Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Warren Buffet Says It's Time to Buy Real Estate!

Warren Buffett appeared live on CNBC’s Squawk Box this week. During the interview, he was asked about the current real estate market and whether he felt now was the time to buy. His response was rather emphatic and has been used as a headline in hundreds of articles since the interview:

“If I had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes I would load up on them.”

However, throughout the interview, he addressed the market from a few angles. Here is what he said:

Why invest in real estate now?

“It’s a way, in effect, to short the dollar because you can take a 30-year mortgage and if it turns out your interest rate’s too high, next week you refinance lower. And if it turns out it’s too low, the other guy’s stuck with it for 30 years. So it’s a very attractive asset class now.”

Is buying your own home better than investing in stocks right now?

“If I knew where I was going to want to live the next five or 10 years I would buy a home and I’d finance it with a 30-year mortgage… It’s a terrific deal.”

Should we buy multiple houses?

“If I was an investor that was a handy type and I could buy a couple of them at distressed prices and find renters, I think it’s a leveraged way of owning a very cheap asset now and I think that’s probably as an attractive an investment as you can make now.”

Over the last couple of months, there have been more and more financial analysts coming to the same conclusion: It’s time to buy real estate.

Convinced? Ready to Buy? From first homes, move up homes, or investment properties....we've got you covered! Give us a call or shoot us an email.
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Source: KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Monday, February 27, 2012

Window of Opportunity for Sellers is Beginning to Close!

There have been conflicting opinions as to where housing prices are headed. We want to give our opinion on this subject for the short term. We believe sellers have a window of opportunity for the next 90-120 days in most parts of the country in which to sell their homes for maximum price. We believe there will be increased downward pressure on home prices throughout the rest of the year.

Why renewed downward pressure?

Any item's price is determined by 'supply and demand'. In many parts of the country, existing housing inventory has dropped to historic norms in the last few months. However, an inventory of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) will be coming to market this year. This inventory has been delayed for over a year as the Federal and state governments crafted an agreement with the five largest banks and mortgage servicers to establish a roadmap for how a foreclosure must be properly completed. That agreement, the National Mortgage Settlement, was reached two weeks ago.

What Impact Will the Agreement Have on Foreclosures?

Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac, explains:

"The settlement sets forth clear guidelines for lenders and servicers to follow when foreclosing, which should allow them to push through some of the delayed foreclosures from last year."

How Many Foreclosures Could We Be Talking About?

Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities tells us:

"The settlement helps the housing market in the long run because it allows banks to proceed with millions of foreclosures that have been stalled."

What will this mean to home prices?

As this inventory comes to market, it will impact prices in two ways:

1.It will bring to market discounted competition for buyers

2.It will impact the appraisal values of all homes in the area

Which States Will Be Impacted the Most?

The states that have the largest backlog of properties currently in the foreclosure process will be the states that will see the greatest price depreciation. See Below

Bottom Line

There is a window of opportunity currently which sellers should take advantage of. Waiting until later this year will not guarantee a higher sales price. If anything, in many regions of the country, it probably guarantees the exact opposite.

If you, or someone you know, need to discuss selling a home, please feel free to call or email anytime.
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Source: KCM Blog - Steve Harney

Thursday, February 23, 2012

9 Things to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

I was browsing the real estate section of this evening and came across a great list of questions that you should ask a real estate agent before hiring them. As I read the questions, I thought "you know... this would be a great blog post." Sooo - here's the complete list of the questions along with our answers:

Whether you're buying or selling, there are a few key questions to ask an agent before saying, "You're hired." Before hiring a real estate agent, make sure to ask these questions:

1. How long have you been in the real estate business?
How long has this person been on the job (look for upward of a year), and were they full or part time? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job.

Answer: Melissa has been a licensed Realtor since 2004 (8 years) and Rebekah since 2008 (4 years); however, we have much more experience than just our "licensed years." Prior to becoming a Realtor, Melissa worked for one of Georgia's top Realtors (since she was 15!) and Rebekah worked in the corporate office of a large real estate firm as a relocation specialist. Growing up, our mother was a successful Realtor and still works in the industry. Oh, and our aunt is a Realtor as well! Let's just say, we go way back when it comes to real estate.

2. Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
This organization requires certain standards from its members, and you don't want to worry about having a shady agent.

