Posted on 2. September 2011 02:45 by qmiskini



For years they dreamed of leaving the suburbs and finding the “perfect” cottage in one of the Atlanta “In-Town” neighborhoods.  Where walking was not just a form of exercise but an opportunity to stroll over to a great bistro, an iconic neighborhood art gallery or just shop a supermarket without having to get in their car, drive several miles and then hunt up a parking spot somewhere vaguely in proximity to the store’s entrance.  This year, as their last child was leaving for college, the chance to embrace that dream became real.

Now, facing the reality that the time to move into town was at hand, they needed a plan.  Step 1, find a Realtor who could help them organize a search for their dream home, and help them prepare and then sell their current home in the burbs.  Step 2, working with their Realtor: develop a plan for narrowing their searches – which neighborhoods in-town best fit both their “wish-list” and needs.   Step 3, begin working with a Lender to determine just how much they could afford to spend on their dream.   Step 4, get their current home on the market and “hit the bricks”… start driving through in-town neighborhoods, start looking at homes, start focusing their vision of what really is the perfect cottage in the perfect neighborhood.

Pouring through the daily hot-list of the newest properties to hit the market provided to them by their Realtor through their unique computerized HomeHunter ® Service, they quickly began to learn which neighborhoods provided good value for the asking price, and which neighborhoods did not.  By both driving neighborhoods and also previewing homes with their Realtor, they began to narrow their focus, and determine what features and benefits the home, the street and the neighborhood would best suit their wants and needs.

In the meantime, using a plan provided by their Realtor, they prepared their home so that is was “show quality,” meaning it looked good from the street and lived up to expectations on the inside too.  These days, unless a Buyer is shopping for a distress sale property like a foreclosure or pre-foreclosure short sale where the Buyer expects to purchase at a discount and expects to fix and clean the property, a non-distressed property has to not only be priced competitively but has to be in “move-in-condition.”  Along with a massive marketing plan they developed a pricing plan in order to find the price point where the market positively equated the home’s price with the home’s value and benefits.  Once there, despite the so-called “awful” market, their home showed consistently and shortly received two offers. With a bound agreement in hand, they and their Realtor shifted into high gear.

“We looked at nearly one hundred houses, but with our Realtor’s guidance, we didn’t panic.”  And then, as if it had been waiting for them all along, the “perfect in-town cottage” appeared on their daily HomeHunter ® feed.   And indeed it was perfect.  Recently beautifully renovated, located on a street where walking everywhere was a joy and not a burden, plenty of space for living and for working at home and priced within their budget.  Visit it once…”oh joy!”   Visit it again to be sure it felt just a good on a second look.  “Let’s come back again tomorrow, taking time to stand in each room, get a feeling for the space, the light, the lot.”  Room enough for visitors to stay the weekend?  Enough space for the dogs?  Yes, yes…Yes!

Ok Realtor - make the initial offer…negotiate terms and price… inspections, appraisal, organize a myriad of details… coordinate both closings. 

Dreams do come true – if you have a plan, and have a Real Estate team to help you work for them. 

Having that Urban Christmas is a dream no more!




Posted on 12. July 2010 06:23 by qmiskini



"Is there any wiggle room in the price?"  It's a great, simple innocently straight-forward question every well-schooled Buyer's Agent should always ask. Why? Because it sets up the conversation with the Seller's Listing Agent that hints the Buyer is interested and is looking at options - of which price is always a big concern. It's a good psychological tactic - and it gets the Listing Agent prepared, when an offer is received, to feel there is flexibility on both sides ("wiggle room") so that the Seller becomes more inclined to find a pricing solution and not be insulted if the original offer is lower than expected.

These days, the strategies and tactics employed in helping a Buyer get the absolute best deal on their home purchase - one of the principal roles of the Buyer's Agent, or helping the Seller receive top dollar for the sale - one of the principal roles of the Listing Agent, requires a higher level of negotiating skill and problem solving posture than any time in recent memory.  So what constitutes a great deal and a win-win for both a Buyer and a Seller?

For short sale and Foreclosed properties, it's all about finding the seller’s lender or the Foreclosure Bank or Investor's bottom line.  The bank's and investors have no emotional attachment to the property; they have a balance sheet and a time-line and are managing revenue and expense - gain and loss and an ever-increasing pile of federal legislative dictums.

Despite the media focus on foreclosures, retail sellers still populate the majority of the home selling market (counter to the belief that distressed properties make up the vast majority of homes for sale today.) Balancing the Fair Market Value (FMV) of a home, the physical condition of the property, level of “showability” and the true bottom line requirements with the perceived “hot competition” of all those supposed “undervalued” distress sale properties is becoming an art as well as a science. 

Everything should start with the bottom line – what is the net cash left in the transaction for the Seller after all fix up costs, fees, expenses and the like. Sale price is actually less important than the net figure at the end. And of course, market pricing in this tough Buyer’s market is critical.  For the Buyer, working with a Realtor who can clearly understand and articulate what the Seller is facing and needs to achieve makes framing a smart, price conscious and negotiable offer – one which beleaguered Sellers can work with – a very important part of pre-offer research.  The same goes for Listing agents who must carefully and fully brief their Sellers on the current prevailing Buyer psychology so that Sellers do not get over emotional when receiving low first offers, and do not miss the opportunity to find areas of agreement that can overcome price negotiations and unnecessary hard feelings.

If ever there was a market that requires patience, persistence and GREAT RESEARCH AND NEGOTIATING SKILLS, well… we’re here!


