Everything Buyers with Caruso!


 

 

Buying a home can be stressful. As a real estate agent, you get to see home buyers at their best — that is, the joy they feel when they step into their new home. But you first usually have to see them at their worst — the stress and tension they may feel in trying to find that perfect house. That puts you in role as adviser, friend, and counselor.

 

As a salesperson, you might be wondering what your customers really think about the home-buying process, and what, exactly, they expect from you beyond helping them find that ideal house. The bottom line: They expect a lot. The National Association of REALTORS® conducted a survey that shows what buyers want from their agents.

 

 Here are the five biggest expectations;

1.   Help finding the right home to purchase.

2.   Help negotiating the price.

3.   Help negotiating the terms of the sale.

4.   Determining what comparable homes are selling for.

5.   Assisting with paperwork.

 

That’s not all. Buyers surveyed also said some of the biggest benefits real estate practitioners can provide is helping them understand the home-buying process as well as pointing out unnoticed features or faults with a property. What’s more, the majority say they are looking for an agent who can improve their knowledge of home-search areas and provide a list of service providers.

The following are seven suggestions for real estate professionals in better assisting today’s buyers for improved client relationships.

 

1. Don’t Be Slow to Respond  – Behind only honesty and integrity, response time is rated as a “very important” quality in real estate professionals, according to the NAR survey.

So how quick is your response time? Real estate professionals ignore or respond too late to nearly 75 percent of customer leads that come in through online channels, according to a secret-shopping study by PCMS Consulting and One Cavo. The study, which evaluated practitioners’ response rate to Internet leads from customers, found that nearly half of agents did not respond to the Internet leads. And, 23 percent of the leads that did receive calls back were contacted about eight hours after forms were submitted. That’s still too late, the survey’s researchers say. “Today’s Internet consumer is expecting a response certainly within the hour but, more likely, within 15 or 20 minutes,” said Bradley Miller, One Cavo founder and president.

 

2. Be a Savvy Negotiator – The good news: For the most part, most buyers are satisfied with the real estate agents they choose, and nine out of 10 say they would recommend their agents to others, according to NAR’s 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. But there’s one area in particular they feel agents need a little extra work: negotiation skills. This and technology skills were the only areas where buyers expressed less satisfaction with their agents.

Today’s buyers want a deal — or a steal. Are your negotiation skills up to par for challenging transactions? In your last few negotiations, how successful have you been? Have your buyers felt satisfied in the end? Or have too many deals fallen apart lately?

 

3. Don’t Come Across as an Amateur – Home buyers love to view photos and videos of homes, which has compelled more real estate professionals to hastily put on photographer and filmmaker hats. But if video isn’t your forte, then maybe you shouldn’t grab that pocket camera or smart phone and broadcast your work on YouTube. You actually might do more harm than good.

One real estate professional in the Dallas area decided to shoot several neighborhood videos from a handheld camera, turning buyers off of several neighborhoods in the area. The videos were all captured as the agent drove through the neighborhoods (safety tip: don’t film and drive) and captured it all on a cloudy, winter day — not exactly the best backdrop for making neighborhoods look appealing. If you want to do a neighborhood video, wait for a sunny summer or spring day to show off the vegetation and greenery, make sure you keep the camera in focus, and film when you’re not on the move. Better yet, maybe take a film class or enlist an aspiring filmmaker for help. Same goes for property pictures as well — if you’re not good at shooting photos, then seek professional help, or obtain the skill set you need to do a professional job.

 

4. Have a Web Presence – As a determining factor for choosing an agent, reputation was rated No. 2 behind trustworthiness, according to the NAR survey. For many consumers, online search has become a go-to method to find out more about a practitioner’s business, and one of the things they look for is other clients’ reviews. If nothing comes up when they Google you, some buyers will assume you’re not very established in your business, and they may have a tough time putting their biggest purchase in your hands. If it’s a Facebook page with some questionable photos, well, that won’t likely win you any clients either.

Social networking pages like LinkedIn often come up early in Web searches, so make sure they’re up-to-date and represent your business.

 

According to surveys, home buyers also say real estate practitioner and company Websites have been useful in their home search. Here’s what they rated as top site features:

1.   Photos

2.   Detailed information about properties for sale

3.   Virtual tours

4.   Interactive maps

5.   Real estate agent contact information

6.   Neighborhood information

 

5. Don’t Dodge a Question – There are certain questions you can’t answer because of fair housing laws, such as “What kind of people live in this neighborhood?” or “Is this home in the best school district?” But if you just ignore the question or gloss over it, you inadvertently make the buyer lose faith in your knowledge about the market or feel like their question didn’t matter.

