Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Think about the new Years Eve party you could host in this gorgeous bed & breakfast in Victorian Bellefonte. Located on Linn Street amid the splendor of historic B & B's, the stately "Garret" is awaiting its new owners with measured excitement. The new owners may want to continue the profitable operation catering to a loyal clientele built over the past thirty years or return it to a private residence and host private parties for friends and family.
No matter what you choose to do with the elegant residence, call me now to schedule a private tour of the residence and a review of the books. Seldom does an opportunity present itself that can satisfy your dream of owning a part of Bellefonte history.
Call me directly at 814-280-0054.
Visit for many additional photo's and details relating to this beautiful home.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The For Sale by Owner Conundrum

I've been talking to quite a few For Sale by Owner property owners recently and I thought I would provide some interesting information and a quick story from the past year. First the statistics taken from the NAR database so they are not tainted by my possible bias as a Realtor.

Average sales price w/Realtor - $247,000

Average sales price FSBO - $187,200

Realtors obtain an average 32% higher sales price than a FSBO on an identical property.

FSBO Methods used to market home

* Yard Sign....................51%

* Friends/neighbors....53%

* Newspaper ad...........31%

* Open house...............29%

* Internet.....................22%

Most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers

* Getting the right price.....................11%

* Understanding paperwork..............16%

* Preparing home for sale...................18%

* Attracting potential buyers............. 9%

* Time management relating to sale...9%

So what does it all mean? I suppose it depends on your viewpoint and my guess is that if you asked a hundred people you would get a hundred different viewpoints.

Now the story. I was representing a buyer earlier this year and he wanted to buy a FSBO property. So I happily scheduled a meeting with the seller and we visited her home. She greeted me at the door and quickly explained that she didn't need a Realtor because she had an attorney. I thought that was a great idea and told her that I was acting as a buyers agent on behalf of my buyer and that my interest was that of my buyer and I would do everything in my power to get the best deal possible for my buyer. She agreed that I would be a buyers agent and she would be a FSBO with a local attorney as her counsel. She agreed to pay me a buyers agent fee and we signed a statement outlining our roles.

We then sat down at the kitchen table and started to negotiate the sale of her house. Of course her attorney wasn't present (it was 7:30 in the evening) and I continually reminded her that I was representing my buyer quite possibly at her expense. She kept telling me not to worry that she had a great local attorney that would handle everything on her behalf. We kept negotiating until we had hammered out a very favorable contract filled with numerous items to help my buyer. She very happily signed the offer and asked for 24 hours for her attorney to review it. I granted the 24 hours knowing that the contract would come back drastically changed after the attorney's review.

The next day the attorney called me and asked me to pick up the executed contract that he had approved with her consent. A bit surprised I headed over to the office and picked up the contract without a single change to it.

I called the buyer and told him it was time to implement all of the items we requested in the contract. To shorten the story a bit, we did as we promised in the contract and the seller kept calling me asking why we wanted or needed to do a variety of things that she thought we shouldn't address. I reminded her that she had signed a legally binding contract that allowed us the options we were requesting, and oh by the way, she would get to pay for some of it as well. She called her attorney about the matter and the attorney explained to her that we could do the things requested, and in fact, we were not asking for anything unethical or illegal. We were simply asking for things that any excellent buyers agent would ask for on behalf of his client.

I'll never forget the final walk-through the day before closing. The seller was present and pulled me aside as the proud new buyer walked through the house prior to closing. She said to me and I'm paraphrasing but the point was very clear, "You have cost me more in this transaction than if I had hired a Realtor to represent my interests. I really think that you asked me to pay for items that you shouldn't have and I wished I had retained the services of a sellers agent but I didn't know you would cost me so much money."

The truth is I did an excellent job representing my buyer and her attorney didn't really pay attention to much of the detail nor did he explain things to her as they were happening. She ended up spending more than she would have saved on commissions with a sellers agent. I love attorney's and have several that are very good friends but they don't do this every day and it cost the seller real dollars.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Keller Williams Realty wins Stevie® Award for Real Estate Sales Organization of the Year
Could this be the best company in America? Recently, Keller Williams innovative business model was added to the core MBA curriculum at both Yale and Stanford. The company has donated $5.0 million dollars to Baylor University to fund a center to advance the study of residential real estate. “The goal of the Keller Center will be to study the issues that are pressing for real estate companies and agents in today’s marketplace,” Keller says. “For all the awesome research that is already out there, there is an equal amount that is still not being done.”

Keller Williams Realty was recently honored with a Stevie Award in the Best Run Sales Organization category as the Real Estate Sales Organization of the Year at the second annual Selling Power Sales Excellence Awards in Las Vegas, Nev.

The awards were jointly presented by Selling Power magazine, the leading sales management publication with 145,000 subscribers in 67 countries, and The Stevie® Awards, which have been hailed as “the business world’s own Oscars” (the New York Post, April 27, 2005).
More than 400 entries from companies of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted for consideration in more than 40 categories this year.

