Make sure that buyers and sellers agree on what items stay—or go—well before closing.

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Could an entire sale hinge on a bathroom fixture? That’s a question buyer’s agent Valerie Hartman with RE/MAX Action Realty in Maple Glen, Pa., found herself pondering hours before a scheduled closing. After all the terms had been negotiated for a $375,000 home purchase, the sellers ripped out the bidet and the kitchen’s water filtration system. Hartman’s buyers were upset.

Hartman contacted the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®’ free legal hot-line. She learned that because the sellers never excluded the bidet or filtration system in the sales contract and both items are considered fixtures—features that are permanent and attached to the home—they should be part of the sale. Ultimately, the buyers didn’t pursue negotiations for the bidet, but the sellers paid the $1,000 for the filtration system.

While there’s a broad understanding that fixtures are automatically conveyed in a sale, disputes frequently arise over how to define them, says Janet Grayson, an attorney in Portland, Ore., who also serves as counsel to the Oregon Association of REALTORS®. Perceptions can vary about which features are “securely” attached to a home. Clear communication between both sides is necessary to avoid problems. A disagreement over something as small as a bathroom mirror can lead to closing delays, end up in arbitration or court, or even scuttle a deal. One scenario that causes problems: A buyer’s agent may assume an item is a fixture and not bother to include it in the offer. But the seller’s agent may look at the exact same item—say, custom window treatments or a bar in a basement held in by three screws—and consider it the seller’s personal property, says attorney Matt Johnson of Manchester, N.H., who also represents the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS®. “The last thing you want is for a client to ask you why you didn’t include a specific item in the sales contract,” Grayson adds.

Standard residential purchase forms often contain language about fixtures. Typically, there’s a section for buyers to list other items they want to include in the conveyance. Still, even the most careful agent can be caught off guard. Two years ago, a seller uprooted a 15-year-old apple tree and planted a small tree in its place, says buyer’s agent Isela DeLeon, with Target Realty in Houston. The seller also removed an attached front porch swing. DeLeon’s buyers said the tree and the swing were the home’s main attractions; the seller explained the tree held sentimental value—her son’s ashes were buried around it, and she always intended to take it, though she didn’t tell her agent. In the end, the closing was delayed by a week, and the seller agreed to pay $1,200 toward the purchase of a new tree and $150 to replace the swing.

“I’ve seen sellers replace appliances for cheaper ones. I now photograph and write serial numbers of appliances and double-check at the final walk-through that there have been no swaps. I don’t assume anything anymore.”

Prevent A Showdown

1. Have a talk with your clients. During listing presentations, talk to your sellers about what’s included or excluded from the sale and what they intend to take with them. Buyers’ agents: Talk with your clients about what they consider the most compelling features of the home—the curtains, washer and dryer, hot tub. It should be made clear in the contract if those items will remain in the house.

2. Replace items before listing. If sellers plan to take all the ceiling fans, for example, urge them to swap out the fixtures prior to listing the home for sale to avoid conflicts later. That way, buyers see what they get.

3. Don’t worry about being too detailed. Sales associate Isela DeLeon, with Target Realty in Houston, specifies the serial numbers, make, and model of the appliances included in the sales contract. “Err on the side of being overly inclusive so you’re not in a battle over whether an item is a fixture, and then stuck in a compromise,” says attorney Matt Johnson, legal counsel for the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS®.

4. Consult an attorney. Avoid providing your own legal advice about fixtures; you may be held liable if you’re wrong. Most REALTOR® associations offer a legal hotline to connect members with real estate attorneys on various topics, including contract conflicts. Be aware, though, that these lawyers provide general information, not legal representation.

5. Find a mediator. Check your state or local REALTOR® associations for an ombudsman program—which calls on experienced REALTORS® who are well-versed in the Code of Ethics, state real estate regulations, and current real estate practice—to help resolve disagreements among parties. 

Here are just a few things to do this weekend:

1. Dive-In Movies  Friday, June 26, 2015 8:00pm

St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach, Florida

Maleficent (PG), St. Pete Beach city pool with Olympic swimming lanes, a spray play area for kids and two large water slides. Bring your noodles, floats and chairs for movie watching. Gates open at 8 p.m. and the movie starts after sunset. $4.

