You Don’t Need a “Certified Deed” When You Buy a House.

Bob bought a nice little condo in Cary.

He contacted me a couple of weeks later and told me he was getting a sales pitch from someone who was peddling a “Certified Deed.”
He wanted to know if this is something he needed.

No.  He doesn’t need a “Certified” Deed.  [pullquote]This is just a low-level scam that comes around now and then. [/pullquote]  This is just a low-level scam that comes around now and then. The scammer follows closings at the courthouse and contacts  new homeowners with an official looking letter, offering to help them protect themselves with a “Certified Deed,” usually for a fee in the $70–$150 range.
And it is totally unnecessary and useless.
Bob’s deed was recorded at the Wake County Courthouse Register of Deeds Office, and is on the public record.  When he emailed me asking about the “Certified Deed” scam, I emailed him a link to the recorded deed.  That recordation carries more weight than any scammer’s fake deed.

And, I told him if he ever had a question about his deed and ownership, he should contact his closing attorney.

JUMBO Rates are Lower than Conforming Rates?? Wow.

JUMBO loans, Home loans for more than $417,000 for upscale homes in the Triangle market, are coming in cheaper than conforming loans at less than $417,000!
Luxury Home buyers and Home sellers, Rejoice! This may be a shot in the arm to a stodgy real estate market strata.
That just does not happen, historically. There has been a cost penalty for JUMBO loans, varying from a quarter point, to a point or more, just about forever.

The reasons? Banks have money and need to put it somewhere. JUMBO home markets are flooded with stagnant inventory. Luxury homes in the Triangle are just not moving, with 2 years’ inventory in many local areas for homes in the $800,000+ price ranges.
And, as Nick Timiraos noted in the Wall Street Journal last night, volatile mortgage bond yields are driving up confirming loan interest rates.

As usual, fascinating stuff. Structuring loans for upscale and luxury homes with 80/10/10, 75/25 products, or other scenarios has been a staple of JUMBO lenders in the past. And it is hardly a concern today, with JUMBO money very competitive and even more competitive than cohforming money.
Will this give the Triangle’s upscale home and luxury home real estate markets a boost? Stay tuned….

House Photos at Dusk

When I list a house for sale, I enjoy getting a variety of photos.
One of my favorites is getting a series of shots at dusk, with all the lights on and the house looking warm and welcoming.  It requires a special trip back to the house, but the results make that quite worthwhile.  I usually use one of the dusk photos as a feature photo on the Triangle MLS, and Realtor.com

Here are a few listing photographs I shot in Cary and Apex:

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Photographers call dusk “Magic Hour.”  I think a nice dusk photo of a pleasant home helps curb appeal, exposes the home for sale in a nice fashion, and makes the listing stand out to Home buyers.  And, home sellers always like to see their property shown in the best possible light.

“Coming Soon” culture? Is this current fad of REALTOR® MLS Members Eroding the Credibility, Equity Value, and Integrity of Our Multiple Listing Service?

You see it more and more.  Real Estate Signs blaring “COMING SOON!!!”  “COMING SOON” riders hung on signs for weeks.  And the big day never arrives.  The home never “Comes.”  It just “Goes,” as in Under Contract.   A listing goes to Contingent status, under contract, in Zero (0) Days On Market.

“Wink, wink.  MLS rules say I cannot show it to you while it says ‘Coming Soon.’  But, for you….”  When you drive past a Coming Soon sign in a hot Cary neighborhood and see folks going up the sidewalk to the house from a car with a REALTOR® sticker on the tailgate, you just know that “Coming Soon” means “Came Ahead of Schedule.”

REALTOR® members of the Triangle MLS agree to post all listings to the MLS, unless the seller wants it “Withheld.”

This convention of membership does a few things:

  • It assures sharing and cooperation between brokers, as they have agreed.
  • It helps assure that the sellers’ properties are exposed to the market, to garner the seller more chances of receiving the highest possible offer with the best possible terms.  This is a fiduciary responsibility of the listing agent.
  • It supports OUR MLS as the “Go To Resource” for legitimate real estate listings, data, and history.

And we are seeing those points undermined by a marketing fad.  The issue has become pervasive enough that the NC Real Estate Commission had to weigh in on “Coming Soon!” in the latest Real Estate Bulletin.  Sometimes folks ought to read the Articles before gleefully leafing back to the Punishment Porn to “Tut Tut” about whoever got their wrists slapped for DWI.