I can't imagine a better place to work and I can't imagine a buyer or seller finding a more dedicated company of trained professionals to represent them in a real estate transaction.

Don't miss the best buy in Penns Valley and it may be the best buy in all of Centre County real estate. The home features 3 br 2.5 baths located in a picturesque valley with views of the adjacent Amish organic dairy farm. There are 2.3 acres to call your own. Enjoy Spring and Summer on the sprawling decks that offer more than 1,000 sq. ft. of outdoor relaxation. A finsished basement offers additional opportunities and if you are a sportsman, there is a self-contained luxury gun safe that will house your collection of firearms or other collectibles in a fireproof room. There is a brand new septic system, a Koi pond, and for those looking for additional space don't miss the detached garage with office and workshop.
Santa's elves told me you could wrap this home up and put under the tree for Christmas for $229,000. Yes, that is not a mistake. $229,000 if you get to it before the Grinch does.
As the saying goes, "Call me now."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here is the headline in today's Centre Daily Times, "Rules may raise housing prices." The subheading state's, "County looks at easing ordinances to create more affordable dwellings."
I have blogged on at the mouth about my perspective relating to Affordable Housing in the Centre Region. The speech police want us to call it "work force housing" and I will bring that to the attention of Anne Danahy before the rath of the work force housing god's descend upon her and threaten to move her into a palatial Centre region abode.
The government wants to come up with a game plan to adjust, tweak, reduce or eliminate any number of encumberances on affordable housing. What are the reigns holding back Affordable Housing (Work Force housing) in the Centre region? According to the experts they may include regulations such as zoning, land development, park land and street standards. Maybe we should mandate a wind farm in each AH development to help reduce electric bills (oops, I forgot, we all love that stuff just not in the Centre Region or in our backyard--I'm sure we can arrange some carbon offsets to make us all feel better). I didn't notice they were mandating a Starbucks in every new affordable housing development but what is a worker to do without one down the street from his/her house? The answer in some people's eyes is to ship off taxpayer dollars ($35,000 of them to be exact) to their friends that live somewhere else, maybe even in another state, to study the dilemma for twenty-four months.
Again, I know I am a simple minded country boy that resides in the hillbilly country of Penns Valley, but allow me to offer a better solution for the $35,000. Let's create a vehicle whereby those in need can meet with and discuss their options with those of us that actual place people in affordable housing every day as a vocation. We are Realtors in the local community and some of us don't limit our practice to those professionals with a minimum income of $200,000 per year. I know of a Realtor in our town that won't even talk to a buyer unless they are willing to spend a minimum of $200,000 on a home.
I have placed buyers in homes as low as $14,500 and currently I have three properties that can be purchased for under $130,000. If we use the USDA rural housing guide that tells us that low income (they didn't get the memo from the speech police either because that is what they call the loans) mortgages can be used on a property priced at $179,900 or less, there are currently as of December 5, 2007, 121 homes that meet this guideline. That represents 26% of all the homes currently for sale in the State College, Penns valley, Bald Eagle, and Bellefonte school districts meet the low income (there it is again) guidelines as set forth by USDA. Not all of the homes will qualify because they won't make loans in several of the elite neighborhoods of the Centre Region, however, almost one in four houses currently for sale would work for those considered Work Force (I'm getting it) housing.
Now the dirty little secret. Not all of the homes are across the street from University Park. You can't walk to the mall or Wegmans from most of the houses. And this is where the esteemed leadership comes in. Another simple minded idea from that hick Realtor in Penns Valley. Let's ask our government to provide for mass transportation to some of the areas where the housing is available but the commute is a burden. Maybe they could work on infrastructure improvements in some of those areas so the $10,000 septic tanks and the soon to be imposed septic tank taxes and inspection wouldn't burden the homeowners. More public water would help alleviate the $4,000 water well costs associated with building homes in those areas. Just a couple ideas. I have many more but we will save them for another day.
One final comment before we revisit the CDT headline. One of those organizations mentioned in a recent CDT article that is so interested in assisting people with "work force housing" has enacted some of the most ridiculous regulations on those same people when they want to take advantage of the grant money. They actual increase the costs to the buyer for using the money but I don't want to point fingers at anyone in particular. I've had two clients use this money this year and those stories will be re-capped in another post.
So, back to the headline. The county wants to ease ordinances to create more affordable housing. Haven't the cumulative effect of a hundred years worth of ordinances helped to get us into this situation? I want to attend the meeting when the elected officials explain to their campaign contributors exactly why the ordinances won't apply to them. Now that will be a fun blog post to write about.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Successful day spa operation with eleven year history of growth and profitability. An entrepreneurial individual will find a thriving business with an opportunity to grow sales and profits.
You are buying the business, contents and supplies, and the existing client base numbering more than 300. The existing lease can be continued with a new owner.
Call me for an exclusive showing on this business.

Thought for the week!

As a student of history, I always admired and respected Winston Churchill. He said,

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

If we only had the courage to believe that when faced with life's difficulties.