Friday, November 13, 2015

"It Wasn't Meant to Be"


This post may offend some, the truth often does.

How many times have you had a business deal fall apart, an inter-personal relationship go kaput, or some other barrier cause your plans to go up in smoke? Now, how many times did you say to yourself, or someone involved say, well "it just wasn't meant to be".

I bet there isn't a soul reading this (including myself) that at one time or another hasn't used this excuse to explain away failure.

Let me be blunt, there is NO SUCH THING as "meant to be". There wasn't some God, or Angel, or Fairy, or Nymph, or Spirit Animal guiding you through that deal, that relationship, and then when the shit hit the fan decided to let it go splat! 

The expression "wasn't meant to be" is simply a human way of saying "I don't know what happened, don't want to look, don't want to take any responsibility for it so I'll park it at the feet of (pick your deity)".

Probably the greatest weakness I find in myself, and in others, is the unwillingness to accept full responsibility for a situation. It's easy to blame the other guy, blame the market, blame the buyer, blame the seller, blame your parents, blame anything but one's own action or inaction. 

It's not easy to operate from the viewpoint of  "I am responsible". So when things go wrong the first place you look is at yourself. Not to assign blame, but simply admit one was and still is Cause.

And therein lies the rub. The human computation that "responsibility" means "blame". It doesn't. Responsibility means Cause. One is always cause, no matter what is happening (even if one can't readily see it or identify it).

"It wasn't meant to be" is an excuse for failing, a justification to explain away why something didn't go right. It's lazy. It's naive, and most importantly it's factually FALSE. There is always a reason (or reasons) why something didn't go right. Nothing just "happens".

We make our own Fate!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What the Martial Arts taught me about life and business


You may not know it, but once I was a true physical specimen LOL.

Seriously though for nearly a decade (18-28) I was an active practitioner of the Martial Arts. And for the first 5 years I was hardcore and obsessed, striving for perfection and what Bruce Lee called "authentic self expression". 


As the years went on and I moved into the workaday world I stopped my formal training, but for the next 10 years or so I would have sporadic bouts of "inspiration" and would start anew. Unfortunately this body keeps getting older (and fatter), so training has gotten less and less over the years.

(below is a photo from my 2nd Degree Black Belt Test circa 1992).


But recently I was thinking about the times when I was at my peak, in my "hardcore" phase, as I wanted to analyze what motivated me, what drove me to succeed, and above all what enabled me to overcome literally anything.

The 5 tenets of Tae Kwon Do (my main art of expertise) are Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control & Indomitable Spirit.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always Courteous, and I don't always fully control myself (though when it came to using my art, I was always in control), and both of these tenets are vital to successful business. I've never had to apologize to someone for being "too Courteous". 

Further, in today's' business environment one can all too often find themselves in a situation where their Integrity is challenged. I've had many situations arise in my professional life where I had to chose between my Integrity and Money and I've had to walk away from 6 figures rather than compromise what I knew was right. The one time where I didn't walk away, and used a "gray area" to justify "getting paid", my soul suffered, literally. So I can say from personal experience there is no amount of money worth one's Integrity.

But the two Tenets I have found most useful, and what I find myself relying on more and more today, are Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit. So these are the two I wanted to take a closer look at.

When I was training I would literally spend hours upon hours on the same techniques. In the lower belts one is simply learning the techniques, but from Black Belt on, one is learning to PERFECT the techniques. What is the perfect body motion, the perfect reaction time, the perfect body position, pivot angle, power generation stance, head position, center of gravity location, leg and hip positions and rotations, the list is long. And as I would deconstruct the techniques down to their component parts, and then reconstruct them into lightning fast, smooth motions, a level of self mastery set in. It isn't an accident that the word "art" is used in "martial art". That perseverance to simply execute the "perfect technique", the striving for that "perfect expression" not only made me a great martial artist and fighter, but more importantly taught me one of the most vital lessons of my life. Never give up. Persevere!

This aspect of persevering was also ever present in each rank test as I moved up in belt. Rank tests were filled with challenges and fear to overcome. Standing in front of a room full of people, both peers, fellow students, instructors, and the ever dreaded "Masters" table in the front of the room. Having to do forms alone or in pairs in front of all these people can be nerve racking. But as I progressed in my art I found my training took over more and more and there was much less "Thinking". "Action" began to simply "take over". In fact the truest expression of the martial arts has no thinking in it at all.