Why do agents post “Coming Soon?”

  • To build market interest for a quick sale?  Heck, we are in a hot market.  If the house is right and priced right, just going “Active” on the MLS is enough to generate enough traffic to get it sold in a week.  It is happening all over the place in Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Morrisville, Holly Springs, etc.
  • To get phone calls and milk buyer clients from the listing?   We might be getting a little closer there.  “Sorry.  That one isn’t ready.  Are you working with a buyers’ agent?”

How does that serve the owner of the listing, to divert a buyer by prematurely putting up a sign?
Well, that hotbed of buyer leads may go under contract in a few days.  When it is Contingent or Pending, the sign calls may decline or cease altogether  and it serves the agent well to keep a sign up for as long as possible to get sign calls and buyer leads…

Whoops!  Just wait a second on that second point.
Since when is the purpose of a listing agreement with a fiduciary role supposed to serve the listing agent?   I think “Never.”  Tell me I am wrong.

Triangle Real Estate Forum? Free Real Estate Advice? Why? I say, Why Not?

Visit Zillow or Trulia. Watch people with reasonable real estate questions being offered no help as they are routinely pestered and solicited by hordes of real estate agents resembling Biblical swarms of locusts. I did. And I thought there MUST to be a better way to help consumers with general real estate topics.

Enter the Triangle Real Estate Forum.

I picked up some world-class forum software, had it installed on a server, did a few minor tweaks, and opened it up to anyone who has questions to ask, or answers to give. All manner of discussion is welcome. General agency topics, sharing of Triangle regional information. Information about our towns and cities. Cary or Carrboro. Raleigh or Durham. foreclosures. Short sales. Luxury Condos or affordable Townhomes.
But, the forum is designated a “Safe Place” for visitors to ask questions and discuss topics, No Hassle style.
No solicitations for business are allowed.
No advertising.
No “Contact me for more details.”
No feeding frenzy on the poor visitor who says, “Help! I was just transferred to Raleigh and we need a 5 bedroom home in a great neighborhood, with a home-buying budget of less than $600,000. Where should we be looking?”
Just help and information. No strings attached.

It’s not for everyone. Many real estate pros cannot bring themselves to give away “free advice.” So it goes. Those are the rules.
Drop by and check it out.

Realty Arts, LLC: A New Name. Same Real Estate Service Philosophies

“Do you sell homes in Raleigh?” used to be a common question. Or homes in Apex? Or Morrisville? Or Holly Springs?
Concentrating marketing near my home in Cary, and my website: CaryRealEstateSales.com worked together to make the questions quite reasonable.

And, Yes. I sell homes in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Holly Springs. Yes, I sell homes in Durham. Chapel Hill, too. Garner. Yes, I sell homes in Chatham County. Etc. I sell homes all around the Triangle.

I opened as an independent real estate broker in December, 2012, leaving KELLER WILLIAMS® Realty in Cary behind after 7 great years. And in February, we formed the LLC, Realty Arts, LLC. I wanted something catchy and not anchored in one town or geographic local area by its name.
New domain name: www.RealtyArts.com and more good real estate stuff to follow.

My focus group (friends and family) was somewhat split on “Realty Arts.” Some liked it a lot. And some, a LOT less. “What do Real Estate and Art have to do with each other?” and “It sounds like you are selling paint,” were two comments.
Well, think of other great strong real estate companies. What about “Century 21” or “ERA” or “Zillow” or “Trulia” screams “real estate?” The words alone don’t do it. It’s their marketing that puts their message and meaning into your mind.
“Oh, yes. If you market your brand, it will have meaning to the public.” Sure. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Honda, you name it. And, “Realty Arts” already has “realty” in it. Off to a good start!

Regarding “Arts.” Besides focusing on an artist’s palette of oils, or acrylics, or clay, landscapes or portraits or statuary, I am focused on the skills attained through study and practice that will help me be a great Realtor®.

The Art of Service.
The Art of Negotiation.
The Art of Home Sales.
The Art of Poise.

The list of skills that can be developed to an Artful level goes on and on.
Study + Practice + Skill + Application = Service.

I had fun with a client this evening, referring to myself as “Realty Artist, Mike Jaquish.” Then, I thought, a lofty goal to attain. Why not?

Buyers’ Market? Sellers Market? Maybe it’s a Ninja’s Market!

Home buyers are noticing that desirable properties, depleted inventory, and great demand are creating multiple offers daily in the Triangle.
Welcome to the Cary NC real estate market, 2013 Version.

