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Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Dave Ramsey's Advice on Selling Your House

by Mark Brace

Dave Ramsey was asked "What are the advantages of using a real estate agent versus going the for-sale-by-owner route when it comes to selling a home?"

His response was this:

I've had a real estate license for 30 years. If I were to put my personal residence on the market today, I'd use an active real estate agent who really knows his or her stuff in the marketplace. I'd gladly pay them their commission, too.

Now, why would I do a for-sale-by-owner, or FSBO, I'm only getting my place in front of buyers I can attract from seeing a newspaper ad, Craigslist and anyone who happens to drive by the house. If you go with a high-octane real estate agent, you will have the advantage of being exposed to his or her entire pool of buyers.

More importantly, you will be in the MLS or Multiple Listing Service, database. There, you will immediately have thousands of potential buyers.

So, who do you think will have the best chance of selling your house? Market exposure is everything in the real estate game.

And think about this: Even if you went the FSBO route every time you moved, you might do three or four of these transactions in a lifetime. A good agent closed three or four deals last week. They will know all the ins and outs of buying and selling a home, and they'll walk you through every step of the process. Research has shown that, between basic mistakes, pricing errors and lack of negotiating skills, you will cost yourself more than the agent's commission by trying to sell it yourself.

Trust me, you will get a much better deal-with a lot less hassle- by using a top-flight real estate agent.

Home Buyers Don't Hesitate in West Michigan

by Mark Brace

Just wanted to post some thoughts. I've had several clients of the last 2 weeks that have missed getting homes because the market is starting to get crazy. A couple reasons for not getting these homes.

1. Hesitating on whether they want to write an offer or not.

2. Not writing a strong enough offer, I have been in at least a dozen multiple offer situation in the last 2 weeks. Just write your best offer and buy the home.

Side note to this: The federal tax credit is ending Dec. 1, 2009 and everyone is panicing to get a home before the deadline. This is particularly affecting homes in the under 120K range.

3. Not getting the offer in on time.

Side note to this: Is not having your pre-approval letter ready at the time you wanted to make an offer.

I guess the moral of my blog would be, be prepared to write a good offer, or the home you like may be gone.

Dos and Don'ts During the Loan Process

by Mark Brace

Dos and Don'ts During the Loan Process

When you fill out a credit application, Lenders run a credit report for the underwriter. Each lender and each loan program has different guidelines they must follow. You should not do anything that will have an adverse effect on your credit score while your loan is in process. I know it's tempting...If you're moving into a new home, you might be thinking about purchasing new appliances or furniture, but this is really not the right time to go shopping with your credit cards. You'll want to remain in a stable position until the loan closes and give your lender the opportunity to help you lock in the best interest rate they can possibly get for you. Here is a handy list of dos and don'ts that you should adhere to after your loan application has been submitted to the lender.

DON'T APPLY FOR NEW CREDIT OF ANY KIND

If you receive invitations to apply for new lines of credit, don't respond. If you do, that company will pull your credit report and this will have an adverse effect on your credit score. Likewise, don't establish new lines of credit for furniture, appliances, computers, etc.

DON'T PAY OFF COLLECTIONS OR CHARGE-OFFS

Once your loan application has been submitted, don't pay off collections unless the lender specifically asks you to in order to secure the loan and we recommend that you do everything possible to negotiate deletion in exchange for payment. Generally, paying off old collections causes a drop in the credit score. The lender is only looking at the last two years of activity.

DON'T CLOSE CREDIT CARD ACCOUNTS

If you close a credit card account, it can affect your ratio of debt to available credit which has a 30% impact on your credit score, and also your length of credit history which has a 15% impact on your credit score. If you really want to close an account, do it after you close your mortgage loan.

DON'T MAX OUT OR OVER CHARGE EXISTING CREDIT CARDS

Running up your credit cards is the fastest way to bring your score down, and it could drop up to 100 points overnight. Once you are engaged in the loan process, try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of the available credit limit.

DON'T CONSOLIDATE DEBT TO ONE OR TWO CARDS

Once again, we don't want you to change your ratio of debt to available credit. Likewise, you want to keep beneficial credit history on the books.

