Loan modification fraud

Here is a video put out by the California Association of Realtors with contact information to help you get the appropriate help in the event you or someone you know is attempting to get a loan modification.  Fraud and scams are running rampant now.  It is illegal for operators to collect an upfront fee, promise that they can get you a modification, or guarantee that they can keep you from foreclosure.

If you are trying to do a modification on your loan, or know someone who is, please take a look at this video for some good tips on how to spot fraud.  They seem like common sense, and they are; if you are in crisis, it’s also easy to not think straight.

Loan Fraud up-expect more

 Loan modification help

 

If you have had a bad (or good) experience, please share to help others!

Top 10 mistakes sellers make

Provided by the California Association of Realtors, here is the top 10 list of mistakes that sellers make; and they can be easy to do.  You get excited because there is an offer in hand and you think changes can be dealt with during the escrow process.  That doesn’t usually happen.

The time to get what you want and need is before you get into contract.  Your realtor should professionally navigate the way for you and advise on proper action in accepting the best offer and terms possible.

1. Accepting the buyer with the highest offer without regard to the other contractual terms.

Sometimes a buyer and their agent will bid very high to tie up a property, only to bail on it later.  Anything that seems to good to be true, probably is.)

2. Not properly handling multiple offer situations with multiple buyers.

Agents owe honesty and fairness to all parties in a transaction.  Agents need to make sure that sellers are treating all parties the same and giving the same opportunities.

3. Not properly handling back up offers.

It is easy to ‘sell a property’ to multiple people, so make sure to have the proper paperwork stating that your backup offer is not in ‘first position’ until signed contract and cancellation instructions are signed by the original first position buyer.

4. Entering into an agreement with no (or a small amount of) earnest money deposit from the buyer.

5. Entering into an agreement before verifying the buyer’s financial ability to close.

6. Not disclosing known material facts affecting the value or desirability of the property.

It is better to bring all the skeletons out of the closet.

7. Not providing the buyer with legally required disclosures.

8. Not obtaining the buyer’s written acknowledgement of disclosures.

9. Not considering whether to require the buyer to remove contingencies.

This goes back to item 1 above.  No one really wants to rock the boat when you want to move on with your life.  The issue here is that buyers have three days to review and consider disclosures and whether it will affect their quiet enjoyment of a property.  You don’t want to find out right before close that the buyer has all of a sudden decided something is an issue.  Two impacts from this: renegotiating at the last moment, or the deal blows up entirely.

10. Not excluding items from the sale that the seller wants to keep.

Where I have seen this being an issue is generally around light fixtures.  If there is a light fixture you would like to keep, please take it out before you market the property.  Why show the buyer something they can’t have?  It just sets up the opportunity for bad feelings.

Bonus mistake

11. Listing agents representing buyers in a multiple offer situation.

This is my opinion.  I don’t think it is ethical (although it is legal in California) for the listing agent to write an offer for a buyer when there are other buyers writing offers.  It is too easy for the listing agent to have access to the other offers, prices and terms-having an unfair advantage, which is a legal problem.  Agents owe honesty, fairness and full disclosure to all principals in a transaction.

Have any of these happened to you?  Do I need to add any to the list?

 

To-do list for property preparation

Property Exterior

  • Property painted, repaired
  • Front door & door area freshly painted, polish the door knob and house numbers.
  • Put a seasonal wreath on the front door.
  • Porches, stairs, and walkways swept at all times
  • Nice door matt at front and back doors
  • Trim freshly painted
  • Doors work easily and silently
  • Doorbells operate
  • Windows in good repair; clean
  • Consider a new mail box or slot

Yard

  • Fence in good repair
  • Walkways and driveways in good repair; swept
  • Clear leaves, newspapers, litter
  • Hedges trimmed-at windows, trim so windows are exposed
  • Trim low hanging tree branches
  • Eliminate dead branches, stalks and blooms
  • Add colorful flowers around the home
  • Weed flower pots and beds
  • Lawn cut & green
  • Plantings have been watered and look healthy
  • Put away toys, bikes, lawn tools, etc…
  • Upgrade or add exterior lighting for the property to sparkle at night showings
  • Clean gutters
  • Fences, gates and hardware in good repair

Living Room

  • Walls and ceiling freshly painted; clean; free of smudges, fingerprints and dents.
  • Window coverings clean and in good condition
  • Furniture aesthetically arranged
  • Fireplace clean; consider a fire in the fireplace for open houses
  • Appropriate temperature

Eating Areas

  • Set the table with pretty dishes, placemats, flatware and candles 

Kitchen

  • Range and oven clean and in working order
  • Clean kitchen hood
  • Fix slow drains
  • Kitchen cabinet faces clean and in good condition.  If they appear worn, painting them is a cost effective to make them look fresh and new.  New chrome hardware makes them sparkle.
  • Walls and ceiling freshly painted and/or clean
  • Sink and counters clear of dishes and kitchen appliances
  • Cupboards neat
  • Floors clean and in good condition-repair or replace if necessary-I can help you pick finishes if necessary.
  • Clean seals at oven, refrigerator and dishwasher doors

