Thursday, March 27, 2008

It’s Spring … What Can We Do to Sell Our Home?

We will be so bold as to say that the proverbial “Spring cleaning” has never been as important to you and your family as it will be this year if your intention is to sell your home. The winter has been a good one for recharging our water sources, and it isn’t quite over yet for sure, but we are ready to shake it off and head towards summer. So what can you do?

With this warmer weather be sure to open your doors and windows to air out your home. The air can get stuffy when your home is closed up for winter. While your house is open is a good time to clean your carpet - a lot of debris gets tracked in during the inclement weather. While you are cleaning … be sure to dust, get the cobwebs, etc. Do a deep cleaning – oil your wood, cabinets, furniture, etc. Windows are important … especially if you have a view property. We don’t have much haze here and you don’t have to make a Buyer feel like they are at home by having a haze on your windows. They are moving here for a reason – clean air and wonderful people.

Remember, less is more. Are all your Holiday decorations put away? How about your winter clothing? It is nice to keep your snow boots handy when there is snow around, but they will only serve to remind people of winter, not spring and new growth, if they are lying around. Chances are slim that you’ll need them again for a big dump.

We’ve had some wonderful winds this winter – some served to enhance our appreciation of Mother Nature’s power. How is your roof? Be sure to look at the Southwest corner of your roof in the Carson Valley. Do you need to replace some shingles? Do it now instead of having a Buyer see them … or see them not. You will have to replace them eventually and your home will show much better without gaps in your roof line. Do you need touch up painting? You never get a second chance at a first impression and paint is an important component of your first impression.
Our Advice: Many people wait until Spring to list their homes. You will likely have a lot of competition in the market in the near future so it is important that your home is presented in the best way possible. Take the time to “tune it up”. Much can be accomplished with a little sweat and effort, not a lot of expense. You will be financially and emotionally rewarded many times over for your efforts.

Clean your garden areas, pick up the winter debris, make sure your sprinkler system is ready to go so you can “green up” as quickly as possible. Make it shine and smelling good and you will enhance your opportunities for selling. The birds are making their nests – all you have to do is clean up yours! Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

With All The News About The Stock Market, Interest Rates, Economy … How Is Our Market?

It is important to separate our market from the constant bombardment of financial news you receive. We think our many special local attributes necessitate doing so. It is still a Buyer’s market in Carson Valley, but there has been a good increase in buying activity of late … inquiries, showings… even offers. Many Sellers have reduced their prices, and are willing to entertain an offer while others have taken their homes off the market and are waiting. In other words, our market seems to be stabilizing and finding its bottom … at least we hope we can see it from here.

Many Buyers are playing the waiting game thinking the market will drop. It might … likely will a bit… but is that smart today? We think not and here are some ideas why. These are our ideas and based on experience and instinct only. Let’s look at the stock market. It’s been a financial roller coaster of late. When it was rising rapidly in the late 1990’s people took their money out of real estate and invested in the market. They made a lot of money until the scare of 2000. When they could, they pulled their money and invested again in real estate. We saw the run up and the eventual profit-taking, much of which went in to the stock market causing it to again rise to great heights.

With the recent stock market decline we anticipate private investors getting their money out when they can and coming back to the King of investments… real estate. Loans were difficult to get a few months ago, but the lending industry is stabilizing and there are many opportunities for Buyers to secure good financing to buy a home. With oil prices at all time highs one can only guess what the cost increases will be in building a home. From high delivery costs to the cost of roofing material, pipe, and carpet, the costs will increase dramatically. We anticipate that all of this will cause resale home prices to rise accordingly.

The inventory of homes for sale in most of our market segments is now more of a one or two year supply vs. the ten year supply we were seeing a few months ago. We anticipate that as sales pick up there will be a rapid rebound, prices will increase rapidly. It is doubtful that they will go to 2005 heights right away, but if they go up just 10% that is $30,000 on a $300,000 house. Are you trying to save an extra $15,000 (5%) now? That is a $45,000 swing. Where do you think the market is going? How much are you really betting on the outcome? By not acting it might be more than you think.

