Diary of a reluctant landlord

August 28th, 2015

trying to sell a house in 2011 & 2012 was difficult. Prices had plummeted and buyers were scarce. Many homeowners were underwater, but needed to move. So, many decided that for the first time in their lives to become landlords. The strategy was to rent out the property for a couple of years until the market turned around. In 2015, the strategy seemed to work. Prices had rebounded, mortgage rate were still low and more buyers were coming into the market place. In fact, it seemed to good to be true. Now, here are a couple of true stories of removing the tenants. Oh, didn’t think that would be a problem, well, sometimes it is.

House #1: tenant has been in place for over a year. They failed to notify the owner of several problems. One, a tree branch fell on the house knocking off the gutter and part of the siding. With a large hole, critters, such as; squirrels, rats and bats found a new home in the attic. Two, the tenants dog was bitten in a fight with a rat or squirrel and needed stitches, plus could have died. Wait a minute, the lease clearly states ‘… no pets’. That did not stop the tenant. Three, the lease clearly states only one occupant. That did not stop the tenant from having a friend, with another dog move in. The tenant stops paying rent and you try to evict them. At the first court appearance, the judge says the owner did not fill out the paperwork correctly, so they must refile to take possession. Another month passes with no rent, several occupants and two dogs are in your property. In addition, trying to arrange the pest control company with an appointment to go into the attic has been impossible. The tenant won’t talk to the owner or return calls. The situation keeps deteriorating. Court date is set for Sept 8th. Hope it works out. I’ll keep you posted.

FSBO Landlord

House # 2: tenant with elderly mother and two children live in your property for over three years. Rent is paid on the 15th of each month, that’s because that is the date the elderly mother receives her social security check. Six months ago the rent checks start to be late and eventually stopped. I found out the elderly mother had died. Time for them to move out so you can sell the property. Unfortunately, they refuse to move out, so it is back to court for an eviction. Things go smooth at court and you get a court order for possession. They still do not move out, so you schedule the police to be at the property to physically remove all property. This is not a pretty scene. Luckily, in this case, the tenant was gone, so that saved a little aggravation. Unfortunately, they did not take all of their belongings. You hire help and get a dumpster. After all items are removed a new occupant was discovered. German roaches. Thousands of them. I mean, how could anyone live in such conditions. They were all over the place. In the kitchen, in the air ducts, in the electrical outlets, etc. In the old days they used to put a tent over the property and fog it for several days. Now, they fog and vacuum. But, that did not work, so they are going back in to do it again. As soon as the roaches are gone, this property will be sold.

Brick wall between now and closing.

August 14th, 2015

There are many hurdles to overcome to get your property sold. It’s like a brick wall standing in the way to get to closing. You can do it, it’s just one brick at a time. Each brick you take down gets you that much closer to the closing. Some of those bricks you will encounter: First, getting your home in shape to show. Second, marketing to find buyers. Third, a completed purchase agreement. Once you have a purchase agreement, the brick wall is getting smaller, but very important steps are in front of you. You will need to handle any special requirements, such as; repairs, surveys, and inspections. Once these are completed, you will need the appraiser, mortgage company and title company to complete their work. Any problems with these three need to be taken care of. Otherwise, you are back to starting over with a large brick wall. This process takes time and over 5 million homes are successfully sold each year. Don’t feel like you are the only one with minor set backs. You need to keep moving forward by taking down the wall one brick at a time.

FSBo Brick Wall

Saving money by not having an inspection

July 15th, 2015

That’s a bad idea. Even new construction needs a home inspection. I like Bankrate Monitors article explaining the  ‘5 biggest home inspection mistakes‘. I agree with all. You need to pick the right inspector and you need to be there for the full 3-4 hours. You need to ask questions and get explanations. The home inspection is part of your ‘due diligence’ and if there are problems you can back out of the contract. In most cases, there are small problems and this allows you to negotiate with the seller and either have them make the repairs or compensate you so you can make the repairs. I have often told sellers, ‘if you don’t make these repairs for me and I back out, then the next buyer will also request the same repairs so you might as well fix the problem now and we can move forward to the closing’. Sure, the seller is not happy about this fact, but if they want to sell now, they need to fix the problems. Agreeing to fix problems needs to be in writing. Part of the terminology says “the seller agrees to make the requested repairs and the buyer agrees to not come up with any more requests”. It’s a two way street, both parties need to agree.  Nothing worse then a buyer that keeps coming up with more items after you have taken care of the first item. How many times have you heard people say “oh, let me ask you one more thing…” and after answering, they ask another and another.

mortgage rates over 4%, now what?