And when it came to sparring, either full contact in tournaments, or "half speed" in class, the juxtaposition between "thinking" and "acting" became ever more acutely present. Nothing pushes you to the limits of your own fear and self-overcoming than being confronted with someone who is trying to kick your head off your shoulders. My greatest wins in sparring/fighting came when I stopped "thinking" and simply "acted". And my greatest defeat, being knocked out for the State title in 1993, came because I was "afraid" of the guy I was fighting since everyone knew he was "crazy". Even though I was as good as he was I was stuck in my head "thinking", couldn't "act" and moved slower than a turtle in molasses.


(here is a video I found of the 1993 US Nationals in Minnesota that I attended. I made it to the 2nd round)

When I look at challenges today I now find that I get myself in the most trouble when I "think" too much. Have you ever found yourself in a "think-think-think" (grinding) on a problem, worrying about a situation or future needed action, rather than simply LOOKING and then ACTING? 

Similar lessons could be found in power testing or as its better known "breaking".

(This is me breaking  a few boards at a Demonstration at the University Of Miami circa 1993)

(Here's a video of a wide variety of Breaking Techniques we Trained on)

When you are confronting multiple boards, bricks, tiles or other very solid items that have a greater density than any of your bones, the term "mind over matter" isn't just an epithet. You literally BECOME greater than your body. You literally can't think, or you'll break a bone. Every aspect of Perseverance and Indomitable Spirit comes to the for in breaking and the primacy of ACTING over THINKING is nearly self evident.

And so I wanted to look at, and share some of these thoughts with you as I examined what it is I do right and what it is I want to make better.

The thousands of hours of martial arts training taught me to simply never give up. And I'll be honest there have been several times in my adult life, personally and professionally, where the thought of "giving up" had crossed my mind. But I have to say, in those darkest moments, the foundation I built all those years ago with my martial arts training seems to get me through. 

as Yoda once said:




What gets you through?









Sunday, May 3, 2015

Advice for FSBOs (for sale by owner)


We live in a "do it yourself" world. I myself never read "directions". I'd rather just figure things out myself. It's a self-starting quality I admire.

So when I see owners put their homes on the market "by owner" the rugged individualist in me applauds them. But the Realtor in me knows that selling a home takes a unique set of skills the average homeowner just doesn't understand.

I currently work with FSBOs. And I totally get some people just don't want to hire a Realtor to sell and market their home, but would rather "cooperate" with a Realtor who brings a buyer.

So...I decided to give them some unsolicited advice.

1. PRICE

Price is still the driving factor in any real estate transaction. What I have found is many FSBOs don't understand how to price their home in the current market. Factors such as price per square foot, pricing adjustments for condition, location in a neighborhood, trends, etc often get overlooked, and they rather simply look at what the other homes in the area are priced at, ignoring these key factors. As a result many FSBOs sit on the market for many many months. For some this doesn't matter as they aren't really motivated sellers, for others this is a problem. 

2. NON-EXISTENCE

The key to selling anything is getting enough qualified buyers to know your property is for sale, and then to come see it. Until this is done the house "doesn't exist" to the potential buyer pool for that home.

This point seems intuitive, but its interesting that for many FSBOs the only action they take is to put their home on a website that caters to FSBOs and then wait. They thus become the effect of the web-traffic to that site. This is one of the reasons hiring a Realtor is so valuable. Statistically (upwards of 90%) most homes still sell via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as a transaction between a listing, and selling (buyers) broker. In fact the maximum exposure one can get for their home is still the MLS.

But there are things a homeowner can do to get maximum exposure for their home when not on the MLS. One thing I have implemented is a "FSBO" protocol. I find a seller willing to pay me if I bring them a buyer, I then get their permission to market the property to my large contact database, social media sites, and real estate syndication sites that I have been using for nearly a decade. Granted this is far less exposure than the MLS potentially, but much greater than merely posting on Zillow.

3. LOGISTICS

Completing the transaction takes alot of time, patience and coordination of moving parts that most FSBOs won't know until they are knee deep in the muck.

Below is the list of activities a Realtor does in the average transaction. Not all apply in every case, but even in the simplest of deals, there are dozens upon dozens of moving parts to manage. (excerpted from article). 

For the right seller, selling "by owner" is a viable option, and I am happy to work with those who wish to travel this path. But for the vast majority of sellers, hiring a qualified experienced Realtor is still the most cost effective action.

