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Communication is a Key Trait of a Successful Realtor

There is nothing more frustrating than chasing down a person you are relying on for answers.  This is especially true when you are buying or selling a home.  This is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life.  If you don’t have good communication with your realtor, your situation can become extremely stressful.

I live by the motto that you should always fill in the gaps and have the questions answered before your client can come up with the questions.  Lets take the example of selling a home.  Selling a home can be an emotional and sometimes stressful process.  The family has memories in the home they are selling.  The home needs to be ready at a moments notice to show to potential buyers.  Keeping your home in perfect order while you are still living in the home can be exhausting, especially if you have kids or pets.  The reason a family might be moving might not always be under the best of circumstances which can create more stress..  Basically, when the process of selling the home begins, there are already certain expectations about what a client might expect and what the outcome might be.  The last thing a homeowner needs during a time like this is to worry about chasing after the realtor for information.

I worked with a family that was selling their home not to long ago.  The house was put on the market and by the end of that same day, an offer came in.  It all happened so fast that the family barely had time to process what had just happened.  The offer which was above the asking price was accepted and a date for closing was set.

What people sometimes don’t understand is that the date is an educated guess.  Situations come up which can hold up the process.  In this case, title work was not completed by the date the closing was planned for.  This is actually a very common scenario especially when more than one bank is involved.  The sellers at this point would obviously become a little anxious and possibly nervous that the buyer might back out because of the date being changed.

Contacting the sellers right away to let them know what is holding up the closing needed to be done the moment I found out.  Easing any worry was done by checking in with them on a consistent basis.  I might not have an answer to what the new date would be, but I could tell them that I spoke with the other realtor and their client was very understanding of the situation.  I contacted them when I found out that all the paperwork was in and we were just waiting on the bank to process the information.  I wanted to make sure that I was able to make them feel confident about what was going on.  I needed them to know I hadn’t fallen off the face of the earth (even if there wasn’t much to report).

Having good communication with your clients is really a key to your success.  People are putting a tremendous amount of trust into your ability to take care of them.  It has been incredibly rewarding to talk with a client and have them express relief and appreciation for knowing what to expect next and knowing I would be there to take care of them.

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in advice, career, real estate

 

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Overview of Renting a Home

I received a call yesterday from a person interested in looking at a home.  I began asking all the typical questions needed to understand what their needs were.  Some of the questions I asked were:

1.  What cities are you interested in?
2.  How many bedrooms, bathrooms etc…
3.  How soon are you looking to move?
4.  Why are you moving?
5.  What will happen to the place you are currently living?
6.  Have you run your credit report?

This gave me enough information and I was able to ascertain that this person was nowhere near ready to look at homes.  She would not be out of a lease until December and she had just begun looking.

What do you do in a situation where the person wants to look but can’t get a home if she finds what she wants?

This is what I did.  I scheduled the appointment for the home she just had to see.  This will give me an opportunity to meet her and decide if we will work well together.

When I meet with this customer, I will give her all the paperwork she will need to start the process of getting ready to lease a new place.  I have set her up with our First to Know program in the meantime.  This program will give her daily updates on the homes available according to her criteria.

So after we view this home later this week, she will need to get all of her paperwork together and make sure she has enough money put aside.  This way if she finds a home she likes, she can put in an application right away.

As I have explained to her, rental homes are going fast these days if priced right and in good condition.  There is no point in looking at homes until she is prepared to actually put in an offer and is ready to move.

So, I will take her to view one home.  After that, it will be up to her to get the necessary paperwork together before we will go looking again.

If you are looking to rent, here are some things to keep in mind.

1.  There will be an application to fill out
2.  You will need to run a credit report with a credit score included in the report.
3.  A letter of proof of employment is generally needed.
4.  Bank records and pay stubs are generally needed to prove you have the financial capability to rent a home.
5.  Expect to have at least a month and a half months rent.  There are also cleaning fees and pet fees of up to $500 necessary for some of these rentals.

Every rental is different.  Based completely on that owner’s preferences.  Some rentals are pretty basic and easy to qualify for.  Other rentals will want certain credit scores and salary amounts for the person who moves in.  It is a very individual situation.

