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This Month in Real Estate: July 2014

by Jeremy Larkin

Are you wondering if right now is a good time to enter the St. George Real Estate Market? Check out some incredibly helpful July 2014 Real Estate Stats. CONTACT US for information on how this affects YOU!

Email us at larkingroup@gostgeorge.com or 435-767-9821

Getting The Best Offer on Your Home

by Jeremy Larkin

So what’s the difference between a GOOD Real Estate offer and a GREAT Real Estate offer? According to recent research nearly 1 in 3 Buyers entered into a “competing offer” situation last year…wow! That’s great news for Sellers, but is price always King? Not necessarily:

Sellers who are considering an offer on their home or property need to consider the following:

  1. The highest offer isn’t always the best
  2. Buyer needs to be FINANCIALLY ABLE to close
  3. A buyer with significant earnest money or larger down payment is going to typically be more “ready” to close the deal.

Enjoy this short 1:47 video on this topic for a more interactive view on the topic, and as always – just contact us via email at larkingroup@gostgeorge.com or 435-767-9821 for professional advice regarding your personal St.George Real Estate situation! 

 

Getting a Mortgage? Don't expect any favors from your old bank.

by Jeremy Larkin

Are people getting mortgages? YES. Is it as easy as it used to be? THANK HEAVENS NO.

We've recently had many would-be Buyer clients tell us that they met with their "old bank" and the bank wouldn't just give them a home mortgage loan right there on the spot.

That was 2005, (or maybe 1935?), this is 2010 - post real estate melt-down. The banks learned their lessons so don't plan on running down to your old Savings & Loan and saying, "Barney, how's the wife and kids? I need a loan - where do I sign?"

We've all got to jump through the hoops of the mortgage system now, and that's just fine.

Buzz, Woody & Govt. Mortgage Bailouts

by Jeremy Larkin

"Dumbed Down" Transcript:

We're gonna keep this short and sweet, but don't misenterpret the length for poor quality. What I'm about to say regarding your mortgage could save you THOUSANDS:

In a world of uncertainty, 2 things ARE certain:

1. Toy Story 3 premieres this Friday.

2. Many people are getting mortgage refinances even though they have negative equity.

In this week's episode Jeremy Larkin talks about "how" people with no equity, even 2nd mortgages are getting refinances. I know what you are saying - "WHAT? You mean I can refinance my home even if I owe too much on it?"

MAYBE. It depends on if it's a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loan. Watch the video to learn more. This has recently come to my attention by way of some precious chat time with my one of my favorite Mortgage Professionals - Blake Bench of First Colony Mortgage.

On the Toy Story note, the Larkin Group has got to rednezvous with Star Command...AND grow their Facebook fan base to 200 members. If we hit that mark by the end of tomorrow, we will be drawing for a $50.00 Toy Story 3 Ticket package!

How do you do this? Just visit our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Saint-George-UT/The-Larkin-Group/84042546052  Check the page out. If you like it and feel like we are sharing an important or authentic message, click "like." If you dont' like it? Well then don't - it's your call!

THEN simply click on the "suggest to friends" tab on the left and follow instructions.

Until then, here is a link to Blake's full video report on refinancing your potentially underwater mortgage: Southern Utah Home Loans

I don't know if it was a commercial for cold cereal, or "Big-League Chew" or something else, but as a kid there was this commercial that ran during Saturday morning cartoons where the kid is playing outfield in a baseball game. The ball is hit and headed his way when he realizes it is actually about 50x the size of a regulation ball and he says, "I got it, I got it....YOU got it!"

That pretty much sums up just about every real estate transaction being handled by today's real estate Professional. It isn't any one person's fault, it is just the way it is. Several factors may account for last minute delays: Increasing "tight" lending standards for one and honestly, a current bottleneck due to heavy buyer activity may be the biggest culprit.

Just this last week we ran into a classic case of "close yet so far away" on a transaction.

Our Buyer was coming from Salt Lake City and had just closed on the sale of their personal residence the night before. They arrived on Tuesday and for whatever reason, their Lender didn't have loan documents ready to sign so they graciously put the Buyers up in a hotel for the night.

The next day their moving truck showed up with the crew saying "where do we put this stuff? We gotta' be in Las Vegas later this afternoon." At the same moment the Lender called and told us that FHA was asking for a termite inspection as a final condition for closing the loan!

WITH the moving company there, the Termite Inspector (Wade of Western Pest Control, a great guy), showed up to inspect. No problem, the home was only built in mid 1990's right, shouldn't be any critters, right? Wrong.

