RPM Mortgage

TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 27; How Your Agent Markets Themselves Indicates How They Will Market Your Home; Best Post of 2011: For Sellers; Good Signs for Real Estate Market; Calif. AG Wants Answers, Sues Fannie, Freddie; REO’s Hamper Sales

“Picture yourself in your minds eye as having already achieved this goal.

See yourself doing the things you’ll be doing when you’ve reached your goal.”

— Earl Nightingale: was an American motivational speaker and author





With the glut of available homes on the market, how your home is marketed is the biggest factor in determining how quickly it will sell (assuming the price is reasonably presented). A real estate agent’s marketing plan should be the most crucial determinant in deciding who to list your home with. But, how can you really know about the agent’s marketing strategies?

One way is to see what they are doing with their current clients. Do those homes “stand out”? Contact those sellers. Are they getting a lot of showings and offers?

Another way is looking at how the agent markets themselves and their services:

• Does the photo they use for themselves represent how they look?

• Does their print advertising look like everyone else’s?

• What technology are they using to show your home? Are they using video?

• Is their website interesting and full of current information or just cookie cutter?

• Do they have a professional presence on social networks?

• Does their marketing show them as an expert or does it merely pat them on the back?

Quality photos on the web and top notch video may be the factor that drives people to see your house (and they are very important). However, how an agent drives traffic to see those photos and videos is even more important.

We all know the saying – “It’s not what you know…it’s who you know.” However, in marketing, it’s more crucial to know “who knows you”. Agents who are unknown are not good marketers. Today, you need an excellent marketer to represent you.



The First Question You Should Ask Your Listing Agent

What is the most important thing a seller should look for when hiring a real estate agent to sell their house? We are often asked this question. Is it the size of the company they are licensed with? Is it their marketing program? Their years experience in the business? Should you choose the agent who suggests the highest listing price?

There are many things that should be taken into consideration when hiring someone and giving them the responsibility for selling your home. In our opinion, the most important question you can ask a potential listing agent is a simple one:

Do you truly believe that now is a good time to buy a home?

Why should this matter when hiring someone to SELL your home? Buyers are nervous about purchasing right now. They want to know they are making an intelligent choice. We believe, especially in today’s market, you need to hire someone who realizes that this is one of the best times in American real estate history to buy. If an agent doesn’t believe that, how will they be able to convince a potential buyer to buy your home?

When interviewing a real estate professional, ask them to explain why purchasing a home makes sense today. They should be able to explain it simply and effectively. See how many of the following facts (which should be shared with every potential purchaser) the agent knows:

The Wall Street Journal last week stated:

“With home sales starting to improve, and with prices now possibly forming a bottom, real estate could well be the asset class that represents the best low-risk buying opportunity out there today.”

Donald Trump was just quoted saying:

“I’m pretty sure this is a great time to go out and buy a house. And if you do, in 10 years you’re going to look back and say, ‘You know, I‘m glad I listened to Donald Trump’.”

John Paulson, a multibillionaire hedge fund operator and the investment genius who made a killing betting against housing a few years ago, is now bullish on residential real estate market. He recently said:

“If you don’t own a home, buy one. If you own one home, buy another one. If you own two homes, buy a third. And, lend your relatives the money to buy a home.”

A recent Gallup Poll showed that 67% of American’s think that now is a ‘good time’ to buy a home. The Gallup Organization went on to say:

“Overall, there is good reason for most Americans to think now is a good time to buy a house. Interest rates remain near historic lows. Home prices are down sharply, providing many incredible buys.”

The iconic financial paper in this country, the country’s most famous real estate investor, the most successful prognosticator of the housing market and 2/3 of all Americans say now is the time to buy a home. Shouldn’t your agent agree?

Bottom Line

Selling is nothing more than the transference of conviction. How can agents transfer that conviction if they themselves are not convinced? Find a listing agent who truly believes that someone should buy your home – TODAY! This is the single most important thing you should look for in a potential listing agent.



Sales ticked up for existing homes and new-homes, several real estate market indicators revealed last week, pointing to a housing market that may finally be entering recovery mode.

In the most recent report, the Census Bureau reported that the new-home market continued its rebound, with sales of new homes once again inching up last month. New-home sales rose 1.6 percent from October to November to an annualized rate of 315,000, and sales were up nearly 10 percent compared to November 2010.

The median sales price of a new-home in November was $214,100, the Census Bureau reported, and the inventory of new-homes nationwide decreased to a 6-month supply at the current sales pace.

“Inventories of new homes are very low: There’s nothing on the shelf, so any increase in new home sales will translate directly into new housing starts,” Bob Denk, senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders, told CNNMoney. “That means putting people back to work.”

Other recent good news for the housing market: November sales of existing-homes increased 12 percent year-over-year, new-home building starts were up nearly 21 percent year-over-year, and mortgage rates reached new record lows last week, pushing housing affordability even higher.



California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a lawsuit against mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this week, pressuring the government-sponsored enterprises to respond to some 51 questions regarding foreclosures and other actions taken by Fannie and Freddie in the state.

Fannie and Freddie own about 60 percent of California mortgages. Harris is investigating the GSE’s involvement in 12,000 foreclosed properties in the state where they served as landlords, as well as the GSEs’ role in selling or marketing mortgage-backed securities, HousingWire reports.

The state is seeking a variety of information from Fannie and Freddie, including a list of which homes in the state that they foreclosed on, whether they have complied with civil rights laws protecting minorities and military members against unlawful convictions and foreclosures, and whether they complied with California’s securities and tax laws.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not commented on the lawsuit. An attorney representing the Federal Housing Finance Agency, however, said the lawsuits’ 51 subpoenas were “frequently vague and ambiguous,” HousingWire reports. Also, the FHFA attorney said Harris does not have the authority to issue subpoenas against the GSEs since they’re under federal control.



The pressure on overall home prices from distressed properties is still haunting the housing market, according to the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse tracking survey. However, home buyer demand is growing, the survey finds. The average time on the market for REOs is more than 10 weeks, which is at its lowest point in more than a year.

The average price for a short sale during November was $209,200. The average sales price for move-in ready REOs was $189,700, and $98,600 for damaged REOs sold.

Distressed properties represented 46.1 percent of all home purchase transactions in November, according to the survey, while short sales accounted for 17.6 percent of purchase transactions.

Distressed sales are continuing to make it difficult to appraise non-distressed properties, according to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance Survey.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 21; Americans Eager to Buy, Sellers Aren’t Happy?; Fannie: Economy Ends Year on More Upbeat Note; Does Foreclosure Counseling Work?; Agents, Home Owners Predict Where Prices Will Rise

“Talkers have always ruled. They will continue to rule. The smart thing is to join them.”—Bruce Barton: was an American author, advertising executive, and politician



Nearly 80 percent of home buyers say now is a great time to buy a home, but sellers say it’s not a great time to sell, according to a new study, “The Great Recession and Attitudes Toward Homebuying,” released this week by the Mortgage Bankers Association. In fact, homeselling sentiment has fallen to record lows.

