Sunday, September 30, 2007

Investment Property Do’s and Don’ts

Are you an avid real estate investor? Do you have some extra disposable income and have been exploring the possibility of doing some rehab houses? Are you a realtor that is looking to take the next step and advance your real estate career? Are you a past investor that got out of the business because you were not making the margins you expected? If the answer to any of these questions is YES, then read on.. When looking for an investment property –there are several questions to be asked. First, do you want a minor cosmetic fix up or a major renovation? This answer usually depends upon the skill level of the investor and/or his/her contractors, the time that the investor wants to put into it, how many current properties are outstanding in his/her inventory, and how much profit you wish to make. For instance, many investors now do very little of their own work. Ideally, they hire contractors that will guarantee a low rate due to the volume of work that will be provided. You may be thinking that if you hire the work out you will not make as much money. FALSE. This is called working smarter and not harder. You can treat your investment/rehab business like a general contractor new home business. When is the last time you have seen Mr. Builder Class A Contractor swinging a hammer, nailing a two by four and walking on the roof to place sheathing? If he is a profitable builder, I will submit to you the answer is NEVER. Your time can be more wisely spent pursuing the deals, determining when and what to buy, and directing the subs to ensure timely completion of the work. Obviously, the major renovation will be more time consuming but the margins will be greater. This poses the next question. Are you better doing five large projects and making $100,000 or doing ten little cosmetic fix ups and making $100,000? If you are just an investor, then the answer is probably you don’t care. If you are a realtor who also happens to be an investor, the answer should most certainly be TEN FIX UPS. Why you ask. That gives you five additional properties with which to gain commission on its purchase, pick up many, many clients upon its return to the market, and save commission upon its sale. If you are a Realtor/Investor your profit mentality must be different than your Investor. Your visibility in the investment market also helps to add to your visibility as a realtor both for prospective buyer/sellers and also to assist prospective investors. Remember, there is enough investment property to go around. You must have an ongoing relationship with your local bank. A line of credit should be established to give you the ability to purchase property for cash. Yes, CASH.. this word speaks volumes for a seller who usually is in financial disarray, which is why their home got in the condition it is currently in. Your bank may even, depending upon your credit situation, offer to give you fix up costs rolled up in the loan amount so that you are out of pocket virtually nothing initially. A frank discussion along with a well documented business plan with your background should be provided to your lender. Don’t be afraid to ask for purchase money and fix up money for all of your purchases. The other thing to consider when buying is whether or not to do a home inspection. They are just about useless for distress property. If you are an astute contractor or investor, a thorough look at the property should give you what you need to make a viable offer to purchase. NO INSPECTION AND CASH WITH A QUICK CLOSING usually will seal the deal.

If you are not a realtor, you should think strongly about getting your license. You are leaving money on the table that could add to your margins if you could represent yourself in the transaction. There is a whole different section on the pros and the reasoning on whether or not to pursue differing properties if you are an agent. If you choose to use a realtor, select them wisely. Use one that is familiar with investment property. They can provide an abundance of information from areas to buy where properties sell quickly to where to spend your money in fix ups - What really matters to the consumer. Contrary to what you may think or have heard, this market is a great investor market. You can buy low now due to the slowdown in the market and the increased inventory. It is imperative that you spend your money wisely on rehab – your house has to really stand out among the others on the market. It is also wise to choose an agent that is innovative with technology to give you the edge over all others that have listings similar to yours on the market. Most importantly, if you are going to do investment property you must have a strong gut. You can’t second guess your decisions and definitely can’t get antsy if a property stays on the market longer than expected. Remember, you will have more gains on some properties and more losses on some. The measure of success of the real investor is minimizing losses, and maximizing profits with inherent risks. This is done over the long haul. If you would like more information on investment property, or how to become a Realtor/Investor, please contact me.

