Undeclared Short Sales…Unethical, Unprofessional and the Up & Coming wave of Lawsuits
You may think this is an unusual case or an exception to the rule, BUT it is becoming more commonplace.
Situation #1: You have a Buyer on a time frame, so they DON’T want to look at “Short Sales”. Some of you are already saying “Thank God!” “Short Sales” are usually anything but short. They take time, skill, patience and well informed Buyers who understand the process, are willing to wait and realize even then, the lender may not approve their offer….even a full price offer. But “Short Sales” and Bank owned properties are a reality and we need to know how to deal with them. What I would like to see happen in that department will be my next blog.
Today the issue is with AGENTS who list properties that cannot close ! Even the distressed Field in the MLS is entered as: NONE. Sometimes the verbiage is cleverly placed in the Realtor Remarks. In this particular case nothing remotely points to the property being a short sale or pre foreclosure.
A property should not be listed as a “regular sale” if it cannot close at the full price offer. In this case the Buyer’s Agent asked the Listing Agent, before showing the property, if it was a short sale. The Buyer did not want to look at “short sales”. The Buyer’s agent was concerned because the public records showed two sizeable loans. The “experienced” Listing Agent said that it was not a short sale, the Sellers had spoken to an attorney, the Sellers were bringing money to the table and this was why the price was listed as firm. The Buyer made a full price offer, had inspections done, the appraisal done and was ready to close when the fatal call came from the Listing Agent: “We have a problem”…there was another loan on the property that they (listing agent & owners) didn’t know about….long story short….the other loan was the loan the Buyer’s Agent originally asked about! The Listing Agent went by what the owner said and felt that was where the agent’s responsibility ended. What do you think? What is an agent’s responsibility regarding important information that can be reasonably discovered that would effect the ability of a house to sell and close ?
Several weeks later this same property appeared back on the MLS as ACTIVE- still as a regular listing …. how this could possibly happen? The loans had not been satisfied. It’s a serious ethics violation, to knowingly list a property that can’t close, especially when a Title company has already stated it. It was only after the complaint was made, that the Listing Agent finally had it changed to a “Short Sale” in the MLS.
Situation #2: is similar. The Buyer does not want to look at short sales. The Buyer’s Agent sees 2 loans on the property. One was a mortgage and one was a credit line. The Buyer’s Agent asks the Listing Agent if it is a short sale and was told no. A credit line can be open and unused, but it is still a lien that needs to be removed at closing and so the Buyer’s Agent asked the Listing Agent to find out the outstanding balance on the credit line. Listing agent doesn’t do it and merely says it’s not a problem . Since the Buyer’s agent could not find a satisfaction on either loan, the Buyer’s agent puts in the contract under additional terms: “ Seller to confirm that the sale price of the house is greater than the total of the mortgage balance and the outstanding credit line balance due on the house. Should the Seller be unable to close, Seller agrees to pay the Buyers’ out of pocket costs (inspection, appraisal, survey, etc).”
Guess what …Seller didn’t want to agree to that. At least this time, this Buyer did not waste their time or money on an inspection and appraisal. As Professional Realtors, we may need to consider the Seller’s putting money in escrow, in cases where the Seller has to bring money to the table in order to close….at least enough escrow to cover the buyer’s expenses if & when the Seller defaults. With all the different Seller scenarios out there, we need to look at protection for Buyers too! This may be where we look at when Seller’s need to have “skin” in the game too.
Remedy Suggestion and Listing Responsibility: Before listing a property the Listing Agent should research the tax records and the appraiser’s site. Start with the realist tax record when available in the MLS, to see what loans might be on the property. If it shows more than one loan, since the property was purchased, check whether or not the loan has been satisfied. This can be done by pulling up a copy of the last deed issued off the Property Appraiser’s site and then going into the Clerk of the Courts website and inputting the name, you can see all the liens filed. Look at each mortgage filed and see if there is a satisfaction filed also. If the agent is not sure or having a problem they should go to the Title Company they use and ask for assistance BEFORE they list it. If there are multiple unsatisfied liens the Listing Agent needs to investigate the possibilities of doing a short sale.
Suggestion: When going over Net sheets with your Seller, list all the loans you find. If they say something is paid off, have them cross it out and initial it. This gives both the Seller and the Agent a starting point on what information they both need to verify. As I said before, many sellers just don’t realize that a credit line is a mortgage. This is a good way of opening the conversation and making sure everyone’s on the same page.
As Professional Realtors it is our responsibility to research all that should be reasonably known before listing a property. As Listing Agents we owe this to our Sellers, Buyers and Peers!
Filed under: Uncategorized
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Florida Homestead Exemption
FLORIDIANS: Did you buy a new home last year? Have you filed for The Florida Homestead Exemption? Deadline is March 1st to save for 2014. You can even do it on line. If you have not done it yet use the link below to file it, or forward it to your family or friends who need to file. It could save hundreds of dollars in taxes!
