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Ellen & Doc Stephens, REALTORS®'s Blog

By Ellen & Doc Stephens | Agent in San Antonio, TX
  • Maybe Last chance for Debt Forgiveness

    Posted Under: Home Selling  |  October 19, 2012 1:40 PM  |  1,125 views  |  No comments
    This may be the last chance for Home Owners who owe more than their homes are worth to do a Short Sale and NOT have the IRS coming after them for taxes on the written off balance.  See http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/The-Mortgage-Forgiveness-Debt-Relief-Act-and-Debt-Cancellation-

    The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expires on New YEars Eve, 2012.  It doesn't look like the Congress is in the mood to extend this or similar programs to help those who were hurt by the down-swing in home prices.

    Short sales are those in which the Seller owes more than the NET proceeds of a sale can produce.  So, they ask the lender to forgive the balance owed and take a "Short" payoff in full settlement of the debt.  While Short Sales can take months, some lenders are expediting the process.

    If you or someone you know is underwater on a home and need to sell, contact a specialist in Short Sales today.  There is no time to waste.

  • Beware of Scam Artists who Prey on People with Mortgage Difficulties!

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Foreclosure, Credit Score  |  October 26, 2011 11:05 AM  |  687 views  |  No comments
    Every time there is a natural disaster or financial downturn, the vultures come out to see if there are any easy victims.  People who find themselves in mortgage difficulty are currently seen as easy targets for the scam artists.  See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre42.shtm for details on some of the scams.

    If you know anyone who is having trouble making payments, or whose home value has dropped below the loan balance, help them to find REAL help, not fakers.  Some places you might find help are a local REALTOR® who specializes in Short Sales and Default Resolution.  A Real Estate Attorney might be able to help you to negotiate with your lender.  Avoid ANYONE who tells you not to talk with your lender, to stop making payments or to send the payments to them instead of your lender.  REAL help is probably not going to be found on late night TV ads.

    Here's another helpful publication:  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea04.shtm

    Get some real help.  If you need help in the Greater San Antonio area, we'll be happy to help you look at your options, without charge.

    Doc Stephens, REALTOR®

  • Homes for Sale In San Antonio are Going Fast!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in San Antonio, Home Buying in San Antonio, Home Selling in San Antonio  |  April 1, 2011 10:31 AM  |  1,131 views  |  No comments
    Home Sales in San Antonio are setting new records, as they are across the nation today.  

    We awoke to long lines of Buyers outside our office, clamoring to write offers on nearly every type of property.  Some even told us, "We don't care where it is or what condition it is in, we just don't want to miss out!"  Our lender partners were amazed.

    Our colleagues in other cities are reporting the same kind of buying frenzy - "This makes 2005-2006 look like a recession!" Perhaps fueled by the new jobs report which says that the economic recovery is in full swing and has been for many months, people are deciding that life in the USA will go on.

    For a complete report, see:  http://media.rismedia.com/video/news/119/4829/59729/3653880/

    If this report has been useful to you, you might also appreciate this blog entry:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/ellen_doc_stephens_realtors/2010/03/fha_announces_new_zero_down_financing

    Happy April 1.

    Doc Stephens, REALTOR®
  • It's Not One Market; It's Three Markets!

    Posted Under: General Area, Market Conditions, Home Selling  |  September 24, 2010 6:14 PM  |  1,132 views  |  1 comment
    If one looks at the MLS listings in most major markets, it is clear that there are actually three separate markets happening at the same time:

    1.  Homes that are Sparkling Clean, in Good Repair, Move-in Ready, (often professionally staged and photographed) and priced right @ Market are enjoying a red-hot market.  They don't last long and they command close to full price - even multiple offers in many cases.  They are attractively marketed with lots of quality, well-lit pictures, quality information about the neighborhood and schools, with full disclosure about all the repairs that have already been done to get it ready.

    2.  Homes that are "Fixer-Uppers" that are not clean, not in good repair, need major work, and are priced at least 1/3 off the "normal" price for homes in that neighborhood still appeal to "flippers", those who will take the risk, spend the money and fix them up, hoping to turn a profit when the work is done.  They often sell quickly if priced right.  Full disclosure actually helps the sale.

    3.  The rest are neither Move-in ready nor Flip candidates.  They are over-priced, under prepared, and often dirty,  The Listing agents only took a few pictures and dutifully plopped it into MLS, hoping that someone would come along who wasn't aware of the other homes available. They sit there for months.  Sometimes the agent tells the Seller, "Better lower the price - the market is bad."  While it sits there, the agent gets a few Buyer leads from folks who saw the sign and called, but didn't want to buy THAT house.  The Seller gets more and more discouraged until the listing finally expires.

    If you have a home to sell, be clear about which market your home will fit into.  See how your potential REALTOR® markets their other listings.  Check their results - time on market; how many didn't sell; why not?  Once your home has been in the third category for a while, it is very hard to reposition it into the first group.  Get it right at the beginning. 

    This is a tough market.  What worked at the height of the "boom" years doesn't necessarily cut it in 2010. Make sure that you hire an agent who knows what works today.  Of course, if you want to Buy or Sell a home in San Antonio, we're here to help you.

    Good Luck,

    Doc Stephens, E-PRO, REALTOR®
    Keller Williams Realty
    San Antonio, TX  78230

  • Is There Life after the Tax Credits?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in San Antonio  |  March 22, 2010 4:43 PM  |  1,207 views  |  1 comment
    Some folks in the Real Estate industry are already starting to wring their hands with worry.  "What if Market Activity just stops dead after April 30 when the Tax Credits for Home Buyers go away?" they say.  What do you think?

