because it was to big for her to take care of on her own.
12/18/2008 01:07 PM
Denise Gray (Coldwell Banker Stucky)

Thats some of the lowest BS I have ever heard.......I would have to bring this up to the board...
12/18/2008 01:15 PM
Scott Stulich (Home Selling Assistance Platinum)

Could be an ethics violation... Realtors MUST be honest and ethical with all parites... does not sound like they were to me???
12/18/2008 01:31 PM
Mark Ryan, Broker, CRS, ABR (Mark Ryan Group / Re/Max Victory)

Where do these agents learn these techniques? From brokers with less than stellar standards...
12/18/2008 03:10 PM
Gary Waters -Real estate agent Viera Suntree Melbourne and Rockledge FL (Century 21 Baytree Realty www.moving2brevard.com)

I don't understand that logic. If you really have a buyer... I (as the seller) am happy to sign a contract that gives you a co-operative fee, if you sell it... in fact I'll sign a "one time showing" before you show it.

If you "need the listing" in order to sell it to your buyer (in order to double side it)... I say... Sayonara, Heigh-dee-hoo, There's the door, See ya later, and all sort of other ways to say "hit the road".
12/18/2008 03:13 PM
Alan May Coldwell Banker, Evanston, Realtor® (Evanston, IL)

Yep, it's used a lot around here also. We don't do a lot of buyer agency in these parts, but if I have a buyer for a FSBO, or expired listing, we have a conditional listing agreement for the buyer only that we can use.
12/18/2008 03:24 PM
Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Premier Realty Group)

Thanks for pointing that out. If there is one thing I teach my agent clients, students and practice myself with prospects is to NOT use that old hand-me down BS. Gone are the days of slick car salesman tactics.This was really a great post to read.....confirmed my thinking exactly.Good work!TD
12/18/2008 03:30 PM
Tamara "The Real Estate Therapist" Dorris (Top Producing Techniques)

There are a few agents in our town that try that trick. It always comes back to haunt them, but I think it makes us all look bad. It is so much better and easier to be honest!
12/18/2008 03:55 PM
Jean Groesbeck - Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. REALTOR, Assoc. Broker, e-PRO, ABR, ASP (Coldwell Banker Deception Pass Realty)

No matter how much we hate it, there will always be a few agents out there using deceptive practices and making the rest of us look bad. Listing a home higher than others would have, "buying a listing', happens all the time but hopefully sellers will be smart and choose the best agent not the one who would price it the highest.
12/18/2008 03:56 PM
Dan and Amy Schuman,e-Pro,ASP (Keller Williams Realty Greater Cleveland)

Dear Jim,

Great article!

12/18/2008 04:34 PM
Barbara Delaney (Park Place REALTORS, Inc.)

Not only what you said, but it never amazes me how some agents that work "Expired" listings also have a buyer.

If I have a listing that's about to expire, and the seller chooses not to re-list with me - I prep them for the "Expired" calls.

I suggest that they ask the calling agent where their buyer was yesterday.
12/18/2008 04:59 PM
by Larry Bergstrom

Hi Jim - For as long as I have been in the business (22 years) this has been going on. It is kind of incredible though that sellers still fall for it.
12/18/2008 05:04 PM
Bill Gassett Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty)

We had a seller contact us in a similar situation where they felt they were being pressure to see to the buyer way under market. The seller were right and we listed the property at market value and the buyers vanished.
12/18/2008 05:19 PM
Richardson TX Realtor Mindy&Jay Robbins Richardson Texas Real Estate Specialist (Robbins Real Estate Group www.teamrobbins.com)

Complaints should filed to your local board about agents like this, especially the one going to the seller when the property is still listed. After a few agents are put in front of an ethics committee things like this would stop in a hurry.

I know we can't be bothered to file an ethics complaint, then expect this kind of behaviour to continue. If you aren't willing to do something about it maybe you are part of the problem.
Think about it

12/18/2008 05:34 PM
Alan Brown (Coldwell Banker Montrose Colorado)

This was a great post, I've enjoyed reading the other comments and their experiences too. It's just amazing what some agents will do for business. I live in a relatively small community and you'd think that some of this behavior would come back to haunt them. Sorry to say that some of the "big guns" here practice some of those techniques.
12/18/2008 05:39 PM
Erika Rogers (St. George GMAC St. George Utah)

Before I was a realtor, at the hight of the market, I use to get "the call" that went something like this.

Hi, this is so and so from XYZ Realtors. Is this ______________.
"Yes, how may i help you?"
"Well Mrs. _________, the purpose of my call is to find out if you were thinking about selling your home now or in the near future. You see, I'm working with this nice, young couple and I promised them I would call the neighborhood because well, we look at a lot of houses and they haven't found one that they like to buy. Have you thought about selling now or in the near future?"

