Thursday, December 29, 2011

Avon Lake Ohio is a very welcoming community

Recently this last September I moved to Avon Lake. I have spent most of my life in Lakewood Ohio. Lakewood will always have a special spot in my heart. I spent 6 years in Bay Village and found it to be centrally located for my work but I wasn't impressed with the city and its services considering what I was shelling out for it. I have to say I am impressed with Avon Lake. Within the first week of moving here I recieved a welcome letter from my city council person. He invited me to his next meeting to get acquainted. Of course I was too busy moving to go but I felt welcomed! Then I recieved a letter from the water and sewer department. This letter told me about their services and how proud they are about what they do. Just recently I recieved a letter from the library inviting me to stop by. I have never lived in a city that reached out to its new comers so nicely. Everything is so convenient with the state of the art shopping up by route 83 and Detroit. Hienens is so beautiful I had to call a few friends and tell them it is like shopping in Hollywood! ( I come from a grocery store background) I can get used to this! I live real close to Giant Eagle and they are definately keeping up with the pressure of Hienens. Their meat,produce,wine and bakery are great. The discounts on gas can't be beat! Back to the library, well all I can say is WOW! They have a wonderful space and a childrens center for hands on learning plus a special childrens library. The people were all very friendly. When I signed up for my new library card they welcomed me to the neighborhood! The city just built a brand new swimming pool with slides and all sorts of play yard contraptions. The school system ranks at the top. I can see why Avon Lake continues to grow. It really is a nice place to live. I can't wait until the Lear exit off I 90 is open. It will be really convenient. The Cleveland Clinic just opened a new facility off of Lear. With all this I can still buy farm grown vegtables off the farm stands just down the street!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: Looking back at this past year in Real Estate

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: Looking back at this past year in Real Estate: This past year was a very busy year. I showed over 700 properties. A lot of them were vacant bank owned properties. Of my 26 years in Real ...

Looking back at this past year in Real Estate

This past year was a very busy year. I showed over 700 properties. A lot of them were vacant bank owned properties. Of my 26 years in Real Estate I think this year I worked the hardest and made the least for my efforts.

There has been a shift in this business. A few agents have been able to get bank owned listings. These agents are listing so many properties they can't keep track of their business and have had to hire help. Now why can't the banks just spread this out to other people like me! I am supposed to be Fannie Mae approved but as of yet, no business. I did get awarded a HUD contract but that proved to be more frustrating and time consuming than it was worth.

I have become very adept at selling short sales. These are properties that are selling for less than what the owner owes the bank. It is better for the seller to do this than to get foreclosed. A short sale actually helps the market because the seller lives in the house up until the transfer of title. Most of the time the banks will give the seller relocation money so they can move. A short sale protects the property from vandalism and cuts down on vacant houses in the niehgborhood.

So if you know someone who might need to do a short sale I'm your gal!

The appraisers are all over the board. Stress sales are causing values to go down. The market has not equalized yet. There is still money out there to purchase, but you have to have a job and good credit. When a house is priced right it will sell. Unfortuanately what that price is, is never what the seller wants to hear.

If you have a mortgage that is 5 1/2% or higher REFINANCE now if you can!! Call me I will help you find the best deal out there. If you are in a stress situation call me, there is help out there.

All in all I feel this coming year is going to be better. I have more business going into this coming year than I had in the last few years. I am feeling very optomistic. Cleveland is having a little surge in growth with all the construction downtown. Ford is ramping up in Avon. So there are more job opportunites than there were last year. Hopefully the doom and gloom is in the rearview mirror.

