Archive for February, 2012

San Diego March Calendar of Events

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

March 2 – 4
Spring Home/Garden Show
The San Diego Spring Home/Garden Show has hundreds of different exhibits including home improvement products, furnishings, decorating & remodeling ideas, garden displays, and flowers and landscaping.
Time: Sat: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm / Sun: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
For more information visit www.springhomegardenshow.com

March 3
64th Annual Ocean Beach Kite Festival
A fun day of festivities including a crafts fair, food and entertainment along with kite making, decorating and a flying contest.
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Blvd.
For more information visit www.oceanbeachkiwanis.org

March 3
Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K Run/Walk
In addition to the 5K run/walk, a family festival will feature many “Chelsea-esque” activities including a yoga booth, organic produce booth, group photo area, sunflower pot painting station for children and other family-friendly activities.
Time: 7:30 am – 11:00 am
Location: Balboa Park at 6th Ave & Palm St.
For more information visit www.chelseaslight.org

March 4
US Grant 2012 Wedding & Event Showcase
A Wedding & Event Showcase presented by the US Grant Hotel. Discover the hotel’s stunning wedding venues, and engage with more than 60 of Southern California’s most sought-after wedding vendors. Opportunity to win a wedding for 100 guests at
The US Grant as well as luxurious honeymoon vacations to top destinations.
Time: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location: US Grant Hotel, 326 Broadway
For more information visit www.usgrant.net

March 4
Free Family Art Day: Ship Building
Inspired by the works of John Taylor, kids will use a variety of materials to create, decorate, name and float their own boats. The ship building is geared toward children of all ages and no art experience is required. All art materials are provided by the museum.
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Location: Oceanside Museum of Art, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside
For more information visit www.oma-online.org

March 8-11
Robert Egger South Bay Recreation Center Carnival
4-day community carnival–fun for the whole family. There will be traditional carnival rides, challenging games, snacks, and a portrait novelty booth. Small admission fee of $2.00. Free for age 6 & under.
Time: Thurs & Fri: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm / Sat & Sun 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Location:  Robert Egger South Bay Recreation Center, 1885 Coronado Ave.
For more information call 760-735-8542

March 8 – 18
19th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival
The San Diego Latino Film Festival has developed into one of
the larger and well-respected Latino film festivals in the country.
Short and feature length films by Latinos and/or about the Latino experience will be shown. Films are from Latin America and the US.
Time: See website for information
Location: UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas, Hazard Center – Mission Valley
For more information visit www.sdlatinofilm.com

March 10 – 11
85th Annual Thursday Club Rummage Sale
Thousands of new and gently used items such as furniture, clothing, sporting equipment, appliances, electronics, and more will be sold to benefit local charities.
Time: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Balboa Park Activity Center, 2145 Park Blvd.
For more information visit www.thethursdayclub.org

March 11
The San Diego Half Marathon
The San Diego Half Marathon at Petco Park is a new race that celebrates the beauty and uniqueness of the city of San Diego while raising money to help its communities. A sports health and fitness expo entitled “Celebrate San Diego” takes place the day before the half marathon and continues through the day of the event.
Time: 7:00am – 1:00pm
Location: Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd
For more information visit www.sdhalfmarathon.com

March 11
San Diego Wine-Family Winemakers
Originally for member-wineries and California’s wine trade, the Family Winemakers of California Annual Tasting is now open to consumers as well. New discoveries and old favorites, wineries from Mendocino to Temecula and every place in between.
This event is for 21 and up.
Time: 3:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.familywinemakers.org

March 11
17th Annual Del Mar Kiwanis’ Ugly Dog Contest
Big dogs, little dogs, long dogs, short dogs, shaggy dogs, curly dogs…and not a pretty one in the bunch! Well, there’s more to it than just “ugly” with 14 categories of winners.
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
For more information visit www.uglydogcontest.com

March 17
ShamROCK 2012
17th Annual outdoor musical block party celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on the green streets of the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Features three stages of live entertainment, DJ’s, Irish food, green beer, Jameson Irish Whiskey, and much more! 21 & up.
Time: 2:00 pm to Midnight
Location: Gaslamp Quarter – Downtown San Diego
For more information visit www.sandiegoshamrock.com

