Home Radio Segments Real Estate Round-up Are Your Property Photos Online Years After The Sale?

Are Your Property Photos Online Years After The Sale?

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Terry Story, Property Photos

With Terry Story, 29-year veteran Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams in Boca Raton, FL

Home Buyers Want Property Photos Removed

Some home buyers are concerned that pictures of their homes and properties continue to stay on real estate websites long after the sale has closed.  They cite privacy and security issues.  Often, homeowners’ requests for removal go unheeded.

Homeowners in Chicago plan to formally ask real estate firms to take down property photos after the sale closes.

When Terry receives a photo takedown request, she takes them off the MLS system but has little control over third-parties that access the MLS database and upload property photos on their own websites.

That said, she’d rather not take those photos down because she likes them as references for the veracity of kitchen and remodeling descriptions.

Further, good property photos help boost the value of neighborhood homes and make the job easier.

While Steve sees Terry’s point, he is uncomfortable with property pictures staying up after the sale has closed.  He sees that as an invasion of privacy.

Don’t Use Your Home As A Piggy Bank

A recent report shows that home prices are up 6% nationwide.  This means home owners have more equity in their homes than a year ago.

Steve hopes homeowners don’t see their homes as piggy banks and take out HELOC loans against home equity.  He’d rather they keep building home equity so they have something to lean on in retirement or for emergencies.

Terry recalls homeowners using their homes as piggy banks to support extravagant, unneeded purchases, which exacerbated their financial losses in the 2007 real estate meltdown.

Her advice is that it’s okay to borrow against your home if you plan to invest the money back into the home, such as a kitchen renovation or a room addition.  Even then, homeowners should only do so if they have the discipline to pay the loan back within five years.

Steve isn’t as supportive of home-equity loans (HELOCs) because many Americans haven’t saved enough.  The equity in their homes is their only real asset.  He would rather they bank it for retirement, such as to pay for special care or an assisted living facility.

If you spend your home equity as the years progress, you’ll end up with nothing in retirement.

Terry agrees and notes that if you build up 80% home equity, you’d qualify for a reverse mortgage on your home.

Reverse mortgages aren’t perfect, but in the right situation, they can be lifesavers.

Sharing Common Maintenance Expenses With Neighbors

Next, a listener wants to know who is responsible for fixes in shared HOA areas.  Here’s the question:

I live in a townhome where there are four units attached on each parcel by an archway.  I have bees on the wall of the archway that need to be removed.  My neighbor says that the homeowner’s association is responsible because the problem is not within the four walls of our units.  The association says it’s my responsibility. Who is correct?

Terry believes the clearest answer can be found in the HOA documents when you bought the house. Often, HOAs conveniently pawn off problems simply because they themselves haven’t read the rules.  So checking your HOA contract is a good first step.

Steve adds that you shouldn’t rely on your neighbor’s opinion, which was likely off the cuff, without full knowledge of HOA terms and conditions.

Terry adds that if the HOA documents do not specifically address this issue, it would fall under common law.  In which case, you and your neighbor will have to handle the bee problem without help from the HOA.

In closing, Terry believes the answers to most HOA questions are in your HOA contract.  Read it carefully and defend your granted rights.


Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital.  Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.  Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.  The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.

Read The Entire Transcript Here

Steve Pomeranz: It’s time for Real Estate Roundup. This is the time every single week we get together with noted real estate agent Terry Story. Terry’s a 29-year veteran with Keller Williams, located in Boca Raton, Florida. Welcome back to the show, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.

Steve Pomeranz: So we were talking about this off-air, and we had a little bit of a disagreement here. So here is the question, or here is the point. Some home buyers express concern that photos of their properties continue to live on real estate websites after they’ve closed on the purchase and they’re asking real estate professionals to help take them down, citing privacy and security issues.

Someone named Deborah In Chicago wrote about this and they’re asking, kind of formally asking realtors to take off the photos.

Terry Story: Yeah, we get that from time to time. We’ll get a phone call and they ask us to take down the photos. And we can, we take them out of the MLS system, which feeds to these third-party sites, and they can be removed.

I get the concern, but as a professional real estate agent, we really enjoy the photos. Not that we want to look at your furniture and your decorating. We’re really looking for was that kitchen really updated. Because there’s a lot of embellishing that goes on with agents when they sometimes write their descriptions.

Steve Pomeranz: Is that true? [SOUND]

Steve Pomeranz: I’m shocked.

Terry Story: [LAUGH]

Steve Pomeranz: That’s shocking.

Terry Story: They exaggerate how beautiful a kitchen might be.

Steve Pomeranz: No.

Terry Story: Or how updated, okay? So updated is a very general term. We’re talking 2018 update or 2001 update, so update. Not all updates equal the same.

Steve Pomeranz: All right, so the pictures are good for that type of thing.

Terry Story: Correct, so I would argue please keep the pictures because it’s helpful. And the way that I look at it if you take your photos down and I’m going to sell the house next door and I don’t know what your house looks like, and now I sell the neighbor’s house for less.