As for home buyers, they certainly have plenty to be happy about — housing prices have fallen and interest rates are at record lows, pushing affordability to record levels and allowing buyers to snag great deals on housing.

But sellers, on the other hand, are getting discouraged that they can’t find buyers for their homes at a desirable sales price as well as the large overhang of mortgages past due or in foreclosure, according to the report.

“In economic terms, as market values have fallen, potential sellers have not adjusted their price expectations downward fast enough to bring buyer and seller sentiment in line with one another,” Gary Engelhardt, a professor at Syracuse University who authored the study, said in a statement.

Sellers still can’t accept that their home values have fallen and they are no longer able to get the prices from the past, according to the study.

Meanwhile, “despite high unemployment and slow economic growth, the bulk of American households believe that now is a good time to buy a home,” Engelhardt said. The strongest positive sentiments toward buying was found among young, educated, white, and Hispanic households, according to the study.

“The pattern of home-buying sentiment during the current recession looks very similar to that of past recessions,” Engelhardt notes. “Home buyer sentiment falls as the unemployment rate increases, and improves as job growth returns and housing becomes more affordable. What distinguishes the current recession, though, is the dramatic decline in home-selling sentiment. From 1992 through 2005, positive home-selling sentiment fluctuated between 40 and 60 percent. Since 2005, sentiment has dropped precipitously, to around 7 percent currently, even while home-buying sentiment remains high.”



Economic growth, an improving job picture, greater consumer spending, and slight improvements in the housing market are all recent indicators that 2011 is ending on a much brighter note, Fannie Mae reports in its fourth-quarter report.

“It’s important to recognize that we’re ending 2011 on a stronger note than we’ve seen throughout the year,” Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said in a statement. “Unfortunately, however, our 2012 outlook is not as rosy as our forecast for the fourth quarter of 2011.”

Fannie Mae’s Economics & Mortgage Market Analysis Group predicts that despite recent improvements, the housing market will remain “subdued next year — a reflection of the winter season, an expected slowdown in economic activity, and a potential increase in distressed sales.” The nation’s fiscal problems as well as the European debt crisis are also expected to threaten the nation’s economic recovery in 2012.



Borrowers who underwent foreclosure counseling are more likely — nearly twice as likely — to receive a loan modification and stay current on their mortgage, according to a new study by the Urban Institute, which analyzed about 800,000 borrowers who participated in the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program from January 2008 to December 2009.

Through the program, foreclosure counselors assist home owners on budgets and guide them in how they can avoid foreclosure.

Home owners who participated in the program were at least 67 percent more likely to stay current on their mortgage within nine months after receiving a loan modification, according to the study. Also, home owners who participated in the program had their mortgage payments, on average, reduced by $176 per month, the study found.

However, the counseling program has been on the chopping block in recent months, HousingWire reports. Earlier this year, Congress cut the funding for HUD’s housing counseling programs, but in November voted to restore $40 million to counselors.



About 43 percent of real estate professionals and 48 percent of home owners say they expect home values to mostly stay flat over the next six months, according to HomeGain’s 4th Quarter 2011 National Home Values survey, based on a survey of 400 real estate agents and brokers and more than 2,000 home owners.

On the other hand, others are more optimistic: 15 percent of real estate professionals and 15 percent of home owners expect home values to increase in the next six months. Where are real estate pros and home owners the most optimistic about home prices rising?

The following are the 10 states where real estate agents say they think home prices will rise in the next six months, according to the survey:

• Michigan

• Arizona

• Colorado

• Florida

• Texas

• Wisconsin

• California

• Maryland

• Washington

• Ohio

The following are the states where home owners say prices will likely go up in the next six months, according to the survey:

• Colorado

• Massachusetts

• Virginia

• Arizona

• Michigan

• New York

• Tennessee

• New Jersey

• Texas

• Florida


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 20; Why Involve a Lender in the Home Selling Equation?; 4 Tips for Improving Your Business in 2012; Evidence is on the Choice of Lockbox; Real Estate: Today’s Golden Opportunity; Which Seller Incentives Tempt Buy

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” 

— Mohandas Gandhi: was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement



One thing many real estate agents have learned is the importance of having a team of professionals to facilitate a smooth transaction. Having a lending expert on the team, can make available the following services to you…all for FREE:

• They stand ready to screen all potential buyers. Today’s lending landscape is a rapidly changing environment. Programs and requirements are changing regularly. A good loan officer should have a reputation for being on top of current guidelines and finding the best solutions for prospective clients. You need to know that when you accept an offer, the buyer can actually close.

• Financing is an important component to getting a home sold. Whether it’s marketing flyers, carrying costs, unique mortgage strategies (such as buy-downs and Sales Concessions) or even loan programs to differentiate your home (ex. loans that can incorporate monies for the purchase and renovation of a home), the best loan officers take pride in their ability to help increase the number of people for whom your home could be a fit. More prospects equals higher sales prices.

• In so far as a professional loan officer is seen as an educator, they would want to offer you the chance to tune into some of their online seminars (called webinars) and videos. As an example, some lenders have webinars with topics ranging from “How Lenders Look At A Mortgage Application” to “Renovation Lending” to “Getting Your Optimal Credit Score”, as well as videos that can fully explain your Good Faith Estimate. They are constantly striving to be a resource for everyone they come in contact with.

• Lastly, your loan officer knows that most home sellers become home buyers. Not only will they run your credit and analyze your income and assets, but they will also pre-approve you for your next mortgage, typically free of charge.

Both your agent and the loan officer on their team are committed to the highest level of advice and integrity. Reach out to them for any questions you may have.



Become a specialist and target a niche market in your real estate business in 2012, suggests Alan Shafran, with Prudential California Realty in San Diego and president of ShowingSuite.com, in a recent article at RISMedia. Shafran offers some of the following tips for creating a business plan in real estate for success in the new year:

1. What’s working and what isn’t? Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current marketing plan. Identify your talents and skills and try to match new strategies to take your business in 2012 that matches your skillset. “If you want to try something new — for example, the mailing of postcards to reach a new farm — make sure you have enough resources to cover the cost of the project for a period of at least six months,” Shafran suggests. “If you don’t have the budget, don’t start the project. Implementing a new marketing strategy without giving it enough time to succeed will only dilute the effectiveness of your other marketing programs, because it will sap you of your time, effort, and energy.”

2. Hone your sales skills. Jot down a list of the areas where you feel you need improvement in the new year. Vow to become more educated and try role-playing exercises to allow you to speak with more confidence and knowledge.

3. Re-evaluate your branding and the demographics you’re targeting. “To be successful, it’s important to constantly evaluate what types of homes people are looking for in your area and what they are willing to pay,” Shafran says. “After you figure out what type of clients you want to target, take the time to adjust your marketing strategy according to their preferences.”

