Sunday, July 19, 2009

Buyers Can Help Themselves During The Course Of Escrow

Buyers Can Help Themselves During The Course Of Escrow

Congratulations to you Buyers that are in escrow. Great price and great interest – it is a great time to be a Buyer. To make sure your buying experience is smooth and successful there are some ways you can help yourself through the course of your escrow. It isn’t automatic that escrows close, and it is important that you help yourself along the way to make sure that yours does.

One area that causes delays, and frustration, in escrow is not having all the documents signed, or signed in a timely manner. There are many, many documents to sign during the course of negotiation, escrow, loan, and closing. If you are asked to sign something, something you agree with, make a point to sign and return it in a timely manner. If you have questions, ask them right away and get your answers. Don’t delay your performance because you are not happy with, or are questioning, something.

If you are getting a new loan, don’t make any purchases without talking to y
our lender. We’ve seen a simple new $1,500 credit line at a department store blow a Buyer’s ratios and almost cause the Buyers to lose their new home. Without a private money swing loan they would not have been able to buy their home … this news coming in while the Sellers are actually loading the moving van anticipating closing the next day. Credit will be rechecked before funding. If you get a new credit card, buy a new car, etc. you can jeopardize your loan.

When you get your inspection reports – read them and make your repair requests immediately. Repairs must be ordered, tradesmen scheduled, re-inspections made. A delay of a couple of days can cause you grief at the closing end.

How is your communication with your lender? Are you talking about locking your interest rate? Do you know your rate … for sure? A shocking higher rate when you are ready to close, even if you can qualify and make the payment, is not a pleasant experience – especially if it could have been avoided. Are there pre-doc conditions? Pre-funding conditions? If so, get them handled as quickly as possible as things will be delayed until you do.

Be available to your agent, be responsive to your agent, talk to your lender, stay active. You don’t have to be alert 24/7, but don’t go underground. If you travel stay in touch. With email and faxes it is easy to get documentation to you most anywhere on the planet in a timely manner.

Our advice: Delays in your actions can lead to a delay in the close of escrow. These days there are new potential delay factors that we must deal with. The appraisal may be reviewed. The underwriter may initiate an unexpected and unexplainable hurdle that must be dealt with. You can’t control those items, but you can control your actions. Be timely, pay attention, keep smiling, take action. Be sure to bring certified funds to close the escrow, i.e.- cashier’s check or have the funds wired, no personal checks.

Remember to set up your utilities for the close of escrow. If the Seller schedules them to be turned off you might be without power, gas or water for a few days. It’s the details of the transaction that will help you maintain your peace of mind as you move towards home ownership … pay attention to them for your own sake. 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.,


Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine are the authors of this blog. Lisa, Jim and Jessie are experts in
Carson Valley, Carson City and the tri-county area of Douglas County, Carson City and Lyon County. Call our team anytime at 775-781-5472 or 775-781-3704. To Search for Homes go to: of visit our website at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Truth In Lending Changes Take Effect July 30, 2009

Truth In Lending Changes Take Effect July 30, 2009

Predatory lending practices played a large role in the recent global economic collapse. Those practices included funding loans with falsified information, hidden costs and charges. They also packaged subprime loans as prime loans and resold them to international investors. The resulting negative ramifications have been felt globally as the investments proved to be not what they appeared to be ... for the investor and the borrower. That has resulted in an assortment of laws and/or guidelines, Federal and State, intended to protect the consumer and the investor the latest of which takes effect on July 30th.

The new Truth in Lending Regulation (Reg Z) changes take effect for loan applications filed on, or after July 30, 2009. The new requirements apply to all mortgages secured by a primary or second home. Investor loans are exempt. Two main changes are the requirement of the lender to give a good faith estimate of loan costs within 3 business days after the loan application (early disclosure), and the lender may not now collect any fees before the disclosure is provided, except for a reasonable credit report fee.

More Reg Z changes: a) The escrow may not close until after a 7 day waiting period following the consumer’s receipt of the early disclosure., b) If the annual percentage rate (APR) increases by more than 0.125 percent from the early disclosure amount, the lender must provide a corrected disclosure and wait an additional 3 business days before closing the loan. It is important to understand that the APR not only includes the interest rate on the loan, but certain other settlement costs. c) The consumer may modify or waive both waiting periods for a documented personal financial emergency, with some restrictions.

It is important to understand that the APR can be affected by something seemingly innocuous, but with the potential for major consequences. These can include an unlocked interest rate, a change in the loan amount, a product change (the loan product), rate re-lock due to market improvement, change in closing date, and changes to fees including settlement fees. Each of these items can occur innocently enough during the course of an escrow and, if too close to the scheduled closing date, can wreck havoc with the closing timing. Sample simple problem- if you put a home equity loan on during the transaction the initial disclosure period starts all over. With a home equity line of credit there is no impact.

Our advice: The changes aren’t really burdensome, but they have the potential to delay escrows. It is important that everyone – borrower, Realtor, and lender – all pay attention to the details from the onset of the loan process to the funding. Minor changes can cause several days of delays. Delays can result in missed closing dates which can mean not only not moving on the weekend that you have arranged for with your friends and work, but can also mean a breach of contract that could cause you to lose the property in certain circumstances. All parties must be diligent in their efforts and communication on the loan and escrow process to minimize aggravation.

Getting a new loan? Better plan on at least a 30 day escrow period, and be diligent during the process. The longer the process goes the more opportunity there is for a “stick to meet your spokes”. As changes occur during your escrow make sure of their consequence, if any, on your loan process. 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.,

Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine are the authors of this blog. Lisa, Jim and Jessie are experts in
Carson Valley, Carson City and the tri-county area of Douglas County, Carson City and Lyon County. Call our team anytime at 775-781-5472 or 775-781-3704. To Search for Homes go to: of visit our website at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday Offering … “Sierra Nevadas” By Jim Promessi

Wordless Wednesday Offering … “Sierra Nevadas” By Jim Promessi
Our brother-in-law is a wonderful artist. His painting of the
Sierra Nevadas. Is an excellent example of the beautiful area we call home! Enjoy!

