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Happy New Year to all…

December 31, 2008

happy-new-yearIt is hard to believe that 2008 is already coming to an end. As a Realtor this year has been especially difficult for me, but I am well aware that I have done better than most and for this I’m grateful. So many of my fellow real estate agents have long left the business. Knowing that I’m still here and actually thriving makes me feel fortunate and appreciative to those that have maintained their loyalty, trust and friendship with me. You know who you are. I really owe you a lot so thank you.

2009 is around the corner and I’m very excited. Yeah, this sounds strange coming from a Realtor during one of the worst real estate markets in US history, but I’m more than serious. Challenging times build character and force those that want to survive to step up to the plate and adapt to the times. I believe I have done this.

In 2008 I have devoted myself to my clients and relearning the entire business of residential real estate. So much has changed. Realtors can no longer sit back and expect business to land in their laps. We have to bust our butts exceeding our clients expectations…but this just isn’t enough by itself. The Realtors that are surviving are the ones that are mastering the new real estate market.

What do you mean by the new real estate market?

The new real estate market is all about sellers owing far more than which they can possible sell their homes. The new market is focused on these “Short Sales” and only Realtors that dedicate themselves to learning everything possible about handling short sales have any chance of survival. Short sales aren’t pretty. They take discipline, knowledge and patience. To date I have close to a 100% success rate at getting short sale listings sold and closed, which according to my real estate friends is quite high.

The hardest part about dealing with short sales is negotiating with the banks. So much happens behind the sellers back. This is usually a good thing because that is what Realtors are hired to do. We’re hired to handle things for the seller or buyer. With short sales there are all sorts of battles going on behind the scenes and it takes a strong Realtor to remain standing when the smoke clears. Banks are unemotional and consider your home nothing more than an asset. They literally refer to your home as “Asset #705,” as an example. All the heart and soul you have poured into making your house a home doesn’t mean a thing to them. This is why it helps to have a solid real estate agent representing you through the short sale transaction. Your emotional attachment to the situation makes it nearly impossible to deal with the decision makers at your bank.

In 2009 we can all expect a rough road for the Florida real estate market. Those sellers that think they are somehow immune to market conditions have a shock in store for them. I deal with these people everyday and as a general rule I walk away from such listings. In 2009 you had better understand that your home is worth far less than it was a few years ago during the peak of the real estate boom. Once you get this concept into your head success is on the horizon.

Again, Happy New Year to all my clients, friends and family. It has been both a pain and a pleasure helping you reach your real estate goals in 2008. Hey, I’m being honest. No pain no gain they say. Who exactly is this “they” anyway? Drive safely tonight and wear your helmets.

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Wells Fargo Loss Mitigation Contact Information

December 21, 2008

Wells Fargo
(877) 216-8448 or (866) 261-5642 or (800)766-0987 or (800) 678-7986 for payment assistance
Borrower Counseling Services
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., CT
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., CT
Web: https://www.wellsfargo.com/mortgage/account/

Doing short sales with Wells Fargo doesn’t have to be stressful. Of all the banks Wells Fargo is one of the easiest to deal with. Please join the discussion and share your short sale story below. Keep in mind that I am a Tampa Bay Florida Realtor and not a Wells Fargo employee. Don’t post your personal information such as account numbers, names, phone numbers, addresses, etc…

I’ll try to respond as often as possible to questions about the Wells Fargo short sale or Loss Mitigation process. But I cannot answer legal questions or tax questions, especially for all of you people posting that aren’t in Florida. I’m a Florida Realtor and my real estate knowledge is restricted to Florida real estate transactions.

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Hillsborough County Middle Schools

December 18, 2008

teacher-appleThe following is a list of Hillsborough County Middle Schools:

  • John Quincy Adams Middle School
  • Louis Benito Middle School
  • James Buchanan Middle School
  • Gordon Burnett Middle School
  • Guy O. Burns Middle School
  • Dr. John A. Coleman Middle School
  • Pete Davidsen Middle School
  • Dowdell Middle Magnet School
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School
  • J. Crockett Farnell Middle School
  • Andrew J. Ferrell Middle Magnet School
  • Benjamin Franklin Middle Magnet School
  • Don G. Giunta Middle School
  • Angelo L. Greco Middle School
  • Ben Hill Middle School
  • Clemmie Ross James Middle School
  • Jinks Jennings Middle School
  • Liberty Middle School
  • James Madison Middle School
  • Horace Mann Middle School
  • Edward Jackson Marshall Middle School
  • Bob Martinez Middle School
  • Eldridge F. McLane Middle School
  • Memorial Middle School
  • James Monroe Middle School
  • Mulrennan Middle School
  • Orange Grove Middle Magnet School
  • William G. Pierce Middle School
  • Progress Village Middle Magnet School
  • Sam Rampello Middle School
  • Gen. James D. Randall Middle School
  • Marion S. Rodgers Middle School
  • Roland Park Middle School
  • Beth Shields Middle School
  • Sligh Middle Magnet School
  • Garland V. Stewart Middle Magnet School
  • Mary L. Tomlin Middle School
  • Turkey Creek Middle School
  • Martin Van Buren Middle School
  • Charlie Walker Middle School
  • Booker T. Washington Middle School
  • D.W. Webb Middle School
  • Dr. R. Reche Williams Middle Magnet School
  • Woodrow Wilson Middle School
  • Nathan B. Young Middle Magnet School

