Real Estate Nightmare on Elm Street – Part One

Ever feel like your real estate experience is like watching a horror flick, in slo-mo?  Well it’s a club with many members, so I’m here to review just a few top pitfalls and what you can do to overcome them.  #1: Short Sale buying. Totally a misnomer!  In other countries, Canada for example, a short sale is just as it says and everyone is happy.  No banks to drag it out, no third parties charging fees, just happy buyers and sellers.  In the United States however, I think it should be named Prolonged Purchases so that everyone is clear about the process.  But, that’s just me!  If you have no other goals other than one specific property, and, you’re ready, able and willing to wait upwards of months and months (the longest one I’ve heard of is now in it’s 13th month) to close (maybe) then a short sale is the process for you.  However, should you want to be snuggled on your couch in your dream home in let’s say 45 days or so, stick with the traditional sale.  There’s a lot of sellers out there that are ready, willing and able to make a transaction work:  seek them.   #2:  Financing.  Because of the current state of our country’s banking system and the issues that created a downfall in the housing markets, a recovering real estate market in Naples has been the bright side for many buyers.  Financing:  not so much.  Interest rates are at a historical low and whether they inch up or not is anyone’s guess.  If you’re an international buyer, it’s better to pay cash.  Financing can be done, but not easily with most requiring at least 30-50% down.  If you’re an American buyer, be prepared for a rigorous process.  Stay on top of your lender and if you feel at any time they’ve dropped the ball, do not hesitate to move forward with another preferred lender.  Before you start looking for homes, interview three lenders that have been referred to you by family, friends and coworkers that had a personal experience with them that can vouch for their performance.   #3: Gruesome agents.  So, you want to get to the closing table but before you can do that, you’ve got to list your property.  Personally, I’ve received listings in the past simply due to the default of some really bad agents (and I’ve thanked them, it would be rude otherwise).  I’ve seen agents that have a listing and don’t get it into the MLS for three to four weeks, others, make promises that are like unfulfilled prophecies.  There’s those that never even get a lockbox on the door and then there’s those special agents that have never seen the likes of a photograph ( )  Make sure you always get referrals and/or testimonials from other clients that have used the services of the agent and please interview three of them.  This is most people’s biggest investment, why leave it to those with unproven results.  And remember, if they sound too good to be true, it generally means they are.  #4: No, it’s not the Munsters, it’s the Squatters.  An ever growing problem due to our economy with thousand losing their homes to foreclosure, some will take up unwelcomed residency in vacant homes.  While there may never be a problem with this for some homeowners, others have found they can’t get them to vacate without investing a lot of time and money/court costs.  If you own a non-primary home, spend the few extra dollars a month for a home watch service to go in & ensure all is well with the systems, and most importantly, that “uninvited guests” don’t make your home, their home.  #5:  You want me to go in there?! Years ago, when I worked for a real estate company that conducted “herd tours” and by that I mean everyone loads up into many vans and drops in on the new listings for the week, picking and prodding and playing the game “Name that smell.”  I generally scored high, not too sure what that says about me, although my husband says my sense of smell could easily replace the myriad of airport security dogs.  I’d be a lot cheaper to feed too, most nights anyway!  Your dream home may not be the best presented on the tour your agent takes you on, but try to get beyond the smells and realize it’s just temporary.  Look at the bones (no Halloween pun intended) of the property and if you’re willing to put sweat equity into it, you’ll most likely never remember “the smells” later on.  Use your visualization skills to overcome less than tasteful wallpaper, paint, furnishing, decorations etc, even the carpet or window coverings.  They can all be overcome.  Yes, the home with the best curb appeal will get you through the door and ideally, it’s best to have a home that’s for sale to be well kept and odor free.  That’s just not reality for every home.  If you know smells bother you, bring along a small can of air freshener to get you through your time there if you want to spend any amount of time in the home to visualize your furniture and your life in “your home.”   Check out tomorrow’s blog for Part Two on Real Estate Nightmare on Elm Street.  For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.