Monday, November 28, 2011

3 Reasons To Sell Your Destin Florida Home Now

“ We want to wait until after the Holidays to put our home up for sale.” Every year I hear that mantra from potential Destin Florida real estate sellers. Well, guess what? So does everyone else. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t wait to list your Destin home now, instead of January:
1. Less Competition. What’s that? When you sell your property, you are competing against all the other properties for sale that your target buyer is looking for. For example, if you have a condo priced under $400,000, with more than 2000 square feet, all the other Destin condos with those criteria are vying for the same buyer. If you have a single family home on the beach on Scenic Highway 98, all those other beachfront houses compete against yours. In December, there are far fewer for sale. In January, they come out in droves-- sellers who wanted to wait until “after the Holidays” to list. It happens every year.
2. More Serious Buyers. True, you may have less showings and buyers in the market place in December, but they are typically more serious and “need” to purchase. They are probably not tourists “just looking” in the Destin market. After all, this is a busy time of year for buyers, too. If they are looking at homes now, chances are – they’ll buy.
3. What Better Time to Show Off Your Home? Think mulled cider, the scent of pine cones and a plate of cookies left out for “Santa or the New Owners!” I can hear White Christmas playing softly in the background, and see the ivy draped across your mantle. And what could be more welcoming than a big wreath on your front door?
As I tell potential sellers when they ask me, “When is the best time to list our property?”, my answer is always the same – "Now"!
It's Wendy!
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com

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Monday, November 21, 2011

When You Are Wrong - Do You Admit It?

I just admitted I goofed. It was something minor - a data field for a Destin FL Bank of America short sale. I accidentally entered the wrong property tax amount. Or, shall I say, I was doing too many things at once and should have checked my work. No harm was done, but the negotiator had to re-create the task so I could do it right. He didn’t say “You goofed, idiot!”. He just asked me to re-do it. I had two choices. I could have just done the task, or could have also admitted I had made a mistake. I did the latter. Here is my email:
“Got it! Sorry I messed up before! Happy Thanksgiving Week!”
This seems like a minor point, but it isn’t-- in negotiations or in real life. How does admitting you were wrong help? First, bringing your mistake out in the open, shows you are human. Acknowledging it shows you care. In negotiations, it can disarm the other party. It can bring them to your side, and create a connection. How so? Human beings are “rescuers”. They have sympathy. And if you admit you are wrong, it allows them to be wrong, too. Their defensive wall is taken down. Dale Carnegie says this in his classic book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People” - “When you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” He goes on to say, “You will never get into trouble by admitting you may be wrong. This will stop all argument and inspire your opponent to be just as fair and open and broad-minded as you are.”
Confess when you make a mistake, and watch what happens with the negotiator, the other agent, your seller or your spouse. This negotiator melted and emailed me back three times to discuss his cold, while working on my short sale approval.
Admitting you were wrong is the right thing to do.
It's Wendy!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Short Sale Broker Never Gives Up

I am humbled when I receive kind testimonials from my Emerald Coast of Florida real estate clients. I just received the following survey responses from short sale sellers in Destin and Navarre Florida. One of the keys to a successful short sale transaction is to "never give up". I found it amazing that both of these sellers used the same phrases in their comments.

"Wendy Rulnick and her firm Rulnick Realty never gives up. They are the best realty professionals that I have worked with in the Southeast United States. It was perfect and truly professional."
Dan Curtis , Destin Florida

“Wendy and her staff did an exceptional job in getting my house sold short sale. Consistency, constituency, consistency is how I best describe Wendy. She did not give up. On a personal level she supported me and calmed my fears and anxiety.
To be able to give this kind of service reflects that Wendy enjoys what she does and is committed in doing ALL within her professional capability to make her clients satisfied. My recommendation is given freely and without hesitation to Wendy and her team to handle your real estate business”
Kay Cann, Navarre Florida

If you are looking for a real estate agent to represent you in a short sale, look for experience, confidence and tenacity. A Destin, Navarre or Santa Rosa Beach short sale is a long, complex transaction. Your real estate agent should never give up!
It's Wendy!
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com
Destin Florida short sale help
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, is a short sale and pre-foreclosure specialist and has been featured in "Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine" and "Florida Realtor Magazine". She has successfully helped hundreds of families avoid foreclosure through short sale along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Wendy Rulnick is knowledgeable in all aspects of short sale, including VA Compromise Sale, FHA HUD pre-foreclosure sale, HAP military PCS, HAFA, Bank of America Coop program and more. She is also co-founder of http://www.shortsalesuperstars.com/ and short sale instructor to agents across the United States.
Wendy has been licensed for over 20 years, and owns Rulnick Realty, Inc. She serves the entire Emerald Coast of Florida in Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa County- Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Seagrove Beach, Watercolor, Sandestin, Seaside, Crestview, Rosemary Beach, Mary Esther, Shalimar, Panama City Beach, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Santa Rosa Beach Short Sale -Who Pays for Lawn Care, Utilities?