Compliments of: Kathy Holland, Broker/Owner Resource Realty Services

How To Become A Successful Agent In Richmond, Virginia


Are you an agent struggling to gain market share in this ever changing real estate industry? Are you aspiring to possibly join the real estate market as a new agent? Here are some tips that will help with both scenarios. First, if you are already in Real Estate and are treating this as a sales business – STOP!! If you haven’t yet become a realtor get the word sales completely out of your mind. This is the biggest misnomer involved in our industry. If you do not remember anything else, please make sure that you consider yourself a service provider and not a salesperson. A client/customer does not buy a home because you “sold” it to them; they decided to make and offer due to the fact that it meets their criteria and that you have provided them with quality, pertinent data to ensure that they have paid market price or less. This approach will ensure that you create relationships and not deals. Relationships will result in more sales through means of referrals. Referrals, do not forget this word, as it is the means to the end!! The second biggest thing to remember is that referral sources, past clients and your network of people, will make your business grow. Third, listings are the fastest way to grow your business. What is the one thing, among others, that this should tell you? Do not become a buyers agent!! Yes, you may receive some portions of commissions when working for an agent or team as a buyers agent – but you typically only take a portion of what is due for commission and you absolutely do not build your database since the team leader keeps the clients names in their database. You can build your database by doing open houses for listing agents (as long as it is understood that you keep any buyer prospects that come through) Fourth, you must invest money in branding yourself. Remember, you are starting and/or trying to increase market share with a brand new business (you!!) You act as an independent contractor is most cases – so you are really on your own. Set a budget. In your first two years, you should set aside at least 18% of your sales commissions to go back into brand advertising. If you have little to no sales, assume a figure of $50,000 and borrow or ask your broker if they have an agent marketing expense account that they might front the cost and you pay them back on your next commission check. Fifth, choose your broker company wisely.. The old adage that you are “judged by the company you keep” could not be more true in Real Estate. Choose a reputable company with agents that treat people the way you would want to be treated. Make sure you select a company that is innovative and moving forward with technology – as it is the wave of the future. This does not mean a national company, necessarily. In fact, this is the second biggest misnomer. Real Estate is a service and relationship business between you the agent and the client. It truly doesn’t matter whether you are an agent in a company with (5) licensees or (500) licensees. There are numerous advances in technology that some small companies are using. This helps to move real estate quickly. The question is simple, have you provided the data required to make a sound judgment decision on a piece of real estate for your client? Lastly, be honest and forthcoming. This is not rocket science; but it is in most cases the most important decision for a prospective client. Use care, and compassion when working with your client. Work hard!! You get a nice paycheck; and the knowledge and service you provide to a happy client is crucial to determining how many more of those you get from referrals from that satisfied client. Remember, if you do a good job, hopefully that person will tell many more people about you. If you do a bad job, guaranteed that person will tell everyone they know about you. Happy Selling!! If you would like more information on how to become a successful agent, please contact me.

Kathy Holland is the Owner of Resource Realty, A full Service Real Estate Broker located in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Six Simple Things You Can Do to Ensure a Smooth Home Purchase

Six Simple Things You Can Do to Ensure a Smooth Home Purchase

Buying a home can be an emotional, time-consuming, and complex process. There are a few things that you can do to help make the process go as smooth as possible:

1. Check your credit.
Before you apply for a home loan, regardless of your credit, it's a smart idea to obtain a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus and review the information. If there are errors or things that need to be addressed, it's easier to address them before you have found a house, than after you have found a house and are trying to close your loan.
If you know that there are a few blemishes on your credit, let your lender know what they are, why they are there, and why you are a still good credit risk. Lenders look at your credit to determine how likely you will pay back the loan. If you had extenuating circumstances - like a loss of a job or medical bills - let them know so that they understand that it is not likely to happen again in the future.

2. Get approved before you buy.
An approval means that a lender has reviewed your credit history, verified your assets and employment, and has approved your loan before you have found a home to purchase. As long as the home appraises for at least the purchase price, the loan should close.
Getting approved also gives you an advantage over other buyers. Your firm approval makes it easier for you to negotiate on the price of a home, than a person who is not approved or is pre-qualified.
While getting pre-qualified may sound official, it is really just getting an idea of what you can afford. Its having a person plug in a few numbers that you give them - your monthly income and your monthly debt - and getting an approximate payment calculated. From the payment, the calculator can approximate the house price range that you can afford. No information is verified. Because your assets, income or credit is not verified, a pre-qualification has little value when purchasing a home.

3. Find a great buyer's agent.
Traditionally real estate agents represent the sellers in a transaction. When you are not working with a buyer's agent, they are less likely to negotiate the best price or contingencies for you.
A buyer's agent's job and fiduciary responsibility (meaning legal duty) is to you, the buyer. Before working with an agent, establish if they are a buyer's agent or a seller's agent. After spending a lot of time with a Realtor, it's natural to feel like you're a team. But if they are not negotiating for you, then they are not on your team.

