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Nick Juba's Blog

By Nicolaus Juba JubaTeam Realty | Agent in 07438
  • LAKE HOPATCONG / JEFFERSON TWP / OAK RIDGE NJ

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Lake Hopatcong, Home Selling in Lake Hopatcong, In My Neighborhood in Lake Hopatcong  |  June 23, 2011 8:11 AM  |  669 views  |  1 comment
    JEFFERSON TWP, NJ - WHAT SELLERS SHOULD DO AND WHAT THEY SHOULD DO TO GET THEIR HOME SOLD IN AN OPEN HOUSE! 


    Do:  Use Open Houses as a convenient time for touring homes with your agent. 
    I’m sometimes surprised by how many buyers write in to ask whether it’s appropriate to meet up with their agent at an open house, as though they’re concerned that it might be offensive to the listing agent or agent who is holding the home open.  Well over 80 percent of serious buyers - people who are actually qualified to buy a home - are represented by agents, and listing agents know this!

    Given that very few unrepresented buyers walk into an Open House off the street and buy that house, I submit that using the few weekly open house hours as a regular time to meet up with your agent and tour homes that are being held open is a very efficient way to see homes you’re interested in, without having to make scattershot appointments with individual sellers - and that savvy listing agents will welcome your attendance as a represented, qualified buyer and their agent at their Open House.

    Do:  Open every door.  If you’re seriously interested in a home you’re touring at an Open House, make sure you open every door - even doors that look like they might just be hall closets.  I’ve had buyers come back and realized that all the closets were a couple inches deep, or that the home had multiple walk-in closets they weren’t even aware of.  Once, I even had a buyer miss an entire little room, because we all thought the narrow door was just another closet.  Since storage is such an elemental consideration when you’re homebuying, it’s important to know what’s behind every door.

    Don’t: Open every drawer.  I’m specifically talking about drawers to furniture, rather than kitchen drawers and other drawers that are built into the property itself.  Why do you need to see what’s inside someone’s bureaus to decide whether or not you like the home?  You don’t - I know that some people find the voyeuristic aspect of Open House hunting (i.e., seeing how others live) to be fun and compelling, but there’s certainly a line beyond which it’s rude to cross. 

    Opening the owners’ underwear drawers is definitely on the wrong side of that line.

    Do:  Offer hospitality to buyers. If you want prospective buyers to attend and enjoy your Open House, it’s critical that you remove all the friction involved with attending it. It should be very clear and simple for visitors to discover that your home is being held open, then to navigate to, park at and access your home.  If your home - or even your front door - is hard to find, make sure signs clearly point the way.  If your neighbors park in front of your house or you normally park your cars in the driveway, ask them to move, and move your own cars, too.

    Don’t: Overdo the hospitality. Unless the property is Candy’ Spellings $150 million listing (which sold at the low, low price of something like $85 million, according to reports) there’s really no reason to have an espresso bar with baristas, a catered lunch with waiters passing hors d'oeuvres, or chair massages - all of which I have actually seen at Open Houses. Here’s the problem, no one will complain. People will take the shrimp balls, order their dirty chai lattes and get their deep tissue neck rubs.  What they won’t do is pay attention to your house!  Have a plate of cookies and some cool bottles of water - that’s just nice manners, especially on a hot day.  But when you overdo the perks, you distract the buyers from the real matter at hand.  Even if they like your home, they’re much more likely to recall the cute waiter or the dim sum than your upgraded kitchen and the dining room.  

    Note: I’d say there’s an exception for brokers’ open houses - sometimes the excessive hospitality works just to get brokers to attend, which is huge; many a broker has had an a-ha/light bulb moment standing in a house they only went to for the champagne, when they realized which of their clients (or their colleagues’ clients) would love this place.

    Do:  Intensively clean and de-odorize the place.  Start way in advance, and either clean or hire someone to clean your home so that the word “immaculate” applies.  This is not the time to cut corners.  And understand that at an Open House, people - including the most serious buyers - will open doors, drawers, cupboards, explore your garage, open the garden shed - so there’s really no place to shove and hide a messy pile of clothes or dishes. Heck, there are some who’ll scope out your dog house, if they want their own precious pooch to park there.