It has never been a better time to buy a house. The rates are at their lowest and the housing market is thought to be near the bottom! Some other locations in our country are actually experincing growth. If you are selling one home to buy another, you will make up the loss you took on the new house. Don't think of it as losing money, think of it as trading assets and the value will return. I'm Sandy Maline if you want to talk real estate call me 440-554-2260

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cleveland's Fall market update

Recently I read an article in the Plain Dealer encouraging people to sell their homes themselves. Save on the Real Estate commission. Now I can't blame anyone for trying to save money. But I've been a top producer in the Cleveland Real Estate market for over 26 years and I have to say this is one of the hardest markets I have endured.
The bottom line is that you have to be the prettiest face on the market at the best price to sell.
I sold my dream home in Bay Village last month and purchased a brand new home in Avon Lake with my Financee (which is turning out to be a better dream!). I have to say it was more painful selling in this market then in the past. In order to be the prettiest home in the price range I spent about $10,000 to spiff it up. I put new granite, sinks and faucets in the kitchen updated the appliances. I changed all the exterior light fixtures. Once all this was done the house sold and of course for far less than I wanted it to. All in all I took a big beating and loss on the house. I feel like I made up for that loss on the purchase so I'm not going sit around and cry about it.
The problem in this market is most people can't afford to do what I had to do to get my house sold. Most of the people on the market are in some sort of financial hardship that prevents them from doing the spiff up that they need to do. The buyer, if they consider the house will of course take tens of thousands off for these repairs if they consider them at all! If your home needs work you are competing with bank owned properties.
There is movement and things are selling, they just have to be priced right and appealing enough to make someone else want to live there. I have a few saying I find myself repeating over and over.
"If you can smell it you can't sell it"
"Nobody wants to buy someone elses dirt"
"You can't sell it if you don't show it"
My personal favorite when the seller doesn't want a sign out front.
":Okay you want me to sell it but not let anyone know you are on the market?"
The other important thing to remember is just because you need a certain amount of money out of the sale doesn't mean the buyer is going to give it to you. Get realistic.
As far as using a professional to sell your home, well all I can say is, not all professionals are alike there are some really good agents and there are some really bad agents. If you feel that you know enough to take the biggest asset you have and handle it fine, good luck, there are alot of shucksters out there. Most buyers don't really want to deal direct with the owner so you narrow your playing field in that respect. You also have limited marketing compared to the huge network our real estate industry has built. I know that my listings are on so many sites I can't keep track. I pay out money monthly to be everywhere so that your listing gets noticed. It is a team effort between you cleaning decluttering and showing off your home and me following up on leads and agents to get a dialog going.
I read an article that said it will take 89 years to get through all the bank owned properties that are in the pipeline. I believe that article might just be right. The banks are very difficult to deal with. They aren't cutting anyone a break and I am seeing them force people into hardships over small amounts of money that should be worked out instead. All I can say is, If you are going to sell in this market get ready to take a beating and if you want to do that alone (without an agent), uninformed, have at it. It is a frustrating process no matter what, having someone who knows the language of real estate in your corner seems like a smart move to me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mid Summer Market update

There are certain trends in decorating that are more in demand than others. This is what will make the difference in selling at a reasonable price, getting showings or not selling at all. For one thing Oak cabinets are out! You can dress them up with granite but most of the buyers out there in today's market only want to see Oak on the floors. Another huge decorating mistake is laminate floors. I would say 9 out of 10 people do not like laminate floors! Everyday I see more and more laminate floors. It is like putting counter-tops on your floors. The funny thing is the price for laminate is really not different in price from ceramic tile or hardwood!

Today I went through 290 listings for a buyer of mine. I was looking for the things they are looking for in a home. Their goal price is around $250k and they want what is considered current trends in decor. The old brick fireplace is out. Gold plumbing and door hardware is out. That old Williamsburg style wood framed fireplace mantel is out. Contemporary is in.

The photos that the Realtor put on the MLS are so important to the sale of the home. I will go out to a house and re shot photos over and over and update for each season. So many times I see toilet shots and fuzzy shots that do nothing to sell the home. The worst marketing attempt is no pictures at all!

