Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Picture of the Day

I recently ran into a site run by Athol called "Bad MLS Photo of the Day." Looking through the pictures, I came to the realization that I've seen many poorly taken pictures by real estate agents here in the San Fernando Valley too. If these pictures remind you of your home, I suggest you call me ASAP and fire your current agent!

Here's one that caught my eye...

Athol updates his list of Bad MLS Photo's daily so if you want a good laugh or two, be sure to bookmark his site. His site has got some humor and "Photo Portfolio" of pictures Athol has taken. Be sure to spend some time on his site. His web-site is located here:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zillow.com & Trulia.com Sucks - Not Realtor Friendly

As Realtors, we know the #1 place to list a home is in our own MLS system. This system integrates with Realtor.com and our IDX systems which allows the home to be listed on agent sites. Statistics prove that Realtor.com is the #1 real estate site online.

Thinking back over the years before Zillow and Trulia, lead generating sites like homegain.com and housevalues.com was all the rage. Now that those companies are dying- out and consumers are tired of selling themselves to the highest bidder, start-ups like Zillow and Trulia became the new buzz.

The unique aspect of Trulia and Zillow is that they know how to give people the information they want unlike Realtor.com. Keep in mind when I say information, I don't mean property listings but everything else Realtor.com doesn't do. Though Zillow.com Zestimates is a disgrace and should not be used to justify anything, I can understand the ferocious appetite for the consumer to gain knowledge about their neighborhood. I mean...some of the information on their sites are useful, but should never be relied upon for accuracy. Only local professionals who are familiar with the area should be consulted upon for a good idea on what the home will sell for.

Lately, I've been spending some time answering questions on Trulia's "Trulia Voices." Thought I think it's great to be able to communicate with other agents and sellers/buyers, I'm skeptical if their system will ever provide any realistic financial incentive by participating. Also, what recourse does a person have for getting inaccurate information from people who are not familiar with their local city/county/state laws.

What I do believe is Zillow and Trulia are in a sense wanting to be what Realtor.com is and has been, but better. They know they have to create a better and more interactive system in order to gain the trust and respect of agents and buyers/sellers. But without the participation of every MLS in the country, I doubt they will make it far. They will be just another information site and will eventually be integrated with a major site like MSN or Yahoo.

So their objective continues to entice agents to input listings and reap the benefits of free business. What agents don't realize is that if they continue to do so, they are actually chipping away at the foundation of the Realtor and MLS system.

Take a minute and think about it... If all the MLS's automatically imputed their listings to sites like Trulia and Zillow, what do you suppose is going to happen to Realtor.com? Well, I can bet people are going to visit Trulia and Zillow because the people there seem to be a lot more creative than the people at Realtor.com. But without the checks-and-balances we have with our MLS and Realtor.com, I predict home-buyers and seller will suffer financial harm.

I believe Trulia and Zillow should stay what they really are..a data aggregating site which displays neighborhood statistics. I also think Zillow should discontinue their Zestimate as other companies have integrated their useless system and providing incorrect information which can cause a financial loss to people who are unaware of how they calculate market value.

I also believe any MLS which integrated themselves with these so called Realtor friendly sites should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable financially for anyone who has a financial loss because of the information displayed on their sites.

If your selling your home, there are many things your agent can do to get your home more attention.

1. Add as many professionally taken pictures into the MLS sytem which will also be shown on Realtor.com and agent websites(IDX).

2. Add a virtual tour which will also be integrated with Realtor.com and agent websites.

3. Build a single site for the property and include that URL in all advertising.

4. Promote the home on craigslist.com, backweb.com, Ebay's Kajiji.com, Livedeal.com, Oodle.com, MSN Live Expo, Google Base, and Yahoo Classifieds.

Sellers can also help sell their homes faster by pricing aggressively and also making the property available with a lockbox. If your home is not in the MLS, call me or click the "Live Chat" button below and let me show you how I can generate more buyers for your home than any other agent in the San Fernando Valley.


Richard Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estates

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Selling Idea

During my last office meeting, an agent recommended an idea that has worked in selling one of his listings. I thought I would share his idea with you.