Every once in a while I run into a situation where a Santa Rosa Beach FL short sale seller does not have the funds to keep their utilities on. Their yard is overgrown. They cannot pay for lawn care. When this is the case, what do you do? I know agents who pay for customer’s utilities, lawn and other maintenance on a regular basis. They may consider this part of their cost of doing business if they are in the short sale specialty. That is fine, but I stopped paying for these types of items years ago.
I remember the first time I “paid” for someone’s water turn-on as a favor. They were to reimburse me. Two bills later, they never did. Sometimes you get a clue at the beginning of a transaction. Is the seller slow to send in short sale paperwork? Is it a strategic short sale? These are the sellers who can afford to keep on utilities, but choose not to. They also may not be as committed to the sales process. I just ran into this situation with a lock change in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. The seller could not find his keys for an investment property he hadn’t seen in years. He felt the short sale lender should pay for the lock change. Would I step in and do it? No. Why not? There had been other “clues” about the seller’s willingness to cooperate. A serious and motivated seller is an integral part of the real estate sales process, short sale or not, and if that’s not the case, you probably shouldn’t take the listing.
So, what are some solutions to seller’s unwillingness or inability to maintain properties during the marketing period? In the situation where a vacant, improved property’s yard becomes overgrown, and we get complaints from neighbors, what do we do? We state in our listing agreement that our sign will be removed, since the neighbors innocently expect the real estate company to also be the property management company. In the case where the seller does not turn on utilities, we state in the MLS: “Buyer is to turn on utilities for any desired inspections”. Most buyers understand the seller is in a financial predicament, and agree to pay. I’ve only had one problem with this over the years. The buyer did not have the funds either. In that case, the seller agreed to reduce the earnest money requirement, and turn $100 back to the buyer for utilities. Problem solved.
It's Wendy!
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Email Wendy: itswendy@rulnickrealty.com
Santa Rosa Beach FL short sale help
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, is a short sale and pre-foreclosure specialist and has been featured in "Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine" and "Florida Realtor Magazine". She has successfully helped hundreds of families avoid foreclosure through short sale along the Emerald Coast of Florida. Wendy Rulnick is knowledgeable in all aspects of short sale, including VA Compromise Sale, FHA HUD pre-foreclosure sale, HAP military PCS, HAFA, Bank of America Coop program and more. She is also co-founder of www.ShortSaleSuperstars.com and short sale instructor to agents across the United States.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Destin Realtor Uses Docusign to Help Buyers and Sellers

I am usually on the tech edge. As a Destin Realtor, I've found that buzzing on social networks, blogging using Wordpress and Activerain, and promoting my listings all over the internet is a great way to run a business. I also like using software that adds efficiency and pizzazz, and I've learned about many of these from my partner, Bryant Tutas. Some examples are Scribd, Pdfill, Picasa, etc. But there was something I was missing, and I recently found it… Docusign! I might have been late to the Docusign game, but I am a full blown fanatic now.
What is Docusign? It’s a program that facilitates the use of electronic signatures to sign documents online. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? I think I shied away from it because I wasn’t sure if it was legal. Or maybe – because the idea of e-signatures seemed radical to me! For my first objection, “Is it legal?”, here is the FTC’s Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2001 (also called ESIGN). The ESIGN Act states that electronic signatures “may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form”. In 2010, Congress re-affirmed the use of e-signatures by making June 30 “National ESIGN Day”.
My second objection – that Docusign seems “radical”, was quickly overcome by trying it out. If you are at all computer savvy, and can fill in a form, you can figure out how to use Docusign. Basically, you upload the PDF you want signed into the program, (for example, a real estate offer). Then you drag icons from a menu to indicate where your customer will sign, initial, date, or even add terms. After doing so, you email it to your customer. He can pick an online signature image to use as his own after he agrees to do business electronically. The software will guide him through the document, so all he does is “read and click”. When he has finished signing, you get an email notice, and can pick up the document online, or forward it to someone. Docusign allows multiple signers, like husband and wife, or even "you" if you must sign a VA, FHA or lead paint addendum. You can even sign on an iPad or cell phone.
What was my customer response to Docusign? Cartwheels! One seller even requested Docusign after we “accidentally” sent him an addendum without using it. He said, “Can’t you Docusign it to me?” What does it do for the customer? Convenience. They don’t have to find a printer and fax machine. They cannot miss an initial. The program brings them to the right spots! How many contracts have you had returned with missing signatures? This time, the only way it can mess up is if you do.
What’s the cost? Too cheap to pass up at $14.99 a month for unlimited emails. (No, I do not work for Docusign). I am telling you all this because I am very excited about how this product has changed my business. My team loves it. Everything is speeded up. My customers love it. It’s convenient. Most short sale lenders accept e-signatures, too.
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t wait for ten years like I did to get with the program!
It's Wendy!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is There Hope for a Directionally Challenged Realtor


