My wife and I downsized earlier this year, to save money, reduce debt, and put money into the beginning of a rental empire we hope to build. We have good cash flow, income, and excellent credit. And yet, maybe because we earn money as a small business – read: law firm – the underwriting process was hellish.
This wasn’t our first time on the rodeo. We have bought and sold – having moved a number of times, once from Phoenix to North Carolina, and several times in each state. But it seems as thought these last two mortgages were the most difficult to get, even though we are in the best spot financially we’ve ever been in.
My wife, who did most of the legwork in tracking down last-minute documents requested by the bank, remarked that if they made it this difficult on us to close, imagine how difficult it must be for an average buyer.
I suppose part of the problem is that we are self-employed, and so there is quite a bit of (understandable) concern about the stability of our income. But, having filed and reported above-average incomes for 5 years straight, you’d think a mortgage company would take those seriously – after all, we aren’t exactly excited about paying high taxes to Uncle Sam, and it would be stupid just to do that in order to show good “income” to a future mortgagor.
Any thoughts?3 comments
I’m a Chicago real estate blogger who resides in a glass house (okay, an MCM high rise) so throw ’em if you got ’em. A little collateral stone breakage comes with the territory in this Midwest cranny. Regardless, here are a handful of Social Media miens that tick me off on a daily basis. In no great order:
1) Stock Photo Images On A Realtor’s Blog
My take: If you’re going to offer up something to the SM gods that even faintly smells literary, have the decency (imagination?) to snap your own accompanying picture. (Unless of course, its a really cool shot of a vintage car or dog.)
2) Blogs In A Box
My take: Come on fellow ‘bloggers,’ we all know you don’t write that crappy content about real estate minutiae that you plaster on LinkedIn and Facebook every other day. (“6 Factors Homeowners Should Consider Blah Blah Blah.” ??? Yeah right. I saw three different Realtors with their names on some re-tweaked version of that one the other day.) It’s pretty obvious you’re paying some vendor $1.26 per copy to re-brand these thinly-veiled press releases, ‘newsletters,’ and USA Today column fillers. Grow a brain, please.
3) Proprietary Use Of The Word ‘Professional’
My take: At least once a month I get dissed because my shaved headed, sun shaded profile picture is ‘unprofessional.’ It’s all in the POV, folks. See, to me it looks like everybody else on LinkedIn appears to have gotten the Glamor Shots Jos. A. Bank Funeral Director Discount. If you think your shizz is so self- important then try this: unsubscribe from the SM platform for a couple days and see how much the rest of the buttoned-down world doesn’t notice.
4) Facebook Profile With Your Name But Your Child/Grandchild’s Face
My take: Someone please explain???
5) Facebook Pages Of Dead Dudes Acting Like They’re Not
My take: Keith Moon and George Carlin immediately come to mind. No shit, Keith even wished everybody a ‘Happy Friday’ last week and he kicked it back in 1978. Look it up.
6) Bully Commentors, Distressed Diplomats From Angola In Possession Of My $20 Million (US), & All Other Web Crawling Spamsters
My take: Bite me.
Debra Brady and I are experts at VA-financing. One of the things we do very well is secure a VA condo complex approval for condominiums which aren’t agency approved. Some comments from a recent YELP review:
I started the home buying process while still on deployment, and Brian graciously worked with me across 13 time zones to begin explaining the ins and outs of home buying.
This is actually kind of fun for me. With technology, deployed service members can communicate with me well in advance of buying. Many times, when deployed, they have free time with little to do. They use Gchat, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and email to communicate with me. Sometimes it makes for some weird hours but I enjoy finally meeting them when they return to the States.
I googled VA home approval, and his was the first name to pop up. Brian is an absolute master at working with the VA.
That’s what I love to hear–that we come up first on Google Search for this topic.
This is how Debra and I work. I spend most of my time “selling” real estate agents and educating clients and Debra gets the loan done. When we’re clicking properly, I am “Mr. Outside” and she is “Mrs. Inside”. Clients know that she is in the office, every day from 8AM until 230PM each day and available on the telephone. This frees me up to: (a) find more business for us and (b) properly educate home buyers about the process. We pride ourselves on “no surprises” during the loan process.
That’s what I hope to hear on every VA loan we close. It doesn’t ALWAYS happen but, I’m proud to say, it does happen more often than not.