    This is your opportunity to start eliminating things you don’t need and packing things you’ll want to move that are excess to the neat-and-clean version of your home’s space you want to showcase at the open house.

    Don’t: Overdo the sensory staging.  Some people are highly sensitive, even allergic, to fragrances or scented oils - these types can run screaming from an overly “air freshened” open house. Music on low is fine, but it should be a very neutral, non-objectionable type - and you’d be surprised what some folks object to.  Also, skeptical buyers might suspect you’re trying to cover something up with aggressive air fresheners, cookies in the oven, music on the stereo and white noise playing in every room. 

    Look to your agent and your home’s stager (if you have one) for direction here, and don’t overdo it.  Serious buyers will want to see, smell and hear what the experience of the home is actually like, without all that artifice.

    Don’t:  Underdo the home prep/curb appeal, landscaping, exterior prep. I cannot tell you how many times, when I was selling homes, I would pull up to an Open House with my buyer clients and see them roll their eyes, sigh or even veto the visit once they saw the state of the home’s exterior.  And on the flip side, I can’t express the number of times I witnessed buyers minimize or overlook wonky rooms or funky annoyances on the inside of a home (for better or for worse) because the place had overwhelmingly charming or breathtakingly chic appeal from the curb.

    Before you host an Open House, it’s equally - maybe even more - imperative that you make sure your landscaping, sidewalks, front doors and exterior paint are immaculate and maxed out on their attractiveness as it is to make sure the inside is pristine.
     
    Do:  Make sure there are smart print-outs and flyers for buyers to take away, and basic documentation buyers will want to see. Check in with your agent in advance about what handouts will be available for prospective buyers that visit your home.  At the very least, there should be a property flyer listing out the home’s basic characteristic, offering a few color photos and providing the agent’s contact information; if you’re offering any incentives like closing costs or paying a year's worth of the buyer's HOA dues.  Additionally, it can be helpful to have a friendly mortgage broker prepare some financing scenario flyers.

    If you’ve had home or pest or roof inspections, or your home favorably compares to recently sold nearby properties, make sure those inspection reports and comparables are out at the Open House.

    Do:  Take the take-aways. Buyers, hanging on to the property flyers of the homes you’ve seen (and using them to note your reactions to them) can up your house hunting and offer-making game significantly. If your agent isn’t with you, it makes for easy communication about what you saw and how you felt about it, which can minimize the number of homes you don’t like that your agent shows you going forward. Also, a home that you think you’ll pass on while you’re in it might grow on you, or might even become the comparable for another property you’re interested in in the future. 

    If you’re in active house hunting mode, it can only help you to have a collection of flyers from the properties you’ve seen. Compliments from Trulia.



    Thank you,

    Nicolaus T.Juba
    Broker Associate
    Re/Max Home Connection
    "The Juba Team"
  • Jefferson Township / Oak Ridge / Lake Hopatcong Homes - Developments

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Jefferson Township, Home Selling in Jefferson Township, In My Neighborhood in Jefferson Township  |  June 15, 2011 12:52 PM  |  818 views  |  No comments

    Developments In Jefferson Township NJ
    1) Water's Edge-
    Water's Edge Homes- Oak Ridge - Jefferson NJ
    Water's Edge Community lies in the heart of Oak Ridge- Jefferson. It has great location and is very close to everything Jefferson has to offer. The homes in Waters Edge are three and four bedroom homes. Most homes have 2 car garages and most have basements. The development was built in different stages in the 1990's and the style of the homes are Colonials. This development also has public utilities which makes this development more appealing to home owners whom which to avoid septic and wells.
     
