Archive for April, 2010
We’re adding a new contributor today, regular commenter and long-time friend of BloodhoundBlog, Alex Cortez.
Alex writes all around the RE.et, so you may know him from otherwhere. I’m mainly ignoring requests from people who say they want to write here, but Alex went beyond persistence in his campaign. More to the point, he’s already participating here.
Here’s is Alex’s brief self-description:
Alex is a real estate agent specializing in south Maui luxury real estate and investment properties. In his spare time, he enjoys being chased by his toddler son and wife, as well as learning to surf (even it if kills him, which is an inevitable fact).
We can put him to the test when first he posts. In the mean time, please make him feel welcome.13 comments
Well Jim, I guess here’s your answer:
I’m a total procrastinating slacker…. this blog post is part of my last ditch attempt at doing my part
For anyone not familiar with Tomato U. It’s a pretty cool concept… a menu of one-off workshops/classes that’ll let you brush up on real estate tech stuffs.
Disclosure: I’m getting paid to teach the class today…
It looks like the dam is finally bursting on politicaly-correct self-censorship in behalf of Islamofascist rageaholics.
The essence of Political Correctness is to get people to volunteer for their own self-imprisonment. In fear of offending some perpetually-offended jackass, the victims of Political Correctness come to be stunted, stilted, stifled — and ultimately silenced. But, alas, they never, ever manage to escape the snide, sneering insults of all those perpetually-offended jackasses.
Why? It’s simple: The sole objective of Political Correctness is to take power of other people — who are innocent of all offenses against anyone — by inducing them to to volunteer for their own self-imprisonment.
Heads up: If you don’t have the guts to stand up these cowards, these moral midgets, then you deserve what they are doing to you.
May 20th is everybody draw Mohammed day. This last strikes me as being a little over the top, since the objective would seem to be to offend Muslims, rather than simply to defend one’s own right to express oneself at will, without fear of a violent demise. But that distinction delivers precious little difference, and the time for phlegmatic reason in this particular dispute was three years ago.
I’m nobody’s artist, but I do love to make jokes. My poor long-suffering wife can tell you that I can make some raucously funny jokes about religion. Normally I don’t do this in public, because people have a right to believe what they want. But as soon as you or anyone tries to tell me I can’t make fun of religion — that’s when I’ll tell you why Bill O’Reilly says you should never, ever, ever cut Mohammed off in traffic.
This is bug-stomping, carrying out the trash, but it is absolutely necessary. Whenever exponents of savagery manage to stop denouncing the West, they commence comparing themselves to it, instead: “Well, the Incas invented the wheel.” “The Chinese invented explosives.” This is twice sad: It’s the most pathetic kind of collectivism — racism — and it misses the point of Western Civilization entirely. The West didn’t invent this technology or that one. The West invented the individual — and that individual separated himself from the herd by the act of ridiculing the powerful.
All of the amazing technology we take for granted was invented by Western spirits, wherever and whenever they happend to be born. But the absolute most important invention in the history of the West is satire — the formalized and enduring ridicule of the powerful and of the pitiably, comically, impotently inept morons who aspire to power.
There are no satirists better than Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park. But when our right to ridicule the powerful is threatened, we must each one of us poke fun at our would-be overlords. To fail to fight for your freedom is to surrender it by default. That’s what Political Correctness is for…8 comments
Here’s a fun one that’s sure to please and could be easily posted in the following places:
- Above your Craigslist Property Ads
- In Your Facebook Sidebar
- On Postcards to Renters
- On the back of your Biz Card
- At The Top Of Your Blog
- (and just about anywhere else you can drop a quick sentence)
The world of distressed real estate (only about 90 of my past 100 transactions) is a funny one; all the rules are different.
The REO sellers are pretty simple. They have a take it or leave it policy when it comes to negotiations, escrow terms, etc.. Some short sellers however, can be like the “bait and switch” mortgage brokers of last decade. The “bait and switch mortgage brokers” would issue a fictional good-faith-estimate prior to pulling credit, getting a good valuation estimate, and checking income. One week prior to escrow, a “surprise” was discovered, changing loan terms and putting the potential escrow in jeopardy.
