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For sale by owner houses in Prescott, Arizona – what a nightmare

I decided to share a story about a recent interaction I had regarding a FSBO. Without disclosing anything about who the people are, let’s just say they have significant history and experience in real estate (as professionals and home-owners). They also, like most people, want to get the most bang for their buck when considering the sale of their home. All good things and I support anyone’s decision to DIY.

Of course they sought out my advice before they decided to go to market themselves. The story isn’t so much about “why” they didn’t list with me as much as it is “what happened because they didn’t?” Sometimes people just do what they believe is in their best interest, and although cautioning them, who am I say otherwise?

As a real estate professional in the area, care must be taken about what advice I give people who are “pocket” clients. Although they asked for legitimate documentation from the Arizona Department of Real Estate, I made sure I didn’t provide them with anything other than a state disclosure form (SPDS, which is required by law even when selling FSBO) and an HOA addendum (which is also required by law). Because I’m not actually representing them, I didn’t want to imply representation although I want to retain my relationship with them as friends and make sure they provided the buyer at least what was required by law.

They decided that they’re chosen avenue for marketing was Zillow and Craigslist. On a side-note, I think this is another reason for all brokerages to boycott Zillow. They allow FSBO sellers to circumnavigate a profession which is there to help them, not hurt them. But thanks to some marketing and photos, a buyer was produced who had interest in their home. (Note all of this is hearsay on my part. I never actually spoke to the buyer or saw any documentation from escrow concerning the transaction.)

The potential buyer flew out to schedule a viewing of the home and to meet directly with the sellers, (red flag #1). Everything appeared to be going well as a price was negotiated and notification was given for perspective inspection dates. This is where it all took a turn for the worse. The buyer became extremely demanding, suddenly producing actual Arizona real estate contract documentation and wanting it to be signed (red flag #2). What started out as a friendly handshake and verbal agreement turned into a test of will – one against the other. To further add insult to injury, the escrow company handling the transaction actually told the seller “they handle FSBO clients all the time” and gave rise to the idea that “they don’t need professional representation” (red flag #3).

Well, it only took 24 hours before the entire contract unraveled. The sellers wouldn’t agree to sign official paperwork, (which had to do with appraisal contingencies) siting to the buyer “We had a deal that we agreed on. What’s all this talk now about appraisals and inspections?” Of course the buyer exercised their right to have inspections and appraisals performed, but being met with resistance, backed out of the deal.

Moral of the story? The sellers learned a valuable lesson although they knew this lesson going in. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” They spent a lot of time and money and although a buyer was produced, it didn’t equate to a sale.

If you’re planning on selling your home For Sale By Owner, it’s not good enough to google “How to sell my home DIY?” and read a few articles. Potential home-sellers need to know there is a lot of effort put in by real estate professionals to understand contract law. Not only contract law, but many of us take ongoing education on negotiation skills (which translates into “keeping your cool”) and all the nuances of city, state, and national regulations. Even if you’ve been a real estate agent/broker in the past, you may not be up to speed on current laws although you may be able to handle your own negotiations. Do yourself a favor…save yourself the pain, headaches, and potential lawsuits. Hire a professional agent trained in helping you sell your home. It’s money well spent.

IDXpro, IDXbroker and cURL problems. How to solve for Real Estate Agents – WordPress 4.6 update

As a realtor, I rely on my systems to do their job each day, silently in the background, working as they should. One of the ways technology keeps itself in business is to consistently make things “safer”, keep things “up to date”, and mostly be “innovative”; always on the cutting edge. Making things harder for the end user is what maintains tech company jobs. It seems that any professional business has to have their own in-house I.T. person or “tech guy/gal” as we like to call them.

Being a programmer myself for many years now, I understand the struggles Realtors face every day with browser updates, JAVA updates, and Flash updates. Not to mention plug-in updates, OpenSSL, server-side scripts, Apache configurations, Perl, and now cURL.

The most obvious part of explaining cURL is to focus on the URL part of the script language. We automatically know this has to do with URL syntax. The “c” in cURL stands for “command” or “command line”. It basically allows a connection to another source to be verified before allowing a transfer of data (or information) back to the original requester. For Realtors running IDX platforms inside their websites this may mean using “wrappers” or “curling” a specific protocol for an end user to view.

Example: The IDX your using may require you to completely use their system with your information simply “plugged in” to the headers, etc. Others allow you to completely use your system and “plug-in” their lines of code into your HTML. When doing this, it’s generally referred to as a “wrap” or “wrapper”. Your effectively “wrapping” their content in your website’s look & feel. No problem, as long as all the programs talk to each other properly.