Answer: Yes, we are! We're members of the National Associaton of Realtors, Georgia Association of Realtors and the Metro South Association of Realtors. In this market, many real estate agents have elected not to continue their membership with this great organization (in effort to avoid the membership fees involved). We are proud to say we're members!

3. Are you a member of MLS?
This is the Multiple Listing Service, which gives agents access to houses represented by all agencies -- not just their own. For sellers, this means your home will be posted on the list as well, which means more people will see it.

Answer: Yes, we're members of both Georgia Multiple Listing Service (GA MLS) and First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS). This is extremely important in the Metro Atlanta area as many agents that serve the southern crescent of Atlanta are only members of GA MLS. What's the difference? The Southside is pretty much ruled by GA MLS and Atlanta upwards is FMLS driven; however, when marketing a home, it's extremely important to have as much exposure as possible.

4. Do you work on weekends? Since this is when most open houses take place, the answer to this should be yes.
Answer: Do we work weekends? Are you kidding me? Of course we do! We understand that majority of our clients work normal schedules which means they're only available on evenings and weekends. Therefore, it's important that we're available during evening hours and weekends. It's true ... some agents don't work weekends and some don't work evenings. I always love agent voicemails that say "if you're calling after 6:30p, your call will be returned the following buiness day." -- you know... sorry, client Smith, you're not important after 6:30p - your question will have to wait.

5. Can you outline how you would represent us?
The answer should include your housing inspections, following through with your mortgage approval process, and being present at your closing.

Answer: When we represent a buyer, we hold their hands through the entire process. We assist with the pre-qualification process with the lender if necessary, show properties, assist with research/questions, write offers, negotiate, draft contracts, negotiate more if needed, assist with scheduling home inspections, negotiate repairs if necessary, keep in constant contact with your mortgage lender to make sure the process is going smoothly on the back end, schedule closing, communicate with the attorneys, attend closing and the best part of all ... we're still there to assist in any way needed after closing.

6. Will you show me houses listed by other companies?
Double-check that the agent isn't partial to his or her own realty group.

Answer: Absolutely! As licensed Realtors, we're allowed to show any home listed in MLS, no matter who has it listed -- Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, ERA, Century 21, Solid Source, No Name Realty, etc, etc. We can even show you for sale by owner properties so long as the owner is willing to allow us into their home for showings! If you're interested in a house, we're going to show it to you!

7. Are you familiar with our area?
You'll want the agent to know the ins and outs of your community.
Answer: Well, since this is generic, I'm not exactly sure where your area is; however, I can say that we never represent buyers in areas that we don't feel that we know well. If you ask us how far the closest grocery store is and we don't even know where any grocery stores are in the area - we probably don't need to be assisting you in that area. We would rather you work with a true professional who knows the ins and outs! In this market, some agents are craving a sale so bad, they'll drive 2 hours away to areas they don't know in hopes of selling a house....

8. How many homes have you sold?
If you're in the market to sell, find out how many homes they successfully sold last year. While those numbers may be low due to market activity over the past six months, it’s a good way to compare candidates.
Answer: We sold 50+ properties in 2011 and to be honest, I couldn't give you an overall total because we don't keep a running tally of ALL of our closings. The numbers aren't important to us, our clients and current transactions are! We could spend time bragging on our recent sales, awards received, etc. but we don't. We don't have time to go back and compile it all; however, it would be interesting to see and we certainly have a proven track records! 

9. What's your business style?
Do you want a broker who calls you once a week or emails daily? Find out how the agent will keep you updated on prospects and inform them about your preferences.

Answer: We're as aggressive and assertive as you want us to be. If you're just beginning to explore the possibility of buying/selling a home and contact us but you're not quite ready, don't worry. We're not going to stalk you with phone calls and emails; however, if you call us and you say you're ready to go, then we are too and we're going to be there every step of the way! We communicate in whatever way is best for you -- phone, email, text, in person, and we've even Skyped with some of our clients!

 Have any other questions? We'll be happy to answer them! We realize that there are a gazillion agents out there and you don't know us from Adam. So if you have other questions, please don't hesitate to call or email!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Selling Your Home in Today's Market

You may believe that selling your home is impossible in today’s market. You may feel powerless to the process. What could YOU possibly do to turn this housing market around? There is no doubt that today's real estate market is extremely difficult to navigate. However, we want you to know that thousands of homes sold yesterday, thousands will sell today and thousands will sell each and every day from now until the end of the year.

It is totally within your power to guarantee that your house will sell even in the current market.

