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Top 5 Ways to Maximize Your Open House

by The Mike Parker Team

 

If your home is currently on the market, you may be considering whether or not to work with your real estate agent to host an open house. You may have heard that open houses are ineffective or "old fashioned" in today's world of online marketing.

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, I know first-hand that it takes a combination of different marketing strategies to sell your home quickly and for the best possible price. While online marketing and mobile technology are certainly critical parts of the equation, an open house can have a tremendous impact on a successful sale -- when done correctly, that is. Here are my Top 5 tactics for a successful open house. Make sure your agent is incorporating all — or at least some — of these strategies for your home's open house:

  1. Staging well in advance - Don't bother having an open house if your home is not properly staged both inside and outside. Now is the time to work with a professional landscaper because curb appeal will never be more important -- prospective buyers won't bother coming in if they don't like what they see from the outside.
  2. Proper advertising - These days, people are so inundated by life and media that unless your open house is promoted far and wide — and frequently — they will never even know about. Your agent should be: advertising in newspapers; using social media to promote your open house; networking with other agents in the area to make them aware; circulating direct mail to neighbors and nearby communities; and personally inviting key prospects.
  3. Enlist the neighbors - Start polling your neighbors on what they like best about your neighborhood: the schools, the convenience, the community services, the people, etc. Compile this into a handout for your agent to distribute at your open house. After all, what better testimonial could you ask for than the next-door neighbor?
  4. Consider a theme - Some of my fellow members in the Top 5 Network have hosted some unbelievably creative open houses. Consider inviting local restaurants to set up food stations so visitors can experience a "taste" of the community; ask a local antiques shop to stage the home with their showcase items; invite a local gallery to create an art exhibit throughout the home; or highlight something of interest about your home. One Top 5 member, for example, listed the home of an antique car collector and put all the owner’s cars on display and invited car enthusiasts.
  5. Have the right materials on hand - Your open house will be for naught if you don't have the proper materials on hand, such as: a guest directory that asks for names and e-mails (find a creative incentive for guests to leave their e-mail addresses, such as entry into a drawing for a local restaurant gift certificate); professionally done photo brochures of your home or even a DVD of a video tour; payment and financing information.

Be sure to ask your agent how he or she intends to follow up with open house visitors -- this is the most important factor of all. Without a quick and effective follow-up system in place, you could very well pass over a potential buyer.

If you'd like more information on creating an effective open house, please e-mail me. Feel free to forward this e-mail on to any friends and family who might be planning an open house in the near future.

Checklist for Improving Indoor Air Quality

by The Mike Parker Team


June not only marks the commencement of the summer season, but more importantly for homeowners, National Home Safety Month. While our thoughts turn to smoke detectors and child safety locks when considering a safe home, many homeowners often overlook the risks of poor indoor air quality—especially important as the temperature and humidity rise with summer.

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I’ve worked with many clients who have suffered from health-related issues due to poor air quality in their homes. Yet rarely do people think about the quality of their indoor air. Service experts recommend using the following checklist to ensure your air is as healthy as possible:

  • Do you smoke in your home?
  • Do your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room have ventilation and exhaust fans?
  • Do you change your air filters once a month?
  • When cleaning or doing laundry, do you use bleach, ammonia, or aerosol spray cans?
  • Is your gas fireplace and/or gas stove checked yearly for emissions?
  • Was your home built before 1978? If so, has it been checked for lead-based paint?
  • Do your bathrooms have carpet where moisture and dust can build up?

If you have answered "yes" to any of these questions, it’s time to consider making some changes. Many of the quick fixes to improve one’s indoor air quality at home can be accomplished through a few simple adjustments to your regular maintenance practices.

Others, like checking for lead paint, can often be handled through local, county or state programs that are partially or wholly subsidized, and heating source emissions checks can often be done through one’s own utility provider.