2. FREE Premium Champagne Tasting at TRY Wine  Friday, June 26  6:30-8pm
TRY Wine hosts a FREE Champagne tasting with some of the rarest and most unique bottles in the world. There will be drawings for free swag and special deals on bottles. TRY Wine, 110 1st Street North.

3. Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox  Friday 7:10pm  Tropicana Field, Tropicana Drive. 

4. Happy Hour @ Sea Salt St. Pete (All Weekend)
Enjoy half off beer, wine and premium liquors from 4-6pm in their bar and lounge area. Sea Salt St. Pete, 153 2nd Avenue North.

5. St. Pete Pride Run, Saturday, June 27, 2015 8:00am, Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S, Gulfport,  5K run through Gulfport includes T-shirt, goody bags and an after party in the streets. $30. (727) 893-1070, http://www.stpetepride5k.com/

6. Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga with Body Electric Yoga, Saturday, June 27 10am
work on your balance and core strength in the company of dolphins, pelicans, manatee, etc. They’ll provide SUP boards and anchors or bring your own. Previous SUP and/or yoga experience is recommended but definitely not required. Registration REQUIRED. $15 (bring your own board), $30 to rent a board. Leave from North Shore Park Beach.

7. St. Pete Pride Street Festival, Saturday, June 27 11am-6pm
 The St Pete Pride Street Festival will again be the largest community event of the season as festival goers come together to make history while enjoying a day of live performances and entertainment, community booths, art and fantastic food in paradise. After last year’s overwhelming demand, the Festival length has been extended by an entire city block, and the St Pete Pride Street Festival will be more diverse and shop-stopping than ever. Over 350 exhibitors will line both sides of Central Avenue for six city blocks in a rainbow celebration of food and beverage vendors, artists, small businesses, corporations, professional sports teams, community outreach groups, non-profit organizations and Pride themed merchandisers.  Grand Central District, Central Avenue between 22nd and 27th Streets.

8.  27/82: The Concert in the Grand Central District
“27/82” is a fundraising concert to assist in funding various Tampa Bay community organizations. This year’s benefit concert promises to be more unique than ever as Alex Newell from Glee will make history headlining the first free and outdoor “27/82″. St Pete Pride makes history this year with a unique venue when presenting its first open air, free of charge, celebratory concert. In the center of St Petersburg’s Grand Central District where St Pete Pride first gained its roots, attendees will enjoy eclectic music, food, spirits and the outdoor atmospheres for which the Burg has long been famous. During the concert Urban Comfort, the Grand Central District’s newest eatery and brewpub, will be dishing up their own, unique style of comfort food. Proceeds from the event will go to the St Pete Pride Community Grants Program. This grant program insures that every cent raised will go to Tampa Bay area non-profit groups that are helping build up the Tampa Bay community. Event begins at 7pm. Donations accepted at the entrance. Grand Central District on the corner of Central Avenue and 26th Street. 

9. Shawn Brown @ Alvin’S Lounge
Shawn Brown was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and has been a professional musician for the past 30 years. As a child, guidance from an equally talented mother taught him the fundamentals of music. Making Tampa, Florida home since 1980, Shawn played with ‘Blackstar’ who scored a local hit with “Animal Attraction” and toured Japan in “The Precision Band.” Show begins at 9pm. Alvin’S Lounge, 119 1st Avenue North. 

10. Millie for the Masses: Miniature Masterpieces @ Zen Glass Gallery
Murrina (common pluralization murrine) is an Italian term for colored patterns or images made in a glass cane (long rods of glass) that are revealed when cut in cross-sections. Murrine can be made in infinite designs—some styles are more familiar, such as millefiori. Artists working in glass design murrine in a variety of ways from simple circular or square patterns to complex detailed designs to even portraits of people. Zen Glass will bring in artist Stephen Boehme to teach a class on Murrine making along with a bit of an artistic performance this Friday. The show goes from 6-11pm. Zen Glass Studio, 600 27th Street South. 

11. Pride Art Show, Saturday, June 27, 2015 3:00pm

Creative Soul Studio, 2425 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, features the works of approximately 12 artists and includes rainbow tie dye T-shirt works, a “Pride Photobooth,” beer, wine, an outdoor party deck and music by DJ Mega.

