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Month: June 2008

Las Vegas Homes for Sale

According to the National Association of Realtors, over 80% of home buyers begin their search on the Internet before they contact a real estate agent.  If home buyers are using the Internet to search for homes, isn’t it important that your Las Vegas Real Estate Agent have an Internet presence?  Why is it important that the agent selling your Las Vegas home have an Internet presence?  Your agents job is to sell your home and the more potential buyers that contact him through the Internet, the higher the probability that he/she can find a buyer for your home.

Majority of homes sold in Las Vegas are not sold by the agent that lists the property, but by an agent that found the buyer.  But that doesn’t mean the listing agent cannot find a buyer for the listing.  It takes the proper marketing to get the home sold.  Not every Las Vegas Real Estate Agent has the knowledge, experience or no how to properly market a home.  Most agents think that placing the Las Vegas Home for Sale in the MLS (multiple listing service) is all they need to do to market the home.  This is far from the truth.  A home needs to be not only marketed to other Las Vegas Real Estate Agents, but on the Internet as well.  The more potential buyers that find the listing, the greater chance there is the home will sell.

When looking for the right Las Vegas Real Estate Agent to sell your home, make sure their marketing plan includes heavy exposure on the Internet.

Trouble Making Up Your Mind On Home Buying?

After many months or maybe years, you have finally decided to buy your own home. You have pinched every penny to save up a sizeable down payment. You have made open houses a weekend ritual but still can’t seem to make the leap into purchasing a home. Why not??

Maybe you’re comfortable in your current space. You have accepted the shortcomings of where you live whether it is loud neighbours or no parking readily available. Not many surprises since you have been there so long.

First time home buyers tend to freeze up when it comes time to actually picking a house. Will they be happy there? Will they like their neighbours? Will they be tied down because they are now house rich and cash poor? What happens if their financial situation changes for the worse? Basically, the fear of the unknown becomes a constant nagging in their ear and prevents them from moving on towards purchasing their dream home.

Here are some steps to try and then maybe you can take the leap to home-ownership:

  • Get comfortable with your finances: Make sure you sit down and go over all of your current finances and the new ones that will occur with home ownership. Things like property taxes, home owners insurance, commuting to work and cost of utilities should be factored into your monthly expenses to make sure you are buying within your limit.
  • Partner with a Realtor: You need to pair up with a knowledgeable realtor. Even though the internet will allow you to do lots of research on your own, you can’t get the low down on a property without help from a realtor. They will be able to answer questions you will have and give you the inside scoop on the property. They will also help you write an offer and make sure you get a good deal.
  • Accept some risk: There is uncertainty in everything about life, you just need to deal with it. Learn from people you know that have purchased a home. Find out their mistakes and what to look for. Make sure you don’t drain your bank account with purchasing the home, keep a safety net in case of emergency.
  • Fine tune your “must-haves”: Make your list of “must haves” in your new home. A garage, the neighborhood, size and layout of the home, and anything else you feel is important and that you can’t live without. You may find that you are willing to sacrifice one feature, if the rest is fabulous. If you are not crazy about the house, don’t bid. It is important you love the home you are bidding on, after all you will be living there for some time.
  • Be ready to bid: Great homes and prices don’t stay around for long. If you love the home, have your realtor help you make an appropriate bid. If you are wavering, ask yourself, “How will I feel if I don’t get this house?” You might just get it, and if not, at least you’ll you know you tried.
  • Find an experienced Mortgage Professional: Sit down with an experienced mortgage professional and have them help you analyze your options for financing your new home. Finding the right mortgage can be as important as finding the right home. Make sure you clearly understand what type of mortgage you are getting. Ask as many questions as you need too until you are absolutely clear on the type of financing you are applying for. Remember, you are the one paying back the mortgage.

I hope this pushes all of you “on the fence” home buyers “off the fence” and into the home of your dreams. Happy House Hunting.