Keep data on demographics, crime, and school reports with you, available at your Website, or even in a special buyer packet you give clients when touring homes. That way, when they ask you a question you can’t answer, you can point them to where they can find it on their own.

 

6. Follow the 3 E’s – You’ll have to wear multiple hats as an agent. Be ready to educate, empathize, and encourage.

 

Educate: Educate the buyer on the area, what comparable homes are selling for, the average price per square foot in the neighborhood, and every stage in the buying process.

 

Empathize: Buyers are bound to throw something at you that may seem absurd during the home search. Remember, this is a big step, and it’s scary so they may get cold feet and suddenly a seemingly easy fix to you — like the color of the walls — becomes a huge obstacle they can’t overlook. Even if the gripe seems unreasonable, keep your cool, listen to their complaint so they feel heard, and then propose a practical solution or find a compromise.

 

Encourage: Once your buyers select a home, validate their decision. Review the priorities they stated in their home search, and how well the home measures up: Did they find a good match? A big portion in the buying process is the feeling of validation — that they made a good decision, which will help lead them all the way to the closing table.

 

7. Don’t Pull a Houdini – After buyers select a house, don’t just disappear until closing day. You’ll make them feel abandoned. While buyers say they most want assistance in finding the right property, they also say they want their agent’s help with understanding the entire process and recommendations of service providers. Find excuses to make contact, even when there’s nothing to do that week to move the transaction forward. For example, “I saw this interesting article in the newspaper and thought of you,” or “I just drove past the house and it looks great. I know you’re getting excited for move-in day.” Send happy birthday greetings or remember special dates. For relocation clients, help them get adjusted to the community by offering up fun things to do in the area.

 

 

The end of a transaction is really just the beginning to building a relationship with your clients, proving you’ll be there every step of the way and beyond, to the next time they need your services — or their friend does.

 

We Are Now Accepting Qualified Listings
Now providing “Short Sale Services”
Call Today for More Info and our “Spring Thing….”

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

Caruso’s Homebuying Tips for BUYERS!


 

If you are considering a home purchase, be sure you don’t go it alone.  Buying a home in today’s market requires help and guidance from a real estate professional.  With multiple parties involved in most real estate transactions, pursuing a home alone, whether new or re-sale would make you feel like a goldfish in a pool of sharks.

 

The following are some excellent home buying tips to consider and questions to ask when selecting a real estate agent to look out for your best interests:

  1. First and foremost, select an agent who will represent you exclusively.  This type of representation will only happen if you choose an agent who represents buyers in their business.
  2. The real estate agent’s experience and negotiating skills are paramount to your success.  Be sure to ask how long they have been in the business.  Their expertise in short sales and bank-owned properties should be mandatory, with no exceptions.
  3. A good real estate agent must have excellent communication skills, but should be a better listener.  They should be attentive to your needs. They should explain the entire real estate transaction process to you, whether you are a first-time buyer or seasoned individual.
  4. After you select an agent to represent you, and before you make an offer on a home, be sure the agent provides you with the most recent documented sales in the neighborhood.  Only then will you make a determination on a price to offer for the home.  These documented sales, or what we call a “comparative market analysis”, must be homes within the neighborhood and have similar features as the home of interest.  Remember if you are financing the home, an appraisal will be performed prior to the close of escrow.  The appraisal will protect the buyer from “overpaying” for the home.
  5. The real estate professional should explain to you, the buyer, the entire home buying process, thereby limiting or minimizing surprises during the transaction.  Be certain that your representative follows through with the Title or Escrow Company, your mortgage lender, the appraisal, and home inspection.  The experienced buyer’s agent should have a list of licensed contractors, plumbers, and electricians for referral should the need arise.

These home buying tips will prepare you when first contacting a real estate professional by phone or email.  Be conscious of their response time.  This will be the first indication of how their communication skills, attentiveness, and punctuality will be toward all parties in the sales transaction.  Remember that this will be the most important financial decision of your lifetime, so don’t compromise and let the experience become stressful.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

Caruso’s 12 Days of Christmas ~ Day 8


 

On the 8th Day of Christmas Caruso Gave to me – 8 Questions to Ask Yourself before Buying a House!

Is it time to buy a home? The right of home ownership is an integral part of the American dream but thankfully, does not have to remain merely a dream. Like most dreams, desire is important and is the first ingredient. If you have the desire to own a home, you have already satisfied the most important step to home ownership.

