FSBO in Bella Vista – Great Location with Amazing Lot

#2 Piccadilly Lane in Bella Vista is a completely remodeled, expanded, and rehabbed property. Built in 1997, this home looks and feels like it was built in 2007 or 2009! The property has ceramic tile baths, hardwood floors, gas log fireplace, corian countertops, vaulted ceilings, and an amazing large level yard with a playhouse. Come see what makes this home quite a deal at $125,000…

2 Piccadilly Lane, Bella Vista, AR 72714
Just a 4 minute drive from the highway and so much seclusion. This property features a truly huge usable lot that is flat… in Bella Vista! Enjoy mature shade trees all over the property. The exterior and interior have undergone extensive remodeling and the eat-in kitchen has been expanded. The home comes with the following appliances:

Stove with built in microwave
Dishwasher
and a Washer and Dryer

Mortgage Rates in Northwest Arkansas for the Third Week of October 2009

Below is a sampling of mortgage rates from several local lenders in Northwest Arkansas. I’ll be posting these rates (sometimes with different lenders) every Friday so keep coming back if you are shopping for rates or are interested in rate trends. Of course, rates and APR are based on borrowers with high credit scores and 20% down payment. If you would like a full list of all lenders in Northwest Arkansas you should email and request that NWA be added to their daily list.

This weeks rates come from two local lenders, Arvest and Meridian Mortgage, who graciously provide their rates anytime. The third set of rates is provided from Wells Fargo online rate sheet… which you can find here if you are looking for other types of loans. Arvest’s rates for today are based on a 50 day lock.

Disclaimer:

No warranty is made as to the accuracy of the information provided herein. All conventional rates are quoted based on a 740 FICO score with 20% down payment, 30 day lock unless noted, and a purchase amount of $200,000. FHA rates are quoted based on a 740 FICO score with 3.5% down and a purchase amount of $200,000. Lender rates will change depending on the borrowers actual down payment, credit score, and market volatility. Contact the lender directly for the most current rates.

What is Title Insurance? Don’t Worry, Most Professionals Don’t Even Know

On average 40% of home buyers every year are first-timers.  That’s hundreds of thousands of buyers that have no clue what title insurance is, why they need it, or why they should even care.  Let’s get a definitive answer as to what is title insurance shall we?  Then, all you first-timers (and most of the rest of us home owners) can rest easy knowing what the heck this is and why you need it.

Ask a Title Company, not a Realtor

Before you say anything, touche’, I am a Realtor explaining title insurance… but in my defense, I’ve learned what it is from qualified closing agents within reputable title companies.  My point is this, when you hire a Realtor, let them explain agency to you but let a Title company explain a title policy and title insurance.  Let it ‘come for the horses mouth’ so to speak.

What is Title Insurance?

The definition of title insurance is this:

Indemnity insurance against financial loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens.

Title insurance arose out of a deficiency in land records laws.  Basically, poor records have been kept, and poor systems have been in place over the years that allowed for previous owners and lienholders to capitalize on a transfer of ownership.  Title insurance protects (for the most part) the owner from things that a title search or abstract may miss.

Note:  Most institutional lenders require a title insurance policy to protect their interest and allow a mortgage on the property.

Types of Policies

Owner’s Policy

An owner’s policy insures that the title is vested in the purchaser and that it is free from defects, liens and encumbrances.  Unfortunately, like most insurance policies, title policies come with exceptions.  This means that you should read your policy carefully to determine what types of liens, encumbrances, and defects may NOT be covered by the policy.  There are some newer policies available that companies call “enhanced title policies” which have less exceptions.  These generally cost about 10% more than traditional policies.  While it may be customary for a certain party to pay for the title policy… it is negotiable.

Lender’s Policy or Loan Policy

This is issued only to mortgage lenders.  It usually follows the assignment of the mortgage loan so it benefits the purchaser of the loan if it’s sold.  This helps to facilitate the sale of mortgages on the secondary market.

What’s It Cost?

Most states regulate the price of title insurance premiums.  My experience has been in Arkansas so I will tell you what our policies cost but I recommend calling a local title or closing company directly if you want to know.

