Archive for September, 2007

Have you seen your credit report lately? If not, you should do it right now. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 40% of credit reports contain incorrect information. Some of the incorrect information is minor, but other information could cause credit denial or be a result of credit fraud.

If there is a problem with your credit report, you should provide the credit reporting agency with accurate, detailed documentation. The agency will then check with the credit grantor or public record office to see if any erroneous information has been reported. Any information that cannot be verified within thirty days will be removed. If you still disagree with the information, you will need to resolve the dispute directly with the credit grantor who is the source of the information in question. If the item on your credit profile is correct, but you disagree with it being reported, you may send the credit reporting agency a brief statement for inclusion on your report. If the incorrect information is a result of credit fraud, contact each of the credit grantors with whom you have credit.

To be absolutely positive that your credit report doesn’t fall into the “40% club”, please contact all three agencies immediately. (you guessed it, each report may be different)

Equifax 1-800-997-2493

Trans Union 1-800-916-8800

Experian (TRW) 1-888-397-3742

Homeownership provides you with a great sense of pride and satisfaction. Your home is a statement about yourself. It is also only human nature to compare your home with those of your friends and neighbors. If your home is the most expensive home on the block, it may make you feel good, but you could have a problem when the time comes to sell. Surrounding homes of lesser value will have a tendency to lower the price you will get for your home. Most buyers decide upon an offering price that is based on the selling price of other homes in the immediate area. Because neighboring homes have been bringing prices below what you want for your home, a prudent buyer will be hesitant to invest in a price range above surrounding properties. Some people buy the best home in an area because they are able to buy it at a lesser price than if it was located in an area of equally expensive homes. It seems to make sense when you are the buyer, but you will not realize the same inflation in value available to similar homes in better locations.

Many homeowners have the best house in the area because they have made costly improvements to their home ever a period of time. These improvements might have been necessary to provide for the needs of a growing family. They may now, however, have to be considered over-improvements because they have priced your home out of the market. If you are considering making improvements to your home, be sure to add up all the dollars you will have invested in your property by the time improvements are completed. After this analysis, will you be able to sell your home at a price that is typical for your area, or will you be the victim of an over-improvement? Whether buying your next home or improving your existing home, don’t allow yourself to have a larger financial investment than any of your neighbors. It could be a very costly mistake.

ADVICE: Don’t make a buying decision of this magnitude without the assistance of a knowledgeable Realtor® who can provide you with the information you need.

Someone like me ;) .

As strange as the title of this blog may appear, it is a familiar refrain these days heard by Oahu real estate agents. Buyers are shown a house that is just perfect for them, and after seeing it, they ask their Realtor® to show them more homes. This is a recent phenomenon. In the past, when the buyers found the right house for them, they sat down and made an offer. From my interviews with fellow Realtors®, I have concluded that people are acting this way for one of two reasons:

A BETTER BUY MAYBE JUST AROUND THE CORNER:
Some buyers may feel that they should continue looking at other properties because there may be a better deal around the corner and they don’t want to miss it. Although this is a possibility, this philosophy could be taken to an extreme. Theoretically, the best decision is not to buy at all. This would allow you to always be available to look at more homes. While continuing your search, it is possible that someone else could purchase the home that was right for you.

IT’S HARD TO MAKE A DECISION:
The decision to buy a certain home is a big one. Sometimes, wanting to see more homes is a way to avoid making a decision. It is possible to feel confident when buying. Here are some of the steps that can improve confidence:

1. Be sure that this property has the basic features that you need.
2. Ask your Realtor® to provide examples of similar homes that have recently sold and their selling prices.
3. Make an offer on the property conditional on a satisfactory home inspection by a qualified home inspector.
4. After taking the logical steps listed above, buy with your heart. If you are going to invest your hard-earned money on this house, it should be a place that you want to come home to.

ADVICE:
When you find the right property, you will feel it. You will know it. Listen to your instincts. You know yourself and your tastes better than anyone else. That is why when I perform my duties as a Buyer’s Agent, I NEVER SELL SOMEONE A HOUSE, rather, I only assist, advise and represent them in buying the home they want…..you should expect no less from your Realtor®.