DON'T RAISE RED FLAGS TO THE UNDERWRITER

Don't co-sign on another person's loan, or change your name and address. The less activity that occurs while your loan is in process, the better it is for you.

DO JOIN A CREDIT WATCH PROGRAM

Your bank, credit union or credit card company may be able to provide you with a free credit watch program that can alert you to any changes in your credit report. This can be a safeguard to help you intervene before the underwriter sees a problem.

DO STAY CURRENT ON EXISTING ACCOUNTS

Late payments on your existing mortgage, car payment, or anything else that can be reported to a CRA can cost you dearly. One 30-day late payment can cost anywhere from 50 to 80+ points on your credit score.

DO CONTINUE TO USE YOUR CREDIT AS YOU NORMALLY WOULD

Red flags are easily raised within the scoring system. If it appears you are diverting from your normal spending patterns, it could cause your score to go down. For example, if you've had a monthly service for Internet access billed to the same credit card for the past three years, there's really no reason to drop it now. Again, make your changes after the loan funds>

DO CALL YOUR LOAN CONSULTANT

If you receive notification from a collection agency or creditor that could potentially have an adverse effect on your credit score, call us so we can try to direct you to the right resources and prevent any derogatory reporting to credit bureaus.

* SOURCE: Based on The Top 10 Credit Do's and Don'ts During the Loan Process, provided by Credit Resource Corp. http://www.creditresourcecorp.com

 

Why Use An ABR When Buying a Home

by Mark Brace

Why Use an ABR®: (REALTORS® Experienced in Buyer Representation)

Buying a home is no small matter. Besides being the largest financial transaction you may ever undertake, it’s probably also the most complex. There are many good reasons to work with a qualified real estate professional—especially a trained professional who has earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation, representing best-in-class buyer services.

When you look for an ABR® before you look for a home, you’ll be served, not sold. Your interests become their interests. And you’ll be working with someone who has gone the extra mile by completing specialized training in delivering the best in buyer-representation services. Plus, a REALTOR® who has an ABR® Designation also has an established track record, with proven experience in representing the concerns of homebuyers.

The ABR® Designation is awarded through the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council, or REBAC, which was founded in 1988 to promote superior buyer-representation skills and services. REBAC is an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Find a Buyer’s Rep – Directory of ABR®s and other buyer’s reps working to achieve this designation. You can look for me (Mark Brace) in the directory, I am a registered ABR with the National Assocaiation of Realtors and the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council.

ABR's are among the Top 2% of Buyers Agent Realtors, They have taken the ABR Training class with specialized education offer by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, And In addition have meet the feild requirements need to to be awarded the ABR designation.

If You are thinking of buying a home in Grand Rapids Michigan you should contact Mark Brace, from Prudential Preferred Realtors to use as your personal Buyers Agent.

Top 6 Mistakes When Buying Foreclosures

by Mark Brace

Top 6 Mistakes in Order:

1.       Flying Solo - Not working with a Realtor

2.       Being unfamiliar with the law or process

3.       Thinking Short Term – “I can Flip it!”

4.       Seeing only the sticker – Not looking at the amount of repairs

5.       Searching too broadly – Target an area and get Grand Rapids Foreclosures listings ASAP.

6.       Taking no prisoners – Offering too low on already reduced prices

Nothing illustrates the devastation of America's housing bust more vividly than the abandoned properties now blighting the nation's communities. In the third quarter alone, foreclosure filings were reported on more than 750,000 properties in the United States, a 71 percent increase from the same period last year, according to RealtyTrac. But for real estate investors, one person's tragedy can be another's good fortune. With so many foreclosures on the market, "this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for many people," says Steve Dexter, a foreclosure expert and author of the forthcoming book Buy and Hold Forever-Building Real Estate Wealth Far Into the 21st Century.

Still, the purchase of foreclosed property—an often complex and involved process—presents would-be buyers with plenty of opportunities to make costly mistakes. In an effort to help consumers avoid such pitfalls, U.S. News spoke with a handful of experts to create a list of six common blunders that individuals make when attempting to buy foreclosed properties.