For more information on home safety or for a referral on companies that can help you with home maintenance, please e-mail me. And feel free to pass this email on to friends and family members who may have concerns regarding their indoor air quality.

Where is the Market Today?

by Mike Parker
Where is the Market Today?
Submitted by:  Peter Zimmer
By far the most popular question when people find out that I'm in real estate..."So, how's the market?" Most of the time, all they really want is a simple "pretty solid" or "kinda tough right now" followed by some small statistical nugget they can then share with their friends so they can, for a brief moment, sound like an expert.

Well here is a small statistical nugget for everyone to share. It's called an Absorption Rate. The Absorption Rate is roughly how long it will take the current homes on the market to sell. It’s an estimate, based on the current number of lisings and solds. The National Association of Realtors has stated that, in a normal market, the absorption rate is about 6 months. Anything less is considered a seller's market, and anything more--a buyer's market.

Ready for the nugget? Right now, the absorption rate for condos and townhomes in the Greater Cincinnati area is.....almost 14 months!!!

Okay, so what does that mean to you? It is a great time to be looking at condos/townhomes! Prices are great, and you just can't beat the amount of selection on the market right now.

So, have fun sounding like an expert while you share that little nugget with your friends! And if you ever want more info, as always, I'm here to help!
Here's a graph timelining the aborption rate for the past 2 years (for condos/townhomes). The last time it was at about 6 months was June of 2006! If you've ever thought about downsizing or moving from the suburbs to the riverfront...it's worth at least having that conversation!

Capturing some of Homearama 2008 sites.....

by Mike Parker
Submitted by Peter Zimmer:
Team Agent
Here are some pictures of my recent visit to Homearama 2008 in Mason, OH. If you're unfamiliar, it's a showcase of 10 pretty spectacular homes. I believe the average price is about $2 million. Sorry there aren't more pictures, but my camera's battery died!
How's this for a Man Cave! Yes, that is a walk-in humidor off to the right.
How's this for a Man Cave! Yes, that is a walk-in humidor off to the right.
Very detailed craftsmanship in this office. 5" hardwood planks with ceramic tile inlays!
Double tray ceiling with a chandelier. this was above an entryway.
Master bathroom fit for royalty!

Why Title Insurance Policies are SOOOO important!!!!

by Mike Parker

The following article was in the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday, May 31, 2008, written by Sarah Pulliam.  It was forwarded to us by an attorney Terrance R. Monnie.  He explains that if the buyer mentioned in this article "had purchased a title insurance policy the loss would not only have been covered but the insured buyers would have been provided with legal counsel to defend the claim."

Clerk's error jeopardizes family's home

Undetected lien against seller haunts buyer

Zanesville, Ohio - A spelling error by a government worker might cost Andy Mateja his house. 

When he bought a home worth at least $400,000 for $320,000 in 2001, he thought it was a good deal.  He moved in with his family of six and paid his mortgage on time, according to his records.

So he couldn't understand why the Muskingum County sheriffs office served him with foreclosure papers in August 2007.

"My wife literally broke down and cried.  She thought we were going to lose the house," Mateja said.  "If we were going to be evicted, I didn't know where we were going to turn."

When Mateja bought his house, he paid for a title search that found no liens on his property.  It turns out what wasn't true.

JPMorgan Chase had placed a $150,000 lien on the house in 1998, when it was owned by Dr. Subbarayudu Koppera.  But the lien was mistakenly entered into the public record under the name Koppera, so it did not not show up when the title company searched for liens by the owner's last name.

Muskingum County Recorder Karen Vincent, whose office made the spelling mistake, testified that a correction was made in 2006.  Vincent told the Dispatch that to her knowledge, it was the first time an error has been made, but she declined to comment further.

In buying the house, Mateja did not take out title insurance that would have protected him from claims against a previous owner.

Now JPMorgan Chase is going after the Matejas' house.  The Matejas have countersued the bank and Koppera.  The case is scheduled to go to court June 19.