All too often on Oahu, the asking price of a home is decided upon without good planning. In fact, the greatest mistake made in Oahu real estate (in my humble opinion) is poor pricing. The asking price must accomplish three primary goals.

Let’s examine these all-important goals:

PRICING WITH THE COMPETITION
In the final analysis, it is buyers who determine what your home is worth. How do buyers determine value? Buyers learn about value by inspecting and comparing various homes that are for sale during the same time period. This process of comparison is used when buyers decide which homes they want to see. If your home is not priced in accordance with similar homes, you will not realize as many showings as those homes that are competitively priced. When attempting to price your home with the market, don’t rely on hearsay or rumor about recent selling prices. Get the facts by asking your Realtor® (someone like myself) for a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA).

PRICING TO NEGOTIATE
Traditionally, in the home selling business, most buyers expect to negotiate. Everyone likes to think they got a “deal” or “bargain”. In order to satisfy this need to negotiate, you should price your home so that you will be willing to accept somewhat less than the asking price. Although market conditions will certainly affect the amount of negotiating, most homes on Oahu sell within 5% of the final asking price. A poor market will make this percentage larger while a strong market may experience more full price offers and sometimes offers above the asking price (remember 2004 and 2005).

PRICING FOR THE HIGHEST RETURN
Although pricing for the competition and for negotiation are important, the asking price must deliver the highest financial return for the seller in a reasonable period of time with the least inconvenience. SUGGESTION: Like most other facets of our lives, properly pricing a home is best done by specialists who have all the necessary tools. Retain the services of a Realtor® to sell your home.

Here Are 12 Powerful and Insightful Questions You Should Ask A Real Estate Agent BEFORE You Sign Anything!

If you’re in the market to sell your home, there’s something you should know.

Real Estate Agents Are NOT All The Same!

Your decision to place your home for sale involves more than simply running an ad, holding a few open houses, and waiting for the sales proceeds check.

Hiring the wrong agent can mean the difference between making or losing money, selling or buying quickly…or taking a long time, a trouble-free transaction, or a living nightmare.

Unless you have experience interviewing people (and real estate agents in particular), you won’t always know what questions to ask. Further, you won’t always know what answer will best suit your needs for selling. So here’s a list of 12 important and insightful questions you should ask ANY Real estate agent BEFORE you sign anything.

Question #1: How Long Have You Been Practicing Real Estate?

This question will reveal more than just years practicing. You want to delve down into the number of transactions, average price range, specialized areas and types of homes they’ve purchased or sold. You also want to know how productive they’ve been in each year in practice. Some agents in business less than five years may have more experience than other agents in business 10 years or more!

Question #2: What Qualifications Do You Have To Sell Real Estate?

This question looks for their overall commitment and dedication to building his/her personal skills. If they’re not willing to commit to improving themselves, they may not commit to your needs and satisfaction either. First, look at their overall education. Did they go to college? Do they have any Realtor or professional designations? How often do they invest in improving their skills and keeping up with technology and other industry trends? Experience should also carry over to negotiating and financial skills.

Question #3: Tell Me About Your Personal Real Estate Operation?

This is an open-ended question designed to get your Real estate agent talking about his or her business. You want to know how much they’ve invested into their business as it relates to giving you competent and quality service. Here’s what you’re looking for: The more an agent invests into his or her own success, office, and systems, the more he/she will be able to commit to you.

Question #4: Can You Give Me A List Of Client References To Call?

An agent who doesn’t accumulate a list of satisfied references either doesn’t do much business, or isn’t providing the kind of service or follow-through you need. References don’t always need to be past clients. Get professional references as well: bankers, mortgage lenders, appraisers, attorneys, etc.

Question #5: Do You Have A Formal And Written Marketing Plan For Selling Homes?

Your agent’s marketing plan needs to be extensive – not just holding open houses, entering your home on MLS, or running classified ads. The key to selling a home is CONSISTENCY. Your home must be consistently marketed to those people capable of buying. This cannot be accomplished if an agent doesn’t have a diversified arsenal of marketing strategies. Look for special ideas, consistency, and persistence in his or her marketing plan.