Bedrooms

  • Walls and ceilings freshly painted; clean
  • Beds made-curtains and bedspreads neat and attractive
  • Clothing put away and hung neatly
  • Closets neatly arranged-remove extra items, make closets look like there is room for additional items
  • Toys, belongings put away
  • Window coverings clean and in good condition

Bathroom(s)

  • Walls and ceilings freshly painted; clean
  • Floors/tile clean and in good condition
  • Replace or repair grout and caulk as necessary
  • Curtains/window treatments clean and in good condition
  • Shower or tub tile clean
  • Shower glass clean or new shower curtain
  • Faucets in good condition; no leaks
  • Fix slow drains
  • Toilet lids down
  • Vanities, sinks, and shelves cleared of personal items
  • Your best guest towels out
  • New soap in the soap dish

Basement

  • Stairways clear, painted and with handrail
  • Windows in good repair; clean
  • Floor clean, clear of obstacles
  • Area neatly arranged

Garage

  • Door(s) open easily and quietly
  • Paint fresh and/or in good condition
  • Workbench and tools neatly arranged
  • Floor clear of debris and free of grease

In addition:

  • Have presale inspections such as structural pest inspections, roof
  • inspections, and sewer inspections.  Get estimates of repair costs to present to the prospective buyer as part of your disclosures.  This will be a good way to pre-negotiate with buyers, making sure they are serious at the start of your contract.  I can help you coordinate this.
  • Pull together all warranties, appliance, and operating manuals to remain with the property to pass along to the new purchaser.
  • Tighten loose door knobs and hardware
  • Clean mirrors, picture frames and glass.
  • Electrical items, such as lamps, are plugged in and usable
  • Fix warped drawers
  • Tighten loose banisters
  • Turn on lights; make sure burned out light bulbs are replaced
  • Lamp shades in good condition
  • Make sure light switches and outlets work; replace damaged or discolored covers
  • Lubricate squeaky or sticky doors
  • Consider hiring a cleaning service; this will relieve pressure and have a more professional look.  Keep everything extra clean; for example, clean fingerprints from switch plates, mop and wax floors, clean the stove and refrigerator.  A clean property looks like a well-care for property.
  • Wash all windows, clean window sills, wash blinds
  • Have carpets cleaned
  • Consider replacing out of date light fixtures
  • Get rid of all items you will not be moving-reduce clutter, have a garage sale, donate to charity or hire a hauler to take unusable items to the dump.  Store seasonal closing, pre-move-consider a storage facility.
  • Remove some furniture to make spaces look bigger
  • Remove damaged or badly worn furniture
  • Consider taking on minor repairs that can make a bad impression.  Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked, or moldy caulking, or dripping faucets.  These are easy items that when not done, make the property look uncared for.

 

Preparing for showings

  • Heat or cool the property appropriately
  • Remove or isolate pets-they may be a problem for visitors
  • Air out the home; if there are any offending odors, like litter boxes, or pet stains, eliminate them
  • Hide valuables such as cash, jewelry, or other small valuable objects; it is not possible to watch everyone in the property.  If there are tenants, please notify them of this as well.
  • In general, consider how you would perceive your home if you were a prospective buyer
  • Open shades and blinds.  Consider changing to shear window coverings that allow more light into the property.
  • It is best to show your property if you are not present.  Buyers will feel more at ease to check out your property completely if you are not there.
  • At night, please light property appropriately for viewing and safety
  • Additional touches such as a fire in your fireplace or quiet music are always nice
  • Neatly arrange, or stack magazines and newspapers

How to avoid parking scams

I have to say I’ve never really thought about getting scammed with parking, until  I read this.  I’m usually a hold out for street or a self-park garage anyway, but on the rare occasion, I’ll use a valet.

It seems pretty simple really.  Someone that shouldn’t drive your car, but looks like they should, parks it where it shouldn’t.  I guess it’s good that you even get the car back!

From NBC Bay Area News

And then, even more elaborate, if you get a ticket-make sure it’s really from DPT?  Who knew?  Or, make sure it’s really your ticket; it may be someone else’s who is pawning it off on you.

A few things to watch for from NBC Bay Area News

Here’s a place to get the book ‘Finding the Sweetspot, The Insiders Guide to Parking in San Francisco’ (who can live without that?!)

Make sure you go to this website and sign up for the monthly parking secret…

The West Portal/Inner Parkside Real Estate Market Update

By Eric Castongia, Zephyr Real Estate

As I reported in the First Quarter Market report, buyers are out in the marketplace in full force.  Low interest rates and confidence in the real estate market have brought them out.  Low inventory has pushed prices higher with demand higher than supply.  We have seen a pretty dramatic increase of property values so far in 2012.

