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Do ALL Sellers WIN in a Sellers Market?

by Pat Wattam

Much of the country is experiencing a shortage of available Listings in their real estate Market - a shortage of homes for the buyers to choose from - and each home may receive multiple offers!  I discussed in my last blog how a buyer can structure their offer to WIN in a multiple offer situation.  Remember. all real estate is local so I can only really give advice for my area in the Greater Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes.

So, to the answer to the question - Do All Sellers Win in a Sellers Market in the Baton Rouge Real Estate area - the short answer is NO!  

Don't be too surprised. As I stated earlier, real estate is hyper local.  There are price ranges where the inventory is very low and I am receiving offers on these homes in the first 2 days - multiple offers.  But all of these homes were  in Tip Top condition, staged well, no clutter.  I have seen homes in these same price ranges languish for weeks because they were really not ready for the market and the market responded with a 'NO" to that house.  

I have homes in higher price ranges where there are plenty of homes and the buyers can be very picky as they have ample inventory to select from.  These homes cannot afford to not be in PERFECT condition.  Yes, the buyer wants new carpet and NO, they do not want an allowance.  They want to see and smell that new carpet when they walk in the door.  They don't want WALL PAPER!  You can price your house lower to accomodate some updates but honestly, most buyers don't have the time, or extra cash, to do the updating the house has needed for years.  And due to the flood it is hard for them to even consider getting a contractor to help them.  Of course, there are always exceptions.  If you have dogs, then the buyer would rather you put in carpet after you have moved - and this is when an allowance would probably work!

When contemplating selling your home, talk with an expert first.  Someone who can guide you through the process.  Of course, I prefer if you call on us, the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First!!  We'lre here to help!

Help Your Agent To Win on an Offer! Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

Most buyers correctly assume that their real estate agent will do a great job for them in promoting their offer to the sellers agent.  Here are a few tips to help you help your REALTOR put you in the best light for the seller and their agent to take YOUR offer seriously!  These apply mainly to Louisiana but can be relevant in other states too.

As a Listing agent, here are a few things that impress me with an offer, and in a multiple offer situation, will help move you to the head of the list!

1.  Large Deposit.  In Louisiana you don't even have to have a deposit in order to make an offer on a home.  However, as a listing agent, and recently, as a seller myself, I can tell you that the buyer who appears the most serious is the one with a serious deposit.  Some agents don't want to tie up their clients money or they worry that if the buyer does something - as in back out of the sale - then they could lose that money.  Think about it from the seller's standpoint.  You are putting up serious money because you are CONFIDENT that you qualify to purchase the home and are serious about buying it.  Your next question may be - what is a large deposit?  Well, here it's not as large as you would find in any other state!  On a $100K home I would like to see $1000 instead of $250 or $500.  On a $300K home, I would expect to see $2000.  Get the idea?

2.  Put a short deadline for the inspeciton period.  Call your inspector before you make the offer and see when you can schedule and do it then.  You can always cancel and if you cancel quickly your inspector would be o.k.  

3.  Get a true Pre-APPROVAL letter stating that the lender has looked at your credit score, run your info through desktop underwriting, has VERIFIED the information provided, and that your TAX RETURNS have been given to the lender.  These are items that impress me and the sellers out there who understand.

4.  Use a LOCAL lender.  When I see the pre-approval letter by Quicken Loans I want to run.  I have had more of these loans not close than did closes and when we had an issue, it was virtually impossible to have someone to call who could help.

5.  SHORTEN the time for closing.  Don't have a 60 day closing if you want to impress the seller.  In fact, it's a great idea for your agent to call the listing agent and ask what would work for the seller.  Maybe the seller needs time to finish the school year.  Maybe they are in the process of building a house.  Or maybe they have an offer on another house and need to close quickly.  See what they need and try to make it happen for them.  However, if the house is  vacant  and you can close quickly, you might get a better deal on the house.  In a multiple offer situation last week, the buyer who won the deal was the one who could close the fastest.

6.  Realize that when you ask the seller to pay part or all of your closing costs, even at full price, the seller looks at what your net offer is.  In a multiple offer situation the person who asks for no or little closing costs has a better chance of winning.  