4. Update your profile and marketing materials. “Chances are, if your pictures and business cards make you look like you are 25 years younger than you actually are, then it’s time for an update,” Shafran says. “Shocking the customer is typically not a good idea.” Also, make sure your resume and Web site reflects today’s customer, given the financial environment, he adds.



Brought to you by: Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D. — Florida International University (FIU) and Editor of the Journal of Housing Research

Does the choice of a lockbox matter? Do the older type lockbox systems influence the final transaction price or the marketing time of property? These questions are often pondered by real estate professionals. Older key and combination systems are low tech, easy to employ, and less costly to the broker. Newer electronic lockboxes are often more complicated, provide additional information by way of technology, and are slightly more expensive than their low tech counterparts. The trade-off is therefore between ease of use, information, and cost of operation.

If the different lockbox systems do not influence transaction outcomes (price and marketing time), then the choice of the lockbox system can be left up to the broker without costs to the sellers of property. On the other hand, if one system produces either a pricing discount or extended marketing times, then brokers need to be aware of these differences in order to better serve their clients.


Recent research by Benefield and Morgan answer these questions.[1] The researchers directly test for the impact of lockbox type (newer electronic versus older systems) on property price and property marketing time. After controlling for other difference in listings such as location, age, size, seller motivation, and quality, Benefield and Morgan find that older lockbox systems, on average, do not influence the time it takes to market property. Property pricing, however, is another matter. Specifically, Benefield and Morgan find a negative impact on price from the use of the older lockbox system. More to the point, older lockbox systems appear to not influence marketing time but result in lower selling prices. The pricing discount was a staggering seven percent on average.[2]


There is now statistical evidence (not just professional speculation) that indicates the inferiority of the older lockbox systems.

Therefore, wherever financially practical, brokers should stop their use of older key and combination lockbox systems in favor of the newer electronic systems. It now appears that these newer electronic lockboxes lead to a better sharing of information and feedback between listing and showing brokers resulting in better prices.


[1]Benefield, J. D. and J. M. Morgan, Ease-of-Access, Home Prices, and Marketing

Times:The Choice of Lockbox Type, Forthcoming in the Journal of Housing Research.

[2] The authors believe that at least part of this discount is related to the type (mostly lower priced, lower demand) properties on which the older systems are employed.



Everyone wants to comment on the current real estate market. They want to talk about how now is not the time to buy a home. Some even argue owning a house has never been a great investment. Most say it will be a long time before real estate again begins to appreciate. It all sounds so familiar to us. It was just a decade ago that many made the same arguments about gold as an investment.

Gold had dropped from over $400 an ounce to $250 an ounce (a 40% decline) from February 1996 to August 1999. People ran from gold as though it was a plague.

Lord William Rees-Mogg, the current Chairman of The Zurich Club, in 1997 said:

“No investment has been so thoroughly exploded as gold; most people think that there will no more be another gold boom than there will be another boom in tulip futures in The Netherlands.”

Two years later in 1999, Don Wolanchuk author of the Wolanchuk Report explained:

“Everybody hates gold. You can’t have a bottom until everybody is out. And everybody is out of the gold sector.”

Everyone knows what happened next. The proclamation of gold’s death was rather premature. Gold rose from $250 an ounce to over $1,500 an ounce in the next twelve years. We see the same situation with real estate today. We are not predicting that real estate will see the same levels of appreciation. I do believe however that the market will rebound strongly.

Those who continued to believe in gold as an investment were rewarded. Those who continue to believe in real estate as a sound investment will also be rewarded.

Here is what Adam Hamilton wrote in October 2000 in an essay titled Is Gold Dead?

The road for gold investors has been long and parched in the last five years. They have wandered through a seemingly endless desert, occasionally tempted by what proves to be an illusory mirage. Many have fallen beside the sun-cracked path, their white bones picked clean by buzzards and gleaming in the sun. Nevertheless, a brave contrarian core continues to march forward. They have studied history, currency, gold, investments, economics, and finance. They understand the timeless value of gold, the cyclical nature of the markets, and the vagaries of human psychology. They realize it is darkest before the dawn, and the journey most difficult right before the homestretch is reached. Gold is in an INCREDIBLE position, and it will have its day. Nothing goes up in price forever, and nothing goes down in price forever. Investments are cyclical. Gold is NOT dead, it is simply biding its time, waiting for its next earth-shattering mega-rally. The spoils that go to the few remaining gold investors when that day inevitably arrives will be fantastic. The stunning victory will quickly blot out the painful memories of the long struggle…

You could replace the word ‘gold’ with the words ‘real estate’ throughout this essay and it would apply today.

We originally ran this blog back in March. We believe it still applies. By the way, Gold closed yesterday at almost $1,600 an ounce.



Sellers trying to get buyers attention are offering up plenty of incentives, everything from closing-cost assistance to remodeling credits — even hot tubs, home theatre systems, flat-screen TVs, and cars, reports The Washington Times.

But these incentives “don’t actually make the deal,” says Michael Labout, regional vice president for the National Association of REALTORS®, who recalls one seller who offered up his 1970s Cadillac El Dorado in a real estate deal. “They’re as much to get buyers and agents to look at a house as anything.”

But sellers may be convinced that the extra buyers these incentives may bring in to view their home may be worth it. Some popular seller incentives catching on:

• Offering a gift card to a home improvement store or a local flooring company if the property you’re trying to sell is in need of some remodeling work;

• Covering some or all of the closing costs;

• Offering home warranties, which will cover HVAC systems and other major appliances., usually for a year — although more home sellers are offering warranties that last longer, possibly even up to 4 or 5 years;

• Paying the homeowners association dues for a year or more or covering the first year’s property taxes or condo fees;

• Offering a selling agent bonus, such as $2,000 or $3,000 bonus to the buyer’s agent may help get the property shown to more potential buyers.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 14; Better Indicator of a Healthy Market: Liquidity; The Need for a True Real Estate Professional; 4 Tips to Help Your Buyers Refine Their Home Search; QR Codes: Give Them A Reason to Scan; Flippers to Blame for Downturn

“Potential is all of the resources you have in front of you. Efficiency is putting those resources to use effectively.”

 — Garrett Gunderson: is an entrepreneur and author


Blog brought to you by: Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D. — Florida International University (FIU) and Editor of the Journal of Housing Research

What is the definition of a healthy housing market? Is it a housing market in which home prices are decreasing? Few would agree with this. Is it a market in which home prices are increasing? At first glance, many would agree with this definition. However, increasing prices cannot be used to diagnose a healthy housing market. If increasing prices indicate market health, then in 2005 housing markets were “very” healthy, and we know that this is not true.