    2) Berkshire Ridge-
    Berkshire Ridge Townhomes, Oak Ridge, Jefferson, NJ
    Berkshire Ridge is a townhome community located in Oak Ridge / Milton in  Morris County, NJ. There are approximately 215 townhomes in the complex which was built between 1987 and 1989. Berkshire Ridge offers units that range in size from approximately 900 to 1,600 square foot, not including basements. Models include the Ashley, Breton, Cambrian, Dakota, and Eden 1 &2. The Ashley is a 1 bedroom, 1 full bath with a 1-car garage and basement. The Breton is a 2 bedroom, 2 full bath, multi-level unit with a 1-car garage and no basement. The Cambrian is a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, with a 1-car garage and no basement. The Dakota is a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, multi-level end unit with a 2-car garage and basement. The Eden is a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, multi-level end unit with a 2-car garage and basement and features a 1st floor master bedroom and 2nd floor den. Some of the basements are walk-out or daylight basements. Berkshire Ridge has a wonderful location in the heart of Oak Ridge and is within walking distance to shopping and restaurants.  The development is a condominium or condo association. This development offers an outdoor pool and tennis courts. Great development for easy living.
     
    3) The Peaks-
    The Peaks- Lake Hopatcong NJ- Jefferson Township 07849 NJ.
    The Peaks is a development of 4 Bedroom 2-3 bath 2 car garage Colonial built homes in Lake Hopatcong NJ. This development has public water and private sewer. Private Sewer is a seperate fee. This development has homes that range from 2400- 3500 square feet. The different models are The Crescent, The Highpoint, The Pinnacle, The Summit, The Vista, The Zenith, The Lakeview, and The Meridian being the largest. The development is minutes away from Route 15 and Route 80.
     
    4) White Rock Development- Jefferson Twp NJ
    White Rock is a large diverse development of different style homes and square footage. This development does have public water and sewer and the homes were built mostly in the 1970's and 1980's. This development has ranches. bi-levels, and colonials style homes. The location of White Rock is centrally located and is very close to Rt23. Homes in white rock vary with property size and price.
     
    5) Water Village- Lake Hopatcong NJ 07849
    Water Village is a development built in the Lake Hopacong area of Jefferson Twp. These homes are all Colonial style and can be up to 4,000 square feet. Some of these homes are Lake Front homes on Lake Hopatcong in the development.( Power Boat Lake)  Most Colonial homes have basements and are 4 bedroom homes.
     
     

     

  • JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP NJ

    Posted Under: General Area in Jefferson Township, Home Buying in Jefferson Township, Home Selling in Jefferson Township  |  June 13, 2011 1:27 PM  |  674 views  |  No comments

    Beautiful Jefferson Township is nestled deep in the northwest corner of Morris County, New Jersey. This countryside town is just minutes off of RT. 80 and located less than an hour from New York City.

    Jefferson Township, established in 1804, encompasses 42 square miles, including the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey’s largest fresh water lake. Jefferson has many other lake communities; Lake Shawnee, White Rock Lake, Lake Winona, Cozy Lake, Longwood Lake, Lake Forest, and Lake Swannanoa. All of these communities enjoy the resources with activities ranging from fishing and swimming to water skiing and boat racing. The Rockaway River’s source starts deep within Berkshire Valley giving local anglers a trout fishing experience. Nature abounds Jefferson with a vast population of wildlife and foliage. Beneath giant oaks and maples is a forest floor that is home to bears, deer, foxes and much more.

    Known as the “Year Round Recreational Capital” Jefferson always has an outdoor activity going on. Visit Camp Jefferson for a picnic on the fields, and a good old fashion square dance at night. Weekends at both Ridge Road Field and Lakeside Field are the playgrounds for the Milton Recreation Association and the Jefferson Sports League. Attend a high school sporting event and watch the Falcons battle against teams from the SCIL. So whether it’s hiking with the local Boy and Girl Scout troops or flying with the Falcons, the atmosphere and people make it an enjoyable experience for all.