I mean in this business, you have to really mean it to make this call. But its dialogue that the gurus teach. I've heard it on tapes and it gives people false hope.
I mean when I got the call, I was excited. It meant to me that my neigborhood was desirable. For a sec, I thought about selling. Then, I reminded myself, I wasn't looking to move.
We are amazed that people still fall for it. but why won't they? If they didn't fall for it, they wouldn't trust us, which means we are burning a bridge when we list and don't bring in any buyers. We burn bridges when we fail to do the promises we made in general.
Good Post. It makes me think some of the gurus need to change the dialogues/scripts they teach.

12/18/2008 05:41 PM
Audeliz Perez (Weichert, Realtors)

Early on in my career I lost a listing to an agent who did this....I now know that it is the oldest trick in the book...back then...I had no idea how to combat that.
12/18/2008 05:49 PM
Konnie MAC Northern Virginia Real Estate (Konnie McKee )

We are in a small town market as well and you would think the word would get around, but we too have expierenced a "big gun" who has used these improper techniques for years.
12/18/2008 06:31 PM
Ron Spanton (RE/MAX Real Estate Associates)

Jim- Well some people just never learn that this is so tacky and do not understand that sales is about relationships. They never get ahead for long. We had one agent tell our seller, your agent has not sold your house in over 560 days! Well, she was so dumb she did not even know how to read the mls on this 2 million dollar expired listing, BTW- he relisted with us today, he could not believe their dumbness. He told her, apparently you have not studied my property before you called me, my agent had it for a 180 days and in this market, it will take a while to sell a property like this. Katerina
12/18/2008 06:39 PM
Nestor & Katerina Gasset Realtors® Wellington Florida Luxury Homes (International Properties and Investments, Inc.)

I closed on a home today after another agent pulled the same stactics. After having it listed a few months, I took her the offer and had to convince her it was not a bogus contract! These type of listing agents will not be forgotten. Honesty is always the winner!
12/18/2008 06:46 PM
Kay Van Kampen, Broker, Springfield Missouri Real Estate (RE/MAX Solutions)

It amazes me when I hear stories like this. How do these characters get their license in the first place? Maybe we should have some sort of background check.
12/18/2008 08:33 PM
Darla Jensen (Edina Realty)

These really are the oldest tricks in the agent's books. Good blog.
12/18/2008 08:56 PM
Barbara S. Duncan ABR, CRS, GRI, e-PRO Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage)

Alan in Colorado - Yep! You are right ... we deserve what we get if we don't police our own industry! We say that and we don't always do that! Sometimes it's easier to let the bad penny slip away. That doesn't mean it's right ... that just means it easier.
We have notoriously obnoxious Agent in our market that every shudders when he enters the room ...we look the other way but don't step forward and deal with him because no one wants to get his slime on them. Right ... NO! Easier ... Yes!
Who makes that call? It happens alll the time!
12/18/2008 09:02 PM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

I have had a buyer who wanted to view a home that was off the market or newly expired, rather than take the buyer to see the home, I asked the seller to sign a ONE day listing with me before I took the buyer into the home. because I have been taken advantage before from the seller trying to negotiate me out of the deal when I brought them the buyer. NOT COOL.
12/18/2008 09:32 PM
by sonny kwan

Maybe Ethics should be taught more often! I can't believe some of these tricks. I was listening to an older set of guru tapes and they were doing some techniques that I thought were fairly close to being unethical and just chose to overlook it.

I think we should all report brokers who pull these dirty tricks, especially when the house is under contract. When realtors violate ethics, we need to hold them accountable because it makes our whole industry look bad!

A background check is required in Oregon, but that doesn't stop people from being unethical, but it is a good idea- some states don't require it?

12/18/2008 09:40 PM
Kim Hamblin (Bella Casa Real Estate Group)

With the prospect of loosing your license over this I cant see anyone taking that risk doing something so unethical. I might be naive but I cant see anyone doing this, These agents have guts.
12/18/2008 10:19 PM
Wayne Warshawsky (RE/MAX Four Corners)

Actually even with the possibility of losing the license this does not surprise me at all... One, most likely wont get caught... Two, desperation makes people do strange things... sad but all to true
12/18/2008 10:45 PM
Mark Ryan, Broker, CRS, ABR (Mark Ryan Group / Re/Max Victory)

I hate sleazy tactics. It gives us all a bad name.
12/18/2008 11:14 PM
Overland Park Homes & Real Estate:: Michael Russell (Overland Park KS Realty Executives )

Jim: I have heard this over and over for the past 10 years in this business.. I HATE it when I hear someone mis-leading a home owner in hopes of getting the listing..
12/18/2008 11:40 PM
Roland Woodworth "Clarksville-Fort Campbell Area Realtor" (Exit Realty Clarksville)

Some agents are the products of the brokers who teach them. We have seen this over and over. These agents "grow uo" in the business (so to speak) learning these shifty habits and really don't know any better because that is the business model they think is normal.