Seller(s)’ Representation
 
Pre-listing Activities
  1. Contact property owner(s) and make appointment with seller(s) for listing presentation.
  2. Send seller(s) confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm.
  3. Review pre-appointment questions.
  4. Research appropriate sampling of currently listed comparable properties (i.e., appropriate by property type, price range, and location).
  5. Research trends and sales activity for an appropriate period (past three to six months is recommended) from MLS and public records databases.
  6. Research "average days on market” for the property type, price range, and location.
  7. Download and review property tax roll information.
  8. Research property’s public record information for ownership and deed type.
  9. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
  10. Research and verify legal description.
  11. Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions.
  12. Research property’s current use and zoning.
  13. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure.
  14. Prepare market analysis to establish broker opinion of value.
  15. Prepare listing-presentation package with above materials.
  16. Perform exterior "curb-appeal assessment” of subject property.
  17. Verify public-school zoning and discuss with the seller(s) the impact of school districts on market value determination.
  18. Review listing-appointment checklist to verify that all steps and actions have been completed.
Listing-appointment Presentation Activities
  1. Review broker’s and company’s credentials and accomplishments in the market with seller(s).
  2. Present company’s profile and position of "niche” in the marketplace.
  3. Give seller(s) an overview and projections of current market conditions.
  4. Present market analysis results to seller(s), including sold comparables, current listings, and expired.
  5. Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions.
  6. Discuss goals with seller(s) to market effectively.
  7. Explain marketing power and benefits of the MLS.
  8. Explain the different marketing options and their effectiveness.
  9. Explain work the brokerage does "behind the scenes” and the broker’s availability on weekends.
  10. Explain brokerages role in taking calls to screen for qualified buyers and to protect seller(s) from curiosity seekers.
  11. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan.
  12. Review results of curb-appeal assessment with seller(s) and provide suggestions to improve sale-ability.
  13. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank systems. Verify when property’s septic system was last pumped or inspected.
  14. Well water: Confirm well status, depth, and output from third-party well report.
  15. Natural gas: Research/verify the availability of natural gas and supplier’s name and phone number.
  16. Verify security system, current term of service, and determine if it’s owned or leased.
  17. Verify if seller(s) has transferable termite bond – obtain a copy of the terms and conditions of bond that may be available to buyer(s).
  18. Discuss home-warranty program with homeowner.
  19. Verify if property has rental units involved.
  20. Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file.
  21. Verify all rents and all deposits.
  22. Assess interior d├ęcor and suggest changes.
  23. Prepare net sheet for seller(s).
  24. Review accuracy of current title information with sellers. (If possible, obtain copies of seller(s)’ deed, owner’s title insurance policy, and most-recent survey.)
  25. Verify names of owner(s) as they appear in county’s public property records.
  26. Verify with seller(s) if there are any outstanding or expired construction permits or if any changes have been made to the property since the seller(s) purchased the property.
  27. Obtain copy of current Title Insurance Policy.
  28. Complete listing contract and addenda (using names of seller(s) as they appear on deed or title policy). Obtain seller(s)’ signature(s) on the listing agreement and return a signed copy of the listing contract to the seller(s).  (If property is jointly owned, all owners should sign listing agreement.)
  29. Review with seller(s) the standard closing costs and pro-rations typical to the HUD statements.
  30. Obtain seller(s)’ permission to use a lock box.
  31. Measure interior room sizes.
  32. Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available.
  33. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, and easements that are known to the seller if they are not otherwise noted.
  34. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available.
  35. Review house plans and make a copy.
Post-listing Activities
  1. Compile and assemble formal file on property.
  2. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex layout.
  3. Verify with seller(s) if there are any outstanding or expired construction permits or if any changes have been made to the property since the seller(s) purchased the property.