To file for:
Pinellas click here: http://www.pcpao.org/
Pasco click here: http://appraiser.pascogov.com/
Hillsborough click here: http://www.hcpafl.org/
For all other counties: click here : http://www.myflorida.com/counties/
If you haven’t found the right place yet, give me a call. If you are local and want to look around on your own text Pamela to 727-213-5142 on your smart phone and get a mobile website. If you are in front of a house for sale you can call this number for 24/7 info. It is a computer (I call her Eve) that reads the MLS Active listings by street address. If you need my help there is a promp. Otherwise have fun with it!
Filed under: Agent Information, Buyers, General Comments, Sellers | Tags: buyer, Closing, piggy back, Professional Realtor, real estate, seller
Recently I had piggy back closings…for those unfamiliar with the term…”Piggy Back ” sales are closings that depend on the previous sale closing the same day so that the funds from one sale are used in the next. I will use a recent example to explain. The Sellers from the first closing, out of state, were buying my Seller‘s house who was then a Buyer buying a third home.
This is not unusual in the world of real estate, but does take careful planning, attention to detail and constant follow up. The first Sellers had one spouse out of state to sign at the first closing with a Power of Attorney to sign for both parties. The money from the sale was being wired so the other spouse could use their Power of Attorney to sign for both parties for the house they were buying. My seller was using the funds from their sale to purchase the third home. Not unusual, but also not a simple transaction. Three piggy backs takes careful handling and attention to detail. All 3 agents knew the scenario involved.
To plan ahead, I had our Title company call the Closers out of state to determine how early in the day they could close and wire the money to know when to schedule the second closing. The day before closing the Attorney’s office (they did not use a Title company in the other state) called to ask our Title company to bump our closing to an hour later, which we did and notified the 3rd Title company also. The following morning when the Buyer and their agent did the final walk thru of our Seller’s home the agent said she would not be coming to the closing. The agent for the Seller my people were buying from was not coming to that closing either, since his Seller signed off early. Surprise, surprise….I was the only agent to show up at either closing…and of course it was a Friday closing.
Were there any hic-ups or problems…..naturally. The funds wired for the first closing didn’t show up on time. To shorten this story, our 1:30 closing finally closed after 6, and I delivered keys to everyones Buyers by 7:30 thanks to 2 professional closers at both Title Companies who stayed late to work with me, finally getting the out of state wire transfers and getting both Buyers into there new homes for the weekend.
The first agent’s comment was if it had to close on Monday it was “no big deal”, their buyer would be OK with it. When I explained the additional cost the Buyer could be liable for, since my Seller’s furniture was already on the moving van waiting to be unloaded at their new home, which would have to be kept in storage for 3 days, the other agent felt their was no liability or responsibility. As of 5:00 she was off duty and did not work weekends. Now I respect each Realtor’s right to choose their schedule and set their priorities…BUT the punch clock philosphy does not apply in the middle of a closing. Sometimes problems can’t be solved the same day but it is our professional responsibility to do all we can to try to make things right.
I was the one sitting with her Buyer, who was almost in tears, frustrated and wondering why her agent wasn’t there with her. I couldn’t answer her….because I wondered the same thing. Plain and Simple agents should always accompany their Buyers to their closings. If it is a mail away on both sides or a mail away with a REO seller, that’s about the only time you don’t you need to go…because no one is there!
I just went through the a similar scenario this week. The Buyer’s for my Seller’s home were closing on a home out of state and buying this one contingent upon that closing. My Seller found a vacant home she would be able to purchase and move into, “piggy back” scenario again, so that she would not have to make two moves. In this scenario the other local Professional Realtor stayed on top of her Buyer’s out of state sale communicating with the other agent. We knew there might be a few days delay in the northern home’s closing and addressed it in both of our Florida contracts, allowing for the potential delay and keeping all parties informed. This meant the Title Companies, utilities, HOAs, insurance companies and lenders. This also allowed the Buyers to prepare their respective moving companies and arrange for a potential delay of a day. All 3 homes closed with happy Buyers and Sellers on both sides of the table. A Win Win situation, the way we like Real Estate sales to be….AND I was not the only Professional Realtor at the closing table. Thank you Darlene and Kathy, a pleasure working with both of you. I am passionate about my profession. I enjoy AND appreciate working with others Professional Realtors that feel the same way and take their job seriously!
How many Buyer’s and Seller’s out there feel it is important for your agent to be there with you. How many agents have been in my position? I would love to get your feedback. Am I over reacting or do you think this is unprofessional?