June 22nd, 2015

wouldn’t it be nice to lock in for the next 30 years the price of gas at $2.50/gallon or your monthly rent payment or even your your monthly health insurance bill? Well, you can’t and you know they are going up. Locking in your house payment at 4% for the next 30 years could be the best financial decision you ever make. Mortgage rates have moved back over 4% for the first time this year. They spent most of 2014 hovering 4.5%. Five years ago, closer to 5% and ten years ago over 6%. Use this mortgage calculator to see the monthly payments. I like to put in different numbers and see what the difference is.

Paperwork is part of the selling process

June 5th, 2015

Contracts, amendments, addendum’s, exhibits, disclosures, pamphlets, etc may be required in your state. Each state is different, plus there are Federal Laws to be aware of when selling real estate. In most states, the Purchase Agreement must be in writing, no more hand shakes. In most states, Seller Disclosure forms are required. Federal Laws require ‘Lead Base Paint’ disclosures. Know your local, state and Federal Laws. An easy place to start is: US Legal Forms . They provide forms for your state. Some examples:  US Patriot Act - cash earnest money deposits over $10,000. Fair Housing Act - prohibits discrimination in the sales and rentals marketing::  use these Key Words do not use these Violation Words

FSBO Keywords

No more HUD1 settlement statement at closing

May 27th, 2015

beginning August 1, 2015. This Federally required Settlement Statement showing the actual settlement costs of a real estate transaction will be replaced with the ‘Closing Disclosure‘ form. The HUD1 has slowly changed over the years since the RESPA Act of 1974 first required the closing document. The new ‘Closing Disclosure’ form is now referred to as the ‘CD’ in real estate discussions. The required use of ‘CD’ is the result of the new rules of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was created by the ‘Dodd Frank Act‘ in 2010.  Also, beginning August 1, 2015, The ‘Good Faith Estimate’ provided by your mortgage company will be replaced by the ‘Loan Estimate’, now referred to as the ‘LE’.

REQUIREMENTS: The most important change in real estate transactions nationwide, is that the ‘CD’ is required to be in the hands of the buyer and seller three days prior to closing. No more showing up to closing and seeing the closing documents for the first time. This should improve and make closing go smoother.  With the ‘LE’, it is required to be in the hands of the buyer within three days after making application for the loan.

It’s Open House season for FSBO’s

April 20th, 2015

we have often blogged that there is no one way to find a buyer for your property. Some call off of the yard sign. Others find your property online. Others from referrals, etc. And, some find their new home driving around the area’s in which they plan to buy. This is the time of year that buyers drive in the area’s they are interested in, so you might as well help them. I would pick a weekend and hold an Open House from noon to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. On the Monday prior to the weekend I would do the following:
1. Lower your price a little and change the Remarks to:


2. update FSBO.com, Zillow and all other online ad’s with that headline
3. each day put a new ad on Craigslist
4. send/deliver flyer’s to all real estate offices that are close to your property
5. put balloons on your mail box and Open House signs every place that will help
6. the day of the Open House, park your cars at the street so it looks like people are looking at your home
7. remove pets, small children and any other distractions from your property on the day of the Open House.
8. be prepared to be there to discuss your property and to negotiate with any interested parties.
9. have a notebook and get all parties to write down their name and number. You need to know who is entering your property and this gives you a way to follow up later and get feedback.
10. some suggestions for security: a. place all valuables in a secure place b. keep all parties together, do not let one person go upstairs alone, while the other keeps asking you questions to keep you busy c. Make sure, you are not alone during the Open House, either your spouse, relative or other adult is with you.
fsbo open house

does it take 3 washing machines to do your laundry?