March 17
32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival & Parade
Wear something green when you come to enjoy the festivities in a Celtic Village filled with Irish culture music, dancing, food, beer and a Kid’s Zone with rides.
Time: Festival: 9:00 am – 6:30 pm   Parade: 10:30 am
Location: Balboa Park, West side of park along 6th Ave
For more information visit www.stpatsparade.org

March 24
Annual Mud Run in La Mesa
San Diego Mud Run is a challenging course for 2000 runners of all ages and experience levels. Participants run through water spray, down steep grades, through dozens of mud pits, over slippery hills and obstacles, and crawl through tunnels. A portion of the proceeds from the race benefit the USO San Diego and the children of Sonshine Haven.
Time: 10:00 am
Location:  On the grounds of Skyline Church, 11330 Campo Rd., La Mesa
For more information visit www.sandiegomudrun.com

March 24
2012 Race for Autism
100% of race donations support San Diego programs and classrooms that benefit thousands of local children. Featuring 5K timed run or walk, 1-mile Family Fun Walk, educational resource fair, children’s activities, prizes, refreshments and more!
Time: 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Balboa Park, corner of 6th Ave. and Laurel St., grassy area
For more information visit www.raceforautism.org

March 24 – 25
Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival
The only Busker Festival in Southern California. Professionals from across the country will perform their bizarre talents from sword swallowing to knife throwing to pogo stick tricks and juggling on unicycles. Even escape artists and comedic stuntmen.
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Seaport Village – Embarcadero
For more information visit www.seaportvillage.com


March 31
Ironman 70.3 California
Cheer on these incredible Ironman athletes as they endure a 1.2-mile swim course in Oceanside Harbor, a 56-mile bike course that includes the challenging inland hills of Camp Pendleton and a 13.1-mile run through the coastal neighborhoods of Oceanside.
Time: 6:30 am
Location: Oceanside Harbor – starts at the boat ramp in the southwest quadrant
For more information visit www.ironmancalifornia.com
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Current Conflicting Real Estate News: What to Believe?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

There has been a great deal of conflicting news in the real estate industry as of late: it’s a great time to buy, we haven’t hit bottom, the market is on the way to recovery, we are heading for another dip, distressed property sales are at an all-time low, there is a load of shadow inventory and another wave of foreclosures coming, prices are going up, prices are dropping…it’s enough to drive anyone crazy. So what are you supposed to believe?

First of all, it is important to provide one major caveat, and the premise for which you should base all opinions when focusing on the latest housing news: FOCUS ON THE HYPER-LOCAL MARKET. What is going on in the Cincinnati, Ohio housing market really has no relationship to what is going on in San Diego’s housing market. If we keep this premise in mind, it will be much easier to decipher all the jumbled reports and understand whether buying or selling in your specific area is a smart move or not.

Recent statistics released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) demonstrate the confusion and the need to focus on your local market. NAR reported that while existing home sales increased in January, national median existing home prices were down in January compared to the previous January. Many people believe that the reports indicate prices are going down, but this is not necessarily true in all markets – in fact, it is to the contrary in many areas.

What the reports fail to explain are twofold:

1.  Focusing on median price is not realistic. The median price is not a valid way to measure sales, especially between different areas. If we focus on median price across the country we will never get a true sense of what is going on in our own markets – the median price on one city can be completely different from another. What we need to focus on in our individual markets is the sold price per square foot, which is a better indication of comparable values.

This is evident even within counties, such as San Diego. There is no comparison between, say, Rancho Santa Fe and Chula Vista median sales prices. Certain areas like Del Mar have not been hit hard and we are seeing increased prices and demand there, whereas some other parts of the county have not been so lucky. If you are selling a home in Del Mar it doesn’t make a difference to you what the median sales price in the county is – the only important information is what is selling in Del Mar.

My general rule of thumb is to not even pay attention to national median home price analyses, other than to get an idea how the housing market might be effecting the national economy. But if you are selling or buying a home, your agent is not going to take those statistics into consideration.

2.  The report focuses on a traditionally slow sales month in the housing market. With the Spring months ahead – which usually mean more inventory and more sales, focusing on January as any indication of what is to come is not realistic. January is not typically one of the busier times of year in housing, since holidays just ended, it is winter, people are getting back into a routine. It is understandable to compare market data from one year to another, but those numbers are not likely going to influence a buyer’s decision to buy, nor a seller’s decision to sell if they need to do so.