Not all “oops” moments were conceived in evil nor should they be attributed to professional incompetence; sometimes; s**t just happens.
A similar trend has developed in short sale real estate agent community. Like the bait-and switch mortgage broker, some short sale agents low-ball the price, collect offers, submit them to the bank, and pray for a reasonable settlement. Oftentimes, the counters are far apart from the originally accepted offer. Sometimes, the term changes are issued after the buyer has become emotionally vested to the property or invested funds to secure a loan approval for purchase.
I’ll repeat myself; sometimes, s**t just happens. Other times, the surprises DO come from professional incompetence, poor disclosure and communication, or just plain old deceit. The result is an unhappy buyer or seller. The collateral damage is consumer mistrust in every agent involved in the transaction.
Rather than vent about the reasons, let’s consider a private market solution to the problems: Performance Bonds.
Performance bonds, issued by independent insurance companies, could seriously contribute to the #rtb movement. They can be offered by mortgage originators and listing agents alike. The credibility of offers to purchase, and listings for sale, could rise with the attachment of a performance bond into the escrow terms. Buyers could confidently place non-refundable escrow deposits, knowing that the lender has indemnified them from loss. Likewise, listing agents could rely on timely execution of the escrow if a lender performance bond were attached.
Performance bonds could lend confidence to short sale transactions, too. Buyers could enter into agreements, proceed with the due diligence required (along with the commensurate expenses), knowing they could be reimbursed for those expenses if the sellers and or their agents couldn’t perform.
Bonding companies would assume a good amount of risk but they can be well compensated to assume that risk. They would have to analyze performance statistics about mortgage originators and/or real estate agents, consider transaction specific details (borrower qualifications or seller financial status) and, the reputation of bank loss mitigation departments (for sellers) and bank underwriting guidelines (for lenders). If a legitimate “bondable amount” is 2% of the purchase price, different premium fees could be assessed after analyzing agent/originator reputation.
What intended effects would bonding have? The #rtb movement could abandon the “restrictive licensing” laws it currently supports. Apprentice programs, we’ve discussed here for years, might take root because rookies might not have established the reputation to secure a bond. Finally, we may inspire consumer confidence in an industry where the public opinion is unfairly focused on the few transactions that go awry rather than the hundreds that go according to plan.
Licensing is not the answer. Agent and originator licenses and about as unique as a blond in a Newport Beach nightclub. A higher degree of transaction supervision, from designated real estate brokers and HUD licensees could be but the economics of the industries precludes it. Transaction supervision then, could be effectively “outsourced” to a third party with a profit motive (the bonding agent).
Laying cash on the line could solve this problem. Bonding agencies could very well provide the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” we seek, for industry participants whom are deserving.3 comments
Alright kids, a quick damn screenvid.
I didn’t think I needed followers till I started seriously seeing my bit.ly links had more clicks. That was cool.
Then I learned that those clicks opt in at the same damn rate as PPC/SEO clicks. Even cooler.
Now…you can get LOCAL followers en masse with very little work. Takes 2-3 months but you can build to 2,000-3000 or more.
Here’s the rapid fire video, where I just do it, share the (LEN) function thanks to Jesse Petersen.
I know, most of you won’t give a Twit, but this thing rocks, and if your pages convert can be automated.9 comments
What’s joy to a Bloodhound? Work, of course. Here’s that hard-working Bloodhound praxis applied to the problem of having fun.
I built FreePhoenixMLSSearch.com from an API that FBS Systems — creators of the FlexMLS system — made available last year. I may be the only person taking advantage of this interface. I don’t know of anyone else in Phoenix who is, in any case.
That much is cool, and the API, along with Flex’s general philosophical approach to software openness, enabled me to build a very robust search tool, much more robust than anything you can buy from IDX vendors. Still better, I can extend my search power whenever I want, building “pre-fab” searches that solve problems that might not be intuitively obvious to more-casual users.
Here’s an example: Doctors relocating to Phoenix — may their names be legion! — can do a radius search from any Phoenix-area hospital. Always on-call? You can live within walking distance. Need to be to the hospital within 30 minutes? You can search within a 15-mile radius.
