Texas consumers and real estate agents now have another powerful real estate tool at their disposal. The redesigned TexasRealEstate.com, the consumer site of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, went live this week.  Residential listings from local and regional MLSs in Texas are displayed.  In addition to the listings search feature, there are great current articles such as: What the Foreclosure Mess Means for Buyers (http://www.texasrealestate.com/web/2/21/more/102810.cfm).

If you are a Realtor, then be certain your profile is updated and accurate on TexasRealtors.com….and  linked to your listings and the Find-A-Texas Realtor search.

If you are a seller or homeshopper, enjoy the great current info and the easy-to-use search features….and find the Realtor that feels like the best fit for you!

The Holidays and Winning With People

As we move into the holiday season, it is a great time for all professionals to remember one of the basic rules of winning with people:  help them make a memory.  There are few things that bond people together more than a shared memory.  Additionally, they will remember those who assist them in creating a memory, too!  And then, give them a memento so that the experience can be relived and shared.  How about a festival, hay rides or make-an-ornament?  How about family photo ops?  How about an open house with cider and a crackling fire?  How about a group of open houses with holiday treats and activities at each?  For marketing purposes, your best expenditures of both time and energy will be those that create a bond…….

Happy Holidays and Happy Marketing!

Sell This House!

In today’s economy, it is not uncommon to see homes take longer to sell.  So whether you are the listing agent or the homeowner, you probably know the realities of your own market area.  Be aware that the days of posting it on MLS with a couple of photos and waiting for a buyer are over.  However, there are some great, straightforward suggestions and strategies that can help you sell your home faster and for more money.

#1:  Take new photos.  Make sure your photos are current, in good light, include neighborhood photos or anything else that helps show off the pluses to the home, not the negatives.  People make a mistake when they assume they must have a photo of the kitchen or master bedroom, even when they are not a positive image…..use only photos of the positive features of the home!

#2:  Change wording in MLS, on Realtor.com, all ads.  There is no need to repeat floorplan info like number of bedrooms, since that is always available. Use current wording like:  Warm and neutral, earth tones, open floorplan, light and bright, outdoor living, gathering space, study, multipurpose living area, separate children area, granite, stainless.  Some more out-of-date phrases include:  Built-ins, tile countertops, formal living or dining, wallpaper.

#3:  Blast it on the internet including Craig’s List and Facebook.  Remember to include the best photos and the best phrasing.

#4:  Call your sphere of influence – whether you are the agent or the seller.  Impersonal e-mails and internet postings do not generate the same response that a personal call will generate: “I have a home listed for some great people and I am really trying to get it sold for them”… or “I love my home but I have it for sale.”  You can then invite them to an open house or just tell them a bit about the property.  Do they know anybody who might consider looking?  If nothing else, people will definitely remember you when they go to sell their own home!

#5:  Check the price and check it again.  View any comparables on the market personally.  Use searches to compare all homes at similar price points in the same neighborhood, the same school zone, all with master bedrooms upstairs, all with a pool…..really dig deep to be sure you are considering all factors in your pricing.  Gather showing statistics by price range and zip code to detect any patterns that might generate more viewings.  Also be sure that you take advantage of the fact that almost all buyers today begin their search online:   price your home directly on a price point like $200,000 so that you get those searching above the price and those searching below the price point……$199,900 is yesterday’s strategy!!

#6:  Get serious about condition and presentation.  Today’s real estate market seems to require a WOW factor to get a home sold…..either a wow price, a wow location, a wow staging presentation…look for your WOW!  Average in pricing or presentation or location is having a hard time selling today.

Distressed Properties: Know the Basics

You hear the phrases in the news daily right now:  distressed properties, foreclosures, REO, etc. But do you know what they mean?  If you are a real estate professional, are you using the “lingo” correctly?   An experienced Realtor can take the stress out of distressed property transactions by knowing the systems that work, but everyone can benefit from knowing the basics.

A compilation of user-friendly definitions that can help you navigate the process: 

Short Sale is when a homeowner and mortgage lender agree to sell a home for less than the amount owed on the home.  Mortgage lenders usually require evidence of hardship before approving a short sale.

Pre-Foreclosure means the homeowner has received notification that they are not making adequate payments and the mortgage lender is beginning the steps necessary to foreclose on the home.

Foreclosure is the legal process by which a borrower who has not made adequate payments  is deprived of their ownership interest in the property. 

Real estate owned (or REO) is a real estate asset owned by the lender that has been taken back during the foreclosure process.

A servicing agent is hired by the lender to service the loan or is an investor, such as a private investor or government-sponsored enterprise, like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. They are often subject to guidelines. (You can?t always find out who the investor of the loan is.)

Portfolio loan is an asset owned and controlled by the lender. The decision maker on the loan is in-house.  A portfolio loan can be easier to navigate in a short sale process because a servicing agent may have limited authority.  This is a great question to ask up front to set realistic expectations for the transaction.

Open to the Community

Sell gold and silver for cash!  Open to anyone from the community, Gardner of Gold will be weighing items and paying cash at the Keller Williams main building.  They give you the money… and make a donation to KW Cares!

We’ve extended the hours!  Now Tuesday, October 26 from 8am – 1.30pm!

Read the Flyer here.

Foreclosure Freeze Best-Case Scenario

Gregor Watson, a principal with McKinley Partners, a development company that buys foreclosed homes, told listeners on a Citi home-builder conference call that there were three potential outcomes from the foreclosure fiasco:

Best case: These are technical issues that can be resolved quickly so the foreclosure process can continue and the glut of foreclosed homes is cleared from the market.

Medium case: There is significant litigation that takes years to sort out and this slows the troubled housing market even further.

Worst case: The market grinds to a halt and title insurers refuse to insure mortgages involving foreclosed homes. “It would be devastating for the resale market if this robo-signer issue spiraled out of control,” Watson says.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Dawn Wotapka (10/12/2010)