Because your home is a financial asset, the desire for equity appreciation over time is certainly part of the dream. Besides gaining equity during some real estate cycles, pride of home ownership and financial security result from buying a house. Home ownership dates back to early American heritage. Our constitution providing freedom for home ownership strengthens our country and makes us proud.

Try to set aside the discomfort of applying for a mortgage since your home purchase is most likely based on obtaining financing. Let’s figure out if buying a house is right for you by reviewing some basic items.

#1 How much money you make is first on the list. Income should be consistent and dependable. A steady income refers to your income’s consistency. The more consistent your income the better! The reliability of your income mostly refers to its predictability. What is the likelihood of your income continuing into the future?

#2 We all understand that your job supplies the money. So the second question to determining if you are prepared to buy a home is related to job history. You’ll move quickly past the employment issue if you have been in the same line of work for over two years.

#3 How you handle debt is extremely important to your financial health and is the third question to address if you are preparing to buy a home. Paying your bills before they are late will get you further toward your goal of home loan approval than anything else. Make a conscious decision today to begin paying your obligations timely. Going past the due dates of your bills damages your credit rating but you can alter this behavior today.

#4 The amount of money owed is the fourth consideration for home buyers. Bluntly expressed, are you over your head in credit card debt? Some people have large car payments plus high balances on credit cards. Other debts may include boat and recreation vehicles, installment payments for jewelry, furniture, and other items. Credit is easy to get but when qualifying to buy a house the volume of debt can obstruct your ability to get the house you dream about.

#5 In addition to examining your total debt; are you saving for a down payment? For those who have saved for the cost of buying a home including a down payment, they are a step ahead. It is never too late to begin a gradual savings plan toward a buying a house.

#6 Does the cost of owning a home compared with renting make sense to you? You should be able to determine the differences between owning your own home to renting a home. If you don’t understand the difference, we need to start from the beginning again.

#7 Does owning your first home excite you or lead you to stress? Of course finding the perfect home for you is going to be stressful. However if the price of buying a new home is taking over and causing you anxiety & you’re losing sleep, maybe it is not time to buy a house. You want to be make sure you are in the right frame of mind when looking to buy a home because you don’t want to do something you will regret in the end.

#8. Can you afford to make monthly payments plus the additional cost related to owning a home? Owning a home also includes expenses such as liability and fire insurance, real estate taxes, roofs, furnaces and water heaters.

Don’t allow doubt to extinguish your hopes of home ownership by taking the next step. Now is the best time to contact a home loan lender and begin the application process. Understanding your options will increase your opportunity of home ownership. A reputable and experienced mortgage lender can help you zero in on the most important issues that you may need to address.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Caruso Killed It!


 

So I didn’t really “kill” anything. But, Real Estate deals get killed all the time, and buyers can’t relax until they have keys actually in hand.  Here are three of the most common real estate deal-killers that I have come across, and some steps buyers can take to deactivate them.

Appraisal too low. Some buyers incorrectly believe that the best thing that could happen to them is for the property to appraise below the agreed-upon purchase price, expecting that a low appraisal forces the seller to bring the price down.  In fact, so many of today’s sellers are barely breaking even, that a low appraisal is probably the most common deal-killer around. If an appraisal comes in just a tad bit lower than the contract price, usually the seller will come down if they can, or the buyer will kick in a few extra bucks. But when it comes in 5, 10 or even 20 percent low, most sellers can’t – and most buyers won’t.

Low appraisals also seem like the most difficult deal-killer to avoid, as this process is entirely out of both buyer’s and seller’s control. But there are two things buyers can do to minimize the risk.  First, check the comps – i.e., recent comparable homes that have sold in the area – before making an offer; your agent will help you do this. Then, don’t make an offer bizarrely above the average range of the comparables, even if the property has multiple offers, unless you’re prepared to deal with a low appraisal a couple of weeks out. 

Also, consider working with a local mortgage broker who also originates loans through its own bank (vs. walking into a large bank’s branch off the street); these lenders have the ability to choose from a smaller pool of appraisers that they know are qualified and knowledgeable about your area.

Property condition dramas. When the market melted down, lenders found themselves with a lot of decrepit homes on their hands. This explains two things; why lenders are more concerned about property condition now than ever, and the raggedy condition of so many of the “distressed’ homes on the market.  Homes that have extensive wood rot, dangerous decks or electrical systems, or peeling paint and missing systems (sinks, stoves and the like) are highly unlikely to pass muster when the appraiser walks through, even if they do qualify as being worth the purchase price.  And while an individual seller might be willing to do some work, many just can’t afford to; short sale and REO sellers simply refuse to make fixes, 9 times out of 10.