12. St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade  Saturday, June 27 5:00pm,  Central Avenue and 28th Street S,

St. Pete Pride’s popular parade hits the streets of Grand Central after sunset. The block party, on Central between 22nd and 27th streets, brings DJ’s, food and drink starting at 5 p.m. The parade steps off at sunset, about 8:30 p.m. http://www.stpetepride.com/

In May 2015, REALTORS® were confident about the outlook in their local markets in the next six months, according to the May 2015 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey.[1] This report is based on the responses of 3,805 REALTORS®.

Sustained job creation at a pace of 220,000 jobs per month in 2015, lower FHA monthly mortgage insurance premium rates (resulting in a 0.5 percentage point reduction since January 2015), and the availability of three percent downpayment for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since early this year are likely underpinning the improved market confidence.

The following maps show the REALTOR® Confidence Index-Six-Month-Outlook across property types by state.[2] In the case of single family homes, all states registered an index greater than 50 for the third month in a row, which means that the number of respondents who had a “strong” outlook outnumbered those with a “weak” outlook. Despite the slump in oil prices, REALTORS® generally expect the real estate market to be “strong” in North Dakota, Texas, and Oklahoma.

In the case of townhomes and condominiums, confidence is most upbeat in Colorado. Homebuying activity for condos and townhomes is also generally strong in California, Oregon, and Washington where a technology boom is fueling demand. REALTORS® are also broadly upbeat about their local markets in Texas, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. Homebuying is expected to be generally weak in other states. REALTORS® have reported that FHA’s and the GSE’s (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) financing eligibility regulations make condominium financing difficult to obtain.[3]

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[1] Respondents were asked “What are your expectations for the housing market over the next six months compared to the current state of the market in the neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?”

[2]  The market outlook for each state is based on data for the last three months to increase the observations for each state. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and the D.C. may have less than 30 observations.

[3] These regulations pertain to ownership occupancy requirements, delinquent dues, project approval process, and use for commercial space. Read the Statement of NAR Submitted for the Record to the Senate Committee Housing and Banking Affairs on December 9, 2014 at http://www.ksefocus.com/billdatabase/clientfiles/172/1/2180.pdf

Nordic Region to Enjoy International Retail Expansion in Coming Years

According to a new report from JLL, international retailer expansion is predicted to accelerate in the Nordic region over the next couple of years. JLL’s Destination Nordics 2015 Report reveals that despite significant market opportunity, the Nordic cities are relatively untapped.

By Michael Gerrity June, 2015

Nordic regions attractiveness to international retailers:

  • Sales growth in Helsinki expected to outperform the Eurozone in the medium term
  • Stockholm is most attractive Nordic location for international retailers
  • The UK is the largest exporter of cross-border retail fascias into the Nordic region

International retailer expansion is predicted to accelerate in the Nordic region over the next couple of years driven by population growth and retail sales growth. The six key cities stand out as some of the most affluent in Europe, and they continue to demonstrate a high degree of market maturity, resilience and growth prospects, as well as real estate transparency and low risk.

“Whilst many international brands continue to target key cities in Western Europe, some are finding themselves looking to new markets for growth. Those who are refocusing their expansion strategies are increasingly looking to the Nordics as a platform for growth. Over the last two years the key Nordic cities have attracted new entrants to their markets – at a greater rate than cities in Western and Southern Europe.” said James Dolphin, Lead Director of International Retail at JLL.

With new schemes such as the Mall of Scandinavia and REDI entering the market and increasing supply, up to fifty international retailers are looking to target the Nordic market in the next five years. The UK is the largest exporter of cross border retail fascias across the Nordic region, driven by expanding mainstream and premium brands including The Body Shop, Lush, Oasis, Karen Millen, Mulberry and Superdry, followed by the USA and Germany.

“Distribution of goods and foreign currencies which were once seen as major barriers to entry are now becoming less of a challenge. Competition between international brands is still relatively low and we are seeing success stories for new entrants such as Boggi Milano, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton.” Dolphin added.

“It has been a record year for new brands in Sweden and there is currently high pressure to find store locations for the large number of international brands wishing to enter the market. We rank Stockholm as the Nordics’ most attractive retail destination thanks to its thriving market and affluent fashion oriented consumer base. But Oslo, currently the most affluent retail market in the region, has welcomed the largest number of international retailers in the Nordic region in the past two years – however it is currently constrained by lack of supply. Meanwhile, sales growth in Helsinki are expected to outperform the Eurozone in the medium term.” Said Martin Lindgren, Head of Retail Agency, JLL Sweden. –

See more at: http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/real-estate-news/finland/helsinki/nordic-retail-report-2015-jll-destination-nordics-2015-report-boggi-milano-michael-kors-louis-vuitton-mall-of-scandinavia-james-dolphin-martin-lindgren-9128.php#sthash.9rJmJuJA.dpuf     By Michael Gerrity June, 2015

by Graham Wood

Morguefile.com

When we speak of international buyers, we’re usually talking about people from other countries who want to invest in U.S. property. But the lines go both ways. There are high-net-worth Americans who want to buy homes in other countries, and they can spell big business for practitioners who are willing to aid them in their global search. But where should they be looking?

Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Century 21, argued at the Asian Real Estate Association of America’s Global & Luxury Summit in Chicago on Monday that because of the dollar’s strength against many other foreign currencies, American buyers can get great deals abroad. But one country stands above the rest as the best place for Americans to invest their money abroad because of a confluence of economic benefits: Japan.

“We are deeply immersed in the Japanese market,” Davidson said, noting that Century 21 has 900 offices and 6,000 agents there. Here are the reasons Davidson gave for why Japan should be a target for wealthy U.S. home buyers wanting to purchase overseas:

  • The interest rates on 10-year fixed-rate loans are 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent — far below America’s historic interest-rate lows.
  • One U.S. dollar 119.54 yen, which gives U.S. buyers a 20 percent discount on purchases.
  • There are virtually no restrictions for foreign investors in Japan.
  • Japan is coming out of recession. Deflation is expected to stop and GDP is expected to grow in the near future, so American investors will start to see a positive ROI starting now.
  • Tokyo is the cheapest of all Asian cities in terms of price per square foot. The average price per square foot of a luxury property in the U.S. is $1,180; in Japan, it’s $680.
  • Tokyo land prices have been rising for five straight years, making future expectation for price growth high.

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

Friday, June 5th, 2015

First Friday
Proceeds from this benefits the Breakfast Optomist Club helping to provide educational materials to local schools. Courtesy of Think Tank and the City of St. Pete, live music and more on the streets of downtown.  Boxcar Hollow will headline on the Think Tank Stage. Event begins at 5pm. FREE on Central Avenue between 3rd and 2nd Street North, St Petersburg

The online craft marketplace is here with locally crafted art and goods. Live demonstrations, make/take sessions, items for sale. The first 100 attendees get souvenir swag bag. Proceeds benefits the Pet Pal Animal Shelter.

Happy Hour @ Sea Salt St. Pete
Enjoy half off beer, wine and premium liquors from 4-6pm in their bar and lounge area. Sea Salt St. Pete, 153 2nd Avenue North.

Tribal Style playing at  8:00pm  Jannus Live,  200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg, roots to-reggae.

Saturday June 6th

Crafty Fest @ ARTpool Gallery (Saturday and Sunday)
Crafty Fest is the local, handmade and vintage market that happens monthly at ARTpool.  11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday. FREE. ARTpool Gallery, 2030 Central Avenue.

Public Walking Mural Tour
Florida Craftsmen, Inc. along with the City Of St. Pete host PUBLIC walking mural tours of the Burg every Saturday. Tour at 10am – 11:30am. Tours will be held every Saturday at 10am except for the second saturday of each month when tours will be held at 4pm. $19 for adults, $11 for children and FREE for kids ages 5 and under. Tour begins at Florida Craftsmen located at 501 Central Avenue.

Tampa Bay Rowdies Pre-Game Party @ Rowdies Den
 Come to the Rowdies Den before you go to the game. Play darts, virtual beer pong, FIFA Futbol on Xbox One, foosball and other arcade games. Then head to the game with Ralph’s Mob to Al Lang Stadium! Begins at 4pm. Rowdies Den, 200 1st Avenue South.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs FC Edmonton
The Rowdies are coming back to Al Lang and they’playing FC Edmonton. Tailgating festivities start at 6pm. The game begins at 7:30pm Al Lang Stadium, 230 1st Street South. 

 

This is really good advice for Realtors, family and friends!
When friends or loved ones become your clients, make the business relationship your priority.

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Sylvia Tsang had plenty of reasons to pause when her brother asked for her assistance with the purchase of a new home in Houston. Their relationship had been tense for years, and she was well aware of his tendency to dismiss thoughtful advice from anyone on just about any matter. But eight years ago, Tsang was new to the business, and her doubts about her brother gave way to her more pressing interest in building her client base. Plus, he was family—and that itself heightened her feelings of obligation. Tsang successfully closed the sale, but the angst-ridden experience taught her a valuable lesson: Sometimes it’s better to say no from the get-go.