12/19/2008 01:27 AM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

Oldest and cheapest.....and one that was taught by the first brokerage we were "parked" with....THEN they will list with you....and THEN can you sleep at night ?
12/19/2008 06:21 AM
Sally & David Hanson Realtors WI Residential-Commercial-Short Sale (First Weber Group)

Oldest, cheapest and still used on a regular basis...sometimes by really successful agents. I can look out my window and see a house whose listing was obtained by that method 6 months ago, no buyer and still overpriced! Lisa
12/19/2008 05:53 PM
Lisa VonBargen GRI, CRS, e-Pro, NAPP (The Yellow Mailbox Real Estate Services)

We had one like that, the seller's elected to list with the agent who told them what they wanted to hear, not the truth. Now, one year later, they are still in the house, it's worth even less that it was a year ago. They weren't able to go on with their moving plans and have tlost the opportunity they had to buy a great property in the community they wanted to move to ... where's the sense in all that?
12/19/2008 06:04 PM

We have thought about this situation several times. What to do? Contact the sellers who rejected us before and try and revive the business relationship once their "BAD" listing expires? The sellers need us now more than ever. Will we look silly or will they just reject us again because they made a poor choice the first time and now they want to validate their last decision? What is the right thing to do?

One seller called us and said, "OK ... you were right! Will you list my property again?" That doesn't happen very often.

12/21/2008 06:37 AM
Jim Valentine (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Agent Told Us She Had a Buyer So We Listed Our Home With her … We’ve Never Seen The Buyer!

We recently received a call from a property owner in our community who had an unpleasant situation occur with another local agent. The agent told the property owners that she had a buyer for their property but needed to have a listing to protect herself before she actually showed the home to the potential purchaser.

Our response … You are likely the victim of one of real estate’s oldest and cheapest tricks. An unscrupulous agent will use this ploy to get you to list your property. An agent with a serious Buyer that has an interest in your home will either have a Buyer’s Broker Agreement with the Buyer, or will ask you for a One Party Listing for protection, but an extended Exclusive Right to Sell Listing need not, and should not, be a condition precedent for such a showing.

Understand, too, that such a showing does not mean you must list with that agent. You should evaluate your listing agent in the conventional manner – considering their production, the type of property you have and the type of property the agents sell, the agents’ willingness to provide customer references from recent transactions, how you generally feel about the agents and their business morals, values and practices, and these days … are they full time agents?

Another old trick is to list at a high price, higher than all the other agents said they could get you, and then beat you up week after week for a price reduction. Between their incessant pressure, the lapse of time from the listing date with no offers, and your increasing frustration and motivation to sell, you will begrudgingly accede to the reality of the market value of your home and reduce your price by either a listing price reduction or accepting a lower offer. In the interim you lose time and experience unnecessary frustration. You are truly a victim in this situation and you’ll never know it.

Our Advice: This is a challenging market that needs competent professional services from professional real estate agents, not cheap trickery. With many Sellers under pressure to sell, these unbelievable gutter tricks have resurfaced lately.

One agent recently called the Sellers of a property that we have listed … properly listed with a sign, with brochures, in MLS, in our ad, and has been on the MLS tour! … and told them she had a Buyer for their home but needed a listing. She was actually so bold as to leave a message on the Seller’s work phone at his office. The seller called her back, reminded her it was listed, and even offered to pay her a bonus to bring her “Buyer” to boot! He asked her to call us and arrange a showing … we are still (two weeks later) waiting for the call.

If its time for you to sell be sure you work with one of the many great professional agents in the area, not one using old “tricks”. If they trick you now to get your listing for their benefit … what do you think they’ll do when it comes time to sign a sales agreement … when it’s your money on the line?! We believe they’ll “trick” you then too, not always considering your interest in the consequences of your selling decisions, rather only thinking of their gain in the situation. Most agents will treat you courteously and professionally, but it is important to be aware of the predators and their ploys – “forewarned is forearmed”.

An agent approaching you with a Buyer – whether you are a FSBO, or it is unsolicited – can be a good thing. Pay attention to their approach and the representation of the parties. Are you being properly represented? It can and should be just fine – just be aware. 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. carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Will A Low Rates Economic Stimulus Program Do For Me?

What Will A Low Rates Economic Stimulus Program Do For Me?

There has been talk out of Washington, D.C. lately about offering Low Rate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac real estate loans to stimulate the economy. The banter has centered around the idea of 4.5% interest rates. That certainly will initiate action, but one must look at the situation realistically to ascertain how it will affect you.

There are no actual details now as there are no programs, its just talk. Some ideas have been floated, and it is important to know the limitations that are being considered for this program if you are basing your immediate real estate plans on it. Re-fi’s are presently excluded, you won’t be able to refinance your existing higher-priced loan at that low rate. In fact, there is talk that it will only be for first time home Buyers.