Looking across the fertile Carson Valley in Northern Nevada. The Sierra Nevada range rises straight up from the valley floor. I was captivated by the distant cottonwood trees and lush green grasses up against the rust-tinted tullies.
Contact Jim by email:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nevada Asbestos Prevention Tips & GREEN Options for Homeowners

Located in the western region of the United States, Nevada is known for its natural parks, lakes, canyons, casinos, and scenery. What home buyer would not want to call this state their home? The road to owning a home is a wonderful experience, but requires new responsibilities. Homes that are newly purchased may require additional remodeling or repairs. Having the assistance of an honest and reliable real estate agent can make all the difference in the world.

Potential Nevada home buyers or those seeking to remodel homes built before 1980 should be aware that asbestos materials may still be present. This should not make you jump out of your chair because asbestos exposure can be easily prevented by taking simple precautions. Citizens of this great state are striving to move to a green lifestyle by advocating environmentally sustainable methods to be used throughout the state.


In most situations, any suspected asbestos should be left un-disturbed. Sometimes the best action is no action at all. When asbestos materials become disturbed, broken down or friable, this is when it becomes a concern, as fibers can become airborne and presents a high risk for anyone in the area.

The inhalation of its fibers can cause a rare lung-ailment known as
mesothelioma, which accounts for three percent of cancer diagnoses in the United States. The amount of asbestos-related incidents in the last few decades has lead to asbestos lawyer firms advocating victim rights around the U.S. The negligence involved with the asbestos scandal has been one of greed and dishonesty. Manufacturers of asbestos were aware of its toxic qualities, but repressed this information from the public.

The general rule of thumb is if the asbestos is in good shape, it's posing no apparent risk. If it's in bad shape, it could be a problem. If a home inspector suggests removal is necessary, it must be performed by a licensed abatement contractor who is trained in handling hazardous materials. At the present time, there is a growing list of green insulation alternatives which replace the need for asbestos.

Green Alternatives in the home

Combining tough research and political advocacy, Environment Nevada is a citizen run environmental organization seeking to produce real changes in tackling all of the state’s eco problems. Each and every human being would like clean air to breathe and crisp water to drink. It takes a lot of effort and political advocacy to achieve this on a macro level. That is what groups such as Environment Nevada focus exclusively on.

Recently, congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. Included in this act were extensions to the tax incentives placed for energy efficiency in 2005, as well as new credits for homeowners who remodel or build using eco-sustainable methods. Some of the measures that are eligible for tax credits include added insulation to walls, ceilings, or other part of the building envelope that meets the 2009 IECC specifications, sealing cracks in the building shell and ducts to reduce heat loss. Storm doors paired with U-factored rated wood doors are also eligible.

The use of recycled building materials such as cotton fiber insulation can reduce energy use by 25 percent. The implementation of eco-construction, alternative energy solutions and energy reduction solutions has continued to play an important role in the transformation to a healthier and sustainable world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday I Experienced the "Rest Of the Story". Sharing Their New Home With Their Family and Friends!

Saturday I Experienced the "Rest Of the Story". Sharing Their New Home With Their Family and Friends!

Friday I posted a blog about the joy of getting a tough loan approved for a deserving couple, The Toughest of the Toughest Loan Just Got Approved! These Kids Are Buying Their Dream Home!

Saturday I experienced the "Rest Of the Story".

This Saturday in Carson Valley was special, it's "Carson Valley Days" ... a 99 year old tradition of celebrating our wonderful Carson Valley Life! We started with the Carson Valley Day's Parade. After that, amid the confusion of taking apart the Douglas Pop Warner Float, I met with my young home buyers to open the house and let them share their future new home with their extended family and friends!

What a wonderful joy to watch them show their parents, aunts, uncles, children and friends the home they will soon be moving into!

There are many wonderful opportunities available in Carson Valley for First Time Buyers!
1 comment Lisa Wetzel CDPE • June 14 2009 11:41AM

Short Sale Update … Are They Working … Worth It?

The Short Sale has gone from something that few practitioners had ever heard of to a commonly used real estate term. When they first became popular they were nearly impossible to implement. Lenders were so hard to work with that most Short Sale efforts were for naught. Things have changed considerably to a point where they are feasible though not for the faint of heart.

The Seller must provide substantial information to prove need including a Hardship Letter, Financial Statement, bank statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns, etc. The Lender wants to know what changed the borrower’s repayment ability, and if there are other assets that could be used to repay, i.e.- cash, stock holdings, other real property assets. This takes work, but is required and worth it.

We’ve learned a lot in the past eighteen months about doing Short Sales. It used to be frustrating when the lender would say that we weren’t authorized to talk to them even though we had submitted the correct paperwork. It was frustrating when they said they had not received our FAX transmission of the documents. This was common, and done repeatedly – we would send each package, all 60-plus pages, three times. It didn’t matter who the lender was, this is what the agent encountered. We now know that they are taught how to get agents off the phone as quickly as possible and those were two of their best techniques. With this knowledge we know to stay the course on the phone, ask for a supervisor and ultimately they will find everything to be in order and we can proceed with the business that needs to be done. It is one way that agents have achieved a higher level of success in implementing Short Sales.

There are scavengers hovering over distressed property owners so be careful who you agree to work with and what services you agree to pay for. There are those that are trying to tie your property up with an option at a low price while they try to flip it in a double escrow. No, it isn’t legal, but it is a predatory practice that is presently occurring. Other services are being offered with the understanding that the lender will pay for them. The problem is that the lender won’t pay for them and the already cash-strapped Seller has to pay. Yet another scammer offered to tell the Seller how to cure her loan that was in default for $5,000. She paid – the advice, “Pay your loan current.” True story.