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, said that if the lien is paid off by Koppera, the bank will not pursue foreclosure.  He declined to check how much Koppera has paid or whether there is an agreement to pay back the money, citing privacy issues.

"Our goal for all of this is to be paid what we're owed, and the security to that is the mortgage lien on that property," Kelly said.  "Our preference is to be paid the money, not to own the house."

Former homeowner Koppera, 61, modified the lien in 2004, even though he no longer owned the house.  Koppera, who bought a $682,000 house in New Albany is 2000, said he is paying the bank $2,000 each month on the lien of his former home.

"We are paying now.  Somehow they got mad and they want everything."  Koppera said of Chase.

Koppera, a kidney specialist, and his wife have faced numerous civil judgments for unpaid debts and federal, state and county tax liens for unpaid taxes.

He believes the title company made a mistake.  "They should've known it and stopped right there so the lien was clear.  Instead of me taking the cash, I would've paid the lien," Koppera said regarding the sale of the house.  "They didn't do their job, and they should pay for it."

Koppera declined to comment further.

Mateja, a 53-year-old father of four, moved to his Zanesville home from Chicago.  The four-bedroom, red-brick house sits on a manicured hill in a quiet neighborhood northwest of Zanesville.

He has incurred mounting costs since he left his job as vice president of sales for Robinson Ransbottom Pottery before the company went out of business in 2005.  He worked as a consultant for two years before getting a full-time job in October with Gale Pacific.

Because he was struggling financially, he refinanced his mortgage in May 2007 at a higher interest rate in a loan that gave him extra cash.  His lender would not give him an equity loan.

Then, he was hit with foreclosure papers, and he has incurred about $10,000 in legal bills since.

"My first inclination was, 'Do we just let them pull the plug and go rent?'  We didn't want to try to rent, but we couldn't buy again if we had been foreclosed on," Mateja said.  "It definitely put me into shock and put my wife into deep despair."

Behind on your mortgage payments?????

by Mike Parker

This article was written in the Chigago Tribune regarding what to do if you are running behind on your mortgage payments.....

Options exist for homeowners behind on their mortgage payments—if they act quickly. Lisle attorney Steven Bashaw and Michigan real estate broker Ralph Roberts offer these:

·         A forbearance agreement may help borrowers with short-term financial problems, Roberts said. It’s a payment plan with a set pay-back period, and the bank will want proof you can live up to it. “If you owe $3,000 in back payments, for example, the bank may allow you to pay an extra $250 per month for 12 months,” he said.

·         Reinstatement entails paying all past-due payments, costs and fees to bring the account current. This may be a good short-term solution, Roberts said, but homeowners have to make hard decisions about whether they can keep paying the loan in the long haul.

·         Mortgage modification means working out a new loan, with many possible variations. The bank may agree to roll the amount owed in missed payments, penalties and interest into the total loan amount, for example, Roberts said. Or a modification might lower the interest rate or change the loan’s term.

·         Sell the house in a timely manner, pay off the loan and fees, and end the problem, Roberts and Bashaw said.

·         A short sale occurs when a lender agrees to take a loss by selling the house for less than the amount owed. “I don’t encounter those as much as you’d think,” Bashaw said. “They’re not the panacea that speculators and investors and real estate agents want you to think they are.”

·         Bankruptcy. “It can give you more time to restructure your debt,” Roberts said. “Bankruptcy takes you off the market, the collection proceedings can’t keep going. The clock just stops running.” But it’s extreme, and a lender might get court approval to proceed with the foreclosure anyway, Roberts said. Plus, it poisons your credit-worthiness.

·         Redemption. In Illinois, a foreclosed borrower has a certain amount of time after the house is sold at auction to redeem it by reimbursing the purchaser for the sale price and other costs.

·         Rescue plans can come from all manner of folks. They are too varied to describe here—except to say that homeowners must be wary of scams.