Regardless of who can qualify, what does it mean for those who do? Here are some examples to illustrate in dollars what the percentages mean to a Buyer: A $200,000 loan at 4.5% would cost $1,013 monthly. Just a few weeks ago loans were around 6% and that same loan cost $1,199, or $186 per month more! Another way to look at it, if you qualified for the $1,199 payment, and rates go to 4.5% you can buy $36,655 more house if you are so inclined.

So it sounds like a good idea to wait for the low rates, right? Well… maybe. Rates are really pretty good right now. We had a customer lock in a loan this week at 5.2%, or just $84.85 more monthly than the 4.5% rate would cost. Is it worth the wait to see if: 1. The lower rates do, in fact, materialize, 2. You qualify for the program(s) they offer, and 3. The property you want qualifies for the program(s).

Our Advice: If the real estate loan economic stimulus program becomes a reality, and you qualify, it is important to remember that there are people just like you out there that will also benefit. That means you will probably have competition for the home you want to buy since most of the first time home Buyers will be in the same price range that you are in, $120-300,000. That is already a very active segment of the market in which homes that are priced right are selling, some with multiple offers. The Rate Stimulus program will not only generate additional buying competition, it could make owners “proud” of their property to the extent that they adjust their price upwards. That is part of the intent of the program, to stop the real estate price freefall.

Prices and interest rates are great right now! If you are considering buying work with your agent to identify your true wants and needs, and what is available in the market for you to buy. You will likely be wonderfully surprised. After that… take action! Don’t wait for something that might not be forthcoming – control your own destiny and future emotional and financial happiness. 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, December 8, 2008

We Don’t Want To Pack During Christmas … Should We Stop Showings?

Your moving date is a negotiable component of your sale, and can be adjusted according to your Holiday plans … within reason. It is unlikely that a Buyer is going to try to move in before Christmas unless a house is vacant. A contract providing for a 30 day closing will have you moving in mid-January. Work with your agent and the Buyers on an acceptable move-out date. You can close escrow and move out later with the cooperation of your Buyer, or negotiate for a longer escrow. Candid discussions between the parties on “humanity” topics such as this usually result in a reasonable outcome.

If you have the opportunity to sell in this market we highly recommend that you work with your potential Buyer even if it means being inconvenienced. There are Buyers buying in this market, and they are driven by three things – price, price and price. If your home is priced to sell, and you have a serious Buyer, this might be the Christmas that you don’t put up the lights. If your sale is hung up on one item, i.e. the occupancy date, consider the benefits of selling now versus enjoying the perfect Holiday and waiting indefinitely thereafter for another offer. Caveat – it is not a good idea to let your negotiations get down to a single item

regardless of what it is. If the moving date is the only item of contention in an offer that you are negotiating, you must have a great offer. Look at the offer in the context of the whole, not a single item. Keep an overall perspective of your wants and needs when considering the offer.

Buyers will be in the area for the Christmas Season to visit family, ski, or just plain look at houses during their time off from work. If they are looking at houses during their vacation they are usually quite serious about buying. They are taking time from their recreation, or the family members they are visiting, to look at property – that is a good level of commitment. Just the fact that they are looking should reassure you that your time and effort of welcoming them to your home is worthwhile … and it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Our Advice: Buyers looking at homes this time of year are usually very considerate when entering your festive family atmosphere. Homes rarely look better than this time of year – spruced up, decorated, full of good smells and treats. The energy is positive and the home in its most alluring condition. Welcome Buyers as you would any other friends and family, with a cookie and a smile, and they’ll think better of your home than they will of others that lack the positive emotional impact viewing experience of your home.

Embrace Buyers this time of year. They are investing their Holiday time to find and buy what you have. Show it to them and enjoy the resulting Christmas present…a wonderful offer with terms you love!

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. carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com Visit our website at www.carsonvalleyland.com .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It’s Time To Be Thankful.

Being humble and grateful is a beautiful and fulfilling manner of life, and periodically it is good to simply be thankful. It is that time of year when Americans express their thanks with, and through, the holiday of Thanksgiving. In that traditional spirit we are thankful for the opportunity to express our thanks, and, perhaps, some that you can also identify with.

We are very thankful for many, many things including: the continuing favorable interest rates; the assorted Home Retention Programs being developed and the spirit in which they are being formulated; Buyers that are boldly venturing forth and buying with confidence; our fellow real estate practitioners that are continuing to help Buyers and Sellers gain and maintain perspective to navigate in these interesting times; the high standard of the real estate practice in our area; USDA Rural Development 100% loans that provide wonderful opportunities for home Buyers in our community; the opportunity to help people with our real estate knowledge and experience.

We are very thankful for the prevalent Volunteer Spirit found throughout the Carson Valley that results in so many special things; for our friends’ conspiracy to nominate Jim so he received the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce “Unsung Hero of the Year” award; for the generosity of our community towards worthy causes even in trying financial times; for the local business community and their continued efforts to provide goods and services; for our Tiger Family; that we live in a free country; that if we don’t like something about our life we can change it; that if we like something about our life we can keep it; that we have so much to live for.