4. Learn about the neighborhood.
Often times the house you find may be in a neighborhood that you're not familiar with, which is ok. It just means that you'll have to do a little more research. If you find a house that you like, ask for a list of the neighborhood properties that sold in the last year. How does your home rank? Is it at the top of the price range? If so, it might be hard to resell. Is it average or on the low end? If so, great - as the other home prices go up in value, they will pull your home's value up as well.
Check out the schools - are they sought after? A good school district means your neighborhood will always be valued by families which is a great reassurance to purchase, not to mention the value-add if you have school-age children.
Next, contact the police station and obtain crime statistics? Are they acceptable to you? Sometimes, if they won't give them to you, it could be a cause for alarm.
Talk to the neighbors. The more people you talk to, the better sense you will get of who makes up the neighborhood and how they will effect your time spent in it.
Check out the location of the shopping, police and fire stations, schools, and air traffic overhead. These are all things that might affect your property value or quality of your life.

5. Protect Yourself.
Ask your Realtor for a copy of the documents you will be asked to sign if you decide to buy the house. Read them ahead of time so that you'll understand the questions that you will be asked, the things you need to know, and the decisions you will need to make.

6.) Have reasonable expectations.
There is a lot of money at stake. No house is perfect. Understanding and remembering these two statements will help diffuse the negotiation stage, the inspection stage and the closing stage.
Emotions are high for both buyers and sellers. - The seller may have loving memories and years of sweat equity in the house. Maybe they are being relocated and don't want to go. Understanding their motivations for selling will help you appreciate their situation and predicament during these emotional times.
There is a lot of money at stake for all the parties involved (and that includes the realtors) - Just remember that market value (the value of a home) is the price that a willing buyer and a willing seller can agree to. If you can not agree on a price, ask yourself: Is there something you missed? Are there comparables that support the price that they want? Are there motivations that might factor into the price they are demanding? In the end, does it matter? What is the house worth to you today and what do you think you can reasonably sell it for based on the amount of time you plan to spend in it? Think about the answers to those questions before you make your move.
No house is perfect - Always get an inspection. It might be a few hundred dollars, but it's worth it. It's the inspector's job to find any problems with the house that could cost you thousands to repair down the road. Some inspectors have a tendency to over play the importance of their role and the items that they find. Get objective opinions that you trust before making a decision on an inspection report. Likewise, if an inspector says a foundation is cracked but its nothing to worry about - get a second opinion. Ask a handyman for an idea of how much repairs will cost and how complicated they are. The home buying process is an emotional, complex and time-consuming process, but it is worth it. Nothing compares to owning your own home in a neighborhood that you chose.

Compliments of: Cindy Strobel, Broker/Owner

Resource Realty Services

Thinking About Buying Your First Home?

Thinking About Buying Your First Home?

Many renters are starting to think about purchasing a home of their own. Several factors should be considered when purchasing a home:

How long you plan to live in the home.

If you purchase a home and get a job transfer or decide to move after only a short time, you may end up paying money in order to sell it. The value of your home may not have appreciated enough to cover the costs that you paid to buy the home and the costs that it would take you to sell your home.
The length of time that it will take to cover those costs depends on various economic factors in the area of the home. Most parts of the country have an average of 5% appreciation per year. In this case, you should plan to stay in your home at least 3-4 years to cover buying and selling costs. If the area you buy your home in experiences an economic up turn, the length of the time to cover these costs could be shortened, and the opposite is also true.

How long the home will meet your needs.
What features do you require in a home to satisfy your lifestyle now? Five years from now? Depending on how long you plan to stay in your home, you'll need to ensure that the home has the amenities that you'll need. For example, a two-bedroom dwelling may be perfect for a young couple with no children. However, if they start a family, they could quickly outgrow the space. Therefore, they should consider a home with room to grow. Could the basement be turned into a den and extra bedrooms? Could the attic be turned into a master suite? Having an idea of what you'll need will help you find a home that will satisfy you for years to come.

Your financial health - your credit and home affordability.
Is now the right time financially for you to buy a home? Would you rate your financial picture as healthy? Is your credit good? While you can always find a lender to lend you money, solid lenders are more skeptical if your credit history is not good. Generally, a couple of blemishes on a credit report will make you a good credit risk and could qualify you for the lowest interest rates. If you have more than a couple of blemishes on your report, lenders like Quicken Loans may still provide you with a loan, but you may just have to pay a higher interest rate and fees.
Some say that you should refrain from borrowing as much as you qualify for because it is wiser not to stretch your financial boundaries. The other school of thought says you should stretch to buy as much home as you can afford, because with regular pay raises and increased earning potential, the big payment today will seem like less of a payment tomorrow. This is a decision only you can make. Are you in a position where you expect to make more money soon? Would you rather be conservative and fairly certain that you can make your payment without stretching financially? Make sure that whatever you do, it's within your comfort zone.
To determine how much home you can afford, talk to a lender or go online and use a "home affordability" calculator. Good calculators will give you a range of what you may qualify for. Then call a lender. While some may say that the "28/36" rule applies, in today's home mortgage market, lenders are making loans customized to a particular person's situation. The "28/36" rule means that your monthly housing costs can't exceed 28 percent of your income and your total debt load can't exceed 36 percent of your total monthly income. Depending on your assets, credit history, job potential and other factors, lenders can push the ratios up to 40-60% or higher. While we're not advocating you purchase a home utilizing the higher ratios, its important for you to know your options.