If pricing does not indicate market health, then what does? The answer is simple: it is market liquidity and not pricing that indicates the health of a housing market. Liquidity has been defined in many ways but it basically boils down to: can an individual seller, at a time of their choosing, successfully market their property at or near market value? We often hear of rates (turn-over and absorption) that are related to this concept. Unfortunately, these measures are difficult to estimate and they all have something to do with outstanding inventory. What really matters, regardless of outstanding inventory, is the likelihood that a property will close. This is the most basic meaning of market liquidity and it can easily be proxied.

All of the data necessary to proxy a particular market’s liquidity (and thereby its health) is available on the daily “hot sheets” of almost every MLS in country. Since liquidity is really just a batting average all that needs to be done is total the successful transactions (closed properties) and divide these by the failed listing transactions (Expireds + Withdrawns + Cease Efforts + Cancelled)[1][2]. The resulting number is a very close approximate to the probability that any given property listed in that market will close and an increasing trend in this number indicates improving market health.


Pricing trends do not indicate the health of a housing market. Keep in mind. For almost every sell in an increasing market, there is a repurchase at a higher price. For almost every sell in a decreasing market, there is a repurchase at a lower price. Thus, pricing is a “double edged sword”. Gains/Losses on a sell are almost always accompanied by higher/lower repurchases. Thus, pricing trends can never indicate the health of a particular real estate market. Instead, it is market liquidly, which can be easily proxied, that actually indicates market health. After all, the real goal is for a seller of property to be able to transact at or near market value with a high degree of certainty. Fortunately, most MLS’s around the country have the information at their fingertips to estimate the health of their particular market.

It is liquidity (not price) that matters.


[1] Different MLS’s have similar but not exact designations for these various categories. The goal is simply to divide successes by failures.

[2] The timing of the calculation will depend on the number of outcomes each day on a particular market’s MLS hot sheet. The goal is to avoid a mathematically undefined estimate. Thus, larger markets might do this average daily, while smaller markets might only calculate this average on a monthly basis.



Anyone in the real estate industry for any length of time realizes that the education required and the resources necessary to be a true industry professional have dramatically increased over the last two decades. In today’s volatile market, it is necessary to have a true real estate professional if you want to sell your home for the best possible price in the shortest amount of time – and make sure the deal gets to the closing table!

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explained in a recent Existing Sales Report that 18% of all contracts were cancelled in the previous. This compares to 16% the prior month and 9% in August of 2010.

The good news is homeowners have realized that attempting to sell their home on their own is an arduous process best left to an industry expert. According to NAR’s 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the percentage of sellers selling on their own, known as For Sale By Owners (FSBOs), has dropped almost in half over the last 20 years:

Bottom Line

If you are selling a home in today’s confusing real estate market, it is best to take on the services of a local real estate expert. He/she will guide you through each step of the transaction thereby increasing the likelihood that there will be fewer inconveniences for you and your family.



Are your buyers having a tough time wading through the inventories of homes to find the right home? Kelly O’Ryan, an office manager with Coldwell Banker in Lexington, Mass., offered some of the following tips in a recent article at RISMedia to help your home buyers narrow their search when looking for properties:

1. Have your home buyers make a list of all the must-haves for their future home, such as the number of bedrooms and school district they must have.

2. Make sure your buyers get pre-approved for a mortgage by a lender. This will help ensure they don’t look for homes that are only within their budget.

3. Encourage your buyers to research available homes on the Internet so they get a feel for what’s available. You can help them sort for properties within their price range and locate homes that fit their criteria. But have them review photos and videos of multiple homes on the Internet to help them narrow their search before you take them to view homes in-person.

4. Remind your home buyers to not get sidetracked when viewing homes at aesthetics that can be changed out easily, such as paint colors and light fixtures. Help them to see past any bad decor and focus in on items in the home that can’t easily be changed, such as the home’s location and lot size.

Source: “How To Lead a Refined Real Estate Search



QR (Quick Response) codes must be used correctly to serve as valuable marketing tools.

QR codes should direct consumers to a mobile landing page, otherwise they load slowly, do not format correctly, and do not allow for easy browsing. They also must be accompanied by a clear call to action, encouraging consumers to scan for a discount or to receive useful information. After consumers scan the QR code, there must be an exclusive offer or important content or information waiting for them.

Although QR codes can be had for free, experts say it is important that they come with reporting tools, which can help real estate agents gauge the success of their marketing campaign. Free codes also prevent changes in content, requiring that a new QR code be created.

Finally, agents should keep the URL short to make the code easier to scan.

Source: The 5 Rules of QR Codes



House flippers — made up of investors who bought up homes during the housing boom, possibly made a few upgrades to the home, and quickly resold the homes for high-dollar profit — played a larger role in causing the housing bubble than previously thought, according to a new federal report out by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The impact that speculative real estate investors played in driving the housing downturn has mostly been overlooked until now, the researchers note.

The speculative investors used low down payments and subprime credit in buying up multiple homes at once, the report says. Their actions attributed to home prices in some areas being inflated, researchers say.

“This may have allowed the bubble to inflate further, which caused millions of owner-occupants to pay more if they wanted to buy a home for their family,” researchers note in the report.

House flippers made up a big piece of the real estate market during the housing boom. According to the report, more than one-third of all home mortgages from 2006 were to people who already owned at least one home. What’s more, “in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where average home prices more than doubled from 2000 to 2006, investors made up nearly half of all mortgage-backed purchases during the housing bubble,” the Associated Press reports. “Buyers owning three or more properties represented the fastest-growing segment of home owners during that time.”

When home values began to fall in 2006, investors defaulted on their loans in large numbers, accounting for more than 25 percent of seriously delinquent mortgage balances, according to the report. In investor hot-spots like Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada, investors accounted for more than a third of seriously delinquent mortgage balances from 2007 to 2009.

The report urges lenders and regulators to take action to limit speculative borrowing in order to avoid a future housing downturn.

Source: “Flippers’ Housing Bust Role Larger Than Thought

TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 12; Banks Spend Money to Spruce Up REO’s; Where Are The Gen “Y” Home Buyers?; BofA Considers Renting REOs Back to Former Owners; Housing Still Great Investment, Americans Say; Low Rates Keep Housing Affordable

“A resourceful person can see opportunity when others only see obstacles.”

— Garrett Gunderson: is an entrepreneur and author




Foreclosed homes continue to hamper nearby property values. In some cities, foreclosures were found to decrease nearby property values up to $17,000, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

More programs are being aimed at rehabbing foreclosed homes so the harm to property values won’t be as great.

According to the GAO report, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac doled out $953 million last year to maintain and fix up vacant homes.

“We are committed to stabilizing communities and helping the housing market recover,” a Fannie Mae spokesperson told HousingWire. “Our goal is to sell REO properties at a competitive market rate, and maintaining our properties is an important part of achieving that goal.”

Since 2008, investors and nonprofits received $6 billion in grant money from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program to maintain and fix up vacant homes. In Detroit, the city spent $20 million last year demolishing vacant homes or rehabbing ones that could still be saved after neglect.

