Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More On How To Make A Good Buy.

Last week we responded to a question of how to make a good buy in this market by addressing some of the terminology and circumstances that have been confusing Buyers, We Hear So Much About Being Able To Make A Good Buy Now … How Do We Get One? We thought it important to continue the good-buy process with some tactics and mechanics that will help you get the best buy you can on a given property.

One mistake we see is the purchase offer being made dramatically below the asking price … with no consideration as to the asking price and its relationship to market value. It is as if the list price is a target from which to reduce simply because it is the asking price. We understand that the typical perception of a good buy is how much the price paid is reduced from the asking price, but it is important to understand that in real estate that there is no “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price”. In fact, home prices are rather arbitrary. They are set after consideration of many market, property-specific, and personal factors. Even professional appraisers give an “opinion” of value knowing that it is not exact. It is close, all things considered, but not exact. Real estate agents and Sellers take the market sales information and sprinkle in emotion and motivation to set a price to achieve a desired result. It can be low if the Seller must get moving, or high if they want to troll for awhile.

We recently saw a 33% disparity in price between a new listing and a similar home two blocks away that has not sold. If you offered 30% below the asking on the new listing you would still be paying over market. On the other hand, if you offered 3% below the asking on the other home you might make a good buy of a wonderful home. Don’t make an offer 15% off of the asking price without knowing the accuracy of the list price. A little research will help you in your buying efforts. It is important to determine a Seller’s motivation – why are they selling? A good understanding of why the Sellers are selling will most likely give you a better chance of making a good buy than simply making a low offer, what we call a “limbo offer” … how low will they go?

Sellers’ motivations vary, but it is what drives them in their selling decisions. Are they moving because of Family? Health? Work? The house/property is too big? Too small? They want to travel while they can before they can’t? An issue in the neighborhood? They want to relocate to another area? They have an investment opportunity and need capital? They need debt relief? Have commitments to honor? Knowing as much as you can about their motivation, the force that guides their decision making, will help you determine what and how to offer to get the best deal on the house you want. What they paid for it is usually less relevant than their true motivation to sell.

Our Advice: It takes a willing Buyer and a willing Seller to make a market value sale. If a Seller is unwilling to go with your low price you might sweeten the offer with other terms adapted to their motivation, i.e.- ultra-short escrow period, time to move after the escrow closes, take it “as-is” subject to inspections to minimize the Seller’s stress and worry, offer a non-refundable deposit after inspections and release it to the Seller to give them some cash, etc. Think of their needs and you might find an approach to the offer that is more important to the Seller than money that will give you a financial gain and make them a willing Seller.

Think of the Seller when preparing your offer – you will make a better deal and have a smoother transaction. It isn’t all about money – you can/will realize a return on your investment in many ways. A good deal is only a good deal if it is a good deal for everybody.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Hear So Much About Being Able To Make A Good Buy Now … How Do We Get One?

What a wonderful yet frustrating time to be a Buyer! There are more properties for sale than there are Buyers. Buyers are being inundated with information and much of it is conflicting. The result is a sense of confusion and frustration among Buyers … “buy now”… but “the market might go lower” …”you should get concessions when you buy”, but there are no guidelines. There are basically four types of properties today: bank owned, foreclosure, preforeclosure/short sale, and owner.

Many homes are being or have been foreclosed on. Buyers are told that this is a good opportunity for making a good buy. Is it? It can be, and, for some, it will be, but for most it will only cause them to become paralyzed with inaction and potentially miss the entire 2008 market of opportunity. Foreclosure opportunities are often misunderstood by Buyers.

A “bank-owned” property is one that has been foreclosed on by the lender, and is commonly referred to as a “REO”, real estate owned. The banks have been reducing their prices enticingly on their REOs, but it can be difficult to make a deal with them. Some wait weeks to respond to your offer while they “shop” your offer – see if they can get a better one from another Buyer. All require that an extensive set of documents be signed by the Buyer which diminish or remove many of the Buyer’s “normal” rights. Some of these are in direct conflict with Nevada consumer protection law. Want a good deal? It had better be a great one and you should know what you are doing as you venture down this path. The results can be rewarding, but we suggest that you have a good Realtor as a guide, have patience, be ready for surprises and frustration, and make sure the goal is a worthy one – the right property at an exceptional price!

A foreclosure property is one that is being sold at the court house steps for lack of payment. Historically these have been a good deal. This can be a good way to buy property if you have the cash to do so, but the reality is that today most foreclosures occur because the Owner is “upside down”, they owe more than they are worth – 30-40% in most cases.

A preforeclosure property is one that is coming up for foreclosure sale – a NOD (Notice of Default) has been filed and it will be sold approximately 120 days thereafter. This is where the opportunity for a short sale comes in if the Owner owes more than what the property is worth. This process can be rewarding if the lender circumstances are right. The Buyer’s risk is less than that of a foreclosure, but the transaction hassle is more than that of a foreclosed property. This, too, takes time and is full of uncertainty. They can be accomplished … with a seasoned agent to guide and advise you.

