Category Archives: Uncategorized

Weathering the Storm

Well, it’s December and there is much to anticipate in the coming days and weeks!  Choices include the end of the world, as predicted by our Mayan friends, or a trip over the ever popular Fiscal Cliff.  Wow!  Luckily I’ve had plenty of coffee today so neither one unsettles me too badly.  However, like everyone else, it’s gotten me thinking about my business and how it will affect my plans for the upcoming year.  I’m not too concerned about the end of the world as I’ve got an escape route in Jesus, but the Fiscal Cliff leaves me slightly unsettled.

None of the potential scenarios are pleasing. If the Democrats and Republicans reach a compromise then it means that someone is getting the short end of the stick.  However, if we go over the cliff, then EVERYONE gets the short end.  The fact of the matter is that someone, somewhere is going to have to pay.  A LOT.

On the market front, it seems that no matter what happens there will be a sluggish response.  On the real estate front…..it remains to be seen.  Housing sales rise and fall on the economy.  At this point, here in Austin, we are seeing a rise in home sales.  All that can change in just a couple of months.  Although there has been a significant drop in the rate of foreclosures, it is a little deceptive as there are agents like myself who negotiate short sales and deed in lieu which skew the numbers significantly.

At this point, all we can do is batten down the hatches and hold on for the drop.  Remember, no matter what a persons income bracket may be, we truly are all in this together.

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Adventures in Short Sales

Oh my…how pathetic that I have written nothing since November!  Life has a funny way of twisting and turning to the point where it’s hard to remember from which direction you were coming from.  This past season has had many of those twists and turns for myself, my family, and my business.  Some smooth, gradual curves-in-the road that one enjoys while out for a Sunday early evening stroll.  Where each gentle turn of the road leads to some beautiful scenic treat.  While other turns have seemed like something out of The Wizard of Oz’s twister scene.  None-the-less, it’s been life. 

After being in real estate for the past 5 years I’ve watched my business begin to morph with the economy and the times we now have found ourselves in.  I went from handling only our family real estate ventures, to being both a buyers and listing agent, to now strictly a short sale agent.  And it’s crazy.  I took on my first listing because the guy needed some help and I felt compelled to do what I could to help.  So I waded into the short sale melee.  Before I knew it I had 8 short sale listings and an ulcer!  I knew it was time to get some help.  I found this great certification course and signed up.  Suddenly I was a CDPE (That’s Certified Distressed Property Expert) and up to my eyeballs in pre-foreclosures.  I have found even with this great certification, there’s nothing like good old fashioned experience that trains you!  Frankly even though it is stressful, I liked the idea of being able to help people who need help.  I knew it was time to take my business model in a different direction.  And so with the help, prodding, urging of my husband, that’s what I did. 

It’s been an adventure and a bitter sweet one at that.  The plan was for my mother to take on the role as my assistant as I was getting so busy it was inevitable that I would need one.  Mom and I have always worked well together and this was to be another one of our great mother and daughter (or Laurel and Hardy) moments.  Unfortunately this is where we were thrown into the twister of life.  My mom unexpectedly suffered a major stroke and passed away in April.  It is amazing how life comes to a standstill in the face of a tragedy.  We pushed through it and I continue on… I am maybe even a little more so dogmatic and determined to help those in need find their way out of a housing crisis and avoid foreclosure.  I know mom would have loved the excitement and warm fuzzy of it all. 

Helping homeowners find the light at the tunnel (and make sure it’s not a freight train) has been fulfilling.  Unfortunately there are many out there today that have found themselves underwater in their current situation.  Many are facing foreclosure and thankfully, there is an alternative.  A short sale is a foreclosure alternative that allows the homeowner to sell their house “short” of what the mortgage balance is.  My job is to negotiate with the lender(s), market the property, negotiate with the buyers, and navigate the transaction to the closing table.  I could make the Godfather sweat bullets!  I spend many a day with a phone glued to my ear and my eyeballs glued to the computer.   There are even cash incentives out there now for homeowners facing a housing crisis if they qualify.  If you or someone you know needs help, check out my website www.austinareashortsales.com for more information then you probably ever wanted to know.

