Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Lee Holmes, a local software developer, realized the importance of commute times during his home buying experience, "When I was first looking for a house, one of my primary constraints was commute times. I started by asking people – 'How long does it take you to commute to work?'" In response, Holmes created a program to calculate your Puget Sound Commute time. This program allows the user to factor bus routes, HOV lanes, and start times into commute time calculations. The program will then tell the user which areas are within acceptable commute times.
With commute times growing longer, and public transportation options limited, this program may be a great option for helping home buyers balance their home preference with long commutes.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Unfortunately, there will be a significant population unrepresented at these meetings. According to NWMLS rules only Brokers and Office Managers are allowed at meetings. The NWMLS warmly reminded agents of this by posting a message on Discover, the NWMLS home page:
Meetings are Open to Member Broker and/or Branch Managers only.
This practice is very disappointing and undemocratic. If the NWMLS exists as a service to the real estate agents of Western Washington, ought not the agents participate in forming the rules and regulations that govern them? It is my belief that a significant amount of rules currently enforced by the NWMLS would not be in existence if Agents participated.
By allowing Broker control of the NWMLS, the brokers either consciously or sub-consciously make rules that benefit themselves rather than the agents. This is not to suggest that most brokers don't care about their agents; however the voice of a broker's bottom line may often drown out the voice of an agent's best interest.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
As I continue to work on this project you will see The Blue Collar Agents Blog integrated into the site. This blog will focus on the Discount Real Estate industry nationwide, and will include feature stories about directory listings.
Right now Agents may submit a listing for free, or can pay $19.95 for a Premium Listing. Premium Listings include banners on the home page, photo uploads for your listings, and document uploads for listing fliers, among other things. Premium listings will also be featured on the home page for a period of time. Please do not pay to have a Premium Listing right now (Unless you like giving me money!). I will be offering this service for free in the next month or so during a promo blitz. The promo will last at least a few months. For right now, submit a free listing and upgrade during the promo.
I appreciate your support and input regarding this directory. I am hopeful that this will be a valuable resource for real estate consumers.
- You should have a pulse.
- You should probably be involved in the real estate industry in some way, shape, or form. (ie mortgage, title, escrow, investments, etc.)
- If you are not involved in the real estate industry, you must have something knowledgable and meaningful to say to real estate consumers about the real estate market, REALTORS, and the real estate process.
- I would love to find someone who is specifically in Seattle or the North End. If not, no worries.
- I would love to find somebody who likes to shake things up.
- I would love to find somebody that disagrees with me.
Thats about it. You can blog as much or as little as you want. If you're interested, either post a comment or email me at email@example.com
Prepayment penalties are penalties imposed on borrowers who sell or refinance their home too quickly after purchase. Many prepayment penalties are 1-2 years in length. If you sell or refinance your home prior to your time limit, the lender will impose a cash penalty at the time of closing. These penalties are often 6 months interest on your loan, or 5-6% of the total value of your loan.
Lenders are smart. They know that many people who need sub-prime and other nitch loans often need to sell their home quickly due to a relocation or financial burdens. The lenders will gladly collect $5000, $10,000, or $20,000 of your equity simply to allow you to move.
My advice is this: Be careful of loans with prepayment penalties. If you do take a loan with a prepay make absolutely sure that you will be living at your home long enough for the prepay to expire. If not, you may end up selling your home and bringing money to the closing table.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
While this is still a fairly uncommon method of selling your home, auctioning is gaining popularity. After sitting down with Randy Wells, Vice President of the National Auctioneers Association and Tranzon Auctioneer, I found out the full scoop on when it is beneficial to auction a home and the process of auctioning a home.
First, auctioning a home has the allure of "I'm going to get a deal," and as we know deals attract crowds. By creating the image of desperation (ie: I have to get out of this house now), crowds gather. It is not that you actually have to be desperate, auctions by default simply create the image of desperation. This is probably because foreclosed homes are usually auctioned.
Second, auctioning a home is not always beneficial. For a person who has ample time to sell and is not financially burdened, using a REALTOR is probably a better option than using an auctioneer.
Third, auctions work well when there is a buzz. Randy usually requests 1% of the sales price of the home for advertising prior to auction. This pays for huge newspaper ads, radio time, maybe even TV time. The more buzz, the more people at the auction.
Fourth, auctions are fairly effective. According to Tranzon, 85% of homes they auction produce an acceptable transaction that will close in a reasonable time frame. I am not sure the statistics on using a REALTOR, but I don't believe it is that high.