Amid the competitive chase for business, friends and family members are a tempting client well, particularly in the early years of your career when good leads can be harder to come by. It’s also understandable that relatives and pals may seek you out because they feel more comfortable signing with you than with a stranger. But mixing your personal and business lives can be trying—even when the relationships are healthy. The key to emerging from such transactions with both your professional and personal relationships intact is to establish and maintain respectful boundaries and protocols. But practitioners who’ve been there say, no matter how much experience you have, the blurred lines can trip you up.

Tsang, now broker-owner of Absolute Abundance Realty in Houston, is still haunted by the emotionally fraught transaction with her brother. She bristles as she recalls his effort to navigate the townhome purchase by himself, even trying to write up the sales contract. He demanded that she pay him two-thirds of her 3 percent commission, insisting that he did most of the hands-on negotiating with the seller. Tsang admits that she acquiesced on the payment mostly to keep the peace in the family. “He’s the worst client I’ve ever had,” Tsang says.

When he approached Tsang again a year ago to help with another transaction, she didn’t hesitate—to say no.

You have to be able to recognize when a working relationship isn’t good—regardless of your connection to the client—and act accordingly, says Henri Ellis, a sales associate with William E. Wood & Associates, a Howard Hanna company, in Virginia Beach, Va. “We can’t allow ourselves to be bullied into something because of the pre-existing relationship,” she adds.

Over her 11-year real estate career, Ellis has represented at least two dozen friends and six family members, most recently handling listings for a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law. Ellis says every one of these transactions was successful because she set clear expectations with each of them up front.

“Don’t assume that they understand you don’t take client calls after a certain time,” she says. “Don’t assume that they understand the buying or selling process because they’re in your world and they see you working all the time.”

You also do yourself and your client– loved ones no favors by being agreeable to everything they say. As with any client, when they push against your advice, you should be ready to justify your stance. Mark Wilson, an agent with McNamara Realty in Ashland, Va., says of the seven or eight friends he has worked with over the last four years, a common disagreement has been over list price. “All sellers and buyers have in their head what they think a property is worth,” he says. “So I spend time on comps with them to show them what a good price is.”

But just as family and friends have to understand your expectations, you have to meet theirs. Your personal connection doesn’t permit you to go lax with your business communication. “Don’t think that, because they’re your friend, you don’t have to call them back, or because they’re family, you can postpone an appointment,” Ellis says. “Don’t take advantage of the relationship.”

Prepare for the Pitfalls

At the outset, talk about the potential downside to working together, and decide how you’ll handle moments of frustration, advises Denver-based sales coach Liz Wendling, who has worked with brokerages such as Keller Williams and RE/MAX.

“Set it up right from the beginning: ‘You and I are entering into this business relationship, and like any relationship, it’ll hit a glitch or a bump or a barrier. Can we commit now that if we get to that point, we can work it out or feel comfortable to move on?'” Wendling says.

As you talk through potential sensitivities, make it a warm conversation. Let your friend or family member know that because they are close to you, a successful transaction with them can positively affect your business practices. “Explain that because you value their opinions so highly, they can make you even better at what you do,” Wendling says.

Once the business relationship begins, try suspending the personal side of your connection and discontinuing or reducing personal activities until your work together is done, suggests CC Underwood, who leads the Sellin’ With CC Team at Keller Williams Realty in Jacksonville, Fla.

Friends and family want both your expertise and your emotional investments in them, Underwood says. “But it’s our job to take the emotion out of the process, so you have to try and tamp that emotional side down. Stay away from personal conversations and make it clear that you’re going to treat them as you would any other client.”

It’s natural that parties in any relationship will have disagreements. In a business relationship with loved ones, though, conflicts can have greater emotional fallout. When you reach an impasse, keep your cool and reaffirm your commitment to their transactional goals.

When Underwood helped her Aunt Dottie sell her home two years ago, the house sat for months with no offers and little buyer foot traffic. Still, Dottie expressed frustration when Underwood advised that she lower her asking price. “I just kept going back to the ‘why’—why I’m here, why I want to accomplish her goals, and why my suggestions will accomplish them.” Dottie ultimately agreed to a price reduction, and the home sold shortly thereafter.

