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Mortgage Mania 17 - Foreclosures Inside The Bubble

Chris Iverson, Realtor

June 7th, 2008 · No Comments

Long-time Mortgage Mania readers, (aka Mortgage Maniacs) know that I’m an avid reader of the New York Times, so it should come as no surprise that I would have some comments on this article in the Friday June 6 edition regarding the continuing foreclosure crisis affecting consumers across the country.

Authors Bajaj and Grynbaum review some recent statistics on foreclosures, and then go on to predict another wave of foreclosures as the economy continues to slow and more consumers fall victim to layoffs and job cuts.

It’s easy to ignore these rumblings here in wealthy Silicon Valley where the local economy is still vibrant, even with nearly $5 a gallon gas, as it is still a minor impact on a budget with a $5,000 a month mortgage. It’s easy for us living in The Bubble of Unstoppable Real Estate (which I define as: Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Los Altos, your mileage may vary) to say “it can’t happen here”.

Not so fast there pardner. A Short Sale in Atherton you say? It’s almost enough to make you drop your Grey Poupon.

This little number at 199 Selby Lane in Atherton recently listed by Lanny Dannenberg of Keller Williams is a short sale at $1,795,000. It has been on the market with a couple of different brokers for over two years, starting at $2,495,000 in March of 2006.

The good news is that the local market continues to be pretty strong, especially at the upper levels, above $3 million. Don’t take my word for it, check out this market data for the latest facts and figures on Palo Alto and surrounding communities.

Thanks for reading . . .

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→ No CommentsTags: 94027 · Atherton · Financing Process · Keller Williams · Market updates · Real estate

Right Along With the Grunge Look, the Housing Crisis is Over

Eric Trailer, Mortgage Banker, Absolute Mortgage Banking

May 28th, 2008 · 8 Comments

Yes, for those of you gents who still may be holding on to the rather relaxed “grunge” look from the 1990’s, I’ve got a newsflash for you: grunge, along with the current housing crisis, is over.  

Articles about the housing crisis ending have been few and buried in their respective periodical, my favorite of which was in TIME magazine back in February titled, “Ignore the Headlines“.  But now we have the Wall Street Journal. claiming that the trough was reached in April with an article from May 6, “The Housing Crisis is Over“.

I agreed with Peter Lynch back in February.., and it’s becoming more an more apparent that the longer prospective home-buyers sit on the fence, the more expensive that home purchase will become.  And this is not just because I believe that home prices will rise, it’s also because I believe that both long and short term interest rates will rise.  The 10-year Treasury Note, for example, is up over 1/2% since the middle of March, and the 10-year Treasury Note is a decent barometer to use when you want to know what the trend in long term mortgage rates have been.

That written, if you really want to continue with the grunge look, might I suggest saving it for your next camping trip?

As always, kindly consult with your trusted real estate, tax and mortgage professional before seriously considering any home purchase.

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→ 8 CommentsTags: Buyer and seller tips · Consumer · For buyers · Industry · Mortgages · Real estate

Today’s Market Updates via Twitter

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 24th, 2008 · 3 Comments

  • Memorial Day weekend — expect little open house traffic, and not many open houses to check out. Most Realtors take a break this weekend. #

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Today’s Market Updates via Twitter

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 23rd, 2008 · No Comments

  • http://twitpic.com/1dat - Testing from email with attachment #
  • 2 new Palo Alto listings in last 24 hours: 2916 Ramona ($2.5M; 5/3) from
    Lynn Chou; 890 N Cal. ($1.6M 5/2.5) from Tim McKeegan #
  • Eye candy alert: 5070 Alpine Road, Portola Valley. Only $8.4M! 7800 sq ft
    home. Listing agent Pat Looney #
  • Palo Alto median home price now just under $2M #
  • http://twitpic.com/1e76 - Bummed I couldn’t make broker tour today. Wanted to see 12335 Stonebrook in Los Altos Hills — $45M mansion, l … #

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Today’s Market Updates via Twitter

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 19th, 2008 · 1 Comment

  • @PhoenixREGuy Give my regards to your whole crew! Wish I could have been there as well… #
  • Testing from twittermail #
  • Listings are random…case in point: About 8 listings on Palmer Lane/15th Ave in Fair Oaks in a 3 block area. #
  • Plus, many of the current Fair Oaks listings are HUGE — uncharacteristic of this neighborhood. 4 current or recent homes have been $1.5M+! #
  • Sam Anagnostou’s listing at 523 Palmer Lane (Menlo Park) has already sold. Amazing interior, very tasteful. #
  • http://twitpic.com/188q Menlo Park days on market is back to ~20 — right where we would expect it. #

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How to Avoid Foreclosure, Part 2 of 3

Bart Marchioni, Realtor at Keller Williams Realty - Silicon Valley

May 19th, 2008 · 5 Comments

After a writing hiatus, I’m back! It’s been a crazy spring. As a Certified Foreclosure and Short Sale Specialist, I’ve been very busy consulting with homeowners and working with them to avoid foreclosure. Every day, I’m talking with people who are facing the prospect of losing their home.