Taking this moment to give this brief lesson on how not to message:
Neil Siegel, a former special counsel to Joe Biden and supporter of ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act, was on WUNC’s The State of Things on Wednesday discussing recent appellate litigation involving the subsidies authorized by the Act. The DC Circuit ruled Monday that subsidies are illegal in states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges. North Carolina is one of those states. The Fourth Circuit, in which North Carolina is located, found otherwise.
Back in January, I wrote here about taking private pilot lessons. My post was inspired by one Greg wrote in December about mastering something difficult this year. Earlier this month I took an oral exam and then check ride with an designated examiner for the FAA, and I passed!
The next day, I piled my wife and a little bit of luggage into my Piper Cherokee, and took off for the coast. An hour and 15 minutes later, I was down at Ocracoke, part of the Outer Banks that would ordinarily take someone 6 hours or so to get to by car from Raleigh.
My wife and I got a lift to the local pub – really, the only one worth considering on Ocracoke – where I ordered a non-alcohol beverage and we got some shrimp and burgers, before flying south/southeast along the coast to Beaufort, North Carolina.
It was a ton of fun.3 comments
“Couldn’t you, just once, tell somebody what they really want to hear?” my wife asked, almost immediately after I got off the phone with the Redfin recruiter.
“Is that a rhetorical question? You just asked me a rhetorical question!” I snapped. Ever since I turned fifty-five I get snappy when someone I love questions my intentions, especially when I’m hungry.
She didn’t answer but instead, continued her Words With Friends game on her iPad. I walked into the kitchen.
“They’ll call me back,” I said after a few moments of silence, my fat head deep into the refrigerator looking for just one thing to shove into my mouth that didn’t have soy as its main ingredient; something with a little gluten, perhaps. Is this too much to ask?
“No they won’t,” she countered from the other room. “You just used the F word during a job interview.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did. I heard you.”
I walked over to the sofa with some type of pickled vegetable wrapped in a grape leaf. My wife did not look up from her backlit screen.
“Does Xerox really have two x’s in it? Is that even a real word?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, now a little stunned by what might have just happened on the phone; not sure of anything at that moment. Appetite quickly waning.
“Two x’s? I don’t think so. Well, maybe…And it wasn’t really a job interview. It was only an initial phone call. Introductory.” No longer hungry at all, I tossed the unsavory snack into the waiting mouth of our slobbering dog who, in turn, spit it immediately onto the floor.
“Hmm,” my wife said to nothing in particular, or perhaps, to everything in general.
That was six months ago, and although the names and details are a bit blurry now, the gist of the episode remains clear.
It all began with a conversation I had earlier that same week with a fellow Realtor—-an old-schooler, like me. We were seated at our favorite Starbucks window bar nursing triple espressos when he mentioned a new type of Redfin partnership program that offered leads to selected non-Redfin Chicago brokers. You just had to pay a referral fee at closing with no other upfront costs. He pointed out two young women with strollers who were enjoying mommy-time with their toddlers out on the patio.
“Both of them are Redfin partners who work part-time in my office,” he said. “Pretty sure one of them doesn’t even know how to spell condominium and she already has three deals this month. I think the other skinnier one is a yoga instructor for her real job.”
“A yoga instructor?”
“I think so,” he said. “She’s always wearing yoga pants. At the very least that makes her a housewife. Either way, they both drive nicer cars than me.”
“If this Redfin thing is such a good deal, why don’t you sign up for it?” I asked.
“I hate this business too much already,” he said. “What I don’t need is a flock of twenty-somethings texting me every time they log on to Trulia and get a real estate stiffy.”
While my buddy, clearly, was too jaded for the job, I somehow felt that I wasn’t. With fifteen years experience, I figured I was a slam dunk partnership candidate; just what the Redfin folks might be looking for—a full-time, condo slinging, non-yoga instructing, ass-kicking, downtown Chicago real estate professional. And besides, business was slow and I could use a little boost. A slow drip of fresh blood would blend nicely into my current marketing mix; a few extra ‘my watch cost more than your car‘ condo buyers here, a couple ‘coffee is for closers’ listing appointments there. A steady stream of new prospects could keep me in the real estate game until retirement. All I needed were the good leads. The Glengarry leads. You know, the ones Mitch and Murray send in from downtown…
So I Googled Redfin, found the program, applied on-line, did the tutorial, attended the interactive webinar (even kept my mouth shut), and scheduled my initial phone interview which, true to form, I forgot to enter into my calendar and promptly forgot about.
