Welcome 2009: Visit Here to Stay Informed

December 31, 2008
Hong Kong Welcomes 2009

Hong Kong Welcomes 2009

As snow pelts the Cape and high winds whistle by, I hope you are safe and warm to ring in the New Year. In the coming months I will keep you up to date on all that is happening here with properties for sale and sold, mortgages, and more. My newest interest is “green” real estate: my least favorite color for a home is my new favorite concept. I will be earning NAR’s newest designation this month. Stay tuned, and Happy New Year.


Merry Christmas from Cape Cod

December 25, 2008

December Snow

December Snow

Best wishes for peace wherever you may be. Prosperity and love, joy and health in your home and family. Best, Lisa Morales

Anatomy of A Foreclosure

December 22, 2008

Although not a cheery holiday subject, foreclosure presents itself as an opportunity for some and a tragedy for others at any time of year. The new Administration may soon rework all of the regulations relating to foreclosures and short sales, so stay tuned. The following is from one of my professional organizations, REBAC and is appropriate at this time. The best advice is still, “Don’t try this at home!” or without a qualified Buyer’s Representive. It’s a nightmare for even the most seasoned professional, I promise. Your state laws may vary. More information to follow, and keep and eye on the new Housing Secretary.

Foreclosure Process

Foreclosure is a process that occurs over a period of time, involving three major stages. Interested homebuyers can make a purchase offer and potentially acquire property at any point in the foreclosure process. However, there are different variables to consider at each stage, and different parties involved, depending upon how far the home has proceeded down the path towards foreclosure.

Stage 1: Pre-foreclosure
When homeowners default on their mortgage, their property is considered to first be in a state of pre-foreclosure. Lenders are typically quick to respond to that first late payment, with phone calls to the borrower.

How the foreclosure process actually proceeds from this point forward varies greatly from state to state. It’s important to know, for example, how your state determines property ownership prior to foreclosure, since this largely dictates which steps will be taken and how long each step will take.

Buyers may find that properties that are in the pre-foreclosure period are attractive investments. While it’s unlikely that a highly discounted price can be negotiated, especially for desirable properties, there are several advantages to purchasing at this stage.

First, there may be less competition from other buyers before the property is put up for public sale. Also, if your agent approaches the current homeowners with sensitivity to their situation, you’ll improve the odds that a cooperative agreement can be reached, eliminating many of the problems and uncertainties that make purchasing foreclosure properties in auction sales a risky business.

Stage 2: Sale/Auction
If the lender and borrower are unable to work out a solution during the pre-foreclosure stage, the lender will take steps to sell the property to new owners. Following a notice of sale, a foreclosure property is typically listed for sale at auction. The timing and procedures of these sales vary by state and, to some extent, sales terms will be determined by the lender. For example, an auction can occur through a public sheriff’s sale, or through a private party. Some lenders may even opt for a short sale, which means the property is sold for less than the amount of money owed, simply to remove a non-productive asset from the books.

Frequently, the best bargains in distressed properties can be found at auction sales, although numerous pitfalls can be encountered. First, it’s fair to say that you probably won’t have complete information about what you’re purchasing. Because defaulting homeowners frequently still occupy the home at this point, and are not likely to open their doors to show you around, you won’t be able to see beyond the exterior, much less bring in inspectors. In this type of sale, there are no requirements to disclose flaws; properties are sold “as is,” without any warranties.

It may also be difficult to determine if there are any old debts that could surface later as liens on the title. For example, you may become obligated to settle with the contractor who put a new roof on the home, but was never paid. And if the old homeowners still occupy the home, you’ll have to contend with the awkward business of evicting them, facing the additional risk that they will damage the property before they vacate.

Another challenge can be paying for the home. Usually, public sales require cash payments, meaning that your financing will need to be in place well in advance of the auction.

Stage 3: Real-Estate Owned (REO)
If a foreclosure home does not successfully sell at auction, it moves into the lender’s inventory and is considered a real-estate owned (REO) property. Generally speaking, lenders don’t like to hold non-performing assets, especially ones that require upkeep and maintenance, so they may be motivated to sell. At the same time, lenders still want to maximize their profits and are unlikely to accept deep discounts.