Bottom line: Don’t sign a quit-claim deed to someone who says this will “fix your problem,” Roberts says. It may be a ruse to steal the house. Check with a lawyer before you sign.

6 Things You Need to Know About Foreclosures

by Mike Parker

This was originally posted by Ralph Roberts but we thought it was such great information, we just had to share it. 

If you or someone you know is currently facing foreclosure, you have options, including:

1.    You are not alone. Foreclosure knows no geographic, racial, ethnic, or socio-economic boundaries. We have seen real estate agents, attorneys, and others face foreclosure. Michael Jackson recently filed for bankruptcy. Foreclosure is much more prevalent than you think.

2.    Most people facing foreclosure have at least a dozen options. (Many people falsely believe that they have only two options – pay up or move out.) You can reinstate the loan, refinance (consolidate debt), list the home for sale with an agent, sell to an investor (if you have insufficient time to list the property), offer a deed in lieu of foreclosure, declare bankruptcy, negotiate forbearance or a mortgage modification, to name several of the most common options.

3.    Banks and other lending institutions do not want to foreclose. They make more money if you can make your payments. When they foreclose, they not only lose your monthly payments, but they also have the expense of foreclosing, rehabbing the home, and then selling it. In today’s market, there’s a good chance they’ll have to sell the home at a loss. This is all good news for you – it means the bank is highly motivated to make a deal with you.

4.    Given the current mortgage crisis and resulting foreclosure epidemic, the federal government, your state government, and consumer protection advocacy groups have put more pressure on mortgage lenders and provided them with additional resources to help homeowners in distress. In a way, people facing foreclosure now may be in a much better position to avoid it than they would have been, say five years ago.

5.    If you own the home with your spouse or life partner, tell them immediately. Far too many people try to keep their partner in the dark. Eventually, the person will find out. It’s always better if they find out from you earlier rather than from someone else when they have little or no time to do anything about it. Couples that work as a team almost always see much better results.

6.    Call your lender – the sooner, the better. As soon as you stop making payments, the foreclosure clock starts ticking. The earlier you know your options, the more time you have to pursue those options.

An Advertorial Presented by Frost Brown Todd LLC

Written by: Kyle R Grubbs

I'm interested in purchasing a parcel of Real Estate, but the property owner just filed for bankruptcy?  Can I still purchase the property?  Is there anything special I need to do?

Yes and Yes.  The Bankruptcy Code permits a debtor-in-possession to sell its real estate and other assets based on its reasonable business judgment.  As with other purchases of real estate, as a potential purchaser, you should conduct standard due diligence including title, survey, environmental, zoning, and building inspections prior to purchasing the property.  In fact, since there will be virtually no representations or warranties made by the seller, the purchaser's due diligence is even more important in the bankruptcy context.  In addition, because the property owner is in bankruptcy, additional precautions are warranted.

First, the sale of the real estate must be authorized by the bankruptcy court if the sale of the real estate is outside of the debtor's ordinary course of business.  In almost all cases, sales of real state will be outside of a debtor's ordinary course of business.  To ensure the debtor obtains prompt bankruptcy court approval of the sale, the purchase contract should require the debtor to immediately file a motion seeking the bankruptcy court's approval of the sale.

Second, the sale of the real estate should be free and clear of any interest or lien of the debtor's creditors.  Because the seller of the real estate is in bankruptcy, the property is likely encumbered by mortgages, mechanic's liens, judgment liens, and other encumbrances.  Unlike a typical real estate transaction, liens and other monetary encumbrances are not necessarily paid at closing.  To ensure your purchase is free from the claims of the debtor's creditors, the order authorizing the sale of real estate should provide, among other things, that the (a) sale is free and clear of all liens, claims, encumbrances, and interests and that any liens will attach to the sale proceeds only; (b) purchaser is a "good faith purchaser" under the Bankruptcy Code so that the validity of the sale is not affected by an appeal of the sale order; and (c) ten-day stay set forth in the Bankruptcy Code is waived and the sale order is effective immediately to avoid any post-closing challenges to the sale.  You should work closely with your title company to ensure that the sale order is sufficient in all respects for the title company to issue you a clean title policy at closing.