In part 1 of this 3-part series, I talked about the options a homeowner has to keep their home. In this part, I’ll discuss the three options that allow them to get out of the house and out from underneath their loan.

The first option is a conventional sale. This obviously is only an option for homeowners who have equity in their homes. It’s not out of the question that someone may have an adjustable rate mortgage which is going to reset soon, or recently has, and is too much for them to afford. In this case, if the homeowner has enough equity to afford the costs of selling a home (which can commonly totals 7% of the sales price), including title insurance, escrow fees, brokerage commissions, county taxes, and other miscellaneous fees, then they can get out of the loan through a conventional sale.

The second option is a short sale.  If the homeowner is “underwater,” meaning that the total value of the loans against the property are more than the current market value, then they might be able to attempt a short sale. This involves putting the home up for sale at current market value, and getting the lender to take the loss on the difference. As I discussed in a previous post, “What is a Short Sale?“, this is accomplished by sending the lender a “Short Sale Package” which includes many documents supporting the fact that the borrower can no longer pay their mortgage and must sell the property at a loss to the lender, and the only other alternative is foreclosure. This whole process is best conducted by a Realtor who is experienced in short sales, because the process is long, tedious and complicated. Many agents, in a desperate attempt to get any business they can, are trying to do short sales and not getting very good results.

The third option for getting out from underneath the loan is to simply give the home back to the lender in what is known as a deed in lieu. When a lender foreclosing on a property agrees to allow you to deed the property back to the lender before the foreclosure is complete, it is called a “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” This can be advantageous to lenders because they get the property back sooner from cooperative homeowners which mitigates their losses. It can be advantageous for a homeowner because they may have less damage to their credit and they can move on with their lives without a stressful foreclosure hanging over your head. This option is usually not available if there is a 2nd mortgage on the property, because the 2nd mortgage would still be on the title after the deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure is completed. The only way for the 1st mortgage holder to clear the 2nd mortgage from the title is to proceed with the foreclosure.

As you can see, the most viable option for homeowners tends to be a short sale. Since so many people bought homes over the past 5 years with either subprime loans or simply have adjustable rate mortgages which are resetting to a higher interest rate, it’s no wonder that fully 28% of the 8,592 homes for sale in Santa Clara County are short sales. But as I said, these are no easy feat. It takes an agent with patience, knowledge, skills and training to successfully negotiate a short sale with a homeowner’s lender. In the end, because most agents don’t have this training, a very small percentage of short sales actually close. If you are facing foreclosure, and would like to get out from underneath your loan, don’t let this happen to you - talk to an agent who has experience closing short sales. If you need a referral to someone in your area, let me know. If you live in Santa Clara County, and would like to discuss your situation, give me a shout - I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

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→ 5 CommentsTags: Real estate

Public Service Announcement: Nationwide Home Mortgage Loan Company Is Stealing Content

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 14th, 2008 · 6 Comments

Nationwide Home Mortgage Loan Company is stealing content

Another despicable splogger is stealing content from various places on the Internet, including this blog.  Sadly, the side gives no contact information, so I’m not able to send my usual polite “cease and desist” notice.

Hopefully this post and picture — which will soon appear on the Nationwide Home Mortgage Loan Corporate blog — will embarrass the owners into stopping this nonsense.


→ 6 CommentsTags: Industry

Sorry, If You Build It, They Are Not Coming


May 12th, 2008 · 2 Comments

(photo credit: mop squad)

Kevin Costner was hot 20 years ago in Field of Dreams. So was that comment “If you build it, they will come.” I received a fantastic comment from a home buyer today for my previous post How Listing Agents Unintentionally Sabotage Their Own Staged Listings:

  1. Danica Says:
    May 12th, 2008 at 10:51 am That is so true. As a potential buyer, I have been frustrated many times by Craigslist ads that have no picture. There are a ton of houses out there, and I’m trying to weed out the ones I don’t want to look at - it’s really impossible without a picture.I’ve seen so many places, staged or unstaged, that sounded great on paper and then turned out to be hideous-to-unlivable in person.More importantly, even though online listings at a place like Craigslist are free and offer almost unlimited space, a lot of sellers just put up one or two sentences and no pictures - and to me that says “I don’t have it together enough to actually market this house.”