The best advice I can give is to take all the conflicting news you hear with a grain of salt. If you really want to understand what is going on in your market, you need to connect with a local, experienced agent who truly understands that market. He or she can provide you with detailed information that will truly impact your buying and selling decisions.

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5 Things Real Estate Listing Agents Should NOT Do!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

There are times in any business where one must laugh at some of the antics that go on behind the scenes, some of the unprofessional things others in the business do and say. We have all been there, no matter in which field you work….I am sure you can conjure up a few times you were left scratching your head over something a colleague did. The real estate industry is no exception, and in fact I think there is even more room for inexcusable behavior because most agents are independent contractors and do not have anyone looking over their shoulder most of the time.

Listing agents have been made fun of in other blogs for lack of proper grammar, spelling errors, and all kinds of other things. I have to admit despite my shock at the lack of editing, I do find these blogs humorous (albeit sadly so). But there are a few things that REALLY make me question some agents’ professional goals. Here are the top 5 on my list:

1.  Listing a property and being unresponsive. If you list a home, obviously the seller thought highly enough of you to give you the listing…so now you actually have to do some work! Placing a listing on the MLS is an open invitation to people to ask questions. If you are not going to make yourself available to do so, than what are you doing listing homes?! This is one of my biggest frustrations, and I have had to tell many clients, “the listing agent has not returned my calls/emails.” I had one agent just last month who didn’t respond to calls, emails and texts about a property for almost a week! My client finally then wrote an offer, only to be rejected because another had come in during the noncommunicative time. This is not right, folks.

2.  Copying information from similar listings without verification. As agents are aware, when a buyer purchases a home there is a period of due diligence, where the buyer conducts inspections and investigates the property to her/his satisfaction. However, when you are inputting a listing to the MLS, it is so important to get the information right. If you find another similar property in the neighborhood and merely copy that information into your listing, you could be providing false information to buyers. Even though they have time to discover this, doesn’t it make more sense to get it right from the start, so as to avoid wasting anyone’s time, including yours and your seller’s?

3.  Directing agents to a website to book an appointment. In this day and age we are so technologically savvy, and I love that, BUT…real estate is still and will always be a business about people. We are not selling widgets, we are selling more than just a home – we are selling a lifestyle. The more personable and friendly you are, the better it is for everyone. If you want to have your showings scheduled via a website, fine. But I have 2 caveats: make sure the website works properly, AND provide a phone number where the agent/consumer can reach a live individual with questions!

4.  Limiting the method of communication with the listing agent.  I agree that there are times when a quick question can be addressed via email, but there are times when I like to speak with the agent, so I can get a feel as to how the agent works and ask multiple questions, especially if the property is a distressed property. An agent should NEVER limit the means of communication between other agents who may have interested clients with valid questions, as this is doing a disservice to your sellers.

5.  Placing viewing restrictions on the property. I understand there are times when some viewing restrictions must be imposed, such as in the case of tenants, a family with a baby or very young children, unfriendly pets or perhaps a homeowner who works at night and sleeps during the day. But if you want to get the home sold you have to coach your clients about being as flexible as possible. Putting a home on the market and telling agents it is a “drive by only, then submit offer in order to view property” is plain ridiculous and a waste of everyone’s time. Similarly, if you do not plan on letting people in the home, for pete’s sake have your sellers fill out a Instruction to Exclude the Listing from the MLS until it is ready to be viewed, and then place it live! Do what you can do to make the property as accessible as possible.

The real estate industry is not only consumer-centric, but is based on good old-fashioned principles of cooperation. If you want to represent your sellers to the best of your abilities, you and your listing need to be as accessible as possible.

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Real Estate News REcap

Monday, February 20th, 2012

In case you haven’t been following the news lately, there is a lot of real estate-related news making headlines right now. Here are some of the big stories:

1.  Underwater homeowner refinancing to include non-Fannie and Freddie backed loans? Many people are aware that the new version of HARP will reach out to help homeowners who are underwater (see the previous blog), but still many more have been asking whether they will be able to seek similar refinancing possibilities if they do NOT have a loan backed by Fannie and Freddie. There have been rumblings about this, and last week I saw a few articles on this topic. HARP2, which is expected to roll out in a few weeks, is expected to open up the refinancing option to many homeowners who are underwater. Once that ball gets rolling, look for more information on applying similar relief to those who are underwater but do not have loans backed by Fannie and Freddie. This could change the housing situation and prevent many future foreclosures.