Where the money for the transaction will come from.
Typically homebuyers will need some money for a down payment and closing costs. However, with today's broad range of loan options, having a lot of money saved for a down payment is not always necessary - if you can prove that you are a good financial risk to a lender. If your credit isn't stellar but you have managed to save 10-20% for a down payment, you will still appear to be a very good financial risk to a lender.

The ongoing costs of home ownership.
Maintenance, improvements, taxes and insurance are all costs that are added to a monthly house payment. If you buy a condominium, townhouse or in certain communities, a monthly homeowner's association fee might be required. If these additional costs are a concern, you can make choices to lower or avoid these fees. Be sure to make your realtor and your lender aware of your desire to limit these costs.
If you are still unsure if you should buy a home after making these considerations, you may want to consult with an accountant or financial planner to help you assess how a home purchase fits into your overall financial goals.


Compliments of: Cindy Strobel & Kathy Holland - Broker Resource Realty, Mechanicsville, Virginia, Brokers/Owners Resource Realty Services


First impression is EVERYTHING!!! In today’s competitive home selling market, you need all the edge you can find to sell your home quickly and painlessly. Home Staging is proven to be the easiest and most effective way to sell you home for the most money in the Hanover, Mechanicsville, Richmond, King William, Chesterfield, Highland Springs areas.

In as little as one day, you can transform that “just another house on the market” look to a fashionable, one of a kind home that will grab the eye and make prospective buyers want to live in it!!!

According to Jill Bartley of “Expert Home Stagers of Hanover”, a home that has been staged properly will sell 40% faster than a home that has not been staged. The cost of professionally staging your home is significantly less than the difference between asking price and that first offer. Professional home staging increases potential buyers by up to 80%. The average increase in selling price of a professionally staged home versus a non-staged home is 6.9%. In this market of home staying on the market long, the average time on the market for professionally staged home is 11 to 22 days.


Compliments of: Cindy Strobel, Broker/Owner

Resource Realty Services

Monday, August 6, 2007

August 6, 2007 Current State of Mortgage Financing...What's Going On?

August 6, 2007 - Current State of Mortgage Financing...What's Going On?

Anyone watching or reading the financial news over the last few days and weeks has seen a lot of angst and consternation over the state of the mortgage industry. In fact, one of the larger lenders in the US, American Home Mortgage, was forced to shut down operations last week. But why? What is happening, and most importantly, what does all this mean to you? Let's unpack the definitions and details, so that you really understand the truth behind the headlines.

Over the past several years, many loans were made to homeowners with somewhat non-traditional or "non-conforming" situations, be it a poor credit history, inability to document income, or any number of factors that do not fit within the traditional "box" for home loans. These loans are often called "Sub-Prime", or "Alt-A", meaning that they were somewhat riskier in nature than A credit, prime, or traditional loans. Another type of "non-conforming" home loan is one where the credit and income might be perfectly fine, but the loan amount is higher than $417K, which is the current maximum loan that can be done using pools of money from mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC). If the loan amount is higher, it can certainly be done - it's called a "jumbo loan" - but the end money comes from private institutions, not from the large government sponsored entities of Fannie and Freddie.

Most non-conforming loan product rates popped significantly higher in the last week. Here's the scoop.

The end investor for Subprime or Alt-A loans will charge a premium for taking on a pool of these loans, because they know that traditionally, they might have a higher rate of default and delinquent payments within that risky pool. But lately, default and foreclosure has been on the rise - partly due to the fact that with credit tightening and a soft real estate market, many troubled homeowners are unable to refinance or sell in order to get out of trouble. So now, these end institutions are demanding a much higher "risk premium" for taking on these pools of loans, as they see the rates of default are climbing higher.