Should you list with A Realtor or do FSBO?????

by Mike Parker

The folllowing article was written by a real estate agent named Doug Quance and we thought it was worth reading!!!

This following "top ten" list from a local "for sale by owner" website landed in my feed reader this morning. I would provide a link - but it’s not my intention to draw further attention to this particular site.  To each "point" that the author makes, I will provide a "counter-point" for your consideration.

1. You Can “Sell” Your Home Better Than Anyone Else: You know your home best and what is special about the area, as well as other details about the property. A well maintained, fairly priced home virtually sells itself.

You might know all the particulars about your home and area - but you may not know what NOT to say. You could be held legally liable for what you say to buyers!

While a well-maintained, fairly priced home virtually sells itself - you need to make sure your home can be found by the most buyers… and the most important place to get the widest possible audience is the Multiple Listing Service.

 

2. More Money in your pocket: Calculate 6% or 7% of what you think your property is worth, then ask yourself: is it worth paying this much to have someone else show my property? Chances are the answer is NO.

If Realtors did nothing but add 6-7% to the cost of selling a property while bringing no value to the transaction - there wouldn’t be very many Realtors.. and justifiably so.

In addition to the many services that Realtors bring to the table - they also deliver worldwide marketing exposure which results in the best prices for sellers.

 

3. You’re in control: You can advertise where and how you want to, schedule showings when it’s convenient, talk directly with prospective buyers, and even take your house off the market when you choose. Remember, listing a home usually requires a minimum of 6 months with a Realtor.

Realtors know where to advertise your property - and if you are serious about selling, you need to allow showings when it is convenient for the buyer… not you.

The reason why most competent Realtors require a six month listing has to do with the current real estate market absorption rate -  because we don’t want to give it away for free.

 

4. Less Hassle and Frustration: When selling by owner, you don’t have to leave the house because an agent wants to show it, or clean every morning “just in case”. You know exactly when people are coming and can prepare accordingly. When a buyer makes an offer, there is not all the frustrating back and forth phone tag between agents.

In a buyer’s market - like the one we’re in - a seller should be delighted to leave so an agent can show their home. Buyers are not easy to come by, and you only get one chance to make that first impression - so if you’re serious about selling, get that house in ship-shape and smile when an agent wants to show it.

 

5. Less Uncertainty:  Because you meet the prospective buyers, you have a much better idea how interested people are, what they like about the home, how serious they are about buying and what their time frame and situation is. The direct feedback is easier to live with than wondering how things are going, or worse why no one has made an offer yet.

You don’t get less uncertainty simply because you are dealing directly with the buyers! Do you think that a seasoned Realtor doesn’t know how to interpret a Buyer’s signals and ask the proper questions to determine how motivated the buyers are? Do you really believe the buyers are going to tell you why they don’t like your home - directly to your face?

 

6. You Can Sell Faster: If you list your home with a real estate agent, everyone knows you’ll probably inflate the asking price to cover the commission fee amount. Three to six months down the road you’ll come to the painful realization that no one is going to buy it at that price, and you will end up reducing your price ( or accepting an offer) equal to the original amount you would have asked if selling by owner. Do it right the first time, and avoid taking the loss. Pass the savings along to yourself and the buyer and sell your home quicker.

If you believe that you can inflate your asking price to cover the brokerage fee - you are mistaken. You would be equally mistaken if you believe you can inflate your asking price because you have kids in college or because you need a big down payment for your next home.

The reason why the vast majority of "for sale by owners" end up listing with a Realtor is because selling your own home is not easy… and most FSBO’s are a failure at doing it, themselves.

