PamCohn's Blog

Undeclared Short Sales
March 30, 2011, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Agent Information, Buyers, General Comments

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!


Fannie- Freddie Overhaul?
March 13, 2014, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

2 key senators agree on Fannie-Freddie Overhaul
WASHINGTON (AP) – March 12, 2014 – A plan to phase out government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and instead use mainly private insurers to backstop home loans has advanced in Congress.

The agreement by two key senators and a White House endorsement sent shares of Fannie and Freddie sinking Tuesday. Fannie stock fell $1.79, or more than 30 percent, to $4.03. Freddie dropped $1.48, or 26.8 percent, to $4.04.

The plan by Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Banking Committee, and Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, its senior Republican, would create a new government insurance fund. Investors would pay fees in exchange for insurance on mortgage securities they buy. The government would become.……Click Here for the full story from FAR …..

Biggert/Waters Act Flood Insurance Update
March 5, 2014, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Homestead Tax Filing
February 21, 2014, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

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:

Pasco click here:

Hillsborough click here:

For all other counties: click here :

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!

The 10 Commandents Regarding Mortgages From Contract to Close

Originally I think these 10 Commandments came from a lender. Every couple of years my Broker, a fellow agent, a lender or a past client who see’s it and remembers our going over it with them; someone sends me a copy. It’s as relevant as ever and to some I may add additional comments.

If you are getting ready to finance buying a home …READ THIS and FOLLOW IT!

I. “Thou shall NOT change jobs, become self employed/commissioned or quit your job.” Lenders require copies of your pay stubs (1-3 months at your present job). If you have a salary or hourly job and then go to self employed or commissioned, typically you may need to wait for 2 years job history. Lenders will often verify employment within the last 24 hours of closing.

II. “Thou shall NOT co-sign a loan for anyone.” Co-signing any loan; whether a student loan, car loan or other, will trigger inquiries into your credit. Any changes that occur can affect your credit report, lowering it due to increased financial obligations.

III. ”Thou shall NOT buy a vehicle (or you may be living in it).” Just as mentioned in number 2, applying for a car loan will trigger a credit inquiry. This will decrease your score -which increases the percentage rate you will pay and the amount of money you will qualify for borrowing. I actually had one case where a Buyer showed up at the final walk thru in a brand new truck. I looked at him as he got out and said, “Please tell me you didn’t just buy that…” and grinning ear to ear he told me he just drove it off the lot. To make a long story short….he had to drive it right back or we weren’t going to close.

IV. “Thou shall NOT use charge cards excessively or make any late payments.” Excessive use of credit cards or large purchases can have a negative affect on your credit score. Inquiries alone can lower it and balances greater than 1/3 your available credit limit may also lower your rating. Late payments of any kind significantly lower it.

V. ” Thou shall NOT spend money you have set aside for closing.” Having enough for the down payment and closing costs is critical and so are reserves for after closing. Spending money prior to closing could result in a denial. If you are receiving money as a gift and it is not already in your account prior to the first lender credit check (your pre-approval letter), you need to make sure it is in the form of a personal check from the giver and you will need to show copies of the front and back of the canceled check. If the gift is given in the form of a bank check the giver is going to have to provide your lender bank statements on their account also, proving where the money came from. Most “gift givers”, don’t want to do that, so make sure the personal check is given early enough to clear your account and theirs. Also make sure that you don’t combine the check with any other money when you deposit it. The deposit slip will have to match the gift letter. I had one case where parents had given their daughter money for a down payment and $3000 for appliances and she deposited them together. The lender couldn’t verify the down payment amount matching exactly in the Buyer’s bank statements. We had to go back get an additional letter and re-verify everything. These details can hold up closings. Since 911, this has become a big issue, to prove where money is coming from. The lender also wants to make sure you didn’t “borrow” the money and incur additional unknown debt.

VI. “Thou shall NOT omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.” Be honest about any debt you have…everything is checked and double checked now, so it will turn up and could jeopardize your loan if you did not declare it.

VII. “Thou shall NOT buy furniture, appliances or household items before closing.”
As I said before large purchases, whether credit card or cash, cause your credit card debt ratio to go up or your bank balances to go down, both affecting your credit score and risking your loan approval. PLEASE wait till after you close. Yes it may be on sale…but if it causes your rate to go up… could be paying for that sale for the next 30 years.

VIII. “Thou shall NOT originate any inquiries into your credit.” As previously discussed, multiple inquiries on your credit report reduce your score. Credit is rechecked anywhere from 7 days to the day before closing, by the lender. If there have been multiple inquiries, it will result in more documentation needed which could then delay and possibly jeopardize your closing.

IX. “Thou shall NOT make large deposits without first checking with your lender.”
Any out of the ordinary or large deposit other than regular payroll into your checking or financial account must have it’s source verified, which results in needing more documentation. Check with your lender first how to handle it and what will be required (like gift money).

X. “Thou shall not pay off any collection accounts or charge offs prior to closing.”
Check with your lender first. Sometimes this needs to be done to improve your credit scores to become eligible for a loan- called credit repair- BUT once you are under contract wait till after closing! Payoffs of collection accounts will most likely decrease your credit score immediately…because the payoff becomes the most recent activity. If you want to pay off an “old” account wait till after closing and make sure you validate the debt is yours and that they will give you a paid in full letter or a letter of deletion and will report it to all 3 credit companies.

Lenders have gone from one extreme to the other regarding the strict requirements for lending. Especially in a Buyer’s market, you don’t want to risk losing the opportunity to buy at such great prices, due to careless mistakes you could avoid when it comes to getting and protecting your loan.

Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition- Go LOCAL (I revised this from an email I received. I don’t know who to credit the original to….Thank you anonymous!)

As the holidays approach, the giant Foreign factories are kicking into high gear to provide the USA with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods –merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American jobs. This year can be different. This year give the gift of genuine concern for others. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Americans.
Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box!
* Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut.
How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?
* Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
* Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed?
* More extravagant? How about a golf membership, weekend at a bed & breakfast, theater tickets, sports events..
* Want practical? Seal a driveway, lawn care, a house cleaner…be creative…
* Jewelery or Art….check out your locals artists. Musicians, the theater…ideas are endless once you start.
* There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift

Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town businesses with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

You see, Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate this December, is no longer about draining America’s pockets. This holiday season is about caring about us, encouraging small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about our neighbors, we care about our
communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

HELP MAKE THIS the new Christmas tradition!
* Put it on your Facebook page– Linked In  and Trulia– where ever you social network.

* Forward this to everyone on your mailing list
* Post it to discussion groups
* Post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in
your city
* Send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations,
and TV news departments.
This is a revolution of caring about each other,
and isn’t that what Christmas was supposed to be about?

When should an Agent be there for their client?

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?

Meeting Buyer’s Needs in the Technology Market
October 9, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Buyers, General Comments, Welcome World | Tags: , , , , , ,

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:,, Zillow, Trulia,, 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.