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Patrick Fields, MBA's Blog

By Patrick Fields | Agent in Dallas, TX
  • Attn Costco Shoppers, Mortgages Now on Sale!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas, Financing in Dallas  |  May 2, 2012 2:21 PM  |  1,518 views  |  4 comments

    Not only can Costco shoppers find bulk-packs of chicken wings, 24-rolls of toilet paper and large-screen TVs at a discount, they can now land themselves a mortgage.

    After a year of testing, Costco is rolling out a full-service mortgage lending program on its website in partnership with First Choice Bank, a New Jersey-based community bank, and 10 other lenders.

    Costco's partners have issued more than 10,000 mortgages to members under the program. But Lauren Kutschka, Costco's manager of financial services, expects that number to swell as the warehouse retailer markets the service more aggressively to millions of members in its stores and in its weekly publication Connection.

    "I went in to buy some bottled water, big bags of chips, cereal and some Nutri-Grain bars that I eat on my route," said Ray Sheets, a FedEx courier from Canton, Ga. "I saw a home loan brochure on my way out and picked it up."

    Sheets went onto Costco's site, put in his information and quickly accessed offers from four lenders. The rates, closing costs and terms were listed up front. And the closing costs -- of about $2,500 -- were about a third of what he would have had to pay through other lenders, he said.

    Within a few weeks, Sheets refinanced his $170,000, 15-year fixed mortgage carrying a 4.25% rate into a 30-year loan with a rate of 4%. The move lowered his monthly payment by nearly $500 to $811 a month.

    Mortgages are just one of several financial products available to Costco's members. The warehouse club also offers health and auto insurance, as well as stock brokerage services, said Kutschka.

    Up next: Auto loans and student loans.

    "We've always known that our members wanted more financial services," she said. "Right now, we offer recreational vehicle and boat loans and we're going to add auto loans to that. We're also looking to offer student loans."

    Costco had started offering mortgages a couple of years ago but the service provider it was using didn't share enough details about how it was dealing with Costco's members, said Kutschka. So Costco started over from scratch, partnering with First Choice Bank to build a new mortgage lending portal.

    Much like LendingTree, the site gathers quotes from various lenders. However, there is one key difference. Under the Costco program, the borrower's identity is revealed only after they officially select the lender, said John Alexander, business development director at First Choice.

    With many other lead-generation sites, the consumer fills out an application and any lender can make an offer and begin sending marketing communications to the applicant without restrictions.

    Costco members will still need to do their homework and compare offers, though, said Keith Gumbinger of mortgage information company HSH.com. Even after a year of testing, Costco's service is still new.

    First Choice said it will police the other lenders to ensure they comply with Costco's policies, which include giving accurate rates and terms and following up quickly on questions and requests. The technology enables Costco to monitor individual applications and make sure they are handled properly and expeditiously.

    Costco takes no profit on the lending itself, but it does get paid to market the service.

    In Sheets' case, his lender, Bank of the Internet, sent a representative -- an attorney -- to his home to close on the loan, he said. She answered all his questions and explained all of the legal terms in the contract.

    "There were no surprises," he said.

    Gumbinger said the service may prove better for people like Sheets, who are refinancing than those who are purchasing homes.

    "The mortgage origination process is still a hands-on, face-to-face process," he said. "It involves a comfort level and you don't get that with an online service."

    That may be true in the initial stages of the borrowing process, but once a Costco borrower has chosen a lender the level of service steps up, as Ray Sheets's lender did for him.

    Given the size of Costco's footprint and its ability to squeeze great deals out of vendors, Costco members should at least "include the site in their search plan," said Gumbinger. 

    -------- Please add your comment on this news! Thanks ----------


    Cnn Money 4/26/2012

  • The Signs Don't Lie - The Market is HEATING UP!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dallas, Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas  |  April 30, 2012 1:40 PM  |  1,493 views  |  No comments
    If you're starting to hear of multiple offer listings, contracts at or over asking price, shorter times on the market, then that activity is consistent with the activity being reported by agents nationwide.

    Nearly 70 percent of real estate agents recently polled predict home prices will rise by the end of this year, particularly among homes in the low and mid-price ranges, according to the RE/MAX Market Insights, an online survey of more than 1,000 RE/MAX agents. 

