Archive for July, 2010

Rural Housing Service

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Rural Housing Funding Restored
The long anticipated restoration of the Section 502 single-family rural housing program is headed to President Obama’s desk for signature into law. NAR has been working on restoring funding since March. Although the legislation increases the guarantee fee for borrowers, the fee can still be financed. This change will make the program completely self-sufficient. The legislation also increases the Rural Housing Service (RHS) commitment authority allowing guaranteed loans. Previously RHS had been providing conditional commitments. RHS will announce new guidelines shortly after the President signs the bill. More details are online

What are the Pro’s & Con’s of For Sale By Owner”

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Selling a home is a large task whether a broker is hired or the home owner lists it FSBO. There are many different facets that are involved in selling a home. When deciding which option is right for the sell of their home, potential sellers should weight all the pro’s and con’s of each option. Listed below are some of the pros and con’s associated with selling a home FSBO:

Pros
• No 7% broker fee paid to the real estate agent, which means the home owner makes more of a profit.
• Freedom of when house is shown to potential buyers.
• No “middle man”. The seller is able to directly communicate with the potential buyers which often times can make the house seem more like a home.
• A chance to really sell the home and show it off each time it is shown to potential buyers. Home owners know the history behind certain things about the home which can entice potential buyers.

Cons

• Studying and researching what goes into selling a home the right way.
• Researching other homes in the area that have sold recently in order to establish a fair market selling price.
• Being responsible for all the leg work such as open houses, showing the house, advertising, negotiation, and closing details.
• Having to be responsible for understanding disclosure forms and other legal documents to ensure you are correctly following all necessary steps in selling a home as well as protecting yourself from a potential lawsuit brought against you in the future by the buyer because the selling was handled incorrectly.
• Having to be the one to contact the mortgage brokers, inspectors, and appraisers to ensure everything is in line for closing.
• The risk of deals falling through due to an overlooked detail because there is a lack of knowledge.

Contact one of the LUTAR Members.  Click on Agents and Offices at the top of the home page.

Safety at the Office

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
 

Make Your Office a Home Base for Safety

By Andrew Wooten, president of S.A.F.E.

 

A safe office is good business. Making your workplace more secure will make your clients feel safe and increase productivity, thereby creating more listings and sales.

Client & Agent Records
The key to staying safe in the real estate industry is knowing your clients and having your office know your schedule-both of which are centered right in your office. Ideally, your workplace has a process in place for meeting clients for the first time, collecting their identifying information, and “checking out” agents for appointments. If your employer does not have a process in place for these standard procedures, here are some tips you can follow that will ensure your safety on the job. 

  • ALWAYS meet new clients in your office, and be sure to introduce them to at least three different people. A would-be assailant doesn’t like to be noticed, knowing a person could pick him out of a police lineup.
  • Have all clients fill out a Prospect Identification Form with name, address, work information, phone numbers, and vehicle information-and verify all information provided before you head out the door with them!
  • Always tell someone in your office where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when to expect you back. Create an electronic or paper form for this, or use a white-board that others can check.
  • Be sure your office has up-to-date contact information on you in case of an emergency.

Be Unpredictable
What about your safety as you head to the office, or leave for appointments? Criminals watch for patterns, so be sure to change up your daily routine.  Arrive at work-including weekly or daily locations-at different times. Leave your house and come home at different times.  When driving, take different routes to commonly visited places. Park in a different space than you usually park. Random variances in your behavior move you from a predictable target to an unpredictable, difficult person to surprise.
 
The Night Shift
If you must work alone in the office at night, be prepared! Have your broker walk the entire office with you before everyone else leaves, and make sure all the windows and doors are locked. It’s also important that all entranceways and sidewalks are well lit and that you can see your car. Move your car to a safe, nearby spot before the last person leaves the office.

Remember that law enforcement officers are here to help you. When you’re working alone at night, call your local police station and let them know you have hot coffee and ask them to have cruisers use your parking lot for meetings and writing reports. Call the police immediately if you see or hear anything suspicious or have a good reason to suspect a crime is being committed.