During the coarse of his listing, a buyer visited the home on several occasions and expressed interest in the home. But what happened is that the buyer never wrote an offer thinking the price was too high and didn't want to waste his/her time.

Though this can be frustrating for a seller who sees a party walk through the home on different occasions, this agent pondered on what he can do to get them interested in the home and to get both parties to come to an agreement.

We all know that over 90% of the time, an offer is usually written by the buyer's agent. So just imagine if we turn the tables and have the seller and listing agent write an offer on their own home, and present it to the buyer for acceptance. That's what I would call a paradigm shift in real estate. It completely changes the way you think and do business.

So here is how it would work. The listing agent would ask the seller, "If I got a party to buy your home today, what is the lowest price you would sell your home for?" The seller would probably give their lowest price. Having that information, the listing agent would draft a "Purchase Contract" and then take it over to the original Buyer's agent to present to the client for acceptance.

You are most likely wondering why a listing agent and seller would go to the trouble of doing the buyer's agent paperwork. Well...if you have a feeling the buyer loves the home and never writes an offer, then what do you have to lose? 20 minutes of your time?

This is a win/win situation for all. Both agents get paid their commission, and the buyer and seller agree on a price that works for them both without having to go back and forth negotiating or being afraid to ask for what they want.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Short Sales Suck - Agents Walking Away

Though I have been optimistic about selling a home short, it seems more and more real estate agents are getting tired of dealing with banks who expect more money from buyers and their agents commission. AGENTS ARE WALKING AWAY FROM SHORT SALES!

I've been seeing more listings specifically mention "NOT REO / NOT SHORT SALE" as agents are starting to avoid short sale homes. I mean do I really blame them? It's already hard enough to find qualified buyers with at least 5% down, then to find them a home their going to love. Just imagine doing all that work + the crazy paperwork, then the bank rejecting your offer and demanding more than what the agent listed the home for. How many times can you kick yourself or bang your head to the wall? I guess as many times needed to avoid the next Short Sale crisis!

Just today, I was visiting a top producer who is a close friend of mine. He was very discouraged about dealing with short sales saying, " I just had a deal fall apart because of the bank. I'm avoiding short sales and looking for homeowners with equity."

To minimize the risk of losing a great client and potential sale, more agents are looking for bank owned homes. In fact, with a bank owned home, your dealing directly with the bank. Also, bank owned homes are usually priced 10%-25% below market value. The listing agent representing the bank is most likely an REO specialist so he/she will know what deals the banks going to take - minimizing wasted time & money. What I've been seeing is bank owned homes offering $10,000 credit to buyers to help pay their non-recurring closing costs.

At this present time, unless the banks wake up and start negotiating on short sale homes, more agents are going to find bank owned homes the attractive option.

Recent articles:

Bank Owned Activity for San Fernando Valley

Buying Distressed Properties

Los Angeles Bank Owned Homes

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Favorite Cities in the San Fernando Valley

Out of all the areas in the San Fernando Valley, here is a list of my favorite cities and the best part of the area to own a home in:

1. Toluca Lake - Living anywhere in Toluca Lake is great. But if you happen to live near the Lake in Toluca, it's better. And let's not forget the Lakeside Golf Club. Toluca Lake has the least amount of foreclosures. So that tells you the place rocks. The entertainment industry is right there so you'll be bumping into actors and acctresses all the time.

2. Studio City - Buying a condo or Townhouse in Studio City is excellent. Your close to the entertainment industry, Ventura blvd, and the westside. Homes south of the blvd are at a premium and this is one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in the San Fernando Valley. I can consider Studio City the epicenter of the Valley. The closer you get, the more expensive homes are. If I had a choice to live anywhere in the Valley, it would be Studio City.

3. Burbank - I would only consider buying a home in Burbank which bordering Toluca Lake and east of the 5 freeway. If I was to live in Burbank, I would stay as close as possible to Toluca Lake. Keep in mind Burbank has an airport so be sure when you search for a home, your not buying in the direct path of the airplanes.