    “This market is definitely heating up,” says Margaret Kelly, RE/MAX CEO.  “[Real estate agents] are witnessing a recovery across the country fueled by home buyers and sellers taking advantage of a significant market opportunity.”   

    More real estate professionals are also reporting greater interest among non-investor home buyers in foreclosures, even more so than homes being sold as short sales. Sixty-two percent of the agents surveyed report that non-investor home buyers have a favorable attitude toward foreclosures while 27 percent say they have a favorable attitude toward short sales.

    “With distressed properties still making up a sizeable portion of homes on the market, this inventory is being cleared effectively by buyers, who don’t mind investing a little to fix up a property in return for an attractive bargain,” says Kelly.

    The agents surveyed report that the challenges first-time home buyers face the most are having a credit score that is acceptable to banks, raising an adequate down payment, and a shortage in the number of homes for sale. Meanwhile, repeat home buyers report some of their greatest challenges nowadays is selling their current home, as well as “the scarcity of homes to purchase in the lower and middle price ranges.” 

    The survey found that buyers’ biggest priorities when shopping for a new home are quality of schools, the home’s condition, and its size. The lowest priorities, on the other hand, were public transportation, walkability, and energy efficiency, according to the survey.



    Daily Real Estate News | Monday, April 30, 2012

  • Gimmicks Used When a Home Won't Sell

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas, Celebrity Homes in Dallas  |  April 27, 2012 8:15 AM  |  1,538 views  |  3 comments

    Homeowners and real-estate agents are turning to increasingly creative tactics to sell homes in areas where the market is weaker.

    They include raffles, one-day-only sales, even free weekend stays at the house to entice buyers at a time that consumer credit is tight and the supply of available homes is rising.

    "With inventory and supply the way it is, (homes) have to stand out," says Walter Maloney of the National Association of Realtors.

    What some sellers are doing:

    Home raffles. Tom and Dianne Walters are selling $50 tickets to the public in hopes of raising enough to pay off the loan on their log cabin in Edgewater, Md. They need to sell 27,000 tickets for the Jan. 26 drawing; more than 22,700 have been sold.

    An Annapolis non-profit, We Care and Friends, is overseeing the raffle and will share in any profits.

    "This is becoming more and more popular. I've been called by more than 200 people who want to raffle their own homes," says Tom Walters, 42, a mortgage broker and owner of a construction company. "We get to sell in a tough market, and someone gets a new house for $50. It's also good for buyers, because they don't (have to) get financing for a home."


    Aggressive incentives. Luxury cars, recreational vehicles, flat-panel HDTVs and gift certificates have been around for a while as come-ons to get reluctant buyers to sign on the dotted line.

    "One couple even offered the buyer a complete refund of their purchase price later when the sellers die," says Marni Yang, a real-estate broker and mortgage loan officer in the Chicago area.Giveaways "sometimes work," says Tina Merritt, a real-estate agent in Virginia Beach. One client, a townhouse owner, offered a 42-inch flat-screen TV and had a contract in two weeks.


    Tryouts. Some sellers, especially in resort or tourist areas, are allowing potential buyers to stay free of charge at the home for a day or a week before they decide to buy.

    At the Atwater Place in South Waterfront in Portland, Ore., home buyers can sample a property by staying one or two nights in a fully furnished $1 million condo with sweeping views of Mount Hood. They also get gift certificates to restaurants, a fridge stocked with wine and food, and a pass to the gym.



    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/realestate/articles/2009/01/09/20090109biz-re-homesellers0110.html#ixzz1tFoATOxD
  • $$ Homes You Can't Even Afford to DRIVE By $$

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas County, Home Buying in Dallas County, Agent2Agent in Dallas County  |  April 26, 2012 8:48 PM  |  442 views  |  No comments
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    If you are one of the lucky few who needs an 8 or 9-figure residence—and chances are good it will be at least your second home—there truly has never been a better time. A number of palatial homes, with extravagant amenities to match, are sitting on the market awaiting new multimillionaire owners. The best part? Many of them are going for discounted prices.

