Realtor Advice

What if You Forgot Your Measuring Tape?

So, you just arrived at a listing and you forgot your measuring tape. Here’s a quick way to measure practically anything—if you to have to figure out some dimensions right now!


      It’s about 1” in diameter

Paper Money:

    It’s 2-1/2” by 6”. Paper can wrap around object so it also comes in handy if you have to measure small, curved items.

Credit Card:

      It measures 2” x 3-1/2”. (Can also be used to scrape ice off car windows.)


      The span of your outstretched arms is usually roughly equal to your height — so if you are 5’9”, by stretching your arms, measuring from the tip of your left hand to the tip of your right hand should be about 5’ 9” in length.


    A size 10-1/2 man’s shoe is about 1 foot long. For women, size 8 is about 10 inches long. Measure by walking heel to toe.


Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

How to Anticipate the Drama If You Are the Listing Agent

A View from the Beach

As I reflect on the all of the loans that I have closed over the years, I have to admit that each one of them has had some drama associated with it.

Some “drama” is more memorable than others—and I’m sure that you have your own stories!

While there will always be a little drama with each real estate transaction, I read an article the other day about how listing agents can minimize it when an offer is presented and accepted.

So, I wanted to share some of those tips with you.

Explain the Sales Contract in Detail: What normally happens is that the contract paragraphs are explained in general terms, like “this clause explains what will happen in case of a default”. Explain in laymen’s terms each and every clause on the contract.

Explain what happens to the earnest money deposit: – Where it’s deposited and how it will be credited at the closing or refunded (or not refunded) if the deal falls through.

Explain contingencies: This includes the time frame needed to meet those contingencies and what happens if they are not met. If they can be extended. Negotiated. Or waived.

Explain Inspection Reports: Don’t downplay any of the issues on an inspection report. What might not be an issue with you or the seller may be a major hang up for the buyer. Each big or little problem may be an issue, so warn the seller not to get upset or offended when the buyer is asking for repairs.

Explain the lending process: If there is mortgage contingency, explain the loan approval process. How the file goes from pre-approval to processing. To appraisal review. To underwriting. To closing. Talk about some of the issues that you have experienced in the past but that you have absolutely no control over – nor does anyone else due to the borrowers’ Right of Privacy rules.

Explain the appraisal process: If anything blows up a real estate sale, it’s the appraisal. Explain the difference between a CMA and an appraisal. Explain how long it might take (in some areas of the country, it could take up to a month). That the seller does not get a copy of the appraisal (unless approved by the buyer). What happens if the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price? Is there an appeal process (depending on the type of loan)? The option to renegotiate the sales price. Or cancel the deal all together.

Explain title insurance: Why the seller must provide title insurance. That both the seller’s and the buyer’s records are searched for any liens, collections, judgments, or legal issues. Explain the “conditions” outlined and, in some instances, why a land survey may be required.

Explain the closing process: In addition to your Sellers’ Net Sheet, show them a blank copy of a closing disclosure that they will be reviewing and signing at closing. If the seller has a mortgage that will be paid off at closing, explain how the payoff might be different from your estimate due to additional interest or an escrow shortage. Talk about how taxes are pro-rated at the time of closing and how it will affect the sellers’ final check. Give them examples of the other documents they will be signing at closing.

Just a few other suggestions—

  • Create a checklist for yourself so you remember to explain everything in detail. Ask the seller to sign it after you are done as proof if something “hits the fan” later on in the transaction.
  • Give the seller a blank copy of an inspection report. Sales contract (with notations). Closing documents. Any other paperwork that you think is important.
  • Consistently call after each “event” and reiterate the explanations that you had with them when the offer was accepted.

While this may not eliminate all the drama (issues), it covers most of the potential questions, and how the selling process works may ultimately get you more referrals due to the fact that you are both knowledgeable and personable.

Realtor Advice, Sales

Tips on Non-Intrusive Ways to Contact Expired Listings

A View from the Beach
A View from the Beach

“List to Last” is what real estate trainers a brokers preach to their agents.

So, how do you get listings, especially if you are a newer agent?

If done right and in a non-intrusive way, expired listings have already raised their hands and said that they were willing to sell their home in the first place.

It’s usually not the real estate agent’s fault. Sometimes it’s the home. The location. Or the seller just got tired of showings.

Oh, and you can bet that when that listing expires, the seller will be getting a ton of phone calls from other agents, which usually upsets them. After the 30th call, they will either hang up or let the calls go into voice mail.

If you don’t want to be one of those pesky agents but see the value of marketing to expired listings, there is a different way of marketing to them.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Work with expired listings that are 30 days to 1 year old. Nobody is bugging them to list their home after the initial flood of agents calling them.
  • Choose listings that fit within your farm area or homes that have a good chance of selling—if priced right.
  • Send a postcard with a handwritten note and target expired listing that are 30, 60 or 90 days old. With newly expired listings, the home may already be relisted by the time the postcard arrives.
  • Deliver a listing package, again to the older, expired ones. Do not put it in their mailbox (it’s not legal) but leave it on their door step. Personalize it with comps and suggestions on what you would do to get the home sold.
  • Send a handwritten note after delivering the listing packet and ask for a meeting.
  • Send a local real estate report every three weeks or so to keep them updated on local trends, days on the market, listing to selling price.