Surprisingly, some of the best opportunities out there are owners that aren’t upside down, aren’t desperate, have taken care of their property, and are just wanting and willing to move on. They make quick decisions – you won’t have to wait weeks for a maybe answer; the property is in good shape – you won’t have a dead lawn; they will disclose any defects they know about – you don’t have to sign away rights and hope for the best comforted only by your “price victory”. Buying from a motivated owner usually means there are fewer repairs for you to make, a shorter transaction time, no stigmatization of the property, etc. Make an offer to an owner…you might be delightfully surprised, and financially and emotionally rewarded.

Our Advice: It all depends on what your definition of a “good buy” is. Do you want a cheap price or a good value? Talk your situation over with your agent…candidly. Are you willing to deal with the bank’s strong arm tactics and delays to buy a bank owned property? Do you have the cash and patience for a foreclosure sale? Do you have the patience for the hassle and uncertainty of a short sale? Today’s motivated Seller is competing with the foreclosures and short sales…and they know it. You might pay a little bit more for an “Owner Home”, but you well could be ahead when all is said and done. Pick a path and take action.

A perceived “good buy” will vary according to the Buyer. Make a good buy for you and your family according to your goals, objectives, emotions and circumstances. Your happiness is all that matters, and you can make yourself happy in this market! Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or , 775-781-5472.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Weeds Are Growing Faster Than My Garden … What Can I Do?

It sounds like you have the very situation that Webster uses to define the weed: “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially: one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants.” Weeds are nature’s way of protecting and often enhancing our soils, but they can be destructive and obnoxious. Removing them will require an assessment of the type of weed(s), size of the area affected, surrounding plants, ability to physically remove them, or the need for chemical application, and the selection of tools and chemicals to get the job done.

Certain weeds are actually controlled by Nevada Statute, and Douglas County ordinance. These are known as noxious weeds, and include Canada thistle, Puncture vine (also known as “goatheads”), Whitetop, and others. You can see photos of noxious weeds at various stages of their development online at
Douglas County. Ever see your pet or child suddenly pull up limping/hopping in pain in the spring or summer? That’s a good indicator that they’ve discovered a goathead. Keep your family safe and protect your property value – do your weed maintenance.

Nevada weed laws include: NRS 555.150 Every landowner or occupier, whether private, city, county, or federal shall cut, destroy, or eradicate all noxious weeds as required by the state quarantine officer. NRS 555.170 Should the owner/occupant fail, neglect, or refuse to comply; the state quarantine officer may notify the board of county commissioners for the county in which the property is situated. The county board of commissioners shall proceed to have cut, destroyed, or eradicated the weeds in accordance with the initial notice. NRS 555.180 Control costs not paid by the owner shall be a lien against the property and shall be collected as provided by the law for the collection of other liens.

Weeds are well intertwined with mankind as we cohabitate on this planet. Weeds can indicate soil deficiencies and help with the remedy, can provide cover for other crops, can stabilize the soil, some have insect repelling abilities, some provide beauty and fragrance while others are hideous and hurt. Some historic weeds are now known as vegetables and embraced by man. Others offered medicinal properties and are now called herbs. Weeds can present interesting dilemmas. Consider this- would you rather see green weeds with flowers by the roadside, or the debris like that we regularly have to pick up at our property that was thrown from passing vehicles such as coffee cups, beer bottles and chew cans? The weeds serve to cover such human trash.

Some weeds are clearly good for us – others are a menace and must be controlled.
Weeds come and go in cycles as the weather changes. You never know what Spring will bring until the Valley greens up and you take a closer look. Look closely at the greenery on your property - certain weeds are lethal to livestock, others painful for your pets and children. It isn’t just the rancher’s responsibility – we all need to keep the Valley safe. Some weed seeds lie dormant in the ground for 5-10 years before weather circumstances cause their sprouting. Timing is important for weed control – get them before they go to seed.

Our Advice: Identify the weeds that are on your property. If you have noxious weeds you must take action – it’s the law. Questions - contact the friendly and very helpful Douglas County Weed Contact, 782-9835 for help in identifying them and developing an eradication plan. Get help – some weeds will multiply like starfish if you don’t remove them completely. Eradication can be by: a. Mechanical means, i.e.- hoe and sweat, with adapted equipment, b. Chemical means, the nature of which will vary according to the specific weed and its location, i.e.- in a vegetable garden, or on a roadside, or c. organic means, i.e.- mulching with organic materials. You can hire professionals to apply pre-emergent chemicals to stop them before they get started, or to safely eradicate them for you. There are many resources available to you … use them and take action.

Weeds … get on ‘em and stay on ‘em or they will grow like … weeds! Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or , 775-781-5472.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

We’ve Been on the Market a Long Time … How Do We Stay Sane?

Marketing times have increased for most Sellers in today’s market and it can take a toll on Sellers. We have some tips that will help you keep your sanity while you keep your home in presentable market condition for the showing you are looking for … the one that sells your home.