  • This analysis covers both Inner Parkside and West Portal.  I see these two districts as three neighborhoods-Inner Parkside is split into two pieces in terms of property values (South of Ulloa and North of Ulloa).  The majority of neighborhood market activity typically shows itself in the area North of Ulloa.  This area is also more susceptible to market changes and has more fluctuation in property values.
  • At the close of the second quarter of 2012, we had five active listings; which is great-we didn’t have any at the end of the first quarter.  Sellers are coming out of the woods slowly but surely.
  • For the second quarter, we had 10 sold listings, which is light for this time of year. Historically, Spring and Fall are our two busiest seasons.
  • Of the 10 sold properties, seven received multiple offers and five of them sold over their asking price.
  • You can tell the market is hot when there are no expired or withdrawn listings (failed to sell); there are none this quarter-everything has sold.
  • Total transactions for the current quarter, which is active, pending, sold and failed to sell, totaled 21.  This number is down 30 percent measured against the same quarter every year over the last 5 years.  The last time this quarter’s inventory was worse was in 2007 after the financial crisis came to light.
  • Two of the second quarter’s 10 sold properties had a price reduction and then sold (compared to the first quarter’s one).  Pricing the property correctly at the start is crucial-testing the market doesn’t work to get the most value out of a property.
  • There are a few currently active listings which I feel are pushing the envelope of value-I predict they will have either a price reduction, or get withdrawn in the third quarter.
  • The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $21,000 to as much as $207,000 (that’s not a typo).  There are larger increases in the amount of overbids from the previous quarter-particularly for three bedroom homes.  Two other overbids were $100,000.
  • None of the 10 sold properties were a short sale or foreclosure.  In the third quarter we will have at least three, as they are pending now.
  • Since the beginning of the year, I estimate we have seen increases in value as much as10 percent. List prices are starting to slide up a bit, but are (and should be) still kept below neighborhood expectation to drive activity.
  • The same rules apply now as before; if it doesn’t sell within the first two weeks, sellers need to consider a price reduction to keep the marketing momentum going.
  • I do not think we should assume that all is well and we are on the way to recovery.  We are beginning to see a few more listings coming on; that combined with buyer fatigue could slow things down and generate lower overbids (and maybe fewer multiple offers).  The market changed for the better very quickly; we should assume it could go in the other direction just as quickly.

Eric Castongia, Residential Sales Specialist (DRE No. 01188380) at Zephyr Real Estate provided the information in this article. The content of this article is an interpretation of data from the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service and Eric’s observations in the marketplace.  Eric can be reached by e-mail at Eric@SFHotBuy.com, web at www.SFHotBuy.com , or via mobile phone at (415)307-1700.

Activity in West Portal Second Quarter 2012

The West Portal/Inner Parkside Real Estate Market Update

 

As I reported in the First Quarter Market report, buyers are out in the marketplace in full force.  Low interest rates and confidence in the real estate market have brought them out.  Low inventory has pushed prices higher with demand higher than supply.  We have seen a pretty dramatic increase of property values so far in 2012.

This analysis covers both Inner Parkside and West Portal.  I see these two districts as three neighborhoods-Inner Parkside is split into two pieces in terms of property values (South of Ulloa and North of Ulloa).  The majority of neighborhood market activity typically shows itself in the area North of Ulloa.  This area is also more susceptible to market changes and has more fluctuation in property values.

At the close of the second quarter of 2012, we had five active listings; which is great-we didn’t have any at the end of the first quarter.  Sellers are coming out of the woods slowly but surely.

For the second quarter, we had 10 sold listings, which is light for this time of year. Historically, Spring and Fall are our two busiest seasons.

Of the 10 sold properties, seven received multiple offers and five of them sold over their asking price.

You can tell the market is hot when there are no expired or withdrawn listings (failed to sell); there are none this quarter-everything has sold.

Total transactions for the current quarter, which is active, pending, sold and failed to sell, totaled 21.  This number is down 30 percent measured against the same quarter every year over the last 5 years.  The last time this quarter’s inventory was worse was in 2007 after the financial crisis came to light.

Two of the second quarter’s 10 sold properties had a price reduction and then sold (compared to the first quarter’s one).  Pricing the property correctly at the start is crucial-testing the market doesn’t work to get the most value out of a property.

There are a few currently active listings which I feel are pushing the envelope of value-I predict they will have either a price reduction, or get withdrawn in the third quarter.

The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $21,000 to as much as $207,000 (that’s not a typo).  There are larger increases in the amount of overbids from the previous quarter-particularly for three bedroom homes.  Two other overbids were $100,000.

None of the 10 sold properties were a short sale or foreclosure.  In the third quarter we will have at least three, as they are pending now.

Since the beginning of the year, I estimate we have seen increases in value as much as10 percent. List prices are starting to slide up a bit, but are (and should be) still kept below neighborhood expectation to drive activity.

The same rules apply now as before; if it doesn’t sell within the first two weeks, sellers need to consider a price reduction to keep the marketing momentum going.

I do not think we should assume that all is well and we are on the way to recovery.  We are beginning to see a few more listings coming on; that combined with buyer fatigue could slow things down and generate lower overbids (and maybe fewer multiple offers).  The market changed for the better very quickly; we should assume it could go in the other direction just as quickly.

The content of this article is Eric’s interpretation of data from the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service and Eric’s observations in the marketplace.