A couple days later, my phone rang at an inopportune time–as it always does, the screen flashing a familiar Seattle area code. I was certain it was that Dave character from Zillow’s advertising department who had been calling every month for three years trying to get me to pay him for posting my listings on his real estate site. Go figure. Anyway, when I answered the call I was ready to let poor Dave from Seattle have it, right between the zillows.
“Hi GG! Sky from Redfin here! Can you talk?!”
“Sky (or maybe it was Sea) from Redfin! We have your interview scheduled for 2 p.m. Pacific!”
“Oh yes Sky. Of course (??)”
“Cool. GG. Let’s do this! What made you want to become a Realtor?!?!?”
It was such a stupid question I honestly don’t remember what I told him. Truth is, seven years ago I wouldn’t have even considered such an arrangement. Everybody and his gardener had a real estate license back then but we were all stacking paper. My biggest professional worry in those days was which Rolex to buy next and how to keep the nicks and parallel parking scratches off the bumpers of my big body Benz.
“What are your best qualities as a Realtor, GG? What makes you outstanding?”
Or something along those lines. And to be fair, there was an echo on the phone connection so maybe I was imagining the GG part. Maybe I was just in one of my snappy ‘Meano Geno’ moods that day. (Another Realtor actually called me that once, right before hanging up on me. “Meano Geno!” Click.) Anyway, like I said, this all went down six months ago. And I’m getting old.
“What I’m really good at, Sky, is negotiation. I’m really good at getting the other side to cave-in, thus procuring the best possible deal for my client.”
“Yeah. Cave in. You know, win,” I said.
“Win/Win, you mean?” he asked.
“Yeah, I guess. Win/Win. Sure. Why not.”
“Okay, cool,” he said. “Now, what do you think makes you exceptional as a real estate agent?”
“I don’t know, Sky. I suppose the fact that I’ve negotiated over three hundred deals and more than a hundred million in transactions in my career. Something along those lines. What do you think?”
“Coool. And how do you envision the Redfin Partner Program fitting into your current business model?”
“Come on man. What kind of questions are these? You send me the leads. I get them to buy something they like. Get them a good deal. Everybody’s happy. It’s pretty simple. Just keep me on the North Side. No foreclosures. No suburbs. No ghettos.”
“Okaayyy…..What was the biggest obstacle you’ve ever had to overcome as a Realtor?” he asked.
“You’re f*king kidding me, right Sky?” I replied…
Anyway, it was about two seconds after that when my wife asked me the rhetorical question. A week later I received the following email:
To: Geno Petro
Subject: Redfin’s Partner Program
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider you for the Redfin Partner Program and taking the time to speak with us. While we are impressed with your success as an agent, after careful consideration we have decided to pursue other candidates in your market at this time. We will maintain your application in our active files and contact you if there is an opportunity for a future partnership.
We do wish you continued success in your real estate business. Thank you again for your time!
To be honest, I forgot all about this nonsense until a Redfin ‘Partner’ called on one of my listings last week, requesting a 7 p.m. showing on a Friday night. After bitching about the time (and weather) for thirty seconds, I finally agreed. And even though I’m apparently not qualified to have her job (but am somehow qualified to show her one of my properties on a Friday night in the middle of a week-long ice storm), she sounded very nice. Like someone’s wife.
So she shows up thirty minutes late with her three-year old daughter and a 2014 Infiniti QX60 full of Millennials. Everyone was holding Starbucks cups and wearing North Face and UGGS.
“Sorry we’re late. Traffic sucks,” she says.
“Yes it does,” I tell her. “That’s why I left my yoga class thirty minutes early. To arrive here on time.”
“You practice yoga?” she asks me.
“No,” I reply, as I watch them slosh, one by one, across the family room carpet, “I just like wearing the pants.”
Greg has a nice post on mastering something difficult this year. I’m not sure it counts as a truly difficult task, but I started taking private pilot lessons in August, and was hooked. It turns out that flying in a small plane is fun, especially when you can fly most places you want with comparatively little hassle.
In October, I bought an airplane – a Piper Cherokee 140 that was built in the 1960s, and refurbished in the 2000s with new avionics and electronics.