Fifth, you can set an undisclosed reserve. In other words you have a minimum amount that you will take for the house. If the bids don't meet the reserve you don't have to sell.
Sixth, most auctioned homes are sold as is. Tranzon notes that many sellers can avoid the timely and sometimes expensive inspection process by having open walk throughs prior to auction. This allows potential buyers to view the home and even have a professional inspection prior to purchase. This usually speeds up the closing process after the auction.
Seventh, most auctions are held live, right at the home. Randy says he likes to create a competitive atmosphere, thus jacking up the price of the home. He said his favorite auction he ever performed came down to a bidding war between 2 Montana cowboys who hated each other. Their testosterone made the property sell for thousands over the expected price.
In the end auctions are a very viable option for selling your home. However, even Randy believes that working with a REALTOR is vital, and usually the best way to sell a home.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Realtor Web Site Open to All Deals: Sales Denying Full Commissions Weren't Previously Listed
Friday, October 20, 2006
I believe REALTORS have to begin to provide full service real estate services for around 4-5% total commission. If not, the market will replace Agents with other home selling and buying options. (ie Auction, FSBO, etc.)
Thursday, October 19, 2006
(I have also added this blog to my permenant link list.)
Monday, October 16, 2006
Nine years ago the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) began an advertising campaign trying to persuade consumers of the dramatic difference between a REALTOR and a Real Estate Agent:
Now in its ninth year, the NAR advertising campaign runs February through November on network and cable television and network and satellite radio. This year's commercials help consumers understand the real value of working with REALTORS®. From their voluntary adherence to a Code of Ethics to their incomparable knowledge of real estate processes, REALTORS® are the experts of residential and commercial property transactions.
(NAR, 2006, Para. 6)
The National Association of REALTORS clearly points out that there is a difference between a REALTOR and just a "regular real estate agent." NAR, sites that an adherence to a Code of Ethics and extensive training set REALTORS apart. Yet, on a practical level, I am not so sure this is true.
I am a REALTOR, a member of the National Association of REALTORS and the Tacoma Pierce County Association of REALTORS (TPCAR). I have paid alot of money to be a part of these organizations. (I don't remember the exact amount, but I think it was between $300-$500 per/year). In exchange for my dues, what have I received? Nothing. No ethics training on the REALTOR Code of Ethics, no extra training beyond my state classes, not even a lousy pin with the letter R on it.
So, I put my mind in rewind, trying to remember the requirements I had to meet to become a REALTOR. Was there a test on the Code of Ethics? Nope. Was there a background check seeing if I was a mass-murderer? Nuh-uh. Was there anyone to see if I was competent enough to fill out a Purchase and Sale Agreement? No Again. Just an online form and a credit card number - that's all it took.
So when the National Association of REALTORS runs multi-million dollar campaigns informing the American public to only use a REALTOR, not just a Real Estate Agent, I sit back and laugh. I laugh because I know my dues are going to pay for those ads, not in helping me become a better agent. (In fairness to TPCAR, I have received flyers in my box for classes sponsored by TPCAR, however most, or all of them, I had to pay for.)
On the other hand, there is just measly Real Estate Agents - non-members of NAR. You don't see many of these any more. Why? Most MLS systems require that you be a part of NAR in order to belong. In other words, in order to use a system you need to function as a Real Estate Agent, you have to be a REALTOR. Given a choice between getting denied MLS access and joining NAR, most agents join NAR. Thankfully, some agents and Brokers have filed suit against this practice and won. The NWMLS (Western Washington's MLS) does not require membership in NAR for membership in the NWMLS.
For those Real Estate Agents left, many have gotten a bad rap from the NAR commercials, but is this deserved? Well, I am sure there are scum-bag real estate agents out there, but I am also sure that there are scum-bag REALTORS out there. There are excellent Real Estate Agents out there too though, and they simply don't need the name REALTOR to be an ethical person.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
As you will notice from a former blog post, Marlow, found it appropriate to call me a scab because I list homes for 4 percent commission. Read the original dialogue yourself. As you can see 2 other people including a Seattle Realtor commented on the issue, along with myself. During the dialogue I continually asked Marlow if she believed fixing real estate commissions is OK. Here was her response to Objective Observer and myself (4percentrealtor):
Trevor, read my comment again: "If the National Association of Realtors was a labor union, and we were union workers, you'd be a scab."
Anonymous "Objective Observer": The term REALTOR(tm) is a trademarked term that refers to members of the National Association of Realtors. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS. When using the term REALTOR, it should be in all caps or at least the first letter capitalized.