April 9th, 2015

Does it take three automobiles to get to work each day? Does it take three of anything to get the same job done? NO!  So why does it take three real estate agent websites to search and get the same results. Search FSBO.com and you’ll find houses for sale that you won’t see any where else. Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, you put in the same requirements and the exact same properties come up. Why? Because they all take direct feed the the local MLS system. It is the same information w/photos going to the three different websites. Something has got to change. Redundant?? When one changes or adds a new feature, the other two follow suit. Now, if an effort to be different, Zillow is dropping the MLS feeds, causing quite a stir in the realtor industry. And, Zillow now has acquired Trulia. A backlash is coming. Already we are seeing old listings of properties replace the new ones. Outdated information, wrong price and photos. What’s up with that? Is this possible, change actually has made things worse. I loved the quote yesterday by Rory McIlroy, when asked what Tiger Woods needs to do to compete at the Masters golf tournament this week. His response to Tiger: “Keep it simple” and “use your talents without over thinking every shot”. Hmm! I could say the same thing about the real estate industry. Do we really need so many new versions, new changes, new everything, etc? My brother just bought a new construction house. He had to sign or initial a 46 pages contract. Really?? Are that many pages really necessary to build a new house. In the end, buyers tell me “I just want to buy a new home to live in”, that’s it. The more complicated it gets, the less likely it will happen. Let’s see if Tiger takes Rory’s advice this weekend.

Tiger Rory FSBO

Easiest time to buy? While you are renting..

April 7th, 2015

Why? Because you remove the pressure of selling at the same time as buying. If you buy a new home, but have not sold your existing home you end up with double payments. No one wants that. If you are constantly spending time cleaning, organizing and getting your current home ready to be shown, that is time you could be searching and negotiating for the new home. Selling and buying simultaneously means you are trying to keep the potential buyers happy, the sellers happy, the mortgage company happy, your family happy, plus you still need to go to work and do your best. That’s a lot to ask. Once you find a good property, it takes time and patience when negotiating. You want the best price and terms, but you may be under pressure because of your current home. Renters do not have these problems. We suggest to renters that your first property will be the best experience, because you are not under pressure to buy. You can search and negotiate without pressure to get the best deal. Enjoy it, the second and third home you buy may be more difficult. Millennials made up 28% of the housing market in 2013 and 32% in 2014. In 2015, over 5 million say they plan to buy. Rents keep rising it, so it makes sense. We have been blogging about this for over two years.  This is the year to buy.

thank you builders for helping me sell FSBO

March 18th, 2015

Home Builder prices are now 30% higher than comparable resale properties. Historically, it is 15% higher. Thank you home builders for making my FSBO property more appealing to the home buyer. “Builders are making a conscious decision to sell fewer homes at higher prices than to sell more homes at lower prices.” according to ZIllow economist, Stan Humphries. Between 2008 to 2012, I saw many builder developments go back to the banks and resold for 20-40 cents on the dollar. Plus I saw many larger builders selling developments for 40-50% of the development costs. To put this is real dollars. Example: an 80 lot development, ready to have homes built on it cost (in major metro areas) $80,000 to $100,00 per lot. This includes the cost of purchasing the raw land, getting it developed and approved with roads, utilities, etc. These developments were then sold for $40,000 - $50,000 per lot. Today, with an improving economy, low interest rates the buyers are looking to purchase. The builders owning these properties now own them for $50,000 less then the cost 5 years ago, plus materials & labor have stayed the same. So, why do they ask so much for these properties? Simple answer is ‘because they can’. To their surprise, the public is not buying it.

FSBO Prices

FSBO properties asking prices are 30% that of a comparable new builder home. Plus the resale development is already finished. Have you ever lived in a new home and over half of your community had vacant lots. When these lots are finally built on, you take the risk they will have smaller, less expensive homes which hurt your value. Big risks.