The financial meltdown of 2008 had serious ramifications in the real estate market. Three and a half years later families are still losing their homes, real estate in previously prime markets is sometimes worth less than half what the owners owe and navigating the perilous waters of home buying or selling in a post-apocalyptic-esque real estate world can be daunting. Enter Jane, a beacon of positivity amidst a sea of proprietary discontent, diligently working to make the real estate process less horrifying process. She is energetic, intelligent, knowledgeable and thriving in the desolate Florida market. She also agreed to share some of her brilliant knowledge with us!
I know every time I talk to you or see your twitter or facebook updates you are as busy as can be. Does that mean that the real estate market is looking up, especially in troubled markets like Florida?
Absolutely! Investors and even first time home buyers are coming into the market strongly. They realize that there are some great bargains out there and mortgage rates are at a 30 year low. Recently the on the front page of the News Journal (our local news paper) “Volusia County property appraiser: Real estate crash ending.” by Morgan Gilreath. The Property appraiser has not made any announcements for quite a long time and now he’s on the front page with this statement. I personally believe it is a little too early to judge though. I know there are still a lot of foreclosures coming on the market and a lot of people are ‘upside down’ in their mortgages. I truly believe we need the unemployment rate to drop before we see any real changes.
I went through the home buying process in late 2005, needless to say I’m upside down in equity. What kind of advice would you give homeowners looking to sell (out of necessity) that are currently facing a similar situation?
If it is a necessity- there are important steps to follow. If they can afford a lawyer they need to contact one. In most cases, if they cannot afford their house note, they cannot afford a lawyer so they would need to find a ‘qualified’ Realtor. To do that the homeowner needs to interview a number of Realtors and ask specific questions. A qualified Realtor that has taken the continuing education classes on short sales would be their best bet. We are acquiring new information everyday on the process of short sales and foreclosures and you must be familiar with the process to best help your client. So the answer to the question would be they have several choices: give the property back to the bank as a ‘deed in lieu’ of foreclosure, list it with a Realtor and do a short sale, let the bank foreclose on the property or file bankruptcy. Each of these are complicated matters and they really need to seek advice from a professional. Also, their accountant can provide them with quite a bit of information.
When I bought my house I didn’t realize that I had an option in choosing who my agent was; I called the real estate company I was most familiar with and the agent who answered the phone was the agent who saw us through the process. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with him, but I just wrote it off as knowing that I can be a very difficult client. What are some important questions potential buyers should ask of their agents? What about sellers?
Good question! As a buyer most people don’t realize that every Realtor can show any house that is listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). In fact, until I became a Realtor myself, I didn’t realize it either. The first thing the buyer should ask (in my opinion) is if the agent does real estate exclusively for a living. When the market started it’s downward trend a lot of agents took second and third jobs. I understand that it was needed – we’ve all had to occasionally take some work on the side to make ends meet but I work Real Estate 7 days a week and do not have ‘another’ job. I’m not saying that those Realtors don’t work as hard but I myself have problems getting in touch with them sometimes to show their listings. So, if another Realtor can’t get in touch with them what good are they going to do for their buyers. Also ask what is their specialty: first time home buyers (they would know about special programs that help), investors, commercial, residential, second home, etc. There are quite a few specialty markets. Also, how long have they been in the business? How ’technologically’ informed are they? 90% of home buyers start shopping online and are very informed today-some more so than a lot of Realtors so you really have to be on the same page as your client. The most important thing is to interview your Realtor, you want the best match for yourself as a buyer and you need to let them know what is important to you in a home.
If your selling you’ll want to ask a lot of the same questions, but with a few more very important ones. First is the company they work for a national or local company? You want the most advertising you can get for your property and the best way for it to be seen is going with a larger, national company. On a side note, whose phone number is on the agents’ sign? Is it their own or the office they work for? You want to have the person who knows the most about your property answer the phone, and that is your agent. Next, how will your home be advertised on the internet. This is extremely important that your agent knows what he or she is doing when it comes to technology. There are so many places I put my listings that 3 years later I’ve received phone calls on properties that have been sold for 2 years! Also, Open houses! They work so you want them. Again, is Real Estate their only job? If it’s not they may not be able to set aside times for open houses. Commission! If they are quick to cut their commission for you to sign with them how quick will they be to cut your price to sell your house? These are just some of the basics. I could write a manual!
When I first started the home buying process I knew nothing of credit scores or what I needed in terms of approval to start the home buying process. What are a few things that are an absolute must before you even begin to shop for a home?
You need to talk to your bank or a mortgage company and find out if you can actually buy. I’ve had some people who don’t even have jobs call about buying a house. That doesn’t work too well! So maybe the first step is having a job! Then talk to your bank about your credit history and score and the amount available to borrow.
How does a short sale work and when is it the best option for a homeowner?
A short sale is asking the bank to accept less than what is owed on the home. This happens when there has been a hardship, i.e. divorce, job loss or illness and you are not able to continue to pay your mortgage. It is the best option for any seller that is in trouble of losing his or her home. It is a better option than deed in lieu of, or a foreclosure. With a short sale your credit doesn’t take as big a hit as with those.
How long is the average foreclosure process?
It really depends-there are a lot of factors. If you hire a lawyer you could put the bank off for years! Most of the time it is approximately 9-12 months from your last payment. That is without fighting or putting your house up for sale. If the bank or mortgage holder knows you are trying to short sell the home they will give you time to sell. I’ve seen where it was 4 years from filing to judgement. Lots of times a bankruptcy is filed and that will derail the whole process and the banks have to start over with their filing. If the home is homesteaded the banks are slower to file than if it is investment property and there are several more owned by the investor.
The good news is the market is looking up. Growth is slow and steady and will continue to grow as the countries employment rate continues to rise. If you do find your self in a position of buying or selling a home always make sure you do your homework! Don’t be afraid to ask a potential agent the hard questions and know that it’s perfectly acceptable to be selective! Home buying and selling are the largest financial transactions we make. Proceed with caution and arm yourself with knowledge!
Jane is part of the Keller Williams Florida Real Estate family – She has over 22 years experience and has lived in the Volusia County area since 1988. She’s involved in her community through multiple charitable organizations. She truly welcomes any opportunity to make a positive difference where ever she can and is always available to assist someone in meeting their home buying or selling needs. You can contact her with any questions you may have or just to request free market information for the area. She specializes in both purchasing and listing properties in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange, South Daytona, and Edgewater and all surrounding Volusia County areas
Jane Sciortino – Keller Williams Realty Florida Partners
3510 S Nove Rd Suite 112, Port Orange Fl 32129
Phone: (386)547-8721 • Office: 386-944-2800
Camicia Bennett: Founder of The Well Written Woman, Florida Native and cerebral creature, she loves her husband, yoga, red wine, potty humor, swearing superfluously and putting hats on her dog. If given her druthers she’d be surfing the web and writing randomness from someplace sunny and tropical whilst sipping her favorite vino. Oh wait, that’s exactly what she does.You can find her tweeting incessantly or randomly sharing her own brand of slightly pretentious propaganda at her personal blog