Landscaping is really important to seal the deal. I showed a home that must of spent 50k on landscaping alone. It was magnificent to look at but it wasn't practical for most of the buyers for that home because it is in a development which attracts families with children. There wasn't a play space for kids because of the elaborate landscape. Also my buyer said if the kids were grown they would love this, but upon reflection realized the maintenance of it would be more work than they were willing to do. The point is don't overdo it, but do spend some money to create a nice environment. Patios,Koi ponds and decks are big. Old wood decks are not as desirable as the new deck product that doesn't rot. A pool and hot tub do not sell houses. Having a Pool will limit the the number of potential buyers for your home.

I have had people call me and ask if putting a slate or tin roof would be a good idea. My answer is always do it if you want it but don't expect to get your money back. These are quality items that actually over improve your home because a buyer will not pay more money for your home if you have this improvement. Heated driveways are also a great little extravagance but don't expect to get your money back. It only makes the home more desirable. As always it is kitchens and baths that sell. Keep the house clean of lots of clutter and overdecorating. My favorite saying is "If you can smell it you can't sell it"!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cleveland Ohio Real Estate Update

This year is definately better than last year. I am seeing a lot of people purchase homes and owner finance them back to family,friends or employees. This is the best investment you can do right now. You can get interest on your investment and have something tangible like the title to the house as collateral. I think this is a great time to invest in some of these bank owned peoperties if you have the money.

I am still seeing people lose their homes. Some who have struggled to hang on are calling me to find out their options. The banks are just nasty to deal with. At this moment I have been waiting for a short sale bank negotiator to call me back. He has emailed me that he will call me before 1 pm today. I am doing everything to keep my phone line open so I don't miss his call. My seller is desperate and wants to get the bank to work with the offer that is on the table. I know the negotiator has about 400 other properties he is working with. We are just another phone call and number. I'm the one in the trenches feeling the emotions of the homeowner and the potential buyer.

I hear advertisements on the radio about Save your home but the Federal government is doing nothing about the shake down the banks are doing to the general public. The banks basically force you into selling your home. This is not The American Way!

Alot of these people could simply hold on if the banks would let them readjust their interest rate to a lower current rate. If you are in trouble you can't qualify for a refinance so what is the point. I've had people who lost their jobs and just needed to add maybe 4-6 months on the back of their loan and they would be able to stay in their home but the process is not n place to make this any easy solution.

I did finally get a call back from the negotiatior. It turns out the appraisal on the house is too high! Now if this was an outright pruchase the appriasial would be too low! So they are telling me I have to wait 3 more months to possibly get a new appraisal and maybe then I can get this house sold. In the mean time I will send in my own comparable sales and show the feedback on all the showings and maybe they will work something out. Unfortunately not with this buyer who just walked from the deal!!!

There are a lot of problems with these bank and mortgage systems. The best advise I can give you is try to work with a bank who services their own loans. That way if trouble happens you might be able to work something out. Right now the trap is wide and open and good people are falling in left and right.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Taxes they keep climbing!!

I don't understand it but today I checked all my current listings to see if I needed to update the taxes for the new tax bill. Sure enough every listing I have had the taxes go up! Now how does that happen when we have had a drop of values in our area as much as 22% in the last 5 years!

How do our real estate taxes keep going up when our values are down? Simple question. My taxes went up $900.00 this year. I was told The Board of Revision had finally lowered my house value but still my taxes went up.

Bay Village passed a school levy. When I did the math I figured I would break even between the lower tax value and the new levy but somehow I have to write a check or pay a higher mortgage.

Add this to lower income and a crushing recession and you have just put people who may have been just holding on, over the edge. What really pushes my buttons is the people on Capital Hill keep getting more benefits, more income,and more opportunities while we cut out more and more things out of our lives. I'm not just talking about not being able to shop at Saks anymore either!

I haven't gone to a doctor in two years because the last time cost me $800.00 and I have health insurance! I went to get my eyes examined and get a new perscription for glasses and it cost me $300.00. I just joined Kaiser and to my relief I get to go and get check ups without extra cost!But the lingering question is how come my taxes keep going up and now my city services are about to go down!