TERMITES! Nothing major, but had to be treated right then. This of course delayed closing, move-in, the works! Sheesh.

Fortunately the Buyers are tremendous people and were so excited about their new home purchase they were able to forgive all of the inconveniene of the day.

I don't know whether sharing this story will make me look stupid or experienced, but it happened and other agents, buyers and seller can and should learn from it.

Lesson? Just like in every facet of life there are going to be hiccups, snags, unexpected delays. When you are dealing with the purchase or sale of your home the stress is enhanced. Here are a few tips to create a little "insurance" against these types of incidents:

 1. Get a "thorough but basic" understanding of the Purchase Contract (REPC): The oxymoron in the heading for this point illustrates this key point: Don't waste your time becoming a real estate Attorney all of the sudden when you buy or sell, but DO get a very solid understanding of the contract deadlines, consequences of missing them, and methods to extend them if necessary.

A solid real estate agent should be able to make this all very clear. (toot my own horn moment coming up right....NOW!!) The Larkin Group prides itself on being able to take a complex, legally binding document and making it very plain and simple for the average Joe.

2. Turn in all necessary documentation YESTERDAY! This means items requested by Lenders, Title, Real Estate agents, etc. This could be pay stubs, employment verification, repair histories, HOA info, whatever. I have seen dozens of deals get delayed because buyer or seller procrastinated in delivering key information.

3. Hope for the best, plan for the worst: "Be optomistic and pessimistic all at once!" Meaning...certainly put all of your energy and faith into the process going smoothly and as planned, but always remember that it could get delayed and sometimes it is just noone's fault. I have had many clients put themselves in a bad situation by moving out of their current residence becuase the proposed closing was scheduled for say June 1st, then the deal was delayed until the 10th!

I've seen sellers have to move back in because buyers bailed at last minute, and buyers have to find immediate, emergency housing in the interim. Not fun.

Be prepared mentally and emotionally for this most exciting purchase or sale of your lifetime and you will have a great experience every time.

Until next time...

What does $700 Billion Rescue Bill mean for Real Estate?

by Jeremy Larkin

Am I the only person who has been asking this: "What in the world does this $700 billion bailout MEAN?!?!?"

I have been patiently waiting for some kind of summary that actually makes sense (and that a lowly Realtor can understand) on this $700 Billion bailout deal. The National Association of Realtors released a fairly concise (2 pages) summary this morning which can be found at the link below:

 

(click here) Summary of Rescue Bill 

I am not even going to TRY to explain it all in this post, but I would be more than happy to discuss it in the comments area below, or by phone.

I think the real key idea for the real estate world is that the bill had provisions for the Government to buy "troubled" loans from the banks, which would in turn give the banks short term cash to #1 - stay in business so Buyer can #2 - continue to get loans. 

The Government would, in turn, be able to not only renegotiate interest rates with troubled borrowers, but potentially LOWER their princpal balances based on current market values. That is a bizarre thought, isn't it?

SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:

1. Should troubled homeowners be able to get loan balances lowered while those who aren't in trouble don't? What do you think?

2. Is all this stalling just so McCain & Obama can avoid looking like idiots if the bill fails and they are elected President?

3. Does Nancy Pelosi just generally tick you off every  time she opens her mouth, or does she bring back warm memories of your childhood when your mother scolded you for using a cuss word?

 

 

What I do know is this: I SHUDDER to think of a world where credit was no longer available. At first I was prone to only think of home loans and credit cards, but now I realize that this would extend to student loans and more...YIKES! 

AT THE SAME TIME, we continue to see Buyers obtain financing for home purchases without jumping through (in my perspective) too many proverbial hoops, so it is hard for me to really believe that credit is on the brink of totally drying up.

Stay tuned......

Borrowing Buyers From the Future: A Real Estate Time-Travel Drama

by Jeremy Larkin

So a lot of people (see: "Sellers") have been wondering what the *$%! happened to their home equity and this crazy housing market in general, and for many months now I have been repeatedly put to the test of "describing" the status of the current housing market, which to fully explain requires some time travel.  

Well, yesterday in a Keller Williams sales meeting the Universe smiled upon me and gave me the gift I had been looking for....NO, not a week in Hawaii far from the foreclosures, short sales and general cry of pain I hear on a daily basis. Rather, a CARTOON depicting the history of the housing market and what led us to this deep, dark place called a....(shhh, keep this to yourself...)..."Housing Crisis."

**IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST AT ALL IN THE HOUSING MARKET, THIS IS FOR YOU. IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF INTEREST IN THE HOUSING MARKET, THIS IS REALLY FOR YOU. IF YOU WANT TO LOOK SMARTER THAN ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS, THEN THIS CLIP IS REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FOR YOU.**

So sit back, make sure the Flux Capacitor is calibrated, set the dial to the 'funk' of 1970, and enjoy 7 1/2 minutes of the absolute BEST explanation of this housing mess I've EVER SEEN, courtesy of John Burns, a Real Estate Consultant who spends his days analyzing housing data all over the country.

I WOULD LOVE to get some of your opinions on this clip...please feel free to comment below!

 

IS THE HOUSING CRISIS REALLY A "CRISIS"?

by Jeremy Larkin

So you ask, "how low do you think prices will go?"......"have we hit bottom?" You may even ask, "is the world coming to an end?" Ok, well I haven't been asked that, but I've been asked something similar during the woes of the current market.

Now CNBC Analyst Dennis Kneale raises what may be the most critical question of all: Is the current housing crisis really a "crisis?", or just a problem blown out of proportion? Take 2 minutes 28 seconds and see if his answer to the question matches yours by clicking the link below:

So the Summary looks something like this:

-1/3 are owned 'free & clear'

-1/2 of the remaning 80 million were bought before the year 2000

-The median home price is up 53% since then

-Overall, 95% of all mortgage holders still pay on time.

-That leaves us with maybe 4 million homes in trouble.

-Moreover, only 2% of the households in America are actually in foreclosure!

Hmmm......is this really a crisis, or the proper adjustment necessary to get home buyers back in the game?  You make the call!

 

FED Shut-down of ANB Perpetuates "Smoking Gun" Theories

by Jeremy Larkin

In case you didn’t know it already, Federal regulators shut down ANB Financial National Association banks (a.k.a “ANB”) last week after discovering "unsafe and unsound" business practices there.

 

If we were living in the gun-slinging Wild West as portrayed in the old John Wayne films, I think ANB (Arkansas National Bank for those who aren’t aware) could have certainly been considered an “Outlaw.”  Those who know anything at all about them today know that they were considered heroes during the real estate boom, yet in the nearly 3 years of decline since then there have been few kind words for their “aggressive” lending practices.

 

As a matter of fact, I have heard MANY very influential people, especially those in the banking industry, make fairly strong comments to the affect of ANB being one of the key “culprits” in creating the real estate troubles faced in Washington County today. Why?

 

Well for starters, because they didn’t lose $100 Million (wow) last year because their clients were writing bad checks. They lost it because they, like many others, appeared to be handing out loans like $.10 Oriental Trading Company party favors. Many in the community feel that the ANB’s of the world were fairly frivolously processing loans for too many people who had no business being in the business. And yes, there were many who did. I like to refer to it as the “$1,000,000 spec home loan on an $80,000 Income.” Looking back, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

 

Personal Responsibility?

So it begs the question: can any ONE lending institution be solely at fault? Of course not. However, can any ONE lending institution be largely at fault? Who knows? But with ANB’s shut-down last week ‘smoking gun’ theories will be perpetuated, and a lot of people will say they “got what they deserved.”

 

It also brings up another interesting twist that many of us didn’t consider: guilt. As local commercial broker Graig Griffin so nicely put it in his recent blog post for Utah CEO Magazine, “There is no question that greed played a role in the rise and fall, but I did not expect remorse — no, this is real guilt.”  Me neither, but I guess I’m not surprised.

 

I think this is another “personal responsibility” issue, quite frankly, and our Nation’s economy is being torn to shreds because of the general lack of it. Everyone wants to point fingers, place blame, search for the “smoking gun.” The smoking gun is, quite simply, in the hands of the entire greedy public. We may all be to blame for the emotional wave of speculation and property appreciation, (which was largely smoke and mirrors we are finding out), that went on in recent years.

 

I guess we should have all seen this coming, but as I wrote in an earlier post this week, the prospect of easy money is so seductive that most people just ignore the obvious writing on the wall, or perhaps they just can’t read it?

 

Thankfully, FDIC will be insuring those who had deposits of less than $100k, and Little Rock’s own Pulaski Bank should be assuming all loans, but it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people got themselves into some pretty stupid loans in the past few years.  I’ll bet a lot of starving spec builders are now wishing they would have taken the time to read the “fine print” on the walls of the real estate market some 3 years ago. What do you think?

Your agent tried to warn you, but you just wouldn’t listen. You thought you could save some real dough buying a short-sale. Now months have passed and you didn’t even get the home you wanted!

