Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's Official: I've Moved

I've moved! My official real estate blog has moved to a new swanky location. You can find me now at Come by and say hello!

Middle Tennessee Real Estate

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On Mortgage Fraud. Again.

One of my favorite bloggers posted today that someone has actually been convicted of mortgage fraud in Tennessee. I've had several buyers describe how lenders can get them in a house - the how-to's constitute mortgage fraud. When I've explained this to them, they generally freak out and often don't get the home because their only way is through fraudulent lending.

What is mortgage fraud? It's when the numbers are dummied up so that the underwriter and ultimate lender are misled into giving a loan. Now loans where you don't declare your income are okay because lenders know you're not providing back-up documentation to prove your salary. And if a buyer does this, he or she should expect to pay a higher interest rate.

In the simplest terms, it's mortgage fraud when something happens that the lender does not know about.

Here's a link to an amazing blog appropriately called Mortgage Fraud Blog. The best consumer is an informed consumer, so please bookmark these pages and stay up to date on the various schemes. Don't be a victim!

This news is older, but still informative... here's a link to identifying real estate scammers courtesy of CNN Money.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cash Back at Closing

I had a listing appointment today with a smart, experienced woman. Several years ago, she wanted to invest in real estate so an agent offered to "help" her by introducing her to an investor. I'm not sure how the whole scheme worked, but she overpaid for a house by about $125,000. The appraiser was in on it. The real estate agent must have been, too, because when the buyer said she was nervous about it the agent kept saying it would be okay.

A side note... when you work with a real estate agent, MAKE CERTAIN that your agent analyzes the market to see what the home is worth. Get your market comparables. If your agent doesn't provide this for you (and yes it's okay to ask), then your agent hasn't provided proper "care" for you and could get in deep doo-doo as a result.

So this agent introduced the buyer to a grifter. Somehow he walked away from the deal with a boat-load of cash. The only way anyone should ever walk away with money is if the seller agrees to pay the buyer for repairs outside of closing. Also, the seller's net profits are acceptable. Real estate agents will take checks back to their brokers, but the checks will be made in the name of the company - not the agent.

I'm writing this as a caution for everyone. If someone is involved in a real estate deal and stands to make a lot of money (and is not the seller or the agents collecting commission on behalf of their broker), then it smells bad. If it smells bad, it's probably not legal. I'm thinking my client's statute of limitations is up on this, but I did give her a name of a good real estate attorney. She's a very bright woman, so if she can be a victim of a scam, then anyone can. Be careful out there - there are some very bad people who want your money.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Under Pressure: Your Toes

A blogger I love reading posted today about how his brother-in-law nearly had his foot amputated because of a pressure washer. They had been jet skiing in some nasty waters of south Florida and after finishing, they cleaned their equipment with a pressure washer. In a moment of distraction, the bro-in-law accidentally sprayed his foot making a little hole. The skanky water was filled with so much bacteria and other gross stuff, that his foot and leg up-to-his knee became severely infected.

Naturally when I think about pressure washing (I always want to call it power-washing), I think about some of the homes in the neighborhood next to mine with green crud growing up the siding. If you have crud on your siding, dear readers, hire a pressure washer or rent one. But do it because your neighbors find you to be embarrassing!

I found a treasure trove of do-it-yourself pressure washing videos at Expert Village. The host most definitely looks like he knows the ins and outs of pressure washing. Here's a sampling (and try to be patient through the commercials).

Click here for more on "How to Pressure Wash Your House: DIY Home Improvement Project Tips"

Let me know if you do any home-spun pressure washing! I'm very interested in hearing about your injury-free results!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Scream for Ice Cream

Today is National Ice Cream Day in the United States. My personal favorite mixed ice cream is caramel praline. But there's not a lot that's better than plain ol' vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate syrup. In honor of National Ice Cream Day, and because it's "Wordless Wednesday" we're going on a home tour featuring four homes from four cities that claim to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae.

Our first stop is Buffalo, New York:

This pretty home is in North Buffalo and has an asking price of $415,900. It has 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and 3300 square feet. It is located at 69 Starin St., with MLS #280398.

Our next stop is Two Rivers, Wisconsin:

This 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with 2847 square feet is available for $227,500. It's located at 3204 Parkway Blvd. and can be found usng MLS #913584.

Now we'll head back over to New York, this time Ithaca:

I love this bungalow style home. (Tell me if it's more cottage to you!). This home has 1200 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, and can be yours for $199,000. Check out MLS #124589 for more info!

Finally we head to mid-America to Evanston, Illinois:

I'm beginning to think I like a very specific style of home. This $549,000, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home on 1501 Dewey is listed under MLS #1276785.

That's it! Now go make yourself a lovely, sweet ice cream sundae!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Want to Suck. Your Blood.

Dracula's castle may be for sale, for a cool $136 million. I wonder if it comes with a stack of carved firewood. Carved into the shape of a stake.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beware of Retention Ponds

I learned today that oftentimes when a lot next to a home has a sinkhole or is a ponding area for when it rains, that the homeowner can be responsible for maintenance of the lot. Sometimes the plat maps don't tell the whole truth. If you own a home next to a water retention area or culvert, go to the county records office and pick up a full printout of the neighborhood blueprint, complete with footnotes. And read the footnotes to see if they say, "Homeowner in Lot X responsible for maintenance of retention area." It could be a bitter surprise!

Here are what retention ponds typically look like, just in case you're wondering.



The really bad stuff. This sinkhole actually dropped in Guatemala City, killing three people. So while you're getting the neighborhood plat (with the small print on the second page), order a geographic survey, too.

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