It’s not particularly speedy. It flies about 130 to 140 mph in calm weather. With a headwind, you’ll get no better speed than a fast car, though you do always have the advantage of flying directly from point to point and avoiding traffic.
There are two aspects of flying. There is the purely intellectual and mechanical task of operating the plane, and of inspecting it and fixing it (which I’m looking forward to learning.) That is exciting. I started landing the plane well, consistently, last week. Something just clicked and I’ve got a good sense now of how to fly the plane to a stop.
I’m also excited about mapping routes, avoiding hazards, making sure the plane is operating safely.
What is a terrible bore is that flying has got to be one of the most regulated ways to travel. I am able to avoid most of the TSA because I can walk right out to the plane on the ramp.
But everything is highly regulated, from the actual certification of the plane and all repairs, additions, improvements and modifications, to restrictions on where you can travel, to licensing restrictions.
I am going to have to take my private pilot check ride, which is a ride with an FAA examiner to make sure I can operate the plane safely and perform certain maneuvers. I’m not too worried about that.
But I also have to read, memorize, and regurgitate on a multiple choice exam a ton of useless factoids about aviation regulations that are irrelevant to safety or to proficient flying.
So much of our life is regulated – from the fishing license, to the boating certificate, to the pilot’s license, to the driver’s license, to the license to start this or that business. It’s a wonder you don’t need a license from the government to launch a new website.
That is so very sad.5 comments
I always love to read about the outrageously nefarious bad guys who are doing all the things we hate. Doesn’t matter who “we” are, since the bad guys afflicting every “we” are always blindingly brilliant, amazingly competent masterminds of evil.
I guess it’s useful to exaggerate your opposition, but here’s the thing:
Everyone I remember from school was a fuck-up.
Start with a good solid two-thirds compliant drones, dutifully going through whatever motions seemed to be required. Maybe half of the rest were glib and lazy. Even the straight-A apple-polishers were just phoning it in, doing the minimum necessary to get the grade from the glib-and-lazy grown-up teaching the class.
Am I misrepresenting the world of education? Is there anything you can think of that you did in school that you’re truly proud of now. Away from athletics or the school play, was there anything in your academic life that you gave everything you had? Was there anyone else who did that?
Was there any class that you took — ever — where you had to bust ass Read more2 comments
Let’s get back to it.
We’re all sitting around today, plotting and planning our strategies for 2014…
Writing down goals. Looking over our numbers, canceling the crap that aint working and signing up for stuff that might…
For me, (ever since I read MREA back in 2004) the modus o has always been “If I get a shitload of traffic, and generate a shitload of leads, and set them all up for some kind of semi-automated follow up, I’ll make more money.”
Guessing a lot of the folks reading this agree, though some of us have bigger “balls” then others and are willing to spend a lot more on lead gen then we do on food…
How are you doing it?
(I’ll show you more about mine if you show me yours…)5 comments
1- We funded a $900,000 Orange County purchase with just 6.5% down payment and no mortgage insurance
2- We funded an Orange County condo, with a VA loan, and got both the Master Association and Condo Association VA approved in 30 days
3- We funded a $600,000 San Diego County purchase, with just 5% down payment and a seller-carry back second mortgage and a conventional first mortgage.
4- We funded a 7-unit San Diego apartment property, $820,000 purchase price with just 10% down and a 20% seller-carry back second mortgage.
5- We funded an “underwater” property with loan values at 135% of the appraised value in Los Angeles County.3 comments
How do you know when a time is right for your idea? How about when someone else comes up with something similar?: Atheist ‘mega-churches’ take root across USA, world. For the past three months, I’ve been thinking about starting a church evangelizing egoism and excluding no one, and here is the something similar. I’m reading this as a publicity stunt, but we’ll see. That’s definitely not what I’m about.
What I want is a mission devoted to the idea of doing better. Just that. The doctrine is mine, Man Alive, et very cetera, but I’m a lot more interested in praxis than dogma. If you cross a soul-enriching music performance with a mind-enflaming motivational seminar, you’re halfway to seeing what I see.
Picture a real live church service somewhere, once a week. My ideal location would be a big bar on late Saturday afternoons, to put the idea of choosing admirably in mind just when it might be needed most. That can be simulcast by Ustream or Spreecast, so the whole world can join in, one mind at a time.