Las Vegas Expired Listings

With so many Las Vegas Homes for Sale it’s becoming more difficult to find buyers.  Homes begin to sit on the market for days, weeks and months with no offers.  Many times, homeowners become frustrated and blame their real estate agent for not doing their job to sell their home.  Is it really the fault of their real estate agent that their home is not selling?  It depends.  If their real estate agent is actively marketing their home instead of just waiting for another agent to bring a buyer, than I would say no it’s not their fault.

So what happens when a home does not sell?  Eventually it expires with their real estate agent, unless they extend the contract with the agent.  Once it expires, the homeowner can expect to be bombarded with phone calls and mail from other Las Vegas Real Estate Agents stating they can do a much better job and sell their home.

My advice to Las Vegas Homeowners would be to interview several Las Vegas Real Estate Agents and ask lots of questions.  Here are a few important questions you need to ask:

  1. Are you a full or part time real estate agent?
  2. How long have you been involved in selling real estate?
  3. How many homes have you sold in the last 90 days?  In the last year?
  4. What type of marketing will you be doing to sell my home?
  5. What makes you different from other real estate agents I have interviewed?
  6. If I am not satisfied with your performance, can I fire you and hire another real estate agent?

Obviously there are many more questions you should ask, but these are a few of the more important questions that you need to ask.  Remember don’t panic if your Las Vegas Home expires and don’t rush into a new contract with another Las Vegas Real Estate Agent.  Do you due diligence and interview several agents until you find one that you are satisfied has the credentials, experience and marketing programs to sell your Las Vegas Home.

High Speed Train from Disneyland to Las Vegas?

High Speed TrainIt appears a transportation bill has just been signed for $45 million that will be used to study the idea of a high speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train travel from Disneyland to Las Vegas!  This money will go towards studying the impact on the environment and the overall cost of such a project.  If the plan goes forward, a trip to Disneyland from Las Vegas will only take 2 hours!  I know when my family loads up the car to take our traditional trip to Disneyland, it takes a little over 4 hours and that’s if we bypass the rush hour traffic in and around Anaheim, California.

With the spike in gas prices, this would be a welcoming option to driving from Southern California to Las Vegas.  This would also ease the traffic on Interstate 15 between Southern California and Las Vegas.  If this project goes forward, I believe it would increase the amount of visitors to the Las Vegas Valley which would mean more money being spent in Las Vegas which is always good for our economy!

Let’s just hope they really give this project a chance.

Las Vegas Real Estate Career

Not many are interested in a Las Vegas Real Estate Career with all the negative publicity that the Las Vegas Real Estate Market has been receiving lately.  I actually think that the Las Vegas Real Estate Market is poised for a rebound very soon making it an excellent time to get your real estate license!

Are you currently licensed to sell real estate but just not doing much business?  Have you had to get a part time job just to get by?  Why don’t Las Vegas Real Estate Agents who aren’t doing very well look for a new real estate company to hang their license?  I hear all the time about how business is so bad and if they just could get some leads they would be happy!  But yet, they seem afraid to take that step and find a Las Vegas Real Estate Company that can make their personal business more successful.

My question is, “What do Las Vegas Real Estate Agents look for in a real estate company when it comes to switching brokerages?”

Las Vegas Home Marketing

How many Las Vegas Real Estate Agents actually know how to market a home?  Is there a science to truly marketing a Las Vegas Home?

Most Las Vegas Homeowners who are selling a home for the first time usually choose real estate agents that are referred to them from their friends thinking that all Las Vegas Real Estate Agents are the same.  The truth is, not all Las Vegas Real Estate Agents are the same.  There are many Las Vegas Real Estate Agents that are part time agents, their are some that are primarily buyer agents, and some that specialize in only listings.  So back to my original question, “is their a science to marketing a home?”  I would say yes and here is why!

With so many Las Vegas Homes on the market, some bank owned and some short sales, it is imperative to get as many potential buyers to view the home in order for it to sell.  It is difficult to compete with these bank owned homes because the banks are pricing these homes so low in order to sell them quickly.  So how do you generate potential buyers?  The first thing you need to do is obviously price the home correctly!  The second thing that needs to be done is to analyze the neighborhood and surrounding community.  For example, say the home is in the northeast part of Las Vegas.  This potential home is close to Nellis Air Force Base and might make an ideal home for military personnel transferring to Nellis due to its close proximity to the base.  So it might make sense to market the home on the base and websites that target military personnel.