2. Home purchasing is the most affordable in decades. According to an article published last week by CNN, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, housing price declines and low mortgage rates have created a rare opportunity for those who earn national median salaries – 75.9% of all new and existing homes for sale fell within that affordability range during the last quarter of 2011. The number has not been this high in the 20 year history of the index. Of course, whether one can afford a home versus whether one can actually buy one are not one and the same – obtaining loans are still tricky for many borrowers.

3. Distressed inventory is keeping California home prices low. Despite the increase in housing inventory last month, prices in California remain low due to the number of distressed inventory on the market, according to the California Association of Realtors. The Association reported that the median price of a single family detached home dropped 6.7% in January from December, and that compared to January of 2011, the median dropped 3.9%. With inventory rising and heading into the Spring sales season, it will be interesting to see what happens to prices, as some areas seem to be on the upswing.

4. Delinquency rate is dropping (but is that telling?). The rate of delinquencies has been dropping, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association, and is currently at only 7.6% of all mortgages. Still, about 44% of all homes in the U.S. are currently in foreclosure proceedings, which doesn’t really make the first figure sound too promising. Although California is ahead in clearing it’s backlog of distressed inventory quicker than many other states, now that the robo signing lawsuits have been settled we may see more properties go into foreclosure – a large percentage of these were waiting in the wings while the settlements were being negotiated. Also, we need to factor in HARP2, which will come into play in a few weeks – this could also have a big effect on preventing foreclosures, especially if the administration extends it to non-Fannie and Freddie backed loans, as planned. So, stay tuned – it will be an interesting year for distressed inventory.

5.  Property valuation fraud increases. The recently released Mortgage Fraud Risk Report indicated that property valuation fraud increased 8% in the fourth quarter of 2011. Arizona was ranked the riskiest state for fraud, with Nevada in close second. California ranked fourth. The report studies four specific types of fraud risk: property valuation, occupancy, identity and employment/income.

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Can Underwater Homeowners Refinance?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

One of the biggest problems with the state of housing ownership is that one in four homeowners in the U.S. are underwater, meaning that they owe more on their mortgage than the current market value of their homes. In many situations this leads to foreclosure or other options like short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure. But what about the homeowners who are not delinquent, have been making their payments, maintaining their credit and doing the right thing, despite the drastic drop in value of their homes? Help is on the way…

The new HARP2 (Home Affordable Refinance Program, version 2) debuts March 15. This new revised version of the program hints at helping those who could not qualify under the original program because they were not delinquent. Here are the differences:

Proposed program: The new HARP guidelines, which will be released next month and have been extended until December 31, 2013, will enable underwater homeowners who are not delinquent to refinance their homes. This program will allow refinances, like HARP,  for underwater homeowner regardless of whether your loan is with Fannie or Freddie. Here are the requirements:

1. Loans must be current, with a good 12 month payment history – no late payments in the last 6 months and only one is allowed in the last 12 months

2. Loan to value limits will be eliminated, so homeowners will be able to refinance regardless of how far the values of their homes have dropped (under the current HARP, the loan to value limit was set at 125%, so many homeowners did not qualify).

3.  No appraisals or underwriting will be required, making the refinancing process easier. There will likely be a home inspection, just to make sure the home is in decent condition, but not a formal appraisal.

4.  The loan must be backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. To find out if your loan qualifies, you can visit http://www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup/ and http://www.freddiemac.com/corporate/.

There has been some talk of a similar program to HARP that will help those who do not have loans backed by Fannie or Freddie. Hopefully in the future we will see such a program.

The new HARP will undoubtedly help many people stuck in that gray area – where they are not delinquent but feel trapped under a mortgage that exceeds current value and an interest rate that is much higher than current rates. Contact your mortgage broker to discuss whether you can qualify for the new HARP. For more information on HARP, go to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or call (888) 995-HOPE (the number for HopeNow, a government-sponsored counseling organization that is a wonderful resource).

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Free San Diego Homeowner Short Sale Seminar

Monday, February 13th, 2012

If you have ever considered a short sale, or would like to learn more about how they work, I have the seminar for you…and it’s free! Shortsaleopedia and I have collaborated to hold monthly seminars to help homeowners in San Diego, and the first one is this Wednesday, February 15, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Encinitas Community Center in Encinitas.