My end of this stuff is all written by me, in PHP, with the code running on the SplendorQuest server. I can change the site whenever I want to, in the never-ending quest for better results.
All that is fun, and this is a big part of Bloodhound life for me, building and refining the tools we use every day — on- and off-line. Everything that I’ve worked on over the past four years is available to me to make new tools, and I’m mixing and matching that stuff all the time. The number of engenu pages on our sites is enormous by now, but the number of engenu-like pages runs to the tens of thousands. Even now I’m working out how to use ScentTrail to auto-generate an engenu-editable cloud-based transaction management site for every client we touch.
That idea — the equation of software with control — is something that I should write about. But not today. For now, Bloodhounds just want to have fun.
That image is a screen shot from Twitter. Every time someone runs a search from FreePhoenixMLSSearch.com, a Tweet is auto-posted summarizing that search. There is search-engine juice to be had from Twitter, but this is just dumbass fun for me, a perfect expression of the fundamental witlessness of Twitter: Zippy the Pinhead reporting on the latest real estate search news.
This is funny: FreePhoenixMLSSearch.com generates between 50 and 150 searches a day, so the Tweet-count for that account — PhoenixBargains — is fast approaching 4,000 (semi-)unique Tweets.
This is funnier: The PhoenixBargains Twitter account has 54 devoted followers.11 comments
Think about this:
If one has no financial stake in our country, how much of a say-so should he have in its management? Let’s put it another way: I do not own stock, and hence have no financial stake, in Ford Motor Co. Do you think I should have voting rights or any say-so in the management of the company? I’m guessing that the average sane person’s answer is no.
Walter Williams is becoming one of my favorites. He is certainly thought provoking. The quote above is from an Investors Business Daily editorial by Walter Williams on Linking Voting Rights With Taxes Paid.
This week there has been a bunch of consternation in the press about 47% of the population not paying income taxes. The question, Bloodhounds, is do you think “taxes paid in” or “ownership of real estate” or something else altogether would be a better way to encourage voters to support policies that strengthen and are good for the country rather than just protecting their handouts?14 comments
The iPhone screen shot is from a piece of software I’ve been playing with since Thursday. We got the gross idea from Redfin’s agent-monitoring software. Their stuff is simpler and prettier, but ours is robust and mission-critical.
What is it? Basically an automated tickler, the relationship-management part of Customer Relationship Management software. I’m still massively ambivalent about saddling on a big new piece of software like Salesforce, but I’ve been less than whelmed by cheaper products like Heap.
What I need, I realized, is this: Something to keep me on track every day. The records we’re showing are very brief, but they can contain every mission-critical detail we need to make contact with the client. The software runs on our file server, so it will work from any web browser and also from the iPhone. On a desktop machine, you can also do manual data entry, but typing on the iPhone is so painful that I left that feature out of the iPhone version.
But on the iPhone the phone number is “hot,” as is the ePage number if we have one. Likewise the email link, obviously. The Web Site link will take us to any URL we have linked to that record — with the most obvious destination being a cloud-based transaction-management page.
(I have plans there, also, with an iPhone-ready contact sheet for the entire transaction — agents, lender, title, inspectors, etc. On the iPhone, any PDF file is accesible, so the Web Site link will give us instant remote access to every live transaction.)
Here’s what it looks like on a desktop browser:
This doesn’t solve our larger CRM problem, but it’s built to harvest data from a real CRM system, once we have one. I have plans, too, to integrate it with Google Calendar — to calendar those events automatically — and with our existing web-based forms. Very soon, if you fill out a form on our web site, the form will create a record in this software automatically. I also want for it to tickle us by email on event days. Tickling us, too, to let us know when we’re not keeping in touch with people — which idea also comes from Redfin’s software.
But: This does not solve our total CRM problem, just relationship-management for live clients. Even so, the real deal, for Realtors, is making the best possible use of junk time — driving, waiting, etc. This is CRM minus contact management, just mission-critical relationship-management.