  • Selling Your Home In Jefferson Twp! Things You May Not Know!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Morris County, Home Buying in Morris County, Home Selling in Morris County  |  June 9, 2011 8:45 AM  |  529 views  |  No comments

    5 More Things You Didn't Know Could Get Your Home Sold In Jefferson Twp NJ

     
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    Last year, we talked you through some surprising selling points - housing hot-buttons that can get your home sold, stat, like having a Trader Joe’s market nearby. There’s so much information on the web these days about how to stage a home and create compelling curb appeal, that you might think you know all you need to on the subject. Just when you thought you’d mastered the matter, we thought we’d brief you on 5 more things that can get your home sold, some or all of which might never have occurred to you.

    1. Your neighbors. Most homeowners contemplating selling their homes understand the importance of well-kept neighboring homes.  Many a buyer has pulled up to an amazing house, viewed it, and left shaking their head with woe because they just can’t cotton to buying the place on account of the shoulder-high weeds, car in the yard or crumbling ruins of the house next door.  

    On the flip side, your neighbors themselves - not just the homes, but the people - can actually help sell your home.  Many homeowners know people who want to live in their neck of the woods; this is one reason many seasoned real estate professionals hold their listings open to neighbors and send out postcards to neighbors announcing the listing - the neighbors might know people who are interested in your home!   Also, neighbors who are out and about chatting with each other, laughing and playing with their kids, mowing their lawns or painting their fences, or even who just offer a smile and helpful area knowledge to the buyer-to-be they pass on the street can make a very favorable impression on prospective buyers.

    It’s a good idea, if and when you decide to list your home for sale, to touch base with neighbors you know and let them know; it’s in their best interests to get good new neighbors, so they might be able to go the extra mile in showing the neighborhood’s biggest asset - themselves - off to its best advantage.

    2.  The right sights, smells and sounds.  It’s no news flash that the view of a used car lot; stinky foods or animal smells; and the siren song of a fire station next door could be deal-killers. What might surprise is some of the right sights, smells and sounds that can help seal the sale of your home.  My experience has been - agents, chime in here! - that the more natural beautiful sights, smells and sounds are, the more favorably they’ll be received by the largest population of prospective buyers.  

    For example, playing a soundtrack of classical musical is fine, but will cause some skeptical buyers to wonder what noises you might be trying to cover up - especially if you’re in a condo or other potentially thin-walled property where neighbor noise might be an issue. On the other hand, birdsong can be attractive to some buyers. Artificial air fresheners?  Not so much.  The scent of the jasmine or lavender that grows in your yard?  Even allergy victims can appreciate that.

    You might be desensitized to the amazing views of trees, mountains or even water outside your window, but pulling back the curtains so prospective buyers can see for themselves is an absolute must.

    Home buying is a multi-sensory experience - visual staging of the property itself is no longer a plus, it’s a must. But homes which create pleasant impressions that fire on all of a buyer’s sensory cylinders definitely have the edge on their competition.

    3.  Your dog. The New York Times ran a piece a few months ago about sweet, well-behaved dogs (and cats!) who reportedly helped sell their owners’ Manhattan apartments.  In a departure from the conventional wisdom that dogs should be removed and every trace of their presence erased from the home during showings, the article featured several buyers and brokers attesting to their belief that the presence of a particular cat or dog “help[ed] sell a property by making the place seem warmer or more appealing.”  And I’m sure you’ve all heard me tell the story of the San Diego buyer who fell in love with a tract home listed at a price higher than all the nearly identical comparables he’d seen and wanted to make a full-price offer immediately - so long as the deal included the dog!

    Definitely consult with your agent before you decide to implement leaving your dog at home for showings as part of your plan.  I’m a dog lover, and would be concerned that someone might inadvertently let one of “my girls” out, if I left them there while my house was being shown; as well, would-be buyers or their agents may have allergies your pet could set off.   Lately, it seems like I’ve seen many brokers attempting to capture the best of both worlds by making sure that the family pet or even the broker’s own pet is captured in a charming tableau in 1 or 2 of the listing pictures, even if they’re not present at the home during showings.  