Our advice: Sellers can realize great benefits and Buyers can get a very good price with a Short Sale transaction if you stick it out and allow it to work. Make sure the Listing agent is Short Sale savvy. Short Sales have become an area of special expertise just like dealing with industrial properties or ranch properties. Realtors aren’t to work outside of their area of knowledge and we believe the Short Sale has become an area that the inexperienced shouldn’t indulge without a mentor. Allow enough time, and be patient. There are significant steps to each SS transaction that you want to look for to assure progress: a. The package was received. b. The BPO was received, c. A negotiator has been assigned. d. A decision to accept or Counter is reached. Short Sales are closing much to the benefit of Buyers, Sellers and Lenders.

The latest lender technique we’ve encountered – telling us the Mortgage Insurance company requires them to get a specific minimum amount on their loan. The problem it’s a second and there is no PMI. The first won’t pay more and they will be wiped out if they don’t take the payment the first authorized. They continue to play these games to get more money. 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.,

Sunday, May 31, 2009

You’re Taking Action … How To Look At A Home

You’re Taking Action … How To Look At A Home

So you’re getting off the sideline and into the game … ready to look at houses. You’ve been pre-approved, have a good agent, have your wants and needs figured out and you’re ready to go see the insides. What do you do?

Many homes are vacant these days. Vacant homes are easy to access, but will require some imagination to see how the home will work for you, your furniture, and your lifestyle. Take some time to visualize in the empty space how your life will flow. Imagine it in the condition you want it to be in and what it will take to get it to that point.

Don’t be bashful when looking at an occupied house. You are about to make a substantial purchase and you should know how it will work for you. Open the closets to see if they are big enough – many are surprising when you open the door. Open the kitchen drawers to see how they function. Visualize how your furniture will work in the house. They may have it set up right … or not. Don’t miss the right house because of decorating … and vice versa … don’t buy the wrong house because of decorating. Don’t like the color of the bedroom? Paint can be changed quickly so don’t pass up the right house because of the wrong paint. The same applies to carpet albeit at a greater expense than paint.

Be sure to look at the outside of the home. Go around the sides and look at the paint, siding, drainage, etc. Look at the roof – especially the southwest side in our area as that is where the prevailing weather comes from causing it to be the first part of the house to deteriorate. Check out the neighbors’ situations, i.e.- visual blight, obnoxious dogs, encroachment on the subject property, etc. The inspectors will find the physical deficiencies later, you must find the aesthetic ones when you view the property.

Look at the items that are included in the sale, or that you might want included in the sale. This can include the wood stove, refrigerator, lawn ornaments, etc. Make a note of what it looks like – especially it has been disclosed that something will be substituted, i.e.- they are replacing the heirloom chandelier.

Leave the house how you found it. If the blinds were closed – close them. Whether to prevent heat build up and sun fading the carpet/furniture, or simply for privacy, it’s what the owner wants. Turn off the lights that you turned on. Re-lock the doors and windows that you unlocked as you checked the home out. Don’t lock the doors that were unlocked – you might unwittingly lock an owner out of the house. Pets must be left where they were found – inside or out. They’ll make a break for the “greener pasture”, but they know they shouldn’t be there and you should know that as well.

Our Advice: Take a lot of pictures of the homes that meet your general criteria. It is easier to remember details later if you have pictures of the properties you liked. The pictures can help you if there is a problem between what was seen during your inspection and what is there at the close of escrow. Rare, but things can happen. If you forgot your camera most agents have a digital camera ready.

Be bold when looking at houses – it is going to be your home. Ask questions … get answers. Its work, but it’s worth it. Your agent will help you along the way. 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.,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

We Just Attended a Dream Dinners “Sneak Peak Party”!

I had heard about Dream Dinners but never really took the time to see exactly what it was all about. Well … we only tasted two entrees and listened to a brief presentation but … I think it’s gonna be totally great!

The whole premise is based on pre-purchasing a number of meals – a minimum of 36 single serving meals- in a 30 day period, grouped into clumps of 3 or 6 serving portions. The choices are broad and the quality seems to be really high (at least the two we tasted).

After ordering the appropriate number of meals, you go into the Dream Diners store on your assigned appointment time – they run from early in the morning until 7:00 PM or later in the evening – assemble all the ingredients and package them in zip lock bags and little foil containers. Everything is there, the entrees, the spices, the sauses, the recipe, everything!

Once the packaging is complete you take your bundles and freeze them in your home freezer. When you are ready to use them just remove the entry package in the morning to thaw, construct it and cook it when you get home.

The entrees vary but most bake in the oven for 15 to 30 minutes, some can be grilled, some stove top and some even microwave. Add a veggie or salad if you like and in less than 30 minutes you are dining on Balsamic black berry chicken, Mango glazed salmon, New Orleans Jambalaya, or Chicken with Lemon ad Artichoke Sauce! There is complete nutritional info available so you can customize and choose lower fat or sodium items it you want to. There are also veggie alternatives and heart healthy selections.

Another winner! Check this out … we bought 16 different 3 serving dinners for $220.00. That’s less than $5.00 per serving per person for some really tasty stuff. Can’t beat the price! There are some programs that offer even greater discounts for larger volumes.

Check out their site Here’s a little blurb from them!

Dream Dinners provides everything you need to assemble delicious dinners for your family, store in your freezer and serve in the weeks ahead. We supply all of the essentials, from easy-to-follow instructions to fresh, pre-cut ingredients. Learning how Dream Dinners works is easy.