In Arkansas, if one title company handles the closing then you can save money by purchasing a combo title policy.  You can also save a good deal of money if the seller can bring the previous policy to closing.  Here are some example prices:

  • $50,000 policy     =  $350
  • $100,000 policy  =  $560
  • $200,000 policy  =  $805
  • $300,000 policy  =  $990
  • and so on…

What are my rights?

RESPA (The real estate settlement procedures act) entitles homeowners to choose their title insurance company when making a purchase or refinancing residential property.  Typically, homeowner leave it up to a bank or attorney but they do have the choice.  Commercial real estate transactions are not within the scope of RESPA so they are the exception to the rule.

If you have further questions about what title insurance is, what it covers, and exactly how much it will set you back you need to contact a title professional who can tell you the specifics.  If you need a short list of reputable and friendly title professionals, contact me, and I will email you some local closing agents’ information.

FSBO in Rogers – Great R-0 Zoned Property Just East of Downtown

Available now! Picture perfect detailed renovation with updates in east Rogers. This two bedroom, one bath property is close to historical downtown Rogers and outdoor recreation. Zoned for Residential Office, this property is well priced at $135,000. See the rest of this charming property’s details below…

420 East Walnut, Rogers
Original hardwood floors, all appliances, central heat and air, and a rare extra-long tub are just a few features that make this property a charming location for a professional office, photo studio, any small professional location or a residence. The property has a detatched non-refurbished studio apartment or workshop with a full bath and kitchenette with gas heat, window air conditioning, and cable. All this on a large corner lot. The bonus unit also has a large attached deck.

Great location for investment…

Located just east of historic downtown Rogers, this property is in the midst of major planned city renovations and a proposed museum attraction coming in 2011. You truly have to see this property to appreciate the work that has been done. Original hardwood flooring has been preserved along with the antique tub. The window treatments and colors lend themselves to a bright and happy atmosphere for your home or office.

EXIT Pro Realty Hosting an Old Fashioned Fish Fry at Noon on Tuesday October 20th!

Come one come all to EXIT Pro’s monthly Gluttonous Gathering of Gastronomic Goodies! We’ll be having our traditional meeting at 11:00am followed immediately by a fabulous fresh fish fry! Sorry, I alliterate when I get excited…

What’s on the menu?
Chef Larry will be frying up some good old-fashioned catfish with all the fixin’s. What fixin’s you ask? Well I’ll tell you:

  • fries
  • hushpuppies
  • slaw
  • beans and rice
  • corn on the cob
  • a fabulous array of choice desserts
  • and of course lemons and tartar sauce!

17 out of 309!

We’d love to have you come by and see our new office at #6 Halsted Circle in Rogers. What’s 17 out of 309? Out of 309 offices in our MLS (read our area) we are 17th and climbing! So why not come by and see what all the fuss is about? We’re ‘doing real estate right‘ and it shows.

We’ll see you Tuesday at 11:00 for the meeting or 12:00 for the food!

BAD or JUST PLAIN UGLY…..NEED ADVICE ON DECORATING?

If this looks like a room in your house…….I would urge you to re-decorate! Now don’t get me wrong, everyone has a right to live any way they wish and people have different taste, however, if it is your wish to move, you should consider re-decorating your home in order to sell. I personally would offer a FREE consultation to anyone wanting my advice! It is amazing what a little paint and new carpet would do and a few trash bags!! You don’t have to spend a lot of money these days to re-do a room.

I suggest to first, remove all the furniture, replace the carpet with a neutral tone or better yet hardwood flooring. There are a lot of new products on the market that are extremely affordable that actually look like hardwood flooring. The mere fact that it would be easier to keep clean would be enough reason for me to change.

The next thing I would suggest is to paint and not with the cheapest paint you can find. It has been my experience that if you spend a little more up front it will save you in the long run. Lowes or Sherwin-Williams are the experts here but I would suggest again a neutral tone in the off whites or if you dare to be bold a chocolate color. Whatever color you decide, choose at least three colors in the same tone and take home a small sample of each they only cost about $3.00 each and paint an area of about two feet by three feet of each color and let it dry completely before you add a second coat.