4. Sherman Oaks (where I currently live) - I love Sherman Oaks. This place rocks. Any home south of Burbank Blvd is great if you ask me but homes south of Ventura Blvd sell at a premium. Beverly Hills is on the other side of the mountain and it only takes 10 minutes to get there by street.

5. Encino - Any home south of Ventura Blvd is great. Some people call Encino the Beverly Hills of the Valley but I would like to think of Encino as a great place to build a big home. If I was looking to buy a large home and have a large flat lot, I would buy in Encino.

6. Tarzana - You get more bang for your buck in Tarzana. If I was to live in Tarzana I would only consider homes south of Ventura Blvd. If you want to really see what Tarzana has to offer, drive south on Reseda Blvd past Ventura Blvd and take a look at some of the new homes their building. The reason you get more bang for your buck, is because Tarzana is the farthest from Studio City.

If your unfamiliar with the Valley, you can visit The Valley of The Stars.

Your Fico Score - View Your Credit Score FREE!

Before beginning your home search, it's important you know what your credit score is and discuss financing with a professional mortgage loan officer here in the San Fernando Valley. A great site which I can recommend is Myfico. The best part is, Score Watch provides daily monitoring of your Equifax Credit Report and weekly monitoring of your FICO® score, notifies you when you may qualify for better interest rates, delivers alerts when important changes to your score and report are detected, and shows you key factors affecting your FICO score and how lenders view you. The best part is, it's FREE for 30 days. If your thinking of buying a home now or in the near future, I suggest you keep an eye on your credit score so you'll get the best loan and rates.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Four Ways to Fend Off Foreclosure

By Marshall Loeb
From MarketWatch

When faced with the possibility of foreclosure, many people are paralyzed by fear. But it's important to contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your options. If a lender believes you are acting in good faith, it will often work with you to find an alternative payment schedule.


Richard's notes...If you're unable to afford your home for whatever reason and would like to sell, please contact me (818-730-4128). I will need to know how much you owe on your home and what your home will most likely sell for. I would also like to know why you are unable to afford your home so I can help you with your difficult situation. Based on this information and after consulting with my preferred mortgage brokers, manager, etc..., I'll be able to advise you on the best coarse of action to take. Believe me, nobody wants to see you walk away from your home.

Please seek professional advice from a Realtor, Accountant, & Attorney before buying/selling any property.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Local MLS Search - Socal MLS, Crisnet MLS, TheMLS.com

Can it be true that there are over 1000 mls systems in the United States? I believe most are controlled by the local Association of Realtor and some by the largest brokers in the area. As a home buyer searching for homes, how can you make sure you are using the correct MLS search site to view all the homes on the market.
The first thing to do is search for a local agent. For example, if your searching for available homes in Encino, CA, you'll want to search for "Encino homes or Encino real estate or Encino Realtor." Be sure to skip over the lead generating sites like Homegain, homes.com, housevalues, etc.. because they are in the business to sell you to an agent. And I know you don't have a FOR SALE sign around your neck.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. I'm a member of both the SocalMLS which includes all of the San Fernando Valley & Santa Clarita Valley real estate. I'm also a member of TheMLS.com which targets the Westside. One of my websites, http://www.homes.la/ allows you to not only search the San Fernando Valley, but at the top of the page there is a link to allow you to search the Westside real estate including Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Century City, etc...).
If you use the SocalMLS to search Beverly Hills, the system would return a total of 9 homes. If you used the TheMLS system to search for Beverly Hills homes, it would return a result of 61 homes. Using the right system is important if you want to view all the homes on the market.
Here is what you should do before you begin to search online for homes:
1. Make sure the MLS system you are using to search for homes is the one all agents input their listings too. If your not sure which one to use, ask a local agent.
2. If your going to sell your home, be sure to hire a local agent.
Written by: Richard Johnston, RE/MAX
P.S. - It's a crazy world out-there, be sure to work with an agent who knows what their doing.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hire a Local Realtor

The subject line might sound funny to you, but you would be surprised how many homeowners hire agents who are not familiar with the local market. Take a moment and think about it… An out-of-area agent is most likely not a member of the local Realtor MLS, doesn’t have the required Key-box to allow other agents access to the home, can’t show your home quickly when a potential agent/buyer calls, is unaware of the local market condition, has no idea on what homes have sold, pending (in escrow) and active, and the worst part is, some agents prefer not to work with out-of-area agents because it makes the entire process more difficult.

Are you really saving money or doing yourself a favor in hiring an out-of-area agent? The answer is obviously no. Now, if you are stuck in deciding if you should hire your out-of-area cousin or a local Realtor, you can contact your cousin to refer you to a local agent. This way, your cousin will get a split from the commission and you’ll be represented by a local professional. It’s a win/win situation for all.

Written by Richard M. Johnston, RE/MAX OTB Estates

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Friday, October 05, 2007

San Fernando Valley Notice of Default Update September & Year to Date 2007

The chart below outlines the specific January '07 Notice of Default (NOD) filings, and September '07 NOD filings for each city. I've also included the Year to Date (YTD) 2007 filings so you can get an idea on where the Notice of Default market is headed. Based on what I can see from this chart, I belive the number of homes in Default will double by the end of the year compared to the beginning of the year. Some areas only experienced a slight increase while other like Northrige will more than double. A Notice of Default is usually filed when the homeowner has not made a payment to their mortgage company for the past 3-4 months.

Source: Default Research, Inc.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Default Research - Notice of Default NOD

Default Research

I signed up with Default Research several months ago because I wanted to know which homeowners in Sherman Oaks were in default . What I mean by default is when a Notice of Default is filled on title which means the homeowner has not paid their mortgage payment for the past 3-4 months. You can learn more by visiting their site by clicking this link: DefaultResearch.com . The cost is more than other sites but well worth it. This is a great tool for anybody who wants to save money on their next home-purchase.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Foreclosure and Short sale

Written by: Tom Cortesi, First Financial 1-323-791-8145

When you first purchase a home, this loan is generally called a "Non-Recourse Loan." During your home-ownership, if you decide to refinance, then the loan is generally referred to a "Recourse Loan." The explanation is below:
Recourse loan = Non-purchase money, refinanced loan or non-owner occupied property.

Non-Recourse loan = Purchase money owner occupied property

Here is what will happen if you lose your home in a foreclosure:

If you lose your home in Foreclosure with a Non-Recourse loan, the Bank goes after only the property and will not 1099 you or chase you for your other assets.

If you lose your home in Foreclosure with a Recourse loan, the Bank will chase you for your other assets if the loan is shorted and if they don’t they will 1099 you.

Here is what will happen if you sell your home short (short-sale):

If you sell your home as a Short sale and have a Non-Recourse loan, then the Bank agrees to the short sale. They are giving you debt relief and therefore will 1099 you for the shorted amount.

If you sell your home as a Short sale Recourse loan, then the Bank agrees to the short sale they are giving you debt relief and therefore will 1099 you for the shorted amount.

How they affect your credit:

Both a short sale and a foreclosure are reported in the trade line section of the credit report and both affect the score identically.

When a lender looks at your credit for a loan they will treat a foreclosure and a Short sale identically.

Please contact you CPA, tax accountant, attorney, to verify information is correct and up to date.

An Article you should read:
Eliminating "Phantom Tax" On Foreclosures Is Good For Consumers

San Fernando Valley Bank Owned Statistics

I usually like to wait a month to provide comparable statistics but with all the homes falling into foreclosure here in the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, & Simi Valley, I wanted to provide statistics to let you know how quickly the foreclosure inventory is increasing. On Sept. 23, there was a total of 275 foreclosure properties in the areas listed above. On Oct. 1, 2007, there are a total of 304 bank owned properties available. This is an increase of around 10% in nine days.

These homes are listed in the Realtor MLS system and are labeled as "Bank Owned, REO, Foreclosure, Bank Owned."

You can view these bank owned homes by visiting this link: http://www.bankowned.la

More Links: