Archive for May, 2010

Does it make a difference which Realtor lists your short-sale home?

It’s tough out there, everybody knows that. Your house may not be worth even half what you paid for it, and you’re having trouble keeping up with the payments. It could be your situation is so dire as to boil down to two choices: Let the bank foreclose on you or try to do a short sale.

What’s a short sale? If you could sell your home for what it’s worth today, you would probably have to come “short” to the closing table: The amount of money you could bring back to your lender from the proceeds of the sale would be less than you owe.

Are banks willing to do this? Yes, in principle. The bank reasons that it can get more money for a home that is still being cared for, as compared to yet another vacant lender-owned home.

What about you? Is a short sale to your advantage? Here’s your bottom line in both cases: Zero dollars and zero cents. That’s how much you’ll receive when your house sells.

So why should you prefer a short sale to a foreclosure?

For one very simple thing, because it’s the more responsible thing to do. You can’t pay your mortgage, and that’s a tragic turn of events. But by helping the bank effect a short sale, you’re doing what you still can to honor your obligations.

Even more important, a successful short sale can be less damaging to your credit than a foreclosure. You’re going to take a hit on your credit rating, either way. But the worst consequences of a short sale could be over in two or three years, where a foreclosure may wreck your credit for five years — or even longer.

On balance, a short sale is probably the better idea. Here’s the next question: Does it make any difference to you which Realtor you hire to list your home for sale as a short sale?

Remember that net figure: Zero dollars and zero cents. Since you won’t be getting any money from the sale of your home what difference does it make to you which Realtor sells it?

As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference. For one thing, no short sale is secure until it is closed. There is always the threat that the bank will go ahead and foreclose on you. You need a Realtor who can put matters in motion quickly, so you can complete the short sale before the bank gets tired of waiting for its money.

There’s more. Many Realtors treat short sales like a red-headed step-child — a slap-dash listing effort focused more on adding to their listing inventory, rather than actively selling your home. But the faster your home sells, the more money it is likely to command — which will make your buyer’s offer that much more attractive to the bank.

So what will make your home sell more quickly?

The answer? Marketing.

Where you and your lender see a short sale, your buyer sees a home. And guess what? Your buyer is seeing a lot of really grungy homes. Dirty. Missing appliances. Crowded floor to ceiling with personal possessions. Even though you have no equity in the property, your marketing problem is no different than in a normal equity sale: How do you get buyers to prefer your home over all the others available on the market?

And this is why it matters which Realtor you choose to list your home as a short sale. Your net might be zero dollars and zero cents, but you still have a lot to lose. The faster your home sells, the more money it will command, and the more money your lender stands to get, the more likely they are to approve your short sale.

It’s that simple. Working with a better Realtor — better not just at the mechanics of short sales but also at the mechanics of marketing — will bring you better, faster, happier results.

This is not a joyous event in you life, that’s understood. But working with the right Realtor on your short sale will help you make the best of a bad situation.

Am I blowing my own horn? Oh, you bet! I have advanced designations in short sale negotiation and management, and I’ve developed an extensive praxis for successfully marketing homes. I’ll bring every bit of this expertise to bear in getting your home sold as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

What’s the cost to you? Zip. Nada. Nothing. We typically charge our sellers an up-front retainer from $1,500 to $2,500. But they’ll be seeing cash at the closing table, and, if you go ahead with a short sale, you will not. We’ll take our compensation from the proceeds of the sale at Close of Escrow, and we’ll pay the buyer’s broker as well. You have nothing to lose by choosing a better listing agent — and a lot to gain.

So let’s talk, shall we? Give me a call at 602-369-9275 or email me and we’ll get together to figure out the best short sale strategy for your home.

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Arizona unemployment rate falls; 19,500 jobs added

From the Arizona Republic:

Arizona’s job picture brightened considerably with an increase of 19,500 jobs in April, the largest number of new hires in the month of April since 2005, the Arizona Department of Commerce reported Thursday.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent in April from 9.6 percent in March and remained below the national rate of 9.9 percent.

The overall number of non-farm jobs was still below the level a year earlier, but by only 1.6 percent. The over-the-year job losses have been shrinking steadily since August.

Many of the new hires were at leisure and hospitality businesses — which include hotels, resorts, restaurants and bars — and at retailers, temporary-service agencies and the U.S. Census Bureau, said Rick Van Sickle, a department analyst.

For the second month in a row, the leisure and hospitality sector had the highest gains. It added 5,000 jobs in April.

“There’s an indicator of some confidence,” Van Sickle said. “It looks like people are starting to spend discretionary money, at least last month.”

Unfortunately, hospitality businesses are the most vulnerable to travel boycotts announced by cities and groups objecting to Arizona’s new immigration law that takes effect July 29.

The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It states that an officer engaged in a lawful stop, detention or arrest shall, when practicable, ask about a person’s legal status when reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

Van Sickle said the department would not be able to accurately track the effects of the law because the job data it collects is not that detailed and the number of hospitality workers typically falls as hot weather approaches.

“There’s boycotts. There’s buycotts (efforts to get people to buy Arizona products to protest boycotts). There’s counter boycotts. There’s hot weather coming. There’s all those factors that are going to come into play,” he said.

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How do new home builders compete when resale homes are selling for less than half of their replacement cost?

KBHomes has an answer: Build cheaper homes. You can get a better home for $90,000, but you can’t get a newer one…

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Buy and hold investors in Phoenix-area rental homes want to know: Is now the time to buy?

One of my rental home investors asks:

How are things looking one week past the expiration of the home buyer credit? Time to plan a trip?

My answer: I should track this number daily, instead of relying on memory. These numbers are approximate, but reflective of reality. This is from the BargainBot search many of my investors are subscribed to:

October 2008 — ~1,500 listings
October 2009 — ~350 listings — this was the first tax credit
January 2010 — ~650 listings — somewhat replenished
May 4, 2010 — ~420 listings — second round of tax credit
Today — 492 listings — replenishing

I’m watching particularly for houses I would want to buy for investors, since these are the ones that were picked over the most by tax credit shoppers.

It’s not my style to say, “No, don’t spend any money!” But it remains that you’ll do better if you wait for the inventory to replenish.

May 21? May 28? The big jump this week is not so much new listings but contracts that failed — usually because the contracted price was above the appraised value. We want for there to be more good houses than qualified buyers.

That’s where I’m at for now.

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