Every once in a while, some wise-guy decides to interject something into an update that completely throws everyone for a spin. Introducing WordPress 4.6 update.

The latest WP update many realtors using the IDXCO solution (known as IDXbroker, IDXpro, and IDXlite) running to their servers to complain about the latest error that has shown up on their page: “There was a problem curling the page, please make sure your server allows page curling“. When Google-ing this phrase with quotes around it (meaning I’m looking for that exact phrase) Google delivered over 46,000 page results…all from Real Estate companies. The real bummer, my website was on the first page of that result… several times.

The steps you’re likely to take:
1. A non-programmer would immediately contact the IDX provider. It’s obvious that the problem is coming from their end…right? However, the word “server” in the message sends people also to the host server.
2. Contact your host server: I.E. godaddy, networksolutions, mediatemple, WhoIs, etc.

Although both of these steps seem incontrovertible, they are both actually not this issue in this instance. The problem is the wordpress 4.6 update.

As to not anger the cyberspace gods, I’ll caveat the above statement with this: Your server should be updated with the latest scripting languages available including PHP, cURL and OpenSSL (among many others.) To find out what versions your server may be running, you’ll need to locate the info.php file or php.ini. To do this all you need is a simple text editor such as Notepad. (Don’t use word processors like MS Word) Then type in this line of code:
<? phpinfo(); ?>
That’s it. Save this file as something like myinfo.php and FTP (save it) it to your website’s public directory, root directory, or wherever you can easily find it on your server. Then pull it up in a web browser by typing in the URL.

If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll have your PHP settings from your server displayed nicely with title breakdowns. You can check the versions of programming languages against the latest releases just by Google-ing the language. (I.E. “Latest version of cURL”) You’ll find that many servers have not updated their languages to the latest updates. This could cause the error above. Put in a request ticket with your host server to make sure they’re updated to the latest versions. Now… don’t you feel smart? You should.

The other adjustments that need to be made temporarily to fix this issue are within IDXpro/broker/lite. In your “Global HTML wrapper” tab under Customize>Designs, you’ll find the settings to either use a static or dynamic wrapper. Many Realtors use the dynamic wrapper and inject the code into their HTML. If this is your situation, you’ll need to temporarily disable this and use a static wrapper. The static wrapper can easily be split into the two sections called the “Header” and “Footer” of the page. Simply put, the top & bottom sections of your webpages with the IDX code running in the middle. The static wrapper is now using your HTML code, hosted on your server VS the IDXpro system using their dynamic wrapper, which is what’s causing the problem. SO, what is the problem exactly???

The problem is that WordPress’ 4.6 update added a new folder under wp-includes/requests/transport that didn’t exist in version 4.4 (the version that still works with IDXpro) Inside this folder is a file called cURL.php. This cURL file has lines of code which have been known to cause issues. The WP support forum has a ticket on this item which was supposedly solved. FOUND HERE. However, the issue is not solved for IDXpro users. I won’t take time to write up everything said in the support ticket, as you can go read it for yourself.

The solution for agents is to:
1. Temporarily switch to the static wrapper
2. Contact your server to make sure they’ve updated to the latest cURL
3. Make sure your version of PHP is running at least 5.6 or higher
4. Possibly make the changes mentioned in the support ticket above (although they didn’t work for me)
5. Wait for your server to announce their latest updates.

WordPress may also issue a new update that may correct this problem. However, just because WP releases a new version still does not mean your server is handling the page requests properly IF using outdated versions of cURL and PHP.

Now, aren’t you glad you became a Realtor so you could learn to program websites?

A Few Things To Consider When Purchasing Prescott, AZ Real Estate

Many people buy real estate at some point in their lives and often more than once. Even though it is common to buy real estate few people are educated buyers. I have purchased real estate many times and learn from each purchase. I hope some of the things I have learned, which I will share, will help you with your purchase.

I have to start with the famous “location, location, location!” speech.  I hope this isn’t your first time hearing that location is very important when purchasing real estate. Every lot is unique in a variety of ways. Each state, city and even neighborhoods may have their own laws, rules, and culture. Some areas have very low taxes and some may have very high taxes even within a few miles of each other. The view or lack thereof is also something to look for when making a purchase.  Location is important is “real estate terms” because “situs” or jurisdiction is absolute. The land does not move or change position. You’ve heard the old saying, “Land, they’re not making any more of it” is true. Sometimes one house may have a great view while the one next door does not. Location is very important to consider for many reasons but it isn’t everything.

