Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Pictures Is Worth A Thousand Words

Yesterday I went to a Real Estate Photography class taught by Harry Bisel. It was a great class and I learned a lot. I hope to share at least a few of the things I learned with all of you.

"Pictures sell. Good pictures sell more" - A.D. Coleman

The first thing we need to remember with Real Estate photography is that we are NOT documentary photographers (I'll save that for my scrapbook) but ADVERTISING photographers. We are trying to SELL a house. Instead of taking pictures of EVERYthing, take as many pictures as are necessary to sell the house. A small empty bedroom is not going to hold a memory or help someone remember the home. (yes, I too have been guilty of taking these pictures!) As the listing agent, we work for the seller and need to take only pics that help sell the home. Now I'm not saying we need to "hide" things, but we need to show the home to the best of it's abilities. (And sometimes that IS the bathroom!).

Photographs are the new curb appeal. We have to be better marketing photographers so we can elicite emotions. When something elicites your emotions, you remember it, you think about it...that's what you want to do when you take pictures of a home. We want to get online home buyers to pause and linger at our online listings including pictures.

How do we do this?? We need to understand the purpose of the photo. Why did the seller buy the house? For me, the openness when you walk in and the stairway was my selling point - and I've since updated the railing to a beautiful wood and rod iron railings. What made you pick your house? Tell your agent, that may just be the feature that the next buyer will like as well! Capture that moment, feeling, emotion in your photographs. Bring color and softness to kitchens & bathrooms (ex. add flowers for a touch of color). And even if the house is now vacant, play up big areas.

When taking the pictures, walk to all four corners of the room to get a picture. The "typical" front on shot may not be your best. I try to do this...and use whichever photo (or photos) I think best showcases the room. Kitchens & bathrooms need to be SPOTLESS for pictures.

And remember to create memorable experiences first!!

check out Harry's website for more great information or to hire him: www.harrybisel.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I've been meaning to write this blog for a few weeks now and just keep forgetting when I'm by my computer - go figure!!

I experienced another Kansas City first (for me) - The Music Hall! I went with my friend Jen & her mom to see Wicked a few weeks ago. I had NEVER seen it before (nor did I even know what it was about) and I LOVED it!!! I highly reccommend going to see it!!

Thanks Jen for inviting me. I think I've found my new musical buddy!!! (I went with her and the hubby to see Legally Blond this summer!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

REMAX.COM First To Add Foreclosures

Homebuyers Can Search Over a Million Foreclosed
Properties, Find Foreclosure Experts in One Site

(Denver, CO - November 30, 2009) – Homebuyers looking for the right home at a great price will now be able to search through more than a million foreclosed properties and access agents specializing in short sales and foreclosures, all in one location. RE/MAX International, Inc. is the first national real estate franchise to offer U.S. foreclosure listings on its highly-trafficked web site, www.remax.com.
Remax.com visitors can now access more than 1.3 million Real Estate Owned (REO) properties in the U.S. through RealtyTrac.
“We strive to provide consumers with the most information, properties, videos, articles and resources to help them navigate today’s market,” said Kristi Graning, Senior Vice President, Information Technology and eBusiness for RE/MAX International. “Remax.com is now the perfect combination of resources on one web site, where visitors can search for foreclosures and connect with a uniquely trained RE/MAX agent who specializes in short sales, REOs and foreclosures.”
Homebuyers across the country, including those looking to take advantage of the recently enhanced Homebuyer Tax Credit, can search foreclosures by accessing the foreclosure tab in the featured property search box on remax.com.
Sourced by government agencies and national news media, RealtyTrac is the No. 1 foreclosure listing service. It collects extensive foreclosure data from more than 2,200 counties, covering more than 90 percent of U.S. households. As part of the partnership, RE/MAX agents also have access to an advanced subscription of RealtyTrac’s service and foreclosure information which allows them to better serve clients. The comprehensive subscription offers agents more detailed information including properties in default and properties scheduled for public foreclosure auction, along with tax assessment information, comprehensive lien and loan history and neighborhood home sale trends.
“We are very pleased to be working with RE/MAX, one of the world’s leading real estate brands, and we’re excited to give consumers another way to access foreclosure data,” said Rick Sharga, Senior Vice President for RealtyTrac. “We believe we can have a positive impact on the national housing market by providing consumers with vital foreclosure information and giving homebuyers an opportunity to find the perfect home with the right agent.”
RE/MAX agents are uniquely qualified to manage foreclosures and distressed property. More RE/MAX Associates have earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert® (CDPE) designation than agents from any other national real estate network. The CDPE training, through the Distressed Property Institute, gives RE/MAX agents the expertise to assist buyers and sellers of REO and distressed properties.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Project UpLift

Happy November!!

Can you believe it's already November? I can't. And right now I am REALLY enjoying the weather.....though I know it's going to get cold in just a few days.

I can't believe it's been so long since I blogged last. I guess I just couldn't think of things to write about - so if you ever have ideas...send them my way!!

A few weeks ago (Oct 22-26 to be exact) I went to Longboat Key, Florida to celebrate the wedding of my college roommate and friend Erin to Todd. It was a beautiful wedding and an AMAZING place! Longboat is about 20miles from Sarasota. My best friend Emily from St Louis went with me and we had a great and relaxing time. I highly recommend Longboat Key! You MUST stay on at the Longboat Key Club & Resort. It's just amazing!

As many of you know, I love to volunteer. I enjoy it - such a good feeling...and honestly, I have a hard time saying no! I haven't done much volunteering lately, I think I was a little burnt out. Well, my co-worker Paula has done some volunteering with Project UpLift in the past. Project Uplift goes out to the homeless to provide them food and supplies. Last night, Paula & I along with a co-worker's mom, Trisha all went to volunteer with a nightly delivery. (they deliver Monday, Wednesday & Saturday nights). We got to the warehouse around 430pm to start preparing for the nights ride. Our job was to sort and individually package bread and sweets. We loaded up the car with dinner (last night was friend fish, pasta & soup along with hot chocolate, bread, treats and chips) and supplies. Each truck is stocked with necessities including clothes, toiletries, pet food and water. We went to about 7 different locations. It was great getting out there and helping. Everyone was so friendly and grateful. It was amazing how many homeless have pets...and they wanted to make sure they also got food! At one of our last locations (with only one bag of dog chow left) we met some guys that have an extensive camp set up. They have a dog and cat - who they make sure ALWAYS get fed. Thankfully we had a bag left (or I might be under bridges today trying to find them and get the dog food!!!). They brought this beautiful (and healthy looking) black lab out to meet us - Hobo! (I'm not kidding, that was his name!) They also took us back to see their camp (no worries, we had a guy with us who has done this for seven years and knew we'd be safe!!). It was amazing what they'd done. They'd put together barriers to stop the wind, had a tent, picnic table, etc. It was amazing to see what they had done with what little they had. It seemed to me that many of these people actually enjoy their life. It was also amazing how many younger (closer to my age) people were out there! And how many of these people have been homeless for years.