If you notice any errors in this list of Hillsborough County Middle Schools please let me know. Thank you.

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Wachovia Loss Mitigation Contact Information

December 14, 2008

Here is the current contact information for the Wachovia Loss Mitigation department. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions about the Wachovia Bank short sale process. Keep in mind I am a Florida Realtor and not an employee of Wachovia. I cannot help you with your short sale unless you are located in Florida and are interested in hiring me to list your home. I don’t work as a short sale consultant. This page is here for your benefit and I will try to answer questions as they arise, but don’t post personal information here thinking I will be able to help you negotiate your Wachovia short sale. Call the Wachovia Loss Mitigation contact information below if you need to sell your home short.

wachoviaWachovia Corporation
(866) 642-8608
8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday
8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Friday

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How To Use Public Restrooms 101: For Men

December 14, 2008

public-restroomI’d like to believe every adult male knows how to use public restrooms in a courteous and respectful manner, but after my experience yesterday I’m no longer so confident. My wife and I were doing some Christmas shopping at the local Wal-Mart when I paid a brief visit to the men’s bathroom for some important business.

Lo and behold in walks someone else with their own personal business agenda. This primitive creature marches straight for a stall, throws the door open and proceeds to pee without even closing the door. He was done before I had time to finish washing my hands and he was soon thereafter out the bathroom door.

You’re probably wondering why I’m upset enough to want to share my private bathroom time with you. Well, thanks for asking. I’ll tell you. This cretin could have used a urinal – a technological advancement developed specifically for men so that they can urinate while standing up as opposed to peeing all over a toilet seat. But no…he opted to walk right past the wall of vacant urinals and into a stall designed for an entirely different purpose. And then instead of raising the toilet seat so that he doesn’t make a mess for the next human being that needs that toilet he just aimed and fired like a high pressure fire hose with no real interest in where the stream went. And he left the door open too.

Oh, and this fruit loop didn’t even flush the toilet because, little did I know at the time, the universe revolves around him and his desires and needs. Other people don’t enter the equation. It’s all about him.

So allow me to recap. This rude man uses a toilet which is meant for a sit-down experience for a stand-up experience. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he raised the toilet seat, shut the stall door and flushed after he was done. But none of that happened. He peed all over the seat, floor and toilet and then failed to flush. The next person to go into that stall, whether it be the unfortunate 68 year-old Wal-Mart employee or a customer with a pressing need, will find themselves confronted with a filthy toilet.

What was going through this guys head? Why doesn’t he feel ashamed to make a mess on a public toilet so that another human being will be forced to clean it up before they can use the same toilet? Isn’t that a bit rude and selfish? What happens next time he needs to use a Wal-Mart toilet and he finds it splattered with urine? You would think that we all have that little voice in our heads helping guide us through our daily decisions and experiences, but obviously some people haven’t a care in the world for anyone but themselves.

Oh, and he didn’t wash his hands either. He just went to the door, grabbed the handle and left his special fingerprints for the next guy. He probably left the bathroom with his dirty hands to meet back up with his unknowing wife and children. Hopefully he didn’t grab her hand and pass along the germs or wipe his little girls dirty face with his fingers.

I came pretty darn close to saying something to him, but it all happened so fast that I am left without the sort of closure I need to move on and enjoy the rest of this wonderful holiday season. So I am subjecting you all to my story.

The moral of this story is as follows. Men, please use the urinals when you need to pee. If you are so afraid of other men seeing your private parts lean closer to the urinal. But please, PLEASE don’t punish everyone else by peeing all over a toilet seat so that total innocent strangers have to clean up your pee at a time when they really need to be focusing on other matters.

Ahhhh….now I feel better. Thanks for listening.

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Fair Market Fantasy for Tampa Bay Florida

December 9, 2008

short-sales2You’re probably wondering what the fair market value of your home is in this nightmare real estate market. I suggest you get rid of that idea as it is virtually a meaningless statistic. Fair market sales aren’t very common in the Tampa Bay Florida real estate market right now. But if you’re just dying to know email me at chris@callchristoday.com and I’d be happy to help you with home valuation. I can tell you the fair market value and what I believe is a more realistic listing and sales price.