What about a home near a hospital?  It would make sense to market the home to the employees of the hospital with flyers and possibly in the Hospital newsletter that gets distributed to the staff.  So the point is, it is very important to analyze the community that surrounds the home you are going to list, you never know where you are going to find the buyer for your listing.  Their is a good chance the buyer could already be working in the surrounding community!

The Worst Experience with Country Wide

When I get phone calls from sellers inquiring about selling their Las Vegas home as a short sale, the first question I ask, “Is your lender Country Wide?”  As I wait for their answer, I am quietly hoping it is not; any Las Vegas real estate agent knows why I am hoping it is not Country Wide.  So for those of you who are not Las Vegas real estate agents, let me explain.

Country Wide is the largest Lender in the United States so it would be an under statement to say they are inundated with foreclosures and short sales.  But that doesn’t concern me, what concerns me is representing my client. So after I meet with my client, I have them complete a financial packet which I know Country Wide will be requesting.

As soon as it is completed, I send it over to Country Wide and call them every other day hoping to get my client’s file assigned. Instead, I get your file probably won’t be looked at for at least 30 days at which time it will be assigned to an asset manager and then you will receive a phone call (although they say 30 days, it’s more like 45 to 60 days).

Once you are assigned to an asset manager, good luck getting a hold of them. Don’t bother trying to leave a message as their voice mail is usually full!. When you do get lucky and finally get a hold of them, they usually don’t have any answers. So needless to say, my experiences with Country Wide have not been the most enjoyable.

Some Answers to Credit Score Mysteries

One of the most common things said when I am talking to a potential client on the phone is “I don’t want you to run my credit because it will drop my score”.

This is one of the most annoying statements made when you are trying to qualify a client for a mortgage. You simply can’t give them proper information without reviewing their credit report. So, I decided since how credit scores are calculated are somewhat of a mystery to everyone that I would elaborate some on this topic.

Each time a consumer applies for a loan, credit card or auto loan, they are having their credit checked. These credit checks are used by lenders to determine if the consumer is able to obtain financing. Every time a lender checks a consumers credit history, it shows up on the consumers credit bureau (Experian, Trans Union and Equifax) as an inquiry. These inquires can drop the consumers credit scores if too many inquiries are made in a certain period of time.

Many lenders rely on the FICO scores they pull when running a consumers credit history. These scores are tabulated by software from Fair, Isaac and Company Inc, along with what information is on the consumers history. Due to increasing pressure on Fair, Issac and Company to release how their software works, they have released information on how their scoring model calculates a FICO score for the consumer.

Inquires on a credit report are an indicator of risk and according to Fair Isaac and Company, the more inquires made means the more likely the consumer will not be able to pay his bills. When consumers want to buy or refinance a home, they usually contact more then one mortgage company for information. In order for the consumer to get accurate information from several mortgages companies, they need to have their credit checked by each mortgage company which in turn leads to many inquiries (especially if using an online site which shops various lenders). Since too many inquiries lead to lower scores, eventually the consumer could lose out on decent financing because their scores are too low.

Now for some good news and a way to combat that dreaded statement in the beginning of the article.

There is a new policy at Fair Isaac and Company, the software will ignore all auto and mortgage related inquiries that occur in the previous 30 day period from the time the credit is checked by the lender.

These inquiries will not be used to tabulate the credit score for the consumer. For each 14 day period prior to the 30 day period, only 1 inquiry will be counted no matter how many inquires where made during a particular 2 week period.

Inquiries on a credit report carry the lowest impact on scores. Things like high balances in relation to credit limit, recent late payments, judgments, and bankruptcy carry much more weight in tabulating a score. This information should be very usual to combat the consumers resistance to pulling credit because it will effect their scores.

Real-estate agents and mortgage professionals need to remind their clients that it is critical to sit down and review credit in order to provide options on the mortgages that they qualify for. This is the only way to provide the client with accurate information.

Las Vegas Called ‘Mortgage Fraud Ground Zero’?