It was such an eye-opening experience. It sure makes me thankful for EVERYTHING that I have. I came home to my house, my bed, my dogs and my heat. I had trouble sleeping just thinking about all of these great people. I will definitely volunteer again....and I think I'll bring along some dog treats!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Happy October!!!

I finally got a chance to go take a pictures of one of the pink fountains in Kansas City! Isn't it great!!! Of course they changed them pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I got my first mamogram this year - and it wasn't too bad!!!

October also marks the ONE year anniversary of my switch to Re/Max!! It was a tough decision, but one of the best ones I made! I'm so glad I made the switch!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Just Because You're Knocked Down Doesn't Mean You're Knocked Out" - Sugar Ray Leonard

I'm catching up on my monthly Realtor Magazine and came across the preview for a Real Estate Conference coming up. I'm not attending and typically just breeze past those pages, but I decided to look and see what some of the previews of the presenters had to say.

The first one I read was by Tara Hunt - Boost Your Whuffie Factor: Online success comes from being part of the community, not by pushing your services. I knew most of what she said. I try to do a good mix of personal & professional things on all of the online social networking sites I use. I personally hate seeing professionals that are always "tooting" their own horn or talking business....I like to see a little fun thrown in there, so I try to do the same.

The second preview I read was by Sugar Ray Leonard - Don't Give Up Easily: Envision your success to emerge from a rut and reach your professional goals. It starts off by saying that Boxing & Real Estate have a lot more in common than you might think. (I can see that). The key to success in either arena is to focus on a positive outcome, even after you've been knocked to the ground. "Just because you're knocked down doesn't mean you're knocked out," says Leonard, who is now a television broadcaster and motivational speaker. He offers the following tips for Real Estate Professionals who are looking for direction in tough times. (I think these can also be used for many other professions and life in general!!)

1. Don't give in to doubt. It's important to keep those dreams, dream even bigger, and not listen to others when they tell you it can't be done.

2. Focus on a positive outcome. Everyone has this ability, but not everyone activates it.

3. Build a support network. Surround yourself with family and colleagues who'll support your goals, encourage you to achieve them, and keep you well-grounded. (I have this...and some great friends who help as well!)

4. Maintain composure. In today's market, buyers and sellers are looking to you for guidance and stability, so use your knowledge and skills to confidently lead them in the right direction.

5. Prepare to do better next time. After you've fallen down, analyze what went wrong and how you can do things differently next time. Draw out a blueprint for success.

6. Stay fit, mentally and physically. Physical activity will keep your mind sharp and focused.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

$8000 Tax Credit Ending Soon!

For those of you who know me, I'm NOT a good writer!! BUT, I still want to blog sometimes and make sure I get out information to my friends, family & more importantly my clients!!! In thinking about doing a blog about the $8000 First-time home buyer tax credit ending soon, I decided to use my favorite tool - Google - and see what I could find. I found this GREAT blog that could not have stated it better.

The Mortgage Experts said it best:

There is much news these days about an extension to the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit. There is also talk that it might be expanded to include second homes and investment properties. PLEASE don't believe it. The tax credit is set to expire on November 30, 2009. Under the current IRS rules, if the closing is after that date, then the buyer does not get the credit.

Congress might extend the credit, but they might not. They might expand it to include second homes and investment properties, but they might not. If there is one piece of advice that we can pass on to anyone, it is this: It is extremely foolish to assume that something will happen in the housing or mortgage industries just because we all want it to happen. Remember stated income loans? 100% financing? Houses that went up in value? Everyone in America loved all of those things and they still went away.

At the moment, it is best to assume that the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers will end on November 30, 2009. If it doesn't, that's great, but assuming that it will be extended could very easily shatter the trust you have built with your clients, or cost you $8,000.

CALL ME and we can start looking so you too can take advantage of this tax credit!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kansas City Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Sunday was the Kansas City Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. This year I helped out on the team committee. It was a great experience and not as time consuming as Relay for Life. They must have a zillion volunteers, which is awesome!!!! My "job" was pretty easy. I had to call and email some of the teams and help sort shirts. I signed up to be in charge of team photos...which I didn't realize meant I had to be on site at 6am!! I was up and got there on time...thanks to Carolyn driving...and it was probably best b/c it was already pretty darn crowded!!

There were 28,000+ people at the race!!! It was amazing! It's great to see all the survivors and people walking in celebration and in memory of loved ones. And some of the teams shirts were just GREAT!!!

I highly recommend participanting in this great event and I plan on doing so again next year!!! (I walked last year and a few years before that).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oklahoma Joe's

I was catching up on my People Magazine (my guilty pleasure) and in the July 27th issue there is an article on The Travel Channel host, Anthony Bourdain's top picks for local joints and he includes Kansas City's Oklahoma Joe's!!! I just LOVE that place. There are currently two locations but I have only gone to the original, in the gas station! I like to refer to it as the "gas station bbq" and I've taken many a visitor there and have had NO complaints!!! My brother (who lives in St Louis)gets jealous of it every time I mention it!

Way to go KC!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This was the thought for the day sent by my broker Lisa (aka, my boss). I really enjoyed it and hope you do too!

While your time and your labor may be subject to the demands of your employer and others, your mind is the one thing that cannot be controlled by anyone but you. The thoughts you think, your attitude toward your job, and what you are willing to give in exchange for the compensation you are paid are entirely up to you. It is up to you to determine whether you will be a slave to a negative attitude or the master of a positive one. Your attitude, your only master in life, is entirely within your control. When you control your attitude toward events, you control the eventual implication of those events.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Home Buyers Should Be Wary of Meth labs
Methamphetamine residues, left behind by sellers who manufactured the toxic drug, is an increasing problem for home buyers.

As many of you know, I always "joke" that you need to watch out for a Meth House...but I'm also pretty serious. It's been said before that you can't "get rid" of the affects of Meth on a home. Below are a few things to look for courtesy of Realtor Magazine.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says clandestine meth labs have been discovered in 46 states.

Home inspector Wes Kelley offers these signs that meth may have been manufactured in a property:
Yellow discoloration on walls and other surfaces.
Taped off fire detectors.
Experiencing burning eyes, an itchy throat, or a metallic taste in the mouth while in the property.
Strong odors similar to solvent, cat urine, or ammonia.
Presence of security cameras or other surveillance equipment.

Buyers shouldn’t rely on the seller’s assurances or an inspection by someone who isn’t knowledgeable because suing after the fact is unlikely to net results. The seller will be either long gone or in jail, experts say.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Ways To Be A Green Homeowner

This information is courtesy of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC)

10 Ways To Be A Green Homeowner

1.Conserve Energy – Homeowners can conserve energy and reduce water usage in a variety of ways:
a. Select Energy Star-rated products when purchasing or replacing household appliances or fixtures.
b. Contact your energy provider about incentives and rebate programs
c. Conduct an energy audit. The Kansas City Home Performance Network helps homeowners identify ways to lower energy bills and make their existing homes more comfortable. Learn more by contacting the Metropolitain Energy Center

2.Build and Maintain Green – Whether you’re just painting a room or remodeling your house, do it the green way. Ask for environmentally friendly products at your local home supply store. Several organizations and resources in the area can help you make the right choices.
a. Green Remodeling Idea Book
b. Habitat ReStore locations – Sell used and surplus building supplies - MO & KS
c. United States Green Building Council Kansas City Chapter: A nonprofit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation.