Buying foreclosure property at the REO stage is typically the easiest and most straightforward approach. Many of the risks that are present at the auction stage have now been eliminated. However, the potential return on your investment has also been reduced. On the other hand, expenses such as taxes and liens, that aren’t generally covered in an auction sale, may be covered by the lending institution in an REO sale.

If the home is held by a smaller bank, you and your buyer’s rep may be able to negotiate a purchase directly with the lender. It’s more likely, however, that you’ll be working through an outside real estate representative who has been retained independently by the bank.

Holding a Holiday Open House

December 15, 2008

Borsari Gallery, Dennis

Borsari Gallery, Dennis

It may be difficult for home sellers, but holiday homes must be restrained and tasteful. You are selling space, remember, not baubles. Keep the countertops clear and don’t trip up the stairs with garland. Buyers who do not share your faith or enthousiasm may well be put off. Just for this one holiday you can tone it way down, it means money in your pocket. And please don’t overdo the scented candles! From RISMEDIA, Dec. 15, 2008-Holidays-and the religious or non-religious implications that go with them-can get very personal, which goes against one of the major rules when showing your home-keep everything impersonal. Finding a balance can be difficult for homeowners that are trying to sell, but still want to celebrate the season. OptHomeTM, an online resource for empowering homeowners, buyers and sellers to make smart decisions for all their homeowner needs is offering these open house do’s and don’ts to help show your clients’ homes during the holidays:

DO keep decorations to a minimum. You don’t want to take away or cover up important selling features (stairs, windows, fireplaces).

DON’T crowd your home with decorations.

DO consider getting a smaller tree. Having a ten foot tree in your home when potential buyers come can be overwhelming-and a large tree will make the room look smaller because of the space it uses.

DO draw attention to the outside of your home by infusing some color in the landscape. Plant or position mums or poinsettias near the front entrance of your home.

DON’T decorate your exterior more than two weeks in advance and do not leave holiday decorations up for more than two weeks after the holiday.

DO take your neighborhood into account. If everyone on your street is decorated to the nines, add a few lights to the outside of your house-but don’t overdo it. While the lights will show well at night, they will do nothing during the day and too many lights on the outside of a house can be an eye sore.

DO put out a festive holiday welcome mat. It won’t be the first thing buyers notice, but it’s a nice touch.

DON’T use holiday lawn ornaments-enough said.

DO try to stick to “winter” themes rather than a particular holiday. Use pinecones or evergreen to set a holiday feel for a wreath on the door or centerpiece for the dining table.

DO create a warm, holiday atmosphere inside by replacing white light bulbs with amber colored ones.

DON’T forget to clear away ice and snow from all walkways, the driveway and all entrances to your home (this includes decks, patios or sliding doors).

DO play music during an open house, but avoid Christmas carols. Instrumental music is a nice touch.

DO put out some holiday treats. No matter the holiday people celebrate, most will appreciate a plate of cookies and apple cider. Add some festive napkins and you give a holiday feel without being overwhelming.

DO keep the temperature in your home at a warm comfortable level. If you have a fireplace, light a fire during the open house.

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Is the Market So Cool?

December 8, 2008

Sea Street Beach, East Dennis

Sea Street Beach, East Dennis

Holiday time on the Cape is special, with decorated lobster traps and fishing boats. Those of us still here band together for warmth and fellowship. And home buyers that brave the winds are serious buyers, seeking the promised deals. I have to say, while prices are off from last year and again from the year before, there are few “steals” to be had. Homeowners that don’t have to sell are witholding from the market for perceived better days. Expect FAIR prices, with interest rates in your favor and a wide variety of inventory. Working with an experienced and knowledgable Buyer’s Agent you can seek out the property that best fits your needs. Don’t wait: mid-January everyone’s thoughts turn to volleyball on the beach and the competition will be stiff. Homes under $300,000 are still moving fairly well, but not near the water. The first time owner program I’ve written about is terrific, and that means anyone not owning for three years. Call me for details. The income ceilings are generous. So the market Cape-wide is warm, with loads of opportunity. Come down for the Dennis Christmas Stroll December 14 and I’ll show you some great properties when you finish your free hot dogs and cookies!

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