We are seeing homes sold with 0, Zero, Days On Market. The Pocket Listing is back. Sell them before they hit the MLS.
We are seeing showings declined on Active listings, and no response from the listing agent. Et Voila! A contract!
We are seeing homes go under contract before photos are posted to MLS.

Buyers’ agents must sniff out opportunity and be ready to turn on a dime.
Like the ninja of old, it can take legendary skills to complete the task. I haven’t developed the skills of invisibility, time travel, or shape-shifting, but they may come in handy.

More seriously, the market was strengthening for sellers and getting more competitive for buyers through last year, 2012. Then the news broke that Wake County Public Schools would resume school assignment by address. And some areas went into hyper-drive. Davis Drive Elementary School and Davis Drive Middle School are two very desirable schools. Historically, homes with school assignments for those two schools have traded at a premium. Confusion over school assignments for a couple of years defused that demand. Now? Buyers flock to homes in neighborhoods that have assignments for both schools.

2012 and Wake County Property Taxes

2012 is the mid-point of the Wake County property tax assessment cycle. We reassess all properties every eight years. Last full property tax reassessment was performed in 2008, and the next full reassessment is scheduled for 2016.
Volatility in the Triangle housing market has raised the question of whether such a cycle is adequate. When some real estate values dip or increase more relative to other properties, should assessed values be corrected to be accurate? What costs would taxpayers have to be willing to absorb for more frequent reassessments?

The N&O had an article today, regarding the quandry, and the issue in Orange and Chatham Counties where property tax reassessments may possibly be delayed to avoid increasing the tax rates to maintain revenue.

It is more politically feasible to delay assessment than to be the one who voted for a tax rate increase, even if the bill stays the same…

Something Brand New in my No Hassle Property Search: Seeing “Pending” Listings!

This update was just installed by the good folks at IDX Broker. IDX Broker is my vendor for my No Hassle Property Search, and they do a great job.

A couple of weeks ago, the Triangle MLS announced that listings in “Pending” status would be released to our IDX vendors. This means that visitors to this site can see “Pending” listings, or even search specifically for “Pending” listings in my Advanced No Hassle Property Search.

You can see a property’s MLS status when you look at the Details.
At the bottom of the right column, you will see “Property Status.”  That will be followed by either “Active,” “Contingent,” or “Pending.”

It has been confusing for a buyer to see properties “disappear” from search results, when we know the sale hasn’t closed yet.

Formerly, TMLS withheld Pending listings from IDX because those are homes that cannot be shown to buyers. That is the meaning of the “Pending” status. But, for the sake of transparency and clarity, the TMLS board recently decided to allow those listings to be displayed.
I think it is a little nifty benefit for people trying to search for homes.

Read More on “Pending” vs. “Contingent.”

Creating Urgency? Or, Raise Interest Rates to Sell More Houses?

Raise interest rates to save the housing market.

I have a client telling me that the Fed is working against home sales by artificially holding interest rates down.  That people feel like they have at least two more years to watch housing, at least until mid-2013, which is the current apparent horizon of low interest rate projections from the Fed.

He says (actually, it was his very intelligent wife whom he quoted with full admiration and attribution), “Why feel urgency to borrow now, when we are clearly told that rates are going nowhere, and prices are feeble.”

Hard to argue with.  So, the Fed has drained urgency out of the housing market; the National Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® members support that effort, and then in a disconnect, they work themselves into a lather with educational sessions and programs and seminars to learn how to “Create Buyer Urgency!”  Well, I have been hearing for 5 years that rates are going to go up.  And the Fed tells me I will likely hear it for a couple more years, as we witness ongoing record low mortgage rates.

And I am supposed to look like a goon and twist arms to “Create Buyer Urgency” because rates will go up?
Nope.  Not me.  If you are ready to buy a house, give me a call.  If not, think your way through it, and I will be around when you ARE ready.  No pressure.  No hassle.

Maybe instead of another silly 1st time buyers boondoggle, the Fed should just give us a road map plotting how and when rates will escalate.  It just might shake some money loose and get it into circulation.

“The FOMC left its benchmark interest rate in a range of zero to 0.25 percent, where it’s been since December 2008 and reiterated language from its August meeting that the rate is likely to stay very low through at least mid-2013.”

From Bloomberg By Scott Lanman and Craig Torres – Oct 13, 2011 12:00 AM ET