  4. Obtain copy of current title insurance policy.
  5. Provide seller(s) with a copy of a blank sales contract to review in preparation of their receipt of an offer.
  6. Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled.
  7. Arrange for installation of yard sign.
  8. Have seller(s) complete the seller(s)’ disclosure form.
Listing Activities
  1. Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file.
  2. Prepare showing instructions for buyer(s)’ broker and agree on showing-time window with seller(s).
  3. Install electronic lock box and program the lock box with agreed-upon showing-time windows.
  4. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and loan account numbers.
  5. Verify current loan information with lender(s).
  6. Identify homeowner association manager, if applicable.
  7. Verify homeowner association fees and pending or unpaid assessments with homeowner association manager.
  8. Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number.
  9. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact.
  10. Prepare detailed list of property’s "inclusions and conveyances with sale.”
  11. Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items.
  12. Explain benefits of homeowner warranty to seller(s).
  13. Assist sellers with completion and submission of homeowner-warranty application.
  14. Place homeowner warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale.
  15. Make extra key for lockbox.
  16. Place a copy of the seller(s)’ completed disclosure form in the property file.
  17. Arrange for interior and exterior photos to be taken for MLS listing.
  18. Arrange for creation of a virtual tour if one will be used in marketing the property.
  19. Complete a new-listing checklist.
  20. Enter listing into office records and/or create listing file. 
MLS-related Activities
  1. Prepare "MLS profile sheet.” (Listing broker is responsible for "quality control” and accuracy of listing data).
  2. Enter property data from profile sheet into MLS listing database.
  3. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy, including proper placement in mapping function.
  4. Take additional photos of the property to upload into MLS and for use in flyers.
  5. Provide seller(s) with a copy of the MLS profile sheet data form.
  6. Add property to company’s active listings list.
Marketing and Showing Activities
  1. Create print and Internet ads with seller(s)’ input and approval.
  2. Provide "special feature” cards for marketing, if applicable.
  3. Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites
  4. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed.
  5. Create QR codes.
  6. Prepare mailing and contact list.
  7. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list.
  8. Order "just listed” labels and reports.
  9. Prepare flyers.
  10. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller(s)’ review.
  11. Order an appropriate quantity of marketing brochures or flyers.
  12. E-mail marketing material to brokers and agents with marketing material.
  13. Upload listing to company and broker’s Internet site, if applicable.
  14. Mail out "just listed” notice to all neighborhood residents.
  15. Inform Network Referral Program of listing.
  16. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other REALTORS®. Return all calls promptly (weekends included).
  17. Provide showing time comments and feedback to seller(s) and recommend changes according to potential buyer comments.
  18. Review comparable MLS listings and new trends regularly to verify property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions, and availability.
  19. Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks.
  20. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network.
  21. Convey price changes promptly to all Internet groups.
  22. Request feedback from buyers’ brokers after showings.
  23. Review weekly market study reports.
  24. Discuss feedback from showing sales associates with seller(s) to determine if changes will accelerate the sale.
  25. Call seller(s) weekly to discuss marketing and pricing.
  26. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database.
Offer and Contract Activities
  1. Verify proper licensure of buyer’s broker and salesperson.
  2. Obtain a signed and dated verification that escrow deposit was delivered to escrow agency.
  3. Receive and review all offer to purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ brokers.
  4. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet” on each offer, for the seller(s) to make comparisons.
  5. Review offers with seller(s) and review merits and weaknesses of each component of each offer.
  6. Contact buyers’ broker to review buyer(s)’ qualifications and discuss offer.
  7. Provide seller(s)’ disclosure to buyer(s)’ broker or buyer upon request (prior to offer if possible).
  8. Confirm buyer(s) is pre-approved by contacting lender.