    4.  Your happiness.  Video and even written love letters that extoll all the virtues for which you love your neighbors, your neighborhood and your property are contagious to buyers.  I’ve seen sellers help buyers see their homes through their own loving eyes by posting videos on YouTube and including the link on the listing flyer or even by putting a binder containing a letter plus menus and flyers from their favorite neighborhood restaurants, dry cleaners and other local merchants out on the counter during showings.

    Wide-open curtains that let light stream in, light and bright paint and decor colors and other home features that science has proven make residents more happy and functional also create this thought process in a buyer’s mind: “Hmm, these people seem happy here. I could be, too.”

    Similarly, indicators that you invested a lot of love in your home, by keeping it in immaculate order and pristine condition, by tending a well-cared for kitchen garden, lovingly furnishing and making comfortable (if not overly customizing) your kids’ rooms, all create the feel that a home was happily lived in  - it’s like staging your home with a life well-lived, not just paint and tile.

    5.  The freeway or subway you thought was too close.  There is such a thing as a freeway or elevated train tracks being too close to your home; if your place rattles or roars, for example, every time the train passes, chances any buyer will view that as a selling point are pretty slim.  However, homebuyer attitudes toward being located near freeways and subways or bus lines are a-changing.  Every upward click of gas prices renders buyers a tiny bit more interested in a location that is more commutable.  

    Where yesteryear’s buyers were all about the posh exclusivity of far-out suburbia, today’s buyers are more interested in financial and ecological efficiency and convenience. I’ve never heard so many homebuyers looking to own homes that will allow them to ditch their cars entirely as I have in recent years!  

    What might once have been seen as too close to the freeway has gotten a new spin, lately, as a highly convenient, commuter-friendly location. 


    Please contact our team, The Juba Team, to help you Sell Your Home!
    Nicolaus T. Juba  
    Broker Associate
    Re/Max The Juba Team
    TheJubaTeam.com
    (973) 390-4664

  • JEFFERSON TWP NJ FORECLOSURE NEWS

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Jefferson Township, Home Selling in Jefferson Township, Foreclosure in Jefferson Township  |  June 1, 2011 12:48 PM  |  644 views  |  No comments

    Foreclosure Victims Not All under Irresponsible Category PDF Print E-mail
    Foreclosure News
    Tuesday, 31 May 2011 15:24

    Universal wisdom holds that people who lose their homes to foreclosure must be irresponsible debtors who can't handle money.

    However, a new investigation shows that many homeowners who defaulted on their mortgages during the economic recession subsequently proved to be responsible consumers and good credit risks.

    "Certain consumers who defaulted on a mortgage in the recent recession only did so because of the recession - they are otherwise good credit risks," the report said.

    The investigation doesn't come from a pro-consumer advocacy group but from TransUnion, one of the three national credit bureaus that collect information on Americans' borrowing and bill-paying habits.

    Intrinsically, it carries significant weight and could influence how lenders view defaulting homeowners. While it's unlikely to change how mortgage delinquencies affect consumers' credit scores, it provides parameters  for lenders to consider mitigating circumstances such as job loss in extending credit to people who fell behind on their home loans.

    "Lenders always try to distinguish a one-off, life-crisis event like divorce or a medical catastrophe versus people who are just ineffective at managing credit," said Ezra Becker, TransUnion vice president of research and consulting, and one of the study's authors. “Those consumers have not in fact forever changed their personal philosophy on repaying debt. It was a one-time event because of the specific and personal circumstances of the recession, and they otherwise would be good credit risks."

    TransUnion reviewed data from 5 million randomly selected mortgage holders to find 129,000 people who were 120 days or more behind on home-loan payments, and who had additional lines of credit, such as car loans, credit cards and student loans, including lines opened both before and after missing the mortgage payments.

    It found that consumers whose only delinquencies were on their mortgage "do indeed present less credit risk," Becker said. "It's the environmental impact of the recession and high unemployment that has come into play for those consumers."