We are very thankful for this great Valley we live in – the natural beauty and the wonderful people; the wonderful life changing opportunities for our children and families; that the Youth are still and always important in our community; that families are important as is community itself; that Values are respected and a way of life for most; that people still stop to help one another; that in our community people still say hello to strangers with a smile.

Our Advice: Be thankful and grateful for your health, your family, your friends, and your community. Be a shining example of gratitude and be thankful for what is … not resentful for what isn’t. Our wonderful Valley gives us a wonderful quality life to enjoy while the real estate market cycles … as it always has and always will. Enjoy it now… every day… and be thankful for it. These are the good old days… be thankful we can share them together.

Together lets move boldly into the future and continue to generate many things to be thankful for.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, www.carsonvalleyland.com, 775-781-5472. http://www.carsonvalleyland.com/ email us at carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com

Friday, November 21, 2008

We are announcing our version of a Northern Nevada Economic Stimulus Package!

We are announcing our own version of a Northern Nevada Economic Stimulus Package!

Prices are back in the range of where they were in 2002 and 2003! Smart Buyers are taking advantage of the best “Buyer’s Market” we have seen in the past 10 years … it goes beyond that. We all need to set up and step out!

Our advice: Shop locally and support the merchants that operate businesses in our town. They are here to serve you … if you let them. Have confidence- don’t be afraid to live and participate in this economy. Remember “Go with the flow”? … Now “It has to flow to go”. With cash flowing and homes selling, the free fall real estate pricing will stop and the stores will remain open. Together we all win! Give us a call today 775-781-5472 or visit us online at

Thursday, November 20, 2008

With Virtual Tours And Great Photos Do I Really Need To Look At A House Before Buying?

Our industry has certainly changed in recent years, and one of the most dramatic of all the changes is the manner in which we market properties. Most real estate agents have websites where they post the properties they have listed for sale. Most have many photos of those properties, and many have virtual tours of their listings. A virtual tour is a series of pictures stitched together so they look like a video. You can actually see the best features of a home sitting at your keyboard.

With so much visual information available it would seem like one could look at a property online and not have to take the time to physically look at it before making a buying decision. The reality is that one must beware when relying on photos. There are many things that can be done with photos that could disappoint a Buyer that didn’t visit the property before finalizing their contract. An ultra-wide angle lens can make a room seem huge, but if you really need the size you think you are looking at you might be disappointed with the real room when you get in it. Hint: look for converging vertical lines in the picture – cheap ultra-wides don’t stop such distortion in the picture.

Photos also don’t always have the detail necessary to make an informed decision. When we asked our assistant about a showing the other day her comment, “they did a really good job with those pictures”, said it all. The home looked superb in the MLS photos, but was actually creepy to walk through because of its deteriorated condition. The opposite can also be true – an agent can take marginal photos of a wonderful property. Don’t eliminate a property that suits your wants/needs based on poor visual marketing efforts – make sure it really, really won’t work for you. You might be delightfully surprised by taking the time to view the property.

What makes good and bad pictures? Lighting, subject matter (don’t you just love looking at a picture of the commode instead of the back yard?), and quantity (some only have one outside picture – no detail photos). Things you can’t see in a picture are odors, true room size, true colors, neighborhood sounds, i.e.- road noise, condition of neighboring properties and their impact on the subject property’s value, flow of the floor plan, mold, water damage, etc.

Our advice: Don’t be the victim of a Photo Shop artist. We have been told of photo doctoring that makes a property appear differently than it really is. You can get an idea of what a property consists of from a good website presentation, and you can even make an offer based on that information, but we highly recommend that you have a clause that provides for an onsite inspection before you reach the point of no return in the transaction. There is nothing like approaching a home, looking up and down the street, walking up the front walk, and entering what may be your new home. How does it feel? What are you seeing? Does the floor plan flow with your preferred lifestyle? Agents present the highlights of a home in their best light. It is your duty to find the converse aspects, if any, and how they will affect your buying decision. You will know if the home is “It” when you see it.

Shop at your desk and then go enjoy the home you found. Some things will only be discovered with a Pest and/or Physical Inspection, but you will get a good idea of what a home offers you by visiting it. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472, carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Can We Do To Help The Local Economy?

Things in our area have certainly been financially impacted more than we’ve seen in a long, long time. It has been perplexing for many reasons, especially in the real estate world. Interest rates are still very good. Prices are back in the range of where they were in 2002 and 2003, but it goes beyond that. Cash flow in the community seems to have come to a relative standstill.

Now is a time of opportunity. Our youngest son bought a house this week. Instead of the 1,100 sq.ft. home he could have bought a couple of years ago, he was able to buy a 1,900+ sq.ft. home with living and family rooms, huge kitchen, two brick fireplaces, big fenced yard, great location, good condition, and the Seller paid the closing costs. All that and the payment is less than rent would be on a comparable home. What can you buy today? Do you know… or are you listening to the media convince you how bad things are?