Another tip is to paint the trim white. Whatever color you decide to paint, the trim will certainly pop! If you paint your walls white then I can only suggest that you paint the trim an off white color. Plus don’t forget the windows, two inch faux wood blinds are very popular and actually for the most part pretty affordable! If you feel you need more window dressings then check out Bed Bath & Beyond or Pier One and yes even Wal-Mart! Please don’t go over board with fancy smancy drapes, keep it simple!

My final suggestion is that you SHOP and I mean bargain SHOP ! You can find almost anything at a flea market or at an Auction, so look in the paper for the auctions and take a friend with you to keep you grounded. Also check out Wal-Mart and other department stores for sales on furniture.

Is Your Home Being Marketed Everywhere Possible? Probably Not By Your Agent

It takes exposure to get a home sold… a lot of it. Exposure with yard signs, newspaper ads, open houses, MLS listings, and most recently online… where 87% of buyers begin their home search. If you’re home isn’t being properly marketed online, I have to ask you, “What the heck are you doing?” You sure aren’t getting your home sold. Let’s look at what should be going on with your property online and what you can proactively do about it…

Property Exposure

I went to a short ‘class’ at our regional MLS office today. The class was about ListHub (more in a minute) and all the ways they can help syndicate our brokerage’s listings online. To give you a little background, the Arkansas Regional MLS does not syndicate listings without a broker’s permission. Up until now, our company, EXIT Pro Realty, has been manually entering our listings into a proprietary EXIT software called EXIT E-listings. E-listings then syndicates the listing out to many of the same sites that list hub does. FYI, other real estate companies (I’m speaking generally so don’t get offended if you are an agent) don’t offer a listing syndication solution like E-listings. It’s truly an amazing system and allows EXIT agents and their clients to get a definite leg up on the competition.

listhub listing syndicationEnter ListHub, Stage Right
Back to the class… ListHub has partnered with the ARMLS to syndicate listings in the database free of charge. FREE? Yes, free. All a broker has to do is opt-in to the arrangement and their listings will appear on dozens of real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Yahoo Real Estate, and many more. How many people were in the meeting? Five. Including yours truly. Frankly, the idea of ListHub is awesome. Get your listings exposed to 28 million online buyers a month all over the world on every major real estate search portal…. and it’s all done automatically.

Proper Property Marketing for 2009
As a marketing professional that realizes the power and value of that, I signed our company up on the spot… we’re even going for the premium version with agent accounts and a complete suite of metrics to help ourselves and our clients see where we should be focusing our marketing efforts.

Is your agent marketing your property like that? The sad fact is, probably not.

Now I’m not knocking real estate agents, It’s just a matter of understanding where your efforts should be focused. Many agents (especially in our market) have their nose to the grindstone and simply aren’t investing in the ideas and technology that will help their clients today. Many are stuck in an advertising quandary with no clear idea of how to focus their marketing efforts for their clients. This has never been more apparent to me than when I attended this ListHub meeting and find fewer than 5% of agents in our marketplace represented.

Now that I’ve said my piece, I’ll just say this:

When you interview an agent to list your property, one of the questions I would ask is, “Exactly where is my property listed online?” If your agent doesn’t seem to have a very clear and concise understanding and answer to that simple yet powerful question, I would go interview another agent… I’m just sayin’.

The fact is, just like a business needs a business plan to grow and prosper, so too does a home. If your agent doesn’t have a detailed written marketing strategy that they will follow to exposure your property to the world, you need to find one that does.

You can find a sample of our general EXIT written marketing plan (and a humorous presentation) if you go here and fill in your information. We don’t simply give that kind of proprietary information out for nothing.

3 Ways FHA Loan Standards are Changing

The lending and mortgage industry has changed substantially in a very short time period. Banks, mortgage brokers, appraisers, and title companies all have to work much more closely than before to resolve a transaction from contract to close. Starting in January, along with a completely new HUD-1 settlement statement there are new rules and guidelines regarding FHA loans. Since the majority of loans being processed right now are FHA loans, I thought it would be a good subject to touch on. Here are just a couple of ways that FHA Loan Standards are Changing…

1. FHA Streamline refinances as we know it are going away.
If a borrower wants to include closing costs in the loan, an appraisal will be required. Also, they will begin to document payment history and income for all FHA loans. Look for other changes to this program as well.