  9. Obtain a copy of the buyer(s)’ pre-approval letter from lender.
  10. Negotiate all offers and counteroffers on seller(s)’ behalf.
  11. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance, or amendments to buyer(s)’ broker.
  12. When offer to purchase is accepted and signed by seller(s) ("contract”), deliver contract to selling/buyer(s)’ broker or if none, to buyer(s).
  13. Verify contract is signed by all parties.
  14. Provide copies of the contract and all addenda to closing attorney and the title company.
  15. Record and promptly deposit buyer(s)’ earnest money with escrow agent.
  16. Disseminate "under-contract showing restrictions” as seller(s) requests.
  17. Deliver copies of signed contract to seller(s).
  18. Provide copies of contract to lender.
  19. Inform seller(s) how to handle additional offers to purchase submitted between effective date of contract and closing.
  20. Change status in MLS to "sale pending”.
  21. Update listing file to show "sale pending”.
Loan-process Activities
  1. Contact buyer(s)’ lender weekly to verify processing is on track.
  2. Follow buyer(s)’ loan processing through to the underwriter.
  3. Relay final approval of buyer(s)’ loan application to seller(s).
Home-inspection Activities
  1. Coordinate buyer(s)’ professional home and termite (WDO) inspections with seller(s).
  2.  If property is vacant, arrange for power and water to be turned on.
  3. Review home inspector’s report and WDO report with seller(s) and discuss issues and options, if needed.
  4. Enter home inspection WDO inspection completion into listing file.
  5. Verify seller(s)’ compliance with home inspection report and WDO report repair requirements.
  6. Recommend or assist seller(s) with identifying trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs.
  7. Obtain copies of repair bills showing seller(s) has made required repairs.
  8. Coordinate entry into the property and buyer’s review of completed repairs, if needed.
Appraisal Activities
  1. Make arrangements for appraiser to enter property.
  2. Follow-up on appraisal.
  3. Enter appraisal completion into listing file.
  4. Discuss appraisal report with seller(s) and suggest options, if necessary.
Closing-preparation Activities
  1. Distribute signed contracts to all involved parties (buyer, seller(s), title company, lender, seller(s)/buyer(s) broker, closing agent) and provide contact information as needed.
  2. Coordinate closing process with buyer(s)’ broker and lender.
  3. Update closing forms and files.
  4. Confirm location, date, and time where closing will be held and notify all parties.
  5. Confirm with closing agent that all title problems have been resolved.
  6. Confirm that the seller has the proper Power of Attorney or trust documents, as required.
  7. Work with buyer(s)’ broker in scheduling and conducting buyer(s)’ final walk-through prior to closing.
  8. Confirm with closing agent that all tax, HOA, utility, and other applicable pro-rations have been resolved.
  9. Request final closing figures from closing agent.
  10. Review closing figures on HUD statement with seller(s) to verify accuracy of preparation.
  11. Forward verified closing figures to buyer(s)’ broker and confirm buyer(s)’ broker has received and reviewed closing figures.
  12. Confirm buyer(s) and Buyer(s)’ broker has received title insurance commitment.
  13. Provide homeowners warranty for availability at closing.
  14. Recommend courtesy closing agent for absentee seller(s), as needed.
  15. Review closing documents with seller(s) and their counsel.
  16. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent. If closing agent is holding escrow funds make sure it appears on the final HUD.
  17. Coordinate this closing with seller(s)’ next purchase and resolve any timing problems, if applicable.
  18. Confirm seller(s)’ net proceeds check at closing.
After-closing Activities
  1. Provide REALTOR® referral information for seller(s)’ relocation destination, if applicable.
  2. Change MLS status to "sold.” Enter sale date, price, selling broker, and listing broker’s ID numbers, etc.
  3. Close out listing in company files.
  4. Follow up with seller(s).
Buyers(s)’ Representation
Buyer(s)-presentation Activities
  1. Respond to prospective buyer(s) inquiries.
  2. Interview the buyer(s) prospect and obtain buyer(s) personal information and explain the home buying process.
  3. Determine if REALTOR® has a conflicting brokerage relationship or other conflict of interest with the buyer(s).
  4. Discuss the pre-approval financial process with the buyer(s).
  5. Suggest at least three mortgage lenders to assist buyer(s) in becoming pre-approved.
  6.  Determine through discovery the buyer(s)’ preferences in a home as well as the location, price, size, type of home, special needs, and ADA accommodations etc.
Pre-contract Activities
  1. Obtain and review pre-approval letter from lender.