They laugh at me. They shake their heads. “Don’t ask Wendy for directions!”, they say. Why? I am “directionally” challenged. It happened again just this morning. I had a meeting with a fellow Realtor and an attorney. The attorney’s office is located about a quarter mile from my Destin real estate office and near my house. I had no idea where it was. I emailed the Realtor three times for directions. “Is it on the south side of the road? Is there a sign on the building? What is near it?” She told me the attorney’s office was in a former real estate company building. I never knew that had been there, either.
When someone asks me for directions, I tell them, “It’s just down the road about….. miles. To me, that’s where it is. That’s where everything is! Do I drive buyers around? No. I prefer listings. Could the reason be that I panic when someone gets in my car because I don’t know where I am going? Even with GPS? Somehow, though, I always make it to a listing appointment on the dot. I don’t know how. And entering directions in the MLS? I don’t. I let someone else on my team do it. That’s because I’ve had a few agents tell me my directions are wrong. Even if I use a map as a guide.
My parents knew something was amiss when I was a child. I tested high in all categories – except – you guessed it! Geography!
It's Wendy!

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't List Your Fort Walton Beach Home if You Have a Long Term Tenant

Remember when you could easily sell a single family home with a tenant in place? There were investors who would buy these types of properties in the Fort Walton Beach Florida metro market all the time. Not any more. Today, most single family and townhome buyers want a home they can move into immediately. Many of those buyers military, and PCSing to Eglin Air Force Base or Hurlburt Field.
A few days ago I spoke with a potential Crestview Florida short sale seller. He had a townhome that was leased through next Fall. I asked if the tenant would agree to move out with sixty days notice when we get a short sale contract. The seller said the property management company, who also wanted the listing, said “no”, and told him most of the buyers in the complex had been investors who bought with tenants in place! I checked the MLS statistics. There was no way to tell if that were the case, and most of the sales were from other brokers. It was just a ploy to get the listing. Who wants a listing if it won’t sell? I don’t, and neither would a seller! I told him "You will severely limit showings on your property, and minimize the pool of potential buyers. Your chance of selling with a tenant will be harmed". I did not agree to accept the listing under those conditions.
To prove a point, here are showing instructions from some recent expired listings:
  • "Home is Tenant occupied and the home cannot be shown at this time, tenant is unwilling to set appointments."
  • "48 hour notice required. Home is available for showings on Wed and Thursday from 11:00- 2:00"

  • "Home is occupied by long term renter through June 2012. If your customer is not interested in a home with a renter there is no need to show. Lease will not be broken. Do not show just to have something to show."
The last set of instructions must have been taken to heart-- "Do not show just to have something to show", since the listing expired, along with the others!
What's my advice? If you have a tenant with a long term lease and "need" to sell your Crestview or Fort Walton Beach home as a short sale to avoid foreclosure, ask them to cooperate. Many tenants will agree to move out early. They don't want to be inconvenienced by showings and they probably don't want to help you hurtle towards foreclosure. In some cases, offering a free month's rent or two will give them ample incentive. If your real estate agent does not bring up this point, you should.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Do You Think Bank of America Coop Sale is Pre-Approved?


I am always leary of any so-called “pre approved” short sales. The word on the street is there are only three kinds of short sales you can trust as pre-approved: HAFA, Bank of America Cooperative Short Sale and FHA HUD Pre-foreclosure Sales. In these cases, the list prices can be pre-approved, as can the sellers’ financials and qualifications. But are the buyers? Is the contract? Setting that argument aside, I had a recent eye-opening experience with a Bank of America Co-op Short Sale.
I listed a Destin Florida condo, with “pre-approved” Co-Op seller, at a price set by Bank of America. We had a contract higher than full price within one day. Perfect, right? The Bank of America website says Coop Sales are approved within 10 days of contract. Today, it is three months later. The sale is still not approved. What were some of the glitches evident in their process?
1. Bank of America outsources Coop Sales (and HAFA) to third party vendors. There is a time lag for the vendor to set up its file.
2. Duplication of work. Not only are documents emailed to the vendor, the agent is to upload them into the Bank of America platform, Equator. Vendor representatives email within the platform and outside of it, duplicating requests.
3. Layers of approvals are still needed. This particular file needed “five internals tasks, two review tasks, and a manager approval, before it goes to valuation”, per the UTLS representative who is working on this file.
4. Title errors. Bank of America stated the file had “PMI” on it, and requested all seller financials, although the seller had been “pre approved”. The seller insisted there was no PMI, nor had never been, and he had paid off junior lien HELOC long ago. After numerous go-rounds with Bank of America, the PMI company, United Guaranty, agreed it was a mistake. I was told a “wrong key” was hit when the original request was made.
My advice? If you are going to list a Bank of America Cooperative Short Sale, expect the standard 90-120 day approval process. Don’t advertise the short sale as “pre approved”. The price? Yes, but not the short sale. And be patient.
It's Wendy!
Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Does a Destin Realtor Go On Vacation?