Prevention is the best medicine for curing this transaction ailment.  If you are buying a short sale or REO property, be aware that when the selling bank says as-is, it really means as-is.  Ask your mortgage broker and agent to brief you on what sort of shape your lender will require your home to be in, at minimum, and keep that standard in mind during your house hunt.  Your agent can help manage your expectations about which properties will and won’t likely pass muster. 

Loan approval takes too long.  Every buyer knows they must get pre-approved for a mortgage before they start house hunting, but many don’t know that pre-approval is just the first in a long list of steps that have to happen before the loan becomes a sure thing.  In fact, it’s common now for buyers to get their loan pre-approval many months before they end up in contract, and lots can change in the interim – further extending the time it may take for their loan approval to come in. 

It’s common for contracts to include a standard loan contingency period of 17 days, give or take a few.  But the appraisal might take longer than that to come in, or the underwriter might have lots of questions and seemingly random nitpicks about the appraisal, or about you: they want to see your driver’s license, then your marriage license, then your divorce decree, and after that, a letter from your employer agreeing that you’ll be keeping your job even though you’re moving an hour away. It never seems like they ask for everything at once, thus it can take longer than 17 days to obtain all the requested items, turn them in and get the underwriter to sign off on them. 

Until you get that green light, it’s foolhardy to remove your loan contingency, as that step renders your earnest money deposit non-refundable, under most contracts.  Many a buyer is forced to either secure an extension from the seller or to let the transaction die, rather than forfeiting their deposit funds.  And again, some sellers understand and will play ball, but bank sellers can be particularly resistant to loan contingency extensions, especially if there are backup offers on the table.

Best practice for buyers to minimize the chances of an overtime loan approval process killing the deal? Be ready: be ready for lots of bizarre documentation requests, be ready to provide things you’ve already been asked for, and be ready to do so quick-like – without pushing back.  The faster you can turn around the things the underwriter wants, the better. 

Also, it can be very helpful to work with a mortgage broker and agent that have worked together before and have close communications, so that your agent can stay abreast of any and all loan process glitches and keep the listing agent apprised of the legitimate reasons you may need an extension throughout the contingency period, rather than assuring them everything’s speeding along then having to ask for a last-minute extension.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

First Times…


 

The time has come, finally. You are about to enter your first time…buying a house! This can be a very scary yet exciting time in ones life. It is imperative as agents that we are aware of some of the expectations new home buyers have when they venture into buying their first home. Some things will always remain the same, but as generation X & Y enter into the Real Estate world it is important to know some of the top things they are looking for when purchasing their first home. I came across a survey that was done earlier in the year by Coldwell Banker that uncovered what’s import to first-time buyers. The top 3 things that most first-timers looked for was;

~ 78% of respondents said a home had to be in an area convenient to shops and services.

~ 3 quarters of buyers said it was important to be close to their workplace.

~ Nearly 2/3 said it was important to be near “highly rated” schools.

Were these things you looked for when you set out to buy your first home or did you have a completely different idea of what you wanted compared to what they want nowadays?

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Caruso’s Signs You’re Ready to Buy a House!


Buy a House? Rent a House? You go back and forth daily. Not sure what you should do? Well if you’re still unsure; consider some of the personal and economic conditions that favor home purchases. If you find that a number of these signs ring true for you, it might be time to contact a real estate agent and start shopping.

You’re Ready to Commit: First and foremost, if you’re not ready to commit to owning a home, you should not buy a house. Home ownership comes with an overabundance of responsibilities, including home maintenance, property taxes and the process of selling the property when it comes time to move. Legal fees, moving expenses, and the entire incidental costs associated with buying a home can really add up. To make the most of these costs, it’s best to plan on living in your new home for a stretch of time. Consider whether you have a stable job that will provide a solid income for a mortgage, and if there’s any chance you’ll have to relocate in the near future. If you feel you can commit to sticking with a home for at least five years, then it might be just the right time for you to buy. If you’re typically a hardened commitment-phoebe, remember that you can sell or rent your property if your situation changes dramatically.

