The Emergence of a Nationl Listing Service for Home Sales

I just came across the press release regarding a partnership with 1 newspaper companies.

Basically, when a newspaper gets a listing the advertiser will have the option of having that info put on the zillow site. This will give the agent listing much more exposure because zillow has 4 million visitors every month. It will help make the newspaper ad more relevant because the consumer now requires rich media information. I mean we want maps, photos, text and even street views. If a listing has good curb appeal this can only help get some interest. will love this because they get even more data to play with as they find more ways to gather a total experience for the consumer and become the go-to site for everything real estate. When the partnership launches in the first half of 2008, it going to become absolutely necessary to visit the zillow site and be sure to update their information on the property. Remember they guestimate price and value using public records and many of the public records are not all that accurate. In order for viewers to get an instant complete view of the properties value all upgrades must be updated by the owner before the ad is published. We are on our way to having a national listings service....

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Internet Home Pricing Models: Are They Good Yet

Not really. An article on MSN Money brings out a few good points about the Zillows and the Realytrac's, the new digital attempts to evaluate your home.

How They Work

1. They gather all the same info as an appraiser from public sources: Location, square footage, age etc.

2. They use advanced math (algorithms) to try to compare two similar properties and add or subtract value to arrive at a useful comparison between like properties. These are the comps we use to help us choose one property over another.

3. Finally, a value for the property is derived and this is the real function of Zillow or Realtytrac

Are They Accurate

First its important to understand what they do not measure: According to Marilyn Lewis who wrote the MSN Money piece, "view, landscaping, remodeling, condition and wear, curb appeal, fine fixtures and materials, floor plan, room sizes, neighbors and the appeal of neighboring properties, access, noise, odors, design, the owners' taste and all the other human factors that comprise a good chunk of a home's value."

The online sites are not yet very accurate from a purely data driven view because they do not yet include remodel, room size neighborhood. The reason is that the public records dont include a lot of the changes made over the years to any property.

It seems to us me that most decisions to act are really emotional not data driven. If thats true then the online pricing sites are not yet giving the most most essential data. How the property feels, do we like it, is a view more important than noisy neighbors. They will never be able to create a formula that replicates all the soft issues involved in a sale.

Whats the Point Then

They will get better as information is updated by owners that use the site and even though they arent accurate they do create curiosity and after all, dont we want to know how much equity we have, even if it isnt accurate. And as a property sells, the info is accuarate as of that date and so they do get better.

Thanks for Reading

Howard Bell

courtesy of via


Going Green: Heres the Money

Making your home more green is good on every level. It can save energy and money and frankly it feels good.
The govt has a vested interest in helping you go green. The EEM or energy efficient mortgage is a way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac among others are providing money for homes for green upgrades such as efficient water heaters and appliances as well as larger projects like solar.

Its the Government, so of course, there is process and procedure. First you need a special report called a HERS report. Here inspectors will come out and review your home's energy efficiency. If the improvements can create significant energy savings money can be made available for the upgrade by using the EEM mortgage.

A HERS report includes suggested home energy upgrades, estimated costs and annual savings before and after upgrades. A HERS rating exam typically costs $100-$300. EEM loans are available commercially as well as through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA) EEMs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The inspection generally costs $200-300. If you think that the improvements are significant then this is one good way to borrow for this purpose on a long term basis.

Will I Benefit:

Check Out the Chart
.............................................. Older existing home.............Same Home with energy improvements

(90% mortgage, 8% interest)....$150,000........................$154,816
Loan amount...............................$135,000.........................$139,334
Monthly payment*.....................$991.................................$1023
Energy bills..................................$186..................................$93
Cost of home ownership.............$1,177...............................$1,116
Monthly savings....................................................$61
Source: Federal Citizen Information Center


Short Sales: How They Work

Lets assume you know you cannot keep your house. There is simply no choice but to sell or foreclose. Foreclosure is one of those events that ruins credit and any opportunity to purchase again during better times. Now lets assume there is no doubt in your mind that you can get enough in a sale to cover your loan.

You should approach your lender with your case and hope they will agree that this you may have to foreclose and that the market price today will not cover the loan. You will get less for your house than you owe. Following is a short list of the general procedures involved in a short sale. Keep in mind, there is no standardization, each lender will have their own process and demands and no doubt, there own forms designed to create more havoc with your life than necessary.

  • Hurrah! You get an Offer; Of course its below market and below the loan amount but at least you are out from under and probably feeling relieved.
  • Purchase Agreement: A signed purchase agreement is the first step in the sales process. Generally, you cannot pull any money out of a short sale. The only hitch so far is that often refuse to pay a real estate commission, they often want to negotiate with the buyer themselves.
  • Approach the Lender: with the offer. Its best to have most of this done before the listing process but most lenders will require the following form you as the owner.

a. Hardship letter: You must really be destitute or close. The lender will not forgive any debt otherwise. This letter must show clear proof that you cannot continue to make house payments or pay the loan in full.
b. Release Letter: Giving the lender the authorization to release information so that the purchaser can negotiate directly with the lender.
c. Financial statements: a list of your assets and liabilities, tax returns, bank statements, proving you could not continue to pay the mortgage
d. A copy of the listing agreement: Basically, they want to see proof that the house is really on the market and that there is a bona fide buyer in the wings.
e. Attachments: All other debts related to the home, such as second mortgages, property taxes due or liens attached

6. The Appraisal: The lender will do this

The full article is on line at

Thanks for Reading

Howard bell


More Help for Foreclosure Folks

Whats Are the Markets Up To Now

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.33 with 0.5 point which was six basis points lower than both the previous week and the average rate for the same time period in 2006.

The 15-year FRM averaged 5.99 percent with 0.6 point compared to the previous week when it averaged 6.08 percent also with 0.6 point. One year ago the average rate was 6.10 percent.

Teaser rate mortgages are now resetting and can add as much as $10,000 yearly to the mortgage payment. These teaser rates are generally good for 2- 5 years. What that means is increasing payments for many homeowners for quite a while to come. Expect more supply and foreclosures as people find it difficult or senseless to carry higher payments when their property is clearly not worth what it was. Today one in every 200 homes is being foreclosed nationwide On Balance, lower rates will not trump increasing's some help

Help is Here

If you are facing a foreclosure you should consider some of the following sites:

HUD Housing Counsels by State
HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country that can provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues, and reverse mortgages.

Neighborhood Housing Services of America
NHSA is a lending resource in support of the work of over 240 community development organizations. NHSA gives these organizations access to affordable loan products and services

Hope for Homeowners
Free help and materials to help homeowners understand and prevent the foreclosure process.

National Consumer Resource Center

They offer a wide variety of resources and referrals to households seeking financial advice. he 888-995-HOPE hotline has a single mission: to help more homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The National Consumer Law Center
A very good book on how to survive consumer debt ($20)
Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director, Consumer Federation of America says it is "The best book available for consumers in financial trouble, written by the resource center with the greatest expertise about how consumers can respond to debt collection, foreclosure, evictions and utility shut offs.

Thanks for Reading
Howard Bell