You can increase the service you bring to your clients by being more aware and comfortable in even the most familiar surroundings.  Don’t let your focus on a potential sale distract you from being safe.  Above all, always remember Andrew’s golden rule:

“You are your best weapon, your mind, voice and body.  Listen and trust your inner voice.  It is the best weapon you have.”
Andrew Wooten is a certified crime prevention practitioner and the president of S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness Firearms Education). He has been in the safety and security industry for over 25 years.

 

Existing-Home Sales Slow in June but Remain Above Year-Ago Levels

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Washington, July 22, 2010

With the scheduled closing deadline for the home buyer tax credits, existing-home sales slowed in June but remained at relatively elevated levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million units in June from 5.66 million in May, but are 9.8 percent higher than the 4.89 million-unit pace in June 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market shows uncharacteristic yet understandable swings as buyers responded to the tax credits. “June home sales still reflect a tax credit impact with some sales not closed due to delays, which will show up in the next two months,” he said.

“Broadly speaking, sales closed after the home buyer tax credit will be significantly lower compared to the credit-induced spring surge. Only when jobs are created at a sufficient pace will home sales return to sustainable healthy levels.”

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 4.74 percent in June from 4.89 percent in May; the rate was 5.42 percent in June 2009.

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $183,700 in June, which is 1.0 percent higher than a year ago. Distressed homes were at 32 percent of sales last month, compared with 31 percent in May; it was also 31 percent in June 2009.

NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz., said softer home sales expected this summer don’t tell the whole story. “Despite these market swings, total annual home sales are rising above 2009 and we’re looking for overall gains again this year as well as in 2011,” she said. “Conditions have become more balanced in much of the country, which is good for both buyers and sellers. However, consumers find it even more challenging to navigate the transaction process, especially for distressed properties, which only underscores the value Realtors® bring to buyers and sellers in this market.”

A parallel NAR practitioner survey3 shows first-time buyers purchased 43 percent of homes in June, down from 46 percent in May. Investors accounted for 13 percent of sales in June, little changed from 14 percent in May; the remaining purchases were by repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 24 percent in June compared with 25 percent in May.

Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 2.5 percent to 3.99 million existing homes available for sale, which represents an 8.9-month supply4 at the current sales pace, up from an 8.3-month supply in May.

“The supply of homes on the market is higher than we’d like to see. But home prices are still holding their ground because prices had already overcorrected in many local markets,” Yun said. Raw unsold inventory remains 12.7 percent below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.

Single-family home sales fell 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.70 million in June from a level of 4.98 million in May, but are 8.5 percent above the 4.33 million pace in June 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $184,200 in June, up 1.3 percent from a year ago.

Single-family median existing-home prices were higher in 10 out of 19 metropolitan statistical areas reported in June in comparison with June 2009. In addition, existing single-family home sales rose in 12 of the 19 areas from a year ago while two were unchanged.

Existing condominium and co-op sales slipped 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 670,000 in June from 680,000 in May, but are 20.5 percent higher than the 556,000-unit pace in June 2009. The median existing condo price5 was $180,100 in June, which is 1.4 percent below a year ago.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 7.9 percent to an annual level of 960,000 in June and are 17.1 percent above June 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $244,300, down 1.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest dropped 7.5 percent in June to a pace of 1.23 million but are 11.8 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $155,900, down 0.1 percent from June 2009.

In the South, existing-home sales fell 6.5 percent to an annual level of 2.01 million in June but are 11.0 percent above June 2009. The median price in the South was $163,600, unchanged from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West dropped 9.3 percent to an annual pace of 1.17 million in June but are 0.9 percent higher than a year ago. The median price in the West was $221,800, up 1.5 percent from June 2009.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Salesperson’s Pre-License Training RES101

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Are you looking for a new career in real estate?  The RES101 Real Estate Fundamentals is a highly successful course specifically designed to provide each student with the information necessary to: 1. Pass the license exam as administered by the new testing agency, PSI and 2. Enter real estate sales with a better understanding of the intricacies of the the business.

