Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Big Dip and Big News

This is up the street from my new office in North Syracuse. I was enticed in by the sign that said Pumpkin soft serve ice cream. I had the pumpkin and vanilla swirl. Next time I would just get the pumpkin because it was so good!

Our whole office is moving. We are going to be the McKenzie Group at Syracuse Realty Group. So instead of being a tiny stand-alone company we will be a team in a small office. I think it's a great new step for us. Nothing else will change, Christopher Moreland and I will still work together and I will still be in charge of marketing our listings. I will continue to work with buyers in the same way. I'll just have a fancier office with more parking!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Taste of India buffet restaurant coming soon

This is on Dell right off Wescott- it says GRAND OPENING on the sign but it doesn't say when.  It doesn't look ready yet, but the chairs and tables are there so probably wont be too long.

Taste of India Syracuse is now open - click here for Taste of India Syracuse Restaurant Review

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Regulate Bank's Behavior in Short Sales

Once again, I have a client who wants to buy a short sale property. I spoke to the listing agent about it. There was accepted offer on it before, and the bank got back to them quickly on it - only one month!

That's right, responding to a purchase offer in one month is considered fast.

Why is this? I don't think banks are that inefficient that they couldn't deal with this in a reasonable amount of time.

The more time you leave a short sale hanging the worse it is for the owner, for the neighborhood and for property values.

Most buyers can't wait that long or deal with the uncertainty.  Anyone who is moving to a new area or has a lease needs to have a set date range where they can expect to take possession of a house.  This means that short sale properties are mostly bought by investors.  If the banks were forced to get their act together and had a time limit to reply, owner occupants could purchase short sales easier.  Since they usually pay higher prices than investors it would actually benefit the banks.

Short sales are frequently vacant, and empty houses deteriorate much faster. They get broken into and have copper pipes and appliances stolen. No one is there to notice the small leak that turns into the big leak that brings down the bedroom ceiling. The house gets damp, moldy and musty. It's a downwards spiral.

Once the house goes into foreclosure it really hurts property values. Plus now we have another former home owner with a foreclosure on their record. One who is probably pissed off at the bank and may damage the house on the way out.

It seems reasonable - more than reasonable - to give banks a time limit to reply to a short sale contract. One month is more than enough time. I think banks should be regulated on this.

You might also want to read: What is a Short Sale

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chinese Lantern Flowers out in Pompey

I took this out in the country, at our listing in Pompey, NY. It's a 5 bedroom 3.5 bath house on three levels! The lot is set back away from the road and is surrounded by woods on three sides. That is a good feature in an area where a lot of the houses are close to the road on busy roads. People want to go out to the country for peace and quiet and they end up with traffic noise instead! In addition to being away from the road, Cemetery Road is pretty quiet.

In the yard there's this huge patch of black eyed susans and Chinese Lanterns. They are the orange pod-shaped flowers like papery balloons. I have never seen them growing before, just at the florist.

The house is about a half hour drive from Syracuse.

It looks small from the photos, but it actually is three stories - it's on a slight hillside so the lower level is walkout and has big windows.

It's $129,777. It is a short sale, so the property will take longer to close.
Property has an offer on it and is now pending!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The House We Didn't Buy

New House, originally uploaded by Melsky.

Don't get too attached to any house until you have closed on it and the keys are in your pocket.

If you are too attached it's easy to rationalize away any defects or problems. You can end up making a decision based on emotion instead of logic and financial sense.

Almost exactly three years ago, I was so excited about our new house. Our offer was just accepted and I was already planning what I would do to it.

In New York State most contracts have a home inspection contingency. That means you get to hire an inspector and they will give you a report on the condition of the house. If the house has problems, you can ask the sellers to fix them or to give you money off the price of the home.

So we had the home inspection. First we find out that the roof was bad. It had 5 layers of previous roofs on it, and they would all have to be removed and then a new roof put on.

But the real deal killer was the two story garage. The top floor of it was totally unstable, to the point where it shouldn't be walked on. It also needed a new roof.

We didn't think the sellers had been honest about the condition of the property. There were a lot of places where they had tried to cover up problems like water stains.

We were already suspicious of them because there was a city code problem with the sidewalk. You are not allowed to put asphalt over your sidewalk, though many people in Syracuse do. Somehow, these people had gotten tagged for that and the city was requiring them to put in a new sidewalk, which was several thousand dollars. They neglected to tell us this for the first week, though they had known for months. They did not intend on paying for it so basically it added the cost to the price for the home. This is something that should have been disclosed in the listing.

We opted not to buy the house and used the home inspection contingency to cancel the contract.

It's not that far from my current house and I always wonder what it would have been like if we bought it. I think not buying it was a good choice and I'm glad I wasn't too emotionally attached to it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Onondaga Lake

Syracuse doesn't make much of it's lake. Other places I've lived like California and Toronto make a big deal of having a "water view". Syracuse pretty much turns it's back on Onondaga Lake - there's no housing developments or condos which advertise lake views, and Carousel Center Mall is right on the lake but you'd never know.

Instead of being built so you could see the lake it has a big ugly parking lot buffer between itself and Onondaga Lake.

There is a Lakeview Street in Syracuse but oddly enough you can't see the lake from it.

The main exception to this is Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, where it's built around the lake. However, you can't swim in the lake from there, or anywhere else due to pollution.

For most of the history of Syracuse, Onondaga Lake has been an industrial disposal ground. If you drive up Milton Avenue in Solvay you'll see factories and industrial properties lining the shore. I think that's a lot of the reason it's not used as an asset when developing real estate - it's viewed as an industrial waste site.