  • Jefferson Twp NJ Short Sales Realtors - Agents

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Jefferson Township, Home Selling in Jefferson Township, Foreclosure in Jefferson Township  |  May 22, 2011 10:00 AM  |  643 views  |  No comments

    The National Association of Realtors is cautioning real estate agents about a new rule from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The rule is designed to protect homeowners from mortgage relief scams, but it could potentially affect Realtors doing short sales.
    The rule bans all upfront fees for renegotiating mortgage terms and requires certain disclosures be made to consumers if a short sale is negotiated with a lender on their behalf or when advertising short sales services or expertise. It could also affect communicating with a consumer about a possible short sale prior to the listing agreement being executed or arranging the negotiation of a short sale for a consumer.
    Realtors not only have to comply with the new FTC rule by not taking upfront fees, but by using specific disclosure language. A clear and legible disclosure must be included in all commercial messages advertising short sale services. Second and third disclosures are also now required by real estate agents before they start mortgage assistance services on behalf of their clients as well as at the time the lender’s short sale approval letter is presented to the client.
  • Buyer's - Short Sales & Foreclosures - Jefferson Township NJ

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Morris County, Home Buying in Morris County, Foreclosure in Morris County  |  May 6, 2011 11:58 AM  |  360 views  |  No comments

    The 5 Most Common Complaints of Short Sale and REO Buyers (and How to Avoid Them)

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    Roughly forty percent of the homes for sale on today's market are short sales and foreclosures! Distressed properties are well known for their value (a reputation which is sometimes accurate, and sometimes not), but they also have a reputation for causing buyers to become distressed, too!

    Transactional snafus, last-minute surprises and long, drawn-out escrows that never close seem to be par for the course.


    Instead of avoiding these properties altogether, get educated about the most common dramas that go down in these deals, and how you can avoid falling victim.

    1.  Run-on (and on, and on) escrows.  When you’re buying a home (or selling one, for that matter), time is absolutely of the essence.  And buyers reasonably expect that the big time suck in real estate is in the house hunting process itself; seems like once you find a home you want to buy and the seller agrees to your price and terms, things should move pretty quickly, right?

    Not so much, when it comes to some distressed property sales. I’ve heard tell of the occasional, swiftly-moving escrow on an REO (real estate owned - by the bank). But for the most part, these transactions take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks longer than “regular” sales, because of the extra signatures, supervisor-level approvals and even investor involvement required to seal the deal.  Banks don’t have the same sense of urgency individual home sellers do, and it’s not uncommon for the people who need to sign on the dotted line to be on vacation or scattered across the country, adding days’ or weeks’ worth of time to the escrow.


    And short sales are also an entirely different animal when it comes to escrow timelines. While a standard sale from an individual seller to an individual buyer might take 45 days from contract to closing, a short sale can take anywhere from 45 days to 6 or 8 months (!) to get the deal closed, after the seller has accepted the contract.

    Avoid the drama by: expecting your escrow to run long, and being pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.  Expectation management is everything. Make sure you take these extended timelines into account when you’re working with your mortgage broker on the issue of when to lock your interest rate, and how long your rate locks will last. You might even need to plan on and/or set aside an allowance for the cost of extending your low interest rate, if rates are rising rapidly during the time you’re waiting for the deal to be done.

    2.  Bank won't take lowball offer.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve received a question from an outraged reader to the effect that a buyer has had their short sale or REO offer rejected on grounds that it was too low,  even though the bank has no other offers, I could buy a foreclosure myself (admittedly, it’d be one of those $150 foreclosures in some blighted town with tax liens and no plumbing, but still).

    Banks owe their shareholders and investors a duty to get as much as they can for these properties. Just because you see it’s on the market and listed as a short sale or a foreclosure doesn’t mean they’re going to give it to you for a fraction of its worth. The bank’s goal is to get a purchase price as close as possible to the home’s fair market value, as determined by the recent sales prices of similar, nearby homes, with some adjustments made for the property’s condition.  Fact is, many banks would rather see the listing agent reduce the price by a moderate amount, and wait to see what offers come in, than to accept an offer 30 percent below the asking price just because there are no other offers on the table.