Wells Fargo & Co. said recently it will donate $5.53 million to 52 nonprofit groups through its Leading the Way Home Program Priority Markets Initiative so that the groups can purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned homes.

“These grants will help stabilize and rebuild local communities,” Kimberly Jackson, executive director of Wells Fargo’s Housing Foundation. “We want to do what we can to make resources available to support efforts led by nonprofits to revitalize neighborhoods in cities that have felt the effects of financial difficulties and a challenging economy.”



Many buyers are delaying a decision to purchase a home because of the volatility of the real estate market. There is no larger category exhibiting this behavior than those of Generation Y. To define this segment of the population, we go to Wikipedia:

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, or Echo Boomers, describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s.

Does this generation wish to own a home?

Yes. A recent survey completed by Trulia shows people between the ages of 18-34 still believe in the concept of home ownership. 65% of those surveyed said “their American Dream includes owning a home”.

Where are these adults living?

Recent research form John Burns Real Estate Consulting shows the number of adults living with their parents has dramatically increased over the past eight years. Below is a graph showing the numbers:

Bottom Line

Generation Y believes in homeownership. Yet, they are delaying the decision to purchase a home of their own. When they do decide to buy, they will impact the housing market in a big way.



In facing large inventories of foreclosures, Bank of America is considering a program that would allow investors to buy a foreclosed home and then rent it back to the former home owner, HousingWire reports.

Bank of America is looking for ideas on how to handle the large inventories of foreclosures in some areas where demand hasn’t picked up.

“We are looking at programs where you can capture somebody before the REO process and offer a deed-for-lease,” Ron Sturzenegger, who leads the bank’s legacy asset servicing division, explained to HousingWire. “We would go to the customer and say, ‘We’ll do a short sale. Will you be interested in leasing your property back? We’re still going to sell the property. You will no longer be the owner. But you can be a tenant now in that same property and save you from moving on.”

The program is still in very early stages and more details need to be worked out, Sturzenegger noted.



Sixty-two percent of Americans say that purchasing a home is a good investment over the next 10 years, according to the Mortgage Index Study conducted on behalf of Bank of America.

Affordability ranks high among the 1,104 consumers surveyed nationwide. For those considering a home purchase within the next year, 62 percent reported contacting a lender or using online tools to determine affordable monthly mortgage payments, according to the survey. Seventy-four percent also said they plan to use their personal savings for a down payment on a home.

According to the survey, consumers most popular piece of advice for others looking to buy a home soon: Don’t “buy more house than you can afford.”



Mortgage rates continued to be near record lows this week, keeping housing at affordable levels for most households.

“Thirty-year fixed-rate loans have declined 0.62 percentage points from a year ago, and median sales prices on existing homes are off 4.7 percent in the year ending with October,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “These low rates and home prices have pushed housing affordability to record highs this year.”

Monthly principal and mortgage interest payments accounted for 12.6 percent of a median family incomes in October, Nothaft notes. For the sixth time this year, the National Housing Affordability Index reached another all-time record high, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

Here’s a closer look at mortgage rates for the week ending Dec. 8.

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.99 percent, with an average 0.7 point, down from last week’s 4 percent average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.61 percent.

• 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.27 percent, with an average 0.8 point, just slightly above the all-time low of 3.26 percent it reached on Oct. 6. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.96 percent.

• 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.93 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, ticking up slightly from last week’s 2.90 percent average. Last year at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.60 percent.

• 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.80 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, edging up slightly from 2.78 percent last week. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 3.27 percent.

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.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 6; Real Estate as a Hedge against Inflation; Prices Mostly Stabilize: Why Aren’t More Talking About it?; Record Number of Homes in Foreclosure; Winter-Selling Tips for Overcoming the Gloom

“Income is derived by what value we can create for others, therefore do what you enjoy, do it the best, and this will allow you to create the most value.”

– Garrett Gunderson: is an entrepreneur and author




We haven’t heard a lot about inflation recently. However, prices have started to creep upward over the last year. As examples, here are a few categories that increased from

November 2010 to November 2011:

• Food at home – up 6.2%

• Housing fuels and utilities – up 3.5%

• Transportation – up 9.2%

Today, we want to address the issue of inflation and the advantages of owning real estate. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) took an historic look at the impact of inflation. Here are some inflation numbers over the past 30 years:

We can see that real estate has fared very well. The most important number is the $0 increase in mortgage amount. The study assumed that the homeowner took a 30 year fixed rate mortgage thereby locking in the housing expense for the thirty years.

NAR then looked at inflation moving forward over the next thirty years. Obviously, if it remained the same as the last thirty years the percentage increase would be the same. They looked at a low inflation scenario and a high inflation scenario. The graph below shows the findings:

Bottom Line

We can lock in the housing costs of our primary residences and vacation homes at all time lows if we purchase today. Either would be a great hedge against future inflation.



An improving job picture and prices stabilizing for non-distressed homes are all signs that point to a housing recovery taking shape, Barclays Capital analyst Stephen Kim told HousingWire.

“In the absence of a government home buyer incentives, prices for non-distressed home sales have stabilized for almost a year,” Kim said. “This is the most important trend in the housing industry right now, and we are amazed at how little attention it has been getting from the media and the street. This stability on the part of non-distressed prices has occurred despite a very high share of distressed activity and continued declines in overall prices.”

The key to when the housing recovery will largely take off “depends primarily on when these first-time buyers decide it is safe to buy a house,” Kim told HousingWire.




The foreclosure pipeline has never been more crammed, with lenders attempting to push 2.2 million homes through the process as of the end of October, according to a monthly report issued today by Lender Processing Services Inc.

Foreclosure starts jumped 5.7 percent from September to October, to 232,865, LPS said. But the report also showed significant improvement in the long-term outlook for foreclosures.

The number of borrowers who were behind on their loans by at least 90 days but who were not yet in foreclosure at the end of October dropped by nearly 19 percent from January, to 1.76 million. That’s a 42.5 percent drop from a peak of 3.06 million in January 2010.

Compared to January, the number of homeowners behind by just one payment also dropped 7.4 percent, to 1.66 million, and 60-day delinquencies were down 11.8 percent, to 665,804.

Delinquencies of all types (30-day, 60-day and 90 days or more) were down 13.6 percent from January to October, to 4.08 million, while the number of homes in foreclosure increased by less than 1 percent.



Selling a home in the cold, dreary winter months may not be ideal but there’s still plenty you can do to get a home to standout.

“Buyers out looking at homes in December or January are, as a group, quite serious about buying,” Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois, told RISMedia. “Therefore, sellers tend to benefit because each showing is more productive, and fewer showings are needed to sell the property.”

RE/MAX agents offer some of the following tips when selling a home in winter in a recent article at RISMedia.

Turn on the lights: Counter winter’s cloudy and short days by turning on all of the lights in a home for each showing. “Also, it’s a great idea to keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled,” says Marlene Granacki of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago. “People are always driving past the house, and keeping it lighted makes it look happy and welcoming.”