1. Flying solo. While enterprising do-it-yourselfers can certainly get away with going through the traditional home buying process without an agent, foreclosed real estate is another matter. Such complex transactions require the expertise of not just any real estate agent but one with a background in buying and selling foreclosed homes. "In today's uncertain times it's important to be working with someone who has been through market cycles before," says Patrick McGilvray, president of TheHomeBuyingCenter.com, which links homeowners and owners of foreclosure real estate with potential house buyers. So unless you are truly a real estate expert, do some research and find an agent with foreclosure experience in your market.

2. Being unfamiliar with the law. It's important to remember that real estate agents aren't lawyers, and foreclosure laws can change significantly from state to state. "A lot of people don't realize [that] foreclosures are heavily regulated and every state has its own set of laws," says Alexis McGee, the president of Foreclosures.com. "If you don't have the language proper in your contract, or if you have even the font size wrong, it's criminal and civil damages-don't count on every Realtor knowing this." As such, McGee advises against relying on a real estate agent for legal advice. Instead, consumers should review the foreclosure laws in their state and then get qualified legal advice from a local real estate attorney.

3. Thinking short term. Since many foreclosed homes may decline further in value in the coming months, it's important that buyers approach the transaction from a long-term perspective." If you are not looking at a piece of foreclosed property from a 10-year time horizon-as an investor or as an owner occupant-then you will likely suffer," McGilvray says. So if you are just trying to cash in on a quick flip, don't buy a foreclosure. Only investors with the resources and patience for a long-term real estate investment and homeowners who can afford a fully amortized fixed-rate mortgage should consider buying foreclosed property, McGilvray says.

4. Seeing only the sticker. While the price you negotiate for a foreclosed home may be significantly less than its value just a few years back, many such homes may require substantial repairs. McGilvray says that anyone buying a foreclosed property should make sure to set aside an additional 10 percent of its price tag for repairs. "Make sure you have 10 percent, especially if the home is a few years old," he says. "It is amazing how quickly houses can deteriorate." Prospective buyers should keep these additional repair costs in mind when they are negotiating the home's price.

5. Searching too broadly. With so much inventory coming onto the market these days, it's easy for buyers to become overwhelmed. To that end, Dexter recommends that anyone in the market for a foreclosure target a specific neighborhood and contact an agent with experience there. Make sure to specify the type of property you are looking for in order to avoid being inundated with listings. Tell the agent, "I want all these kinds of houses in this neighborhood that are bank listings [and] I want to know about them all as they come on the market," Dexter says. The agent will then be able to shoot you all the listings that meet your requirements as they become available. "If [the buyer is] patient enough and they get plugged in to the flow of new bank listings coming in, they can pick up some awfully good deals."

6. Taking no prisoners. While buyers can certainly get good deals on foreclosed homes, it's a mistake to assume that banks will accept any and all offers. (Unless, of course, the listing specifically says so.) Banks aren't set up to sell houses, so they typically outsource their foreclosed properties to real estate agents, McGee says. In such cases, agents can receive listings in bulk, perhaps 50 at a time. While these agents want to get the properties sold off quickly, they also want to get a good price for the seller so that the bank will give them additional business in the future. "Saving face is important for them," McGee says. "A lot of people just assume that because this property is bank-owned they will just take half off. Well, that's just not true." As such, insultingly low offers have the potential to tank the negotiations over foreclosed homes, McGee says. So make sure you present your wholesale offer case well both in writing and verbally with the listing agent.

Information Taken From: "The Top 6 Mistakes of Foreclosed-Home Buying" By Luke Mullins, U.S. News Nov. 18th 2008

Sellers Chasing The Declining Market

by Mark Brace

Have you ever seen a dog chasing after a car? To a sadist, it might seem very funny.

No matter how fast the dog runs, it will never catch the car. The dog will never slow the car down. And, the dog will never bite a moving tire. What must the dog be thinking?

Today, many sellers are running after the market, the same way dogs chase vehicles.

What are these sellers thinking? Their home is the only castle for sale? Buyers will love the scent of their lilac bushes so much that it will temporarily cause them to forget the competition? Is it possible the smell of fresh baked bread will cause a buyer to pay yesterday's price in today's market?