If you are thinking about renting, make sure you have the above items taken care of.  The application you can get from the realtor.  It is also extremely important that you are in a position to put down money and move in fairly quickly.  Homes are going fast and you won’t be doing yourself or the realtor any favors by looking before you are capable of moving in.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in how to, life

 

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Once You Find the Home, Give Yourself a Moment to Relax

This scenario has played out time and time again.  I will show a client several homes. They will find a home that makes them happy.  An offer will be submitted.  If it takes more than a few hours to hear from the sellers, the buyer gets antsy and wants to look at some more homes.

I’m not sure why this occurs, other than to think that the adrenaline is running and they just need to keep moving.  Each time this has occurred, a desperateness seems to take over.  People will ask to see homes that are not at all what they are looking for.  They will view the home and walk out disappointed.  There is just this need to confirm that the home they picked is the right one and all other homes are awful in comparison.

I have not seen this scenario ever work out well for my clients.  It’s not like the additional homes they view thrill them and make them doubt their decision.  I guess that in the mind of a buyer, they need to prove to themselves that what they chose is definitely the best choice.

If I could relay a piece of advice to buyers who get antsy, it would be to relax.  Look, you’ve done a lot of research, and spent many days running around checking out multiple homes.  In the end you will drive yourself crazy with self-doubt.  Take a moment to stop and feel the excitement of the home you fell in lpve with.  Remember what it was about that home that thrilled you.  If by some chance the deal falls through, there are many more homes just waiting to be snatched up.

Buying a home is an expensive proposition.  It’s a life changing event.  Give yourself a break when you decide on a home.  There is a reason why the home you chose was right for you.  If you have second thoughts, it’s better to face it head on and figure out why the home might not be the one.  By knowing what you don’t want and what will work for you makes going out and looking for a different home more successful.  If you just aimlessly continue to run around and view homes while you are waiting for an answer, it won’t serve any  purpose other than to frustrate you.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in life, opinion, people, thoughts

 

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All Your Dreams and Wishes Won’t Come True

I think it’s time to clarify something about real estate agents.  Although we go to school and learn about the law, contracts, ethics and such, we don’t take a class in magic.  I wish we did, it would be beyond helpful and fascinating all at the same time.

Unfortunately, more times than I thought possible, people will get in touch with a realtor and expect to find the impossible.  I am all for tracking down a person’s dream house.  It would make my day as much as the customer I would be working with.  That said, sometimes the criteria that people come up with is just not going to help them find a place to live.

Let me give you an example.  I spoke with someone recently that called about a home for sale.  The home was pending, so I offered to find them another place to look at.  I began to go down the list of information needed to find them a home.  When I asked about the price range, they said they could not say because they only knew what they would pay for a condo.  So I asked them what was the most they would consider paying for any place.  The answer was nothing more than $25,000 but only for a condo (strange answer. but true).  I then asked them if they had been pre-approved.  They said that they would not be getting pre-approved, they would be paying in cash.  So of course, that answered the question of how much they were willing to pay.

They gave me information on what cities, how many bedrooms and bathrooms and time frame.  Basically, they could buy at any time, but were in no rush and had a place to stay until they found something.  OK, so I asked for an email.  This way, I could put in their criteria and they would receive an email whenever something matching their description was listed.  If they liked what they saw, they could call me and I would set up an appointment for them to view the home.  This potential customer had no email because it didn’t work out well for them (whatever that means) and said they would call me if they saw anything they were interested in.  In the mean time, if I came across any condo’s for $25,000 or less in the area they were looking at, I could give them a call.  There was just one final detail.  They wanted a deal and only wanted to look at short-sales and foreclosures.  The place would have to be move in ready with very minimal amount of work needing to be done (painting for example).

I spoke with another person recently who had to have at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a minimum of 1600 sq ft, a basement, garage and if I could find a pool it would be preferable.  They didn’t want to pay more than $85,000 and had a list of only the most upscale neighborhoods to look at.  Nothing else was reasonable to them.  I couldn’t tweak the criteria for a one and a half bath or a home without a basement.  Neighboring cities were out of the question.  I put all of their information together and showed them that nothing was available.

This family had a deadline of sixty days before they would be without a home.  They also felt they should be able to get a deal on a short-sale or foreclosed home in move in condition.  I showed them that with a few tweaks to their criteria they could get a fabulous move in ready home in their price range with the square feet they wanted.  The response was that they knew that if they waited it out the right home would fall into their lap.