    Avoid the drama by:  working with your agent to make a realistic offer, based on recent comparable sales in the neighborhood, not just on what you think you can get away with.  You can waste a lot of time, spin a lot of wheels and lose out on a lot of properties making lowball offer after lowball offer on distressed homes. Sit down with your broker or agent, review the ‘comps’ and make a smart offer that reflects a good value for you, is within your budget and is not bizarrely out of the realm of the fair market value of the property.

    3.  Last minute postponements/cancellations.  These transactions have an uncanny way of being delayed at the last minute - or never going through at all, through no fault of the wanna-be buyer. You signed docs yesterday, put your dog in the crate this morning and just hopped in the moving truck, only to get a text from your broker that the deal didn’t close because the escrow company which was selected by the bank flubbed the checkboxes on a single sheet of paper (it happens). Or, you’ve been in contract (with the seller) on a short sale for four months, and the bank refuses the sale entirely because the seller refuses to kick even $1 of their own cash into the deal, despite having a flush savings account.

    Avoid the drama by:  staying as flexible as possible with your moving plans as long as possible.  Best practice is to plan on some overlap between the time you can be in your last place and your scheduled move-in date.  Also, if you’re in contract on a short sale, you should take the point of view that you don't have a firm deal until you get the bank’s approval of the transaction. So don’t even think about starting to make moving plans or paying for home inspections and appraisals until you know the bank has greenlit the deal and that the purchase price and terms they’ve approved work for both you and the seller.

    4.  The bank’s black box.   Make an offer on a normal home and you’re likely to know what the outcome will be within a few hours or a few days, at the outside. If things take longer because the seller is out of town or some such, the listing agent tells you that, and you at least know what’s going on.

    Make an offer on a bank-owned property or a short sale?  It’s a crap shoot - could be days, but could also, easily, be weeks or months before you know what’s going on.  And no amount of calling, pleading, prodding or nudging is likely to get you much information on how your offer or the seller’s short sale application is being handled or what (if any) progress is being made.  And that “black box” into which your offer disappears at the benk level is very frustrating.

    Avoid the drama by:  continuing your house hunt until you have an answer back.  Maniacally pestering the listing agent for answers or harrassing your buyer’s broker into spending hours on hold with the bank is highly unlikely to get you any insight. (With that said, it does make sense for your agent to check in regularly - sometimes even daily -  with a short sale or REO listing agent to stay updated on any developments with the property and to make sure your offer/transaction stays in the front of their mind.)  

    Most of the angst in these situations arises when a buyer feels they passed on properties that would have really worked for them when they pinned their hopes on a distressed home.  You can only control your efforts and activities, not the bank’s.  So, consult with your own broker or agent about staying proactive in viewing and even pursuing other properties until you have a firm “yes” from the bank on your short sale or REO offer.  Until that time, and usually for a short time after you get the bank's approval, you have the right to back out of the transaction if you need to (make sure your broker briefs you on precisely when your right to rescind your offer or exercise contingencies - i.e., bail - will expire).

    5.  Double standards. In a “regular” equity sale with no bank involvement, both buyer and seller are obligated to meet various timelines.  Seller has to provide disclosures by X date, open the property to inspections - with utilities on - by Y, and close and move out by Z.  REO and short sale buyers, on the other hand, are often dismayed to find that  even though the bank might take weeks or months to sign or handle its deliverables, the bank will insist that the buyer show up, sign or send a check quick-like.

    Avoid the drama by: chalking it up to the (admittedly irritating) way things are - the price you pay to buy from the bank.  Realize that working with the bank on the bank’s terms is unavoidable when you buy a distressed property. Then, go into the deal with realistic expectations - including the expectation that the bank will drag its feet, despite expecting you to keep every deadline - and you’ll be less frustrated, and less likely to make poor decisions out of frustration.

    Also, make sure you do respond in a timely manner to the bank’s requests and your obligations under the contract.  I’ve seen banks capitalize on buyer delays in returning signatures and removing contingencies to accept higher offers they received in the interim.  Don’t lose your home on a technicality because you assume that the bank’s lackadaisacal timelines apply to you as well.

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