Lights! Camera! Action!

movie set

Laws on video and audio recording vary by state, but to cope with increased scrutiny from watchful sellers, some real estate professionals are advising their clients to be wary during showings. Cameras that capture a buyer’s exuberance or dissatisfaction while viewing a home could reveal important negotiation leverage for the seller to later use against you.

That’s why it’s important to work out a plan for communicating when viewing properties with your real estate agent. Some agents have even directed their clients to text them their comments while they walk through a home—even when they’re standing next to each other.

More and more property owners are purchasing cameras for their homes, especially before placing them on the real estate market. It’s something I make all of my buyers very aware of when showing property. One tactic I have used is to have my clients pretend the owner is sitting in the living room while viewing the home.

Some agents in our area are even making an effort to be more transparent about hidden cameras at their listings. The Northern Nevada MLS does not require REALTORS® to note whether there is audio or video inside a home listed for sale. Hopefully Nevada agents are advising buyer agents in the private remarks section which is not publicly shown. The South Lake Tahoe Association of REALTORS® however requires agents to provide this information to their MLS. Regardless it is always better to hold your opinion of a property till you exit the home. Seller’s may not even provide this information to their listing agent.

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Why Have a Buyer’s Agent When Purchasing a House?

Buying a house is one of the most significant undertakings you’ll make in your entire life. It’s not simply about finding the right home for you and your family; more than anything, buying a house is about making the right financial investment on a long-term basis.

Before you even put down your earnest money deposit, an exceptional buyer’s agent will have been doing several things for you, including searching for the right property and starting the due diligence process when you do.

There are a plethora of reasons you should turn to a buyer’s agent when you start the house-buying process. Below are some of the most essential reasons to hire a buyer’s agent when purchasing your next house:

1. It’s Free

One of the first things you need to know about hiring a buyer’s agent is that it’s not going to cost you anything. That’s right; 99 percent of the time it won’t cost you a dime!

A buyer’s agent will be paid by the home seller once the home is sold. Not only is it free, but a buyer’s rep will be saving you both time and money. As always, it’s essential to have a good working relationship with an agent. In other words, make sure you find one that you feel comfortable working with.

2. Going to the Listing Agent Isn’t Smart

For some reason, lots of buyers think they’ll get a better deal if they go to the seller’s agent. This is one of the biggest myths in real estate and could cost you considerable money in the long run. Quite often, buyers think if they go to the seller’s agent, they’ll give them back some of the commission. While this may be true, the agent works in the best interests of the seller, not you!

Saving a couple thousand dollars in commission but overpaying on a home by $10,000 works out to a net loss of $8,000! In addition, the agent is going to be doing everything in their power to close the sale, not what’s best for you. Avoiding dual agency is something every smart buyer does. Always have your own designated buyer’s agent.

3. Professional Experience

A buyer’s agent should have the right kind of professional experience in finding the right home for you. Finding the right property is a time-consuming process, and it’s easy to find yourself spending hours viewing properties that are not right for you.

It’s crucial to have a bit of help, especially if you’re a first-time buyer or a very busy person. Having an agent screening the properties for you can save you lots of time. Not only that, but they’ll also view properties to make sure they’re in good order.

A buyer’s agent who has been in the business for a long time will pick up on common problems, such as a damp basement, roofing problems and leaks.

4. How Well Do You Know the Area?

Having a buyer’s agent on board when you move to a new town or part of the country is especially vital. After all, you may not know the area that well. Having someone with local knowledge means that you’re much more likely to end up investing in a property in the “right” part of town. An exceptional agent that services primarily buyers will know their way around the local area well. They’ll know the popular neighborhoods that are appealing to most buyers and those that aren’t.

Also, an agent will make sure the amenities that are important to you are close by. Schools and leisure facilities are often on the top of most homebuyers’ agenda.

5. Valuation and Finance

Valuing a property is not easy when you don’t have a lot of experience. When you’re buying your first or second home, you’ll need all of the help that you can get. Nothing beats turning to a professional to help you purchase a property at fair market value, or less, if you’re lucky. One of the best skills of a buyer’s agent is to be able to evaluate the right purchase price for the home.

Financing can be a nightmare, as well. Sure, you may have your mortgage preapproval, but when it comes to buying a home and financing it, there’s often a mountain of paperwork to work through. A buyer’s agent will help you to do so, and make sure the process stays on track. They explain fundamental real estate terms you might not be familiar with. For example, a significant percentage of buyers don’t know the difference between earnest money and a down payment. Understanding the function of each of these things is crucial for a buyer to understand. There are a myriad of others.

6. How Much Time Do You Have for Your Showings?

Not having a buyer’s agent can mean you end up at a lot of showings or viewings that aren’t right for you. When you contract in a buyer’s agent at the start of the process, they’ll make sure that they schedule everything for you. It’s like having your own personal assistant. Tell them when you’re free, and they’ll do most of the work for you.