In fact, anyone could use this software for any business. All four pop-ups are done from separate initialization files. Change those files and you’ve changed the software. Lo-tech don’t mean no-tech.
Bottom line: The more accountability we build into our systems, the more we get done. This little piece of software could make us a lot of money — and keep our clients happier.4 comments
iPad observation #10: Is the iPad an unforced error? I say Google and MicroSoft can’t even copy genius.
Busy as anything, ever, as I’m sure you can guess from my absence hereabouts. How busy am I? I still have not lain my own hands on an iPad. Tried to make time a couple-three times, but I couldn’t squeeze out the seconds.
But I have been paying attention to the aghastrointestinal noises made by the sputtering pundidiot class about the iPad, to some amusement. Translated into a language ordinary people can understand, the main objection runs like this: “These beach socks will look terrible with my tuxedo!” Could not agree more. But if you’re clamming or gigging frogs, you might-could find them a good fit.
Whatever. The iPad’s day is but barely begun, and one of the revolutionary things it will do is wash away this entire cadre of washed-up technology “experts.” Here’s hoping they can find a job worth doing.
Meanwhile, Richard Riccelli passed along this catalog of Grave Portents published by that citadel of techspertise, Slate magazine. Richard’s question is this: With the iPad and its closed software universe, has Steve Jobs committed an unforced error — unnecessarily created an obvious opening for Google and MicroSoft to compete?
My answer is no to everything.
Every kvetch about the iPad comes from people who will not be its audience.
1. It’s not a laptop. Duh.
2. It’s a closed hardware/software universe. Thus does Apple piss off 40% of the INTJs — 2.8% of the buying public.
3. It fosters a market opening for losers who could have beaten Apple ten years ago — except they’re losers.
We’ll have to wait to see it — Alice in Wonderland is an early mover (that munches up all of Brad Inman’s stale Vookies) — but the software built to take advantage of the unique iPad hardware will be killingthing.
Jobs is not wrong. Jobs is early. As always. Why? Because the future doesn’t exist until he invents it. Not hero worship, just an awareness of the amazing things the man causes to be done.
The two big iPad stories, going forward: How cool this tool is, and how lame are the clones.
Don’t believe me? Go buy an Android. Go buy a Zune. Google and MicroSoft can’t even copy genius.
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Here’s a tip for real estate agents, when presenting an offer with FHA or VA financing; include the FHA/VA Amendatory Clause to the Purchase Contract as part of the offer. You’ll save you, the seller’s agent, the escrow company, the lender, and most importantly your buyer, a lot of last minute headaches.
You can download a copy of a templated form here. Most lenders will accept this templated form. If you don’t know the agency case number, etc, don’t worry about it. The most important thing is to get the property address, the buyers’ and sellers’ names and the final contract price on the form.
Why the VA Amendatory Clause doesn’t need to be a “deal killer” for the appraisal contingency clause of a contract:
Contractually, the VA amendatory clause portends a 21-day appraisal contingency period for VA loans. Pragmatically, the appraisers and underwriters complete their work prior to time limits making the 17-day appraisal contingency of the RPA feasible. What that means to real estate agents is that it is conceivable that the appraisal contingency MAY have to be extended to 21 days if things go absolutely wrong but that the 17-day contingency period is reasonable for VA loans.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
From a Zillow Consumer:
Who must sign the Amendatory Clause? Two good answers were offered:
by Brenda Zabriskie: Buyers, sellers, listing agent, and selling agent. I usually scan it into my computer and send it off to the other Realtor who usually scans it again and sends it back to me. I’ve never had a problem with having to have originals. I guess it depends on which bank you are dealing with.
by Timothy Sutherland: It depends also on the entity selling. You don’t need it if it’s a bank owned property an FHA/VA/Fannie/Freddie sale.
From another Zillow consumer:
If I’m planning to use an FHA loan, can I order an appraisal in advance? Two good answers:
by Greg Darlin: Yes, you can order an appraisal but you will be wasting your money. If you order the appraisal on your own, it will be no good to anyone. Why? Because the lender can’t use it; it has to be ordered through the lender and/or their Appraisal Management Company. Even if they could use it, the appraised value will differ. Appraisals over 90 days old are rather worthless in this market because of the swings in value.
by Andrew Adams: The answer is NO a borrower cannot order an appraisal and then use it for the loan. When you buy a home (with an FHA or VA loan), both buyers and sellers are required to sign an amendatory clause. This states that the property must appraise for the purchase price.
