Do I really need an Inspection for my Frisco Texas Home?

I am not surprised when a Home Buyer asks me ‘Do I really need an inspection?‘. After all, this may be their first home so they don’t know what expenses can be avoided and what is a must.

My answer to the question is always – ABSOLUTELY! The buyer should always get an inspection done on a home before moving forward with the purchase. And no, the appraiser (even on FHA loans) does not inspect the home as in-depth as a Home Inspector.

Imagine moving into your home in the middle of winter, only to find out that the furnace doesn’t work. Replacing a 40 year old furnace is far more costly than hiring a home inspector. Buying a home is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make. The buyer needs to be assured they are investing in a quality home.

A Home Inspector will examine the following (and much more):

  • Heating System
  • Central Air Conditioning System
  • Interior Plumbing
  • Electrical System
  • Roof and Attic
  • Insulation
  • Walls, Ceilings, and Floors
  • Windows and Doors
  • Foundation
  • Basement (not very popular in Frisco Texas)
  • Overall Structure of the Home
The BEST part of having a home inspection before you purchase a home is this fact; if there are significant problems, you have the ability to walk away from the deal. However, if you purchase a home without a thorough inspection, you may find yourself paying more money then you should.
 
If you need help finding a Home Inspector in Frisco Texas or the surrounding areas, feel free to give me a call.

Texas Relocation – Part 3 Temporary Housing

Texas Relocation – Part 3

If you have followed the other two parts, then you are mentally prepared to move and have found a home in your new area. In Part 3 of 9, we will discuss Temporary Housing. A temporary home is used when there is a gap between the date you move our of your old home/rental and when you move into your new home.

Having a gap in your move can be caused by a few things. For example, if you purchased a brand new home that is being built. The home may not be ready for another month or two, but your company needs you at the new location now. During this two month period you may find a home or apartment that is available now and will allow you to keep a short lease.

How do you find a temporary home?

Finding the right rental is very similar to finding the right home. If you are relocating for your company, check your employer’s policy on rentals. In some cases, the company will pay the deposit and may pay for the termination of the lease (should there be one)

You may also consider talking with the Real Estate Agent or Relocation Specialist you worked with when finding your home. Since they are familiar with the area, they could probably find a temporary home that is in a great location, is the right size for your family, and can accommodate your short term living arrangement. In bigger cities, apartment locating services are available. Two other solutions can be the local Newspaper Classifieds which can be hit-or-miss if you don’t know the territory, or a co-worker in the new area may be able to direct you.

Just like when you were looking for your home, be specific with your needs. Even though it will be temporary, you still do not want it to 100% inconvenient. How many rooms do you need? Do you need public transportation? How much rent do you want to pay? What services / amenities are important to you? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find a home that will fit your temporary needs.

Naturally, you want as much comfort and convenience as you can find. You may not have all of the conveniences of a permanent home, but you can come close. Look for something with pleasant surroundings and sufficient space. You don’t want your family to feel inconvenienced, cramped, or depressed with the decor – even if this is temporary.

Many ‘Short Term’ rental properties come equipped with china, linen, and some may even have maid service. You’d be surprised with how far ‘temporary housing facilities’ have come due to their popularity. This is especially common in newly developed areas. Look for assistance from the Relocation Specialist or Real Estate Agent. More than likely, they are familiar with these developments and point you in the right direction.

Obtain More Listings (#2) – Make Your Offer Valuable

There are thousands of real estate agents out there looking for listings.  They all claim the same thing – that they will give owners great service (sounds like some mortgage guys/gals I know… what for that post shortly).  It becomes a challenge to differentiate yourself from the competition because of the large numbers of competing agents.  Actually, it is not as much of a challenge as it may seem.  How much of the competition seems to stand out from each other?  

With everyone offering a variation of the same thing – great service, discounts on commissions and/or free market analyses – it opens the door for you to come up with an offer that is unique and is more likely to help them sell the house.  The concept of uniqueness is important because it is tied to value.  If your offer is the same as everyone else’s, it is not likely to seem valuable.

One such offer would be a free home warranty.  The home warranty cost the agent a few hundred dollars but is well worth it.  The home becomes more marketable because it offers security to potential buyers.  And the agent does not have to pay for the warranty unless the home sells – making it a no-risk investment.  Why offer to discount your commission for what could amount to several thousands of dollars when you can add value to the transaction for a few hundred dollars?

There are other offers that an agent can develop besides home warranties.  However, I thought this was an excellent example of an offer not carried by the typical agent that also adds value to the transaction.  It would be interesting to hear what other offers you have encountered or utilized when marketing for listings.  Sharing ideas, such as these, makes us all stronger in the long run.  What do you offer to your client that makes you stand out?

