What a Turn Off…


A savvy seller wants to know what turns buyers off, so they can get their homes sold as quickly as possible, for as much as possible.  But buyers take note–there is minefields of seller turn-offs you can trigger that hold the potential to keep you from getting the home you want at the best price and terms, or to unnecessarily complicate dealings with your home’s seller.


If you think all of today’s sellers are under the gun and will just put up with whatever behavior buyers dish out, be aware that there are still many multiple offer situations in which buyers have to compete with each other to get a home–buyers who trigger these turnoffs tend to lose in those scenarios.  Also, avoiding these seller turnoffs can create a transactional environment of cooperation and avoid things turning adversarial.  That, in turn, can empower you to score a better price, get extra items you want thrown into the deal, and even negotiate more flexibility around your escrow and move-in timelines – all perks that can make your life easier and your budget go further.


For sellers, these turnoffs pose the potential of irritating you out of an otherwise good deal –maybe even the only deal you have!


Here’s a few of the most common buyer-perpetuated seller turnoffs, with tips for sellers on how to keep an emotional (and economic) even keel, even if your home’s buyer makes some of these waves:


1. Trash-talking. Trash-talkers are the home buyers who think they’re going to negotiate the list price down by slamming the house, telling the sellers how little it is really worth, how the house across the street sold for nothing, why the school on the corner should make them desperate to give the place away, etc. This strategy never works; in fact, when you attack a seller and their home, you only cause them to be defensive, and think up all the reasons that (a) their home is not what you say it is, and (b) they shouldn’t sell their home to you! 


Sometimes this happens with buyers who actually love a house and just walk around it fantasizing about all the ways they would customize it to their tastes while a seller is there.  Sellers: avoid being at home while your home is being shown.  Buyers: save your commentary for your agent; if you do encounter the seller in person keep your conversation respectful and avoid critiquing the house or the list price.


2. Being unqualified for mortgage financing. When a seller signs a buyer’s offer, most often the seller agrees to effectively pull the home off the market, forgoing other buyers who might be interested.  As such, the only thing worse than getting no offers on your home is getting an offer, getting into contract, then having the whole thing fall apart when the buyer’s loan falls through–especially if that could have been predicted or avoided up front.


Sellers: Work with your agent to vet your home’s buyers’ qualifications, including their loan approval, down payment and earnest money deposit – before you sign a contract.  It’s not overkill for your agent to call the buyers’ mortgage pro before you sign the contract and get a level of comfort for how robust their qualifications are.  Buyers:  Get pre-approved-seriously!  And make sure that you don’t buy a car, quit your job, deposit lottery winnings or do any other financial twitchery between the time you get loan approval and the time you close escrow on your home.


3. Making unjustified lowball offers. No one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of.  And sellers generally know the ballpark amount that their home is worth, as well as what they need to sell it for to get their mortgage paid off.  Yes–the price you pay for a home should be driven by its fair market value, rather than the seller’s financial needs and deals are more available in a market like the current one, in which supply so vastly outpaces demand. But just throwing uber-lowball offers out at sellers hoping one will hit the spot is not generally a successful strategy, especially if you really, really want a given property.


Sellers:  Don’t get overly emotional about receiving a lowball offer; counter at the price you and your agent decide makes sense based on the total circumstances, including your motivation level, recent comps and the interest/activity level your listing is receiving. Buyers:  Work through the similar, nearby homes that have recently sold before you make an offer to factor the home’s fair market value into your offer price–also factor in how much you want the place, too.  Don’t be amazed if you make an offer far below asking, and don’t get a response.


4. Renegotiating mid-stream. Sellers plan their finances, moves and -to some extent –their lives around the purchase price a buyer agrees to pay for their home.  If you get into contract to buy a home, find out during inspections that costly repairs that need to be made, then propose a lower sale price, repair credit or even actual repairs to the seller, that’s sensible and fair.  But if you were aware that the property needed a lot of work before you made an offer on it, then you come back asking for beaucoup bucks’ worth of credit or price reductions midstream, expect the seller to cry foul.  And holding the seller up two weeks into the transaction because you caught a case of buyer’s remorse? Not cool and not likely to foster the spirit of cooperation you may need to get your deal closed.


Sellers: avoid mid-stream price renegotiations by having a full set of inspection reports and repair bids at hand when you list your home. Buyers: try to avoid renegotiating the entire deal unless you get some major surprises at your inspections or inflating small repairs to try to justify a major price cut.


5. Misleading or setting the seller up.  Remember when we talked about buyer turnoffs?  Being misled by listing photos or very fluffy property descriptions was high on the list.  The same goes for sellers. Offering way over asking with the plan to hammer the seller for a reduction when the house doesn’t appraise at the purchase price-LAME. Making an as-is offer planning the whole time to come back and ask for every penny ante repair called out by the inspectors? Lame squared.