For now though, it’s off to make some lender “an offer he can’t refuse.” This one’s for you mom!

 


Caviar or Coffee??

I finally have had some free time to sit down and post something on my poor out dated blog.  Is it really the week before Thanksgiving?  I want to know who fast forwarded my calendar!  Sadly this has become a very familiar feeling.  I am fairly certain I was feeling this exact same way around this time last year.  How do the holidays manage to sneak up on me like this every year!  This weekend will be a time of insanity in our household, much to my husbands chagrin.  It’s a time of de-cluttering for the holidays.  Hopefully the dog and any small children will make it through the weekend unscathed and not end up at the Goodwill drop off by mistake.

But I wanted to take this opportunity to write about something that often gnaws at me.  I work for a great independent broker whose main emphasis personally is investment properties.  He has allowed me the freedom to pursue whatever types of clients I so choose.  Although my specialty is also investment properties, I am also well seasoned with individuals looking to buy their dream home or sell their personal residence.  Sadly, as of late, I’ve had more than a few short sale opportunities to work on.  But I’ve often lost out on listings or clients because I don’t work for one of the “name brand” agencies.

So often the question arises, “Should I go with a big-box real estate agency or with the mom-and-pop-husband-wife team to buy or sell a property?”  Or “Should I go with the agent from the  fancy schmancy office where they serve me caviar when I arrive or the independent that meets me at Starbucks and has to wipe baby cereal off of her card before she hands it to me?” Well let me ask you this; Will caviar help you sell your house??  Is the agent better because their office smells like new leather, Dolce & Gabbana, and shoe polish?  Will hiring an agent that looks like he just stepped out of a Banana Republic store and embodies the term “metro sexual” negotiate the deal any better for you then the guy who mows his own lawn on the weekend?  Sorry, but no!!  Now I realize everyone has their own style, their own niche market and that’s great.  Unfortunately however, the real estate agent field is home to some fierce competition.  Tony Romo would choke out in the first quarter of this game and spend the rest of it crying on the sidelines!   Oh wait!  He does that normally!

I am sure that some agent reading this will be offended but the fact of the matter is this; Does the agent have the knowledge and experience behind him or her?  Do you as a client connect with them on a personal level?  Do you trust them?  If the answer is yes to these questions, it probably doesn’t matter if your agent drives a minivan (yes I do) or a Mercedes (that would be fun though).  There will be those that say, “Well if an agent is making that much money they are closing some deals!”  Maybe…. or maybe they are heavily in debt!  Let me leave you with some hard facts that no one can dispute.  Meanwhile I am going to go read up on the 101 things to do with left over turkey!

~ Between 87% and 95% of homes sell through the MLS – No need to find a caviar eating agent.  Find a Realtor who is a member of your local board and is MLS proficient.  You will save yourself the stomach ache.

~ 90% of home buyers are looking on the web – Is your agent hip on the technology end or is he more concerned with the shape of his eyebrows?

~ “Open houses are a great way to attract buyers” <So they say> … who are probably not interested in your property but it’s a great tool for your agent to solicit said buyers as clients!  Now having said that, I believe they can work to attract an urgency to the property IF and only IF the house is priced well and shows well.

~ Those sexy looking and feeling flyers that the agent gave you from the office where you almost slid off the new leather couch?  Great way to attract a new client (hey it almost got you right?) But the savvy agent knows the internet is the place to promote.

Now let me just say I know some fabulous agents who work for some of these offices that probably wouldn’t let me in the door with my Payless shoes.  I am in awe of their knowledge and ethics and their Coach purses.  I guess my point is pick the agent that’s right for you, not because their shoes cost more than your kids education.


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