Our Advice: Interest rates are low. Prices are low. Cherry pick the market now and act. Pick the best property that fits your wants and needs and make an offer. You might be pleasantly surprised. You will be happy in the long run, and this isn’t a short term investment. Live your dream, don’t continue waiting, wondering if you are going to be able to make a great buy. The “scream’n deal” is out there now. If you are looking for the “deal of a lifetime” … you might lose in the long run by waiting. Waiting for a “spring bump” or an influx of out of state Buyers to sell? Don’t.

You can’t sleep in a stock certificate. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of owning what you really want, enjoying the tax benefits of real estate ownership, and putting to rest the anxious moments of trying to second guess the market. Be smart … act now. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , Email Us or call 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We Want To Buy Now But Have No Credit … Is There Any Hope?

Indeed there is. Historically loan approval was based largely on borrowers' credit scores, which are based on formulas that take into account things like debt levels and loan-payment histories. Lenders are looking more and more at other factors, like rent and utility payments, to determine whether potential borrowers will make good on their loans.

This was begun by the financial services industry so it could make loans to the 50 million immigrants, young adults and seniors with little or no credit history. The slowing economy and soaring default rates have led lenders to use these tools to evaluate the credit-worthiness of the most every borrower. Their expanded use has been good for those with little or no credit as many companies have improved their systems and confidence in these evaluation systems.

Experian Group Ltd. recently announced an alternative credit score to help lenders get a better picture of how those with little or no credit might pay back a loan. TransUnion initiated a simlar product last summer, and Fair Isaac Corp., of FICO score fame, broadened its Expansion scoring system late last year to include more information about monthly rent, utility payments, etc.
The credit bureaus now rely on a combination of their own data, as well as third-party databases. TransUnion and Experian have teamed up with L2C and eBureau LLC, which specialize in collecting and analyzing alternative payment data. Equifax Inc.'s MarketMax pulls information from electronic database LexisNexis.

The new scoring programs can be very good news if you pay your bills promptly but haven’t established a credit history. Historically, you would have been ignored because the lender had no way to evaluate the risk of making a loan to you. The typical mindset was that you were subprime … ironically for paying cash and on time. Lenders are now recognizing that such consumers afford the lender a similar range of risk as those with traditional credit scores.

Our Advice: Whether you have no credit history, are coming up for a reset on your loan, or are pricing a new loan… pay your bills on time, and don’t write bad checks. There are services available like Pay Rent, Build Credit, Inc., PRBC, that specialize in collecting rent and bill payment information. They will look at how you pay your household bills like rent, phone, auto insurance, day-care bills, etc. You can build a decent credit score with them that will allow you to buy now while prices and interest rates are down. No money down? Don’t believe what you are reading … there are good 100% loans available – we’ve recently closed with them. Check with a lender to see what it will take for you to buy a home – you and your family may be in for a wonderful surprise.

Don't be surprised if a lender wants to know if you pay your rent on time or bounce checks before it will make you a loan or reset your existing loan … yet another sign of our changing times.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , email us 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We Need a Little Financial Help to Keep Our House … What can we do?

A new Fannie Mae program being rolled out now just may be your answer. Recognizing that many people are in peril of losing their homes because of a temporary life event or hardship, Fannie Mae is implementing its HomeSaver Advance loan program. The setback situation is often remedied, but the borrower that slipped behind in payments is now faced with the prospect of foreclosure when in fact, if they could just get even they would be able to sustain the payments. HomeSaver Advance is designed to assist in such a circumstance.

HomeSaver Advance, an unsecured personal loan, is a new loss mitigation alternative available to approved Fannie Mae servicers for eligible borrowers designed to bring a delinquent loan current. It provides funds to cure arrearages of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI), as well as other advances and fees. HomeSaver Advance is documented by a borrower-signed promissory note, payable over 15 years at a fixed rate of 5% with no payments or interest accrual for the first six months. HomeSaver Advance is designed for qualified borrowers who have fallen behind on their mortgage, but are able to resume timely payments once their loan is brought current by the advance. It helps simplify and streamline the workout process for applicable loans, as it provides an option for earlier resolution of delinquent loans.