Many people think you make money on real estate when you sell but many wise investors will say that you make money when you buy. I think there is money to be made on both transactions. You want to find a good deal when you buy and that will make it easier to make money when you sell. Negotiations are very important and to help with this it is important to have a good realtor that you can trust. Remember that you don’t have to pay the asking price and don’t be afraid to insult the seller with a low offer. If your offer is countered don’t feel that you have to meet in the middle or up your offer as much as they dropped their price. You will end up at a lower price if you go up in smaller amounts than the seller comes down. If the property isn’t attracting the bids of others you may want to let the seller sit on it a while and they will usually come down or reconsider a lower offer. Low offers simply open up the dialog. A seller should never be insulted, but understand it’s all part of the process.

Some people like to find the diamond in the rough but when it comes to real estate that is the opposite of what you would like to buy. If you own the best home in the neighborhood you probably over paid for it. The real estate around your property effects the value of your property, (comparable). If you are surrounded by property that has less value than yours it is bringing your value down. On the other hand, if you find a cheap piece of real estate in an expensive neighborhood with a little work you may be able to greatly increase the value of your property. Each neighborhood has limits to how high a property will be worth no matter how much money is put into it. Don’t exceed that limit otherwise you are basically throwing your money away.

Please continue to learn more and do your due diligence before buying any real estate. Buying real estate can be a wonderful step but may also be a very costly one, if you don’t do your homework first. For further advise, call us. We can be a great source of information and help when buying real estate. It’s what we do every day, all day.

Buying Foreclosure Properties in Prescott, AZ

The real estate market is showing increasing signs of recovering and there are great investment opportunities to be found.  Home prices are still relatively stable and interest rates are still very attractive.  However, whether buying for a primary residence or for investment purposes, there are still some basic guidelines to follow when considering a foreclosure purchase.

1.    Work with a Realtor.  It does not matter if you are buying a foreclosure for investment or as a primary residence, it is really helpful to have a savvy agent help with the process.  Neighborhood is one of the most important factors when it comes to buying a home and an experienced agent is worth their weight in gold when it comes to knowing the local real estate market.

2.    Do the financial due diligence.  All we need to do is remember the real estate market crash to see why it is important to do a thorough financial due diligence when purchasing a home.  At the current time real estate prices are projected to increase for the rest of the year.

Be realistic about your budget and how much home you can really afford.  If the home is an investment purchase, can you make the mortgage payment if you have to carry the mortgage for a few months?  That can happen with investment property so be sure you factor in at least six months of mortgage payments just in case.

Also factor in the cost of any repairs.  This is especially true with foreclosure purchases which are often sold “as is” which means they often need repairs.

Verify the condition of the property.  Restore and repair costs add up on a total value of a home.  It is always best to purchase foreclosure homes that require minimal repairs, otherwise your profit margin shrinks.

3.    Understand that every neighborhood is local to that neighborhood.  What this means is that what is selling in one area may not be selling just down the road, so you need to do your homework and check comparable homes in the area to know whether or not what you are buying is a good investment.

Get a proper assessment on the home you are considering purchasing.  Foreclosure homes will generally be thirty to forty percent discounted, so if a foreclosure home does not need major repairs and you can get it for a price that is well below the market value of similar homes in the same area, then you are probably making a good investment.

4.    Try and find foreclosures that are bank and creditor owned.  These properties are where you can most likely get the best deal because banks are not in the business of owning property so want to sell these types of properties and will often do so at a much discounted price.

Investing in foreclosure properties can be a very smart move, especially in the current real estate market.  With housing prices still relatively stable and interest rates still very attractive, there are many good opportunities for investment available.  When considering purchasing a foreclosure property, it pays to research the property and to do the financial due diligence in order to verify the quality of the property and financing.

Buying Foreclosed Prescott, AZ Real Estate with no Money Down

Properties that have been foreclosed are often a gold mine for any experienced or novice investor in real estate. Typically, properties that have been foreclosed are sold by the bank or financial institution for a price well under the current market value. This means that anyone that can purchase and repair the property can earn huge profits when they resell it.

Most individuals avoid looking at foreclosure properties because they believe they need impeccable credit and huge amounts of investment capital. However, there are effective ways that any investor in real estate can purchase foreclosed properties with virtually no credit and no money down.