In my opinion, it is imperative for a seller to price their property 10% below market in order to sell promptly and avoid being left in the long line of expired listings. It may be an election year, but it will be a long wait for the inventory levels to decrease to a balanced market.

There is a Turkish proverb that says, "No matter how long you are traveling down the wrong road, when you figure it out, turn around." Overpricing is a two-edge sword. If a property is receiving little activity, it is overpriced. Or, if a property is receiving adequate activity, but no offers; it is also overpriced. The latter problem is called 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride.'

By suggesting a seller has an overpriced property, the real estate agent runs the risk of being the messenger that gets shot. Courageous agents tell the truth. Cowardly agents hope the overpriced property will generate sign or ad calls while the seller reduces the price and stigmatizes the property with additional days on the market.

Say's law says, "No good or service will remain chronically unsold, as long as prices remain flexible." The next time you see a dog chasing a car, hopefully, it will remind you of the futility of chasing a declining real estate market.

Real Estate buyers are usually highly focused on the purchase price of a property. This is a legitimate concern. The purchase price is one of the most important considerations in a real estate transaction. But at the same time home buyers too frequently treat interest rates as a secondary concern. Many buyers will stress over $300 or $400 in negotiations over purchase price. But when told that interest rates dropped half a point, home buyers will often respond with a shrug.

This is frequently because it is easy to understand the difference between paying 200k and 195k for a house. But it's harder to appreciate the difference between an interest rate of 6.5% and 6.0% for a house. But interest rates can have a large influence on mortgage payments. Using a mortgage calculator first let's look at the difference between the mortgage on a 200k and the mortgage on a 195k house assuming a 6.5 percent interest rate.

200k  (6.5%)  Mortgage  $1264.13 per month
195k  (6.5%)  Mortgage  $1232.53 per month

The difference ends up being $31.60 a month.

Now let's look at the difference between an interest rate of 6.5% and 6.0% on a 200k house.

200k  (6.5%)  Mortgage  1264.13 per month
200k  (6.0%)  Mortgage  1199.10 per month

The difference ends up being $65.03 a month or $780.36 a year. A simple half point drop lowered the mortgage payment by 5.4 percent.

Interest rate changes are not that uncommon. We wrote a tool that graphs mortgage rates over time based on the interest rates provided by Freddie Mac. In the middle of 2007 we saw interest rates of 6.7%. At the beginning of 2008, interest rates were down to 5.75%. What is a little more interesting is when we switch the toggle on our tool from the interest rate to the mortgage on a 200k house based on the interest rate for that date http://www.escapesomewhere.com/blogim/mortgage_rates_broker.jpg. From the middle of 2007 to the beginning of 2008, we saw a drop in the monthly mortgage payment on a 200k house drop from $1290 to $1170, a difference of 9.3 percent. This is why when buyers say they are waiting for prices to drop 5%, it might be a good idea to tell them that the actual mortgage they would get on a house has already dropped by more than 5 percent.

In light of all the mortgage issues over the last few years, it highlights why home buyers should shop around for interest rates. All too frequently home buyers will go with the first mortgage person they meet under the assumption that everyone has roughly the same rates and that a half point isn't really that big of a difference. As we have seen above, a half point can make a significant difference in someone's mortgage payment.

In summary, home buyers should still focus on price because it will always be an important part of the real estate transaction. But if home buyers start to look at interest rates more closely, they will end up with more success in their real estate purchases and lower mortgage payments.

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Contact Information

Mark Brace, Realtor, ABR, GRI, CRS, SRES, e-PRO, A
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate
3000 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids MI 49525
Direct: (616) 447-7025
Cell: (616) 540-7705
Fax: (616) 447-7025

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Michigan Real Estate is a full service, locally operated real estate brokerage company backed by the strength of a solid national and global brand. Our full service businesses include Residential, Commercial, Relocation, Mortgage, Insurance, Home Services and New Homes & Land. Our core values, service philosophy, cutting edge technology, and most importantly our people are what make us the leading real estate company in Michigan. We are committed to providing the highest quality real estate services possible and making each customer's experience one that surpasses their expectations.