Archive for July, 2011

Inman names 2011 innovation award winners

Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff is Inman’s 2011 Innovator of the Year — one of nine “Innovator Awards” the company gives out. Although it didn’t explain what innovations Rascoff was honored for, Inman praised Zillow saying “In addition to operating one of the most popular real estate websites, Zillow also has launched some chart-topping real estate mobile apps for a range of devices.”

Amusing note: Rascoff rents his home.

Other Inman winners:

Most Innovative New Technology
Winner: Down Payment Resource, “a Web tool that connects eligible homebuyers and eligible properties with government-funded programs for down payment assistance, rehab loans and other loan programs.”

Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise
Winner: William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance, which “in February announced the launch of Agent Dashboard, a ‘comprehensive CRM, business management and marketing tool’ that is based on CoreLogic’s AgentAchieve product.”

Most Innovative Real Estate Website or Service
Winner: Keller Williams’s eEdge, “a lead-to-close agent platform that includes lead

Continue reading Inman names 2011 innovation award winners

What were they thinking?


Sorry, hard to write news when I’m still grousing over Paramount casting Tom “Short and Crazy” Cruise as Jack “Tall and Imposing” Reacher.




Reacher is a giant, standing at 6′ 5″ tall with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 210 and 250 pounds. He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair.

Reacher’s demeanor is stoic, and he does not talk much.

Pending sales rise (!) in June

Pending sales of existing homes were supposed to drop by about two percent. Instead, they rose 2.4% — and that’s after an 8.2% jump from April to May.

Of course, as the linked article points out not all those contracts will close, what with lenders being so stingy. But still, it looks like some good news on the demand side.

Read the HOA docs — they matter

Finding conversion between two distant stories with one major point:

Lesson #1: Read the HOA docs and any neighborhood covenants and restrictions before you buy a home.

Lesson #2: An awful lot could be solved and avoided if people would just talk to each other.

Lesson #3: Homeowners’ Associations can be overly restrictive; if you don’t like it either don’t buy there or buy and get involved to change the rules.

From a Charlottesville-area neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions: (emphasis mine)

Article VII, Section 4. Signs. Except as may be required by legal authority or proceedings, no sign shall be erected or maintained on any Property by anyone including, but not limited to, an owner, a tenant, a realtor, a contractor, or a subcontractor, until the proposed sign, size, color, content, number of signs, and location of sign shall have been approved in writing by the Company. Refusal or approval of size, color, content, number of signs, or location of sign(s) may be based by the Company upon any ground, including purely aesthetic considerations, which in the sole and uncontrolled discretion of the Company seems sufficient. The Company further reserves the right to promulgate and amend from time to time uniform sign regulations which shall establish standard design criteria for signs, including but not limited to, real estate sales signs, erected upon any Property in (this neighborhood) . Company reserves the right to prohibit various classes of signs.

The Company and its agent shall have the right, whenever there shall have been placed or constructed on any Property in (this neighborhood) any sign which is in violation of these restrictions, to enter immediately upon such Property where such violation exists and summarily remove the same at the expense of the Property Owner.

A family in Louisiana is being sued by their HOA for not taking down a sign honoring their son’s service in our military:

Continue reading Read the HOA docs — they matter

Lower FICO, higher costs

Sheesh, you could use that $50K to bribe the credit bureaus!You know that the worse your credit, the more you’re gonna pay for a loan. But how much more? The Washington Post decided to find out. It got rates for borrowers with different credit scores, then did the math, and put it in a fancy little interactive chart.

What’d the paper find?

One example: Buying a $200,000 home with 5% down, someone with a high FICO score (850) will pay only 4.271% interest — that’s a total cost of $331,850.

But the guy with the low FICO — say, 620 or 630? He’ll pay more than 5.8% interest and $383,521. That’s 50 grand more.

Check your credit score (free once a year) at the Federal Trade Commission’s approved site: That’s the only place to send your clients — tell them to avoid any company that advertises on late-night television.

Most expensive home in the country

Home, home on the very expensive rangeThe latest claimant to the title of “America’s most expensive home” is not in Hollywood or San Francisco or New York. It’s in, naturally, Wyoming — just outside Jackson Hole.

The main house of the $175 million Jackson Land & Cattle Ranch (owned by casino and resort developer Richard Fields) has only three bedrooms.

That’s OK. It sits on 1,750 acres “of rolling timbered hills with aspens and evergreens, large productive hay meadows, fishing ponds, a spring creek, [and] tremendous views of the Tetons.”

Oh, and when grandma comes to visit? There’s a a four-bedroom guest house plus two employee apartments. And, of course, a 52-stall equestrian barn for the in-laws

to stable their horses.

Of course, “landscaping and improvements are immaculate,” no doubt fertilized by the bodies of gardeners who didn’t know the difference between Populus tremuloides and Populus alba.


An emergency escape balloon is included

Don't miss dinner at Bar J Chuckwagon Suppers!

Selling for Fannie or Freddie? Remember the rules!

Realtors and brokers selling REO properties for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac have some specific guidelines rules they have to follow — at least if they want to continue to sell for Fannie or Freddie. (And who wouldn’t?)

The general rule is that, if you’re representing one of these properties, you can’t sell it to…

  • a family member
  • employee
  • anyone who does work on it (e.g., the gardener)
  • anyone who has access to the details of the property “including the property’s valuation and/or analysis through company records.”

But that’s just the quick and dirty. Be sure you know the details before you step in something you don’t want to.

We’ll make it easy for you: Click here to download NAR’s PDF explaining the rules.

Married with children? How many are like you?

The New York Times has a cool toy to play with — you tell it what makes up your household, and (using Census data) it tells you how many others in the country are like yours.

Here’s mine:

The head tilting is so CUTE

And here’s my friend Eric’s:

Note the creepy androgenous children

In case you’re wondering, “married couple, no kids” is the largest group, followed by “single female” and then “single male.”

Click here to play with it.

Interest rates up, mortgage apps down

Interest rates have jumped since the middle of the monthMortgage applications dropped a full 5% last week from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, which blamed the drop on “spiking” interest rates since mid July.

Also, according to Housing Wire,

The refinance index and the seasonally adjusted purchase index fell 5.5% and 3.8%, respectively, from a week ago, while the unadjusted purchase index declined 3.4%.

(Refinancing, in fact, made up almost 70% of all mortgage applications.)

One likely culprit: The potential for the U.S. to default on its debt. An actual default would cause interest rates to skyrocket, but the looming potential may be enough to start the process.

Bank of America has joined forces with Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) to offer loan modification assistance to troubled homeowners in Prince William and Manassas. Their aim is to regain trust within these communities and strengthen the faith that these consumers have in the banking industry. Setting up shop at the Prince William Association of REALTORS® building, Bank of America will have loan officers on hand to counsel homeowners through mortgage modification applications.

More than 150 homeowners pre-registered for the event out of the 2,500 invitations Bank of America sent out to customers in the county identified as delinquent or close to delinquency on their mortgages. They anticipate more than 200 when it’s concluded.

“Many homeowners have been in the system for quite some time,” said Laurence Richardson, manager of the BoA customer service center in Alexandria. “This is an effort to really speed up the decision-making for our customers.”

You can read more about how this partnership and event developed here. VOICE is hopeful that J.P. Morgan Chase will follow BoA’s lead.