And for the definition of "scab" see Jack London's speech "War of the Classes", first given before the Oakland Socialist Party Local, April 5, 1903.
Have a nice day!
Does anybody feel that this was a direct answer to:
Are you suggesting we fix real estate commissions?
Well, I thought she might have just misunderstood the question, so I asked her again,
Do you believe fixing real estate commissions is OK or not?
Its been over a week and a half now and no response from Marlow. Today, I found that Marlow had commented on another Blog which I frequent. It just happened to be a blog post about my dealings with my good buddies over at the NWMLS. What a coincidence. Yet, here is the doozy. What did Marlow have to say? Drum roll please...
"REALTOR" is a registered trademark of the National Association of Realtors and should be capitalized and, if available, the trademark symbol should be used.
Marlow, can't you think of something better than this to say? Who do you work for anyway? Do you get kickbacks from the NAR trademark department?
MARLOW, HERE IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO BE A STRAIGHT SHOOTER BEFORE YOU GET LISTED IN THE TREVOR SMITH HALL OF SHAME OF PEOPLE WHO DESERVE ZERO RESPECT:
Do you believe fixing real estate commissions should be legal?
Bankrate has done a study regarding Closing Costs. By surveying lenders nationwide they have come up with a national average for what your closing costs should be. Keep in mind these closing costs are based on a $180,000 loan, which is not necessarily a realistic amount in Western Washington anymore. Take a look at this study and see if your lender is overcharging you.
In defense of lenders, the following situations are usually legitimate reasons for having above average closing costs:
- You have poor credit
- You have had a bankruptcy recently
- You work a non W-2 job, or are self-employed
- You have worked at your job less that 2 years
- You have a high debt to income ratio (Average is around 30% - 40%)
- You are doing a zero down, 100% financing loan (This probably means you have a first and a second mortgage, both with their own closing costs)
- You are purchasing an investment property
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Real Estate Agent. I get to know extraordinary people, hear their stories, and be a part of their lives.
Fred, thanks for your friendship.
Monday, October 09, 2006
First, REALTORS aren't the devil. I know many of you get more phone calls from REALTORS then you do buyers, but not all REALTORS are out to screw you out of your equity. Many REALTORS genuinely care about helping you sell your house. Don't shut us all out right away.
Second, before you decide to list For Sale by Owner make sure you understand the Real Estate process. Many REALTORS become frustrated with FSBOs and even won't work with FSBOs because they are afraid of the legal ramifications of improper paperwork. You don't have to be a genius to figure out purchase and sale agreements and other real estate paperwork (Heck, they gave me my real estate license), you just have to be willing to do some research. Remember, if you list FSBO, don't expect the Buyer's Agent to do your paperwork, you have to take responsibility for your own forms.
Third, be available. If you are advertising your own home, make sure people can reach you for questions. There have been many times where I have contacted owners of FSBO's where no one answers the phone and I don't get a call back. People can't see your home if they can't get a hold of you. If they can't see your home, they can't buy your home.
This advice is not meant to be mean-spirited or anti-fizzbo. I love the fact that some sellers take the initiative to make things happen themselves. However, as a REALTOR, I see these mistakes made often, and I believe it hinders For Sale by Owner's from selling their home.
Friday, October 06, 2006
As with many people who return to their place of origin, I noticed all the changes. First, a whole raod was blown up by WSDOT. Goodbye Rutter Parkway. Second, little Nine Mile is getting a fast food restaurant. Hello Zips. Third, Jeb's Supermarket (I believe he uses the term "Super" to liberally) got a brand new lime green deli sign. Hello shameless advertising. Finally, and most suprising of all, the gas station, Matt's Service Station & Cenex, now accepts credit cards at the pump. Hello 21st century.
Despite these changes, there were many things that were just like they were in 1996. The high school kids were wearing their football jerseys in preparation for the Homecoming game. My Dad, who owns the local Hardware Store, was taking care of his tomato plant which he calls Oscar. And the checker at Jeb's "super" market carded both me and my wife for beer, because they had just been fined again by the Washington State Liquor Board.
Oh the joys of coming home.
