Amanda Clark

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Through the eyes of a buyer, part 1.

In Uncategorized on November 12, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Whenever I take a listing, I go through a quick checklist with my sellers regarding some quick fixes they can make to improve their property before showings. Sometimes there are no fixes needed. But one point I make with every seller – no matter how perfect their home – is to make sure it is as clean and spotless as possible (oh, and put the pets away – no brainer!).

Apparently, it is no longer enough for me to ask just that…and you’ll see why in a moment.

Here in Omaha, NE our average home-sale price is around 115k – that’s down by about 10k from two years ago and well below the national average. So, to say we’re not a million-dollar market is an understatement. When I sell something in the 200k range – it feels amazing. Imagine the excitement when a buyer’s agent has someone looking at 300k listings…

Let’s call this agent Betty. Her clients are looking for a newer home, near a golf course and in the 300k range. Bingo. There’s a newer development right smack dab in the middle of a golf course, in a pristine neighborhood with many homes to choose from, all of which are competitively priced with one another. The first house she shows, in my opinion, is similar to the others in almost every way. They walk in the door and are instantly offended. Her buyers ask, what’s that smell? The agent walks slowly ahead, says she isn’t sure, but it is pretty powerful. They don’t make it past the foyer before the buyers say they are done looking. And they move on to purchase one of the other  homes they see that day – they don’t even give, as they said, “the smelly house” another chance.

Later when the seller ends up asking what happened with the showing – their agent has to go through the awkward task of letting them know that there was a strange odor that made the buyers immediately leave. Now, I didn’t expect to hear this next part – but the seller was offended! She said they had made breakfast just before cleaning up and leaving so the buyers could come in. They may have burnt bacon, but that’s about it…I don’t know about anyone else, but the smell of burnt bacon, for me, is right up there with wet dog or noxious carpet cleaners.

This is a really good lesson for a seller and one that should probably be mentioned off the bat, along with the plug for cleaning top to bottom before showings. I wouldn’t want my sellers to be surprised that they offended a buyer by something they hadn’t thought of. Preparedness is our friend as agents…as is a good air freshener!


Design Files – “dream house” – ME TOO!

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm

In Melbourne…yeah, I could live there…




Expansion/Extenson Update for Tax Credit

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Extended tax credit should spur home sales


By Mike Benbow, Herald Columnist


There was a lot of news on the real estate front last week.

You probably heard that President Barack Obama signed a bill extending and expanding the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. The program had been set to expire at the end of this month, but first-time buyers will now be able to cut a deal until the end of April and will have until June 30 to close.

The bill also adds more buyers — people who have owned a home for five years or more and want to get a new one. They would get a $6,500 tax credit. The same deadlines apply.

While what one of my colleagues refers to as the Realtor Relief Act of 2009 has gotten a fair amount of publicity, you may not have heard as much about another program called Deed for Lease, which would allow you to rent your own home.

Yes, you heard that right.

Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company, is offering a lease option for people on the verge of foreclosure. They could transfer ownership of their home to Fannie Mae and sign a one-year lease, with monthly extensions after that.

Jay Ryan, a company vice president, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the program will “eliminate some of the uncertainty of foreclosure, keep families and tenants in their homes during a transitional period, and help to stabilize neighborhoods and communities.

The program is not expected to help large numbers of people, but it should help some.

I mention it as a reminder that there are still a lot of people out there in trouble with their mortgages, either because they were lied to, were misinformed or failed to look carefully at the mortgage documents before they signed them.

The extension and expansion of the tax credit should encourage a large new group of home buyers, and each one needs to think about what he or she signed, especially the details of the loan agreement.

If you’re considering buying a home, you might check out the Summer 2009 edition of FDIC Consumer News, a good publication put out by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. You can find it at consumer/news/index.html.

It talks about some new rules by a variety of government agencies that will help you identify some of the abusive and unfair lending practices that have hurt people in the past. Hopefully the new rules will end those practices. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Among the rules are some requirements for early disclosure of the terms of your loan and its costs. They cover some of the abuses of the past that have left so many people in danger of losing their homes today.

Things to look out for:

  • The potential for your mortgage payments to go up.

    Penalties for paying off your loan early.

    Fees paid by a lender to a mortgage broker for bringing in business.

    All three of these are red flags that you could be in danger.

    The FDIC recommends that buyers, especially first-time buyers, get free help from a trained housing counselor. You can find one by going to groups like NeighborhoodWorks America at or calling 888-995-4673.

    The tax credit is a good deal for people who want to buy a home. But don’t let it make you rush into a bad deal that puts your home in jeopardy.

    Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459;

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    Realtor Reinvestment Act of 2009
    Indeed, this act helps the industry of real estate more than the first time home buyer.

    Realtors are not allowed to give financial advice to their client’s. So, when a first time home buyer signs the papers for a VA, or FHA loan with a debt-to-income ratio (back-end) of 41% for VA, 43% for FHA, the Relator can’t say “you shoudln’t purchase this home until you reduce your debt load” Or, can they? Well, yes they should…. and can if they had any sense.

    The issue is, I see many every week coming in for financial counseling 3-4 months after buying their (first) home, and not able to make the payments. Yes, this is happening right now, 2009. A debt-to-income ratio (back end) of 43% is OVER-EXTENDED; but most Realtors don’t know this, or just ignore it and the underwriters are still pushing these loans through.

    Many people who are buying now, should not be buying….period. But the commissions check trumps any common sense, or moral responsibility within the real estate industry for some, not all.