Recently the Post Standard had an article on stuff found at the bottom of the lake:
Photo of Lake above taken from this article

My prediction is in the next ten years there will be a lot of Lake View developments here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Strong cider

I'm at colemans bar and I noticed the Woodchuck from Woodchuck cider has had it's little woodchuck arms removed and replaced with rubber muscled tatooed arms.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lovely House is in True Move In Condition

This 4 bedroom 2.5 bath house has been truly updated from top to bottom! Features all new bathroom fixtures, new paint, new carpet, wood floors refinished. Bedrooms are spacious and have huge closets! Has a living room, dining room, eat in kitchen, family room, deck, entryway, 2 car garage and a finished basement. It's very close to Liverpool high School. There is a pedestrian path that leads to the local schools right next to the house.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rainbow over Syracuse

My husband took this from our back yard yesterday while he was barbecuing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What is a short sale?

A short sale is usually not short, and sometimes it's not even a sale.
The “short” refers to the owner being short on their mortgage. They owe more on their house than it is currently worth. They cannot afford to pay their mortgage.
A short sale starts out with the homeowner calling an agent. First the agent must try and market the home for the amount owed, to show that it cannot be sold at that price.
Then, they apply to the bank for a short sale. There are a lot of documents to fill out, and there must be a hardship letter, showing that the owners are not able to pay the money back on their own.
The house is then marketed as a short sale. Offers are submitted to the owner, and then must be approved by the bank.
Once they are approved by the bank, the sale proceeds somewhat like a normal sale.
This sounds very simple. Unfortunately it is not. The bank can take as long as it wants to approve a sale. They are frequently very uncommunicative. For example, it is now August 9. I wrote an offer for a short sale July 27th, which was accepted by the seller and sent to the bank. We have heard nothing. All the other agent will tell me is that it is now at the bank and the ball is in their court. There is nothing we can do to speed up the process. The bank really does not care.
Edited to add: This sale closed on December 29, 2011, six months after writing the offer!
This is a sale that was previously approved by the bank for another buyer. By the time it was approved, the buyer had walked so it was put back on the market. Now my buyer wants to look at other homes.
By no means is this a long delay in the world of short sales. It can take months to hear back from the bank.
There has been numerous cases where the bank has taken so long on approving short sales that all the buyers have walked and the property goes into foreclosure. So the seller gets a foreclosure on their record, the bank has to pay an asset management service to take care of the property, and the house will be vacant and subject to break-ins and vandalism. Sometimes the owner will strip the house of all fixtures and /or vandalize it on the way out. It will almost always sell for less than the short sale.

This makes no sense at all.

Banks are also very different in the way they deal with short sales. Some will go out of their way to make it work and some seem determined to have as many delays and hold ups as possible until it goes into foreclosure. Banks have different procedures for document submission and will reject submissions for the most petty reasons. They are also notorious for “not receiving” documents that they have been sent.

It is possible that a short sale could proceed along well and close with limited problems. It's also possible that I will win the lottery tomorrow or that leprechauns have buried gold in my back yard. Nice to think about, but don't count on it.
Sellers will not do any work on a short sale property. They are sold “as is”.
Short sales can be a good deal. Not all of them are though. Never assume that it is a bargain just because it is a short sale. It's important to look at what other comparable properties are selling for.
Who should buy a short sale?
Do you need a home to move into soon, and want a place that is in perfect move in condition? Don't look at short sales.
Do you have a place to stay where you do not have to be out by a certain time, such as living with relatives? Or perhaps you are an investor who is willing to wait. Are you handy and want a good deal? Do you have a lot of patience? You will probably be able to get a good deal with a short sale. You can call or email me and I'll send you a list of bargain properties which will have short sales and foreclosures.
Selling your Syracuse home as a short sale:
First, beware of some foreclosure prevention companies. They work by telling the seller they will negotiate with the bank on your behalf and the fee will be paid by the buyer. Then they put an addendum with the sales contract that the buyer must pay a percentage of the fee to the foreclosure prevention company as a “bargain” fee because the company has worked so hard to make this a great deal for the buyer.

This is a real deal killer. I have had someone ready to make an offer on a property who declined after we found out there was a buyer's fee. There are a lot of real estate bargains to be found and buyers do not need to pay for the privilege. It is the responsibility of the listing agent to negotiate with the bank. If there is a fee for this, it should come out of the listing agent's commission and not be paid by the buyer. I think it's very likely that house will go into foreclosure.
Secondly, “short sale specialist” agents have popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. Many of them have no idea what they are doing, but they have heard that is where the money is now. People take a three hour class and think they can just wing it.

I don't do short sales from the listing side by myself. I co-list them with my broker, who has many years of short sales experience and a proven track record. I do the marketing for the sale and he does the paperwork and negotiations with the bank. Since I'm an excellent real estate marketer, you have the best of both worlds in dealing with us as a team.
If you want to list your home as a short sale, call me at 315-908-2287 and I will help you get started on the process.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day Trip to Seneca Lake Wineries for Grapehound Wine Tour

The Grapehounds Wine Tour is a fundraising event for Greyhound rescue. Greyhound racing is not kind to dogs (to put it mildly) and they need to receive vet treatment and find loving homes afterwards.

Participants are given a goodie bag of greyhound related items, a special wine glass with greyhounds on it, 6 tickets for wine tastings and a map of the participating wineries.

I wish I could caption the photos on this page but Blogger really doesn't make it easy to post more than one photo and do a good layout. So below are photos of the gardens in various wineries. Greyhounds all lay down like the one in that photo. I call it the fossil position. The photo that looks like a giant clarinet is the equipment at the Seneca Lake Liquor Distillery.

As usual, my camera was out of batteries. I've had several Kodak cameras and bought them because they had the best battery life. I'm always taking photos for my blog and for real estate, and it's important to have a camera always ready. Sadly this latest model needs to be charged every single day. So I end up taking a lot of photos with my smartphone, which is not a great camera.