Still, when loved ones feel uneasy about some aspect of the process, like discussing their finances with you, it’s important to address their discomfort. Reassure buyers that you have a limited role in determining what they can afford—loan officers and mortgage brokers will get into the detailed information about their credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and financial history. If your clients are seller, you’ll need to know how much they owe on their mortgage and whether they are current on their payments, but you don’t need granular details on their payment history.

If they still show a reluctance to share financial information you need to know to work in their best interest, talk openly with them about it. “Often, people will give us clues about their discomfort but won’t verbalize it,” Ellis says.

“If I address my observations head on, I can avoid problems later in the process. Sometimes just acknowledging that this is an awkward conversation is all that is needed to alleviate the discomfort and gain their trust.”

During a recent listing appointment with a friend, Ellis could tell the friend was worried about being able to afford repairs to her home that were needed before putting it on the market. “I finally asked, ‘How do you plan to cover the cost of these repairs?'” Ellis says. “She relaxed when she realized that I understood the repair costs were significant, and we were able to come up with a plan that worked for her.”

Negotiating Fees

Talking about your commission can also be a minefield to navigate with family and friends. Some will expect you to cut your commission because of your connection. While commissions are always negotiable, don’t automatically agree to a reduction. Try to explain your worth first.

“I’ve had friends say, ‘Gosh, you’ve made X number of dollars off me. That’s really a lot of money,'” Ellis says. “They just needed a little bit of a reality check. It doesn’t automatically register with them that this is how I make my living.” Educate them about how you arrived at your commission percentage, gently reinforcing that you don’t get paid until a deal is closed. “Once I remind them of that, they become real advocates for protecting my commission,” Ellis adds. Plus, consumers often don’t realize that their agent pockets only a fraction of the commission check. Make sure family and friends know that, too.

A Peace-Saving Alternative

There may be no greater joy than helping a friend or family member navigate the biggest financial transaction of their life. As a professional, think and talk openly about the potentially awkward issues that might arise. Stay calm and collected as you strive to get to the closing table. But if your personal history with friends or loved ones makes the likelihood for contentiousness too high, there’s no crime in turning down the business. You can still serve them in the most professional way possible: Refer them to another practitioner you trust.

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2015) — Officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs encouraged Realtors® to help debunk misconceptions regarding the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program yesterday at an agency briefing held during the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

The VA home loan guaranty is a military benefit that helps service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. Since the program was enacted in 1944, as part of the G.I. Bill, the VA has guaranteed more than 21 million home loans.

John Bell, assistant director of loan policy and valuation, thanked Realtors® for their role in the home buying process. “I have been so impressed with being able to work with the National Association of Realtors® and its members on improving our outreach to the community,” he said. “You are the front line of defense when it comes to helping veterans understand this program; without Realtors®, veterans will not come.”

Seth Task, 2015 chair of NAR’s Federal Financing and Housing Policy Committee, said Realtors® are working hard to educate other agents, lenders, and those who served the country about the advantages of the program and how veterans can use them. “Realtors® are proud to help all eligible homebuyers use their VA benefits to meet their housing needs,” he said.

Because VA loans are a benefit for veterans and their families, protections are built into the homebuying process to ensure that any property purchased will be safe, sound and sanitary for occupants. The program’s special conditions mean that closing requirements for VA loans are different from other conventional loans. Realtors® are concerned that the differences may deter sellers from accepting veterans’ offers, especially during bidding wars when a VA loan may seem inconvenient.

“We think every veteran should be able to use a VA loan, and it is frustrating for us when there are confusions or other roadblocks that prevent veterans from getting the home they want,” said Task.

Bell said further education needs to be done. “There are misconceptions in the marketplace about VA loans. People worry they are challenging to close or difficult to underwrite, and that the appraisal process drags on too long, yet the facts show that appraisal and closing times are on par with the rest of the industry,” he said.

Realtors® can also remind lenders to request an appraisal early in the process to make sure a VA certified appraiser is able to value the property in advance of the closing date. If agents feel that a shortage of certified appraisers is slowing down the process, they can call the local VA loan center and request a review of appraiser capacity.

NAR is committed to working with Congress and the VA to provide more flexibility to veteran borrowers when purchasing a home.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

American flag

Memorial Day is observed this Monday, May 25th in the United States of America as a time for remembering and honoring the men and woman who have died while serving in one of the USA Armed Forces. Please take the time to remember them as you celebrate the weekend.