 

This can either be a long or short post. It all depends on how much convincing you need, which will then determine how much you elect to read.

 

If you’re a Buyer, you’ve probably been enticed by all sorts of real estate-sexy terms like “short sale”, “foreclosure”, or “bank-owned.”

Yes, just hearing those words may have you turned on for a “killer deal” as we speak.

 

As a Seller you’ve heard those same terms and they’ve had more nasty connotations. You  might have said to yourself, “those are things that happen to other people, not me.” Or perhaps you have even become aware of the fact that those very bank-owned, foreclosure, or “REO” properties are robbing you BLIND of your equity. And they are, believe me they are, but that is a discussion for another day.

 

However, this post is mainly devoted to Buyers. After getting really excited about the short-sale, you call your agent and tell them you want to make a really low offer and save some serious cash. Your realtor knows better, and tries to dissuade you from making the offer. “Let’s find another home” he or she says, but you just think they want a quick sale. You can’t be stopped. You are one savvy buyer and hell-bent on making a good deal.

 

Weeks pass, and still no word from the listing agent. Your agent tries and tries to call the listing agent to find out what is up, but they always get the same response: “we’re waiting for approval from the bank.” As the weeks pass, so do other buying opportunities on properties with great equity in them and that you can actually close on in 3-4 weeks. You, of course, are still living where you don’t want to and it’s driving you nuts.

 

Finally after say a 4-6 week wait, the bank comes back and tells you: “Sorry, we can’t accept your offer. Please bring us a higher offer.” Or better yet, “sorry we received a higher offer than yours and we will be pursuing it.” Or let’s say that they actually accept it. Now they need you to close within an EXACT number of days or it is dead and they have to reapprove…yuck! (Hey that 4-6 week scenario may be conservative...I've seen MONTHS pass before approvals).

We will be closing a short sale transaction next week. It took us 5 months, 7 offers, and probably 100 calls to the bank to get to this point. I am hearing figures of only 10% of short sales making it to the closing table, but who can be sure how many really do?

 

But it is a “short” sale…can’t I save money?

Here is the deal: The very NATURE of a short-sale is that the bank is taking a loss on the deal. Why in the world would they want you to give you a good deal in the process? Sure they need it sold, but they aren’t stupid and they will make dang sure that they exact every penny they can out of the deal in the process. They don’t care about you, me, or even the Seller – only their bottom line.

 

What is it with Human Nature?

There is nothing more compelling than the thought of either saving or losing money. Buyers in today’s market live in absolute fear of buying something that may lose value, or that they might have saved money on in some way. Sellers suffer from the same malady, only from the opposite perspective. They notion of selling their home and “leaving money on the table” is almost too much for most Sellers to bear. That is their hard-earned money dammit, right? Well not really. The equity you have on paper is just make-believe until you sell and get it out – just like the stock market.

 

So what DO you buy?

There are hundreds of phenomenal buys sitting right under your nose in our market right now, being offered by either A: motivated sellers with the equity to negotiate, or B: Motivated banks who have already foreclosed on the property (the short-sale never worked) and they have it back on the market at a great price so they can get rid of it quickly.

 

Any while you’re at it, please take caution with so-called “short-sale” or “foreclosure specialists.” These are usually just brand-new agents looking to cash in on the current market, or unscrupulous investors who want to save money at your family’s expense. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Summary: Short sales are a necessary evil in today’s market, but they do suck. They suck for several key reasons:

1. They are, in essence, a "mirage." They look good from afar, but they end up sucking the life and energy out of everybody involved in the process: Buyer, seller, agents, Title Company, mortgage lender, the whole works. If you can avoid them, do.

2. As a segway to #1, statistically, you will probably never get that home. Really, you probably won't. You will either give up before the bank approves, or someone else will outbid you in the process.

3. Because of #1 and #2, they don't even end up being the "great buy" you wanted. I just sold one in downtown St. George for $9000.00 OVER the listing price! Yes, you read that correctly, OVER. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

Buyer beware, what more can I say?

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Photo of Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group Real Estate
Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group
Keller Williams Realty
50 E 100 S, Suite 300
St. George UT 84770
435.767.9886
Fax: 435-359-5085

St. George Real Estate - Your premier destination for St. George,Utah Real Estate Listings, Home Values, MLS Search, REO/Foreclosure Info &  St. George Real Estate Statistics.  Serving St. George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Washington, Hurricane, LaVerkin, Toquerville & more! Specializing in REO/foreclosure properties, frustrated Sellers, First-Time home buyers, and Investors. Looking for the most LOCAL St. George, Utah real estate information available? Your search is over!