Where is all the money going? Does anyone in the government know how to really keep books and watch the bottom line.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making progress with one city plot at a time

I made a new internet friend recently. I have been reading the work of Manfield Frazer. He is a writer who I see on Cool His articles about Human rights inspired me to contact him through email and tell him that I am a fan of his work.

We have been holding a long conversation for a few months now. He sent me his book that he wrote and I was very surprised to find out that he is a past convicted criminal.

I am reading his book and I have to admit that I can't read it for a long period of time because it sparks such passion in me. I get angry and want to do something to change the way things are.

This man Mansfield is articulate, smart and compassionate. He is a bear of a man and you can't help feeling comfortable around him as he has a warm welcoming charm or charmisa that he has sharpened over his 68 years.

Yesterday I went down to East 66th and Hough to see Mansfields vineyard. Yes, I said that right, vineyard in the middle of Hough!! I haven't ever been to the Hough neighborhood. All I remember about Hough was when I was six years old there were terrible riots and people got hurt and killed all protesting for equal rights. As a little girl the message that I had in my head was don't ever go there.

I was surprised to see so many new homes with beautiful landscapes. Here, Mansfield used to be a part of building homes in this area. He himself lives right across the street from the vineyard in a very nice newer home. I was not surprised to see all the vacant property and vacant buildings.

Mansfield is looking at the opportunity here. He worked with Cleveland Land bank to start his vineyard. He got the land from them and some seed money to get started. He also has the community involved. He is teaching kids in the area how to farm. He wants this movement to continue with his goal being a winery right across the street from the Cleveland Clinic and next to their new projected 10 million dollar hotel.

He wants this all to be a community centered enterprise. Giving the people in the area a chance to learn and work with in the development. He is looking for organic inner city farmers and has a few bio domes planned with the help of some philantrophic donations. All this will be a community based learning and work opportunity center. This is giving the people in his community hope and a postive direction with a fantasic goal.

This started with one little city plot. He calls it The Vineyards of Chateau Hough. Come on you have got to love this! He is looking for sponsors to donate $1000.00 to sponsor one of the 18 rows of grapevines. This money will go toward the funds to help pay the neighborhood kids that are farming it. He is also putting together teaching center on how to grow a vineyard. Yes it is a write off this is a bonafide charity! The sponsors will get a spot to advertise their company and will get all the publicity Mansfield can throw their way.

When I met Mansfield yesterday we stood on the corner of Hough and East 66th under his big umbrella in the rain and talked about what his goals are. I was so enthused I asked to be a part of it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Bye Middle Class in America!

I have just had a really grounding experience. Recently I received a $25 gift card from a business that I do business with as a thank you. This business card was for (can I say the name) Saks Fifth Avenue.

It took me several weeks to get around to driving out to the East side of town to shop at the Premium shopping mall in Cleveland. It has been a really long time since I went to Beachwood. I have always loved to at least make it out there a few times a year in the past.

Since I have had a declining income since 2006 shopping at the higher end stores has been at the bottom of my list of choices. I was so surprised to see how busy this mall was. In the middle of a recession!

Well I went into Saks thinking well maybe I can find a nice sweater on sale and use my $25 dollars off and have something new and nice that maybe will give me a little lift.

Have you been shopping there lately!!! Everything was $300 to $500! When did this happen? I have a credit card there I used to shop there. I can't even afford a wallet! I will admit that there weren't a lot of people with bags of purchases!

Nothing has spoken to me in more valid terms than this. There are tons of people out there shopping here at these prices and I am not one of them! I know I have always been middle class. I know that once in a while I get to score a first class seat in a plane or be invited to a loge to view a game.
I am fine with this being not an everyday thing. I appreciate them more. But Hey! The divide has grown to such a big difference that I can't even imagine even flirting with the luxury lifestyle. You know pretending I'm one of them by shopping in one of those stores or staying a night in a fabulous hotel.