How you ask? Let's look at the simplicity of the famous Serenity Prayer and apply it to selling a home in today's real estate market.

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Accept the things you cannot change

The two main reasons that the housing prices have softened:

1.the current economy

2.the inventory of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales)

As an individual homeowner there is no way for you to impact either of those two situations. The best think-tanks in the country are struggling to discover solutions.

Have the courage to change the things you can

There is not a vacuum of buyers in the market. There is a vacuum of homes a buyer in today's market will purchase. Let us explain: could you sell your home today for $1? ... $1,000 ... $10,000? Of course you could. There are plenty of buyers in the market for a home they consider priced correctly. You have to decide what the correct price is for your home if you truly want to sell. If you want your house sold, you must list it at a price a buyer will pay for it. Not a buyer from 2006 but today's buyer who has plenty of homes from which to choose.

It will take courage to sit with a real estate professional and honestly decipher the true value of your home. If you want to sell, you must have that courage.

The wisdom to know the difference

We all realize that the economic situation will take some time to correct. If we want to wait for prices to return to 2006 levels, we will probably have to wait for 5-7 years.

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether the extra money you would get from the sale is worth that wait. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

This is where your wisdom must kick in. You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

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Source: KCM Blog, Steve Harney

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Will Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Be Extended?

Many of our readers have asked whether we believe the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 will be extended past its current expiration scheduled for the end of the year. As a reminder, the legislation ensures that homeowners who received principal reductions or other forms of debt forgiveness on their primary residences do not have to pay taxes on the amount forgiven.

The reason this act is important in today's housing market is that, without the act, debt reduced through mortgage modifications or short sales qualifies as income to the borrower and is taxable. If the legislation is not extended, then it would require homeowners to complete a short sale or modification prior to year's end in order to avoid a tax consequence.

Last week, DSNews reported:

"Obama's FY2013 budget proposal includes an extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007...

In the Treasury's Green Book, its summary explanation of the administration's budget proposal, it calls for an extension of the tax break due to "the continued importance of facilitating home mortgage modifications."

The administration is proposing an extension that would apply to any amounts forgiven before January 1, 2015."

In today's political environment, the passage of any budget proposal could be considered doubtful. However, both parties seem to be in agreement that this provision should be extended. We can only hope that it doesn't fall victim to an election year.

Disclaimer: As with all tax issues, we strongly suggest you consult with your accountant to find out how this may impact you and your family.

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Source: KCM Blog, Steve Harney

Monday, February 13, 2012

Worst Celebs To Live Near

Americans Rank Best & Worst Celebrity Neighbors

Forty-two percent of Americans say they wouldn’t want a celebrity as a neighbor, and they especially wouldn’t want to live anywhere near the cast of the reality TV show “Jersey Shore,” according to the fifth annual Zillow Celebrity Neighbor Survey for 2012.

On the other hand, 11 percent of those surveyed, said they’d most like to be neighbors with Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback. Tebow had the highest ranking among celebrity neighbor wannabes.

Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as well as Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux followed close behind for top celebrities to live near.

As for this year’s worst celebrity neighbors, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Kim Kardashian came in behind the Jersey Shores cast. The Jersey Shores cast has nabbed the No. 1 spot for worst celebrity neighbors for the past two years in the survey.

The poll found a growing number of Americans saying they wouldn’t want to live near a celebrity, up from 27 percent compared to last year’s survey.

"As a voyeuristic culture that breathlessly tracks every celebrity movement, it's extremely surprising to see so many Americans saying they wouldn't like to live next to any celebrity at all,” Amy Bohutinsky, Zillow’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “In fact, more people opted out of a celebrity neighbor in 2012 than in any of the past years we've run this poll. We may want to watch, read and talk about celebrities, but when it comes to sharing a back fence, many Americans think it's just too close for comfort."

Source: Zillow

A Side Note from Us: This was an article written on the Zillow website, not something we wrote, and doesn't necessarily reflect our viewpoints of celebrities.....heck, we could use the spicing up that the Jersey Shore cast may offer....Fist Pump!

And...on a serious note....if you or anyone you know need to relocate to a state or area where you can do some celeb watching...think Los Angeles, Nashville, the Jersey Shore, New York, etc. we can help you find a good Realtor in any area in the US or the world! No kidding! Give us a call for that free connection to a reputable Realtor instead of having to scour the phone books and Realtor magazines (does anyone use those anymore anyways?)

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