I have put together a phenomenal panel of experts – from real estate and credit attorneys to a CPA, short sale bank negotiator, mortgage professional, escrow and title professionals and of course Realtors who specialize and are trained in short sales. We will teach you all about the intricacies and ramifications (legal, credit and tax) of short sales, programs that may be available to help you, and how current and upcoming laws could make your sale easier or more challenging.

Please join me and my wonderful expert panel this Wednesday. You can sign up here: http://shortsaleopedia.com/events/event/event-expert-panel-san-diego-az-2012-02-15/. The Community Center is located at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive in Encinitas. If you are investigating options for distressed property, this event will be valuable.

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Wells Fargo Makes Short Sales More Difficult

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Well, as surprised as I am, Chase has been kicked from the number one spot on my least favorite short sale lender list (but it is still a close second), making room for the new #1: Wells Fargo.

I work with many short sale buyers and sellers – some say I’m nuts to do so, but I think that you have to embrace reality, so that is what I do. I also thoroughly enjoy getting these sales closed, because it feels so good to accomplish a difficult task AND to know that I helped someone.

Along with working short sales comes frustration, mostly where the lenders are concerned. As a short sale agent, I and others keep hoping that one of these days these sales will become more uniform, easier to work and quicker. But, alas, sometimes they seem to be getting more challenging. The latest news is important for anyone who holds a loan with Wells Fargo, OR if Wells Fargo is the investor on your loan. Now this latter part is key, because some people have no idea who the investor (the one who actually holds the note) is on their loan(s).

Wells Fargo recently decided, in all it’s wisdom, to require agents to submit short sale offers 30 days prior to the auction date. This was not made public. While there could still be a chance that an offer submitted sooner might get approved for short sale, I implore you to not risk it. Wells sold a short sale listing of mine at auction this week, despite the fact that we had a well qualified buyer and had submitted a contract.

Please do not let this happen to you. It is a terrible feeling, and I am disgusted with Wells Fargo – so much so that I am considering pulling all my accounts with them. I have banked there for many years, but this leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth. While other lenders are trying to embrace short sales, Wells gets the stick for being uncooperative, uncaring, and plain ridiculous.

With short sale lenders constantly changing rules, it is very difficult to keep track of everything. If you are considering a short sale, make sure you find out who your investor is, as it is often not the same as the service provider.

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How to Win With Short Sales

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Short sales are everywhere, and they are not going away. I am always surprised to hear agents say they won’t list or show short sales to their clients, because not only do I think that is a disservice in our industry, but also because I think closing a short sale is one of the most rewarding experiences, and no one – not buyer, seller or agent – is left without a sense of gratitude.

Short sales are scary to many folks because there are no consistent guidelines on how to sell or buy them. Lenders have different policies and deadlines, different systems. But despite the craziness, short sales are not unlike any other challenge that is worthwhile – you just have to know the basics, have an open mind and creative thought process,  and keep one step ahead of the lender and their negotiators.  Here are some basics on how to win with short sales.

1.  Get educated. You need to understand how a short sale works and what is expected of you – no matter whether you are a buyer, seller or agent. Sellers must first educate themselves on all possible options, and understand the ramifications of short sales compared to other options. Don’t ever go into a short sale without learning about the process. Buyers also need to understand the process and be committed to a possible long road to closing.

Similarly, agents who list or sell short sales need to learn how they work, understand timelines and different lender requirements.  For example, Wells Fargo is now denying auction postponements on short sales unless an offer is submitted at least 30 days prior to the auction date. If you are a listing agent and take a short sale with a Wells lien without knowing that, you could be wasting your time, as well as that of the seller and buyer.

2.  Know the law, regulations, and stay on top of changes. It is imperative to understand the laws – both federal and state – and how they apply to distressed properties. You need to understand legal, tax and credit implications. States often have different regulations and programs designed to assist short sellers too, so you definitely need to be well informed. Most importantly, stay on top of things, because they are constantly changing. Distressed property law and regulations are an alphabet soup – HAFA, HARP, HAMP…you need to keep learning.

3.  It takes a village. Short sale acceptance often requires teamwork. Attorneys, tax professionals, negotiators, title and escrow people, debt counselors, and an agent who not only understands the short sale process, but who can be the conductor by keeping the team on track and focused.