 

7. Show Only To Interested Buyers: You can be sure that buyers are truly interested in your property when they visit because they have personally made the effort to be there. They haven’t been dragged there by an agent using your property for comparison purposes only.

Spoken like someone who knows nothing about showing property. Agents will show your property in the interest of helping you sell it. But if they find that your home is overpriced, then yes - it will help sell another property. It’s called comparison shopping. Every educated consumer does it.

 

8. You have greater access to out–of-area buyers: Our internet site allows buyers anywhere in the world, easy access to your ad and phone number. Currently it is estimated that 1.3 Billion people have internet access.

My neighbor’s daughter has a MySpace page that anyone in the world can access… but few people can find it. If you want worldwide reach, a Realtor will have your listing on Realtor.com - as well as hundreds of other websites that pull their listings from the listing services.

 

9. It’s Easy: If you can sell your own car, you can sell your own home…it’s that simple. Once our marketing efforts locate a buyer—lenders, lawyers and title companies take over. Use our marketing resources as your best advertising resource.

Sorry - it’s not that simple. And if you believe that once a buyer is found, then the lenders; lawyers; and title companies will take over - you are sadly mistaken. Don’t get me wrong… I am not saying that you can’t sell your own home - many people do each year. If you decide to take this route, be sure you get educated in the process of selling your home. Just because someone says it’s easy - doesn’t make it so.

 

10. What is your alternative?  Listing with an agent? The “gravy train” days for agents asking 6% for listings should be dead. Understand that 9.5 out of every 10 listing agents don’t sell their own listings. So why would you even think about listing for a 6% commission. No Listing Commissions-EVER!

The reason why the so-called "gravy train" days of asking 6% aren’t over is because they never were "gravy train" days! Successfully listing and selling a property - especially in a buyer’s market - is not an easy affair.

And the reason why most agents don’t sell their own listings is the same reason why you should list with an agent. Agents are able to attract other agents who are assisting their buyer-clients in their quest for a new home - and this is done through the cooperation of the listing services.

Also, keep in mind that without an experienced agent to help guide you through the transaction - all sorts of bad things could happen. Sometimes, it’s just better to let the professionals handle your affairs!

Google Search Using Your Cell Phone & Text Messaging!!!

by Mike Parker

This article was written by Sam Miller, Agent in Mt. Vernon, OH and one of Mike's friends.....try this out...it is WAY COOL!!!!!

Have you ever needed a quick phone number and didn't want to take the time to boot up your computer and search Google and you wanted to avoid the high charge for directory assistance or 411 connect?   Have you ever wanted the phone numbers for the local movie theatres or pizza places near you and you don't have anything to write the numbers down on?  There is a quick and easy way to get the information you want within 60 seconds and most of you can get the information quick and cheap with your cell phone and your text message feature. 

Send a text message to this number:  466453 (I know this is a partial number but trust me it will work).  Now type in what you are searching for and for your example use the following as a test:  Plumber 43050 (of you can type in Plumber XXXX (enter your zip code where my x's are)  Now simply press send and sit tight and within 60 seconds you will get a text message with the information.  This works for client names, addresses and phone numbers and it works for just about anything you are searching.  If you want another good test why not search your name or your spouses name and your zip code?  If you have a spare moment send a text to 466453 and enter Realtor, Florence, Kentucky 41042 and see what comes up.

There are so many potential uses for this service and once you play with it a bit you will quickly see the many possibilities.  Your family will love it, your past clients will love it, your team will love it, I have a feeling that pretty much anyone with a cell phone will find a use for it at some point.  The key to remember is that if you do not have a text messaging account you will get charged a non contract text message rate.  For those of us with text messages contracts and especially those of us who have unlimited text messaging this is a feature that we will be using on a very regular basis.  Google has done it again and the speed of this service is amazing

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Photo of Mike Parker - CRS Real Estate
Mike Parker - CRS
HUFF Realty
60 Cavalier Blvd.
Florence KY 41042
859-647-0700