What does a Destin Florida real estate agent do for vacation? When you live by the beautful Gulf of Mexico, in a small resort town in the South, you do the opposite, of course. Head North! And North I went, back to my roots in the Northeast. Having grown up in Connecticut, it was time to visit my family and take a side trip to Massachusetts. The time of year was perfect - October cool and crisp. We stayed in Boston, and walked the Freedom Trail.

 If you've never experienced this part of Boston - you need to. No American should miss it. You just follow the red bricks that wind around the city to sixteen lovingly maintained historic sites that honor our country's history.

Some of the highlights for me were the Bunker Hill Monument on Breed's Hill and the  Old North Church. We also went to Boston Common, King's Chapel, the Old South Church, the Paul Revere House, the Granary Burying Grounds, Copps Hill, the U.S.S. Constitution and Quincy Market. You can feel the stirrings of the revolutionaries, their fighting spirit, and the heart of our nation. When in the Old North Church, I stood where Paul Revere rang the church bells when he was fifteen. On the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides), the magnificent ship is all spit and polish. The Faneuil Hall Marketplace food court had more ethnic offerings in one spot than I've ever seen before. Of course, you need to have a cannoli in the Italian North End, too! And did I mention "Cheers"?

Another side trip we took in Massachusetts was to Old Sturbridge Village. This is a rural museum town which reflects life from the late 1700's to the1830's. There we found homes, mills, a stagecoach, glass works, printers, farm, crafts, weaving and more set on a beatiful town green. I enjoyed the walk to the different houses (and outhouses) that were each mini-museums. Some had actors in period dress and character. The blacksmith was working his trade and answering questions for all who entered his shop. There was a woman cooking in a rental house, and a printer who made me a document calling the militia. Seeing a soldier walking by in period dress was very exciting, especially when he said in his formal English "Good day". There is so much to see, that Sturbridge VIllage offers two day passes for true history buffs.

My favorite part of this trip? All of it!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Just Accepted a Short Sale Offer on Your Destin Home - What Happens Next?



Destin short sale agent 

Your Destin Florida home is for sale as a "short sale". You're about $300,000 "upside down".  You just received an offer you feel is too low.  I agree - it is a waste of time to send a contract significantly lower than market value to your short sale lender. So you counter the buyer's offer, they accept, and you now have a contract. What happens next? 
1. We send the contract with a preliminary settlement statement and all your financials to  your mortgage lender.

2. Your lender orders a Broker Price Opinion or Appraisal on your property.
If the appraisal comes back much higher than the contract price, the lender will counter the offer. The buyer can accept or reject that.  (Most of my short sales are approved because my pricing is pretty good, and I counsel my sellers to counter if the offer is too low.  However, the BPO agent or appraiser can ALWAYS have a different opinion. All a valuation is – is OPINION.  Once in a while, you get a dumb appraisal and you cannot get the offer together. You just put the house back on the market. The valuation is usually only good for 60-90 days, but sometimes 180 depending on your loan type.)

3. Your finances, hardship and loss amount are analyzed.

4. The short sale lender will then approve the sale as delegated authority for the investor or send it to the investor on your loan to approve. (Your lender is usually just the "servicer" for the investor, who reaps the benefits of your mortgage payments.)

5. In some cases, they ask the seller for a cash contribution or promissory note at 0% interest.  Sometimes both.  The figure is normally negotiable, but it’s best to be prepared for “something” in order to get a full waiver of deficiency. 

6. The short sale is approved.

7. The buyer finalizes his loan and closes.

The short sale approval process can take 60 to 120 days to complete, and require hundreds of emails, faxes and telephone calls to ensure success . This is a quick explanation - I hope it helps!

It's Wendy! 

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty

Call toll-free 1-877-487-9639 or local 850-650-7883 ext 204
Your Destin Florida home is for sale as a "

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