Based on some feedback below, there are a few additional items that are currently being used and has been found successful:

  • Listing Home Inspection – Provides value because this could delay the home sale if there are things that need to be fixed prior to selling the home.  It also leaves little room for the buyer to negotiate because any items that need to be addressed can be identified and fixed before the first offer comes in (great idea Jim).
  • Home Staging Consultation – This is a great idea because you are helping get the home ready for a ‘buyer’.  Homeowners are very proud of what they have done to their home, but do not always decorate to a buyers taste.  A home stager will add additional value by ensuring certain areas are not filled with clutter and making other areas more appealing to sit and relax (great idea Karen).
  • Cleaning Service – Perhaps offer a cleaning service for those clients that are on the road a lot and may not be able to have the home cleaned prior to their next trip and your showing.  A cleaning service can come in once a week or so to ensure that things are kept tidy.  Remember that ‘your clean’ is not necessarily someone else’s idea of clean.

These are just a few examples.  What works for you?

BEWARE: There are dangerous twins on the loose – Fear & Greed

BEWARE: There could be dangerous twins in your area. They are called Fear and Greed!

Although these twins do not always hang out together, you will often hear about how they destroy one thing or another. It’s not their fault. They were left on their own as children and had to learn about the tough world. Unfortunately, they keep listening to the wrong people. Their idols are different than yours and mine. Most recently, they have had a lot of focus on Real Estate. I know you are wondering how can you tell them apart and what should you do if you find them?

Well, Fear is the younger twin. He is unsure of many things in the world and is easily influenced by the articles he reads and hears about. Plain and simple, he is just afraid of what ‘could’ happen. This feeling may have been caused when he was younger, tried to be like his brother, Greed, and was unsuccessful. Perhaps it did happened because he watched too many movies or maybe he went to Vegas and watched too many people lose their money. No one really knows why and no one has taken the time to show/tell him differently. You may have run into him in your area without even knowing.

Here are some things that Fear may say or talk about, as well as some helpful tips for you:

  • Fear – “I don’t want to buy a house that will decline in value. I heard all markets are down 18%.”  
  • Tip – Show/tell them stats in your area. True that the overall average price decline is 18.2% but that is because some areas are down over 30% and others are down 2%. For example, DFW is down 3% on average and maybe less, depending on your specific market (Frisco Texas is up 1%). If you are a Realtor in North Dallas, I may have listed your city numbers in this post.
  • Fear – “I’m not sure I would qualify for a home loan because I heard banks are tightening their requirements and not lending money.”  
  • Tip – As you know, this is incorrect. Sure, banks are looking at files more carefully. But that does not mean you do not qualify. Take a litmus test: Is credit over 580 (540 with some lenders), verifiable income, no BK or FCL within last 3 years?   if they have a FICO above 580 (540 for some lenders), receive a pay check, and have not been in Bankruptcy or Foreclosure for the past 3 years? There is more too it, but this will get the ball rolling.
  • Fear – “I don’t know if I make enough money to buy a home, so I just rent.” or “The attendant at the local 7/11 told me to wait because it will get worse.”
  • Tip – If you have not spoken with a professional, then you still have no idea. Suggest a local mortgage professional talk with your client to see what they may qualify for. Advice from people outside the business or someone that knows ‘someone’ is not a viable resource. Besides, who knows where they receive their information.
  • Fear – “What if I lose my job like the other 500 million people per day?” (There’s only 305 million in all America)
  • Tip – If my grandma had balls, she would be my grandpa (no offense grandma). The point is that you can not live off of ‘what if’. As you can see from the video, sometimes even the ‘professionals’ get stats wrong. Share the stats in your state, county, city. For example, Texas actually increased employment from last year by 153,000 compared to the year before (yes, that’s including the last quarter). Unfortunately for other states, Texas is the only state with positive numbers. But perhaps your area is not as effected.

 

Now, Greed is completely opposite of his younger brother. Greed is always thinking WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Often he is thinking of the quickest way to make a buck without spending money or working too hard. He wants to own the BEST and the BIGGEST, but doesn’t want to pay more than the worst and the smallest. Again, its not necessarily his fault. Greed has always looked up to those that rolled the dice and got lucky. He is hoping to get lucky as well. You may have also run into Greed in your area without knowing.