Remember, this is new to us but I’m thinking we are looking at the end to boring quick meals on those long days at the office! I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Cleaning For Living And Selling

Spring is a time of transition, especially in how you live in your home. You’ve been buttoned up all winter, but now you can break out of your “winter cocoon”. Open the windows and let this fresh spring air circulate through your house. Clean out the debris gathered around the your home, inside and out. Flower gardens, ditches, nooks and crannies all seem to be gathering places of “stuff” all winter.

Winter has a way of causing dirt to accumulate in a house. Tracking in mud and snow doesn’t show much at the time, but the potential for damage is realistic. Dirt granules in a carpet that chafe on the fibers will dramatically reduce the life expectancy of your carpet. Even if you don’t see discoloration it’s a good idea to clean them for the maintenance factor. Wood cabinets and furniture can also be affected by winter. The closed up house can cause the wood to dry out excessively - treat each item appropriately.

Spring is also a good time to change your furnace air filter. You’ve been recycling the air in your closed environment all winter, and the filters worked overtime all that while. You will soon be deluged by pollen and other environmental “pollutants” that will readily enter your domain because your home will be open more as you begin sleeping with the windows open, and leaving your windows and sliders open.

Windows … yes, you’ll need to do windows! Clean the fog off and enjoy the clarity of Spring. Can’t get the fog off? You might have a broken seal. This will need to be replaced to sell your home so you might as well fix your broken windows now so your home will show better and build confidence in prospective Buyers. Open your window coverings – you are between summer heat and winter cold insulation needs – let the light in. Clean the blinds and drapes.

The days are getting warmer so be sure to get your watering going. Show the green of your lawn – most Bank Owned properties won’t be able to compete with that. Keep up with your weeds – it is essential for a groomed inviting look. Surely, we have a freeze or two still coming so be careful how soon you add your flowerful colors.

Our Advice: If you are considering selling your home, the above should be considered minimum standards for preparing your home for market. Consider this “Staging 101”, the basic essentials. A Buyer will be naturally put off by driving up to a home with weeds all around it, or trying to look at the beautiful views through a foggy veil. The stale winter air should be moved out and the house generally freshened up in the natural spirit of Spring. You can get good separation in your market from Bank Owned and Short Sale properties by cleaning, freshening, and making your home appealing as a home that a Buyer will relate to and want to live in. Not moving? Do it anyway and enjoy the results!

Have you ever washed your car and fixed the brakes so you could sell it … and wondered why you didn’t do it for yourself? This time is just like that time! Do it and enjoy the results … whatever your ownership future or fate. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs…
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Do Not Let Your House Go To Foreclosure Without Taking Every Step To Prevent It.

If you owe more than your property is worth, you have as a Distressed Property. Until recently, working with Distressed Properties was fraught with peril for agents, and owners were often told to “let it go”, ie.- stop making payments and let the lender foreclose. We’ll spare you the horrific Short Sale experiences as well as our speculation as to why the lending industry was so slow to adapt to the need to cooperate with home owners and their agents. Times have changed and Short Sales are now viable and should be given serious consideration.

Unknown to most of us until about 18 months ago, Short Sales are now very common, and it is very important to understand their benefit to the homeowner. Consider some of the following differences between the effects of a Foreclosure versus a Short Sale:

Credit Score: A Foreclosure will lower your credit score 250 to over 300 points for over 3 years. A Short Sale will show late payments, but the score will be lowered as little as 50 points, and the affect can be as brief as 12-18 months.

Credit History:
Foreclosure will remain on credit history for 10 years or more. Short Sale is not reported on a credit history as there is no specific reporting item for “Short Sale”. Foreclosure remains on public record forever as it is recorded.

Employment: Employers often actively check credit of employees in sensitive positions – especially security clearances (Military, Police, Public Communication, Public Utilities, etc). Foreclosure can result in immediate reassignment or termination if employed, or can prevent you from being hired if you are looking for work. A Short Sale is not reported on credit report … is not a challenge to employment.

Deficiency Judgment: In a Foreclosure the bank has the right to a deficiency judgment. Some successful Short Sales provide for the lender to give up the right to a deficiency judgment. If a deficiency judgment is pursued the Short Sale’s higher yield from the sale results in a lower potential judgment amount.

Future Fannie Mae Loan: After Foreclosure you’ll be ineligible for a Fannie Mae backed loan for 5 years. Short Sale - 2 years.

Future Loans:
For 7 years you will be asked on your application if you have had a foreclosure, but there is no similar declaration regarding a Short Sale.

Our Advice: There is now a designation known as Certified Distressed Property Expert that has been earned by local real estate agents to help Sellers and Buyers of Distressed properties. If you have cash flow or moving issues, we suggest you get professional help to assess your situation, determine alternative options, and make an action plan. The world of Short Sales and Foreclosures has changed from the frustrating mass confusion that it was to today’s smoother processes with positive results. Though there is still frustration and emotion, help is available to you that can help you establish and achieve your goals through the confusing maze.

Whether getting the financial elephant off your back, moving to put the family together, or other bona fide reason for selling … if you have a Distressed Property get with a Certified Distressed Property Expert and take control of your future. Foreclosure is the last option…do what you can to avoid it.

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We Are Reading Better News! … Is The Real Estate Market Improving?

We’ve been teased by market surges before during the past eighteen months, but there seems to be a different feeling this time. Yes, things are getting better, and in some cases much, much better. We have seen the entry level market, up to $225,000, getting tremendous activity lately. That includes many showings, offers – in some cases multiple offers on the same property, and offers greater than the asking price. More than half of the listed homes in some of those markets, i.e.- the Gardnerville Ranchos, are now in a Pending status. That means the owners have accepted an offer and they are in escrow.

Other price points have not seen the surge, but it could be coming soon for a couple of reasons. The first is the obvious, as the move-up Buyer is finally able to sell they will be actively shopping. The move-up Buyer has been teased watching the prices fall on homes in their desired neighborhood, but unable to act because of the lack of activity on their home. That is changing, and they will soon be shopping.