2. FHA will adopt HVCC standards.
Currently in place on conventional loans, HVCC standards ensure appraiser independence. What is HVCC? It’s the Home Valuation Code of Conduct and it was adopted by Fannie Mae back in July. These standards basically enhance the integrity of home appraisals within the mortgage industry. You’ll find the full code and frequently asked questions here if you’re interested.

3. FHA will reduce the appraisal validity period to four months.
Currently, the validity period is 6 months. Basically, because price changes are more rapid than they have been in the past, the FHA has decided to reduce the amount of time an appraisal is valid. So, an FHA appraisal will stay with the property regardless of borrower or lender for 4 months now, not 6.

These are just a few of the major changes shaking up the mortgage industry. It all means that you have to have your ducks more in a row than ever. I’ll talk more about changes that are happening industry-wide as they come about.

If you need to get pre-qualified or would like our approved list of lending institutions… please contact us.

Top 10 Home Improvements for Your Buck

Everyone is trying to squeeze every dollar, dime, and cent out of their property these days.  Modest home improvements can make a big splash on the saleability of your home as well as your bottom line when it comes time to sell…  in no particular order, here are the Top 10 Home Improvements for Your Buck to help you get the most out of the sale of your property…

1.  Lighten and Brighten

Typical cost:  $233-$370
Average increase in sales price:  $1,178-$1,566

2.  Clean and De-Clutter

Typical cost:  $190-$318
Average increase in sales price:  $1,505-$1,937

3.  Home Staging

Typical cost:  $403-$584
Average increase in home price:  $1,936-$2,431

4.  Landscaping front/back yards

Typical cost:  $378-$546
Average increase in home price:  $1,718-$2,158

5.  Repair Damaged Flooring

Typical cost:  $628-$878
Average increase in home price:  $1,633-$2,061

6.  Fix Plumbing, Electrical

Typical Cost:  $436-$621
Average increase in home prices:  $1,205-$1,590

7.  Update Kitchen and Bathrooms

Typical Cost:  $1,404-$1,828
Average increase in home price:  $3,216-$3,934

8.  Replace or Shampoo Carpeting

Typical cost:  $562-$808
Average increase in home price:  $1,532-$1,950

9.  Paint Exterior Walls

Typical cost:  $663-$938
Average increase in home price:  $1,757-$2,205

10.  Paint Interior Walls

Typical cost:  $651-$920
Average increase in home price:  $1,741-$2,179

These modestly priced renovations and repairs can help you net a significantly higher amount of money for the sale of your home or take a home that is difficult to sell or ‘unsaleable’ and make it a hot commodity.

The above data was taken from a 2007 HomeGain survey of over 2,000 real estate agents nationwide.  If you need suggestions for reputable vendors for any of the projects above, give me a call and I will be happy to tell you who I have worked with in the past and who you should consider to help with your property renovations.

Rural Development Loans Issuing Conditional Commitment Until Funds Appropriated

The Federal Government is operating at the end of the fiscal year again as of September 30th, 2009. For the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP), the government will issue a “Conditional Commitment” specifying it will NOT fund loans until congress has reallocated funds tot he USDA for this purpose…

USDA Rural Development – the government – will continue to accept and process applications, and will issue Conditional Commitments “subject to receipt of Congressionally appropriated funds.” We expect congress will take up to 3 months allocating additional funds for Rural Development Loans. Banks may continue closing loans under the SFHGLP, however we expect the majority of banks will not fund these loans without the availability of government funds in today’s environment. Again, check with the loan officers to verify their banks will fund these loans despite the lack of government funds.

IF YOU CURRENTLY HAVE A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION UTILIZING THE USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT LOAN PROGRAM AND IT IS SET TO CLOSE WITHIN THE NEXT 2 MONTHS, IT MAY NOT FUND FOR UP TO 3 MONTHS.