HomeSaver Advance Highlights: Loan amount up to the lesser of $15,000 or 15% of the original unpaid principal balance for delinquent PITI (principal, interest, taxes, insurance), escrow advances, and advances for attorney fees and costs and up to 6 months of unpaid HOA fees (12 months, where the HOA fee is paid once per year). The full loan amount is applied directly to arrearage (borrower never receives funds in hand). Note rate at a fixed rate of 5% with 6-month no-interest/no-payment period. Amortization period of 14.5 years after the conclusion of the 6-month no-interest/no-payment period. Workout fee paid to servicer is $600. HomeSaver Advance will be available to all Fannie Mae-approved servicers in April 2008.

Our Advice: This loan can offer you another alternative, and help prevent a temporary setback from becoming a foreclosure. HomeSaver Advance offers an unsecured, personal loan that will enable you to cure the payment default with fewer up-front costs and generally in less time. In trouble? Don’t play ostrich – take action and save your home. Whether you save it until the market recovers to enjoy appreciation equity, or if you choose to remain in it, here is an opportunity to avoid the excessive emotion and consequences of a foreclosure.

This is but one remedy to come forth in these interesting times. If this doesn’t work for your situation something else might. Keep positive and good things will happen.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , email us at 775-781-5472.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Heard About a Right to Farm Disclosure Requirement in Lyon County, Nevada … What’s That?

Lyon County has taken positive steps to protect its agricultural roots and economic base while it experiences population growth making it the number one county in the U.S. percentage-wise with a Right to Farm ordinance. The ordinance states that “The right to farm all land is recognized to exist as a natural right and is ordained to exist as a permitted use everywhere in the County except where prohibited under this Title, subject only to State health and sanitary codes.” If further declares Lyon County’s policy to “… conserve and protect agricultural land, and associated agricultural irrigation water rights and to encourage sustainable agricultural operations within the County.”

The ordinance goes on to discuss development, nuisance complaints about agricultural operations, and much more over five pages. A major change in the ordinance came last November when it was enhanced by the County Commissioners. The modified ordinance now calls for a disclosure notice prior to the transfer of real property. “Every Seller of any real property in Lyon County, either directly or through his/her authorized agent shall provide to any prospective buyer a written disclosure statement advising the buyer of the existence of a Right to Farm Ordinance … shall contain or be accompanied by a copy of Lyon County Right to Farm Ordinance, Chapter 10.15…shall be substantially in the form promulgated by …Board of Commissioners…shall include any agricultural setback requirements and water rights use restrictions applicable to the property.” (emphasis ours) It goes on to say that the buyer shall sign a copy and the seller, or his agent, shall retain a copy of the signed statement.

Clearly, everybody is affected. Whether buying a home in a subdivision in Dayton or Fernley, or five acres in Smith Valley, it is a requirement. Virtually every Lyon County real property conveyance must have this disclosure in file. We discussed this with a representative of the Lyon County D.A.’s office and were told that there is no defined enforcement policy, that it was the responsibility of the Seller and agents to properly administer it. We were told that enforcement would likely come in the event they didn’t do it correctly in the form of litigation from a disgruntled consumer.

Our Advice: If you own, or are contemplating buying, property in Lyon County you should read the ordinance:
Right to Farm . If you are a real estate practitioner it is imperative that you get a proper Disclosure Notice so your customer is sufficiently protected, and you must maintain a copy of the signed document.

If you are moving to the country remember … country things happen in the country. Embrace and enjoy them after all … it’s why you are moving here. Let’s keep rural Nevada rural while it gets populated with rural-minded people. With this ordinance, we feel Lyon County is doing a good job of managing that transition. Yes, another disclosure … indicative of these litigious times… but good for everyone involved. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.