Finding the Properties

Properties that are distressed in the community are those that are about to go through foreclosure sale. Any notice of a foreclosure sale will be posted on a board in the County Clerk’s office, in the county with a distressed property is located. This is because it is a public record that a foreclosure sale is about to take place. If you’re unversed in this procedure, be sure to contact us. We have a lot of experience with buyers and foreclosures.

Typically, the best time to locate the new list of foreclosure sales is the first Tuesday of the month. This is the time when the last huge batch of properties that were foreclosed had been sold at auction, typically on the steps of the County Courthouse, or at the Sheriff’s office. It is then that a new list of any upcoming foreclosure sales will be clearly posted.

Contacting the Financial Lender

On the list of foreclosures will be another list of lenders that are owed monies on the property, and have called for the property to be foreclosed. We’ll make contact with the financial lender and offer a proposal to assume the loan on the property without the need to qualify. The loan assumption without the need to qualify simply means that you will be willing to take over any current and future mortgage payments for the lending institution.

However, your proposal to assume the debt requires that the bank not qualify you based on any credit check. Typically, small lending institutions will agree to this format if you have the ability to prove that you have a minimum of three months reserve payments. However, tighter lending laws may prevent those wishing to purchase to qualify in this manner. Be sure to check with us about the latest lending procedures when it comes to foreclosures in the Prescott area. Cash buyers usually win out over loans, and most banks will not even look at an offer for at least 5 days after being on the market. The trick is to catch it before it hits the market. We have a short-list of folks who are interested in finding out about these deals. If you want to get on the list, contact us.

Contact the Property Owners, No

Contacting the property owners in a foreclosure situation is practically unfruitful. In large cities where moguls with huge wads of cash are able to walk neighborhoods and influence distressed homeowners by waiving a belt of bills in their face is very rare in smaller communities. The truth is, the homeowner may be paralyzed by the situation emotionally and afraid to even speak with the bank. This is where we come in. We can talk directly to the bank on the seller’s behalf to see if a loan assumption is even possible. If the bank agrees, it can allow the seller to avoid the foreclosure and help them evade any damage to their credit history.

Once the entire process has been completed, you will receive the keys to your new home, and the lending institution will have transferred the title or deed of the property directly into your name.

Buying A Vacation Property in Prescott, AZ

There is nothing quite like owning a second home in your favorite destination. Making the leap in purchasing a vacation home can be challenging, but the rewards are many. If you pick a great location, you can use the home as a rental unit when friends and family are not otherwise using it, and you can also retain the home for many years, allowing it to grow in equity and create a nice nest egg if you decide to sell when retirement time comes. If you are considering the purchase of a second home, here are some tips that can help you to make the best choice, and one you will ultimately be happy with.

First, carefully consider your location. If you are looking for a home that can be used as a rental unit while you are away from it, you cannot go wrong by selecting a unit in the cool pines of Prescott, AZ. Mountain units can be rented year round in Prescott, and during peak seasons they can bring in high dollar amounts. It is quite possible to own a mountain property and receive enough in rental income to pay the mortgage each year. If you are not interested in a mountain retreat, other popular locations include ones near a popular ski resort, in a city with old-west charm, or sitting on the shore of a large lake. Take the time to look at rental prices in the area you are looking to buy in, and allow those to influence your final purchase.

Once you have carefully considering the location, take the time to give us a call and have a phone interview. Take your time during this step, and make sure to ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable. If you have the chance, visit the location for a face to face interview. If you live out of town, be sure to explain that much of your home search will be performed from out of town. No worries we’re comfortable using the phone, Internet and fax machine, texting, or any social media for correspondence. We’re very responsive and understand your needs and value your time. House hunting can become an arduous process. We’ll help take some of the burden off of your daily activities on the computer.

After you have taken the time to browse through several days worth of search results, plan on making a trip to your preferred area for a house hunting excursion. If possible, plan to be in the area for several days in order to have the time to see several houses and go back for a second look if necessary. While you can get a good feel for many houses by looking at pictures and reading descriptions, you will not be able to make the right decision about your final home purchase without seeing some houses for yourself. A trip to the area will allow you to do that, and it will also give you an idea of what comparable houses in the area look like so you can make a wise decision when it comes to making an offer.

Purchasing a second home is a great idea for many reasons. By taking the time to perform your search the right way, you can end up with a home you are happy with for many years to come, and one that will provide you with a rental income and future nest egg as well. Happy house hunting!