Here are a few of the many things happening this Memorial Weekend in the St Petersburg, Clearwater Florida area.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

22nd Annual Corvettes at the Pier Show
All Corvette car show featuring Corvettes from the early 1950’s to current year, including stock, modified, custom and race prepared Corvettes.  8am-4pm. FREE and open to the public. South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Drive Northeast. 

Public Walking Mural Tour
Florida Craftsmen, Inc. along with the City Of St. Pete host PUBLIC walking mural tours of the Burg every Saturday. Tours 10-11:30am. Every Saturday at 10am except for the second Saturday of each month when tours will be held at 4pm. $19 for adults, $11 for children and FREE for kids ages 5 and under. Tour begins at Florida Craftsmen located at 501 Central Avenue.

BURGATORY Fest & PBR Burger Bash
Burgatory Fest is taking over the The 600 Block of St. Petersburg once again Memorial Day weekend, and Pabst Blue Ribbon is bringing the heat with The PBR Burger Bash! Lineup: Wolf-Face, Sunshine State, Mighty Mongo, FERO LUX, Reveal Renew, Teen Agers, You Vandal, Operator, Buffalo Buffalo, New Cathedral, Caffiends, Career (Formely Ink & Sweat), Stegosaurus, Worst Party Ever. The event goes from 4pm-midnight on Saturday. tickets-Happening on the 600 Block of Central Avenue at The Local 662 and Fubar. 

Sunset Cinema at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach, Saturday, May 23rd 8pm

Bring blankets or low lawn chairs to watch free movies on a jumbo sized screen. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk.

Saturday features the Cobbler (PG-13). Free

Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics
The Rays host the Athletics this weekend. Tickets. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive. 

Memorial Weekend Concert @ Sundial St. Pete
Join the Sundial Saturday for a FREE courtyard concert! The Florida Orchestra’s Brass Quintet will perform well-known American standards and patriotic songs. 1-2pm. FREE and open to the public. Sundial, 153 2nd Avenue North. 

Expressions Academy of Dance presents “Oh, So Fancy” @ Palladium Theater
Lara Narzinsky and Tonya Narzinsky, Directors of Expressions Academy of Dance, are proud to showcase some of the most talented dancers in Pinellas County. From classical ballet to the latest hip hop moves. 3pm. Tickets between $22-$26. Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North. 

Sunday, May 24th, 2015 8 pm   Steve Earle and the Dukes  405 Cleveland St., Clearwater, FL

The tour pays tribute to the blues along with Steve Earle’s own influences of rockabilly, folk, rock ‘n’ roll, and more. $39.50-$59.50.(727) 791-7400

Eucador

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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  • Bringing the Training to You! July On the Road Training July 7, 2015
    Brokers: PRO is hitting the pavement again with our popular “On the Road Training” series. We understand it’s not always easy for those of you in the north and south parts of the county to get to us, so we created this program as a way to bring some of our services directly to you! [...]
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  • Celebration of Life – Bob Riner July 7, 2015
    A Celebration of Life for Smith & Associates REALTOR Bob Riner will be held on Tuesday, July 14 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater (400 1st Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701).
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  • Kathy Dispenza, longtime PRO employee, to retire June 29, 2015
    Kathy Dispenza, Director of Accounting and PRO employee of over 30 years, is set to retire this month. Kathy started at the Clearwater Board of REALTORS on February 5th, 1985 as the receptionist in the MLS department. Every Tuesday morning she would arrive at 7:00 am and type up the “Hot Sheet” of the new [...]
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  • SavvyRecipes for Success™ #8: Close Business Faster June 29, 2015
    I’m going to show you how to improve the speed and efficiency of closing business. Why use SavvyCard® to Close Business Faster? The convenience of using SavvyCard as a “hub” for all your vendor partner contact info (and for your go-to real estate tools) is high, and using it in this way significantly improves the [...]
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  • SavvyRecipe for Success™ #7:Protect Your Customer Relationships by Empowering Your Customers June 29, 2015
    Today, I’m going to show you how to protect your customer relationships by empowering your customers to take control of their home search, all without cutting you out of the loop or losing them to other REALTORS®. Why use SavvyCard® to Empower Your Customers? Have you ever lost a client because they used a 3rd [...]
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