Have a place for shoes: Prospective buyers may arrive at the front door with shoes coated in snow or salt. “Make it easy for buyers to deal with their shoes when they arrive,” says Barbara Hibnick of RE/MAX Showcase, Long Grove, Ill. “Put a festive area rug at the front door for a great first impression and so visitors can wipe their feet. Have slippers or disposable booties available, along with a bench or chair, if there is room for one, where a visitor can sit and easily remove or put on their boots.”

Watch for odors: Homes can get stuffy in the winter. “Pet odors can be especially worrisome in winter,” says Mike Mondello of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong, and I recommend that in winter sellers clean more often.”

Don’t make it too toasty: “Don’t blast buyers with hot air,” the RISMedia article notes. Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees during your showings (although keep in mind that a comfortable temperature for your thermostat can vary form house to house.) Potential buyers will most likely be wearing their winter coats when they tour the house so no reason to make them sweat.



Fannie Mae says it will suspend evictions for single-family foreclosures and two- to four-unit properties during the holiday season, from Dec. 19 through Jan. 2, 2012.

“The holidays are meant for families to spend time together, especially if they’ve gone through the stress of financial challenges and foreclosure,” Terry Edwards, executive vice president of Credit Portfolio Management for Fannie Mae, said in a statement. “No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season.”

While the holiday moratorium is in place, legal and administrative proceedings for evictions may continue, but”families living in foreclosed properties will be permitted to remain in the home,” Fannie Mae announced in a statement.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Dec 5; Are the Holidays a Good Time to Sell?; …And the Changes Keep Coming; 1st Time Home Buyers Scared Off?; The Proper Short Sale Application; 6 Ways to Go the Extra Mile

“If you turn it over to the universe you will be surprised and dazzled by what is delivered to you. This is where magic and miracles happen.”

– Dr. Joe Vitale: Motivational author and speaker





Sixty percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because it’s a good time to sell, according to a new survey conducted by Realtor.com.

Why are the holidays such a good time to sell? Seventy-nine percent of the agents surveyed said that more serious buyers come out during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties make it a great time to sell. Plus, 17 percent of agents say the cold weather is actually a benefit, making homes feel more cozy.

But online listing photos become even more crucial during the holiday season, according to the survey. Slightly more than half of agents say that the photos are more important because sellers tend to offer less open houses around the holidays, and so the online photos help buyers decide the properties to see and which ones to possibly bypass.

The biggest hurdles sellers face during the holidays, however, are keeping a home ready to show (clean and staged) as well as winter weather conditions and buyers’ vacation schedules, the Realtor.com survey found.



With an election year right around the corner, it seems obvious that the world is full of flip-floppers, so why should housing and mortgage policy-makers be any different?

• Remember when the Federal Government was trying to ease its way out of being the dominant provider of mortgage financing (and trying to move people more into the private sector and Private Mortgage Insurance)?

• Remember the days when government insured financing (through FHA loans) was capped at 85% of their conventional counterparts (from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)?

• Then, the government recently decided to LOWER the conforming loan limits in high cost areas from $729,750 back to $625,500. The logic was sound. Home values have declined, therefore, so should conforming loan limits.

But then comes the reality that the home buyers buying between $650-750,000 are going to suffer with higher rates. How can we fix it? The flip flop. That’s how. The government’s solution-raise FHA loan limits back up. More government involvement in housing finance. None-the-less, it’s good news for a segment of the home buying population who can still enjoy great rates with as little as 3.5% as a down payment.

In the constantly changing world of mortgages, it is imperative that you work with a loan professional who knows how to properly position you, taking into consideration numerous factors – from loan program, to costs, to eligibility.



Home prices have fallen to 2002 levels and mortgage rates are at record lows – so why are the number of first-time home buyers decreasing instead of increasing?

First-time home buyers used to account for about half of all housing sales, but over the past year, they’ve made up only about a third of buyers, according to a recent New York Times article.

“The obstacles facing first-time buyers are big, and it’s changing the way they look at home ownership,” Dan McCue, research manager at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, told The New York Times.

Higher down payment requirements, job insecurity, and tougher credit standards may all be holding back first-time home buyers – which tend to be dominated by young professionals. The median down payment for a single-family home in 2002 was 4 percent in nine major metro areas, but now stands at 22 percent, according to Zillow.com.

What’s more, while mortgage rates are hovering at record lows, fewer buyers are able to qualify. About one-third of households have credit scores that aren’t good enough to qualify for a mortgage. The median required credit score from FICO Inc. has increased from 720 in 2007 to 760 currently, according to The New York Times article.




Brought to you by – Christopher Reale, Director of Short Sale Operations at Lepizzera and Laprocina Title and Escrow Services, as today’s guest blogger

In any business, whether it be real estate or other, in order to be successful one must have a systematic approach to their craft. This holds true when putting a short sale transaction together. During our 5 year tenure negotiating short sales, we have found that some Real Estate professionals lack such an approach.

I learned early in my mortgage career that if I submitted a lackluster credit file to my underwriting department I would receive lackluster results. These results included denied files, upset underwriters and a processing department that wanted to throw the file back on my desk faster than I wanted it submitted. I quickly remedied the situation after a conversation with a very good friend who is a million dollar producer in the financial services industry. He shared with me his systematic approach when handling his clients. He did not sway from this system. He applied the approach to every client that he spoke to. He did the work up front, asking every detailed question imaginable on his fact finding sheet. He left no stone unturned. Though sometimes monotonous in nature, this systematic approach allowed him to implement a solid financial plan for his clients and provide the bridge to a solid financial future.

I quickly adopted a similar approach with my clients. I was able to come up with a systematic approach to my origination method that was both trackable and attainable. I left no stone unturned when speaking to my clients. I made sure I over documented the credit file and provided a complete and accurate credit profile to my underwriting department for every client I had the pleasure of writing a loan for. The results were amazing. I was pushing files through underwriting with transaction speeds never seen before and I was making allies doing so. When the processing and underwriting departments received a file from me, they knew it would only have to be touched one time and a conditional approval would be granted. They actually wanted to receive files from me rather than wanting to throw them back on my desk. Success!

I share this information because the short sale application process is very similar to the loan origination process.

