Monday, June 27, 2011


I love referrals! A referral can be a win-win for all parties involved. They not only benefit me as a realtor but they also help my customers -- no matter where they live.

I don't think most people understand how referrals work. Everyone loves to save money and I believe folks are sometimes reluctant to give my contact information to someone else because they think it will cost that person money to do so.

Here's actually how a referral works. Recently, my niece contacted me and said she was looking for a new home and needed a realtor. She lives 800 miles from me.

What I did for her was to research agents in her area. I made a list of potential realtors. I then called them and interviewed them. I sent my recommendations to her and she then contacted the realtors.

After speaking with them, she selected the one she wanted to work with and let me know who she chose. I then sent that realtor a referral agreement.

The referral agreement is a contract between two real estate companies and basically says that the selling agent (my niece's new realtor) agrees to give the referring agent (me) a portion of his/her commission from the transaction involving my niece.

This didn't cost my niece anything. My check came out of the other agent's commission. Had I not referred my niece her agent would have received the entire commission. He/she would not have reduced their commission. When my niece closed on her new house the title company in her town sent me a check.

Most realtors are happy to do this because a portion of a commission is better than no commission at all. And, don't forget, the agent who worked with my niece would never have worked with her without me contacting the agent in the first place.

Referrals work the same way if you're buying or selling. My referral fee is paid by the other agent's company.

A referral is really a great deal for anyone. I do the initial work for you, finding agents that specialize in a particular area, are buyer's/seller's agents, etc. I interview them and screen them before I send their contact information along to you. Even with my experience and training I can still miss on my suggestions but that is more a product of how well the person gets along with the agent rather than the qualifications of the agents I refer.

So let's re-cap.

1. I can find you or anyone else a realtor no matter where you/they live.

2. I will do the screening and interviewing and give you a list of 3-4 agents to contact.

3. You pick the agent with whom you are most comfortable.

4. It doesn't cost you anything.

5. What are you waiting for? Contact me today and let me help you.

Remember, if you or someone you know is buying or selling property, no matter where you or they live, please contact me. I can help you and it won't cost you anything.
If you’re thinking of buying a house anytime soon you might have to eat at home more often, buy generic brands at the store and dig a little deeper into your savings.

According to reports in the Washington Post, Republicans are circulating a proposal which would boost the down payment requirement for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Some industry experts fear such a move would keep potential buyers from being able to purchase homes.

Currently, borrowers who take out FHA-insured mortgages are permitted to put down as little as 3.5 percent. For first-time home buyers that makes these loans an attractive choice. The increase in defaults on FHA loans over the last few years has caused the agency’s cash reserves to dwindle, creating concerns that taxpayers may have to come to the agency’s rescue.

The Republican proposal would require most FHA borrowers to put down at least 5 percent. Those who support the idea say that forcing borrowers to have more equity in their homes would better protect homeowners against default and thus improve the agency’s finances. The issue is scheduled to be discussed today at a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing led by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.).

The proposal has not been formally introduced in legislative form and industry analysts say it is unlikely to gain bipartisan support. Gathering the upfront cash is often the biggest hurdle for those buying their first homes.

A similar Republican proposal stalled in the House last year after the Obama administration vehemently opposed it. At that time FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens said raising the minimum down payment to 5 percent would lower the agency’s loan volume by 40 percent in the next fiscal year and shut out 300,000 first-time home buyers.

The FHA has raised its down payment to 10 percent for borrowers with the poorest credit and said it would consider raising its down payment requirement as part of a broader effort to curb the government’s role in housing finance.
The administration has also teamed up with banking regulators to propose a rule that would enable only those who put down 20 percent to get the lowest interest rates, though that rule does not apply to FHA borrowers.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rules of Engagement -- Customer

If you choose me to be your realtor it's kind of like going on a date.  We will have begun a relationship that may only last for as long as it takes to buy or sell your property. Or, it could last a lifetime.

In my last post I listed the 7 duties of a transaction broker in Florida. This time let's take a look at some things you, the customer, can do to make this process better should you select me as your realtor.