7.  If you raise the sales price to cover your closing costs, be aware that if the appraisal comes in short, the seller will delete those closing costs.  By raising the price you have ELECTED to roll the closing costs into  your mortgage.  The seller wants to net whatever  you all agreed the net offer would be.  So if you offer $205,000 on a $200K house, and want $7000 closing costs, the net offer to the seller is $198K.  If the appraisal comes in at $202K then the seller is only going to give you $4000 closing and you need to have a source ready to cover any shortfall.  Some people think because the seller agreed to all those closing costs that they should still pay for them.  In a hot Market, they may have a back up offer that you are not even aware of and they will bump you off the contract.  Always have a contingency plan for your closing costs!

8.  DO NOT ASSUME that the seller will counter ALL the offers at once in a multiple offer situation.  And on a house that just came on the market, don't make a low offer or ask for a lot of closing costs.  If it is a great house, then you might not even be aware there are other offers  - especially if the other offers are significantly better than yours.  

 

I hope these ideas will help you help your agent when you are negotiating on your new home.  And if you don't have an agent to help you, we would love to be your REALTORS!!!

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Nobody Is Buying My House!!!

by Pat Wattam

How many times have I heard a seller say "Nobody is making an offer on my house", or "They can always make an offer - why don't they?"

Here's the deal, plain and simple.  Location and price brings in the buyer.  Price and condition will sell the home.  So with proper marketing you will have people looking at your home.  But then, what is stopping them from making an offer?  PRICE!!  If you house is $40K over priced because of location, condition, or the Market, MOST buyers don't want to 1.  Insult the seller  2.  Make an offer to a seller who is unrealistic on their priceing and therefore can't sell because they may owe too much or won't sell at the market price because they don't have to.  The buyer just moves on to the next house.

Let's say your house is priced right, you get lots of showings, and no offers.  Sometimes the feedback from other agents say it all such as:  "Nice home but buyer put in an offer on another house".  That sentence tells me that 1.  The buyer found a home in better condition for the same price  2.  The buyer found a larger home in the same condition for the same price.  It all boils down to PRICE in the end.  

But sometimes Price alone won't make a buyer make a move unless it is a drastic price reduction.  The buyers don't have the money to fix or update a new house, or they just don't want to, OR, in a good market, there are other homes to buy and they just move one.

If you are unsure how to proceed as a seller to get your home ready for market, just give us a call.  We'll show you what you need to focus on to get you that sale on your house for the best price!!!

Real Estate Market Stats February 2017 East Baton Rouge Parish

by Pat Wattam

Here is the latest Market report on East Baton Rouge Parish.  You will notice the highest number of sales continues to be in the $200-300K price range.

http://www.realmarketreports.com/reports/LA05005_South_East_Baton_Rouge.pdf

We also notice that the homes have to be in very good, updated condition to sell for top dollar, even with the low inventory in the market.  Buyers appear to be willing to wait for the better homes to come on the market rather than settle for one that is not quite up to par.  
If you are thinking about selling your home, contact us to help you decide what the house needs to get you top dollar without spending a lot!  Call the Pat Wattam Team at RE/MAX First anytime at 225-298-6900!

How to Structure Your Offer to Win in a HOT MARKET!

by Pat Wattam

Are you trying to purchase a home in a HOT REAL ESTATE Market where there are multiple offers on the homes you want to buy?  If so, I have these great tips for you.

1.  Bring your highest offer first.  Many agents think that if there are multiple offers on a house, the listing agent and seller will counter all of them asking for 'highest and best' offer to let everyone have a shot.  THIS IS NOT TRUE!  If the sellers have one offer that stands out from the rest, they may not counter everybody else and risk losing an offer they are happy with.  HOW MUCH OVER LIST PRICE SHOULD YOU OFFER?  Well, each market is different.  In the Greater Baton Rouge Market, typically agents will get their buyers to offer $1000 over list price.  That won't cut it in a multiple offer situation.  We just had one with 4 offers.  The one that won offered $10K over list price.  The sellers did not counter the other 4.

2.  Know what closing time frame works best for the seller and make that work for you.  if they want to close in 2 weeks, make sure your loan is already approved, just waiting for the appraisal to be ordered.