Question #6: What Systems Do You Have For Tracking The Home Market (Buyers)/ or Tracking My Home Listing (Sellers) On A Regular Basis?

This is a very important question. If you’re a seller, you want to price your home correctly, and be regularly updated with important buyer activity. How many calls did you get on your home this week? What marketing strategies did you use? How many home visits from other agents did you have (and what were their comments)? How many people visited your open house? If an agent does not have specific systems for measuring and reporting these items, perhaps you should consider someone else.

Question #7: Do You Guarantee Your Performance?

Some agents will give you a blank stare at this question. If they do, you might want to consider taking your business elsewhere. Why? Because you need to know if your interests are aligned. Is your agent willing to stake his or her successful outcome with yours? Why shouldn’t your agent also guarantee his/her performance? Smart agents guarantee their services for two reasons: 1) They’re confident they can perform for you because of their experience, commitment, and work ethic; and 2) It’s smart marketing for an agent to guarantee his/her services. If you buy a television, it’s guaranteed. If you buy a car, it’s guaranteed. These days, nearly everyone must offer a guarantee to help stimulate a sale. Agents on the cutting edge of marketing guarantee their services.

Question #8: Can You Refer Me To A Reputable Surveyor, Appraiser, or Real Estate Lawyer?

This question reveals how active the agent is, and how well connected they are professionally. At some point in the buying or selling process, you will need the services of a reputable, competent surveyor, appraiser, title company, etc. If your agent is active, committed, and diligent with their practice, he or she will be able to give you a few names of each right on the spot.

Question #9: What Percentage Of Your Business Comes By Referral?

Here’s the “$64,000 question!” Competent, well-known agents get a large part of their business from satisfied past clients and members of their sphere of influence. If an agent gets less than 25% of new business through referrals, it may be because: 1) The quality of service they offer is not up to standard (hence, people don’t feel compelled to refer to them after a transaction); 2) They lack the marketing experience or skills required to market for referrals (which means they may not bring strong skills to your transaction); or 3) They don’t cultivate contacts in their business (which means they won’t have many people to speak with about your home). Clearly, the best way past clients show their gratitude for outstanding service is by referring their family, friends, and associates.

Question #10: How Many People Do You Speak With Each Day About Real Estate?

This question will tell you how connected an agent is, and how active they’ll “talk-up” your home to buyers, or find a home for you by talking to other agents. Hopefully, your agent talks to at least 15 people a day about real estate. If not, they may not be very active.

Question #11: Do You Personally Spend Money Advertising Your Services Or Homes For Sale?

This question pertains more to listings, but it’s also a question a buyer should ask to determine an agent’s commitment to invest in the successful outcome of their client. You should also ask to see samples of ads they write for homes they list, and for their own services. Do the ads appeal to you? Would they make you act? If not, don’t expect their marketing of your home to be any better.

Question #12: Will You Personally Handle Contract Negotiations For Use?

Surprisingly, many agents simply submit or receive offers, and act as a conduit between you and the buyer (or seller). That’s not good enough. You want an agent who has reasonable negotiation skills. You want an agent who’s committed to your interests. They’ll need to represent you to other agents and buyers/sellers. It’s a good idea to follow-up the above question by investigating specifically HOW their negotiation skills saved other clients money, hassles, or help a deal come together.

There Are “Real Estate Agents”…
And Then There Are Committed Professionals.
Which One Do YOU Want Representing Your Interests?

The answers to the above questions should give you a good feel for the commitment and competency of the Real estate agent you’re thinking about using. Remember, all agents are not the same!

There is an old saying in the real estate business that the three most important factors that determine the value of a property are location, location, and location. It appears that the old adage is still true. In a recent national survey of home buyers, 67% indicated that location was their first consideration in choosing a home. Another 16% indicated that home size was the first factor while an additional 16% said that purchase price was their primary concern.

Why is location so important? Three reasons, in my opinion, as noted below:

WORK: The proximity of a home to places of employment has traditionally had a big influence on where people decide to live. Many communities that are primarily residential came into being as a result of a relocation of a major business into the immediate area. Many homeowners want to avoid the problems and frustrations of commuting a great distance to work. On Oahu, 80% of the jobs are in Honolulu, so that is where most folks want to live.