But since these institutions are purchasing these pools of loans sometimes months after the borrower has actually closed at a given rate, this increase to the risk premium means that instead of paying $101K for a $100K loan that will bear interest, they may only be willing to pay $95K for that $100K mortgage to account for the risk. Multiply that times thousands upon thousands of loans...and you have millions upon millions of dollars in loss for the company trying to sell the pool at a much lower price than they were expecting. This is called a "liquidity crisis", and is exactly what happened to American Home Mortgage - there was no mismanagement, but they simply got caught holding too many "hot potato" loans, forced to sell them at massive losses...and eventually they had to make the decision to close the doors and stop the bleeding.

Further, even when a lender is able to take some losses, they may be subject to a "margin call". This means that as their losses and risk premiums increase, the value of their loan portfolio decreases. As the value decreases, the credit lines that are secured by those portfolios begin to issue margin calls as the value of the asset that they are secured on is now diminished. This is exactly like margin calls in the Stock market. If you have a loan against a Stock that is losing value, you will get a "margin call" and need to pay down the loan, as the underlying Stock is losing too much value to be considered adequate collateral any longer. So for the big lenders, as their portfolio is losing value due to increased risk premiums and losses...the margin calls start coming in, and they are required to pay down their balances. In turn, this means that they have less availability to fund their new loans, which then exacerbates the problem.

In response to seeing this situation play out in the demise of American Home Mortgage, lenders of other non-conforming loan products increased their interest rates dramatically almost overnight to be better prepared - and likely over-prepared - for increased risk premiums down the road. Even though loans above $417K are not presently suffering from increased delinquencies like the Subprime and Alt-A loans are, these rates popped higher as well, because they are being purchased by smaller private entities that can't afford to take on any margin of risk.

What happens next, and what should you do now?

The present situation will likely settle out over the coming year, and the rates on products that have moved so significantly higher now should trend lower down the road as delinquency rates stabilize. But here are a few important things to do right now.

First, even if you are not presently in the market for a home loan of any type, call me to make sure that your credit standing is as solid as possible. Many people I talk to about home loans didn't expect they would have a need, and didn't plan in advance to ensure their credit would qualify them for the best possible financing. With no immediate need for a home loan, time is on your side...why don't we take a few minutes together and just make sure you are prepared, should a need arise down the road?

Next, if you are in the market for a home loan, or know someone who is - know that now is time to be working with a real qualified professional who can keep you informed of changes in the market and get your loan funded quickly. Now is NOT the time to be playing the risky game of trying to scour the entire nation to find someone who promises to save you a paltry amount on costs, or deliver a rate that seems too good to be true. Your home and your financing are just too important, and times have changed. I am here to help and advise during these volatile times - and would welcome calls from you, your friends, family, neighbors or coworkers.

Lloria Ross

First Horizon Home Loans


How to Buy Your First Home the Easy Way!

How to Buy Your First Home the Easy Way!

Avoid 10 Common Potentially Devastating Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make.

If you follow these (ten) 10 suggestions, with the help of the right real estate professional, you’ll make a good sound business decision that you’ll be happy and proud of for years to come. Many home buyers do very little research before “diving in” and investing their hard-earned money. Before doing that, doesn’t it make sense to be as informed as possible? This article is designed to help you avoid 10 common, critical mistakes many home buyers make. If you follow these (ten) 10 suggestions, with the help of the right real estate professional, you’ll make a good sound business decision that you’ll be happy and proud of years to come.

1. Inspect, Inspect and Inspect- Go over the inspection report with a fine tooth comb. Make sure the report was done by a professional organization. For condo purchases, go over the by-laws, and association fees. Don’t take anything for granted... inspect everything!

2. Imagine the Property Vacant- Your furnishings and decorations will be the

ones filling this new residence. Don’t be swayed by beautiful furniture ... it

leaves with the owner.

3. Income Plus Lifestyle equals Mortgage Payment- Sit down with a competent real estate professional and honestly discuss your income level and living expenses. Take into account future considerations like: children, add-ons,

amenities or fix ups. Your dream home is certainly worth a sacrifice but don’t mortgage your entire future.

4. View Several Homes- See at least 3-5 properties. Don’t move on the first

property you see but..don’t move too slowly either. With your agent’s help,

you’ll be able to view enough properties to get a good overall perspective of your

market. And when you find the right property, all the leg work will be worth it.

5. Utilize Your Team- By aligning yourself with the right real estate professional, you’ll have an entire team working for you. Top real estate professionals have lenders, title reps, inspection teams — an entire group of trained professionals to make the whole buying experience simple and easy for you.

6. Be Columbo— Check out all your costs and expenses before your sign: utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance and homeowner dues, if applicable. Make sure all utilities are on (gas, electricity, and water). SO you can inspect everything in working order. Ask lots of questions and be very detail conscious.