  2. Search the MLS for properties that meet the buyer(s)’ criteria.
  3. Make appointments with seller(s) or seller(s)’ listing broker to show the properties selected by the buyer(s).
  4. Show the buyer(s) their selected properties.
Offer and Contract Activities
  1. Obtain a "good faith estimate” from the buyer(s)’ lender for the target purchase price and review with buyer(s).
  2. Meet with buyer(s) to preview offer, contract form, addenda, and miscellaneous forms.
  3. Complete offer to purchase and all addenda.
  4. Provide seller(s)’ disclosure forms to buyer(s).
  5. Submit offer to purchase signed by buyer(s) to seller(s)’ broker. 
  6. Provide credit report information to seller(s) if property will be seller-financed.
  7. Provide buyer(s) a copy of all forms used in making the offer.
  8. Negotiate all offers on buyer(s)’ behalf.
  9. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance, or amendments to seller(s)’ broker.
  10. Verify final offer is signed by all parties ("contract”), and that all necessary documents are attached.
  11. Deliver fully signed and initialed contract to buyer.
  12. Distribute signed contracts to all involved parties (buyer(s), seller(s), title company, lender, seller(s)/buyer(s) broker, and closing agent) and provide contact information as needed.
  13. Record and promptly deposit buyer(s)’ earnest money in escrow account or deliver to closing agent and obtain a receipt.
  14. Provide receipt of escrow deposit to seller(s)’ broker.
  15. Place copies of signed contract in office file.
  16. Inform buyer(s) of additional offers to purchase that are submitted between effective date of contract and closing.
  17. Update listing file to show "sale pending.”
Home and Termite Inspection Activities
  1. Provide buyer(s) with at least three home inspection companies and three WDO inspection companies from which to select.
  2. Coordinate buyer(s)’ professional home and WDO inspection with seller(s)’ broker
  3. Review home and WDO inspection reports with buyer.
  4. Enter completion of home and WDO inspection reports into the listing file.
  5. Order septic system, well, or mold inspections, if applicable.
  6. Receive and review septic system, well, or mold reports with buyer(s) and note any possible impact on sale.
  7. Provide copy of septic system, well and mold inspection reports, if any, to lender and seller(s).
  8. Verify seller(s)’ compliance with all inspection repair requirements.
Tracking the Loan-process Activities
  1. Coordinate with lender on discount points being locked in with dates.
  2. Confirm verifications of deposit and buyer(s)’ employment have been returned.
  3. Contact lender weekly to verify processing is on track.
  4. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
  5. Relay final approval of buyer(s)’ loan application to seller(s).
Appraisal Activities
  1. Schedule appraisal with seller(s) or seller(s)’ broker.
  2. Inform buyer(s) of options if appraisal report is different than the ontract/purchase price.
  3. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to appraiser.
  4. Follow-up on appraisal until completed.
  5. Enter completion into the listing file.
Closing-preparation Activities
  1. Coordinate closing process with seller(s)’ broker, lender, and closing agent.
  2. Update closing forms and files.
  3. Verify all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale.
  4. Assist in obtaining power of attorney or trust documents, as required.
  5. Work with seller(s)’ broker in scheduling and conducting buyer(s)’ final walk-through prior to closing.
  6. Confirm buyer(s) has received title insurance commitment.
  7. Confirm location, date, and time where closing will be held and notify all parties.
  8. Confirm with closing agent that all tax, HOA, utility, and other applicable pro-rations have been resolved.
  9. Request final closing figures from closing agent.
  10. Review and verify closing figures on HUD statement with buyer(s).
  11. Forward verified closing figures to seller(s)’ broker and confirm seller(s)’ broker has received and reviewed closing figures.
  12. Verify that seller(s)’ broker has provided homeowners warranty, if purchased, at closing.
  13. Forward closing documents to absentee buyer(s) as requested, if applicable.
  14. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent. If closing agent is holding escrow funds make sure it appears on the final HUD.
  15. Confirm collected funds from buyer(s) are available for closing.
  16. Explain filing for homestead exemption.
  17. Verify transfer of all keys (house, mailbox, and HOA/community), garage- door openers, HOA/security/gate access codes, pool equipment, and appliance manuals.
  18. Close out listing.
After-closing Activities
  1. Assist with filing claims with homeowner’s warranty company, if requested.
  2. Respond to any follow-up calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
  3. Follow up with buyer(s).