    Move upMove down

    With the help of Trulia.com and using publicly listed properties, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the priciest pads up for sale in the United States. Until July, Spelling Manor, the late Aaron Spelling’s 123-room and nearly 60,000 square foot mansion in Holmby Hills, Calif., was the most expensive home listed in the country at $150 million. But its recent sale (it went for a cool $85 million) cleared the way for other ultra-pricey homes—some even more expensive—to make the news.

    In Pictures: America’s 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale

    Some are in the wealthy enclaves you might expect, among the priciest neighborhoods in the world, like billionaire haven Jackson, Wyo. The 1,705-acre Jackson horse ranch going for $175 million will keep the cowboy in you entertained with incredible mountain vistas and trout-stocked fishing ponds—that is if you’re not already distracted by the world-class 52-stall equestrian center and large hay meadows. Situated just outside of popular vacation destination Jackson Hole, this idyllic mega-ranch redefines home-on-the-range luxury.

    Other exclusive listings are in less well-known pockets like Florida’s quiet Windemere, a municipality of around 2,000 people, whose most famous residents until their recent breakup included Mr. and Mrs. Tiger Woods. Live among the rich and famous by purchasing a Windemere home called Versaille for $75 million. The waterfront estate, on a 10-acre Lake Butler peninsula with almost a mile and half of shoreline, has all the usual bells and whistles: two theaters, ten kitchens, 20-car garage, three pools and a bowling alley. You might consider taking a map on the tour, as it could be easy to get lost in the home’s maze of 13 bedrooms and 23 baths.

    In Pictures: America’s 10 Most Expensive Homes For Sale

    If you’re more of a city mouse, there’s the glamorous Woolworth Estate situated on New York City’s famed Upper East Side. Retail magnate Frank Woolworth hired famed architect Charles Pierpont Henry Gilbert to build three adjacent townhomes on the Manhattan’s Upper East Side for his daughters—you can own the middle one for $90 million. Completed in 1916, the 5-story neo-French Renaissance home contains a whopping 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms—clearly not your average Manhattan sardine can. A grand entry hall and staircase, 14-foot ceilings and 50-seat formal dining room punctuate the estate’s nearly 20,000 square feet.


    Forbes Magazine, 8/19/2011

  • Where Home Sellers are the Most Unrealistic with Listing Price

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas County, Market Conditions in Dallas County, Home Selling in Dallas County  |  April 25, 2012 10:28 AM  |  455 views  |  No comments

    House prices have fallen in many areas of the country during the last five years, forcing sellers to get more realistic.

    But some sellers still are hoping to get more for their home, despite market conditions. SmartMoney, in using housing data from the National Association of REALTORS®, found which metro areas appear to be the least realistic with their asking prices. They based their analysis on the gap between the median list price and median sales price in March housing data.

    The least realistic cities for asking prices, according to SmartMoney, are:

    1. Atlanta: a 40 percent gap between the median list price ($150,000) and median sales price ($90,600).
    2. Jacksonville, Fla.: a 34 percent gap between the median list price ($184,775) and median sales price ($121,600)
    3. Washington, D.C.: a 13 percent gap between the median list price ($359,900) and the median sales price ($313,300)

    Meanwhile, sellers seem to be the most realistic with their list prices in Las Vegas, according to the SmartMoney analysis. In Las Vegas, the median sales price is $121,800, which is slightly above the median list price of $120,000.

    SmartMoney includes a disclaimer in its analysis, reminding readers that the study was based on median prices, where half the homes are below that price and half are above.

    Source: “Cities Where Sellers Are the Least Realistic,” MSN Real Estate (April 24, 2012)

  • Bloody Homes for Sale! What Happens to Notorious Property? Disclosures?