Look, I don’t want to see any family end up homeless.  I suggested they look into an apartment while they searched for the home of their dreams.  Maybe it is out there, somewhere.  Who am I to judge?  I can only go off of what our computer program pulls up for homes on the market.

In the end, if someone is looking for a home, they might want to consider a few things.  Foreclosures and short-sales are often not nearly the deals people think they are.  Months can go by after an offer is accepted and then the deal might fall through.  Having a short time line of when you need to be in a home pretty much cancels out trying to get one of these “supposed” bargains.  Another thing to consider is that most of these homes are truly wrecked and need professional help to restore them.

Housing prices in general are going up at a fairly good clip.  What you saw a few months back is not the price you will get on that same home today.  The last thing I would like to mention is that some concessions might need to be made.  Make a list of the most important traits a home should have.  Sure, reach for the sky and try to get everything you would like.  At the same time, be aware that everything is a pretty tough thing to find and that having a few items you are willing to give up can make the difference between getting a home or living without one.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in career, lifestyle, opinion, people, thoughts

 

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Change Your Perspective and You Will Change Your Life

I have been helping a close friend find a home.  My friend has had a hard life and numerous struggles she has had to overcome.  She has worked hard, been extremely brave and determined to create a good life for herself and for her children.  Because of the significant amount of adversity in her life, she has had a hard time recognizing good times.  She tends to get suspicious when things are going well and looks for ways that the bottom might fall out.  It’s been sad to watch her absorb herself with bad moments and ignore or fear the good times.  That being said, this way of thinking has become a problem for her while she is searching for a new home.

The home that this friend has been living in is incredibly small.  There are two bedrooms, a tiny front room and a  kitchen big enough to fit two people comfortably in it.  There is no kitchen table because there is no room in the home.  My friend has slept on a sofa for at least eight years so that her children each had their own bedroom.  Recently it was found out that the foundation of the home is falling apart.  There has always been water problems and the air in the home has gotten toxic from mold that is forming.  The home is worth next to nothing.  The value of the home is in the land alone.

My friend had an incredibly lucky break.  She was able to sell the home herself to a builder she knew of.  She got  a shockingly good amount of money for her home.  She owes very little on her mortgage and will have enough money from the sale to put down half the cost of a home if she’d like.  On top of this good fortune, the builder gave her an extra sixty days in the home rent free after he buys it so that she has time to get into another place to live.

Everything has fallen into place and I am thrilled for my friend.  There is just one problem, she is so afraid that there must be some catch that she feels as though she might have made a mistake.  She questions the amount she got for the home, how she will pay for a new place and can she really afford to be in a different home.

To make matters worse, her list of expectations for a new home are not even close to being realistic.  I keep hearing that she should be able to grab up a short-sale or foreclosed property for a few thousand dollars.  If not, she is sure she can get a deep discounted price on a residential home.

My friend has seen so many shows where people get deals on homes and then only have to slap a coat of paint on the property and it becomes move in ready.  The honest truth is that many of these homes are in horrible shape.  There is cement poured into the pipes or electrical wiring stripped out of many of these homes.  Disgruntled homeowners being foreclosed on sometimes trash their home before they leave.  There is the issue of squatters which is becoming more common.  You can buy a home, find out that squatters are living in it, and spend months in court trying to evict them out of your home while you pay the mortgage on your new property.

Short-sales and foreclosures alike can take months to get, and half the time, the deal falls through and you don’t end up getting the home.  My friend has sixty days to find a home.  If you find a home you want and the seller accepts your offer, it is common for the closing to still take 30 days to complete.

I have mentioned time lines and the risks of going after short-sales and foreclosures with my friend.  She then blew my mind when she gave me the laundry list of things she had to have in a new home and how much she was willing to pay.  She wanted a home in Rochester Hills.  The home needed to be a brick ranch, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a basement preferably finished, good-sized backyard, 1,600sq ft. minimum, garage and she would really like a pool.  I’m not joking, this was her list.  Oh yeah, and she didn’t want to pay more than $85,000 for it.

