Fellow Agents We’d Want To List Our House For Sale

After realizing that a huge chunk of our business this year has been by referral by fellow agents, today I was asked the question, “Who would you want to list and sell YOUR house?”
We’ve worked with some pretty awesome agents recently.  Let me tell you about what makes a great agent:
1. Responsive
2. Gives straight answers.
3. Does what s/he says s/he’ll do.
4. Takes deadlines seriously.
5. Pays attention to details.
6. Puts the clients interests first.

We’ve also worked with and come across some awful agents.  REALLY awful ones.

Here are some examples of some awful agents we’ve come across:
1. One agent screwed up on her buyers’ contract and made an accusation that we forged a contract term.
2. One agent sent buyer clients to our property listing without an appointment — AND with the lockbox key to let themselves in. BAD-BAD-BAD!
3. One agent made an appointment and then didn’t show up for nearly an hour. Upon rescheduling, he was late again and I had to track him down because the sellers were still waiting for him at the property.
(The lockbox was removed due to #2 above. The sellers refused to allow a lockbox after that incident.)
4. One agent who was mad that our seller chose a higher better offer called accusing us of contacting her buyers directly. (Um, first of all, I didn’t have her clients’ phone number and frankly, I wouldn’t waste my time calling someone else’s client. We have clients of our own.)
Needless to say, when it comes time to review offers in the future and these lousy agents make an offer on our listing, we have some background to give our seller clients. If all things are equal in submitted offers, we’d recommend that our sellers choose the offer written by the agent we know to have a great reputation.
Bottom line: Live by the Golden Rule and don’t be a jerk!

My Bones to Pick About the Election

Not one to be turned on by politics, I have a habit of steering clear of partisan races and put more focus on what’s happening at the local level. This is why I will work very hard to help folks who are more “community-mined” than “political”. I love getting involved in local city council and school board elections because it’s NOT supposed to be about a candidate’s political affiliation but more about what they can contribute in their role as a local elected official.
Two local offices specifically affect the way property values and private property rights are taken into consideration: school board and city council. Recently, I commented in my local e-newsletter that city council elections are more “sexy” than school board elections, thus the number of educators who pursue a city council seat instead of a school board seat.
The bone I have to pick is with regard to the local media mentioning a candidate’s political party along with their bio. As a proud independent / non-partisan voter, I have no problem with this at the statewide or national level but not at the local level. Two things that I appreciate about a candidate:
1. Stick to the issues, not the politics. (My tendency is to support those who are not part of any greasy machine.)
2. Steer clear of negative campaigning. (If a candidate can stand on their own merits, they need not be negative.)
Remember, VOTE on November 6th!

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C.A.R. commends Rep. Costa for introducing bill to help homeowners refinance

Legislation would allow homeowners to take advantage of current low interest rates
Earlier this month, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) applauded California Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) for introducing legislation that will allow responsible homeowners to take advantage of current low interest rates on mortgages.
“The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act” aims to remove barriers that keep homeowners from refinancing through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and level the playing field to allow banks to compete for borrowers’ business.
“C.A.R. thanks Congressman Costa for introducing this important legislation that will help millions of struggling homeowners refinance into affordable mortgages,” said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold.  “Allowing responsible homeowners to refinance will ensure that HARP can be used to its fullest potential and reach every homeowner it was intended to reach.  We hope the House will find time to address this important piece of legislation prior to the end of the session,” said Arnold.
Specifically, the bill eliminates hurdles to refinancing for homeowners who:
• Cannot afford upfront fees or the cost of appraisals
• Have too much or too little equity to qualify for HARP
• Have a second mortgage and currently cannot refinance
• Have mortgage insurance and currently cannot refinance
Costa’s bill is the House companion to legislation introduced last May by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ).  “The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act of 2012″ would streamline and align the refinance processes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and make it easier for homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but who have been previously unable to refinance to finally take advantage of record low interest rates.
Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
Personal note: Phooey. We don’t qualify for this on our own home because we don’t have a government-backed loan.

Clarification of 3.8 percent health care bill tax

There has been much misinformation circulating recently that the health care reform bill passed two years ago includes a sales tax on real estate.  This is false information.  It is NOT a transfer tax on real estate sales and similar transactions and does NOT eliminate the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion on the sale of a principal residence for individuals and married couples, respectively.  The law imposes a 3.8 percent tax for households in the top tax brackets on “unearned income.”  This includes capital gains.  The 3.8 percent tax only applies to capital gains above the normal exclusion.  A typical home sale will NOT incur any tax, and for the vast majority, the 3.8 percent tax won’t apply.
Upper-income taxpayers or those who have large capital gains should seek the guidance of a tax professional.  The amount of tax will vary from individual to individual because the elements that comprise AGI differ from taxpayer to taxpayer.
Note: It is an election year!

Claw Marks on Hardwood!

Rottweiler on a walk
Having a furry companion is a heartwarming experience but it comes with some home maintenance issues. In our case, the hardwood floors in our 1926 vintage home are in need of attention because of the big dopey Rottweiler we recently adopted.
Says Joe from Direct Sales Floors: “Our customers have had success with using a product like Pledge (specific for hardwood) on very minor scratches on hardwood floors. For more extensive scratch damage, a polyurethane finish can be used. At a local hardware store, you can match up sheen level to go with the type of hardwood floor you have. These do-it-yourself fixes can be attempted before getting the entire flooring sanded and refinished after you can’t stand it any more.”

Note: Take your dog outside for walks often. Their claws are sanded down by the concrete sidewalks.

A Weekend of Negotiating, Touring and Barf

This weekend in a fine display of dividing labor between spouses, we showed property to a buyer client, negotiated 10-year-old Rottweilerfor a seller client AND worked on home improvement.
For starters, the entire week was spent cleaning up after our barfy Rottweiler who couldn’t hold his food down, presumably a result of eating cat poop from one of our nightly walks. There were several sleepless nights and crankiness as we woke up to the sound of the mutt hacking before Greg and I negotiated who would clean up the mess each time.
Saturday morning the day started with poor Greg showing a short sale home to a buyer. As it was reported to me, the house had carpeting that must have had 50 barf stains on the floors! After the week he had, no wonder Greg seemed so irritable when he finally came back. He was so grossed out that he wouldn’t look me in the eye upon his return. (I thought he was mad at me for not being the one to show the house. Ew.)
For the rest of Saturday afternoon, Greg spent the day working out his frustrations by being the Caveman that he is. He went outside pulled up boards from our deck as part of his effort to replace some of the rotting areas.
Not to discount Greg’s hard work on the deck of our home clean-up efforts, the most progress we had was for our seller client. The buyers of their property were turned down for their loan and the buyers’ agent sent us an Addendum which changed the terms of the original agreement. We made sure our seller client didn’t sign it and make a recommendation for what to do instead. 
All in all, I think everyone’s happy from the results of this weekend. Except our dog.