7. Do a Final WaIk-Through- Visit the property after all the furnishings have been moved out to be sure there are no surprises. Be absolutely positive the property was left exactly as you had agreed upon final tile contract. Many times, things are unintentionally overlooked that could have been spotted in a final walk_through.

8 Plan for Flexibility- Closing dates are not written in stone. Allow for contingencies and have a back-up plan. If you or the sellers allow a little more time to conclude the final arrangements, don’t let these delays upset or frustrate you. These types of circumstances are not uncommon in a real estate transaction.

9. If It’s Not In Writing, It Doesn’t Exist- All promises and discussions are to he in writing. Don’t make any assumptions or believe any assurances. Even the best intentions can be misinterpreted. Have your real estate professional keep an ongoing log (in writing) of all discussions, arid get the seller’s written approval for all addendums.

10. Loyalty Breeds Loyalty- Be open, honest and up-front with our team. Hard feelings and disloyalty will cause headaches, delays or may even keep you from getting into the home you worked so hard to locate. Take the lime to select the right team in the beginning and your first home purchase will be simple. easy and profitable experience you’ll have fond memories for years to come.

Our hope with this article has been to educate you and help, you avoid the pitfalls many home buyers go through. We hope you found the ideas valuable!

Compliments of: Cindy Strobel, Broker/Owner

Resource Realty Services

Your Name is Being Sold - Take Action Now!


Alert to Hanover, Henrico & all residence! Your Name is Being Sold - Take Action Now!
Here’s breaking news you need to know … and you need to let all your family and friends know right away as well.

Your information … a hot commodity

Having credit checked is an important and necessary step in the home buying process. But very few people realize that each time their credit is checked, the “inquiry data” that the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) have on file have now become a commodity. This information is being sold by the credit bureaus to other lenders…and also to companies that sell and resell the same names and personal information.

That’s right – the credit bureaus have found a way to increase their revenues at your expense….and without your permission.

These “inquiry leads” include name, address, phone numbers (including unlisted), credit score, current debt and debt history, property information, age, gender and estimated income. They are marketing personal, confidential information to competing creditors…and making millions. Your privacy is being sold, not just once, but over and over again.

And lenders that purchase these leads at a premium will then do everything they can to recoup their investment and turn a hefty profit. Super sneaky bait and switch tactics are being used to lure clients away from their reputable lender. Clients have even been called by disreputable lenders and told that the lender they had been speaking to previously “passed on” the information to them, because they knew that they’d be able to offer much better interest rates and terms. Ouch!

Just Say “No”

The consumer credit reporting industry has provided a way to “opt out” and remove your name from these lists. You can contact them by phone at 1-888-567-8688 or online at you must opt out at least 48 hours prior to having your credit checked to make sure it is processed in time. You can choose a five year or lifetime option, and the lifetime option does require a signed form. If a credit report needs to be run prior to the 48 hour waiting period – at least you are aware and informed, and can be on the lookout for suspicious phone calls or mailers from someone who has purchased your data.

The good news is by opting-out you can make it stop right away and protect yourself from “pre-approved credit offers” arriving via mail, which is one of the leading causes of identity theft in the US.

Take Your Privacy Back

You certainly have the right to shop for the best professional to meet your lending needs – but this should be done when and how YOU choose, not being done without your consent or permission. In fact, we even provide a “Shopping Around” guide, just email your request for the free guide to so that you know how to make educated, informed choices when selecting your lender. Contact us if you’d like a copy sent to you right away. But looking around should be on your terms, not being done as a sneak attack, because they think you won’t know better. And unfortunately, these unsolicited marketing tactics are a nuisance and intrusive, but quite legal.

Take your privacy back. Take five minutes right now – opt out, and pass it on. Refuse to be a part of this system.

Compliments of Lloria Ross

First Horizon Home Loans


Wednesday, July 25, 2007



Compliments of: Cindy Strobel, Broker/Owner Resource Realty Services


The first thirty days that your home is offered for sale are the most important to you in terms of realizing a reasonably fast sale at a good market price. There are a number of things you can do to ensure that prospective buyers will be favorably impressed with your home. Here is an easy-to-follow checklist of time proven tips on how to get your home ready for sale.


  • Yard is mowed and edged.
  • All refuse is collected and hauled away.
  • Flower beds are cultivated.
  • Exterior paint in good condition.
  • Exterior walls are in good condition with any damaged wall boards replaced and bricks and mortar replaced as required.
  • Roof is in good condition and repaired.
  • All exterior lighting is in working order.