Make it simple. Choose 10 expired listings per month. Follow the steps above with the goal of landing one listing per month. Over a one-year time period, that’s 12 listings that you may never have gotten—by spending only a minimal amount of time and money.

What other tactics have you used to market to expired listings?

Realtor Advice

Ten Listing Photo Do’s and Don’ts

IMG_0140Real estate photos are a big deal.

If you think about it, they make a difference in getting a higher percentage of your listings sold.

I’d like to share with you 10 ideas that I have come up with after viewing property photos of the homes buyers want me to help them finance.

  1. Do include the maximum number of pictures allowed by MLS and internet websites. If they allow 25 pictures, don’t post just 12 if nearby properties display 25. Viewers will think you are hiding something.
  2. Do take a minimum of 3 pictures of the exterior of the home. Front of home. Back yard. Street view. If there are amenities, like a park, playground, community swimming pool, include those too.
  3. Don’t take a picture of an open toilet. In fact, you don’t even have to take a picture of a toilet unless is really, really special.
  4. Do take multiple photos of rooms from different angles. Even if they don’t all turn out, at least you’ll have several you can choose from.
  5. Don’t take a picture of a vacant room. Showing just carpet and a blank wall means nothing unless there is something special, like a great view from the window, a large closet or a unique lighting fixture that you would label under the picture when posting it.
  6. Don’t post a picture of yourself in the mirror taking a photo.
  7. Don’t post photos of cars, trucks, trailers or RV’s in the driveway. They are not part of the sale and obstruct the view of the garage.
  8. Do ask the sellers to clean up on photo day. Put away dirty dishes. Clear off counters. Remove trash containers in front of home. Make the beds. Hide the dirty clothing.
  9. Don’t post photos that are blurry, crooked or too dark. View the photos that you have taken before leaving the seller’s home to make sure you have the right angles and lighting.
  10. Do one last walk-through before leaving the home. Take a second look in case you missed some important feature that should be included.

Here’s a website link if you’d like a good laugh today.

I’m sure you’ve seen pictures that would blow your mind. I would love it if you would share them by sending me some of the weird listing photos you have seen.

Consumer Advice

What a Good Listing Agent Will Do for You When You Decide to Sell Your Home

Listing agentI wanted to let you know that since I’ve been in the mortgage business, I have worked with many real estate agents and observed how they conduct their business.

There are no bad agents — but some are better than others.

The other day, a friend of mine was thinking of listing his home for sale and asked me what he should look for in a good listing agent when it came time to put his home on the market. So, I interviewed a couple of agents and here’s the list that I came up with:

A great listing agent will…

  • Create a marketing plan that involves more than just the MLS
  • Explain the marketing strategies and the reasons why they are being used
  • Give advice on preparing your home: cleaning, staging, repairs, landscaping
  • Take photos of the very best features of your home and review them with you ahead of time
  • Write a thoughtful and thorough description of your home
  • Make sure the major benefits are outlined for potential home buyers
  • Create a high-quality brochure on high-quality paper
  • Explain the listing and sales contract, disclosures and other legal matters in selling your home
  • Communicate with you on a regular basis — even if there is nothing to report
  • Focus on you, and not the commission.

If you are planning to sell your home, please contact me because I can refer some great listings agents for you to interview.

Realtor Advice

What Types of Listings Should You Avoid?

ListingsAs a Realtor, you were probably taught that there is no such thing as a bad listing. Well, there are certain types of homes and clients that you may want to steer clear of.

Why? These types of homes/clients actually cost you money!

Sellers Who Object to Your Suggestions – If you make suggestions regarding staging, updating and how to improve the home to get it ready to sell, but they object to your ideas or start to argue with you, you may want to reconsider working with them.

Excuses Why You Can’t Show the Home – The conversation might go something like this:

“Just to let you know, I can’t show the home on Wednesdays because that is bridge club day. Oh, and Fridays are out of the question because I babysit my grandchildren. By the way, once a month I host our neighborhood supper club, so you can’t show the home during that time either.”

Here’s the dealio: working with these clients is not impossible, but you may to want to agree on a showing schedule in advance to eliminate issues down the road.

Past Listing Record – You pull up the property on MLS and find they have listed the home five times before. It’s true, not all sellers and agents get along—but five times? If you are contacted to list their home, directly ask the seller why they have listed with five different agents. Ask what they expect from you. You’re facing a hard road if they have listed their home more than three times.

The Odd Home in the Neighborhood – Is it a shack among mansions? Or a mansion among shacks? If the home style or condition is rare in the neighborhood, there are a number of things to think about. How will you price the home? Can an appraiser find usable comps? Will a lender approve the financing (if needed)? If it’s difficult to come up with the “right price,” you should think twice before taking the listing.

Have there been any listings that you regretted taking?