But: I’m digging living on the road a lot, so I would love to take this show on Read more2 comments
Everything is all one thing, so this is a video essay about art about music about morality about song-writing about marriage about redemption – simple stuff. This is egoism in action, me being me.
This video connects directly to the argument I made on Friday about ‘conservative’ art, and all of everything I am saying – and everything I am doing – connects back to everything else I am saying. This is a one-hour immersion in Splendor.
An audio-only version is linked below, and that will show up also on iTunes in due course.2 comments
Kicking this back to the top. Happy Independence Day! — GSS
Celebrating the father of our freedoms: The freedom to own real estate
By the time you read this, Independence Day will have passed, but I thought I’d give you one more reason to celebrate our freedoms: Real estate.
We call our culture Judeo-Christian, but we owe our laws and political institutions to the Greeks and the Romans. The Greek Hoplites, in particular, are the model upon which Western Civilization is based: Individual family farmers, freeholders in the land they farmed, who owned their own weapons of warfare and who banded together as a virtually unconquerable infantry when their lands were attacked.
What accounts for the independence of the Greeks? Was it their unprecedented military tactics? Was it their superior weaponry? Or was it the savage dedication of free men fighting for their own land?
The Hoplites fought against ragtag slave armies, engaging in combat only out of fear of the lash, never losing sight of the chance to dessert. But the Greeks fought to retain the rights they had wrested from despots, rights ordinary people, until then, had never known.
We derive many more treasures from the Romans, among them the story of Cincinnatus, the retired general called back to battle and given dictatorial power because the situation was so dire. Instead of abusing that power, Cincinnatus won the war, set down his arms and picked his plow where he had left it.
We honor the citizen-soldier in the conduct of George Washington, who could have declared himself king of America, but who instead, like Cincinnatus, surrendered his power and went back to his farm.
Politicians will tell us that we owe our freedoms to representative government. This is twice false. The interest we share in government is the land we each own individually, like the Hoplites. Moreover, representative government without free ownership of the land is tyranny in camouflage.
Americans are free because we have the uncontested right to buy, use, enjoy, rent, let and sell the land we live on. If you have any fire-crackers left over, you might light one for the freedom that is father to all the others: The freedom to own real estate.
We started here, and still the question rings in my ear:
If almost-as-good is free or nearly free, what is the market value of slightly-better?
Big changes in the world since then. Brick ’n’ mortar retail is all but dead. Books, records and software ‘apps’ are aiming for a price point under ninety-nine cents — many of them all the way under. The supermarket real estate magazines are gone, and the thinning out of the classifieds put the newspapers on a strict diet. Their putative replacements, realty.bots like Zooliapads.com, are by now just sleazoid lead vendors. Unwired Realtors are enjoying their retirements while we are doing business without a fax line or even a land line.
That much is cool. I’m less sanguine about the people in this business than I am about the business itself. One of the things I haven’t loved about real estate has been seeing some of the incredibly scummy things people will do. Most of my clients have been great, and I love all of the people I work with long-term. But I’ve fired people who have left shit on my shoes forever, and this is not a happy outcome for me.
BloodhoundBlog has been a similarly-mixed blessing. I’ve met some wonderful people through this blog, and we’ve published some remarkable content. But I’ve seen the howling mob at its worst, and every day I get to see sleazy SEOs working overtime to make me regret sharing link juice with commenters. And meanwhile, the vendorsluts and their raving wraiths have turned our part of the internet into just another Realtors’ brothel. Don’t get any on ya.
And I am off to Planet Elsewhere. I wanted to hit the road for a while in the first quarter, but my Mammy died and then Odysseus started looking all deathful. So here I am mounting the expedition in the third quarter instead. I’m going to be in Las Vegas for the last three weeks (three nundinae, actually, but who’s counting?) of July, and then I will be in Orlando for the last three nundinae of August. I’m interested in making plans for September, October and beyond if you would like to see me in your town.
Meanwhile, there is the question of what to do about BloodhoundBlog. I’m not writing here much, nor is anyone else. I think this is a valuable resource, especially when the entirety of the vendorslut mafia is howling as one mob. But it’s stoopid to have thirty mug shots staring at us from the sidebar and have all but none of them writing new content.
So I need for the dawgs to figure out what they want from this place. When I come back from Sin City, I’ll reconfigure the roster accordingly.
Your call: What happens next?10 comments