7. The Value of Contracts

Never underestimate the value of contracts when it comes to buying a home. Arrangements are not only about money; timelines are established in the purchase contract, as well. A buyer’s agent will make sure you follow through with any necessary responses required under the terms of the contract. This is critical because not doing so could put your escrow funds at risk of loss.

An excellent agent will keep you informed and on track so that you don’t lose any of your escrow funds. There’s also an abundance of smaller details you need to deal with before you sign on the dotted line. Many of them form part of modern-day contract law. Changing regulations are something else a buyer’s agent will help you with.

8. Professional Contacts

Once you’ve bought your first home, you’ll appreciate how many people form part of the buying process. It’s not just you and your bank manager. You’ll also need the help of other professionals, such as a home inspector. What if the home inspector picks up a problem during the inspection, and you need an estimate for work? A buyer’s agent is likely to have the right contacts at their fingertips, and will also be familiar with the process.

9. A Buyer’s Agent: Your Negotiator

Many of us don’t like to negotiate, and we’re not always that good at it. You may like the seller and don’t want to upset them. After all, we’re only human. It’s hard to say “no,” or ask someone you like to drop the price or negotiate a needed repair.

Let’s go back to that home inspection that picked up a slight problem. Ask yourself if you have the skill, and confidence, to renegotiate the price of the property. It takes both to close a deal. Once again, this is something that your buyer’s agent can do for you.

10. Let’s Stay on Schedule

Staying on schedule is an important part of the process of buying a home. You may need to get out of your old house on a specific date, or you may have a starting date for a new job. Trying to pack up your old home and keeping the ball rolling is not easy.

Many buyers don’t realize that a buyer’s agent will keep things going while you focus on moving out of your property or drive across the country to take up that promotion you’re getting.

Final Thoughts

An excellent buyer’s agent will have your back at all times. That is perhaps the best way to look at the relationship. They’re your fiduciary in the strongest sense of the word. Once it’s all over, you’ll be glad that you decided to ask for the help of a buyer’s agent instead of going through the buying process on your own!

Story Provided by Bill Gassett

3 Year-End Steps For Every Renter

Along with year-end parties, comes New Year goal setting, right? It’s time to look forward and envision where you see yourself this time next year. Is owning a home on your list of goals?

Before you stumble upon that dream home while out looking at holiday lights, take these three simple year-end steps that will jump start your journey to homeownership. You’ll be well on your way to a new home before that New Year’s Eve countdown begins. 

1. Simple budget review

How much are you currently spending each month on rent and other housing related expenses, like utilities? What is that amount annually? Do you anticipate any rent increases?

Take a look at your other expenses too. You want to have a solid understanding of your monthly income and expenses so you know what you can handle for a mortgage payment. This exercise will keep you from jumping into a mortgage payment that stretches you and your family too far.

And, with homeownership comes home maintenance so it’s important to have a cushion for those necessary (and sometimes fun!) projects.

2. Interview lenders

Mortgages are never one size fits all. You want to work with a lender who can listen to your goals and budget to find the best fit for you. Make a plan to talk to at least three lenders before year end. Learn about their low down payment options, fees and the monthly and lifetime cost of your mortgage.

Check out our five essential lender interview questions for a guide on what to ask prospective mortgage lenders.

3. Search for down payment programs

Do you know about homebuyer programs that can help you save on your down payment and closing costs? Down payment programs can give you a major homeownership boost in the form of grants, forgivable loans and tax credits. But, they also require approvals and paperwork so you want to get your options on the table soon.

Investigate what’s available in the area you plan to buy. Use our program finder to answer a few question about your household to narrow down your options. Review your results with your agent and lender.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Story Provided by Down Payment® Resource

Real Estate Referrals

Referrals

“I’d like to ask you a quick question because I’m taking on new clients in my real estate business now. Who do you know of your family, friends, neighbors or work associates that I can help sell a home or buy a new one in the next 6-12 months?”

Why pocket listings harm buyers, sellers and agents

As competition has soared in recent years for California’s low inventory of homes for sale, the share of pocket listings has grown. Pocket listings are shared only with the seller’s agent’s chosen network, making them exclusive. In San Francisco, the share of homes sold this way increased 68% from 2010 to 2018, according to Redfin.

The lucky homebuyers who learn about a pocket listing strike gold, as they end up dealing with less or even no competition. Sellers can feel like they’re getting a better deal, too, because they do fewer showings. Agents with ties to exclusive listings gain a reputation for being well-connected, able to show their clients homes not yet available on the multiple listing service (MLS). Even better, pocket listings often give seller’s agents the opportunity to earn a double fee by representing both seller and buyer.

But are pocket listings really such a great deal?

Here are the serious drawbacks to pocket listings:

  • for sellers, their listing gets fewer views, meaning their home is more likely to sell for a lower price, with less favorable terms than if they had opened it up to all buyers;
  • for buyers, the majority of pocket listings are not available to them, resulting in a lower MLS inventory; and
  • for agents, their pocket listing is likely to sell for less, resulting in a lower fee — unless they manage to snag an unrepresented homebuyer, in which case they demand a double fee — but this is problematic on several levels.