According to FBI Special Agent, Scott Hunter Las Vegas is called mortgage fraud ground zero.

This problem is becoming so wide spread that special task forces have been created to combat the problem.  Every week you read in the paper or view the news about another real estate industry professional being arrested for some type of real estate or mortgage fraud.  Just this month, Cindy Birkland was arrested for alleged mortgage fraud.

According to the FBI, mortgage fraud is becoming one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the United States.

Mortgage Fraud is usually committed by several individuals who all have a certain role within the scheme.  Usually a loan officer, borrower, real estate agent and/or an appraiser.  The most common type of mortgage fraud is a “straw buyer”.  This is where the bank lends hundreds of thousands on a home that is way over inflated due to an appraiser setting an unrealistic value.  The group splits the money and never has any intention on making any payments on the home.

More to follow…

The Mortgage Application: Getting Prepared Ahead of Time

The dreaded mortgage application process isn’t so scary if you know what to expect. Here is a quick breakdown of a few questions that I address during the initial  phone or office interview and mortgage application:

1.  Have you spoken with any other loan officers regarding this transaction?

I like to know what a borrower has been going through prior to speaking with me.  If there have been several credit reports pulled by other banks, I don’t want to contribute to possibly lowering their score by pulling another report.  I also ask this question because I want to know why the borrower is talking with other loan officers.  Is it a rate and closing cost thing, or did the previous banks not fulfill a certain need or expectation?  It just makes more sense to find out what people want up front, so that I can focus the rest of my time serving their specific need.

2.  Will this be a primary residence, second home, or investment property, and how long do you plan on keeping it?

These two questions usually start a conversation about the borrower’s intentions and real estate investment goals.  Buying rates down, ARMs vs. 30 yr. fixed, FHA, conventional, seller paid closing costs…..  There are several mortgage opotions to consider for each individual circumstance.  It is nearly impossible to have a productive discussion about rates, programs, and closing costs until you have clearly articulated your real estate investment goals with your loan officer.  It is absolutely acceptable to ask a loan officer what their rates are, however, be prepared to supply a little more information so that your loan officer can apply the best rate that fits your scenario.

3.  Total monthly payment and down payment you have budgeted for?

Again, back to the needs and goals of the client.  It is common for a borrower to ask a loan officer what they are approved for.  However, you may be approved for more than you actually want.

Here are a couple of easy formulas that you can apply  when calculating a monthly payment, down payment, and total purchase price:

Banks look at a borrower’s Debt to Income Ratio (DTI) as a factor for mortgage loan approval.  40% is a safe DTI to pay attention to for figuring out what you might be approved for.  This means that your total monthly minimum payments, including the new mortgage, cannot be above 40% of your total verifiable gross monthly earnings.  Credit score, down payment, and assets are compensating factors that a bank will consider for approval if your DTI is above 40%.

EX:  Total monthly gross income – $2,000

%40 DTI = $800 a month in total allowable payments

A good rule of thumb for determining a total mortgage payment is by multiplying $70 for every $10,000 loan amount.  I’ve found that this is a safe calculation which also includes taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance.

So, for this scenario, the borrower would be approved for a loan amount of around $114,000.  If this borrower had a $200 a month car payment, then the the loan amount would drop to $85,000.

$800 a month total @ 40% DTI

– $200 a month car payment, leaving room for a $600 a month mortgage payment.

$600 divided by 70 = 85

85 x $10,000 = $85,000 total loan amount.

*Remember, that 40% is just a good starting point.  I’ve had borrowers approved up to a 65% DTI who had great credit, a significant down payment, and plenty of assets in the bank.

So, why do I ask a client what type of mortgage payment they want?  Simple, if they are approved up to $900,000, but only want a $1500 a month payment with zero down, I’m going to let their agent know to stay around the $200,000 – $230,000 purchase price range.

4.  Employment, residence history, income, and assets.

Just remember the number 2. A bank will need two year’s employment and residence history.  As far as conditions, be prepared to bring provide the most recent two bank statements, W2s, Tax Returns, and pay stubs.

If you have all of this stuff prepared ahead of time, the application should be smooth and painless.