When the call comes for a showing most Sellers immediate reaction is to “pick up”. Many will pick up every day in anticipation of a showing, and still worry about things being picked up. This anxiety can take its toll. Here’s a simple solution… buy a big plastic tub for each room. When you have a showing, remove the clutter by throwing unattractive essentials in the tub, i.e.- toys, magazines, clothes, etc. This tub system will work especially well for your teen’s room – put the games, clothes, all the loose “teen gear”, etc. in a big tub. Put the tub in the garage and leave it there. If your teen wants it back he can do it himself. This might work well to encourage your teen to keep his room clean if his clutter gets slammed into a tub … no guarantee of successful teen training – only that your home will show better with this system.

We understand that if you take numerous medications it is convenient to have them on the kitchen table, but it is not good for a Buyer to know your medical condition. Put your medicine in a small tub and stow it away in a kitchen cabinet. Smaller tubs work well for bathroom counters, cleaning your bills off the desk, etc. Everything is still organized, but out of sight for a Buyer.

Another way to be prepared for a showing is to keep up with the “land mines” your pets place around the yard. The weather is nice – people will be looking around the outside of your home. If you pick up things regularly, not only will you enjoy your home more, you will not worry about it being show-ready when the call homes. Another aspect to consider as you prepare your home for showing is the positive vibration it puts forth. The more you prepare and anticipate a showing the more likely you will attract one. Keep that thought as you take the extra minute to tidy and clean and you will be empowered and happy in your endeavor. Remember, the law of averages is on your side - the longer you go without a showing the sooner you will have one … if you are priced right.

Our Advice: Every showing is much more important these days. There is a lot of competition and there aren’t ten more Buyers behind the one bad or missed showing you have like there was two years ago. Don’t fret over getting everything perfect – a less than perfect showing is better than not showing your home. If they are ready to buy and can’t see your home they will buy someone else’s. Keep you home market ready, but don’t worry about it being “sterile”. Some homes are so incredibly clean and uncluttered that Buyer’s will comment, “does anybody live here”. Most don’t relate to a home like that as they will to one that is clean & tidy, but lived in.

Extended marketing periods are a reality – make the best of it, however “Tub Living” can be tiresome too after awhile. Tubbing will help your home show better – pricing will help it sell better.
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or , 775-781-5472.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

There’s Water in Our Ditch and It Hasn’t Rained … What’s Up?

Its that time of year again – time to irrigate the crops that keep the Valley so green and the aesthetic wonder that it is. Throughout the Valley is a network of conveyance ditches that bring water from the Carson Rivers (East and West Forks) to the property where it is to be put to beneficial use. Look around and you’ll see them everywhere, even in town. It sounds like you have such a ditch on the edge of your property. Yes, it hasn’t rained, but the ditch is full of water because it is being transported from the river to somewhere down the ditch from you so it can irrigate crops.

Water is important for keeping the Valley green, but more importantly it is an essential component of agricultural production. The rancher’s living and the well being of their livestock is dependant on it. It is taken very seriously by the ranchers and should be respected by all Valley residents. The Carson River was the subject of the longest running court case in the history of the U.S. Filed in 1925, it was resolved in 1980 with what is known as the Alpine Decree. That the litigants stayed on task for that long demonstrates their passion and zeal for this most important resource. That passion has not waned among those that have the benefit of surface water rights, but is now better managed among them by the dictates of the Decree and the oversight and decisions of the Water Master.

Ranchers work hard to maintain the ditch network. You see them burning the weeds to allow the water to flow better. You will also see them removing silt build up to keep the flow at its optimum. Water is precious in the desert and the ranchers work hard to get as much to their property as possible with as little loss as possible. Each branch of the river has a Federal Water Master representative to direct the water flow – who gets the water, how much they get, and when they get it based on historic use, priority, and the water flow in the river. Neighboring water users work together to coordinate the most efficient use of the water around the clock during the irrigation season. If you are a new owner of a water righted property and aren’t sure about what to do ask your Seller, your neighbors and the Water Master for your property. They will gladly help you understand protocol, custom and the law so you can enjoy your asset and assimilate nicely in the neighborhood.

Our Advice: Be clear whether you live near an irrigation or a drainage ditch. If you live near an irrigation ditch be careful with your children and animals. Water can be in the ditch unexpectedly. The water can move rapidly and goes through many culverts along the way. Your child or pet can have a difficult time extricating themselves from the water if they happen to fall in. Also, if there is a culvert on your property it is in your best interest to keep it clear of obstructions. Not only can it cause water to back up and flood your property, by maintaining it and helping the ranchers you remove the need for them to enter your property to maintain the ditch, a right they have.

In case you are wondering, no, you can’t use the water going by your property as it belongs to someone else. Enjoy the flowing water, a treat in our high desert environment. Note the joy of the flora and fauna, wild and domestic, as the water spreads the essence of life throughout the Valley. Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, or , 775-781-5472.