Welcome to the world of REO’s and Short Sales

Most of the homes selling in Tampa Bay Florida today are either REO’s or Short Sales. REO stands for “Real Estate Owned,” which, if you ask me, is a rather silly acronym. REO’s are owner by the banks. These are foreclosed homes where the sellers have lost the battle and are now out of their homes. The banks have hired REO listing agents to attempt to sell the properties. If the REO listing agents fail to sell the homes might end up being sold at auction.

Short Sales are homes that are still owned by the sellers, but they are teetering on the edge of foreclosure. If they don’t sell they will be taken back by the bank, but in order to sell the seller must sell at a price lower than what they owe their lender. (I am over-simplifying this process) The lender is getting “shorted” a sum of money so the lender must review the sales agreement and either approve or reject it.

Sellers that are in good financial condition that simply want to sell their homes at the fair market value have a real problem on their hands. They are forced to compete with a large quantity of very low priced bank owned and short sale properties, and usually it is simply impossible to compete and still walk away with some cash at closing. Unless the seller has tremendous equity this is just not the time to sell. I strongly suggest sellers sit back and wait this real estate/economic crisis out. While the market is saturated with REO’s and short sales fair market sales will remain a fantasy in the Tampa Bay Florida market.

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Accurate pricing is the key to selling in 2009

December 9, 2008

low-priceAccurate pricing is the key to selling a home during this tumultuous market. Sellers are focused on selling for prices realized during the very peak of the housing boom and buyers are searching for bargains. Someone has to give. Both can’t achieve their objectives. A seller cannot sell their home for top dollar to a buyer who is after a bargain.

So who wins in this housing crisis?

Clearly, the winner is going to be the side with the cards stacked in their favor and it should be abundantly clear that the buyer calls the shots in this market. There are literally dozens of sellers for every buyer and educated buyers know this. Sellers that cannot grasp the reality of this are doomed to disappointment and eventual failure, which in many cases means foreclosure and financial ruin.

What does it take to sell in this market?

Sellers need to be priced competitively. If most comparable homes are priced lower than your price you’ve got a recipe for failure on your hands. And even if you’re priced similarly to most other homes you are probably never going to sell. Only those homes that are priced in the lower 25% of comparable listings are getting the showings and getting sold.

There are simply too many options for buyers. Why would they want to look at your home priced at $335,000 when there are similar homes priced at $250,000 – $265,000? If there are 12 – 20 listings for every buyer what do you think these buyers will do? They’re going to take advantage of their buying power and purchase the best deals. Those sellers clinging to 2005 prices will never even get a showing.

Sometimes the easiest way to understand how the market works is to close your eyes and pretend you are the other person. If you’re a seller pretend you’re the buyer. If you’re the buyer pretend you’re selling your home.

So if you want to understand why you’re not getting any showings try to put yourself in the buyers shoes. Now mentally change the industry. Pretend you are a buyer looking to purchase a Toyota Corolla. You head to the dealership and check out what the market has to offer. The lot is filled with Toyota Corolla’s. In fact you don’t recall there ever being so many cars on the market from which buyers may choose.

If you were a buyer walking around that Toyota dealership lot and you saw hundreds of similar Corolla’s priced around $17,000, but a few over to the side priced at $25,000 what would you do? Assume the cars priced at $25,000 are just a little nicer than the $17,000, such as they have sunroofs or CD players. Would you even attempt to negotiate the price of the $25,000 car down or would you instead negotiate the $17,000 car down and then later add your own CD player and sunroof?

Many sellers today wonder why they aren’t getting any showings. I hear, “But why don’t buyers at least make me an offer.” The answer is simple. Buyers think you’re completely irrational. Why would they waste their time with a seller that has such a high starting point when they can negotiate the lowest priced homes down even lower?

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Having a car in the garage without gas in the tank

December 9, 2008

gunI was once asked by a lady visiting if I had a gun in the house. I said I did. She said ‘Well I certainly hope it isn’t loaded!’ To which I said, of course it is loaded, can’t work without bullets!’ She then asked, ‘Are you that afraid of someone evil coming into your house?’ My reply was, ‘No not at all. I am not afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too.’ To which I’ll add , having a gun in the house that isn’t loaded is like having a car in the garage without gas in the tank.

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Why carry a 45?

December 9, 2008

texas-rangersA reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him ‘Why do you carry a 45?’ The Ranger responded, ‘Because they don’t make a 46.’

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How much is my home worth?

December 5, 2008

If you’re looking for a quick idea of your homes value check out www.Zillow.com. Just punch in your address and click “Go” and you’ll soon have a reasonable idea of what you could expect to sell for in this market. Now, if you want an even more accurate valuation call me at 727-804-5319.

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