Sellers:  If you get multiple offers and are tempted to take a sky-high one or one that claims to be all cash, consider requesting proof that the buyer has sufficient funds to make up the difference between what you think the home will appraise for and the actual sale price, and statements showing the cash truly exists. 


Buyers: Don’t be lame. I’m not saying you have to tell the seller exactly what your top dollar is, but making offers with terms designed to intentionally mislead is really, really bad form–and can result in losing the home entirely if and when your bluff gets called.

Caruso Investigates 11-11-11



11-11-11. Its here. The day that everyone around the world has been talking about since the year became 2011. But what does it actually mean? And what’s in store for us? I did some investigating and uncovered some interesting facts relating to 11-11-11.


11/11/11: Veterans Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France.

However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”


11/11/11: Historical

The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/11:

“One-hundred years ago, November 11th, 1911: The Great Blue Norther descended upon America. The day started fine; there were even record highs for that time of year. Then it all changed; temperatures began to drop. Within the space of ten minute: the temperature dropped 40 to 50 degrees; by midnight a 66 degree temperature drop was recorded. There were dust storms, thunderstorms, tornado’s, and blizzards. Over 300 deaths were reported.”

In the interests of full disclosure: NOAA.gov reports that sudden 50 degree temperature drops, though unusual, are not that rare.

The Great Blue Norther acquired its name not from the extreme temperature changes, but from the accompanying weather phenomena.


11/11/11: Singularity Summary

Most predictions and opinions concerning 11/11/11 are based on or rooted in its mathematical uniqueness as a number.

11*11*11: There are three possible scenarios:

1. Something good happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something good will happen is based solely on spiritualism, faith, and/or innate optimism. This belief is not necessarily a bad thing; we don’t know everything; the probability is not zero.

2. Nothing happens— This is the most likely scenario. Just because an unusual date number sequence occurs doesn’t mean that something extraordinary will happen. Usually it’s a non-event.

3. Something bad happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something bad will happen is based solely on pessimism of reality. This belief is not necessarily false; after all, things are generally/usually a mess. The probability is not zero.

Don’t forget to make a wish at 11:11 am & pm!


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


Best regards,


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


Homeowners Under Water? New Study Says “NO”

A new CoreLogic study has determined that there are substantial reserves of positive home equity nationwide, citing recent Federal Reserve data showing that Americans held about $6.2 trillion in equity in their homes at the end of the 2011 second quarter. Federal and industry estimates also reveal that nearly one of every three homes is debt-free. According to CoreLogic, nearly half of homeowners with home loans have at least 25 percent equity and almost a quarter have more than 50 percent equity. Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette

New job opportunities have more people on the move, according to a survey by Apartments.com conducted to gauge its Web site visitors’ 2011 moving plans. While new job opportunities have more residents relocating, more current home owners are also entering the rental market, which is a growing trend, the survey finds. Here are some of the survey’s findings:

Reasons for moving. The most popular reason for moving was because of employment opportunities: 28.8 percent survey respondents said they were relocating for a job, compared to 10.4 percent who moved for job opportunities the previous year.

Growing trend. More current home owners and first-time renters are entering the rental market, according to the survey. More than 20 percent of the survey’s respondents who are looking for an apartment this year said they are current home owners—32 percent of whom are also first-time renters.

Planning ahead. Many of the survey’s respondents said they are apartment shopping now for a move that will not take place until much later in the year. Indeed, nearly 20 percent of respondents are starting their apartment search three to four months in advance and nearly a quarter are looking five months to more than a year out. Source: PRNewswire.com


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


Best regards,


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

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


That’s Annoying…

Did you know cell phone numbers go public this month?! All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls…..


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.

It is the National DO NOT CALL list.

 It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for 5 years! You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked.

You cannot call from a different phone number. Pass this on to everyone you know so we can all prevent the pesky telemarketing calls!


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


Best regards,


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


Advertising Online with Caruso!

As most of you already know more people than ever now get their news online than in newspapers. It was recently found that there are one million fewer U.S. households watching prime time over last year, while the online audience has almost doubled. Then there’s Facebook, where over 550 million users are attracting an overwhelming majority of today’s marketers. Now you need to start thinking – it’s no longer should you be online – it’s where, when, and how. Here are some tips I have come across that everyone who advertises online should know!

Show up on search. This is a no brainer. Analysts estimate that 75-90 percent of companies and consumers search the web before they buy. If you can’t make the first page of the organic results, which is essential to the viability of your inbound marketing efforts, do some serious optimization work. Investing in a sponsored link can be an option, depending on your brand.