3. Properly Dispose of Hazardous Materials - Metro area residents have access to household hazardous waste (HHW) programs that accept paint, lawn chemicals, automotive fluids, batteries, and cleaners. These programs are free for most residents.

4. Recycle

5. Protect Outdoor Air Quality - Many everyday activities pollute the air we breathe: driving a car, moving the lawn, using hazardous chemicals, etc. For simple steps you can take to improve air quality, contact the MARC Air Quality Program.

6. Protect the Air You Breathe Indoors - Mold, pet dander, chemical fumes and radon can all negatively affect your indoor air quality and your health. For ways to prevent these and other indoor environmental problems, contact the Healthy Indoor Environments Coalition of the Heartland.

7. Grow A Native Yard - Growing native trees, plants and gardens will save money, time and the environment. Native species require less moving and lawn chemicals. Planting trees can reduce your energy bills.

8. Eat Local, Eat Organic - Eating organically produced local foods positively impacts your health and the environment. Consider planting a home garden to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Visit your local farmers market and patronize local restaurants that utilize locally grown good.

9. Give Your Vehicle A Break - Carpool or take the bus to work. Ride a bike or walk to the store or school You'll get to know your neighbors and your neighborhood better by driving less - and you'll help keep the air clean. to explore your transportation options, contact MARC's RideShare program.

10. Get Involved - Once you've settled in and have begun practicing some of these green behaviors, take these next steps:
a. Volunteer - You and your family can find many great ways to volunteer to help the environment. For more information, contact Bridging The Gap.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Staycation 2009 - Starlight

Well, I had so much fun on my Staycation 2008 that I decided I need to continue it this summer. I have not been as good but I have had a few firsts! (recall previous posts about the new Royals Stadium and the Wizards game!) I had another first last week. I went with my friend Jen & Chris Nelson to Starlight Theatre to see Legally Blonde the musical. It was awesome!! I had a great time and it was a great night!

Monday, July 6, 2009

This will make you smile!

A friend posted one of the songs from the PS 22 Chorus on his facebook page...and it was awesome. Someone else posted a different song so of course I had to go to their website. They are great. It's sure to make you smile!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cute Lessons

I got this as a forward and thought it was cute enough to send out!

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 44 lessons life taught me.
It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their
journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye.. But don't worry; God
never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger..
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is
up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no
for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.
Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
23. The most important sex organ is the brain.
24. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?
26. Always choose life.
27. Forgive everyone everything.
28. What other people think of you is none of your business.
29. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
30. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
32 Believe in miracles.
33. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did
or didn't do.
34. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
35. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
36. Your children get only one childhood.
37. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
38. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
39. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd
grab ours back.
40. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
41. The best is yet to come.
42. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
43. Yield.
44. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Its estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will,
forward this with the title '7%'.

I'm in the 7%.

Stupid People

Well, since Jay Leno isn't on the air right now, I thought I'd do a little "shout out" to him and what he for sure would have talked about in the last few nights! I don't if anyone else has seen how many news stories have been on stupid people lately, but it's funny and sad all at the same time.

So a few days ago, there was a story about a guy who called 911 b/c he got a burger at McDonalds and they owed him $8. When 911 told him that wasn't an emergency, he continued to call back. Needless to say, he was arrest for the misuse of 911 (or being stupid!)

Then yesterday (I believe) it was on the news that ANOTHER guy had called 911 wanting a ride. He was sick and wanted to get to a rap concert. They said they don't give rides and he asked for helicopter transportation. They said they don't give that either. He later confessed to having smoked pot (duh) and he too was arrested for the misuse of 911.

And our third (idiot) person was a lady who was at the police station about a crime. She was talking to police and he noticed a squirrel coming out of her shirt!!! She acted like nothing was wrong so he did as well. (I would not have been able to keep a straight face!!!)

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did. I miss Jay Leno!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wizards Game, Royals....

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged!!! I keep thinking about this blog, but of course I'm not by the computer! Go figure.

So, a few weeks ago I went to my very first Wizard's Soccer game! It was "Dog's Night Out" at the Wizards, so the girls got to go too!! They had a great time - though Maddie ate one too many treats!

I've also been able to go see the Royals play twice and enjoy the new stadium. If you haven't been, I would highly suggest going!! They did a bunch of great updates!!

This past weekend we went home (St Louis) to see the family, go to a bridal shower and see some "old" friends. I also took a new addition home, a westie puppy named Dixie!! My parents had to put their 15 year old wesite, Muffie to sleep a few weeks ago and were missing her and wanting another companion for Teri (9 yr old Westie). Teri isn't quite sure what to think, but i'm sure she'll grow to love her!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tax Credit Can Be Used For Down Payment

This is from The Kansas Association of Realtors (KAR):

Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on Tuesday said that the Federal Housing Administration is going to permit its lenders to allow home buyers to use the $8,000 tax credit as a down payment.

Previously, most buyers wouldn't receive the funds until after they filed their tax return, and that deterred some people from using the credit. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has been calling for the change.

"We all want to enable FHA consumers to access the home buyer tax credit funds when they close on their home loans so that the cash can be used as a down payment," Donovan says. His remarks came in an address to several thousand REALTORS® gathered Tuesday morning at "The Real Estate Summit: Advancing the U.S. Economy," at the 2009 REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C..

He says FHA's approved lenders will be permitted to "monetize" the tax credit through short-term bridge loans. This will allow eligible home buyers to access the funds immediately at the closing table.

Other Solutions for Today's Market

During his address at the summit, Donovan went on to say that the Obama administration plans to further stabilize the housing market. "I do think we have some early signs that the market overall is stabilizing," Donovan says. "Since January we've seen both home sales moving up and down around a relatively stable number and we are seeing the first signs that the rapid decline in home prices is starting to abate."

The morning session included a panel discussion that was moderated by CNBC's Ron Insana. Panelists examined cutting-edge solutions necessary to promote and preserve homeownership and real estate development, stimulate the economy, and protect the nation's taxpayers. They also shared their ideas on what the role and responsibility of the federal government is in the revitalization effort.

"Right now the Federal Reserve is the market," said panelist Jay Brinkman, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. "What will be the effect when the Fed stops buying?" Brinkman explained that an exit strategy must be planned for the long-term; the federal government cannot continue to support the mortgage markets indefinitely.

"We are thrilled that so many high-caliber individuals were able to join us today at this important meeting to promote stability in the housing market and the U.S. economy," said NAR President Charles McMillan. "We look forward to an ongoing dialogue and action toward this goal, during our midyear meetings this week and beyond."