There is a window of opportunity for home Buyers right now. Bank-owned properties have been driving the market down due to their lack of maintenance and the low selling prices they accept to clear their books. Recent efforts by IndyMac, BofA, Citibank and JP Morgan Chase will forestall and perhaps prevent many foreclosures. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also unveiled Home Retention programs this week. With the concerted effort to slow/stop foreclosures … finally and really this time… the market should get some traction as the bank-owned properties become a scarcity.

Hoarding your cash, or saving it? The difference may be subtle, but we think significant. If you have sufficient savings and are able to carry on your commerce as usual … do it. If you are locked up socking it away then you are contributing to what has become a global problem … severely minimized cash flow. The cash must flow for the economy to sustain itself. Nobody can live in a vacuum – if you aren’t financially acting in a normal or as normal of a manner as you can, then you might find yourself without stores at which to spend your hoardings.

Our advice: Shop locally and support the merchants that operate businesses in our town. They are here to serve you … if you let them. Have confidence- don’t be afraid to live and participate in this economy. Remember “Go with the flow”? Now “It has to flow to go”. With cash flowing and homes selling, the freefall real estate pricing will stop and the stores will remain open. Buy now while the banks are desirous of clearing their inventory. The 170-plus properties in Douglas County that now have Notices of Default (preforeclosure) may not be coming on the market like you think with the new home retention programs in place.

While you watch the National effort for a stimulus package, remember to implement your own Carson Valley Stimulus Package. Smile, be confident, and help your friend and neighbor by buying what you want and need locally … and do it now. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472,
carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Isn’t A “Bad” Market For Everyone

One man’s fortune is another man’s loss. That describes today’s real estate market. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that many people are getting locked up and not taking action. This is most interesting since the market has swung dramatically and there are opportunities for Buyers that were non-existent just a few months ago. They will not be beneficial to Buyers, however, if Buyers don’t buy. It’s just like Sellers that didn’t sell at the height of the market … they bemoan their “losses”, but they never had the gain because they didn’t sell when the market was high. Buyers that don’t buy now may bemoan their lost opportunities.

Here’s a classic example of shopping this market and finding the golden opportunity. We were working with a young family, first time buyers. Their price point directed us to certain types of homes. When we met to look at the first home the homeowner’s daughter met us with, “my daddy is shampooing the carpet where the dog threw up.” It went downhill from there including the third bedroom being an extra large laundry room with a bed in it. They were discouraged and stopped looking, but they continued to follow the market.

Roll it forward a couple of months. With the information about the USDA Rural Development 100% loans that we shared with you some time back, they were able to raise their price point just a bit, about $30,000 to the mid-$170’s. At the same time, the prices dropped to the point where the homes we were looking at were newer and bigger. We made a few offers to no avail. We kept pursuing the market and ‘lo and behold, we were able to achieve unthinkable. Large home, vaulted ceilings, newer, great condition, corner lot, across from school, great views, many, many outstanding amenities … a lifestyle they earlier could only have hoped to upgrade to in five, or more, years.

Compared to the initial rundown, dirty, discouraging offerings, the home they are going to raise their family in is a jewel that will serve them wonderfully for many years. Their payment is unchanged, but their lifestyle is dramatically changed. That opportunity is available in every market segment right now for those that are in a position, financially and mentally, to move forward with their life and live their life as they choose.

Our advice: Sellers are very realistic today. If one isn’t realistic, the next one will be…or the next one…or the next. Work closely with your agent. Define what you want to achieve, what is truly important to you. Be patient, be active, and then be proactive in your approach to achieving your dreams. There are diamonds out there, and they aren’t all laying on the ground. You might have to do a little mining to find your precious jewel, but be assured that the Northern Nevada real estate gem field is a mother lode ripe for the picking. In the spirit of Nevada mining, be aware of the
Tommyknockers. Are you listening to the good, or the bad Tommyknocker? Don’t let ‘em getcha and cause you to miss out!

Opportunity abounds in every market and this one is no exception! Be bold and you will enjoy the fruits of your action. Don’t watch and wonder what happened.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472, carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can We Convert Our Vacation Home To A Primary Residence For Taxes?

Yes, you can, but be advised that the rules are changing on January 1, 2009. Though the Housing Assistance Act of 2008 was primarily designed to provide relief for homeowner’s facing foreclosure, a provision was included to help the government generate more taxes that will have an effect on you when you sell your second homes after that date.

Under the old rules you could sell your primary residence and your vacation home and keep up to $500,000 (married) in profit from both if you owned and lived in each appropriately. The new rule allows profit exclusion only up to the actual percentage of the time of total ownership that it was used as a primary residence. For example, you buy a home next year and use it as a vacation home for ten years. Then you sell your primary residence and move to the vacation home full time. After fifteen years you sell it. You will have owned the property for 25 years, 10 as a vacation home and 15 as your primary residence. Your primary residence period, 15 years, is 60% of the total ownership period. Under the new law, if you made $250,000 profit you can exclude $150,000 from taxation and will have to pay capital gains on the remainder profit of $100,000.