Too many blasts can blow up in your face. Email is the most common Internet activity and most used form of digital advertising. Over 80 percent of marketers employ it to connect directly with customers, many of whom now check email on their mobile. Stay on top of your open, click through and conversion rates to refine content and frequency. Unless you have a good reason to email more than twice a month, such as with timely offers or high-value content, don’t do it.

It’s not a slam dunk. Just because you show up on search engines, run banner ads, blog, and get “liked” by lots of Facebook fans doesn’t mean you’re going to score big right away. There’s more clutter and competition than ever, making it more challenging to stand out. Experiment. Be flexible. Use sites like Quantcast.com and Alexa.com to track your clicks, bounce rates, and page views. Find what works and continue to enhance it with the repetition, consistency, and synergy needed for higher sales.

Know your customers. Knowing your target’s age, income and other demographic data is no longer enough. What are their behavioral skews and lifestyle choices? What really motivates them to buy your brand? Are they into parenting or partying? Do they like to cook, cruise, camp, chill or collect cars? Collect this data. Stay up on consumer trends related to your brand with the wide variety of market research sites available today. Knowing the types of searches, sites and activities your audiences are likely to pursue is the key to engaging them more effectively online.

You don’t have to splurge to make a splash. Pardon the expression, but when it comes to getting the ‘biggest bang for your buck’, digital is the real deal. In terms of cost-versus-reach, online ads cost less to run. Plus, you can maximize your exposure by using dynamic pricing and pay for performance options. Online ads bring better results too. A study by Millward Brown showed that a single exposure to a web banner generates greater awareness than a single exposure to a print or TV ad, and boosts brand awareness by up to 200 percent.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Sure the Internet is the most efficient form of advertising known to man. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your basics. Stick with the positioning, testimonials, guarantees, special offers and venues that have been working. Re-allocate spending to bring digital into your mix for added traction and sales interaction.

Great ads need great back-end support. Click on an ad or link, and you go to a landing page that gets you to buy. That’s the idea anyway. So while you may get your clicks, your site needs to be your salesperson and close the deal with friendly navigation and a strong call to action. No matter how good your offer is-your site could still drop the sale. Track conversion rates and return-on-investment (ROI) daily and be ready to adjust your messaging and media accordingly.

Bad news travels fast.One customer complaint, tawdry tweet, Facebook faux pas, or edgy e-mail-and suddenly it could go viral. Add value, build trust, give back and it may go viral too.

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


Best regards,


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

Real Estate & Kids

Summer is typically the time families make the ‘big’ move. Whether across town, across state, or across the country; it can be a stressful time for all. Here are a few helpful tips I have come across over time.

Get a Head Start.
Before the family comes to town for a house hunting trip, provide them resources on activities and schools to start narrowing down potential neighborhoods.

And, don’t forget the kids. Help them get excited too. Ask their parents what the kids like to do and send a list of entertainment centers and parks that might be relevant. Send local treats or an age appropriate book on the area as well… these small, inexpensive gestures will make a world of difference to the kids who may feel overlooked during these hectic times.

Expect Kids.
House hunting trips in the summer can often mean kids in tow. Confirm beforehand whether they will be along for the ride and if so, involve them in the hunt!

Chances are they are a little nervous about the move and may not have been house hunting before. Some tips to make house hunting with kids a fun experience for all!

1. A Planned Day is a (relatively) Peaceful Day.
Map out the route, the time in the car, and the number of houses you plan to see that day and ask the parents to review the schedule. They know their kids the best. If they know the kids need a snack around 10 a.m. you can schedule accordingly. Remember, GPS is your friend. Have it handy so you can quickly find convenience stores and potential potty stops.

2. Keep Kids in the Know.
Let them know how many houses will be seen and what to expect from the day. It can be frustrating being a kid and not knowing what’s ahead. Give them a tick sheet so they can see what’s coming up. Older kids can rate the houses as they visit them.

3. Entertain & Excite.
Keep kids busy and excited about the move. Have the kids draw or color pictures of the house after they look at it. Keep some paper and some colored pencils and crayons available. And be prepared. Accidents can happen.

4. Take a Break.
Not only for the kids, but it’s awfully helpful for the parents too. Looking at several houses in a row can get overwhelming. Stop at a park or a family friendly snack shop. Let the kids’ burn off some energy and regroup with the parents. What are their feelings so far? Have they refined their wish list based on what they’ve seen? How are the kids holding up? Reassess the remaining schedule and see if a few houses can be crossed off the list; or, if there’s time for just one or two more visits, prioritize and plan for tomorrow.

Leverage Resources.
Once the house has been found, the offer has been accepted, and it’s a done deal, this is when the real work starts for most families. They need to notify friends, determine job transitions, arrange for school enrollment, familiarize themselves with the new neighborhood, etc.