In the past few days the terms on Jumbo loans were greatly improved. Lenders had clamped down on Jumbo loans when the debacle started because they didn’t want the risk. Rates were two or more points higher than a conventional loan, and qualifying was a nightmare. That slowed the upper end market to a crawl … one of imperceptible motion if truly analyzed. With the new terms just being announced it will take some time to see their effect on the market, but it is likely that it will create new activity after the word gets out about it. Homes that were once appraised at $1.6 million now available for under $800,000 is too much of an attraction to the qualified Buyer. The Market will be there now that reasonable financing is.

Another Market changer is the Lenders new attitude about and their responses to short sale offers of late. This is having a significant impact on the Market as it is slowing the amount of foreclosures. Short sales are better for neighborhoods as the property remains in good condition while the owner continues to reside in it. That means there will be fewer bank-owned properties dragging the values down so far and fast as they have been doing. This is a change from what we’ve experienced over the past 18 months, one we’ve been hoping would occur. The process has been enhanced by special short sale services of some escrow companies that are getting good results from their communication with the lenders, something that agents came to loathe before this attitude change.

Our Advice: It is apparent that the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit incentive is having a positive effect in our real estate Market Place. If you qualify for that and are thinking that it might be a good idea to buy a home now … quit thinking and start doing! The Market is changing and as it gains traction the pricing will also change. You have great interest rates and pricing available to you, but now you have competition in the Market place. Good old capitalism (remember that?) is again in play. The same dynamics will soon occur in the other price ranges for a variety of reasons. If real estate is on your mind be sure to update your expectations … you might be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t hesitate to act now if you are timing the Market … you may just be outfoxing yourself instead of the Market and Sellers! 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.,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Really Want To Buy A House But Can’t Do It By Myself … What Can I Do?

The good news is that you are aware of what a great time this is to buy a home. Interest rates just went down again and prices are still very low. So what can you do to buy a house? The traditional source of assistance was family. Your parents might be happy to assist you, but there are other options with broader thinking.

If you need additional income to qualify, another way to buy a home is to partner up with somebody. Are you living with a roommate now – why not own together? How about your college friends or co-workers? Is there somebody you really get along with that is responsible? Is your brother/sister renting in the same town? You lived together for many years up to this point, why not do it again and have a business investment together? Your good income with your partner’s good credit, or vice-versa, is the combination your are seeking. With the low interest rates and prices it is amazing how low monthly payments are … and the income needed to qualify for them. Check it out – you will be amazed at what you can buy.

Our youngest son recently closed escrow on a wonderful home with two friends. They put 3.5% down, got a new FHA loan and their total payment, including taxes and insurance, is just about equal to what they’d have to pay in rent! Plus … they will share the $8,000 first time homebuyer’s tax credit. Their anticipated holding period is 5-8 years, enough time to get done with schooling, and establish careers. What will the market do during that time? We think it will be kind to them and give them a good financial start in life with this initial real estate investment.

The mechanics are important when buying with a partner … be sure you get along. Not only is this a business venture, you will be living together. Select carefully. Determine in advance who will get the master bedroom, use of the garage, etc. Have a pet policy … cats, dogs okay? Snakes? Be sure you have a household account with reserves. Our son and friends set up a household bank account titled “Three Amigos”. That makes for easy record keeping and assurance that there will always be funds available when needed for a common expense.

It is important to memorialize your agreements in writing. A Memorandum of Understanding should include responsibilities, and how future decisions will be made. What if one of you wants out? What if one doesn’t make their share of the monthly payment? What is one gets married and another person is suddenly involved (hint - get a Quitclaim Deed). Do this in advance when everybody is getting along.

Our Advice: Understand, the statement “partnerships were made in Hades” is very true, but they can work well with the right preparation and circumstances. There are 100% loan programs available in some of our communities. You can buy with nothing down and get an $8,000 tax credit for doing it. These are the good old days. Look at your options … these and others.
While the present economic situation is causing heartache and pain for many … there are some silver linings to these dark clouds. This is a wonderful opportunity for young American entering the work force to partake in the American Dream. 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, March 9, 2009

Rub A Dub Dub There’s a Goose In Our Tub!

Its never dull in the country. Went out the other morning and one of our Toulouse geese wouldn’t stand up. Just sat there in the mud. She stood up and couldn’t walk so I picked her up and took her in the house to “sick bay”. As she is a rather large bird, and our dogs are very curious, a box just didn’t seem to work. Ended up using the guest bath tub. Set her up with grain, lettuce and water. She was docile and timid … not her normal demeanor.

Our grandson came to visit and seeing her in the tub exclaimed, “she’ll probably lay an egg”. Ha! A sick goose laying an egg in the tub …right. You guessed it – the next morning there was an egg in there … a big goose egg. Nothing like an eight year old to expect the unexpectable.

It has taken a couple of days, but now she’s starting to stand, and even squawk a bit when we aren’t in the room. We’re going to plug the tub and float her in a little bit. It’ll take the load off of her sore leg, and she can get a bath … one of a goose’s most pleasurable pastimes. Happily, it looks like she is recovering nicely and can join her fine feathered friends in a few days.

For our city friends, we call our Toulouse geese “Granny Goose Geese” – now you know what she looks like.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What’s Up With Sneaky Buyers and Sellers?

To have effective representation you must have good honest communication with your agent. It is surprising how many people don’t tell their agent what’s on their mind, or even answer questions in an honest manner. When you go to the doctor’s office and are asked, “Where does it hurt?”, do you stay mum and have him push, pull, twist, prod, and poke until he finds where you are hurting? Of course not!