Finally, an observation by Karen Thompson about why prompt execution of the FHA or VA Amendatory Clause is essential:
I was supposed to close on a deal tomorrow and now it is delayed because the FHA Amendatory Clause form was not fully executed by all parties PRIOR to closing. The buyer’s lender says that this form has been around for a long time, but now with the new HUD guidelines, this form can no longer be completed at closing, but must be signed by all parties prior to closing. Hence, to everyone’s frustration, closing cannot take place as scheduled. My buyer’s lender complained that all lenders are not of the same understanding of the new HUD guidelines effective Feb. 1st. Guess they didn’t receive proper training…….we’ve all been there ourselves before.
Read Doug Quance’s comments below for an example of a best practice for REALTORs when presenting contracts when the buyer uses a FHA or VA loan.
Good Luck.11 comments
A revelation: At this moment in time, my business is exactly where I want it to be. Is that weird? I don’t think so, as I’m getting exactly the business I’ve earned. That’s not to say it’s the business that would make you happy, and it’s not to say it’s the business I want in six months or six years, even six weeks from now, but today, when I stopped to think about it, my business is in direct proportion to the amount of work I’ve put into it.
I’ve been busy over the past few years, but I haven’t always been busy on work. Some of that is my own fault, I’ll own that, I always have owned that, but the fact remains that the business I’m getting is exactly proportional to whatever I put into it, and that’s the good news for the day, because I know that whatever I put in, I’m going to get out.
I haven’t talked about my dad in a long while, but everything I know about work, I learned from him. I think you’d like my dad- he’s a Bloodhound. He grew up in a hardscrabble part of town, in a Catholic orphanage where the nuns let him be as much as they could. He is a kinesthetic learner. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, but not in a bookish way. He can teach himself any sort of thing, but only if he does it and the nuns allowed him to follow the plumbers, the maintenance people, the doers, around. He’d ask them questions about what they were doing and hand them tools when they asked. Other kids were off playing pick up games or getting into neighborhood fights, Dad was learning, always learning stuff.
When he had a family to support, Dad became a salesman which allowed him to get out and talk to people. A desk job? No thanks. My dad needed to live unchained, so he headed out- an independent sales rep for tool manufacturers. It wasn’t an easy life for him, but he was used to that. He loved to work, can’t sit still, to this day he can’t sit still.
He once told me about his early days on the road as a sales rep. When things were really tough and he had no money, he’d pull into a motel parking lot and sleep in the car. Back then, when a motel guest was checking out, they’d leave the room key in the door as a signal to the maid to come in and clean. If things were really tough, Dad would sit in the parking lot and wait for a guest to leave, run in and quickly use the shower to clean up. That’s kinda gross to think about, isn’t it? Yeah well, it’s also hard work and what needed to be done and the way he survived, and it fed me and my brothers. Fortunately, that didn’t happen often and he didn’t live that way for long because hard work pays off and he began to earn business in exact proportion to the amount of work he put in and eventually he was able to put four kids through college. Dad can look back at those times and smile. They now represent an extraordinary marker of how far he has come- how hard he worked and how much his hard work paid off for everyone in his life. You and I have our own markers of success.
I bring this up because I’ve been thinking about different real estate markets around the country and how there must be agents in booming parts of the country who didn’t have to work too terribly hard on their business the past 10 years. I’m assuming, tell me if I’m wrong, that in a boom town, with people moving in, you might could work in real estate without having to work too hard at the business side of real estate, and perhaps today you are looking back at the past few years wondering what happened? Business isn’t where you want it to be? Easy come, easy go, but I’m here to give you a nudge to get to working, seriously working, because the good news for me is also the good news for you- whatever you put in, you will get back and it while it probably won’t take long, it will take work. My dad would be proud.13 comments