The real estate summit is part of the 2009 REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. During the week ending May 16, more than 8,500 REALTORS® will attend meetings, visit lawmakers and inspire action on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Get your bank on your side

I found this great information in Redbook Magazine:

Get the bank on your side:

Speak to the right person. Ask for the "loan modification department." "If you call the bank and tell them you're behind on your mortgage, they'll put you right through to collections, which will get you nowhere," says Khalfani-Cox

Read the fine print. "The more knowledgeable you are about your mortgage and how it works, the less likely you are to find yourself in trouble," says Khalfani-Cox

Be up front about your situation. "If you were out of work or ill and can't keep up with your payments, come clean," says Khalfani-Cox. The more your bank knows about your circumstances, the more they'll be able to help you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another KC First - Trolley Run!

Well, what started out as my Kansas City Stay-cation, has kind of turned into me continuting (past last summer) to do new things in this great city! Today, I did the Annual Trolley Run! Don't worry, I walked! It starts in Waldo (75th & Wornall) and ends at the Plaza (about 4 miles). It was a good time though my feet were a little sore at the end (and it didn't help that my butt was sore from weights class yesterday! haha) But, I'm glad I did it!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Federal Tax Credits for Energy-Efficiency

Did you know there are tax credits available when you purchase Energy-Efficent items?? Check out this website to learn more:

Federal Tax Credits for Energy-Efficiency

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

10 FREE Web Tools to Make Life Easier

I found this article in the most recent Realtor Magazine and thought it had some good sites! Enjoy!!

10 Free Web Tools to Make Life Easier

These range of Web tools can be good resources for you in your real estate business.
By Katherine Tarbox | April 2009

1. Mint.com
This secure financial management tool pulls data from your checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and other loans to help you track expenses.

2. Zenbe.com
Have multiple e-mail addresses? View all your mail in one inbox, and check in with Facebook and Twitter from the same screen.

3. GetDropBox.com
Back up your important documents and e-mail messages. This tool syncs with your computer to save documents and allows you to access them via the Web from any computer.

4. Everyscape.com
This alternative to Google Earth lets you view three-dimensional images of streets and cities at eye level.

5. Inhabitat.com
For home owners who want to go green, this eco-friendly design blog provides tips and inspiration.

6. Yelp.com
If buyers are new to the area, send them here. Neighbors review local restaurants, spas, doctors, plumbers, and more.

7. Billshrink.com
Discover hidden fees in your credit card accounts and cell phone bills, and get recommedantions for lower-cost alternatives.

8. GasBuddy.com
Do some comparison shopping before you fill up. Get a listing of what the gas stations in your area are charging per gallon.

9. FotoFlexer.com
Touch up your photographs, create effects, and adjust lighting to create high-quality images worthy for marketing materials.

10. DesignSpongeOnline.com
Do-it-yourselfers on a budget will love the easy home decorating projects and gift ideas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home Upgrades That Pay Off from Real Simple Magazine

Home Upgrades That Pay Off - From September 2008 Real Simple Magazine

These 10 around-the-house improvements are well worth the investment.

by Allegra Muzzillo

No sugar coating here: The housing market is in trouble. But some experts say that it will start turning around as early as 2010. So while you’re waiting for it to recover, you might want to reconsider putting off that kitchen redo or landscaping job. “Any changes you make on your house now should increase your home value later,” says Kermit Baker, project director for the Remodeling Futures program at Harvard University. But which projects will yield the most bang for your buck? Take a look at this list, starting with the upgrades most likely to recoup your investment, and then enjoy that gleaming new kitchen.

1. Painting
Why it pays off: Paint provides dramatic results with little investment. If you decide to hire a professional to do the work, expect to pay $3,600 to $6,000 for the interior of an average American house (about 2,400 square feet). An exterior paint job will run $5,000 or more. Can’t decide on a color? Gerri Willis, the anchor of Open House on CNN and the author of Home Rich (Random House, $25, amazon.com), says that pale yellow homes tend to sell faster and for more money. Barbara Richardson, the director of color marketing for Glidden and a noted color-trend forecaster, explains, “Yellow is optimistic and inspirational. It gives people joy and the sense that brighter times are ahead.”

2. Adding Siding
Why it pays off: According to the 2007 Cost vs. Value Report, a study conducted by Remodeling magazine, fiber-cement siding (which is made of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers and costs an average of $13,200) is estimated to recoup about 88 percent (or $11,635) of a home owner’s initial investment. While vinyl can crack, split, and warp and aluminum tends to dent and fade, easy-care fiber cement holds up well against the elements and is resistant to fire, rotting, and termites.

3. Building a Deck
Why it pays off: A deck will provide you with more than a place to flip burgers and soak up the sun. “Buyers see a deck as offering a seamless transition from inside to out,” says Jerry Levine, president of the Levine Group, an architectural and construction firm in Silver Spring, Maryland. Experts suggest using natural, rustic wood. In 2007 wooden decks (as opposed to concrete or composite ones) reaped an impressive return on investment: Home owners who spent an average of $10,350 on lumber and labor could expect to recoup $8,840, or 85 percent of their costs.

4. Updating the Kitchen
Why it pays off: You really can’t go wrong with remodeling your kitchen, which can net up to 83 percent of the cost. “People know that renovating can be a nightmare, and potential buyers will appreciate that you did the dirty work for them,” says Vern Yip, a designer and the host of HGTV’s Deserving Design. “But stick with high-quality fixtures, like stainless-steel appliances and granite counters, and don’t pair them with a cheaper material, like laminate.” A word of caution: If your house is a tiny two-bedroom bungalow, don’t bother splurging on, say, a high-end stove. “You’ll never get your money back by installing fancy appliances in a smaller home,” says Leslie Sellers, vice president of the Appraisal Institute, an association of real estate–appraisal professionals in Chicago. And if an appliance overhaul isn’t in the cards, “you can easily make cosmetic updates on a kitchen that’s in decent shape,” says Steven D. Bullock, a designer in New York City and a certified member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, in Hackettstown, New Jersey. For example, if your existing appliances are in good working order, coat them with electrostatic paint to give them a metallic or enamel-type finish. And you don’t have to rip out your cabinets, either.

5. Replacing the Windows
Why it pays off: If you’re experiencing cool and blustery weather…in your living room, it’s time to buy new panes, pronto. Not only are you losing precious heat but your utility bill could also be skyrocketing. “Energy-efficient windows eliminate drafts, so your home feels warmer,” says Sellers. Last year home owners who spent $11,400 on 10 three-by-five-foot insulated vinyl or aluminum-clad windows got an 81 percent ($9,240) return.

6. Modifying a Bathroom
Why it pays off: Bathroom upgrades, like updated countertops and new fixtures, provide solid returns¯anywhere from 68 to 78 percent. But “avoid anything too trendy,” says designer Vern Yip. “Choose classic features, like off-white subway tiles, that will appeal to people with both traditional and contemporary tastes.” There’s no need to splurge on fancy fixtures, either. “A tub is a tub. A Jacuzzi will never make or break a sale,” says designer Steven D. Bullock. For quick touch-ups on existing sinks, toilets, and tubs, consider hiring Miracle Method, a surface-restoration company that recoats ceramic, porcelain, and fiberglass fixtures with a chemical bonding agent that looks like shiny new porcelain. (Cost: $465 to $600 for a tub, miraclemethod.com.)