Walking in to a real estate office and not being candid about your wants, needs, abilities, and overall situation is no different in its absurdity, but it is truly amazing how often that happens. Most agents will quickly ask you a simple question, “Are you working with an agent?” You might have been, but aren’t happy with the service. If so, explain it just that way. You might not like what the other agent told you, or how you were treated - explain it that way. If an agent won’t show you certain properties, if an agent only shows you listings from their own office or won’t show your listings from a specific other office, or if an agent doesn’t hear what you are trying to tell her … you have good cause to change agents. Share your frustration with your new agent – don’t keep it a secret.

If you simply don’t like what you are hearing from that agent, though you know it to be true in your heart, you aren’t being realistic. In that case you aren’t being fair to you and your family, or to either of the agents involved. You can’t escape the truth by agent shopping. If you find an agent you can push around, or one that says only what you want to hear, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and failure.

It’s okay to be cautious with personal information until you reach a level of comfort with the agent you’ve just met, but be truthful when your agent is asking qualifying questions. Qualifying questions are what the good agent asks about you and your situation so she can get an understanding of how she can help you. The weak agents don’t ask the hard questions because they are afraid of the answers they will hear. The good agent knows that they need the information in order to properly assess your situation and match it to the market. Without it they would be like a doctor that gives you a pain pill without knowing your broken bone is in need of repair.

Real estate is multi-dimensional … it is not a black and white business. You have personal Past Experiences, i.e.- grew up in a two story farm house; future Goals, i.e.- want horses; present Needs, i.e.- want kids in certain elementary school … all which must be understood and applied by your professional real estate practitioner to the market. If you don’t share and they don’t ask you are both in the process of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack – a waste of everybody’s time.

Our Advice: Whether buying or selling, it is more important now than ever to have competent professional representation in your real estate transaction. Your agent can help you keep the right perspective and separate fantasy from reality. Understand that there are those that will abuse your candor so proceed with caution as you develop your relationship with your agent. Your honest agent will listen to you and serve your needs based on what you are saying … sharing their thought process along the way.

You’ll know when you are in the hands of a professional. Its then that buying and selling real estate is a magical process as your dreams manifest. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs…
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit … Who Qualifies?

As it pertains to the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, you are deemed a First-Time buyer and qualify if you, or your spouse, have not owned a principal residence in the three years immediately prior to your purchase… even if you have previously owned a home. There are really two programs now… the Credit as created July 2008 that applies to all qualified purchases on, or after, April 9, 2008, and the Revised Credit, effective for purchases on, or after, January 1, 2009. There are many similarities between the two programs, and some critical differences. We will focus here on the Revised Credit for Buyers who bought after January 1, 2009, or will buy before December 1, 2009.

The best part of the Revision for Buyers is that now the credit need not be paid back … unless the home is sold within three years. A sale within three years on homes purchased in 2009 will require that the entire amount of the credit be recaptured on sale. Another benefit from the Revision is the maximum amount was increased to the lesser of ten percent of the cost of the home or $8,000. Values in our region are such that you can pretty much figure on receiving the maximum of $8,000 here. There are income limits - the full amount is available for individuals with adjusted gross income of no more than $75,000, $150,000 on a joint return. It phases out above those caps up to $95,000 and $170,000 where it is then not available.

Interestingly, IRS rules say your principal residence can take a wide variety of forms including “houseboats, housetrailers, cooperative apartments, condominiums,” among others. This affords new investment opportunities for the broad thinker. How can you make it work for you?

Pay attention to changes or refinements that may be enacted in the future that modify the Act and how it is applied. The legislation happened quickly and there are certainly going to be questions of applicability that arise as individual case studies are addressed. Idea – buy now, close escrow, and file your Credit request with your 2008 return before things change too drastically.

Our Advice: Don’t count on this credit for help with closing costs. This is a tax credit that will help you pay your tax obligation, not something you receive at the close of escrow. If your tax liability is less than $8,000, however, you will get a refund for the balance. You can elect to claim the credit on your 2008 tax return which makes sense considering the basic economic principal that “money sooner is worth more than money later.” Renting with a roommate you like? With the low home prices and good interest rates we have these days, you can partner up on a home with a minimal down that will give you a payment not much more than you are paying in rent … plus get $4,000 tax credit each!

Remember that you will enjoy significant tax benefits with your new home ownership, and now you also have Great Pricing … Great Interest Rates … and a Great Federal Incentive. What are you waiting for? Control your destiny and buy the home you want now. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs…
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Three Amigos and The Tale of Rockbridge

There are upsides to this real estate market!

While the present economic situation is causing heartache and pain for many … there are some silver linings to these dark clouds.

Our youngest son, turning 22 in June, is about to close escrow on a wonderful home. He and his two friends – hence the “Three Amigos” will be moving next weekend into a very tidy three bedroom home in Carson City, Nevada.

The three (Chad and Leah 50% and Chris 50%) are high school friends and college roommates. They are buying a 1,400 Sq. Ft., three bedroom home with a nice fenced yard, living room, family room, big open kitchen, and two car garage. It’s and REO but in perfect shape, clean, tidy, and the yard is all alive!

They are financing with a new 3.5% down F.H.A Loan … and their total payment, including taxes and insurance, will be just about equal to what they’d have to pay in rent.

Now … for the best part … under the new first time buyer tax credit … They can close this week, file their 2008 taxes, and get up to $8,000 back.

This is a wonderful opportunity for young American entering the work force! It’s also a pretty good source of potential buyers for us. Win Win! That’s the way we like it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How Do We Compare Homes By Comparing Price Per Square Foot?

It is common practice in this region to compare and buy homes on a square foot basis, but that can often lead to some confusion. If you are looking at a 1,500 square foot home, for example, you can find anything from two to five bedrooms. The garage can be non-existent, or have a three car capacity. And of course there is the matter of location.

