Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Upfront Appraisal Fee!? To Pay or Not to Pay!?

Buyers ask all kinds of questions, but the one that I hear THE MOST, is: "is it normal for the lender to ask me to pay for the appraisal fee upfront or prior to closing?"

In fact, just last week I was asked this question by two of my buyers. It's almost a guaranteed question - it comes up with 8 out of 10 buyers. Here's the answer - it's normal and okay - no worries! While it's up to each lender, majority of lenders require that the buyer pay for the appraisal up front as opposed to at closing as part of the closing costs. If a loan is involved, an appraisal is always required. In this area, the cost is typically $375-450. If something happens and the deal falls apart, the appraiser still has to be paid - no matter if the sale goes through or not. If the lender didn't collect the fee upfront, he/she would be eating appraisal fees left and right and at $400 a pop, that can get expensive pretty quickly.

If you have a good agent and lender working for you, they should be able to help protect you when it comes to the appraisal. For instance, it's probably not wise to pay for an appraisal on a short sale until after the bank has provided written short sale acceptance. Short sales don't always work out, so if you paid $400 for an appraisal only to find out that the bank refuses the short sale, that's $400 wasted. One of my preferred lenders protects buyers by not ordering (& charging!) for the appraisal until after the buyer has done their inspection and feels confident that they want to move forward with the deal (so long as time permits). What if the inspection reveals major issues and you decide to terminate the contract? If the appraisal has already been completed, you just lost $400.

Every scenario is different, so it's important to have a good agent and a good lender to help protect you! But the general answer to the question is yes, it's okay to pay the fee upfront. If I were a buyer, I would have the same question! It's never wise to cut checks or give out your credit card info for reasons you're unsure of!  

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity for Buyers?

Business Insider's Money Game interviewed real estate expert Barbara Corcoran earlier this week. This is what she said about buying in this market:

“We have a regular real estate miracle happening right now. We not only have record low prices, but we also have cheap money.”

A second real estate icon, Donald Trump, just a few weeks ago said:

"This is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you're going to look back and say, 'You know, I'm glad I listened to Donald Trump'."

Melissa and Rebekah Stephens of The Stephens and Stephens Group at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers has quoted, screamed, pleaded, and begged people to listen to them: NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY A HOUSE! We've had over a dozen clients purchase homes this year and their mortgages are cheaper than they were paying in rent! We've even had some clients sell their current home, even if they're taking a loss on it, just so they can move on and buy another one at an incredible price.  It makes up the loss when they can go purchase their "dream home" at a price that probably won't be seen again in their lifetime. To make it sweeter, interest rates are also at all time lows. There really is no better time to buy real estate.
Maybe it's time to start listening to the people who have made fortunes buying and selling real estate. They may know best!!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers Awards Breakfast

This past Tuesday Melissa and I attended the Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers Awards Breakfast/Banquet at the Cobb Energy Center! It was a high energy event packed full of top agents, great food, and lots of motivation! Metro Brokers' president, Kevin Levent, spoke as well as the President/CEO of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Sherry Chris! Here's a fun picture of us with "Metro Mike," the company mascot! We're lovin' the orange sneakers, Mike! :)

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Will I Get More Money for my House if I Wait to Sell?

Sellers in any real estate market are looking to get the best possible price. Rebekah and I strive to get the highest obtainable price for all of our sellers.  If you are looking to sell in the next year, today’s price may well be the best price. Home values stabilized somewhat in 2010. Many hoped that was a sign that values had bottomed out and we would see price appreciation in 2011. Studies released this week have painted a different picture.

If we look at CoreLogic’s January Home Price Index (HPI), we see that prices are again beginning to decline:

National home prices, including distressed sales, declined by 5.7 percent in January 2011 compared to January 2010…

Mark Fleming, chief economist with CoreLogic, said, “A number of factors continue to dampen any recovery in the housing market. Negative equity, which limits the mobility of homeowners, weak demand and the overhang of shadow inventory all continue to exert downward pressure on housing prices. We are looking out for renewed demand in the coming months as the spring buying season gets underway to hopefully reduce the downward pressure.”

They are not talking about the spring market increasing or even stabilizing prices. They hope it will “reduce” the pressure to drive prices lower.

Bottom Line

We've been preaching this on our blog and to all of our sellers. It seems that prices have again begun to fall nationally. With the overhang of existing and shadow inventory, prices will probably continue to decline throughout most of 2011. If you’re thinking of selling, now might be the best time. Call us anytime for a market analysis on your home.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hire a Smart Duck!

Steve Harney, one of our personal coaches from a well respected company Keeping Current Matters, just posted a blog about Realtors. I have to re-post it because as I read it I couldn't help but think to myself that Rebekah and I are "Smart Ducks." Read below to see what I mean.

You can learn so much just by observing nature. Last week, I was staying at a fabulous hotel in southern California. My wife and I were having lunch at an outside table at the hotel restaurant. It was impossible not to notice the ducks that gathered around the tables at the restaurant looking for food. The birds would wait for the people to leave and then they would flock to the tables looking for crumbs that were dropped to the floor. There were dozens of birds fighting over the scraps left behind. Every duck did the same thing; except for one.