Realistically, it won’t happen.  I had to talk with her about looking at other cities and slimming down her list.  I decided to send her daily emails with the latest homes to hit the market.  The only criteria I used was the three bedrooms, $85,000 and at least 1,000sq ft.  I also broadened her choice of cities.  Under these circumstances, there were many homes to choose from.  She came back saying that she would accept a home in Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Rochester Hills or Bingham Farms.  She also insisted that the home could not be a bungalow (which is what most of the homes sent to her were) it had to be a brick ranch.  There needed to be at least a bath and a half and the price had to stay at $85,000.

Again I had to explain to her that finding a home like that wasn’t a strong possibility.  I asked her if she would be willing to rent a home for a while.  That way she could save more money for a home that was more her dream home than a home she was just settling for.  She decided to try a rental, but the criteria would stay.  She wanted a rental home for no more than $600.00 a month.  Rentals are going fast these days.  There are so many people who were unable to hold onto their homes, can’t afford a home or have bad credit that rentals priced well are off the market as soon as they are listed.

The average price for a rental with three bedrooms, one bath and 1,000sq ft. in an area like Royal Oak, Berkley, Clawson or Troy is $1,200 a month.  The cities she is interested in are much more expensive.  I found one rental home in Troy that had 1,500 sq ft., three bedrooms, two baths, basement, garage, brick ranch and an inground pool to boot but it was going for $1,500 per month.

Unfortunately the days of rentals going for $600.00 are gone.  My friend has turned an opportunity at a new start in a safer, healthier home into a tragedy of perfection equalling a homeless situation in sixty days if she can’t bend her requirements for a home.

I know that a home is an enormous financial obligation and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I know that when someone commits to buying a home, they want it to be their dream home.  Homes on the market are more reasonably priced than six years ago. From that perspective it is a deal to get buy a new home.  That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get the dream home that people seem to get on these home buying shows.  If my friend could just change her perspective, she could change the course of her life.  She could find a home that compared to what she was used to living in would be a dream come true.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in advice, career, economy, housing, lifestyle, thoughts

 

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What Just Happened?

I was at work today when a call came in for the Realtor on the floor.  Floor time is a scheduled block of time where a Realtor will answer incoming calls from people interested in asking about particular homes they have seen.  A schedule goes up each month and the Realtors take turns sitting at the phone for a block of time to answer incoming calls.  For a new Realtor, this time is key to getting leads on possible clients looking to buy or sell their home.

The Realtor on the floor today received a call from a person interested in seeing homes that evening.  They were under a time constraint and needed to find a home to lease quickly.  The Realtor turned the call over to me because they already had an appointment scheduled for that evening.

I spoke with the woman and learned what homes she was interested in, the amount of money she was looking to spend, how soon she needed to be in a new home and what area she was interested in living.  I called the Real Estate agencies listing the homes and scheduled appointments for later in the day.

This would be my first appointment to show a home.  I have to be honest, I was both excited and nervous at the same time.  My biggest concern was not that I would flub up the meeting in any way.  I was nervous because the appointments were at night, I would be meeting up with a couple I had never met, and the homes we would be touring were vacant.  Thankfully my husband was willing to be my driver for the evening.

I found the first home with no problem and the couple were just pulling up themselves.  I introduced myself and then went about opening up the lockbox to get us inside.  As I was fiddling with the box, the door flew open and a man stood in the doorway.  The man said that he was a squatter there to use the internet.  I was shocked.  He said to come on in and that he was told that people would be by from time to time to look at the home.  We actually went inside and realized the place was a disaster.  The carpet was stained everywhere, there were giant cobwebs and there was more dirt throughout the home than I could wrap my head around.  Needless to say, it was a quick visit.

We had one other home to go to, so we headed off to the next house.  The home we saw was a breath of fresh air.  There was new carpet, paint, appliances and a beautifully polished wood floor.  It was a remarkable contrast from the last home.  The couple loved what they saw and decided that this was the home for them.  The most incredible part of the comparison of the two homes was that they were both priced the same.

I couldn’t believe that my very first showing produced a sale.  I also felt incredibly lucky to have listened to my gut and had my husband go along for the ride.  The couple were wonderful and I truly enjoyed getting to know them.  I still can’t believe that someone answered the door at the first home and then said they were a squatter.  It was pretty creepy, but what a great story it makes when someone asks me what my first sale was like.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in career, job, life, real estate, thoughts

 

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