    And my experience has been that often, that means they don’t know how to deal with the paperwork, or with my questions, or even with basic social skills.I guess in a way it’s helpful to see a boring, picture-less, one-line house ad - because it tells me I don’t want to deal with that seller. But it’s still hilariously frustrating to see an ad online that says something like, “2 BR 1.5 BA NICE!!! MUST SEE CALL JAMES SMITH REALTOR 555-1414!”

This is a brilliant comment, it just goes to show that with that in this fast changing real estate market, our buyers’ behaviors have changed. The old attitude of “If you list it, they will come” no longer works. That worked in the movie Field of Dreams for Kevin Costner but guess what? Kevin Costner is OLD news now. That phrase was coined 20 years ago, so is that attitude. It’s freaking 20 years old. Shouldn’t we move on with the times?

A savvy marketer knows that today’s consumers are so de-sensitized by advertisements that they need more interactive and user-friendly contents [Note: "content," NOT "ads."] to make an educated decision before buying. You can see that through the fast rising numbers of business blogs and web 2.0 services. People want interaction, not sales agenda ramming down their throats.

Also, today’s agents no longer holds monopoly to MLS information. Internet has made today’s buyers more savvy, shrewed, efficient and much more likely to start their buying process without agents. Additionally, if the consumers cannot be satisfied by you, it’s very easy for them to go elsewhere. To be able to work in a competitive market, as a listing agent or FSBO (For Sale By Owners), you will need to get on with the time to provide a comprehensive and user-friendly marketing package.

To do so, here are a few tips as pointed out by Danika, our lovely buyer:

*Online presence is KEY. Staging the property will instantly make the home show-ready online. Once you have staged, having big & high quality photos is a must.

*Don’t just do 1 photo, if you are allowed to post 10, why not do 10?

*Place ONLY good quality photos that will entice buyers’ appetite. Photos like featuring the local eateries or parking lots are not really adding anything to your listing.

*Be creative, not boring and cookie cutter in your listing descriptions. “2Br for sale” is kind of a duh since anyone can read it from the sheet. Why not say something more descriptive that showcase the unique selling points of your listing?

*MOST IMPORTANT: Provide reasonable expectations for buyers. If your listing sounds like the “IT” property to buy and buyers walked into an ill-maintained home, they will turn around and leave immediately because you have wasted their time. If the house is staged, keep it staged while you sell. If you property was already on market then staged, showcase the staged photos online and on flyers and take out the old unstaged photos.

Happy selling!



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→ 2 CommentsTags: Advertising · Buyer · Buyers · Home selling · Online advertising · Real estate · Strategy · Technology

Symantec Issues High-Priority Security Patch For Trulia Widgets, Called “Worst Peloponnesian Unicorn” Ever

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 8th, 2008 · 15 Comments

trulia-in-computer.gifSymantec, the Internet security firm, today released what they described as a “code red” security patch for all real estate bloggers currently using the now-infamous “Google Juice Sucking” Trulia widget.

Tipped off by an anonymous Active Rain’er who had come across this discussion thread, which in turn had been prompted by good investigative sniffing [sniff one, sniff two, sniff three] by the pack at Bloodhound, Symantec’s elite Taskforce Realty Internet Permission Experts (TRIPE) worked through the night to come up with a patch. The head of TRIPE, Dr. Francois Viande-Fichu, released the following press statement:

With thanks to the ever-vigilant Active Rain-droppers for tipping us off, we were stunned to find some pretty damning evidence of foul play in Trulia’s widget, which unsuspecting Realtors have been deploying on their web sites in droves. Trojan Horses are one thing, but what they’ve come up with is something far more nefarious: a Peloponnesian Unicorn.

The Trulia widget does the following:

  • Sucks out the hosting web site’s Google Juice, especially the Raspberry flavor.
  • Decreases the hosting web site’s Google Page Rank to negative 5.
  • Installs a little Trulia MarkerMan on the desktop whose eyes follow you around as you surf, and they roll sarcastically whenever you visit Zillow’s site.
  • Automatically and instantaneously rises Trulia to the top of the Google rankings for all searches related to the host site.
  • Makes the web site owner/blogger start chanting Gregorian hymns in the original Latin.
  • Refers all incoming traffic to the hosting site’s owner’s fiercest competitor, in exchange for a 25% referral fee.

When challenged to provide evidence of the above, Dr. Viande-Fichu displayed the following code embedded into each Trulia Widget.