7. Landscaping
Why it pays off: The front of your house is the first thing people see, so it makes sense that any improvements¯from planting petunias to surrounding your home with a hedge¯will be worth your while. “Don’t be afraid to spend money on perennials, which come back year after year,” says Yip. As for big-ticket investments, like trees, they aren’t just nice to look at; they also stave off erosion, block storm-water runoff, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and filter groundwater pollutants. They might make your home sell for more money, too. The Arbor Day Foundation estimates a six- to eight-foot Colorado blue spruce or live oak (both are commonly found all around the United States) may grow one to two feet a year. And properties with gorgeous, established trees are even more attractive to potential home buyers down the road. When determining which areas of your yard to attend to first, try approaching the house from the curb to the front door. “Buyers make their decisions in exactly eight seconds,” says Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group, a Manhattan real estate firm. “After that, they’ve either fallen in love or are just honoring an appointment.”

8. Installing Central Air-Conditioning
Why it pays off: Adding central air to an average 2,400-square-foot house could cost upward of $10,000 and boost your home’s value by 10 to 20 percent, says appraiser Leslie Sellers. And central air-conditioning is energy-efficient too. Centralized units have an average energy-efficiency rating (EER) of 11.5, compared with an 8.5 EER in single-window models, making them less expensive to run. What’s more, central air won’t block the view the way a window unit does.

9. Fixing up the Basement
Why it pays off: “There’s nothing worse than that unmistakable damp-basement smell,” says Corcoran. “A dry basement is far more important than worrying about the right lighting or furnishings.” If your basement is prone to flooding, leaks, or excess moisture, call in a pro. If you do want to finish your basement by adding drywall, insulation, laminate flooring, or even a bathroom, “be sure it’s proportional in quality to other areas of your home,” says Lonny Rutherford, a chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers, in Washington, D.C. According to Sellers, “basement remodels gain back anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, depending on the quality of the materials.”

10. Putting in a Swimming Pool
Why it pays off: When you’re deciding whether to install a pool, it’s important to consider the part of the country where you live. In places where it can get unforgivingly hot, such as Arizona and Florida, an inground pool may boost a home’s value by up to 8 percent, according to a 2003 study by the National Association of Realtors. In more temperate areas, however, a pool can be a big turnoff, as prospective buyers imagine all the work they’ll have to do to maintain it, not to mention safety issues and higher insurance rates. But if you plan to enjoy a pool for a few years and it improves your quality of life, “then go for it,” says Tom Kraeutler, a cohost of The Money Pit, a home-improvement radio show, and a coauthor of My Home, My Money Pit (the Globe Pequot Press, $20, amazon.com). “You can’t put a number on that.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happiest States

This article was in my weekly NAR (National Association of Realtors) Email. Even though it only has Kansas (not Missouri), it does mention the midwest as a HAPPY place!

10 Happiest States in the U.S.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make life a whole lot easier.

MainStreet.com’s Happiness Index examined household income, debt, employment, and foreclosures to choose the states that are surviving the current economic crisis with the most panache.

The analysis discovered that despite disastrous conditions in parts of Michigan and Ohio, overall, the Midwest is navigating the financial meltdown with the highest average salaries, lowest unemployment, and fewest foreclosures. In fact, Nebraska, in the center of the corn belt, scores highest on MainStreet’s Happiness Index.

Here are the rest of the top-10 happiest states:
1. Nebraska
2. Iowa
3. Kansas
4. Hawaii
5. Louisiana
6. Oklahoma
7. Wyoming
8. South Dakota
9. West Virginia

Friday, April 3, 2009

6 Reason's Why It's Still A Good Time To Buy....

I NEVER get tired of reminding people why it is a GOOD time to buy a house!! This is from REALTOR(R) Magazine:

6 Reasons Why It's Still a Good Time to Buy

The housing market is looking healthier. Here are six reasons why now is the time to jump into the market.

1. Uncle Sam is willing to help. First-time buyers (defined as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years) are entitled to a maximum $8,000 tax credit; interest rates are at record lows; and the Federal Reserve is doing its best to make mortgage loans available. (Sign up for a Webinar to learn more about the home buyer tax credit)

2. People have to live somewhere. About 800,000 new households are formed each year in this country, ensuring that the housing market will tighten, even if the economy doesn’t soar.

3. Borrowers leverage their investment. If you put $10,000 into the stock market and it earns 10 percent, you’ve earned $1,000. If you put $10,000 down on a home and its values increases 10 percent, you’ve made $10,000.

4. When prices come back up, you’ll have instant equity. In parts of the country where foreclosures have driven down prices, better times will mean the price of the home you buy will rise rapidly.

5. Mortgage costs stay the same. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payment stays the same – while everything else, including rent, goes upward.

6. You own it. There is something comforting in the notion that your home is your own. You can paint it any color you want, let the dog run in the back yard and hang a swing for the kids in the front.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher (03/27/2009)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How will Foreclosure Affect Credit Scores?

Unfortunately there are a lot of people foreclosing on their homes. I just thought you might be interested on how it affects your credit score.

Daily Real Estate News | March 16, 2009 | Share
How Will Foreclosure Affect Credit Scores?
The amount of damage to a credit score caused by foreclosure, deed in lieu or a short sale during 2008 and 2009 may be mitigated by the slower economic times, say some credit and legal experts.

FICO may have to adjust its credit scores to lessen the impact of a foreclosure in the last two years, says Todd J. Zywicki, a professor of law at George Mason University.

''It just seems obvious that a foreclosure in 2008 or 2009 doesn't have as much information value as a foreclosure five years ago,'' he says. ''To the extent that foreclosure doesn't predict future behavior as much as it did in the past, you'd expect that the FICO algorithm would change to adjust for that.''

One of the country’s largest credit unions Golden 1 has already figured out a way to lend to people with a foreclosure on their record by offering a mortgage repair loan specifically for those who have lost a home to foreclosure and who want to buy a new one.

BECU, another large credit union based in Washington State, is about to present a program to fellow lenders, ''How to Lend to the Newly Credit Impaired.”

Source: The New York Times, Ron Lieber (03/14/2009)

How a Doodle Serves your Noodle

This is from the April 6, 2009 BusinessWeek

Often viewed as a sign of wandering mind, doodling may actually help us absorb information. In a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, Jackie Andrade at Britain's University of Plymouth played a rambling voice-mail message to 40 people, half of whom were given shapes to fill in as they listened. The result: The doodlers recalled 29% more of the message than those who just listened. Andrade says idle scribbling uses just enough cognitive bandwidth to prevent daydreaming, so it may help us stay focused. One boardroom doodler, retiring G< Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz, says he isn't surprised by the finding. "I can look at old sketches done in meetings 40 years ago," he says, "and experience sudden recall of the room, the table, the voices." - Ellen Gibson

See...Doodling is a good thing!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit

As many of you have heard, there is a new tax credit for First-Time Home Buyers for up to $8000. There are a few requirements, but most buyers WILL qualify for this refund!! Below is a short video and information from the Kansas Association of Realtors. If you need more information or have questions, please let me know! AND if you or someone you know is a First-Time Home Buyer looking to take advantage of this great savings, CALL ME!!