I don't know if this is all smoke and mirrors. But there are poeple making fortunes on the backs of the working class and no one is doing a damn thing about it.

I have read a lot about World War Two and the thing that absolutely blows my mind is while people were being taken from their homes and put in concentration camps other people were living just fine and in fact capitalizing on it. Turning a blind eye to their neighbors and friends because of one stupid reason (religion, status) or another.

What is different today? People are losing their homes left and right. If you don't have a good credit score and a job you can't get a job or a good one! You can't get help with your loan at least not the majority maybe 3% do.

Are we really thinking of electing Donald Trump to be President? OMG!!!I know my age group were teens in the seventies but come on have we all lost our minds? What happened to the America I knew that cared about its citzens no matter what their background. You know the melting pot!

What happened to the land of milk and honey and opportunity for eveyone!

Sorry about the rant! I guess I'll just shredd my Saks credit card and carry on!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: In the trenches selling Real Estate in Cleveland O...

Sandy Maline Cleveland Real Estate: In the trenches selling Real Estate in Cleveland O...: "Every morning I check the Multiple listing service (MLS) for the market update. This is a list of new homes on the market that are either ne..."

In the trenches selling Real Estate in Cleveland Ohio

Every morning I check the Multiple listing service (MLS) for the market update. This is a list of new homes on the market that are either new to the market, re listed, reduced, increased, under contract, sold or expired. Today one third of the new listings were bank owned. I can't check to see how many of the others are a stress sale but I would guess another third.

In the past Realtors in the Cleveland market didn't get real involved in the rental market. I can remember saying it just doesn't pay enough. Today I am involved in leasing properties actively! I can make the same money leasing a property that I would make selling a low end bank owned home. The difference is when showing the properties the rentals usually have the snow shoveled and the heat on. This has become a luxury when showing houses! The only good thing about not having the heat on is that the bugs go dormant.

Things have shifted and to stay afloat you have to shift with it. When I list a rental property I put it in the MLS and market it online almost like a property for sale. What I have found to be interesting is the agents that show my rental listings. So often when talking with other agents they talk a big game. Hardly will another agent admit that the market is tough and they are struggling to make the money they once did. When a top producer from a competitive company shows one of my rentals and looks to co broke a commission of say $650.00 I know they are struggling. Game face is gone no more bullshit!

Breaking that down they get half of that and then they split that half with their broker. So what he or she is looking at making is $175.00. Some companies will nickel and dime their agents for other fees like a processing fee making that $175.00 even less. Not so glamorous now is it?

Recently the biggest competitive company out there with agents than any other company (not naming names) has pulled a fast one. When they bring a potential tenant they have added language to their paperwork which is called Agreement to enter into a Lease. Way at the bottom of the paperwork they add language which states that if the potential tenant purchases the property within 2 years the owner will pay the agency a full commission. The problem here is it cuts out the listing broker!

I kept thinking why would Joe big bucks from XYZ company show my rental to making a whooping $175.00? It turns out that because he is looking to skunk me and my client out of our business relationship!

Do you really want to do business with a company that does business like that? Just like the casinos they didn't get that big by being a nice guy like me.

I'll stay small, make a good living and sleep well at night. When and if I make it to the Golden Gate I will look whomever greets me straight in the eye knowing I have lived and worked honorably.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Selling Real Estate in todays market

There are two types of real estate that is selling in todays market. One is new or resale property. The other is bank owned or distressed properties. As a Realtor I would prefer to make my living selling new or resale properties. Unfortunately the bulk of the market (where the money is at)is currently in the distressed market.

I know a few agents out there that have worked themselves into a nice little niche in the distressed market. One of my colleagues has focused his business on this market for over 20 years. He is doing very well but it is not without a cost.

Out of the top agents in distressed sales there are a small number who actually do a great job. Most of them won't even call you back when you send them an offer. My colleague who has been doing this sort of business for over 20 years does a great job. He has a full staff to market and check on the properties. They check the homes every week to make sure there are no squatters and the house is secure and not damaged further.