    San Antonio is growing at a steady pace, creating new jobs with our diverse and prosperous economy, attracting and forming new families, finding ways to address the needs of a growing population without driving up the tax rates, improving education at every level, and our housing market reflects that. San Antonio has one of the top ratios between salaries and cost of living in the nation.  That's why our homes seem so affordable. 

    Our thriving Medical community has turned San Antonio into one of the world's most capable Medical Centers, in the forefront of new medical technology and education. It's a great place for retirees and youngsters alike.  That's why people love to relocate here.

    Our Military families find a simpatico community that loves and cares for them, and is grateful for the sacrifices they make to protect our nation.  San Antonio is a great town to live in if you are connected to the Military.  That's why our Military mission is increasing.

    So, since all Real Estate is local, and since our "local" is thriving, We think San Antonio is a great place to buy a home in 2010.  If you are selling a home in San Antonio, that should be great news.
  • I’m Thinking About Selling My Home Next Year

    Posted Under: Home Selling in San Antonio  |  December 14, 2009 5:24 PM  |  456 views  |  No comments

    Just about every day, someone tells us, “I’m planning on selling after the first of next year”.  Their logic is usually either, “No one buys during the Holidays” or “I don’t want to be bothered during Christmas”.  Here’s why that might be faulty logic:


    1.   Many people take the only time they have off work (= Holiday) to look at homes.  If yours isn’t on the market when they have the time to look, they will never see it.  (You retain control of when it is showed, so we won’t interrupt your family celebration.)

    2.   Holiday Buyers are SERIOUS Buyers.  They don’t waste time, and they know what they want.  They move quickly and decisively.

    3.   Homes show better when festively decorated for the holidays.

    4.   Buyers are naturally more emotional during the Holiday Season and base some of their buying decision on seasonal feelings of warmth and hospitality.

    5.   January is a traditional time for Corporate and Military moves.  Your home must be on the market NOW to capture their attention.

    6.   During the last quarter of the year, and especially during the Holidays, the inventory of available homes is traditionally lower than in the Spring.  There is less competition.  Your chance of getting Full Market Value may be greater.

    7.   When you are ready to shop for your new home, the inventory will be likely be greater, the competition for your dollar is also stronger, and prices may be softer.

    8.   Interest rates are at Historic Lows right now.  That makes your home more affordable.  If rates rise, Buyer interest decreases.  A ½% change in Interest Rate is roughly equivalent (in payment amount) to a 5.8% Price Change in the house.

    9.   The Tax Credits for 1st Time and Move-Up Buyers expire April 30.  If your home isn’t on the market, you may miss these Buyers, and

    10.  You may miss the Tax Credit for yourself as well.


    Contact us today if you are thinking about Buying or Selling a Home in San Antonio now or in the future.  We will be glad to discuss your options in complete confidentiality, without obligation.  We are here to help you and those you choose to refer to us.

    Warmest Holiday Wishes,


    Ellen and Doc Stephens, REALTORS®

    Keller Williams Realty

    10999 IH-10 West, San Antonio, TX  78230

    Toll Free:  (877-TELL-ELLen [877-835-5355]

  • A Tale of Three Markets

    Posted Under: Home Selling in San Antonio  |  October 10, 2009 2:38 PM  |  992 views  |  No comments
    How's the Market?  Every REALTOR® is asked that question numerous time each day, and the answer always depends upon what the questioner wants to accomplish:  Buying or Selling?

    As a general rule, our market in San Antonio is still robust and balanced, with qualified Buyers treated to a large inventory (7,817 homes), and well-prepared Sellers able to find a Buyer in reasonable time (92 days average). But the seemingly large inventory is really three inventories, and one of them is going nowhere.

    In the last six months, according to the San Antonio Board of REALTORS Multiple Listing Service, 1,532 listings expired, unsold.  They were rejected by the Market. 

    Most Buyers, whether they are First-Time Buyers taking advantage of the $8,000 Tax Credit or Move-up Buyers who are getting bargains on their Dream Homes, want a home that is Move-in ready, sparkling clean, well-maintained, and priced right.  The Buyers generally don't have extra funds or time available to do substantial repairs or remodeling. 

    Homes which are priced right (average list price to sale price ratio for the last 6 months was 96.1%), in top condition, well-staged for showing, and advertised effectively, move almost immediately and command top prices.  Those which are in sad shape, but are priced as distressed properties will attract their share of Investor Buyers.  They compete with Foreclosures and Lender-Owned homes, and price is the name of that game.

    In the middle are the bulk of homes that sit for months, maybe getting a few showings, but generating little excitement.  They are priced too high, and they are not ready for prime time.  After 60 days, Buyers start wondering "What's wrong with that house?"  If they make an offer, it will generally be a "low-ball", to allow for repair and redecorating money.  Or, more likely, they snap up something new on the Market which is in the first group.  Eventually, the Seller either gives up or lowers to price to market expectations for a lack-luster house in that condition.

    If you are thinking about Selling, ask for our FREE booklet 97 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Sell Faster.  You may also request at no obligation our FREE Market Snapshot, which shows all the homes in your neighborhood which are for sale or have sold in the last three months.  Ask your REALTOR to professionally stage your home.  It's almost always worth the extra effort, and it may mean the difference in Selling and not selling.  If you need specific information, your calls and e-mails are always welcome.
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