SCHOOLS: The quality and reputation of the local school system can have a dramatic affect on the desirability of a particular area. Some people interview principals of the elementary schools to determine the teaching philosophy and staff competence in each area being considered. The reputation of certain high schools also greatly effects home buying decisions. If you are buying in a certain area because of schools, be sure to verify that the home you are considering is in the desired school boundaries. Some school boundaries wind through a subdivision including some homes and excluding others in the same neighborhood. Feel free an contact me if you would like specific information of Oahu’s public and private schools. The quality and cost vary greatly.

LIFESTYLE: Various locations offer different lifestyles to homeowners. Country living is the only way to go for some people. They are willing to deal with longer commuting distances so that they can enjoy the wide open spaces. Still others like close-in locations where they can enjoy the life of the city dweller.

By my last count, there are over 800 neighborhoods on Oahu, with new ones being added every year, so if you have any questions about a specific neighborhood, just ask, as I will be glad to share my thoughts.

How Much Should I Offer?

We’re often asked by our clients, “How much under the listing price should we offer?”
This is an excellent question. The answer is difficult. The main reason I emphasize the education phase of looking at homes is because that is the best way for you to know value. Sellers price their homes differently for 4 basic reasons:

1. Ridiculously Overpriced!
These sellers have listened to a real estate agent over-inflate the value of their home
in an effort to obtain a listing. There is a natural tendency on the part of sellers to
list with the real estate agent who gives them the highest promise. There is a
tendency by some real estate agents to give the seller a high “value” in an effort to
obtain the listing. These homes can be 10-20% overpriced. These sellers may need a “dose of reality” for a few months before they begin to realize that their home is way overpriced as compared to others in the area. The longer an overpriced home is for sale, the more likely we can get the seller to face reality and sell at a fair price.

2. A Little Overpriced!
These sellers fall into 2 categories:
• Those that feel their home are worth every penny of their asking price.
• Those that want to leave a little “negotiating” room.
These homes can be 4-10% overpriced. Perhaps 75% of all homes for sale are priced
in this range.

3. Priced At Fair Market Value
These sellers have carefully and realistically studied other homes for sale. They have
priced their homes very competitively. These homes usually sell within 4 weeks at or
very near the listed price.

4. Priced Below Fair Market Value
These homes are priced below value. Perhaps the seller wants a fast sale. Perhaps
the real estate agent recommended too low of a price. These homes usually sell
within 7-10 days, at or above the listed price. There are usually competing offers.

Bank Protection
Even by carefully studying homes for sale, it’s difficult to establish Fair Market Value.
If you’re obtaining a new home loan, you’ll be protected by the Professional Bank
Appraisal. Home lenders want to make sure that you don’t over-pay for a home. If
the home does not meet value in the eyes of the bank appraiser, you’ll be informed.

Aloha everyone.

Welcome to my new Oahu Home Sales blog. I hope you will enjoy discussing Oahu real estate as much I as do. I plan to update my blog on a regular basis with information that I believe you may find valuable…So let’s start with some statistical information on Oahu Home Sales……The source for this following information is the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

During August 2007, sales of 381 single-family homes and 495 condominiums were reported through the Board’s MLS, an increase of 8.5 percent for single-family homes and a decrease of 14.7 percent for condominiums, compared to the same month last year. This brings total single-family home sales on Oahu to 2,622 for the first eight months of 2007, a decrease of 4.6 percent over the same time period one year ago. Total condominium sales through August were 3,930, a 14.5 percent decrease from last year.

The year-to-date median prices paid for Oahu properties in the first eight months this year were $647,300 and $325,000, respectively, increases of 1.9 percent and 4.8 percent over the 2006 prices of $635,000 and $310,000.

While some real estate markets across the nation are experiencing instability, the Oahu housing market continues on a steady path of relative stability with a slowing volume of sales and slightly declining prices expected for the remaining months of 2007.

Aloha and welcome to my new blog, part of the Aloha Living Blog Network. I look forward to sharing with you both a professional and personal perspective on real estate in this area. Stay tuned!