However, if you take a shot gun approach rather than a targeted systematic approach to the process, you will set yourself up for failure. Below are the documents one must attain to make sure the short selling bank does not throw the file back on your desk when submitting the file for short sale approval:

Financial Information

• Tax information

o Two most recent 1040’s

o Two most recent W2’s

• 60 days of current bank statements

• 30 days of current pay stubs or commission check stubs

• If self employed-pay stubs or YTD profit and loss statement

• Monthly budget/financial statement signed and dated same day as P&S

Hardship information

• Hardship letter dated signed same day as purchase contract

• Any docs supporting the actual hardship

• Medical bills

• Child support or alimony payment information. Divorce decree or child support order

Mortgage & Other Relevant Property Information

• 1st Mortgage statement

• 2nd Mortgage statement if applicable

• Recent Real Estate tax bills

• Recent condo association bills if applicable

• Any recent water or sewer bills

Other Pertinent Documentation

• Authorization form

• Short sale disclosure

• Waiver of conflict if representing the buyer

• 3 recent comps

• Listing agreement

• Offer/P&S

• Listing history

• Buyer proof of funds letter or Pre Approval letter

It is important to understand that the above documents are required for almost every short selling bank. There are also bank specific forms that, in most cases, must accompany the above. You may contact your negotiator or the bank directly to obtain the bank specific documents. However, if you make an attempt to structure a document checklist with the above documents and systematically approach every short sale file with the idea of fulfilling that checklist, you will soon see that the short sale process will be one which will prove to be lucrative. The end result will be a happy buyer, seller, production team and, of course, bank negotiator. After all, a systematic approach to the short sale process will alleviate the negotiator throwing the file back on your desk for deficient information. In fact, they will be eagerly awaiting the next file with your name on it!




Salespeople can outdo competitors by taking one of two avenues: lowering prices or boosting the quality and quantity of service they provide to customers. All too often, however, they make the mistake of dismissing customer-service requests as an administrative burden rather than embracing them as an opportunity to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field.

Consumer polls have shown time and time again that customers will pay more for a product when impressed with the level of post-transaction service they receive. Real estate professionals who get into the habit of providing stellar service will reap the benefits in the form of increased sales, improved customer loyalty, and more business due to positive word-of-mouth advertising from happy clients.

Practitioners can ramp up their customer service by:

1. Responding to customer calls and e-mails within an hour.

2. Mailing a handwritten thank-you note to new customers once a transaction closes.

3. Proactively contacting customers to see if they have any service needs.

4. Handling customer requests expeditiously.

5. Building rapport and strengthening relationships with top clients by taking them out for a casual meal.

6. Keeping in touch with customers by mailing out a motivational or business article every six months or so.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Nov 29; Does Your Client Want to Dump You? Housing Affordability Hovers Record Levels; Group Saves Pets from Housing Crisis; Recovery Taking Hold in New-Home Market; Home Sales Increase Across the Country

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs: was an American Inventor and Businessman




Sometimes a relationship between a home seller or buyer and a real estate agent can turn sour. One of the most common reasons? Poor communication, Jennifer A. Chiongbian, a broker with Rutenberg Realty in New York City, told Bankrate.com.

Unresponsive agents “plagues our industry,” says Chiongbian.

You may have a hunch that your client is starting to lose confidence in you. “Most agents know when the seller doesn’t like them or doesn’t want to deal with them any longer as their real estate agent,” Joe Adkins, owner of The Realty Factor in Altamonte Springs, Fla., told Bankrate.com “So if the seller asked nicely and explained the reasons why they want to cancel the listing contract, most real estate agents would honor their request. I know I have in the past.”

If you’re going to cancel an agreement, be sure to do it in writing to avoid any misunderstandings later on if the house does end up selling, experts suggest.

But before you throw in the towel, realize that sometimes the relationship can still be salvaged.

“Good agents, companies and brokers will discuss solutions based on market data to resolve the client’s queries,” Jerry Grodesky, owner of Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate in Buckley, Ill., told Bankrate.com. Solutions may include everything from price reductions, open houses, or doing more marketing on the home.



Ultra-low interest rates mixed with stabilizing home prices continued to push housing affordability in the third quarter near its highest levels in more than two decades, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

For the third quarter, 72.9 percent of all homes sold were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,200, according to the index. This marks the 11th consecutive quarter that the affordability measure was above 70 percent; prior to this it rarely was above 60 percent.

“With interest rates at historically low levels and markets across the country beginning to improve, home ownership is within reach of more households than it has been for nearly two decades,” Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. “However, tough economic conditions – particularly in markets that experienced major changes in house prices and production – as well as extremely tight credit conditions confronting home buyers and builders continue to remain significant obstacles to many potential home sales.”

The most affordable major housing market nationwide? Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla., in which 92.5 percent of all homes sold were found to be affordable to households earning the median family income of $53,800 for the area. Other affordable major markets included Toledo, Ohio; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah. For smaller housing markets, Fairbanks, Alaska, ranked the highest, in which 97.8 percent of homes sold during the third quarter were found to be affordable to families earning the median income of $91,700.

Meanwhile, the least affordable major housing market continues to be New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J., in which 23.3 percent of all homes sold were affordable to those earning the area’s median income of $67,400.



A growing number of real estate professionals are finding pets left behind in vacant homes after families have moved on.

Pets are being increasingly left behind in homes for any number of reasons, not just in cases of foreclosure, agents say. For example, pets are sometimes found in homes when the home owner has passed away and the relatives didn’t want to deal with the pet, or home owners who believe that by leaving their pets in a home they’ll have saved the animal from being euthanized at a pound.

In any case, it’s real estate professionals who are increasingly finding the abandoned pets when touring homes.

A group of real estate professionals in Chicago, for example, is reaching out to real estate professionals to help them provide information or assistance for families with pets they no longer want. For example, agents may also be able to provide guidance to these families’ who face foreclosure on what to do with their pets.

Suzy Thomas, a real estate professional for Dream Town Realty in Chicago, found REALTORS® to the Rescue in 2005. Originally, the group helped find new homes for animals abandoned in homes, but the group has now refocused its efforts on raising funds for animal-protection groups.

“We began to wonder, how can we network to help the shelters?” Thomas told the Chicago Tribune. “Because they have the experts. Or maybe we could help them get volunteers for events. Lately, we did a food drive to provide food for people who can’t afford to feed their pets. We volunteered at a 36-hour animal-adoption event. … We focus now on helping the shelters and rescue groups.”

Another group – No Paws Left Behind – was formed by a mortgage broker in Houston. Since 2008, the group has rescued at least 1,000 animals nationwide.



Single-family housing starts rose 3.9 percent in October with permits, a gauge for future home building, also seeing a sizable jump, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. Housing permits on single-family homes rose 5.1 percent in October to 434,000 units – its highest level since December 2010.

“While we still have a long way to go toward a recovery, some signs of hope are emerging in certain markets where economic and job growth is occurring and where foreclosures have not been an overwhelming obstacle,” Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement.

Single-family housing starts rose to an annual rate of 430,000 units in October. However, after a very large “unsustainable” gain last month, multifamily starts saw an 8.3 percent decline in October.

Housing starts in October by region, as reported by the Commerce Department:

  • Northeast: +17.2%
  • Midwest: +9.7%
  • South: +1.6%
  • West: -16.5%

The future is looking brighter for home builders. Housing permits for both single-family homes and multifamily rose 10.9 percent in October. For single-family homes alone, permits rose 5.1 percent, and for multifamily permits they jumped 24.4 percent – its highest level since October of 2008.