Posted on 9. July 2010 05:53 by qmiskini

In the Disney classic animated film Snow White, the 7 Dwarfs sang "Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's off to work we go..." In today's chaotic, stressful economy not only is that refrain becoming rare, but as more and more families experience job loss and cut-backs, making the monthly mortgage payments becomes harder and harder. Many families,though not yet behind on their payments are in eminent default - just one or two payments away from not having the resources to pay their mortgage.

There are a variety of alternatives for those in eminent default or who have already stopped making payments and are in default.  If you are not yet in default, not behind on your payments, have an interest payment on your loan that, if lowered could help you make those payments, meet with a qualified loan officer about re-financing your current home loan with a lower interest rate in order to lower your monthly payment. This is a good the first step. But if you do not qualify for refinancing and have already begun to fall behind, speak directly with your current lender about how to qualify for the Obama Administration's Making Home Affordable Program (known as HAMP,) designed to help you modify your current home loan (called loan modification) to make your payments more affordable. Several hundred thousand loans have been modified since the program's start. It's tricky and you have to keep up with the demands of the lender as well as the messy process of completing the modification, but worth it if your goal is to find a way to make payments and keep your home. 

If you already know there's little or no hope of keeping your home because financial recovery is not in the immediate future, then utilizing the the process called Short Sale can be a method of selling a home you can no longer pay for and that may also, in this depressed real estate economy, be worth less than you currently owe. The HAFA program, which is part of the Making Home Affordable Program can help.  But to sell the home, you'll need the help of a Realtor who is experienced in the Short Sale process which involves a number of additional steps and processes not usually associated with the sale of a home.  If there is more than one lender associated with the home, the process doubles (or if there are three lenders - triples.) Short Sales are long, sometimes complicated processes involving both selling the home to a new Buyer and working with your current lenders to gain their approval of the Short Sale and all the details that follow.

In any case, the one thing you should NEVER do is NOTHING.  If addressed early enough in the process, any of these options, re-financing, loan modification or short sale are preferable to waiting until you are facing foreclosure.


Posted on 6. July 2010 10:13 by qmiskini

"I'm looking for a really great deal in Lassiter," she exclaimed. "A really great deal!"  Well, okay. Who isn't if you're optimum choice of High School districts is the well respected Lassiter High School district in East Cobb/Marietta. In the sub divisions surrounding Lassiter in both Marietta and a segment of Roswell (just over the county line in Cobb County) where prices have declined considerably less than in other areas of Metro Atlanta, finding that "really great deal" can take a variety of forms.

It all starts with developing a plan with your Realtor; one that takes into account a list of important criteria that provides both focus in researching homes, sub divisions or streets, and allows for flexibility and creativity when viewing homes and ferreting out those "great deals."  In this Area there have been fewer foreclosures and short sale properties and so counting on finding an under priced bank owned or pre-foreclosure home means facing potential disappointment; banks and their distress sale managers know their markets and can afford to hold on to a property until they get their intended price.  That's where flexibility comes in.

Many of the foreclosed and short sale properties come with a history of physical neglect - meaning all those "deferred maintenance" issues that start small but grow into costly repairs when left unattended that can add to the cost of a so called good deal because of the need to make those repairs in order to bring the property up to reasonable living standards.  These "fixer-uppers" can be great deals. But you have to have the budget and the skills necessary to do the work yourself, or supervise a team of professionals to make the repairs for you.

For those home buyers who are neither "handy" nor ready to invest thousands in repairs before even moving in, a good Realtor knows where to find properties that are not distressed - yet the price for the quality of the home, street and neighborhood is a great deal.  These are homes that have been meticulously maintained by the owners.  They are in neighborhoods that have continued to appreciate despite the market crash. The amenities - pools, tennis, clubs, etc. are well established, carefully maintained and inviting. They are homes that need nothing more than a splash of paint here and there to match your color schemes, and a new owner who will provide the same high level of care and attention to the property so that the value will continue to grow over time.

Knowing what your tolerance is for work and effort, and understanding the limits of your budget and time helps frame a flexible strategy through which your true home buying goals can be achieved with patience and persistence. Then finding that "really great deal" in any market can become a delightful reality.



Posted on 2. September 2009 09:07 by qmiskini

A great sigh of relief could be heard rising up from all the first time home buyers and their loan officers in the Atlanta Metro area who were struggling to get loans cloased before the looming June 30th Tax Credit deadline. At the 11th hour - just hours before the deadline - the US House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill extending the deadline to close contracts that had been consummated and agreed upon prior to April 30 to September 30th.

But what does this mean to home buyers who missed the April 30th deadline to have a home under contract in order to qualify for the $8000 first time home buyer credit or the $6000 move-up buyer credit? With an overabundance of housing stock, especially foreclosures and short sales, coupled with record low interest rates, buyers are searching for ways to take advantage of the depressed pricing - in some areas of Metro Atlanta prices have dropped as much as 35% below the record highs of 2008.

A buyer that is ready, willing and able to buy now can, with the help of a savvy Realtor, ferret out some great deals. But a key ingredient in the search is a relationship with a top-flight loan officer or motgage banker who can both plug you into one of a variety of good loan programs available and lock in a great interest rate. Just as important as finding a Realtor who has a keen understanding of the market, the schools where your dream house is located, and the value of the home itself, is your lender who can work with the Realtor and you to get you pre-approved as a buyer.

Buyers who have been pre-approved by their lender essentially are like cash buyers. That pre-approval tells sellers, especially banks selling foreclosures and short sale properties that your ability to close that sale is based on the value of their home and not the steadfastness of your credit. You have more negotiating power on price as well as leverage in maximizing the benefits of such a sale. The tax credit that helped many a buyer get into their first home may be history; but the opportunities to find a once in a generation deal on your next home means that if you can buy now, now is the time. But build your team first - Realtor, lender and all the support systems they can employ on your behalf.