A 1,500 square foot home in Monte Carlo will cost you $6,630,000! In Dayton that can be under $150,000 today. Minden – roughly $255,000. Location does matter! Some local location aspects to consider include: a. street frontage … is yours a busy street? (If you are a Buyer, remember, busy relative to our local market, not the big city you are moving from.) b. Distance to medical, schools, and shopping.

The spectacular price per square foot they get in Monte Carlo, $4,420, is even more astounding when you consider the average home is on a very small lot, the proverbial “postage stamp” lot. In our region one can easily find a home on five acres as on a quarter of an acre. When comparing per-square-foot prices in this area one must consider the size of the lot and allowable uses. Can you have horses? Can you store your RV on your lot? Conversely, can your neighbor – not all positive answers here are positive to all people.

There are many intangibles that impact the value in a very real manner such as the C.C.&R.’s of your development, if any. Are you in a Homeowner’s Association and, if so, how is the management? Are they oppressive? Is it expensive? What government structure affects you – not only County, but TRPA? Improvement District? Regional Action Committee?, etc. All hard to measure, but definitely can add cost to your ownership, or affect the manner in which you, or your neighbors, utilize your property. This can be good, or bad, depending on the property and what your intended uses are.

Our Advice: Don’t rely simply on the numbers, it is important to interpret them. Garages aren’t included in the square footage figures, but there is certainly added value if you have a two car garage versus a carport. A 2,400 sq.ft. “toy box”, shop, certainly adds value, but it isn’t reflected in the price per square foot number unless you interpret it to understand why that home is higher priced … if it is. If it isn’t … can you spell v-a-l-u-e? New paint & carpet; granite vs. formica; landscaping vs. dirt - all must be considered and compared before making a buying or selling decision. The square foot price will get you close … your agent will get you closer by working with you to gain a better overall perspective on “true” value for a specific property.

Prices are relative to your market. A 3,500 sq.ft. home in Monte Carlo will cost you $15,470,000. It won’t cost you that much here … but how much are you going to pay … and what will you get for it? Have fun … that is the challenge of buying in our wonderfully diverse regional market. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Prices Seem Great And Then They Drop. What’s Happening With Our Local Real Estate Market?

Interesting times these are! Yes, we are seeing fantastic prices on properties … and then they drop. The pricing frenzy reminds us of the time we were returning from a hunting trip in O’Neil Basin in Elko County. Access to the Jarbidge Wilderness from the east is via a very long dirt road … a good opportunity for an eight year old to get some driving experience. We told our oldest son, “keep up with Uncle Jerry” and he did that as we followed his uncle and grandpa along the road. After about 15 miles we noticed we were doing 40 miles an hour … with an eight year old at the wheel and a huge turn approaching.

We implored him to “SLOW DOWN”, but reaching the pedals was difficult for an eight year old. Finally we skidded to a stop behind his uncle as they, too, had decided to stop. It was then that we found out that grandpa had told uncle to, “stay ahead of Adam”. That situation is like today’s real estate market. Sellers are being told to “stay ahead”, or “keep up”, as we speed down this perilous economic course together… the windy dirt road. When we agreed to travel around 25 miles an hour we had a reasonable trip to the highway. We believe a reasonable “25 miles an hour” approach will help Sellers and Buyers find their way in this Market. Until that happens keep your cool in the chaos.

Home prices are falling as Buyers are making offers and Sellers are accepting them. It takes a willing Buyer and willing Seller to make Market Value, and not all Sellers are “willing” these days. Though they accept offers, we feel that prices are actually lower than value in many cases due to many Sellers’ varying levels of what can only be called duress. A property may be worth more, but the Sellers can’t realize a higher price right now. Given the dearth of Buyers the lack of demand is like having diamonds on a desert island … they have value, but ….

Many homes are bank-owned and we know that banks sell by the numbers, not emotion. Good buys to be made there. A few are Short Sales, usually priced artificially low to attract a Buyer. Traditional Sellers are competing if they can … if they have the equity and motivation to do so. Pricing can no longer be a “let’s try it … we can always come down” approach. Properties must be aggressively priced to get sold … today. Watch for the turn, however, as it is looming. Not right away, but the indicators are out there that it is coming.

Our Advice: It’s a great time to be a Buyer, but it’s hard to say how long this will last given the many changes that seem to be on the horizon. There is an effort in Congress to double the first time homebuyer incentive and forgive the payback. There have also been governmental efforts to lower interest rates to 4 or 4.5%. As these and other incentives or stimuli are implemented to turn real estate around look for real estate pricing to get some traction. When it does the free fall will stop and Buyers will have competition for the good buys. Act now while its great and don’t try to time the market … we all know that is like catching a falling knife.

Whether first time home buyer, moving up, or investor … look hard at your options right now … you’ll like what you see. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs…
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Our Home Hasn’t Sold … Should We Hold An Auction?

Real Estate auctions have been around a long time, but rarely have they occurred in our market … until now. We participated in two different local real estate auctions last weekend. Are they a substitute for a traditional selling process? That depends on your specific ownership status and property situation.

One of our bank-owned listings was part of a 300-plus home auction based out of Las Vegas. Advertised opening bids were low - some in Southern Nevada as low as $500 and $1,000. Our listing opened at $89,000, list price is $229,415. The low opening bids generated interest, but the proverbial “fine print”, the Terms and Conditions, revealed the “catch” - an undisclosed reserve. A reserve means that the Seller has a minimum price they will accept. After substantial advertising, three weekend open houses, and a lot of fanfare … it didn’t sell at Saturday’s auction.

We attended another auction last Saturday that did result in a sale. The property was spectacular -10.7 acres, magnificent views, over 3,775 square foot home with a 3,775 sq.ft. basement, 2,400 sq.ft. shop with four roll up doors, etc. Well constructed and maintained, the property cost the Seller over $650,000 to build and was owned free and clear. After extended traditional marketing at well over $700,000 without a sale the Seller hired an auction firm from Missouri to hold an absolute auction. An absolute auction means the property will sell at the highest bid price with no minimum, reserve, or other “catch”. The auctioneer worked with a local real estate agent in marketing, staging and conducting the auction.