As an agent when I show distressed sales there are a few issues that I don't usually have with a non distressed sale. The biggest one is will the property be secure. Walking into a vacant house that is not secured for the opportunity to sell it is not my idea of making a good living. Over and over I find these homes missing locks. Also no one shovels snow for these houses. So if I am showing distressed property I am going to dress like I'm having a snow day. There is nothing worse than walking through snow drifts up to my butt to show a vacant home with no heat.

Once a buyer decides on which distressed property to buy we start a whole new set of issues. Are there multiple offers? Will the listing agent even call me back? If it is a short sale how long do we have to wait for an approval? After all this will the bank pay me my commission?

A lot of the people handling bank assets don't have a clue what they are doing. I have found myself having to make dozens of calls just to get the smallest thing accomplished. Like will you accept this offer, can we close this deal, how do I get into this property?

As you can see it is not a pleasant way to make a living. After 26 years of selling real estate I am afraid this distressed market has taken its toll on me. I am 53 years old and I don't want to have to carry a firearm to show houses and make a living.

I applied to Cuyahoga County to work for The Board of Revision. I applied on line. I took a test on line and then went through 3 interviews. Early January I received a phone call telling me that I have the job and they gave me a opening salary offer. After some negotiation I accepted. I had to have a background check and a drug test. I went down to Ontario and Lakeside and filled out paperwork. My start date was January 31, 2010. I was told that I am not supposed to act as a real estate agent in Cuyahoga County because they felt that it would be a conflict of interest.

On January 31 I was told not to come in to work. My new tentative date of hire would be February 14, 2011. On February 9th I got a call telling me that the County withdrew their job offer. After several phone calls I found out that because I am a real estate broker that they felt it was a conflict of interest. If any of my agents sold real estate in The County I would get a percentage of the real estate transaction and they felt that would not be acceptable.

I guess I will continue to sell real estate and not get to be a part of the clean up down at The County. I was honored to get the job and wanted so much to bring some integrity back. I will not close my company down for the opportunity to work for the government.

In order to make a living in real estate in todays market I guess I will be taking a Firearm safety class and acting like Annie Oakley!

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 will it be better than 2010

As far as Real Estate goes I think that we may be seeing some hope for this coming year. I have been busier than the last few years in January. My colleagues in the Real Estate profession are all stating that they are seeing more interest this year. Of course they always talk big, but I do have some friends that actually tell it like it is and they concur with me.

For the most part I have people looking to make a good investment. I talked with my accountant about taking self directed 401k money and purchasing real estate with it. He wasn't real excited about it. Well I remember 20 years ago I was looking into a 1031 exchange program and no one was excited about that either. I pushed forward, I talked with the IRS to get the low down and set up a third party company to handle the exchanges and saved my clients tons of money!!

I am seeing incredible opportunities to make money. If you don't mind being a landlord this is the time to purchase investment property. One deal I just did will bring in 20 percent profit after taxes and insurance. If my client uses an equity loan to purchase this, he will get a interest write off on his taxes and be able to pay it back within 5 years! Then from there it is all profit. Do three of those and you can retire comfortably.

I own rental property, it is not easy to be a landlord. You have to be tough but have compassion. I always try to fix things right away. My tenants are my customers and I want to make them happy. Like any customer client relationship if they don't pay, you have to make a decision to work with them or severe the relationship.

I have had to evict people and it is not a feel good experience. I have also worked out payment programs with tenants who were going through a tough time and found them to be thankful and loyal tenants because of me being willing to work with them. It is a fine line here where if you are too nice you get taken advantage of. I am known for being quick to evict. If you are 5 days overdue you get a letter posted on your door. If you don't respond to that letter I go forward with the eviction. If you do respond and have a good reason I will work things out. This is what any other business relationship does. Too many people let this go on and on and that is how you lose money.

So if you think you have the stomach for owning property . . . This is the time to BUY!!! You know the saying buy low sell high!