I hope as a REALTOR I can play a small part in helping others establish a home and create memories like these.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The Owner hereby rents the rotted plywood shacks located “across the creek” at 711 East Coulter Creek Road for the period commencing on Oct. 1, 2006, and monthly thereafter until an awkward situation makes the arrangement inconvenient or unlivable for one or both parties, at which time this Agreement is terminated. Resident hereby agrees to the following terms:
Maintenance: To live without electricity and piped water. Resident will not string electrical cords over the creek from tree branch to tree branch and use them as zip-lines for buckets of water and/or personal waste. Resident will deposit only small amounts of garbage to the weekly collection of such, since garbage is bad for the planet, and will not display it in the front or backyard nor hide it in the Chemical Coop or outhouse. Resident understands that, yes, the outhouse is that pile of wood near the sinkhole known as Brooks’ Last Stand. Extra Visitors: To use said dwelling as living quarters only for 1 adult and not turn Owner’s property into rainbow gathering or patchouli pow-wow with extended visitations from friends and/or lovers in groups of three or more. While Resident is allowed to smell wild mint, read books in the treehouse overlooking the creek, sit in one spot for long periods of time observing woodland critters, and think, Resident understands that too many people engaged in such activities may lead to neighborly suspicion of Owner. Appliances: In the event the Resident uncovers an appliance in a nearby ravine, say, a stationary bike or front-loading dishwasher, Resident agrees to dispose of it and other found antiquities in the Belfair Dump, paying a small fee to the nice woman at the booth. Personal Property: The Owner shall not be liable for any loss of personal property, including loss of dogs in nearby ravine and/or burglary of food by bears, for smoke damage to lungs and/or personal photo albums from sticks of incense or wood burning stoves, for any accidental wounds to persons in or about the rented property resulting from water, rain, windstorm, or act of God. Pets: The Resident specifically understands and agrees: No dog poo on Owner’s side of the creek. Rent: To compensate for the above living conditions, Resident agrees to pay no rent for the first month and instead receive the sum of $1 from Owner. Failure to receive these funds may result in no compensation from the Owner, who is cheap and forgetful.
Personal Relations: Furthermore, Resident agrees to respect the Owner and not leave angry notes tacked to his door or throw rocks at him when he walks around half-naked on sunny, weekend mornings; to not enter his trailer unless invited for Holiday gatherings, real or imagined; to not attend the crazy high school parties down the street, however joyful they may sound. Resident agrees to check the mail but to leave the Owner’s mail alone because walking to the box is his motivation to leave the house at least once a day, however sad that may be. Resident will not grow, smoke, or cook marijuana or other illegal substances alone or with Matt Funk or the Funk family, the neighbors. Resident will not smoke cigarettes on the property unless willing to offer one to the Owner. In the rare case such an offering may occur, Resident will not knock on the Owner’s trailer window while Owner is deep in thought but will croon a Negro Spiritual from a distance at such a volume as to gradually make Owner aware of Resident’s presence.
Default by Resident: I, the Resident, understand that the fourth wall is falling away from Rotted Plywood Shack #2, that my foot could fall through the floor, that the roof could cave in, that I may never be able to get rid of all the Maxim magazines. I understand that by living in the woods, I must trek through the woods, and that to trek through the woods, I must forage through wet plants and spiderwebs leaving cold spots of dew on my jeans and sticky strands of fiber in my hair. The swamp behind my cabins may become a stream; the stream in front of my cabins may become a river; I may become depressed. On my death bed, I may recall this time in my life as a low point. Nevertheless, I will respect the stately trees on the property as bleachers for choirs of birds, firm in their commitment to this place, aspiring towards the sky.
Acceptance and Rejection of Property: Resident accepts the condition of the property, waiving inspection of same by Owner and agrees to ignore all defects since there isn’t much but defects to ignore and/or notice, and notify Owner of any improvements made to the property. Resident accepts complete independence on one side of the creek and likes it that way, and acknowledges that the Owner, due to a long-cultivated aversion to manual labor, is unavailable to help with the hauling of materials across said creek. Legal Contract: Resident agrees that the security deposit shall be an unspoken trust and tenuous bond between the Owner and the Resident, and not just a one-time, non-refundable, financial gift. Resident understands that the Owner is, in reality, not the Owner of the Property but Steward of the Land, and that Resident is also Steward of the Land, agreeing to cherish and maintain it. Resident understands that the rotted plywood shacks are not considered “livable” by most American definitions of the word and that, despite such categorization, Resident wishes to make this an ethically and perhaps legally binding contract. Resident agrees to seek competent spiritual advice before signing this contract, if such advice is needed.
Accepted this _____ day of __________________20________At ________________________________________________ Resident ___________________________________________ Owner __________________________________________
Anyhow, through the entire singlewide experience, I have come to some revelations. First, a lot of people value land more than a house. In this case, the singlewide is in need of repair (OK, alot of repair), but the land is gorgeous. The 6.3 acres encompasses 2 creeks complete with spawning salmon, large cedar and fir trees, and even a treehouse. How can you put a price to that? Secondly, you can be happy and not rich. The singlewide was not the most expensive home on the block, but I have never seen anyone happier with a home purchase then my brother. Thirdly, if you're going to have neighbors, you might as well be neighbors with Matt Funk. Matt runs a saw mill in his back yard and is the President of the Coulter Creek Water Association. He also has a dog named Johnny Rotten. I mean who can beat that?
In conclusion, a singlewide in Belfair is just as good as a mansion in Bellevue... if the priorities in your life are right.
- My previous description was too stuffy and made me sound like a guy who wears a suit and drinks scotch.
- I know alot about real estate, real estate agents, and real estate law but I am not an expert. I wanted people to know they are getting professional advice but not expert advice.
- I like to have fun. When I was just focusing on the market and real estate advice, I felt like I had to act like I was in a Federal Reserve Meeting.
- I love telling stories. I want you to hear all the funny (ha ha) and funny (hmmm?) stories I deal with.
- I like pissing people off. OK, not really, but I love a healthy debate, especially about the following issues: Real Estate Commissions, Real Estate Agent vs REALTOR, & Online Real Estate Marketing & Brokerages.
- I didn't follow my description anyway. Since I wasn't meeting up to my blog's description, I decided to lower the standard!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
~ Best wishes Craig. Cheers to Craigslist.
P.S. This article from CNN also sheds some light on where Craig's heart is at.
To submit one's claim to the process of interpleader. (The Free Dictionary)
Don't let this happen to your earnest money! Here's what happened to some recent clients of mine:
- I represented the seller
- The day of closing the buyer's financing fell through
- Neither person agrees on fault and both refuse to release the earnest money
- The Earnest Money sits for 30 days, then goes to an interpleader
Here's the thing that is just crazy. The earnest money is only $500. It costs $100+ just to submit the case to the interpleader. Then you have court costs. My Broker tells me that by the time this thing is done the winner will receive a whopping... $100-$200. How sad, people being stubborn to their own demise.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
- The NWMLS forms for Leasing and Occupancy Prior to Closing are not written as well as many long term leases. I believe they are too general and do not protect the buyer or seller well.
- A deal's not done until the Escrow lady sings. In other words, deals fall apart all the time, sometimes even on the day of closing.
- If the deal falls through you may have a hard time getting the buyers out, especially if the buyers feel that it wasn't their fault.
- Washington is one of the worst states in the US to be a landlord. Tenants can squat for weeks or even months during the eviction process.
- After the deal falls through, you may be left without real estate agency. Many agency agreements dissolve after the closing date has passed. This may leave you to deal directly with the buyers or force you to hire a lawyer.
- Unless rent was collected upfront, then you may be left with zip. These days, its almost a given that buyers get their earnest money back.
There are many leases prior to closing that go well, but there are some that end up going dreadfully wrong. My advice - play it safe, leave it vacant.
Monday, October 02, 2006
My my oh my, the blogosphere sure can be nasty. Marlow, if you're reading this, I would love to meet with you to discuss this important real estate issue more - perhaps even over a cup of tea - or Jack Daniels (whichever you prefer). Shoot me an email anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your friendly Discount Realtor - Trevor Smith
I did it. Thats right, I did it. I attached my resume, along with my 3 favorite websites, and my paragraph about how to improve Redfin to an email, typed email@example.com in the address bar, and hit the send button.
OK, so who knows if I'll get the job, but I thought, "If these guys are this innovative and are pissing off this many traditional Realtors, I have got to give it a shot."
So here is my commission to you, oh faithful readers of my blog (1 person on a good day :) ). Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org endorsing my employment for Redfin. Tell them how charming I am. Tell them how I smell nice (after I take a shower). Tell them whatever you want, but tell them I deserve to be a Redfin Real Estate Agent.
I will keep all you reader (notice I didn't say readers) posted on Redfin's response to my Resume.
Have a redfinnian day!
Anyhow, this brought back memories of living in California at the very very beginning of the housing boom. There were sign twirlers everywhere. Some of them were expert sign twirlers, flipping their sign at least three to four times before they caught it with the arrow still pointing in the right direction.
When I was in SoCal I got a chance to interview a sign twirler. He said it was pretty boring, but it wasn't too bad when he listened to his headphones. He said the only rules he had was that he had to keep the sign moving and that he couldn't sit down except on breaks.
I must say, if I consider a career change, sign twirling will definitely be on the top of my list. I mean who can turn down music, time to think, and a big ol' arrow?
much love - your 4 percent realtor