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas  |  April 23, 2012 10:30 AM  |  1,471 views  |  No comments

    Murder, gruesome accidents, sex crimes, bad things happening to children – it’s enough to turn one’s stomach. Something that many people never consider is the fact that every crime has to happen SOMEWHERE. Oftentimes, some of the nastiest and most horrible crimes happen right in people’s homes. Which begs the question – what happens to those pieces of real estate afterwards? After the blood and crime tape are cleared from the scene, there is still a house left behind – a house that usually needs an occupant. Unsurprisingly, many buyers are reluctant, if not downright appalled, at the thought of purchasing a so-called ‘murder house.’ In the real estate industry, homes with an ugly past are tactfully referred to as “stigmatized properties,” and it’s a known fact that they are hard to sell. Talk about a loss in home equity, especially in today’s housing market, where homes are already selling at a snail’s pace. Not all stigmatized properties are ‘murder houses,’ although those are certainly among the toughest to unload.

    Buyers’ reasons for not wanting to purchase stigmatized properties are many and varied. There is, of course, the plain, old reason of superstition. Some buyers fear that a house where violent crimes were committed could have become haunted. Some visitors to these homes will report getting chills or the feeling of a bad aura when they walk through the house, and are compelled to leave quickly. There is also the fear – however irrational – of copycat or vengeful crime against the location. Movies like John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ that feature a crazed serial killer who comes back to his childhood home to take revenge on the inhabitants do nothing to help with these fears, although prospective buyers worried about arson or burglary against a home that was formerly used as a gang hideout might have a slightly better case.

    Even those would-be buyers who scoff at ghost stories and have the ability to look past the tragic past of a stigmatized home may want to be careful with the possible purchase of such a property… there is always the question of resale value to consider. YOU might be perfectly comfortable living in one of these houses, but what happens if you decide to sell five years down the line and the neighbors are still whispering about the home’s bloody past? You may end up as the one who has trouble selling!

    Several states have rules governing the disclosure from sellers to prospective buyers concerning grisly events in the home’s past. You know that realtors are obligated to tell all would-be buyers about broken air conditioners, leaky roofs, termite or mold infestation, or other serious defects in a home they are thinking of buying. If you live in states like California, you have to add rape, murder, or suicide to the list. In fact, California’s rules state that realtors must disclose ANY deaths in the home within three years – even if the death in question was an elderly person’s peaceful and expected death of natural causes. The article I read about this topic gave one humorous anecdote of a Houston realtor who let slip to his clients that a murder had taken place in the home just scant months earlier. The couple, who had “loved” the house up until that moment and verbally stated that it was the home they wanted for their family, backpedaled like crazy and never came back to the house again. The realtor never did sell that house – after months of prospective buyers all but running out the door when they heard the news, the home was taken off the market.

    The question of whether to disclose a home’s troubled past in states where no disclosure requirements exist is a sticky one. Sellers and realtors are understandably reluctant to share information that will devalue the home or make it harder to sell, but the consequences of covering up this sort of thing can be ugly. Another realtor quoted in the article declined to tell a home’s new owners more than the fact that someone had died in the home within the past year, which didn’t initially bother them. Within a few months, however, they had discovered the fact that the previous owner actually hung himself in the garage.

    The new owners were creeped out and angry, and sued the seller and the realtor for hiding that information. They claim that they never would have bought the house if they knew the ugly truth. The realtor in question could lose their license and be heavily fined for failing to disclose this kind of information if they resided in a state where disclosure regulations existed, although the fact that their particular state does not have any on the books makes the issue infinitely stickier. Another real estate lawsuit stemming from stigmatized property (in terms of the land underneath the house, which was brand new in this case) arose from a couple who excavated their backyard with the intent of putting in a swimming pool, only to dig up human bodies. Turns out that their home is located on the site of an old graveyard. The homeowners sued the developer of their neighborhood, claiming that the wife of the family was being haunted by angry spirits. They initially lost the case, but the Supreme Court of that start awarded them a judgment.

    A New York buyer sued the seller of the home for which he was under contract to buy for the thirty-three thousand dollars in earnest money he’d put down on a Victorian-era mansion before he discovered that it was believed throughout the community to be haunted. It’s said that the house in question was plagued by troublesome poltergeists. Another case for the real estate law books is that of an Asian family that sued when they discovered that their new home was the former site of a suicide. Many Asian people have cultural beliefs about suicide bringing lasting bad luck to a home, which they explained to a judge. The realtor argued that she could not have been feasibly expected to know that they buyers were sensitive to the issue of suicide, and they did not live in a state where disclosure was mandated. The family lost the suit in this particular case, although outcomes have gone in either direction.