“The three-month moving averages for both housing production and permitting activity have been gradually rising since this spring, which is consistent with our forecast for slow improvement in market conditions through the end of this year and a positive sign that a more solid recovery will begin to take hold in 2012,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement. “That said, the improvements we are seeing are still limited to scattered local markets where economies are improving, and obstacles such as tight credit conditions for builders and buyers, appraisal issues stemming from new homes being compared to distressed properties, and consumer concerns about job security are definitely slowing the progression of both a housing and economic recovery.”



The National Association of Realtors recently released their 2011 3rd Quarter Housing Report. In the report, they showed that combined sales of single family homes, condos and co-ops increased in EVERY state as compared to the 3rd quarter of last year. Here are the state-by-state numbers.


The next time someone says houses aren’t selling, ask them which state they live in and show them the chart.


TEAM EMPOWERMENT MORTGAGE CHATTER: Nov 28; Rent or Buy? The Research Is In!!; Understanding The Impact of Shadow Inventory; 4 Tips to More Successful Negotiations; Freddie Expands REO Winter Sale to More States; ‘Green’ Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Clients

“A resourceful person can see opportunity when others only see obstacles.” – Garrett Gunderson: is an entrepreneur and author




Should individuals buy or rent? What is the evidence on this question? What is the present condition of the U.S. housing market? Relatively speaking, how affordable is housing today? Is the market turning around or are we headed for another dip? These and other questions are answered in the attached PowerPoint presentation.

This is recently shared information at the National Association of REALTORS® annual conference in Anaheim, CA. If you are a practitioner, the presentation should assist in your daily practice. If you are a consumer (buyer, seller, renter or landlord), the information contained within should prove to be very informative. If you are a policy maker, the presentation presents several findings that should influence current housing policy.

The goal is to create an aware and thinking market place. To download the presentation, go to http://realestate.fiu.edu/buyer-or-renter-nation.html.



What is shadow inventory?

It is an inventory of houses that will come to market as a distressed properties at a discounted price. Each of the data companies define shadow inventory in slightly different ways. Standard & Poors defines it this way:

“We include in the shadow inventory all outstanding properties for which borrowers are 90 days or more delinquent on their mortgage payments, properties in foreclosure, and properties that are real estate owned (REO).

We also include 70% of the loans that “cured” from being 90 days delinquent (loans that once again became current) within the past 12 months because cured loans are more likely to re-default. Our calculation of the months to clear the shadow inventory is the ratio of the total volume of distressed loans to the six-month moving average of liquidations.

Is this inventory increasing?

The report shows that shadow inventory is decreasing in many parts of the country as banks are starting to release distressed properties to the market. From the report:

“We estimate that it will take 45 months to clear the national shadow inventory. This is seven months below our peak estimate but three months longer than our estimate a year ago. Twelve of the top 20 MSAs recorded declines in months-to-clear during the quarter, while eight reported increases.

What impact will shadow inventory have on real estate?

One of two things will happen:

  1. The inventory will continue to mount and be a hindrance to a housing recovery
  2. The inventory will be placed on the market and impact prices

As the report states:

“Despite the recent stability of our months-to-clear estimates and liquidation rates, these distressed loans continue to loom over the housing market and threaten to further depress home prices. Though fewer additional loans are currently defaulting, the overall volume of distressed loans remains huge. Low liquidation rates over the past two years allowed the shadow inventory to grow as distressed homes have remained tied up in foreclosure proceedings.

The shadow inventory will continue to jeopardize the housing market’s recovery until servicers are able to improve liquidation times. However, if and when that happens, an influx of homes will likely enter the market, increasing supply and driving prices down further.”

Bottom Line

We believe the inventory will come to market impacting prices now but bringing about a housing recovery in a much shorter period of time.



Negotiations are increasingly becoming a big part of a real estate agent’s job. Arthur Wylie, author of “Only the Crazy and Fearless Win BIG!: The Surprising Secrets to Success in Business and in Life,” offered some of the following basics to becoming a better dealmaker at Realty Times:

Know your value. Understand what your offer can do for the other party. You want them to understand the benefits of your offer, such as whether it may solve a problem, increase earning potential or make their life more convenient. “You want the other party to feel like you understand their needs and that you structure the agreement in their best interest too,” Wylie notes.

Articulate your ideas clearly. Once you’ve identified the value for both parties, be able to convey your vision of the offer in a way that the other party will want the same outcome. Rely on the “what’s in it for me” factor to present your position clearly.

Be humble, but firm. Respect the positions of the other party, regardless how bad of deal it is. “It’s important to be fair and honest about the negotiation and to keep your intentions pure,” Wylie notes. “At the same time, you must express genuine respect and appreciation for what the other parties, what they have done and who they are–even if they’re, well, jerks.”

Have some swagger. Wylie describes swagger as having “commanding and authoritative disposition and demeanor but without being pretentious or arrogant.” You want to be able to hint at what you’re capable of without coming across as bragging, he notes.



Six more states — now bringing the total to 33 — will participate in a winter sales promotion as Freddie Mac’s HomeSteps looks to unload its high REO inventory.

The six states added are Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington. To view a complete list of all states participating in the winter promo as well as eligibility requirements, visit http://www.HomeSteps.com/smartbuy.

“We’re expanding our winter promotion to focus additional incentives to encourage strong sales activity in our ‘cold weather’ states over the next several months.” HomeSteps executive Chris Bowden said in a statement.

HomeSteps’ Winter Sales Promotion for buyers includes paying up to 3 percent of the final sales price toward a buyer’s closing costs for offers received between Nov. 15 and Jan. 31, 2012. (To qualify, escrow must be closed on or before March 15, 2012.) Selling agents may also be eligible for a $1,000 selling bonus through the program.


Save your clients money on their utility bills by giving an energy-saving gift this holiday season. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel recently highlighted several Earth-friendly holiday gift ideas, including:


  • Faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads: Help your clients reduce how much water they use and the amount of energy required to heat it. You can find these for under $10 and $25.
  • Pressure cookers: Pressure cookers can use up to 70 percent less energy than a conventional pot and you can cook your food faster, according to Energy Smart.
  • Artistic energy-efficient light bulbs: Give those CFLs an upgraded look. Hugler, a London-based company, makes a CFL called Plumen that can be used without a lamp shade. CFLs can last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
  • Ecobuttons: You can attach these to your computer so you can instantly put your computer on energy-saving mode with one press of a button. The ecobutton also displays how much energy and money was saved.
  • Solar lawn gadgets and art: Help your home owners decorate their lawns by using energy-efficient products, such as solar-powered water fountains, bird feeders, mosquito zappers, and lanterns.
  • Energy tester: Give your clients an energy tester, like the hand-held Kill A Watt energy meter for about $20, which will reveal what home and office appliances are the biggest energy wasters.