Owning Costs Less than Renting: If you’ve examined your budget and realized that your monthly payments associated with buying a home are less than you’re currently paying in rent, it’s time to consider a home purchase. Talk to your bank and look at what your mortgage payments would be for a variety of different properties and gage what you can afford. Factor in any additional costs you may have to pay, such as condominium fees or extra utility bills, and compare your total costs to what you’re paying in rent. If it’s roughly the same or less, you could be saving money by purchasing a home – plus there’s the added benefit that you’ll be putting your monthly home expenditures toward your own home equity!

Buyer’s Market: When demand for housing is low and there’s a wealth of properties on the market that aren’t moving too fast, that’s known as a buyer’s market. You’ll have a lot more bargaining power under these conditions than if you’re buying in a seller’s market, which is when demand for homes is high, resulting in few properties on the market that are selling fast. In a buyer’s market, chances are you’ll be able to negotiate a seller’s list price down – sometimes quite substantially – and save yourself a lot of money in the process.

Low Interest Rates: When interest rates are low, it’s a great time to look at buying a home. You will be able to get a reasonable interest rate on your mortgage loan, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. A home is generally the single largest purchase anyone makes, and the amount of interest tacked onto a mortgage really adds up over the years that you’re repaying the loan. Even a difference of a fraction of a percentage point can make a pretty big difference over the long term. Consider a mortgage of $220,000. The difference between a rate of 4.2 per cent and 4.5 per cent results in an extra $13,993 paid toward interest over the course of a 30-year mortgage. That’s a lot more than just pocket change.

Adequate Funds for a Down Payment: Having a hefty down payment helps in the same way as finding a low interest rate. Ultimately, the less you owe, the less you’ll have to repay and the less you’ll have to tack on for interest. If you find yourself with a nice lump of cash, putting it toward a home purchase is definitely a solid financial investment. Just think, you’ll be building equity in your home which you’ll see again when you sell, and you’ll have somewhere to live in the meantime. Though it may be tempting to put the money toward a trip, a new car or a luxury shopping spree, the return on investment on these sorts of purchases – at least in the strict financial sense – can be rather disappointing.

Seasonal: During the springtime, more house listings tend to come on the market. With the poor winter weather over and the kids nearly done school for another year, this seems to be the time when most people are willing to take on a move. Having more homes on the market means a wider selection – and a greater ability to negotiate price. However, this is also the time of year when more buyers are in the market. Circumstances will depend on your particular market conditions, but the arrival of spring typically revives the real estate market after quieter winters. Alternatively, if you’re willing to move during the winter months, sometimes owners of homes that have been sitting on the market for a long time are more willing to negotiate.

Bottom Line; Occasionally, timing the buying or selling of your home may not be within your control, however, if you do have the opportunity to choose when you enter the market, doing it at the right time can save you a lot of money. Always remember that buying a home is a big commitment, so at the very minimum, you should never purchase a home without being completely sure that you’re ready to take on the responsibility. If you’re ready to commit and you find yourself with a number of other favorable factors like a low interest rate and a good sum of money you can put toward a down payment, then it’s probably a great time to take the plunge and who better to take the plunge with than Michael Caruso?! No one performs like Michael Caruso to get your home Sold & Save you money! Call Now 949-753-7900!

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Be Michael Caruso's Friend! Watch Caruso TV! Are You LinkedIn with Michael? The Voice of Orange County Review Michael Caruso! Tweet Michael Caruso!

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist  Member of The Institute Luxury Home Marketing   Million Dollar Guild Member  Member of Proxio Pro - The International MLS

Caruso’s *IRVINE* Closed Sales Report ~ May


Is the market is improving or at least stabilizing!?  We provide the latest market updates regularly, as well as personal consultation of market direction…

The Irvine Closed Sales Report for MAY:

The Irvine Closed Sales Report for Homes Sold in the 0-$500,000 Range:

2011   75 listings closed escrow             

2010   80 listings closed escrow            

The Irvine Closed Sales Report for Homes Sold in the $500,000-$1,000,000 Range:

2011   93 listings closed escrow            

2010   119 listings closed escrow

The Irvine Closed Sales Report for Homes Sold in the $1,000,000+ Range:

2011   26 listings closed escrow             

2010   24 listings closed escrow                   

*Does a sales report tell the whole story about market environment, consumer sentiment and the value of your home?  Is it time to sell?  Is it time to add a property to your investment portfolio? Is the market changing, and in which direction? 

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Be Michael Caruso's Friend! Watch Caruso TV! Are You LinkedIn with Michael? The Voice of Orange County Review Michael Caruso! Tweet Michael Caruso!

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist  Member of The Institute Luxury Home Marketing   Million Dollar Guild Member  Member of Proxio Pro - The International MLS