4.  Be persistent and bold. The banks will tell you what they want, but you need to be able to negotiate. You must be persistent and not be afraid to push back. It helps to work with a skilled independent negotiator. Short sales are not for the lazy or timid. But don’t let them scare you.

You CAN win with short sales – you just have to know what you are getting into, set expectations correctly, stay educated, and be on top of the situation from the beginning to closing. In the process you will find that helping a seller avoid foreclosure and a buyer to get a great property for a great price, is extremely rewarding.

Do you have questions about short sales? I am the host for monthly short sale seminars sponsored by Shortsaleopedia. The next seminar is Wednesday, February 15, 2012, from 6:00-8:00 at the Encinitas Community Center. You will learn everything you need to know about short sales from a panel of experts – legal, financial, title and escrow officers, short sale negotiators… bring your questions! To sign up click here.

 

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The Dual Agency Dilemma

Monday, February 6th, 2012

In the states that allow it, dual agency (where the agent/broker represents both the buyer and seller in a single transaction) is something many agents may welcome when they list a property…  after all, it makes for a double paycheck. But is it truly advantageous to the buyer and seller to work with the same agent, and what are the potential legal ramifications in doing so?

All agents have a fiduciary duty to their clients. This means that we have a duty to act in the best interests of every client.  As a listing agent the duty is to market the client’s home in the best way possible, and to negotiate the best price possible for the client. The agent is normally privy to quite a bit of information, such as the lowest price a seller will accept for the sale of his property, or financial information that explains why the seller cannot pay for repairs.

A buyer’s agent also is privy to information about the buyer, such as the buyer’s bottom line as to how much they will or can afford to pay for the home, or what they may need to ask of the seller to make the sale come to fruition.

An agent who represents both sides of a home sale will undoubtedly possess information that could be conflicting when it comes to negotiating price or repair issues. How then does the agent properly represent both parties? In a lawsuit an attorney cannot represent both the plaintiff and the defendant—clearly it would be impossible to act in the best interests of both parties. So what makes a real estate transaction any different, and what are the legal ramifications of dual agency should something go wrong?

Although states like California require paperwork acknowledging dual agency (and the potential for such) for every sale, the potential for liability down the road still exists. If an agent is found to have breached his fiduciary duty to the client the contract can be rescinded, the parties restored to their positions before entering into the contract (including returning all deposits to the buyer), and the home can be returned to the seller. Any commissions paid to the agent/broker can be ordered returned, and if the party she represented suffered damages the brokerage or agent can be help monetarily responsible for those damages.

Dual agency disclosures are not completely fool-proof in preventing a lawsuit. This is an issue that has drawn much debate from brokers, attorneys and others in the industry. It is something we need to continue to explore and be aware of within the real estate industry.

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Thinking About a Short Sale? You Better Hurry

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Are you thinking about short selling your home? Are you underwater (owe more on your mortgage than the current market value of your home)? If you have ever or are considering a short sale, your days are numbered.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, that wonderful little piece of legislation passed in 2007 to protect those who short sale from being liable for the capital gains taxes (taxes on the difference between what you sell your home for and what you actually owe), expires on December 31, 2012. For the last several years, most homeowners who have short sold their properties have escaped this tax due to the act.

If you are considering a short sale this year, you need to get your home SOLD before December 31, or the IRS will require the debt be reported as general income. As an example, if you owe $300,000 on your mortgage, but short sell your home for it’s current $250,000 market value (where the lender forgives the difference), after December 31 you will be liable to pay taxes on the $50,000 difference. At a marginal tax rate of 36%, this would equate to $18,000 in taxes.

There are the requirements for the debt relief law to apply:

1. The home you are short selling must be your principal residence, it cannot be a vacation home or investment property

2. Debt ceiling is $2,000,000 (or $1,000,000 if married and filing separately)

3. The law does not apply to a HELOC which was used to pay off debt or as cash-out

Will the act be extended? Of course this is a possibility, but there have been no public discussions as of yet. Taking into consideration that this is also an election year it could either become a big deal or be swept under the rug, as politicians choose to deal with other issues. Regardless, this is not the time to take a chance.

If you are considering a short sale you need to look into the facts now, because as we all know: procrastination gets you nowhere.

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