The new rule does not include ownership time prior to the enactment date, January 1, 2009. Using the above example, if you owned it for 5 years prior to that date, held it for the same 25 years, and moved in for the same 15 years, and were fortunate enough to realize the same $250,000 profit, you can now exclude $200,000 of profit, a tax savings of $37,500.

Loophole: Primary residences are granted a special tax status regardless of their subsequent use. This creates a potential loophole, i.e.- on January 1, 2009 you move out of your primary residence and into your vacation home. On January 2, 2011 you sell your then-primary residence and take the maximum exclusion on the profit. You then move back to the original primary residence and take the exclusion as long as you meet the basic criteria, i.e.- live in it two of the last five years, etc.

Our advice: Many people adjust their holding plans/strategy according to the tax consequence of their actions, and this new tax provision will undoubtedly result in owners holding their property longer. If held until their demise their heirs would have a stepped up basis in the property and little tax consequence to a subsequent sale. Beware of adjusting your holding plans too much, however, since this tax change will likely have an effect on vacation home markets and your property’s market value may change over time nullifying any tax savings you are protecting by holding. If your second property was a rental unit before you moved into it, remember that you may have to recapture depreciation.

Planning your real estate moves based on taxes should be done in concert with the advice of your tax advisor. Real estate agents have working knowledge of real estate related taxes, but don’t know your entire portfolio or financial circumstance, or enough about the tax code, to provide tax advice. Consult your accountant to assess the tax consequences of a sale or transfer.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-5472, carsonvalleyland@hotmail.com, www.carsonvalleyland.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

The REO Sale Process

The bank-owned property sale is fairly commonplace these days. The amount of foreclosures in the Carson Valley is unprecedented, and has resulted in a niche real estate market with unique business practices. When a bank owns a property the sale process is different than when dealing with a private party.

The first difference comes when they value the property. They begin before the foreclosure sale by getting a Broker Price Opinion, BPO. After they obtain title to the property via the foreclosure sale they usually order two BPO’s to determine value. After that they select an agent to list the property with and ask that the agent prepare yet another BPO. During this process the property value usually plummets due to the post-foreclosure condition of the property. With one of the first lender actions subsequent to obtaining title being to turn off all utilities causing the value to continue to drop as the landscaping dies.

Most lenders hire an Asset Manager, AM, to handle the sale for them. The Asset Manager orders the BPO’s, prepares the property for sale, hires the listing agent, negotiates the contracts, and sees the escrow through to close. The BPO Listing Agent communicates with only with the Asset Manager, and primarily via computer.

When an offer is presented it isn’t emailed or faxed to the Asset Manager, rather there is a computer menu that the agent completes by checking and filling in the appropriate boxes to reflect the terms and conditions of the offer. There is also an area for notes so the agent can make comments to the AM to provide some perspective about the offer circumstances. Counter Offers are also made via computer. We have actually received an AM Counter Offer at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday. That is refreshing as it is in keeping with conventional real estate to keep the negotiations flowing. Historically, bank owned property transactions were a M-F/8:00-5:00 operation.

Once accepted the offer and related documents are sent to the AM via email. They are signed and returned with the AM’s special Disclaimer documents (a must-sign, non-negotiable package) for execution by the Buyer, and the escrow is opened. From there it is pretty much business as usual.

Our Advice: The REO sale process has been streamlined since we last wrote about it. The AM’s are more responsive, act quicker, and are willing to engage in “Ping Pong” negotiations until a transaction is put together or it is accepted that it cannot be put together. The AM Seller has no emotion in the transaction – they are just dealing with numbers and circumstances - which can be a benefit to a Buyer making a reasonable offer. The Seller isn’t concerned about their next purchase, their perceived “loss” since the market dropped, or the memories incurred during the course of ownership. Make a good clean offer that highlights your strengths and you can be making the proverbial “scream’n deal” in no time.

REO’s offer a realistic means to make a good deal today. Their historical burdensome processes are now themselves history. Don’t fear the REO – consider the brown lawn a welcome mat to a green return on your investment.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is It Safe To Buy From A Bank Without Disclosures?

We are seeing an interesting phenomenon in our Market with all of the “bank-owned” properties offered for sale. Known as REO’s (real estate owned), “bank-owned” properties aren’t always owned by a real bank, but they are owned by a lender and are being marketed by the lender, or an asset manager hired by the lender. REO properties bring a new set of challenges for the agent as well as the Buyer.

The primary change has been the unwillingness on the part of the lender to make any disclosures regarding the condition of the property. The properties are, of course, offered “as-is in its present condition with all faults…” The lender didn’t live in the property, hasn’t seen the property, and generally has no knowledge with which to disclose anything about the property. Most lenders are requiring a waiver of the Seller Real Property Disclosure Statement, SRPDS. Per NRS113, a Seller must provide an SRPDS, and the only way to not have one is for the Buyer to sign a waiver in front of a notary.