The absolute auction attracted around ten bidders including our investor/friend that we were representing. The auctioneer did a great job of disclosure and informing the participants of how the process would work. At the advertised time, 10:07 a.m., the sale started. After bids stalled at $350,000 there was a three minute break so people could consult with their real estate agent, spouse, partner, etc. Bidding resumed and soon there were but two active bidders. The successful bid was $400,000, effectively $440,000 as the Buyer had to pay a 10% auction fee (5% in the auction for our listing – pay attention to fees!). The Seller sold his house.

Our Advice: If you are considering selling or buying a property at auction do your homework. As a Seller you need to decide what kind of auction you will hold, reserve or absolute, and what the ramifications of each will be. Ideally, auction frenzy will grip a bidder and they will pay too much … isn’t that why you are thinking auction? Your home hasn’t sold at a realistic market value so you want to find the greater fool? Buyers at real estate auctions are quite savvy and are actually looking for something better than what they can get in the traditional marketplace. We were pleased to see the number of people with money to invest. Sure, they were typical Buyers in today’s market looking to make a great buy … but they were there with money in hand ready to spend it. That’s refreshing.

Different than foreclosure or tax sales, themselves auction-based sales processes, these real estate auctions have a different feel to them. Your personal situation and property specifics will determine if such an auction will work for you. Consult with your real estate agent to see if it will help you meet your objectives. When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs…
Experience is Priceless! Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781- 5472.,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can We Buy A Bank-Owned Property In Disrepair With A New Loan?

Many homes for sale these days are owned by a “bank”, properties that were taken back by the lender for non-payment. With their “floors of attorneys” it is natural that the banks are to be protected when they sell their assets. As such, when you buy a bank-owned property it is As-Is … no disclosure, no repairs, no liability for condition of the home. That is understandable as they have no knowledge of the specific property, but the very nature of their situation and ownership has worked against them.

When a bank takes over a property they immediately turn off the utilities and “winterize” the home. In the summer this “winterizing” process leads to the demise of the landscaping … no water and the plants can’t grow. As the prior owners weren’t making their payments it is often the case that they couldn’t afford to keep up the property maintenance. Paint, carpet, windows and more are often required with such properties. This type of property is really price right these days so how do you buy one with a minimum down if it needs substantial repairs in addition to the acquisition cost?

The FHA 203k Streamline is, perhaps, your means to owning such a property and enjoying it in a rehabilitated state. With this loan program you can have up to $35,000 set aside for repairs as a part of your loan. Acceptable repairs can include remodeling kitchen and bathrooms, new exterior work like stucco, replacing plumbing fixtures, new flooring and roofing, and major landscaping improvements. If you can demonstrate the ability you can “self-help”, government talk for doing it yourself. If you are hiring a contractor it is a good idea to get him on the job before you venture to get his ideas on what can be done and at what cost.

The loan can be used to refinance and rehabilitate as well as for a purchase. It is only for owner-occupied properties, though it can be used for up to a four-plex provided the owner lives in one unit. Manufactured homes in accordance with HUD guidelines qualify, and you can even move a home from one lot to another. Safety code violations must be corrected and energy conservation standards met while no luxury improvements as defined by HUD are allowed.

Our Advice: The FHA 203K or the FHA 203K Streamline could be the means for letting you buy a home and making it your dream home with the needed repairs and alterations. The criteria differs between them. Talk to a Lending Professional about these programs and how you can get preapproved to go shopping in the bank-owned arena of properties. Your lender will detail the specifics of the loan and the mechanics for implementing it for you. The down payment is minimal and the rewards many.

Don’t be lamenting from the sidelines in this market. The FHA 203K program can help you buy a diamond in the rough and shine it up all at a great price with one loan. It’s worth a phone call to see how it could work for you. Don’t experiment with lenders … if you don’t know one ask your real estate agent for the names of reputable lenders that can help you. Get your Agent, Contractor and Lender working together and you will undoubtedly have a winning combination with you being the Victor! 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.,

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's Not Every Day We See Our Critters In The Newspaper! Corky Makes Her Debut!

Oh! The Joys of Country Living!

We live in a small community in Northern Nevada just 15 minutes from Lake Tahoe and an hour south of Reno.

Although we have lived and worked in
Carson Valley for a long long time we just moved “out” to the country 5 years ago. Leaving our ”in town” home of 25 years to relocate on to 5 acres was a long term goal for Lisa. Jim … with the bribery of a new Kubota tractor to “farm” with … was a fairly easy convert.

This morning, a quite country Sunday, we opened out local small town paper to find a good sized photo of our newest miniature donkey smiling at us from the second page! Apparently someone on the
Record Courier staff thinks she’s as cute as we do!

For All you Carson Valley Real Estate or to look through all our Northern Nevada Real Estate Listings …
Search the Entire Northern Nevada MLS …Click Here

Something Good Happened Yesterday At the Office … We Were Busy!

Could it be that we are off to a great start? Something good happened yesterday at the office … we were busy! Yep! January 2, 2009 was a busy day!

Well … OK … not 2005 “BUSY” ; but, busier than we have been in quite some time. Regular people walking in the office to ask about real estate possibilities, other agents calling to set up showings of our listings, RE/MAX agents in their offices meeting buyers and sellers! Yeah! Real business going on!

We definitely have a long way to go … but this is a very good start!

Experience is Priceless! Call Lisa and Jim for all your Northern Nevada Real Estate needs! If we can’t help you we know someone who can! Email or 775-783-6854 or 775-783-6855, cell 775-781-5472 fax us at 775-782-4117.