This duck was different. Instead of waiting for the couples to leave, this duck would wait only until the food was originally delivered. At the moment the staff delivered the food, the duck would race to the table and look up at the people who were about to eat. Surprisingly, every person immediately took something from their plate and feed it to this duck. They fed the duck BEFORE they began to eat.

This duck didn't settle for scraps and leftovers. He ate the best food off the plate. This duck didn't fight with dozens of others. He was alone when the customers fed him.  It was truly amazing.

It made me think about the difference in real estate agents. Some will list a house, put it on MLS and hope for the best. Others will represent a buyer by simply checking the MLS to see if a suitable house is available for sale. They are like many agents in the marketplace. They are waiting for something to happen. Just like all those other ducks.

Then there are agents who will take it upon themselves to make something happen. They will diligently search for the buyer of their new listing. They will knock door-to-door looking for the perfect house for their new client who is dreaming of a new home for their family. They are like that special duck. They are not waiting for the leftovers.

Bottom Line

I can't tell you how many times Rebekah and I have done something creative, out of the box, knocked on doors, etc. just to spread the information on a listing, find the right house for a buyer, or just work out the kinks that are involved in real estate.

In all of nature, some wait for things to happen and others make things happen. When hiring a real estate agent, look for the later. Don't settle for scraps. Call us.....HINT HINT!  : )

And just because it's funny.......aren't you glad you don't live in this "Duck House." Please don't call us to list this thing...we would gladly decline.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Attention Buyers: Do NOT Pay Your Realtor!

It's a rainy Saturday morning and I just feel the need to vent about something before we head out to list this great property at 435 Kibbee Road in McDonough....

I once worked with a Realtor to close a deal in which I represented the seller and she represented the buyer. At the closing table she told me that she charges all of her buyers an upfront fee of $350 - $550 before they even begin looking at homes. She writes it in the buyer's brokerage agreement that she has the buyer sign before they head out to look at homes. No way, Jose! We don't charge buyers anything and never will. It's not typical in our market for agents to charge buyers any sort of commission, fees, etc. The seller pays commisson. Always.

I never really thought anything more about it after we left the closing table. There are good agents, bad agents, and then there are some plain out sketchy agents. Well the other day, I heard it again. Another local Realtor charges buyers a fee other than the commission. WHAT!?!? Maybe one day we'll reach the superstar status, like the Nicole Kidman of real estate, and people will beg us to work with them and pay us crazy fees just to take them out to view homes! My best bet is that the buyers who are willing to pay these fees are first time home buyers who don't know any better. I would put $500 on the table to say that if a 45-year old business man/woman waltzed in the door with a prequalification letter, these Realtors wouldn't even begin to ask for an upfront fee. Anyone who has any knowledge of the real estate process would call bullcrap on an upfront fee and send these agents back to their office with their tail between their legs! If these crazy agents think it's okay to charge an upfront fee and take advantage of their clients, what other unethical things are they willing to do throughout the process!?!? They're probably the same Realtors who write themselves in higher commission or sales bonuses in offers (yes, it happens!). 

As Realtors we're considered independent contractors and therefore have the right to set up our business the way we want to. Technically, they're not breaking any laws or anything like that, but it's a moral issue - right vs. wrong. As a buyer, you have the right to choose a good, honest, hardworking agent to represent you. Be careful who you choose! ;)

Okay, I'm done ranting. Off to list this cute house on 3.62 acres! Huge barn/workshop, pole barn & greenhouse all with electricity! Love, love, love this house. If I were in the market for a new house, I would have this baby under contract ASAP!

Happy Saturday! :)

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We've Got You Covered!

Most people, including our own clients, don't realize that Rebekah and I can help them buy or sell anywhere in the world, but we can! There's nothing worse than moving to a new place, or having a house to sell, and not knowing who to call or trust.

Most of you already know our story....we were born and raised just south of Atlanta so we truly know the Southside of Atlanta. We live in Fayette and Henry Counties and we have family scattered all over the south metro areas (Clayton, Butts, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Pike, Spalding, Coweta, and many more). Rebekah and I mostly work out of the Henry, Fayette, and Coweta offices, but we have offices all over Georgia that we utilize.

Although we specialize in Metro Atlanta Real Estate, we can help you move anywhere in Georgia, the US, or the world! In the last two months we've helped three different clients find agents in Tennessee Florida, and North Georgia.

Don't worry! We don't just pick up the phone and call just anyone. We have an extensive network of agents that we call on. All are experienced and have met education guidelines, but we don't stop there. Rebekah and I always call and interview them over the phone to see if we think they're a good fit for our clients. If not, we move on to the next one. Once you are in touch with an agent, if you don't like them, just give us a call and we'll find you another one. It's been our experience that most of our clients end up extremely happy with our choice though.

It's that simple! We're a one stop shop that will help you move wherever life takes you! Let us know if we can help you!

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