This is another point in their relocation where you as their REALTOR can provide additional value.

Refer your clients to resources that can help them save time and money. The Move Advocate, for example, is a free program that reduces the time, expense and uncertainty when planning and executing a long distance move of household goods.

The Move Advocate does the homework for your clients to find the best, most reputable van lines to meet their needs; arranges multiple estimates; and ensures the process goes smoothly.

In addition, because of the volume of moves managed by the Move Advocate, they have the clout to ensure aggressive pricing and attentive customer service from the van lines.

Last but definitely not least, don’t forget the kids. Help them accept their new home and the adventure that awaits them. Give them a closing gift of their own to keep them excited about the move. A toy truck and miniature furniture is a unique idea, or even an activity book about the move is sure to be appreciated.

With a little advanced planning, a family relocation can be a fun adventure for the parents, kids, and their realtor.

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


Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Going Green with Caruso


The Green REsource Council teamed up with a number of green industry groups and real estate associations earlier this year and developed guidelines and a tool kit to help MLSs green their systems.

Al Medina, during the March Webinar, talked about how the “Green MLS Tool Kit” emerged, discussed the importance of a green MLS, and outlined the key components of the toolkit, along with strategies for launching a green MLS program.

“This came about because of a need in marketplace. Not only our members, but builders and appraisers as well have been asking for it,” commented Medina, the director of the National Association of REALTORS’® Green Designation “It’s not a mandate for MLSs, but a free tool for MLSs that are ready to go through the process,” he emphasized. In addition, he pointed out that the toolkit was a collaborative effort with numerous organizations and an industry-wide initiative, not a solo act by the GRC. After all a green MLS benefits everyone.

Consumers looking for green homes, for example, can locate properties with green features quickly in an MLS that highlights sustainable features.

MLS participants have an easier time locating green properties for home buyers and best promoting green homes for home sellers.
Appraisers can use a green MLS to better value properties with green features.

In addition, builders have an incentive to build green when they see that green homes are in demand and are selling. And being able to quantify the return on green investments and having a stronger method to market green properties also can motivate more people to go green. Thus, a green MLS can contribute to a better environment in the long term.

The MLS Toolkit offers recommendations for navigating everything from the approval process and developing green data entry forms to localizing the MLS to a particular region.

It also includes links to information, examples of MLS greening successes, and ways to plan, roll out and promote a green MLS. 

Here are some key aspects of the toolkit, including:

  • Case studies–Entails write-ups of various ways that MLSs have gone green and the challenges that participants encountered. “The common element among them all was that realtors® were the ones who spearheaded the effort,” said Medina. He pointed out that those with the GREEN designation can be the ones in a community to organize an effort to green the MLS.
  • Snapshot of the Green Home Industry–Includes statistics, along with questions and answers about green homes.
  • Why an MLS with Green Fields— Outlines the social and economic demand for greater efficiency and the ways that a green MLS benefits everyone involved in a home transaction.
  • Recommendations for a Successful Green Program–Offers strategies for establishing goals and objectives for greening the MLS, assembling a team and cooperating with other green organizations and professionals.
  • Green Home Certifications–Addresses incorporating green home certification programs, such as LEED® for Homes, Energy Star® and NAHB Green, the legal concerns that can ensue after any change to the MLS data. It also illustrates how to best deploy and promote a green MLS and educate users.
  • Recommendations for Data Entry Forms–Outlines various strategies for representing green in an MLS in ways that make it simple for users to search for specific efficiencies. It also makes suggestions about avoiding the legal pitfalls and risks of overstating a home’s greenness and avoiding green washing.
  • Green MLS Data Entry Form Examples–Offers specific ways to express green features in the MLS. Examples include intermingling green attributes with other attributes and using color to highlight green features.
  • Glossary of Terms

For those committed to green real estate, a green MLS can help in marketing and selling sustainable properties and making a case for the value of green. For example, practitioners in Atlanta discovered that green-certified homes sold more quickly and closer to list price than non-certified homes. Without a green MLS, tracking such data either would have been more difficult or wouldn’t have been possible.
He also made the point that residential real estate is changing and though short sales and foreclosure are dominating many markets, green soon will gain prominence. Those with NAR’s GREEN designation will have a leg-up when that change happens, and he encouraged practitioners to get involved in any MLS greening efforts that emerge in their cities.

The toolkit will be rolled out and promoted in the coming weeks and you’ll see an array of marketing blitzes through the media, e-mail and social media. All NAR Green Designees will be notified when your MLS receives this Tool Kit. You can see a preview of the toolkit at the GRC website.

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


Best regards,

 Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

For more information please visit http://greenresourcecouncil.org