3.  Do not have any other  conditions such as:  Do Not make the offer Subject to any inspections.  I know, you don't know what you are buying but if you really want to WIN, you have to give this up.  Do not make it subject to appraisal.   This means if you offer $10K over, you need to have that as cash in your account to pay the difference between the appraised value and what you offer.  You REALLY need to want to win in order to give up both of these.  After Hurricane Katrina when the inventory was so low, thesse are the things buyers gave up in order to even purchase a house.

 What if you don't have the extra cash or need closing cost assistance.  Then  you have to find a home that no one has purchased, that has been on the market for a while.  Maybe it's over priced.  Maybe it needs updates.  Maybe it's not the area you really want to live in.  In a hot market, if you can't do the 3 items I listed above, then you have to make adjustments somewhere.

The Pat Wattam Team knows how to structure offers.  Let us help you find the home you want and help you win it!

How to Select a Home Lender in Baton Rouge

by Pat Wattam

One of the first steps in thinking about purchasing a home is to select a lender.  That can be a daunting prospect if you have never purchased a home before.  Every lender will have different criteria, such as credit scores, that they will accept to do a home loan. Each lender may have different programs than others.  Others are mortgage brokers who shop for the best deal for you.  So where do you start?

1.  If you have a REALTOR, ask them for names of lenders they have worked with whom they liked.   If they like the lender, I guarentee you the loan closed and they had happy buyers.

2.  Ask friends for recommendations.  Your friends who have bought more than one house may have more than one recommendation for you.

3.  On line lenders - STAY AWAY FROM THESE!  Especially if you are a first time home buyer or have any issues, you want someone you can talk to face to face, someone who is easy to reach (most local lenders give you their cell phone number).

How do you select the one you want to work with?  Remember, it isn't always about who has the best rate.  The difference of 1/8th percent isn't really a deciding factor.  You want to work with the lender that you feel a connection with, one that explains the process and stays in touch timely. 

At the Pat Wattam Team we have a number of lenders we regularly refer business too.  Give us a call and we'll help you get started!

Taking Advantage of the 'Flooded' Market in Baton Rouge Area

by Pat Wattam

Since the August 2016 flood many investors have flocked to our Greater Baton Rouge Real Estate Market to take advantage of the many homes that flooded.  They have the crews to come in and do the work so some will flip these homes and pocket the profit, others will keep the homes as rentals, and a few may actually make some of these their own new homes.  These investors come to town with cash so that they don't have to deal with any lender regulations regarding who can be the contractor on the repairs.  Unfortunately, the average home buyer doesn't have the cash available to buy one of these properties outright and then put in the sweat equity to turn it into a home with lots of equity.  However, there are several loan types available to homebuyers that DO allow you to buy one of these flooded houses and finance the cost of the remodel.  The catch is typically that you have to already have a bid from a contractor - one  that can complete the work within 6 months.  This is not as hard as it would have been 4 months ago.  I find many contractors now have the time to make bids and to complete the work timely.  There are also banks that will do loans for you to purchase a flooded house and then when you have the work completed, you can get a regular loan for any lender.  This would allow you to do some of the work yourself.  You also might find a contractor who would also allow you to do some of the work.  I highly recommend using a contractor that someone you know has also used and is happy with.  

This is a great opportunity for the right buyer to get instant equity in a home.  Doing your homework on the front end for a contractor will allow you to take advante of our market. If this is something that interests you, give us a call and we can help you find a lender to help you finance your dream home! 

What Is a Buyer Counseling Interview?

by Pat Wattam

Many times you will hear an offer for a FREE Buyer Counseling Interview or a Free Buyer Consultation.  What EXACTLY is that?  Let's say that you are ready to buy a house but don't know where to start.  And you hear about a FREE Consultation.  You figure, why not give it a try!  Sometimes it's just a gimmick to get you to  meet with a REALTOR and sign a buyer contract, with you agreeing to pay that agent whenever you find any house.  BUT, with the Pat Wattam Team, a Consultation or a Buyer Counseling Interview is just that - a real consultation or an interview for YOU to get to INTERVIEW US!  Yes, we welcome your interview.  We want to meet with every buyer - whether first time or a someone who has purhcased several homes.  Rules and regulations in our industry are constantly changing and part of our Consultation is to aquaint you with the current requirements to purchase and/or get a loan.  To help you with the process we have a Home Buyer Handbook that we have put together full of the information a lot of our clients have asked us about through the years - it's grown into it's own handbook and continues to evolve as people ask us new questions. 