Here are some things that Greed may say or talk about, as well as some helpful tips for you:

  • Greed – “Im holding out for a lower interest rate.”
  • Tip – Sure, rates could decrease another 1/8 or 1/4 percent, but it could also increase (without notice). If you are not already approved with a lender, you may miss out on some of the lowest rates in a very long time. Don’t squabble over 1/4 percent while rates are low already and home prices are still low.
  • Greed – “I may be able to buy the house for less and/or wait for the listing price to drop”
  • Tip – Take the advice of your Real Estate Agent and make an offer that is fair in comparison to the market. Don’t focus on ‘low-balling’ the offer or holding out. Not everyone is looking for the lowest price and someone could come along and steal your dream home.
  • Greed – “I think my house is worth more than what you are suggesting, Mrs. Realtor.”
  • Tip – There is not doubt that you will feel that your house is worth more… to you. Current sales for your size home show a different story. The good thing is that the house you want buy is also lower than what the sellers think its worth. This is a win/win market in many cases.

If you see these twins in your area, don’t panic. As a matter of fact, welcome them into your home. Show them some pretty pictures of the real world and how it could be if they were a little more open-minded. There are a WIDE variety of homes on the market today, so the choices are almost endless. Mortgage Companies are still lending money to the majority of applicants. FHA is a fantastic loan product for those with less than perfect credit and/or with little money down. And lastly, the rates are still outstanding!

Bottom line… Explain to them why its still a good market to buy and sell Real Estate.

 

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Other helpful reads may include the following:

Open House Strategies

Call Conversations

Credit Repair Suggestions

Realtor Marketing

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Always available for your Frisco Texas Mortgage needs!

John Cannata    p# 214.545.5604  

www.TxMortgageConsultant.com

Follow me on Twitter

How to Obtain More Listings (part#1)

Over the years of talking with agents, reading blogs, and just gathering tips from top producers, I have put together some basics of gathering listings. I’ll focus on attracting buyers in a future series. I’m still gathering some data on that topic.

If you are a listing agent, you have learned the secret that top real estate agents have known for years. Rather than focusing upon the selling side of the business, true top producers rely on listings for a majority of their real estate commissions. It is possible to sell many more listings in a month than it is to show and sell multiple purchasers. The balance between the two is very important; when worked properly your sellers will always translate into enough purchase business to keep the purchase side of your business strong.

The one complaint I hear from most top producing real estate agents is that they never find enough time to market. There are so many good ideas to implement, but not enough of their most precious resources to explore every possibility. That is why one key to marketing is focus. Focus involves finding one or two good ideas and carrying through on these regularly.

Top Producers have a system for obtaining referrals. They do not let this important activity happen by chance. A system such as this would revolve around keeping in touch with your sphere of influence. An agent’s sphere of influence would include his or her:

  • Personal Contacts 
  • Previous Clients 
  • Prospects (don’t forget the ‘tire kickers’… they will buy or sell at some point) 
  • Co-workers – present or previous 
  • Association Contacts 
  • Professionals – Local Business Owners (they market their company also) 
  • Vendors – Title Companies, Mortgage Consultants, Financial Planners, Home Stagers, etc. 

Many top agents have built databases of 500 or more targets who they contact on a regular basis (or intend to contact). The database itself is only the foundation upon which the system is based. It is the implementation of an activity taken to produce referrals that is most important. The system determines how often, by what method, and with what medium contacts with the sphere are to take place.

The contact must include something that will induce the production of referrals. This may translate into a specific offer (I’ll touch on those later), the introduction of educational information (such as ‘readying your home for sale’) or keeping your contacts informed with regard to homes on the market (such as the next open house… which I discussed in a previous series). The most important thing is to make sure that you communicate that you are looking for good listings and that you have willing purchasers. Create the idea that you can fill the need. Don’t lie – Have a plan to attract the buyers if you do not have some already.

If you do not have a comprehensive database, I can introduce you to software and systems designed to house and utilize these databases. Of course, you can always do a search as well because many of your peers can suggest a system to use and which to avoid.

In the next few posts I’ll talk about adding value, educating the seller, and maybe approaching FSBO.

Marketing…Are you getting your fair share?

We hear about homes being sold in and around our area all the time. Last quarter there were thousands and thousands of homes sold. In North Texas that is certainly true. If you missed it, my last post was – 2008 Real Estate Recap in North Texas. No matter where you live or what your farm area is, did your marketing efforts yield the return you expected?

Over the past few months, I have spoken with many agents. Each of them said it use to be that you could simply mail a postcard to your farm area and you would get a half dozen leads with one of them converting into a listing. Today its much more competitive.

How can your marketing compete for attention when there are over 10,000 licensed Realtors(r) for your area bidding for the same area? If your marketing isn’t producing results, someone else’s is. Homes are selling (not quite like hotcakes anymore… but they are selling). If your marketing is falling short of your expectations, than you’re losing opportunities. And if that wasn’t bad enough, with no leads it can create some strong emotional stress. One particular agent I spoke with last month said she’s lost some listings because she knows during her presentation that she came across too desperate for the sale. Some call this ‘commission breath’.