  • Walls are clean and unmarked.
  • Windows are clean inside and out.
  • All plumbing is in good order; repair leaky faucets and stains.
  • All doors should open and close easily and all hardwood is in place.
  • Remove unneeded materials from attic, basement and garage.
  • Kitchen is sparkling clean, countertops are uncluttered and all dishes are placed in cabinets.
  • Every room is neatly arranged and unneeded materials are removed.
  • All lighting fixtures and lamps have bulbs and are in working order.

Hints on Showing Your Home

  • When possible, arrange for you and your family to be away from home during a showing. Prospects feel less like an intruder if the home is vacated and will take more time to thoroughly inspect your home.
  • If you have a dog, be sure that it is penned up outside.
  • Whether your home is being shown in the daytime or at night, always leave enough lighting on, both inside and out, to brighten every corner of your home.
  • If it is necessary for you to be at home, we suggest that you allow us to direct the prospective buyer through the home. We are thoroughly familiar with the prospect’s needs and can emphasize their needs with your home’s amenities.
  • Do not discuss with any prospect the terms, price, possession or other factors related to the sale of your home. We are in a better position to handle these matters.

If You Vacate Your Home Before it is Sold

  • Make arrangements for property to be maintained, the grass cut and edged.
  • Leave utilities on and set heating or cooling at comfortable level.
  • Make sure your Realtor can contact you are at all times.

It is important to remember that in the central Virginia markets which include, Hanover, Mechanicsville, Richmond, King William, Henrico Counties such as Varina, Glen Allen and the West End of Richmond, that inventories are at an all time high. The nicer, more attractive amenities, and better your home stands out above the others you are competing with, the more chance you will have of getting your home sold quickly and at the highest possible price.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bankrate is Feeling the Heat

Bankrate is Feeling the Heat in Mechanicsville, Henrico & Hanover: Beware of Internet Lending & stay with a Local Lender in the Richmond Metro Area

Just like King Kong clutching the top of the Empire State Building…Bankrate, the "800-pound Gorilla" of online home loan rates is falling under fire. The Bankrate website draws millions of visitors, as it promises to give a listing of companies and their rate and cost offerings for mortgage loans, and even passes that information on to most of America's largest newspapers as fact. It proclaims itself to be a tool for the consumer, just delivering information and advice…but as many reputable mortgage lenders have known all along, it turns out that consumers are finding the reality of Bankrate to be a little different.

A lawsuit is in the works against Bankrate, after hundreds of consumers complained about lenders who failed to deliver the rates and terms they promised on the website. In fact, one lender actually told a Bankrate employee that a consumer would need a "direct pipeline to God" in order to qualify for the rates and terms they advertise on the site. Why would a lender post rates and terms they are unwilling or unable to honor? To lure in consumers who truly want to believe that they are getting an interest rate or cost package that is significantly lower than all the competition. And by the time the consumer finds out they are not getting the package they were promised, they likely have wasted enough valuable time that they feel somewhat stuck to use whatever terms the lender hauls out.

Of course there are real reasons that the terms of a loan package can change mid-stream. When working with a reputable lender, it would generally only be caused by a change from what was submitted on the loan application. Some examples of this include a change in credit, income, employment, debts or assets.

So are there any reputable lenders on Bankrate? Yes, of course. And some of those lenders were the ones who prompted the lawsuit in the first place. As they were posting real interest rates and terms they could actually honor, they could see that consumers would instead be contacting the less-reputable lenders who were posting completely unrealistic rate and cost offers. And the consumer might not find out the difference until it was too late. Mortgage lenders get their money from essentially the same places - so anytime there is a very large difference between quotes on identical programs, it pays to ask some questions.

Bottom line - the internet at large can be a great place to gain basic trends and information about a home loan, but the Bankrate lawsuit illustrates the need to work with a Trusted Advisor. A home loan is generally the largest financial transaction of your entire life - working with a real professional who can advise you on correct strategies and programs for your needs is a must. And like your mom or dad always used to say - you get what you pay for, and solid advice from a real professional may cost more than a bargain basement operation.

Most importantly, remember that the absolute lowest rate and terms on the WRONG financial strategy or loan program for your life will prove to be far more costly than a competitive rate package on the RIGHT strategy, which correctly fits your financial goals and needs.


Compliments of Lloria Ross

First Horizon Home Loans


Friday, July 6, 2007

Mistakes to Avoid When Listing Your Home For Sale

These days it seems like every time you turn around you hear about how bad the real estate market is. Here in the Richmond, Virginia and surrounding areas including Mechanicsville, Hanover, King William, Henrico County, Glen Allen, Varina, etc.the market isn’t quite as bad as the nationwide estimates. . The average time that a home sits on the market before it sells is up over 2 months., compared to over 6 months nationwide. Property values are not increasing at the same appreciation rate as in 2002-2006 and foreclosures are up. If you are serious about selling your home you need to price it right.

There are quite a few mistakes that people can make when pricing their home. If you really need to get your home sold, be sure not to make any of these mistakes:

1. Starting too high. We can’t tell you how many times we have heard this on a listing appointment for a home around $175,000, “Well, let’s just start out at $210,000 and see what happens.” A seller wrongly thinks that it won’t hurt anything to start sky-high with their price and then drop it later if (when) no one bites. Todays buyers are very savvy. With just a click of a mouse they can find out how long a home has been on the market. They see a home that has been on the market too long as the perfect target, a desperate seller. By the time they actually drop their price out of fantasy land and into reality, they have actually dropped the value of their own home and will usually end up taking less than current market value.

2. Letting an agent “buy” your listing. When you interview agents to list your home, you are usually given a marketing proposal and CMA, which is basically the agents opinion of the price your home should sell for. Some agents will come in and tell you your home is worth a whole lot more than it is. They figure that the truth hurts and if Agent A says your home is worth $175,000 and Agent B says your home is worth $200,000, you are more likely to list with Agent B. Agent A was giving you an honest opinion of what your home will sell for and Agent B was giving you an inflated number to get you to sign a contract with him. In the business, we call this “buying a listing”. Once you sign with Agent B you are stuck with him for 6 months or possibly longer. If you are thinking along these lines, and you have talked with agents who have very different opinions on the value of your home, sign only a 30 day listing. This will allow you to “test” the market with Agent B but can come back to reality with Agent A while not wasting too much valuable time.

3. Pay attention to the comps!! Numbers don’t lie. When the agent you are interviewing gives you his price, it should be supported by a list of similar homes that have sold in your area recently. Also, you should ask to see information on the homes that are currently listed but not sold. If nothing in your area has sold in the last year for over $200,000 don’t list for $250,000!! It sounds ridiculous, but it happens everyday.

4. Take emotions out of the equation. A big thing that would-be sellers forget is that they are selling their house not their home. You still get to keep all of your memories and personal belonging that mean so much to you. You have to remember that selling your home is a business transaction. Your fond memories of the home have no monetary value to a potential buyer. Of course selling the home where your kids took their first steps is probably going to be depressing. You have to just remember that when you get to your new place, your memories come with you and you will learn to call the new house your home and make new memories.

5. Properly Prepare Your Home For Sale .In this market, your home has to be in good market condition. In the Central Virginia area including Mechanicsville, Hanover, Glen Allen, Henrico County, Varina, King William, Chesterfield and other surrounding counties, there is more inventory on the market than we have seen in years. If your home is cosmetically challenged or otherwise looks ill kept, that potential buyer will go to the next house. If you do not have the Resources to accomplish the task of getting your home in tip top showing condition, ask your Realtor. Any Realtor that has been in the business should have a list of Resources to provide you. A small amount of money spent upfront will pay large dividends later! See my next article for a list of items that you can do to get your home ready…

Good Luck & Happy Selling,

Kathy Holland Broker/Owner

Resource Realty Services

Monday, June 25, 2007

Avoiding Paying Too Much On Your Next Real Estate Purchase.

  • Market Conditions in the Richmond Central Virginia area are not what they were several years ago. Savvy Buyers are reeling in the deals! We are no longer in a Sellers Market! I encourage first time home buyers especially, to make the move NOW. Think of this as the stock market.  When stocks are low - you buy.  An influx of inventory in the Richmond, Mechanicsville, Hanover, Henrico, Chesterfield, and King William markets and the slow demand from buyers who also have a home to sell, have made prices stable for the first time since 2003. Inventory in the Central Virginia MLS is at one of its highest levels in years. Negotiation on price, repairs, closing cost assistance and other incentives is a MUST! How can you take advantage of our current market conditions, make Use of a Buyers Agent for your own Representation and Protection.  In the State of Virginia, the seller is represented by the Listing Agent.  If you do not have your own agent, you are potentially paying too much for the property.  A good agent will insist on doing a Comparative Market Analysis to ensure that your offer is in line with current Richmond and surrounding area market conditions.  Some buyers have the misconception that they will save money if they do not use an agent. NOT TRUE!! The seller has agreed to pay a predefined commission. The listing agent just has a bigger pay day at your expense!!

To Your Home Buying Success,

Kathy Holland Owner/Broker,

Resource Realty Services