A lender’s insistence on a SRPDS waiver (Seller’s Real Property Disclosure), and the additional many pages of non-warranty, hold harmless, as-is language they require Buyers to sign, though foreboding at first blush, aren’t all bad for a Buyer. One can split hairs and say that the lender knew, or should have known, about property deficiencies. We’ve seen rodent infestation, missing roof shingles, obvious water, mold, or sheetrock damage, etc. in REO homes that they must surely know about, but they aren’t disclosing. Remember that lenders have many floors of lawyers in their office buildings. It is their job to protect the lender which they do by a providing a good “clause shield” in their transaction documentation, no disclosures position, and requirement for only “as-is” sales.

A return on an investment must be considered in relationship to the risk taken. If you are looking for a good buy in a REO property you must consider the risk of the as-is burden you are accepting. Most things are obvious, i.e.- the lawn has died, painting is required, etc. Your main risk is the unknown, that which you can’t see. It can be under the house, in the attic, underground (sewer or sprinkler lines), title, well/water quality, neighborhood, etc. A thorough inspection of the house should reveal major defects. Most REO homes are simply in a state of disrepair and deferred maintenance.

Our Advice: Don’t try to fight the lender on disclosures if you want the house. Make sure you understand the extent of any damage on your own before you irrevocably commit to buy the home. Hire an inspector if you can’t do it yourself. Turn on the power and check out the systems – consider it cheap “insurance”. If squirrels have infiltrated the walls of the house you could have a major electrical problem – rodents love to chew on wire often resulting in stripped insulation, a serious fire danger. Better to know what you are buying before you close escrow to minimize the risk of your investment.

You don’t need a disclosure to buy with confidence. Don’t look for trouble, and don’t expect it – just be smart about your investigation and inspection process. The bank is acting to protect their overall assets from the liability of litigation. Protect your assets by investigating your potential acquisition thoroughly – you will be well rewarded whether or not you close escrow.

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Are All the 100% Loans Really Gone?

High loan to value loans are still available – call your lender and ask about them. In that conversation remember to ask about the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing loan. The facts about this loan program may seem too good to be true, and yet they are real. We recently closed one.

Consider the highlights: There is no ceiling for the loan amount – it is based solely on appraisal and payment capability. The loan can go to 102% of appraisal (the last 2% being the Guarantee Fee). Income used is adjusted gross. The income maximum for a family of five in
Douglas County is a generous $89,650, and is adjusted according to family size.

The ratios are more lenient than other loan programs, and even those can be exceeded with compensating factors such as zero or little payment shock, 660+ credit score, 2+ years on job, and more. You don’t need explanations for late payments with a 660 or better credit score. You can be in the 500’s and get a loan. Credit blemishes can be okay depending on other factors. If you don’t use credit you can qualify using non-traditional methods such as utility, child care, insurance and rental payment records. There is no Mortgage Insurance, just a one-time Guarantee Fee that can be financed, a huge savings from PMI premiums.

Additional parameters: You need not be a first time home buyer, in fact you can own a home that you are selling if you close escrow before you close on your new one, i.e.- close on one and buy the new one the next day. You can purchase a new stick built, modular or manufactured home. It is not available for resale manufactured homes. Douglas and Lyon Counties qualify, but the loan is not available in all communities. If you qualify for a conventional 80% loan to value loan (where you put 20% down) you many not participate in this program.

Here’s how it works – you apply for a loan with a lender or mortgage broker that offers this loan. The lender will review and approve your loan package before sending it to the USDA. The USDA will review your package and make a decision within 48 hours unless the property is over 50 years old in which case you must add 30 days for review as it must be approved by the Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer for historic significance. Once approved – it is funded. It’s that simple. With the leniency of the USDA requirements, and the fact that the USDA is guaranteeing the loan to the lender, it is hard not to get your loan approved.

Our Advice: If you are looking for a low or no down loan seriously consider this program. We have never seen a loan program with so much flexibility. The USDA representative we met provided so many illustrations of variances that it is clear they seriously want to make loans to get people in homes. Interest Rates? They are very competitive. Remember the gap in this loan – something nobody else allows. The loan amount is based on the appraisal amount unlike traditional loans that are based on the lower of either the purchase price or the appraisal. If the home appraises for more than the purchase price you can borrow the higher amount and use the “gap” money for closing costs, repairs, etc. Good loan … good prices … good time to act! Call a lender and start talking about your situation and this loan program – you will surely be delightfully surprised.

Thank you Jennifer Morrison, Mortgage Consultant, Greater Nevada Mortgage Services, 783-7591, for sponsoring an informative class on this special loan program. This is a unique product in a unique Market that will allow many people to buy homes that would otherwise be sitting on the sidelines in these exciting times.

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