While pocket listings may seem desirable to agents due to the possibility to generate a second fee and a quicker sale, these agents are in danger of breaking the cardinal rule: putting their individual interests above their client’s best interests. This stems from the issue of dual agency, when a broker represents opposing principals in the same transaction.

Why is dual agency problematic? Though a dual agent needs to work diligently on behalf of both clients, they are prevented from fully negotiating on behalf of either client, unable to simultaneously negotiate the highest and best price for the seller, and the lowest and best price for the buyer.

Further, homebuyers of color are disproportionately affected by pocket listings, according to Redfin, the California Association of Realtors and a 2017 study on pocket listings. The majority of pocket listings are available to White networks and buyers of color aren’t alerted to these pre-market homes. This drives down buying opportunities for people of color, furthering the homeownership gap between ethnicities.

Something of a compromise is the official “coming soon” listing, which leaves open the benefits of a pocket listing for sellers and their agents, while making the listing available to homebuyers on the MLS.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently directed its members to refrain from pocket listings. Further, “coming soon” listings can be listed no earlier than one day before the full listing goes live. These changes will need to be implemented by NAR’s 800+ MLS’s by May 1, 2020.

Story provided by Carrie B. Reyes

Hello, Genoa Town Residents!

Genoa Nevada Logo

There have been multiple mountain lion(Puma councolor) sightings on the west side of Town (mountain side). We encourage all residents and visitors to be aware of their presence and take the necessary steps to prevent any life-threatening human/wildlife interactions.


This includes but is not limited to the following:

  1. Make sure ALL trash is disposed of in proper wildlife resistant containers.
  2. Be aware of tracks, scratch marks and sign (scat) in your yard and surrounding areas.
  3. Monitor your pets when they are outdoors in the evening, dawn and dusk.
  4. Enclose all small livestock in predator proof enclosures.
  5. If you see a mountain lion, or a bear, stand your ground. Do not run. Make noise and move with purpose. 

Genoa has notified the Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and we will keep you updated on any response from the Agency.
If you have seen mountain lions on your property please contact the Town with a location and time of the sighting.

Carson Valley 12 month Real Estate Update

An update of the Carson Valley real estate market for the past 12 months shows the number of residential sales declined 6% from 2018 figures, down to 748 units. Median sales prices during the same time period increased 4.2%. However the Lake Tahoe area of Douglas County heated up in 2019 with a 25% increase in the number of residential homes sold. The increase in numbers from 106 to 133 units does not include 6 lakefront sales. The median sales price for the lake area also increased 13.9% to $900,000. I’m seeing an increase in the number of families wanting to leave California. Happy Holidays! Sign up below for my future blog post.

Fannie, Freddie New Mortgage Application Form

freddie mac logo

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released a redesigned mortgage application form in October. The Uniform Residential Loan Application is a standardized form used by borrowers when applying for a mortgage. This is the first time in 20 years there has been a change to the standard mortgage application form.

Presently, no specific date for the mandatory use of the new URLA has been set. But the GSEs will publish an interactive fillable PDF version of the new URLA in early 2020.
The new form explicitly references real estate sales contracts and requires the borrower to submit to the lender before closing any changes or new information including “providing any updated/supplemental real estate sales contract.” Additionally, the new form demands the borrower state that the terms and conditions of any real estate sales contract are true the best of their knowledge and that, “I have not entered into any other agreement, written or oral, in connection with this real estate transaction.” 

The new form also requires a more explicit statement as to the borrower’s intended occupancy. For single family property the borrower will indicate whether their intended occupancy is “Investment, Primary Residence, Second Home” or “Other.” 

Carson Valley Community and Senior Center

Douglas County Community Center

One of our largest local attractions is the Douglas County Community and Senior Center. It opened December 6, 2014, and is at the heart of Gardnerville, NV. With offerings for seniors, adults and youth all are welcomed and can find an activity to enjoy. Come for their contact classes, sports programs, fitness center, arcade, room rentals or senior services and find more than you came for! Learn more by visiting their website today.

Terrazza at Genoa Lakes

Terrazza at Genoa Lakes

Phase 1 at Terrazza is now open for sales. Lot prices are currently set between $295,000 and $310,000. You will have five years to begin construction. HOA dues are currently $224 monthly and include club house access at Genoa Lakes. There are currently four floor plans with three elevations available for each plan; Mountain Modern, High Desert and Modern Farmhouse. These beautiful homes will start at 2950 square feet (SF), 3300 SF, 3600 SF and 3800 SF. We are excited to offer a $5000 credit towards buyer closing costs of our custom homesites or developer homes if purchased before December 31, 2019. To learn more about this new project visit the Terrazza website here. If you decide to contact Mike Dunn or Sonja Leonard please mention my name – Robert Stiles, REALTOR® at Chase International. I’d also be happy to meet you at the property if you’re new to the area. Call me at 775-309-8454. Thank you.