Filed under: Buyers, General Comments, Welcome World | Tags: buyer, Listingbook, MLS, real estate, Realtor.com, trulia, zillow
Whether a buyer is currently looking for a home or just browsing on line….the internet is where most begin. There are numerous websites to look at such as: Realtor.com, FromCavesToCastles.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, and Listingbook to name a few. Aside from my own website: FromCavesToCastles and personal custom searches directly from the MLS for a client’s specific needs, I also utilize the premium “Listingbook” so that I can provide it as a free service for my clients and buyers that are not ready to work with an agent yet, but want to get information that is updated daily. It is like a back door into the MLS, which does update daily: new listings, price changes, solds & withdrawn listings. This allows buyers to be able to follow and learn the market, even before they come to visit our state. I set up a basic search according to their guidelines. Once they go in, they can change the parameters as often as needed.
For those who live in theTampaBayarea, I also have a free automated service called CITY (Curbside Info to You) available 24/7. I give the buyer a number they can call for ANY Real Estate FOR SALE sign and a computer reads the MLS information from the street address for all ACTIVE MLS listings. Up to three numbers can be registered on one user name. Just email the numbers you want added. I will email the number you call in on to get the information. Put it in your favorites for quick access when you are driving around. I use it all the time. Once a name is registered Buyers don’t receive call backs every time they use the number. IF and WHEN you want to talk to me there is a prompt you can push or call me on my cell. Buyers let me know when they are ready to talk. No one likes to be stalked.
For years many agents felt it was crucial to keep information close….many still do. Instead I see the value in “Open Source” and I embrace the idea of providing as much information as possible. I feel an informed client makes the best decisions regarding their real estate needs. Let me know if I can be of assistance.
Filed under: General Comments, Helpful Home Savings, Sellers | Tags: buyer, contract to close, fromcavestocastles.com, home inspections, home showing, inspections, market, Pam Cohn, repair, seller, showing, termites, utilities, wood rot
YOUR HOME’S MOST IMPORTANT SHOWING
The day of your home inspection is your home’s most important showing. With this in mind here are some tips to review.
I divide my comments into two areas: Maintenance and Presentation.
Maintenance: If you are unsure of what needs to be done to your home prior to listing or what might be found on an inspection, it is often advisable to have an inspection done before going on the market. This allows you the advantage of presenting your home in the best light possible, to bring the best value. If this was not done or not an option, here’s a list of common items to check and take care of before your Buyer’s home inspection.
1. Change your AC air filters!!! If the intake and vents look dusty and dirty it’s the first sign to homebuyers and inspectors that home maintenance was not a priority. Remove any stored items blocking access to your system.
2. Make sure all lights are working. It may be as simple as replacing a bulb to avoid “light inoperable” on the report.
3. Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries if necessary.
4. Check the exterior door jams and garage door. These are the most common area for wood rot along with the soffit.
5. Trim any tree limbs hanging over the house, clean leaves and debris from gutters and cut back any scrubbery at least 2 feet from the foundation.
6. Pressure wash walk ways, patios, or siding to remove any mildew, fungus or mud wasp nests.
7. Repair or replace missing or broken locks, latches, or handles.
8. Repair or re-attach hanging gutters or missing downspouts.
9. Make sure all windows and doors open properly.
10. Check tub or shower area to see if any areas need to be regrouted or caulked to prevent water penetration.
11. Check window sills inside and out to see if any cracked areas need to be caulked to prevent water penetration.
12. If you have already vacated the home, MAKE SURE THE UTILITIES ARE LEFT ON! This means electric, water, and gas (where applicable). They must be on the day of closing for the final walk thru. Closings can be delayed (and are) because the owner scheduled the utilities to be turned off the day of closing- which usually ends up being first thing in the morning around 7am, prior to walk thru. Make sure they are not turned off till the day after. By then it should be a smooth transfer from one owner to the next. If they are turned off it could take 48 hours to turn it back on…If this happens on a Friday a lot of people are going to be unhappy for a whole weekend delay.
Presentation: Making it easy and presentable gives your Buyer a reassurance that you have taken care of the property, while making it easier for the inspector also.
1. Make sure pets will not hinder the inspection or be in the way of the Buyer or their agent.
2. Make sure all doors, closets, and window are unlocked so that rooms can be seen, and windows can be opened. If you have security locks either open them or leave the key available (if they are difficult to unlock, do it yourself before hand-don’t frustrate the inspector with tricky locks).
3. Remove dead wood or debris near the house..this is what I call “Desert” for termites. Inspectors will usually make note of it also as, conducive to attracting termites and other pests.
4. Make sure boxes, etc. are not blocking any areas that need to be accessed.
5. Make sure your oven and refrigerator are clean. Noxious odors are a real turn off.
6. Make sure your bathrooms are clean, especially toilets! You may think this is ridiculous to say…BUT you would be surprised at some of the things we see. Sometimes people are forgetful …don’t embarass yourself! Some buyers actually look at bathrooms first, to check out what type of housekeeper lives here.
7. Even though you are getting ready to move-as your most important showing, make your home as presentable and clean as possible. This could be your make it or break it presentation.
From Contract to Close is the most critical time. I hope these tips help and your inspection goes smoothly. You want to have a win win situation where both parties are happy and ready to move to closing.