Click Here to see a quick video on the tax credit.

The Economic Stimulus Bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1.) was signed into law on February 17. In the end, the elements of NAR's housing agenda were included.

For a chart describing major modifications to the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, click here and for more details about the Credit see NAR's Presentation: The 2009 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.

Some provisions include:

Homebuyer Tax Credit – a maximum $8,000 tax credit that will be available for qualified purchase of a principal residence by a first time homebuyer between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009.

The credit does not require repayment.

Individuals who purchase in 2009 using financing assistance from state and local mortgage bonds will be permitted to use the credit, as well.

The Bill includes a total of 10 provisions affecting housing. For more information about them, see the constantly-updated webpage on REALTOR.org.

Make no mistake—our work with Congress and the Treasury Department is not yet completed, as the leading advocate for homeowners and the real estate industry, the National Association of REALTORS will continue to address the issues facing Americans who are trying to purchase a new home, protect their current home or preserve investment opportunities in residential and commercial properties.

NAR recognizes the efforts of the members of Congress and the Senate who understand that without a housing recovery, an overall economic recovery is impossible.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Check your credit

Did you know you are entitled to a FREE credit report every 12 months? There are many sites out there that claim to be free - but aren't. (trust me, I learned this the hard way!). A site reccommended by the Kansas Association of Realtors is www.annualcreditreport.com. Be sure you don't check your credit too often, but it is good to know where you stand.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm soooo proud!!

I HAVE to use today's blog to talk about my dear friend Emily and this great new magazine RSVP Perfect (www.rsvpperfect.com)

As many of you know, I am soooo proud of my friends & family and their many accomplishments. My friend Emily is no different. She has been my friend for over 25 yrs. She has her own stationary business (www.sliceoflimedesign.com) and is responsible (this is a good thing) for my awesome logo, business cards and marketing materials! She is fabulous! (and for those of you who don't know...I am not a good lier..so if I didn't like the stuff...you'd probably know!) Well, there is a NEW magazine in St Louis - RSVP Perfect. It was created by a gal named Arina Lanis who is a graphic and webdesigner (www.arinalanis.com) I got a copy in the mail the other day (thanks to these great gals) and read it cover to cover in one sitting!! It was great. It has a ton of ideas on different times of parties, etc. AND my friend Emily's work is features in a TON of the articles! I mean, I knew she was awesome...but to see her stuff in print..in a real publication! Now that's pretty darn cool!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Deals, Deals & More Deals

I LOVE deals! If I can find a deal, I will. Now, I'm not rude about it...I won't go to the grocery store and ask for a reduced price (I've seen them suggest this on tv!!), but I will use coupons, watch the ads and do my research online! There are a TON of online websites, blogs, etc that are GREAT deal finders! I have a few I check daily and wanted to share:

www.slickdeals.net (must be .net!!) This site lists different discounts, codes, etc

www.woot.com - one day sale. They have one item for sale each day (they also have wootshirt and wootwine) and once it's sold out, it's gone. I've gotta a dyson vacuum for over $100 off from this site!! I learned that you can only make ONE order per day, BUT you can order more than one item. (I tried to order something for me and something for my dad and wanted to ship the separate..I ended up having to use two different credit cards, two addresses and two different users)

www.nicolesnickels.blogspot.com - This is FOR SURE my new favorite site!!! Just check it out, I can't begin to say how much I LOVE this site!!!

www.sisterlysavings.com - Almost as cool as Nicole's Nickel (actually found out about Nicole via this site), it has not only deals but also some good advice as well.

www.dealdays.com - Just found out about this today from my hygentist. They have great prices on cell phone accessories. (yes, I ordered a cover for my phone b/c someone it gets dropped a lot...not sure how. haha)

ok, I know there are a LOT more sites out there...but these are BY FAR my favorite! I check woot & slickdeals EVERY day and have both Sisterly Savings & Nicoles Nickel set up on my google reader blog so I know when they are udpated. (Thanks Emily for teaching me that!)

I hope you enjoy these sites as much as I do!!! Let me know!! And if you have some you LOVE...tell me tell me!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Body Art Ball, Facebook, etc.

Well, I experienced another Kansas City site on Sunday!!! The Uptown Theatre! I know, I know, it's hard to believe I'd never been there before. I went to see the Body Art Ball (http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/1052305.html). It was pretty cool. I was really expecting to see more body art...there was some, but there was a lot more dancing. It was a great show overall - and FREE!!

As many of you know, I've got a "slight" facebook addiction. BUT, I think it's totally justified b/c I can keep up with friends, family and clients!! I would have missed a few birthdays at the end of last year if it wasn't for facebook! Plus, I LOVE pictures! I found a picture the other day that just made me laugh out loud! My clients the Alexander's moved to KC a few months ago from Lawrence. Because of the way things happened with closings, they crashed at a friends house for a few nights. When they got to closing, Creighton had the three kids and two dogs (standard poodles) in the car. To make things funnier, the closer wasn't the happiest when she sees three small (well behaved!) children come in for closing. So Creighton offered to bring in the dogs too - she had no idea he was SERIOUS!! Well, when searching facebook the other day I found a picture from that day with all 5 (3 kids, 2 dogs) in the back of the car!! Hilarious!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Memo to self: In Case of Emergency (from Redbook Mag)

I've been posting a lot of Real Estate related things on my blog lately, but decided today to do a health one. As many of you know, I am on a weight loss "journey". I think many times we can draw strength and ideas from others. I really enjoyed this article in the latest Redbook Magazine, especially the author's memo. I have the link to the entire article at the bottom. Hope you enjoy this has much as I did!!

** I found this in the latest Redbook Magazine. It was this great
article about a gal who while losing weight decided to write
songs "skinny songs" to help motivate. She's sold tons of her cd. I
really liked this memo she wrote to herself:


You've just consumed a whole bunch of calories you didn't need. You
slipped, you splurged, and you hate yourself for it. What now? Give
up? Eat some more? I think you deserve better than that. Here's what
I want you to do:

1 Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. Stop kicking yourself.
Everyone who has succeeded has had moments like this. You can still
succeed too, but you must stop yelling at yourself and simply say, "I
forgive myself for the mess-up."

2 Put it in perspective. Even if you ate 1,500 calories in a single
sitting, it is not a deal-ending amount. You have not permanently
ruined your life. You have an extra half a pound to get rid of. Big

3 Reaffirm your bigger goal. Remind yourself about the importance of
the goal you have set out to reach and recommit yourself to working
to achieve it. Look at the dress you ripped out of the magazine, or
imagine yourself bounding up a flight of stairs in a black tracksuit.
Just because you ate a quart of ice cream doesn't mean you can't meet
your overall goal.

4 Eliminate the temptation. I don't want to waste food, but sometimes
the rest of the bag or carton needs to go down the garbage disposal.
This is one of those times.

5 What can you learn from this? Take a step back and see if there is
something that will help you overcome future moments like this. Did
you deprive yourself so much that you were overwhelmed with hunger?
Did you get mad and eat out of emotion? Think about what you can do
to avoid this trigger or situation next time.

