Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to Manage a Short Sale

Short sales have become a sign of the times. In some markets, like Sacramento, 50% or more of sales are short sales.

By definition, selling short is when a home is sold for less than is owed, requiring the bank or mortgage holder to agree to take less than the value their debt. That banks don't enjoy doing this is quite an understatement.

Like everything in Real Estate it pays to be informed, so when we saw that our old friend Robert Irwin had written a new book on short selling a home we knew it was a "must read' for any short seller, coming as it does from the leading expert on selling by owner.

How to Use a Short Sale to Stop Home Foreclosure and Protect Your Finances

- is a comprehensive guide to short selling for the home owners.

“I wrote this book to show sellers, buyers, and their agents how to successfully get lenders to deal when a property is ‘upside-down'” says Bob.

If you’re “underwater” you’ll find this book is a life preserver. It shows you step-by-step how to get out from under by selling your home and having your lender accept less than you owe.

It gives multiple examples of what goe
s into a “short sale package” including “seller’s hardship letters,” “lender’s net sheet,” and “a proposal letter.” It explains how to find an appropriate buyer and work with an agent (if you so desire), and details what the tax consequences might be. It gives lenders’ phone numbers and has many easy-to-use worksheets. It even shows you how to do a successful loan modification. It’s offers everything you need to pull off your own short sale.

If you’re an investor/buyer, the book explains the seller’s perspective, shows you how to work with sellers and lenders, and explains what you’ll need to accomplish a short sale. It shows how to get through to a lender and what to say to avoid delays.

You shouldn’t consider buying or selling a short sale property until you’ve checked out the rules, pitfalls, and shortcuts in this book.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

5 Home Selling Traps to Avoid

To generate high value offers when selling your home keep your eye on the ball and avoid these common mistakes.

Most sellers get bombarded by advice from every corner on how to stage, market, negotiate and close a sale. If anything there is too much advice out there and it can be easy to overlook the most important elements required to sell your home for a price you are happy with. After 15 years of experience we have our top five common errors many buyers make because they overlook the obvious.

5. Bad timing

Is there a "home selling season"? We don't think so. While it is true that more homes sell in June than December it is also a fact that there are buyers who need to move every month of the year. And some buyers who take a long time to find the home they want and will start shopping months before they move.

Trying to time the market by waiting for the home buying season causes two problems: First you are stuck with the cost of your home for more months than you might need and this will only increase the pressure on you to get top dollar in order to net the amount you want. Second, if you wait to list during the high season, there my be a few more buyers, but there will also be more homes for sale in competition for those buyers. Better to sell when you are ready and not try to "time the market".

4. Not marketing your home

Offer it and they will come... It might have worked in the movie Field of Dreams but in real estate just put up a sign won't make buyers come. Ok so most sellers don't believe this anymore but they also ignore marketing and don't take the time to make a plan. There are lots of free and low cost options but the key thing is to get your house seen by as many buyers as possible. A good place to start is to review the article about making a marketing plan at

Two things to remember about marketing your home are summed up by the phrase "Full Disclosure, Full Exposure". By Full Disclosure, we mean when your write your description make sure your really explain why your home is unique, what sets it apart form all the other houses in the neighborhood. You should help buyers understand what it means to live in the home and what the advantages are that they don't see right off the bat.

Full Exposure is just that, make sure everyone possible knows your house is for sale. Post it on fliers, online, on Craigslist in the MLS, on Facebook, anywhere possible buyers are. The more people see it the more chance you have to find a buyer.

3. Overlooking offers

My Sister-in-Law is the perfect example. She never wants to pay retail so she always starts low, nine times out of ten she ends up paying the asking price but it never starts there. This happened with the last home she bought. Her first offer was ridiculous, she even said she was shooting for insulting. To the sellers credit they didn't take it personally rather took it as a sign of interest and talked to her to find out what she liked about the house. In the end they knocked about 1% off their asking price and got the sale.

Some people like to bargain and low ball offers are where they start. Know your limits but don't take it personally, everyone is different and you might just make the sale by keeping your cool.

2. Too much clutter

Can you stage your home too much? In short no. The most common trap we see is people start to prepare their home for sale by doing a bit of curb appeal, but don't take care of the most important step. Putting away personal items and de-cluttering the home. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in your home and this is hard to do if all your stuff is all over.

Box up all your photos, art and personal items as well as 50% of your furniture and put it away in either storage or if necessary your garage. You'll get a jump on moving but more importantly you'll open your home to buyers imaginations.

1. Poor pricing

The number one home selling trap.... High pricing. There is no mystery here, everyone wants to get the most for their home and more often than not price it at the maximum hoping to find a buyer. But homes that are well priced versus the competition are what draw buyers interest. Research the competition before you set your price and take a moment to read the articles on by Bob Irwin all about pricing

These five home selling traps are easy to avoid if you keep focused and take the time to educate yourself about the process and the market.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dream Homes on

Need a place for a BBQ? Check out the top 10 mansions listed on Owners. There are some beautiful homes, estates and beach front properties that are listed FSBO these days.

Here are 10 of the most expensive properties that are currently listed on