TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 9; Holidays are Here: Don’t Let Work Get In The Way; Bill Seeks 1-Yr Cap on Foreclosure Delinquencies; Words Used In Real Estate Listings; 3 Ways Client Overconfidence Sabotages Deals; Delinquencies Drop Next Yr

“The thing is, we have to let go of all blame, all attacking, all judging, to free our inner selves to attract what we say we want. Until we do, we are hamsters in a cage chasing our own tails and wondering why we aren’t getting the results we seek.” — Dr. Joe Vitale: Motivational author and speaker




Turn back the calendar to 2009, and my house is dark, treeless and quiet. I am sitting the first of two open houses, enjoying someone else’s Christmas decorations and platter of homemade wreath cookies. My phone is sited within a one-ring “hello” next to my laptop — which is open, the screens flipping from Constant Contact to Facebook, and from blogs to the multiple listing service.

I waste no time in sending out “VERY IMPORTANT MARKET UPDATES,” replete with the latest price-reduced homes and sales statistics for each quadrant of the city. I scroll through my cell phone and invite fellow Realtors and neighbors to come over and enjoy some hot tea and a biscuit; one more “Holiday Party” on a Sunday afternoon.

Sounds joyful, doesn’t it? Not really.

I would place cash bets that most Realtors reading this have spent the holidays in likewise situations. And all of us would say it was necessary. We live on commissions, and if we’re not working we’re not making money. And then what?

I’ll tell you.

We miss precious and irreplaceable time with our families.

Hey, the best part of being a Realtor is supposed to be the flexible schedule! Right? Right! So make it so! You still have time this month to sit down with your calendar (or smartphone) and decide when you will show houses and when you will play Scrabble. Just because we can work 24 hours a day doesn’t mean we should. A person does have her limits.

So my point is this: Don’t let the fear of a missed sale or the nagging calls of a vacation buyer ruin this seaso. Instead, make a point to have hot chocolate with the kids (with big marshmallows and whipped cream). Put lights all around your house … on the tree, in the kitchen — heck, around the bathroom ceiling. Turn on the 24-hour Christmas radio station. And hug your family.

Happy holidays!

Brought to you by: Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.



A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday aims to limit and standardize the timeframe that a mortgage company can go after a home owner following a foreclosure for a deficiency judgment.

Known as the Fairness in Foreclosures Act of 2011, H.R. 3566, the bill seeks a one-year cap on any deficiency judgment, except in states that already have shorter time limits already in place. The bill also proposes that mortgage lenders not be allowed to go after “low-income” borrowers for a deficiency judgment.

Deficiency judgments vary greatly by states. In some states, when a bank does not recover the money owed on the mortgage after a foreclosure or short sale, the bank may pursue the former home owners and require them to make up the loss. In some states, lenders can pursue borrowers for deficiency judgments up to six years after a foreclosure sale, HousingWire reports. Other states, such as California and Nevada, have banned deficiency judgments in some circumstances.

“A deficiency judgment after foreclosure seems to be one of the greatest injustices that occur to home owners after they have gone through the arduous foreclosure process,” Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns, D-N.Y., who introduced the bill, said in a release. “Not only are they behind by thousands of dollars on their mortgage payments and facing public auction of their houses, the ordeal may continue indefinitely.”



Does everyone have a catchphrase? And further, does our industry have its own unique overused phraseology?

The answer? Oh yes. Besides our flippant throw-around of acronyms — “MLS” (multiple listing service), “SS” (stainless steel appliances), “CMA” (comparative market analysis), “FP” (fireplace), “4B/2B” (four-bedroom, two-bathroom home) — each MLS speaks its own vernacular.

In Central Oregon, a half-bath was denoted with a decimal of “0.5” — pretty straightforward.

In the valley, though, one half-bath is a “0.1.”

Elsewhere, anything with a sink and a toilet is a whole bath, shower be damned. Confusing? Yes.

Descriptors matter, too. In the city of Eugene, Ore., I notice a preponderance of “cream puff” listings. A cream puff? After thorough indoctrination, I now understand that to mean a home of impeccable regard.

And then there are your old standards: “turnkey,” “good bones,” “great potential” — gag me.

Please, if you use these phrases in your listings, you deserve a good lashing. But instead of retiring them, we add to the list of gag-me words until we have a whole paragraph of meaninglessness: “HOLY COW! Look no further!!! This Tuscan Old World home features cathedral-vaulted ceilings, a designer color-palette, gourmet kitchen and a park-like yard. Turnkey and ready for move-in today!”

How many real estate listings in your area read exactly like this?

It’s better we should just start using real words with real meanings.

“The previous owner built this house himself from pictures he cut out of Architectural Digest. No, he didn’t get permits. It’s very “Old World” (i.e., one sink). High ceilings (10 feet high, to be exact) and an even higher ceiling in the entry (12 feet). Wife designed the kitchen and picked the colors (mint green and chartreuse). All the GE appliances work. Yard has one tree and a large flowering rhododendron.”


The difference? There are 25 homes in your area currently on the market with the first description. And none of the 25 will look anything like a “Tuscan” home. But I guarantee there will be only one listing as spot-on as the second description.

OK, so I jest (a little). I realize we often need to put a positive spin on some less-than-desirable listings. But my point is that the words we use in our marketing materials matter.

They introduce our product to the buyers before they ever walk in the door. So instead of putting every Realtor in your area code into a coma, why not try using new words? There’s a reason we have limited space for descriptions. The words we use are important.

Brought to you by: Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.



Overconfidence in financial decisions regarding real estate can serve as a deal-killer, says Inman columnist Tara-Nicholle Nelson.

In a recent column at Inman News, Nelson offers some of the following most common offenses that stem from “overconfidence”:

Overpricing: Sellers may be overconfident in their home’s appeal. “Overpriced homes don’t get shown to buyers nearly as much as they would if they were properly priced, because buyers see them online up next to much bigger, better homes in the same price range, or next to similar homes that are much better priced, and decide to not even bother coming to see them unless and until the seller’s overconfidence is cured,” Nelson writes.

Lowball offers: Buyers may not fully understand the market. They read national headlines from the media that home prices are down and they think it’s reason enough to submit an offer on a home way below the asking price. “There are plenty of buyers out there who don’t understand that the down market does not mean that sellers are giving homes away — nor does it mean that banks are desperate to offload foreclosed properties,” Nelson says.

Ignoring the data: Buyers and sellers today have access to a variety of data to find out what recent similar homes have sold for, including even photos of the homes. They can use such data to make smart decisions on setting list prices and submitting reasonable offers that are “based on the facts and strategy, not emotion and guesswork.”


The number of borrowers behind on their mortgage payments is expected to drop sharply by the end of next year, according to a new report released by TransUnion.

Mortgage delinquency rates reflect the ratio of borrowers 60 or more days behind on their loan payments. Rates are expected to rise to about 6 percent during the first three months of 2012 before dropping to 5 percent by the end of the year, TransUnion forecasts. At its peak in the fourth quarter of 2009, mortgage delinquencies stood at a 6.89 percent rate.

An improving jobs picture, along with a stabilizing housing market, are expected to be the main contributors in curtailing mortgage delinquencies in 2012, TransUnion says.

But there’s still a long way to go. Even at a 5 percent rate forecasted for 2012, mortgage delinquencies will still be well above the pre-recession average of 1.5 to 2 percent, according to TransUnion.

“We have a long way to go to get back,” Steven Chaouki, a TransUnion vice president, told the Associated Press.


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