    For the unfortunate owners of stigmatized real estate, giving up can sometimes be the only option. I heard on one of my favorite real estate discussion forums on the World Wide Web about a house in the Midwest that was priced fifty percent below comps in the area (in a very nice, upscale, and desirable neighborhood), and had still been on the market for upwards of nine months. The year before, a father went on a psychotic rampage and killed his wife and three kids in the house. The house was like poison, said the poster, who had previously considered purchasing the home as a rental property. They decided against the purchase, based on fears about the home’s future resale potential.

    There’s no doubt that a death in the home sinks the home equity, at least by a little bit. Even a garden-variety suicide can drop a home’s value by ten thousand dollars. On the whole, say experts, most homes will experience a fifteen- to twenty-five percent decrease in equity if a violent crime has happened there, especially in the past half-decade. This isn’t a frequent issue, say realtors, but one that comes up often enough to be a serious issue for those involved in the sale of the property in question.

    It’s a well-known fact that only the most notorious of stigmatized properties will carry a reputation for longer than a few years. If owners can weather the storm of gossip, speculation, and lies, they will most likely find that their ‘murder house’ is a fine investment over time. The home where six-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in the 1990s initially had trouble selling, although it has changed hands three times since the crime, and appreciated in value by sixty percent over that period. They say that time heals all wounds, and this is definitely still the case when it comes to stigmatized real estate! On the other hand, you have one of the houses where notorious serial killer Ted Bundy murdered several people. That house had to be razed and rebuilt with a new address, considering its terrible notoriety.

    Would you buy a notorious address in order to get that 'killer' deal? What property still lingers in your areas because of being stigmatized?

  • First Time Buyer HORROR Stories and Lessons to be Learned

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Agent2Agent in Dallas  |  April 22, 2012 12:45 PM  |  428 views  |  4 comments

    Here were some of the contenders and winners as shared by "Curbed":

    • In Washington, D.C., prospective homebuyers were looking at what they thought was an empty house. As part of the search, they opened the door to the basement and prepared to check out the downstairs. The home searcher writes: "As I began to descend, a door suddenly opened and an overweight man in boxer shorts and black tube socks burst out of one room and ran into another one. I screamed and ran up the stairs. We all then ran out of the house."
    • In Atlanta, despite a home inspection, a buyer had no idea how much work was needed on a 1960s-era house that had been vacant for a year. The homeowner writes: "For the first major project, my experienced reno friends used a garden hose to spray all of the ceilings to remove the ancient popcorn texture. It rained 50 years of cigarette smoke and filthy ceiling curds on our heads like an Amazonian jungle storm of nasty. ... Apparently the filth was holding the house together because after we removed the popcorn, the plaster ceiling began collapsing in my bedroom." And that was just one project. 
    • In Detroit, an interior designer bought a two-story brick home at a county auction for $5,000. Her extensive research did not unearth the fact that the home, which had been vacant for 30 years, was on the city's demolition list. She couldn't get any utilities turned on until she got the demolition officially canceled. She writes: "I spent days at the Coleman Young building navigating the ridiculous maze of "go to this dept, no that dept, not MY dept, pay this fee, now that fee, oh, and don't forget these fees" until I finally got the piece of paper that said I'm off the demo list (I hope this bit of info makes it to the wrecking crews)."

    The winning story came from Philadelphia, where the homeowners uncovered a plethora of plumbing woes, after their home inspector pronounced the house "solid." As the husband took his first shower, his wife discovered that the water was draining through the ceiling onto a couch on the first floor. And then there was the bucket in the wall. The homeowner writes:

    During a nighttime rainstorm, we awoke to find a puddle of water on the kitchen counter. We inspected a particularly water-damaged soffet to find, inside the soffet framing, a quart-sized bucket that had been built in behind the drywall. The infamous bucket, covered in black algae and disgusting mold, had captured who-knows-how-many years' worth of disgusting roof-filtered rainwater, and spilled over who-knows-how-many times. We ended up gutting the entire kitchen.

    Can you top these stories? What's your worst home-hunting or homebuying horror story?

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