There are two major things that hold back your ROI:

Consistency – To have impact, your message must reach the same audience multiple times. Studies show that people won’t take any sort of action until they’ve seen your message at least 7 times. Thats a lot of messages, but thats the average.

Changing Your Audience – Every successful agent I’ve known had one thing in common; they marketed to the same farm for years. You don’t need to get a new audience just because your marketing does not generate leads after the first 2 or 3 mailings. You should not change your audience until the well is dry and when does that really happen?

Fortunately, the above items are easy to fix. First, commit to achieving more consistency in your marketing. Don’t give up too soon because you’re not happy with the results. Families need to become familiar with you before they’ll consider doing business with you. Second, pick a farm and stay there. Your goal should be to become the “Neighborhood Realtor (r)”. Anytime a neighbor in your farm area is thinking about selling or buying a home, they think of you first.

If you need help with your marketing efforts, there are some familiar faces on ActiveRain that may be able to assist:

Rebecca Livingston – “Real Marketing for your Real Estate Vision” – Rebeccca is the owner of Real Skillz in Wisconsin. She is always blogging about marketing, social media, and the latest and greatest tools available to you. She can also be followed in twitter @Rebeccalev

Katerina Gasset – Wellington Homes in Florida. I’m sure you know Katerina so she does not really need an introduction, but just in case. Katerina and Nestor are both Realtors. For years, they have been fine tuning their marketing efforts and offer a unique program which includes ‘hands on’ training to ensure success. Katerina can also be followed in twiitter @CoachKaterina

Clint Miller – Real Estate Client Referrals in Montana. Clint actually offers a more unique program which includes providing leads. I would not be able to do his program justice by explaining it, but I suggest you stop by his webpage or give him a call for further clarification. I can say that his Referrals Program is not like typical Lead Generations. Also on twitter @recr

Bottom line… Make it happen, don’t wait for it to happen. I wish you the best in 2009. Since you are following people on twitter… look me up @jcannata

Success with Open Houses (part 6) – Add Value

I am sure you have heard the term “value-added” a multitude of times with regard to sales.  The more value you add to the process, the more successful you will be in sales.  Open houses are no different in this regard.  The offer of value gets more people to the house and tends to help them become long-term customers.

Not that offering $10,000 off the selling price will not bring people in the door, but adding value really is a matter of giving something extra instead of discounting.  Besides, your extra traffic is more likely to be presented by those looking to “steal” the home.  Adding value produces a smaller crowd, but more serious buyers.

The question is, what value?  It must be more than a gimmick (free lottery tickets) and something different than what everyone else is offering.  Here are just a few ideas:

 

  • Offer a free home warranty for the home.  A warranty represents peace of mind and only costs a couple hundred dollars.  If they do not buy the house, you have lost nothing.
  • Offer a free pre-approval for a mortgage loan.  Perhaps you can have a lender attend the open.  It should cost nothing to get your customer pre-approved.  Most lenders only charge an application fee to ensure the customer is serious about buying.  Find a lender that is willing to work with you.
  • Offer a free report.  “10 Mistakes Purchases Need to Avoid When Financing Their First Home”, “Questions to ask Your Lender”, “How to Choose the Right Realtor”, or which ever report you currently have listed on your website.
  • Offer ten books on finance for the first 10 visitors.  “Your Money and Your Life”, “The Millionaire Next Door”, “Courage to be Rich”, or “Couples and Money”.  All are listed in the top 10 books about money and you do not have to purchase hardbacks.
  • Offer a free financial analysis with a financial planner.  There are many financial planners that would like to work with Realtors.  If you do not know of one, look them up in AR.  Don’t give up on someone because they tell you they have credit problems or have not saved a down payment.  Direct them to someone who can help.  In a few months or so, the customer will be back to you and ready to move forward.

 

With these and other “value” offerings, you may attract traffic that is not so much interested in that particular home but is interested in purchasing in general.  Isn’t one of the goals to generate prospects for your overall business?

The ultimate goal is to make sure you are putting something in everyone’s hands.  I have an open house flyer that demonstrates what payment and cash is needed to purchase a particular house.  You can make this flyer even more valuable by offering a free report or pre-approval via the flyer.  This is called a response mechanism and assures a greater response AFTER the open.  After all, follow-up is key.

Did you miss the last few posts about Success with Open Houses?  Click the link.

Have you found anything I have written to be useful?  Do you do many of these things already or was I able to give you some other suggestions?

I think I will add one more post to this topic to try and sum it all up, provide a few last thoughts, and really try to get some good feedback from each of you.  If you have followed along from the beginning, I appreciate you and hope you will let me know what you thought after my last entry.

Make every day great!   John Cannata – Reliant Mortgage Ltd