While {5>1 DO:
Trulia.PageRank = Site.PageRank*2 / Slurp.Giant.SuckingSound;
Install.Icon = http:/trulia.com/images/trulia_markermen_icon.gif; option bug eyes=”true”;
If Site.Visit=”Zillow” Do {Icon.Roll.Eyes And Sigh.Loudly};
Google.LocalSearchRankings.Site.City = “Truliawful”;
Trulia.LocalSearchRankings.Site.City = “TopOfFirstPage”;
Launch Latin.hymns.InstanceGregorian;
End Do}
?end Php>

Agents who’ve installed this widget are advised to uninstall it immediately, then put the following badge on their web site to protect them in the future:

To install this widget, do the following:

  1. Download this file to your computer.
  2. Open the file in Notepad or some other text editor.
  3. Copy and paste the contents of the file into a sidebar Text widget.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Full disclosure:

  1. I did a consulting project for Trulia last year.
  2. Trulia out-ranks my site for many Google searches.
  3. My site outranks Trulia for many other searches, including, most significantly, peace corps volunteer botswana real estate palo alto.
  4. Trulia’s no-follow policy applies, as far as I know, consistently across all broker’s listings, including mine.
  5. No animals, Realtors, or SERPS were harmed in the production of this post.
  6. Void where prohibited.
  7. Do not ingest.
  8. This blog is not a toy. Keep out of reach of children.

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→ 15 CommentsTags: Humor · Industry · Trulia

A Perfect Example Of Co-opetition: The Real Estate Industry … Barry Nalebuff Would Be Proud

Kevin Boer, Broker Owner, 3 Oceans Real Estate, Inc. ()

May 6th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Maybe it’s the frustrated business school professor in me, or the memories of sitting in Professor Barry Nalebuff’s classes during business school, but what has fascinated me the most about the ongoing debate about Trulia’s no-follow outbound listings links (started here by Galen Ward, then continued here, here, here, and here) is not the arcana of the no-follow tag, not the dissection of SEO intricacies, and not really even the question of what is or is not appropriate to do with listings online.

No, what really fascinates me about this debate is how it accentuates co-opetition in the real estate industry.  Co-opetition is simply the notion that companies compete and co-operate simultaneously.  Arch-rivals Northrup Grumman and Boeing go mano-a-mano to get a lucrative government contract … and the winner often subcontracts part of the project to its rival.  Microsoft and Oracle have competing database platforms but often sell eachother’s products.

In our industry, co-opetition reaches nearly incestuous levels.  For instance:

  • Brokers John and Betty compete for the listing at 123 Main Street.  Betty wins and puts the property on the MLS.  The very next week John brings potential buyer clients to the property.  Sure, he would rather have won the listing, but that’s in the past.  Now he’s working with Betty to consummate the transaction.  No hard feelings.
  • Realtor Bob hangs his license with ABC Realty.  He puts an ABC Realty sign on the front lawn of all his listings, and the ABC Realty logo is prominent in all his media ads.  He’s co-operating with his real estate brokerage to promote their brand, and he in turn benefits from that brand awareness.  Co-operation.  A phone call from a prospective buyer of one of Bob’s listings, however, may well go through to the agent on “floor duty.”  That agent turns this phone call into a client, who goes on to buy a different listing, not Bob’s.  That’s competition — Bob would have loved to get that phone call and turn it into another client, but his competitor — the other agent, and to some extent his own broker — snagged that client.  Co-operation plus competition = co-opetition.
  • A thousand local brokers — each fierce competitors — co-operate to run a local MLS.  They put their competing listings up on the MLS, and they compete to bring buyers to each of the listings.  At the close of each transaction, we again have co-opetition — competing parties co-operating for the sake of the deal.
  • Broker Tom snags a listing and puts it on the MLS.  Via the wonders of IDX, that listing spreads its tentacles onto a thousand other sites, including that of arch-rival Broker Sarah.  As long as Broker Sarah indicates that Tom is the broker of record, it’s all good.  Her site is much better than Tom’s, so she gets more traffic and hence more clients online.  The fodder that draws in those visitors?  Listings … not only her own, but also Tom’s.
  • Broker Rachel gets the listing at 789 Elm Street and puts it on the MLS.  She also puts it on Trulia, which, like the MLS itself, exposes the listing to a much broader audience than she could reach on her own.  She benefits from the increased exposure, and Trulia gets more inventory to display.  It’s a win-win — co-operation at its finest.  The next day, a prospective homebuyer passes 789 Elm Street and Googles the address to find out more.  Who’s on the top page?  Trulia and Broker Rachel’s listing site.  Now they’re competing — for web traffic.

There really is nothing new under the sun.   This business has always been a co-opetitive one, and we’ve always simultaneously co-operated with and competed against not only every other broker, but many of the third-party advertisers, aggregators, and media companies.

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Barry Nalebuff · Industry · MLS · Real estate · Trulia