Friday, April 10, 2015

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY & SELL (YES I KNOW IT SOUNDS CLICHE)

For the first time in nearly a decade the Federal Reserve is hinting that it will begin raising interest rates in June

What this means for buyers is money will become more expensive, decreasing their purchasing power. As an example on a home purchase of $400,000 with 10% down and a loan amount of $360,000, at today's rates of around 4% the principal and interest is $1718.70. If the Fed raises rates just 1%, that same payment jumps to $1932.56. And if rates climb to 6% that same payment jumps to $2158.38. For buyers on the DTI (debt to income ratio) bubble, they will simply have to buy a cheaper house in a cheaper neighborhood.

What this means for seller's is there will be fewer and fewer qualified buyers which may begin to flatten or even depress values.

So if you are a seller, NOW IS THE TIME TO SELL when money is cheap, buyer's are plentiful, and prices are still strong. And if you are a buyer, now is the time to get the most house for your money.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Winning" and "Losing" in a Real Estate negotiation.
Can all parties really win in a Real Estate negotiation? Or does someone have to lose?

Over the years I've made many observations about the Real Estate business, and business in general, regarding the subject of negotiations, and there is ONE prevailing datum that seems to be in operation: In order for someone to win, someone else has to lose. But is this really true?

Let me elaborate. Let's say I represent a seller. They have a property for sale. A qualified buyer makes an offer. It's a good offer, well within market value, with a strong bank letter and credit profile. In fact it’s the best offer on the table. And yet the seller, thinking they have to "win" the negotiations, end up losing the buyer over "pennies" or some minor terms point. Conversely, Let's say I represent a buyer. They find the perfect property, make an offer slightly under market and comparable data trying to get "a deal" (win), start negotiating with the seller, but lose the deal over "pennies" or some minor terms point.

In both scenarios the deal was lost because neither party wanted to "lose" the negotiation.

I'm sure anyone in the Real Estate industry (or any business for that matter) has 100 stories of how a buyer or seller couldn't get out of their own way to make a deal.

So does a good negotiation have to have a "winner" and a "loser"? Or can both parties "win". Is a WIN-WIN scenario in a negotiation even possible in a Real Estate transaction? Is business just like a sport where there has to be a winner and a loser?


I've been giving this a lot of thought lately and I think although there is an inherent competitive nature to all negotiations, often times they can spin out of control wherein both parties lose site of the goal of the negotiation, and simply having to "win" takes over.


The key to negotiation success is for the ability of all parties involved to be able to take on the other parties' viewpoint.

The buyer should see the deal through the seller's eyes, through their needs and wants. Conversely the seller needs to be able to see the deal through the buyer's viewpoint and their needs and wants.  It is through this mutual understanding, and most importantly WILLINGNESS of each party to see the deal through the eyes of the other, that a true "meeting of the minds" can take place.

I'll admit this is not an easy task. There are mechanisms in the mind, cultural differences, and the false data of "having to win" that all contribute to preventing this ideal scene. But I have found that with practice anyone can cultivate the ability to take the other guys viewpoint.

So the next time you are locked in a negotiation that more resembles two Longhorns butting heads, take a step back, and look at the deal (situation) through the eyes of the other guy.

Just "BE" the other guy, and then look. It works.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

State of the South Florida Market.


Its hard to believe 2013 is half over already.

If you've been following the news this year, South Florida has undergone a complete transformation real estate wise.

Whereas just 24 months ago the market was sluggish, today prices are up and homes are selling within hours or days of listing, for over asking price, and the winning offer is usually 1 of several placed on the property.

It feels like 2006 all over again.

Many have wondered if we are in another bubble. And many erudite articles by people with lots of credentials after their names have weighed in.

There is no doubt that the artificially low interest rates, fixed by the FED’s policy, are partly driving the current boom. As long as money is relatively cheap, and qualified borrowers can still get a mortgage, there will be lots of buyers.

Further, credit requirements have relaxed some, and more and more people are now qualifying for a loan.

But the key principle driving this boom is still simple Supply and Demand Economics. 

Demand remains high. People continue to want to live in South Florida. That hasn't changed for 100 years. Further, rents have gone up consistently for the last 2 years, and a recent study determined that the average renter would break even in under 2 years if they purchased instead of staying a renter. This makes buying very attractive to those that qualify. So as long as interest rates remain close to where they are, there will be plenty of buyers. Add to this the continued influx of cash buyers from other countries and I see no change in this trend over the short term (12-24 months). In a nutshell, demand is up, and is staying so.

With regard to supply the picture is a bit more in flux. By all accounts inventory is still at all time lows, driving the multiple offer/bidding wars we now see every day on the ground.  Banks have been slowly putting their foreclosures on the market, but there is no clear picture on how much “shadow inventory” still exists. There are however some indicators that the supply dearth is easing. This will inevitably stabilize pricing and ease some of the frenzy that currently surrounds buyer bidding.


I’ve learned the hard way not to make any long term predictions in our housing market, but by all the data I can see, we are still looking at 12-24 months of solid growth and then a leveling off.

Barring some cataclysm in the market, or in interest rate policy, I believe housing will remain strong in the near future.




Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Now the Time to Buy: Part VII

This article in the Miami Herald yesterday says it all and I highly urge you to read it. We are in another housing boom and it won't be long before many will be priced out of the market, again.