December 15, 2015

Real Estate Advice: Educate clients about year-end closing transactions.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 11:45 am

During the month of December you may have clients who are ready to break out the New Year’s Eve champagne ahead of time, to celebrate the closing of their real estate transaction. Both buyers and sellers tend to expect smooth sailing, once the contracts are signed, the mortgage is approved, and the miscellaneous details have been successfully ironed-out. Plus they are already in a festive mood for the holidays.

The Importance of Reality Checks

The problem is, as any experienced real estate professional can attest to, that there are countless ways that a closing can be delayed and postponed. That can cause stress and strain, despite the holiday atmosphere, and clients tend to blame their real estate agents when anything goes wrong.

That’s why, in order to protect your own reputation and proactively minimize the possibility of a damaging misunderstanding, you should educate your buyers and sellers ahead of time. If something subsequently does go wrong, your clients will understand and not lay the blame on you, since you already explained how things sometimes happen that are beyond your control.

Why Unexpected Delays May Occur

Clients don’t typically understand how complicated it can be to close a home in December. But if you inform them they’ll appreciate your expertise and your attention to detail – as well as your willingness to teach them how the process works. Start by explaining, for instance, that mortgage companies, closing attorneys, and others involved take extra time off during the holidays – so that naturally slows things down.

There are also many homeowners trying to finalize a closing, a mortgage refinance, or a home equity loan before the last day of the year, because they want the transaction to show up on this year’s tax returns instead of next year’s. Inclement weather often catches people off guard too, since December is typically the first month of the year for ice and snow in most regions. That can result in delays of real estate transactions for a variety of reasons, ranging from power outages and impassable roadways to business closures that impact appraisers, banks, and attorneys.

Proactive Steps to Speed Transactions Along

Another aspect of client education, of course, is preparing buyers and sellers in ways that can accelerate a closing – or at least help eliminate unnecessary snags and obstacles along the way. Many times, for instance, the closing is delayed not because of the Realtor, bank, title company, or closing attorney – but because the customer just isn’t organized and ready.

It’s always wise to give buyers and sellers a typed-out checklist to assist them in gathering needed documents and sticking to a timeline as you help them prepare to close. What tax documents do they need? What about copies of bank statements or payment stubs from employers? Are sellers available to provide access to appraisers, home inspectors, or contractors who need to do negotiated repairs prior to closing? Are all parties involved able to attend the closing, without a schedule conflict? If so, can they sign papers ahead of time or be represented by their attorney at the official closing so that everything proceeds as planned?

If you spell everything out on paper then it makes it very easy to share your knowledge with clients, and it also ensures that they are well-informed. You can reuse the same printouts with every client and transaction, and you can make them a branding and marketing tool as well. The best consumer is one who is educated, and by conveying important information about how closing work and how to ensure that they happen without a hiccup you and all of your clients can have a more stress-free closing – and a happy holiday season.

Homeowner Tips: Have a safer holiday season.

Filed under: Home Owner Tips — Chuck @ 11:43 am

The holidays are here, and to help ensure that you and your family have nothing to interfere with a full-on celebration of New Year’s, here are some helpful tips to keep you safe and sound this month.

Use Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every home should have a adequate number of properly located, installed, and maintained smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors. These are inexpensive items, and your local fire department can visit your home and help you decide exactly where they should be located to provide the best level of safety.
Many people have smoke alarms, but don’t see the urgency of also installing carbon monoxide detectors. But every year people, and sometimes entire families, are hospitalized or die due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide. The odorless and silent threat usually enters the home from the exhaust of an engine or because any fuel inside the home that burns gives off a certain amount of carbon dioxide. That applies to furnaces and fireplaces alike.

So don’t take a chance on endangering yourself, your family members, and your pets. Install both kinds of detectors and then replace the batteries once a year.

Protect Your Home While You’re Away

Millions of people across North America will leave home during December for holiday vacations and visits to relatives and friends. Before you go, make sure your home is well-protected. Most people know tricks such as using automatic gadgets to turn the lights on and off and have someone pick up the mail to make it look like someone is home, even when the house is vacant.
What is easier to overlook are telltale signs like snow in the driveway. A burglar watching the home who doesn’t see a shoveled walkway or tracks in the snow around your doors will know that you are not home, despite your other attempts to give that impression. So arrange to have someone shovel your walkways while you’re gone if there is a snowstorm.
Also be sure to disengage your automatic garage opener, because many burglars simply us a universal remote control gadget to open garages. That gives them easy access to whatever is inside the garage, plus an easier opportunity to break into the attached house.

Take Advantage of Digital Solutions

While you’re at, you can protect your home from an accidental fire due to faulty electronic appliances and simultaneously save a little electricity by disconnecting those gadgets you won’t be needing while you’re gone. Unplug items like computers, coffee makers, and food processors as part of your protocol whenever you go away for a few days or more.
Perhaps the biggest vulnerability is social media. Law enforcement agencies encourage homeowners to edit out any specific references to being gone from home, so that they do not inadvertently tip-off bad guys who roam sites like Facebook and Instagram. If someone is “casing”your home and they confirm via social media that you are gone, they’ll know that it’s an ideal time to strike.
But that doesn’t mean that Wi-Fi connectivity is a negative thing, because thanks to modern digital tech it’s easy and affordable to monitor your home, and its various systems, remotely. There are options including smart phone apps that let you stay informed and even visually peer into the rooms of your home, while you are away, and these are great investment that can deliver lots of peace of mind during the holidays.