At this meeting we will go over not only qualifying for a house but try to help you determine where you want to live and what price range you are comfortable with.  Part of our job is to educate you about our real estate Market so that your have realistic ideas on what your money can buy.  Sometimes your budget just doesn't work in your favorite location but many times, we can show you what you want in a different area!  For instance, my husband used to work at LSU.  We had never lived hear his job so when we purchased our last house I started out looking up and down Highland Road.  And you know what, we saved over $50K by not buying in that location.  Roger ended up having a bit of a drive to work but the savings were worth it to get a practically new home!  That was our choice.  I have other clients who would have made the exact opposite choice.  That's why these consultations are so important.  The more we understand about what is IMPORTANT TO YOU, the better we are able to help make that a reality for you!  

A side benefit of the Consultation is that you get a chance to know us.  Typically, after you spend 30-45 minutes visiting with someone you know whether or not you want to give this person your trust to find you a house.  You won't really know until you get into the negotiations but you have a pretty good feel.  We want you to come away from that meeting feeling like you know we are listening to you and that we have the skills to help you find the home that is right for you.  

So, when you are ready, give us a call at 225-298-6900 and let's set up that interview!  

Start of a New Year - Time to Make a Move?

by Pat Wattam

The start of a new year is a time to reflect on the past and decide where you want to be in the future.  Many times that will include making a move - either from a rental to home ownership, or moving up to a larger home or downsizing, buying a new home,  or investing in real estate.  All of these possible scenarios should start with a serious conversation with your REALTOR.  The Pat Wattam Team prides itself on taking the time to REALLY listen to what our clients needs are and help the clients really understand what THEY want to do.  Sometimes it takes an outside person asking a lot of questions to help a client figure out what they really want to accomplish.  We also have a nice selection of VIDEOS to download for free that might also help you!  

It's the start of the new year.  Why not give us a call now for a FREE consultation!  225-298-6900

Credit Reporting for Mortgages Changes

by Pat Wattam

It was reported in today's Advocate newspaper that there has been an update on credit reporting for mortgages for home loans.  In the past, whether you paid the minimum monthy payment on your credit card or if you paid it off in full, it was all the same from the credit bureau and to the lender.  In the past, I was told it was best to have a balance that you paid each month to show that you paid timely.  That showed a lender you were able to manage your finances.  Now two of the credit reporting agencies are sending 'trending' data to your loan officer.  This shows if you pay the minimum amount, more than minimum, or pay off in full each month.  Now, your credit score is still the biggest factor in securing a loan; however, if you are borderline on qualifying, and you pay more than the minimum or, even better, pay off your credit card loan in full each month, this may be just the thing for the lender to decide you are a good credit risk.  This trending data line started in September so it's relatively new.  If you are shopping for a home in the next few months, it would be a good idea to pay off as much credit card debt, as always, or increase your payment on every card to show you pay more than minimum.

Speaking of credit cards, in this economy, it would be wize to keep that credit card debt to zero and only use it for emergencies or large purchases - which means you don't use it again until you pay it off.  Carrying a lot of credit card debt does not help you in the long run.  I remember when we decided to go to a 'cash only' basis in order to pay off all the credit cards and not get any new ones that it took a lot of discipline and a lot of delaying purchases that we didn't really need.  Once we got a handle on that (less than 2 years) it's amazing how fast your savings can grow!!!  We pay off all our credit cards at the end of the month.  And, we use credit cards instead of cash to get bonuses.  You have to REALLY be disciplined if you go that direction but if you can, think of all the extras you can get from your credit card companies.  We fly practically free on first class to Europe and fly free when traveling in country too.  There are companies that give you cash back too - which you can use to save up for your new home!!   Just another idea!

As always, if you have any questions, please call the Pat Wattam Team at any time for more advice.  225-298-6900

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Pat Wattam
RE/MAX First, Independently Owned and Operated
4750 Sherwood Common
Baton Rouge LA 70816
Office Direct: 225-298-6900
Office Main: 225-291-1234
Fax: 225-295-1234

RE/MAX First
Each Office Independently Owned and Operated
Main: 225-291-1234

Licensed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission