Thursday, April 17, 2008

Help Me Help You--Part One

There is that great line in the movie Jerry Maguire where sports agent Jerry pleads with his only client Rod Tidwell to do things that will help him be a better agent on Rod's behalf. He tells him "Help me help you!" Well, as a real estate agent, I often have to ask my clients to help me help them. So, I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts on what you can do help your agent do a great job on your behalf. Today's edition is for the sellers in the audience, and next time I'll focus on the buyers.

Sellers, you can "help me help you" by doing the following:

Create a list of all the improvements you have done to the property since you owned it. If possible include receipts and reports. Even if it is something small like having a new ceiling fan installed, put it on the list.

Make a list of any past or potential problems with the property. This will be very helpful with creating the disclosure packet. Any leaks, no matter how small? Are there any noise issues in the neighborhood? Have there been any insurance claims? The list should include anything and everything you can think of. And, if you still have the disclosure packet from when you bought the home, that might be helpful, too.

Plan time and money for necessary repairs and inspections. Investing some money to make your house shine will help your home sell faster, and getting inspections done will show the market that you have taken care of your home. And, make sure to consider putting money in the budget for landscaping and staging.

Know your primary motivation for selling. Perhaps your family is expanding (or shrinking). Maybe you would like a better commute. Is your company relocating you? And, finally, you just might be in to make a profit. Knowing your motivation helps pinpoint the emotions that might affect your decisions in the home selling process.

Gather your financial information so that we can do a "net proceeds" worksheet and figure out what you need to sell your home for. Remember to budget for real estate agent commissions.

Try not to compare your home sale to the one down the street last year or last month. The market is constantly fluctuating and every house is different (at least here in the East Bay). This market requires more patience than the boom times of the last few years.

And, if you can "help me help you", then it will be easier to say, "show me the money!"

There is a long list of great things you can do to help me help you sell you your home. If you have any questions, just let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or And, next time we'll tell the buyers what they can do to get ready.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Choosing a Mortgage Broker

When you are getting ready to buy a home, one of the toughest decisions is choosing a mortgage broker to work with. This is especially true in today's rocky mortgage market where you don't know who to trust. These are confusing times, so you need to make sure that you are working with a mortgage broker you can rely on.

There are two main types of brokers to consider:
*First, there are mortgage officers associated with specific lenders, like Bank of America or WaMu or Countrywide. They will work with you to find the best deal from their company, and if you are already a customer with them, they will want to keep you as a happy customer.
*Second, there are independent mortgage brokers and they are able to run your profile with a wide variety of lenders to find you the best deal. They are not beholden to any one lender and will want to create a lasting business relationship with you.

Both type of mortgage brokers are fine, but I recommend getting a personal referral from a friend, family member or colleague. If someone has had a successful experience with a mortgage broker, there is a better chance that you will too. (I believe that referrals are the way to go for many personal decisions, from mortgage brokers to dentists to nail salons)

It is also wise to work with someone local, as they will know about special incentives and programs offered by local governments, such as first time homebuyer programs or special rates for certain professions like teachers.

Be careful using any mortgage contact you might get from the internet. While they might offer enticing introductory rates, they could be anywhere in the country and will most likely be more interested in getting you into a mortgage rather than finding the best mortgage for you. The personal connection is not there and probably cannot rely on them.

Finally, no matter who you choose to work with, make sure to get everything in writing, especially any fees associated with the transaction, and get a complete copy of the transaction paperwork. And, if you ever need a mortgage referral in the East Bay, just let me know. I work with many professional and experienced mortgage brokers. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or