6 Don't punish yourself. Don't starve yourself. Don't go on a cabbage-
soup fast. Punishment doesn't work; it just perpetuates a bad cycle.

7 Recommit to lose. Say out loud, "I'm over it, and I'm back on my
plan." Imagine yourself standing up, dusting yourself off, and
getting back on a horse. Hold that visualization for a moment and
feel great about that decision. Feel proud that you can recover so
quickly. Now forget it and move on! You are back on track.

You can find the entire article at: http://www.redbookmag.com/health-wellness/losing-weight/weight-loss-songs?click=main_sr

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to save on Home Repairs

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my subscription to Real Simple Magazine?? If not, I do. :) In almost every issue I find SOMETHING that I cut out and save for later. Sometimes these articles get put in a pile and I forget about them for months and months...but I still save them! Well, I'm looking through that pile right now and found a few good suggestions that I wanted to share!!

In the January 2009 issue (see, I'm only a month behind!), They had a Moneywise segment on "how to save on home repairs". Here's what they had to say:

- Get free DIY advice. Go to www.youtube.com and type in "ask the builder" for how-to videos on simple procedures like replacing a faucet or a light fixture.
- Be Flexible. Ask a tradesman if he has a hole in his schedule, then inquire about a discount if you book during that time.
- Learn the lingo. Before calling a contractor, check out sites like www.moneypit.com and diynetwork.com. You'll be better informed - and less likely to get taken - if you can speak his language. (Jodi's Memo: If you haven't see the movie Money Pit, you should rent it before doing any major renovation...nothing can go as bad....)
-Don't succumb to "Your roof is falling" tactics. If your basement floods, say, a cash-hungry contractor might try to talk you into a drainage system that costs around $7,5000. But in the majority of situations, you can guard against indoor deluges just by cleaning and extending gutter downspouts and grading soil away from the foundation. (Jodi's Memo: This TOTALLY happened to one of my clients and they DID NOT go with the drainage system! And the house is still standing!)

The article also made some monthly checks you should do around the house. I will try to update these monthly :) Since it's already February...I'll also give you the advice for January as well!

- Test your home for radon. A radioactive gas that causes lung cancer, radon can build up when windows and doors are sealed tight. So January, the coldest month, is an optimal time for an annual test, says Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokesman. Visit epa.gov/radon (Jodi's Memo: I can suggest radon testing companies and someone to mitigate..I had this done on my own home!)
-Make sure your attic insulation is doing the trick. If snow melts off the roof soon after it falls, or if icicles form even when temperatures remain consistent, too much heat may be escaping from your home. If so, call a contractor.

- Check your sump pump. do this now, before the first spring thaws or March, when melting snow and rain showers can cause basement flooding. To test, pour two gallons of water into the drain to raise the float and activate the motor. It should stop running once the water level drops below the activation level.
-See if your gas meter is iced over. On average, February is one of the snowiest months of the year. According to managemyhome.com, accumulated ice on the meter can cause it to malfunction and create a gas leak. If the meter is iced over, contact your gas utility. (Chipping off the ice yourself can damage the unit)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stimulus Bill & Tax Credit

By now I'm sure most of you have heard about the new Stimulus Bill & Tax Credit that was just signed. I really think this will be a POSITIVE thing for everyone, especially the Real Estate Market! Yeah!! Here is what The Kansas City Association of Realtors has to say about it. Also look for their ad to appear in this Sunday's Kansas City Star (or click the link to see it below!)

The economic stimulus bill we’ve all heard so much about in the last few weeks was signed into law yesterday. Officially known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” the bill is a $780 billion package, with roughly 35% of the package devoted to tax cuts (mostly for 2009) and the rest to spending intended to occur in 2009 and 2010.

The mix of provisions of interest to REALTORS® changed frequently throughout the legislative process, with changes continuing to be made just hours before the measure was released prior to the vote. In the end, the elements of NAR’s housing agenda were included.

Learn more by viewing NAR President McMillan's video podcast or read more about the housing provisions in the bill. Additionally, the NAR Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, has posted a commentary summarizing more information on this important legislation.

The tax credit for first-time home buyers, up to $8,000, is an important aspect of the bill for all REALTORS®. It’s a significant improvement over the $7,500 credit included in TARP 1 last year, especially in that it is not repayable. Click here for a chart with the major modifications for the first-time home buyer tax credit.

Promoting this tax credit, and the incentive it brings first-time buyers to contact a REALTOR®, will be a central message in the KCRAR Public Awareness Campaign this spring and summer. This ad will appear for the first time in the Sunday Real Estate section of The Kansas City Star on March 1. A column by Chris Collins, ABR, CRS, GRI, 2009 KCRAR President, will appear on the cover of the Saturday Real Estate section in The Star on March 14. And additional print and online placements are being planned now. So stay tuned for more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Real Estate Myths

If you watched The Today show this morning, they had a Real Estate expert talking about the top 5 (buyer/seller)Real Estate Myths. I didn't actually get to see the segment, but they are good. My favorite is about buyers waiting until the market bottom's out. Well, you don't know if the market is at the bottom, until it's started to go up! So, if you are waiting for the market to hit bottom, you may actual miss out!!

Below are the Myths they talked about:

The truth about the housing market
In today’s uncertain market, fear runs rampant on both the buying and selling sides of the fence. Many myths need debunking. Here are five untruths held by buyers, and five held by sellers.

Buyer myth No. 1: The longer the house is on the market, the more you can negotiate.
When buyers ask, “How long has this property been on the market?”, they think “six months” means they can negotiate the price down. It more often means the seller is stubbornly holding on to their price.

Buyer myth No. 2: The sellers today are desperate.
Most aren’t. Always ask why the sellers are selling. It’s the key to finding how motivated and anxious they are. “I’m being transferred to Dallas” is a very different answer than “We’d like to find something bigger.” The first homeowner is hot to trot.

Buyer myth No. 3: You can’t buy a home today with less than 20 percent down.
FHA loans require only 3.5 percent down, and you can even ask the seller to pay the closing costs.

Buyer myth No. 4: You need good credit to get a good loan.
Once again, the FHA to the rescue! They’re happy to lend money to buyers with bad credit

Buyer myth No. 5: You shouldn't buy before prices have bottomed.
You can’t sharpshoot the real estate market. Once you identify the “bottom,” prices have already moved up.

Seller myth No. 1: Now’s the absolute worst time to sell.
Not necessarily. It depends upon where you live. Many of the worst hit markets, like Las Vegas, Phoenix or San Diego, are already beginning to turn around. And if you’re a homeowner who wants to trade up, the loss you’ll take on your current home will be more than offset by the bargain you’ll get on the next one.

Seller myth No. 2: Never respond to a low-ball bid.
All buyers today feel obligated to put in low-ball offers to see if the seller bites. If you respond with a reasonable counter offer, most buyers can be convinced to come up in price and make the deal.

Seller myth No. 3: The first offer is never the best offer.
Most sellers believe that it’s smart to hold out for something better. But four times out of five, the first offer is the best you’ll ever see.

Seller myth No. 4: 'I can always reduce my price later.'
Sellers often price their home high for a few weeks just to test the market. But buyers shop by price bracket and if your house is in the wrong one, you’ll just help sell everyone else’s home while yours sits there overpriced. And reducing your price later in small increments puts you in the position of chasing the tide as it goes out.

Seller myth No. 5: Before you refinance, shop around.
You can if you want, but you’ll usually get the best deal from your current lender. And you’ll be able to negotiate your closing costs

to watch the video: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/28854109#28854109

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sweat plus sacrifice equals success

As many of you know, I'm on a major workout kick. In a typical week, I workout 6 times. It's "me" time. I may not always be enjoying myself while I'm doing it, but I feel great afterwards and know I'm doing something good for my body (physically and mentally).

I started taking a weights class on Tuesday nights last week. It's a killer!! It's 1.5 hrs long (the last 30min is abs/back) and it is NON-stop!! I am usually shaking at the end...but I know I've gotten a good workout. At this weeks class, she mentioned how she gives out "thoughts of the day" to her other classes. This weeks thought was "Sweat plus sacrifice equals success". My first thought was...that is great, I'll make it my facebook status! (which I did) But the more I thought about it (it's much easier to think about something when doing weights then you don't concentrate on your muscles hurting!) I realized how great it was. It doesn't just relate to working out, but to life. Success doesn't just come...you have to work for it! Sometimes that takes sweat and sacrifice. What a great thought of the day! Thanks Jennifer!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Short Sales vs Foreclosures

With a lot of homes going into Foreclosure or up for a Short-Sale, I thought I would share a little information about both procedures and the affects on your credit. I have taken a few courses on this matter. I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

And remember, NOT everything in the market is a foreclosure or short sale!

The following article is from about.com and written by Elizabeth Weintraub

Sellers may wonder whether letting a property go into foreclosure would be easier and smarter than going through a short sale. With a foreclosure, and depending on state laws regarding foreclosure, a seller could stay in the property, essentially rent free, for four months to a year before being forced to vacate. But that fact alone does not mean a foreclosure is better.

Whereas a short sale involves offering the home for sale, generally listed through MLS. Potential home buyers will make appointments to view the home, some will make lowball offers, agents might hold open houses and, in general, a seller's life will be disrupted, all in the hopes that a buyer will buy the home.

Basics of a Short Sale

Short sales happen when a lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed against the home because there is not enough equity to sell and pay all costs of sale. Not all lenders will negotiate a short sale, and that is why a real estate agent or a lawyer can be a tremendous help by contacting the lender's loss mitigation department to find out.

You can't just wake up one morning and decide you're going to sell your home at a loss by asking for a short sale. It used to be that lenders wouldn't even consider a short sale if your payments are current, but that has changed. However, realize that lenders will be more agreeable to negotiation if your payments are in arrears. Plus, if you have cash assets, the lender might try to tap those accounts. Doing a short sale is not for the faint of heart.

How is the Seller's Credit Affected?

According to David Steep, division manager at Vitek Mortgage, Sacramento sellers, as well as sellers in other states, will take as big a hit on their credit report by going through foreclosure as giving the lender a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, providing you are more than 30 days in arrears. Steep says the points lost on a FICO score are as follows:

Foreclosure or Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure: Both of these solutions affect credit the same. Sellers will take a hit of 200 to 300 points, depending on overall condition of credit. This means if a seller's FICO score before foreclosure was 680, it could dip as low as 380.

Short Sale: The effect of a short sale (providing the sellers are more than 59 days late) on a seller's credit report is identical to that of a foreclosure. The ding on credit will show up as a pre-foreclosure in redemption status, Steep says, which will result in a loss of 200 to 300 points. This means a short sale with a previous FICO of 720 will see it fall from 520 to 420.

Catherine Coy, a mortgage broker in southern California, agrees. "The effect on a consumer's credit report -- foreclosure vs. short sale -- is the difference between being hit by a train or a bus," says Coy, speaking about borrowers who are a few months in arrears.

Waiting Period Before Buying Another Home

Foreclosure or Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure: Steep says a seller who wants to buy another home after foreclosure will end up waiting about 24 to 72 months before a lender will offer any kind of interest rate that makes sense.

Coy says, "The good news is a short sale will allow the consumer to obtain an institutional loan for a new home within two years".

For more information, see the Fannie Mae Selling Guide online. Click on the PDF link in the yellow box and see page 75.

Short Sale: Some agents say the good news for short sale sellers is the wait is much shorter before buying another home, and new Fannie Mae guidelines make that a true statement.
Can a seller buy again under two years? Partially true, says Coy, "It's an utter myth that a consumer 'can buy again in about 18 months at a good interest rate.' However, new Fannie Mae guidelines now require only 24 months' seasoning, and that's good news for agents who specialize in short sales."

Note that Fannie Mae guidelines allow a seller to immediately apply for a new loan to buy another home if that seller kept the payments current and had no 60-day late pays or greater on record.

Short Sale / Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments

The bad news is a seller could be subject to a deficiency judgment for the difference between the loan amount and the amount paid. In general, a trustee's sale wipes out the right to a deficiency, except for certain junior lienholder conditions. In California, purchase money loans are not subject to deficiency judgments; however, some hard money loans, equity loans and refinances are, providing certain conditions apply. Some other states have laws regarding personal guarantees, which could also result in a deficiency judgment, if the home owner is held personally liable for loan repayment.

The lender has sole discretion whether to pursue a deficiency judgment in those instances when the judgment is permitted. To determine whether a pending foreclosure or short sale is subject to a deficiency judgment, talk to a real estate lawyer.

If you're a seller trying to decide whether to let a home go through foreclosure versus attempting a short sale, salvaging your credit may not be an advantage to doing a short sale, if you've fallen behind in your payments. Coy says that according to "Score Factor Code #22, there's no credit score advantage for a delinquent borrower on a short sale over a foreclosure." The only advantage is being able to buy another home within two years over the three- to five-year period required for foreclosures. But seek legal and tax advice before making that decision.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy 2009!!!

Happy New Year!! Sorry I have been so bad about blogging. I guess that's what happens when the holidays come around. I didn't even do much, but the lack of a consistant schedule really wasn't good for me!! BUT, it's a NEW Year, a NEW week and I'm ready to go!!!

I just completed my first round of a six week mailer and I'm feeling pretty positive about that. Hopefully many of you will be getting it in the next few days. Make sure you send it back!! (hello, I included a SASE!!!)

Every year on Jan 1 people start making resolutions. I personally haven't made one for years. I just try to continually improve. :)

Oprah has started her "Best Life" Series this week. I taped & watched Monday's show. It was a little long, but had a great message - BALANCE. You must have balance in your life. You must put yourself first and schedule "me" time. I think this is very important. I try to do this for myself each day by going to the gym. That's the time I can get in a good workout, feel good about myself and usually catch up with a friend or to. I hope everyone takes a little time each day for themselves!

Here's to a GREAT 2009!!!!