September 20,22,27, 29, October 4,6,11,13,18, & 20th from 6:00 pm-10:00 p.m. at the LUTAR Office, 208 E Genesee, Lapeer.  Cost $255.00. Payment must accompany registration form which can be found on www.lutar.org .

Continuing Education Classes

Friday, July 16th, 2010

July 28th there is a Short Sale and Foreclosure Essentials Class in Sandusky with 3 hours of Con Ed Credit.  August 26th  at the LUTAR Office in Lapeer with 6 hours of credit.  November 12th at Mayfield Township Hall  with 6 hours of Con Ed Credit.  For all of the details you may go to www.lutar.organd you will find the flyer’s and  you may sign up on line.

How to Protect Yourself against Identity Theft

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Your credit score has significantly increased. You receive a bill for a credit card you don’t have. You go to apply for a car loan and are denied because of poor credit. You notice $0.01 charges in your checking account. What happened? Most likely, you’ve had your identity stolen.

Identity theft is when, by trickery or using publicly available date, someone obtains personal information about you, assumes your identity, and applies for credit cards, checking accounts or other financial access. The crook has become “you.” They can now go on a spending spree, using up your good credit and reputation.

To protect yourself, be vigilant about protecting your personal information. This means not giving out credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, your birth date, or even your mailing address over the phone unless you initiate the call. Protect your incoming and outgoing mail-and your trash-from thieves.

Multiple Methods
Thieves use a variety of methods to obtain your information including “dumpster diving,” where they go through your trash for mail or papers that contain personal information, such as your Social Security number on an old tax form or a mailing from your credit card company. These papers are a gold mine to an identity thief. You can block thieves by buying-and using-a shredder. Shred all documents containing personal information before you discard it.Identity thieves also use “skimming,” “phishing” or just a simple change of address.
Skimming is when someone steals credit or debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card. This can happen anywhere, so be sure to watch when they scan your card at a store, restaurant or gas station.
Phishing is when false financial institutions or companies send spam or pop-up messages on a website to get you to reveal your personal information. Remember: no legitimate company is going to ask for your personal information unless you contact them.
Lastly, some thieves will divert your billing statements to another location by changing your address. Keep track of when you receive your bills and statements. If one doesn’t show up, contact the company immediately.

Lock Down Your Information
How can you protect yourself? Make these identity-protecting steps a habit:

Memorize your Social Security number and all your passwords and PINs.
Sign all your credit cards upon receipt and never loan your cards to anyone.
Save all your credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately, and notify credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change in your address or phone numbers.
Order your credit report annually and inspect it for anything suspicious.
When you make Internet purchases, be sure it’s through a secure website.
When you complete a credit or loan application, you only need to list the last four digits of credit cards. This is enough information for creditors to match up what’s on your credit report.

Most importantly, protect yourself by leaving your “identity” at home, not in your wallet or purse. You should never carry around your birth certificate, passport, PINs or Social Security card. If you carry blank checks, carry only as many as you need-and do not print your driver’s license number or Social Security number on your checks. Keep back-up records of all your credit card information in a secure place at home. Finally, don’t take out your wallet until you actually need it. Never put it down next to a cash register, on a bar or even on top of your car.

If you become aware of anyone using your identity, immediately notify the creditor involved, law enforcement authorities and the major credit bureaus.

In addition, be extremely wary of companies (even well-established, legitimate companies) that are selling monthly protection plans, there is no 100% guarantee! But, following these guidelines can help decrease the possibility of you becoming a victim of identity theft. For more information, contact S.A.F.E.

Andrew Wooten is an author and professional speaker and has been in the safety and security industry for over 26 years. Visit the S.A.F.E. website for more information. (By Andrew Wooten, president of S.A.F.E.)