  1. Don't go looking at houses on your own. Consider this scenario. Let's say I have taken you to look at multiple properties on several different days. One day you're driving down a street, see a For Sale sign and call the agent listed on the sign. He/she meets you at the house and you end up buying that property. I don't get paid.

    Despite what you might think about saving yourself some money you haven't saved anything because the listing agent would then get a commission for both sides of the transaction. Please call me. I will gladly arrange to show you the property. I will work hard for you in order to earn my commission, let's make the other agent earn his/her commission too.
  2. Get your financing arranged before we look at any properties. I recommend you get your credit score, talk to several lenders (I can give you some names) and then choose the one that offers you the financing that best suits your needs. By knowing how much money you qualify for we can concentrate our efforts on homes within your price range.
  3. Be honest with me. If you're not serious about buying or selling right away please tell me. It's OK but it will help me to better budget my time for other customers whose needs are more pressing. I will stay in touch with you and when you're ready we'll start the process.
  4. If you're buying, make a wish list and prioritize it. What things are most important to you in a property? List 8-10 things and then be willing to give up some in case we can't find anything that includes all of them.
  5. Sometimes, home sellers have unrealistic expectations about what their home is worth or how quickly it will sell. I have listed homes at higher prices than I recommended because the owners would not accept my recommended list price. Later, when the listing expired they went with another realtor and listed the property at the price I had originally recommended.
  6. Don't make it too difficult for buyers to view your property.The absolute best case scenario is to put a lock box on your property and simply ask realtors to give me a courtesy call before they show the property. That way your home is always ready to be looked at unless you advise me otherwise.
  7. Don't make it personal. If you're selling don't automatically reject an offer because it's "insulting." An offer is the beginning of the negotiation process. It's much better to make a counter-offer to keep the lines of communication open and to allow for negotiation. I have had sellers reject offers I brought to them only to ultimately sell the property for thousands less after listing with another realtor.
If we work together buying or selling real estate can be a pleasurable experience. Please give me the chance to show you.

Rules of Engagement -- Realtor

I have found that most people really don't understand the real estate process. There are tons of misconceptions and misinformation floating around out there. Here are the basic responsibilities of the realtor.

Under Florida law, it is presumed that all real estate licensees are operating as transaction brokers unless established otherwise in writing. Basically, that means we work to make a transaction take place. We provide limited representation to a buyer, a seller, or both in a real estate transaction.

Here are the 7 duties of a transaction broker:

  1. Deal honestly and fairly.
  2. Account for all funds.
  3. Use skill, care and diligence in the transaction.
  4. Disclose all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable to the buyer.
  5. Present all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner.
  6. Exercise limited confidentiality unless waived in writing by a party.
  7. Perform any additional duties that are mutually agreed to with a party.
This aspect of limited representation allows a realtor to facilitate a real estate transaction by assisting both the buyer and seller. However, a realtor will not work to represent one party to the detriment of the other party when acting as a transaction broker to both parties.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Turning Hopes Into Homes

I'm a realtor in Pensacola, Florida. I love living here. The weather is usually sunny. Our beaches are pristine  . . . pure white sand the color and consistency of sugar. The water sparkles in so many shades of green and blue . . . so beautiful they call this area the Emerald Coast. The fishing is like nowhere else on earth and the seafood, well don't get me started on that.

I'm ready to help you find your dream home here in the Pensacola area. In this blog I will share information about real estate and life in Pensacola.

I work at Gulf Real Estate Group. We're an independent real estate agency, locally owned and operated. What does that mean to you? I think it means everything. I, along with all our realtors, can provide you with everything that you receive from one of the big box agencies. Only I like to think we do it with a more personal touch.

Real estate can be a scary proposition. But, it doesn't have to be. It's my job to assist you throughout the process and make things go as smoothly as possible. I do that by using my professional expertise, by asking lots of questions, and by listening to you.

Personally, I hate high pressure salesmen. It's not my style. If you feel the same way maybe we would have a connection. I would love the opportunity to help turn your hopes into homes.

Oh, and one more thing, referrals are the life blood of my business. If you or someone you know is buying or selling property anytime soon even if you're not in Pensacola, please contact me. I can find a realtor for you and it won't cost you anything.