Well, you’re going to be mad mister buyer who just bought that house. I sold it for less because I didn’t know what your house looked like and I had just assumed it wasn’t as nice so.

Steve Pomeranz: Well I don’t necessarily.

Terry Story: Food for thought.

Steve Pomeranz: I don’t totally buy that, but I think the bottom line is that once you’ve closed on the house and then you’re kind of scouting around and you go and you see your house again, it’s still up on the web.

It’s like-

Terry Story: Don’t look. Don’t look.

Steve Pomeranz: I don’t really like the way, I don’t like the way that feels okay? So I feel like it’s kind of an invasion of privacy. I mean I get your point.

Terry Story: Okay did you go back and look at your photos and do kumbaya and everything when you sold your home?

[LAUGH] Just to take a look.

Steve Pomeranz: No, but Deborah from Chicago did, and she didn’t like it. All right, let’s move on here. Last week, we were talking about how home prices nationwide were up over 6%.

Terry Story: Yes.

Steve Pomeranz: And that means that people have more equity in their homes.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: Which is a wonderful thing, because that was something that we’ve been lacking for all these years after the 05 crisis. So now people are flush again.

Terry Story: Yep.

Steve Pomeranz: And experts like myself are warning that don’t use it as a piggy bank.

Terry Story: Absolutely.

Steve Pomeranz: This is not a piggy bank. This is for your use if you’re going to move into the future, maybe take some money off the table in retirement if you want to get to your equity a little bit. Or for emergencies.

Terry Story: Right, I agree wholeheartedly. We saw, during the bad years, people buying boats and luxury goods.

Steve Pomeranz: Yes.

Terry Story: And so forth. And that aided in the crash in the market.

Steve Pomeranz: Exactly.

Terry Story: Now it’s okay to buy and to renovate your kitchen, put money back into the house. I think that’s probably a healthy and good thing. As long as you know that you’re going to, I believe the guideline should be have it paid off in five years.

Steve Pomeranz: Hey, look. Yeah, well, if you have the discipline to do that, that’s fine, yeah.

Terry Story: If you do, that would be what I would tell you to do.

Steve Pomeranz: But here’s the thing. We come across many people who really haven’t saved enough.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: And their equity in their home is really their only asset, their real asset.

And the assets can be fairly significant.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: And then as they age, they have to let’s say go into an assisted living facility or they need some special care. They really don’t have the assets to pay for that except for their home.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: And it makes total sense at that point in your life to sell your home. Take that equity and use it to live the rest of your life in comfort. If you’re spending all of that equity as the years progress, you really end up with nothing.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: And that, I think, is the true use, because people tend to live in their houses a long time, so you’re really going to need it at the end. It’s almost like a bank account.

Terry Story: And at the very end, a reverse mortgage isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Steve Pomeranz: No.

Terry Story: You have to have equity to have a reverse mortgage. And you have to have at least 80%, I believe.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, you’re tapping the equity out of your home.

Terry Story: To live.

Steve Pomeranz: You can do it through a line of credit.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: A home equity line of credit or you can do it through a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages aren’t perfect, but in the right situation, they can really be lifesavers in my opinion.

Terry Story: Yep, I agree.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, all right, here’s a question that was raised. If neighbors share a wall, who fixes mutual problems? Here’s the question. I live in a townhome in a homeowner’s association where there are four units attached on each parcel by an archway.

I have bees in the wall of the archway that need to be removed. My neighbor says that the association is responsible because the problem is not within the four walls of our units. The association says it’s my responsibility. Who is correct?

Terry Story: Well, there’s no one answer. You need to absolutely look at the documents and see. And don’t necessarily take the word of the association because half the time, they don’t even read.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: Their own documents.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, first of all, your neighbor is, you respect your neighbor’s opinion, but it may not be an expert opinion.

Terry Story: That’s right. That’s right, so really the answer is in the documents.

And if the documents don’t cover this, it would fall under common law. And under common law then we would revert for you to handle it between the two of you and not the association.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay you are bringing up an issue if people shared a roof.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: I mean having bees in the wall is one thing, but it would be more common if there are roof problems and roofs had to be replaced.

Terry Story: That’s right and you see it all the time. So what happens is you’ve got four units, one roof, but they’re a little sub-divided a little bit.

And you’re in the middle. You need to replace your roof because it’s leaking. You ask the neighbor to go ahead and change their roof. They don’t have the money to do it etc., etc. So you go ahead and change your little one-fourth of the roof.

Steve Pomeranz: Mm-hm.

Terry Story: Now, you have this beautiful, shiny white roof, and everyone else is gray and dungy.

It doesn’t look good. So if you’re buying a property like a townhome with attached properties, just know what you’re getting into. A lot of times it’s covered by the association. So all the roofs are changed at once.

Steve Pomeranz: Well, the association would have an interest in keeping everything conforming.

Terry Story: Yeah, but there are a lot of neighborhoods out there that I don’t know what happened, it’s not done that way.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.

Terry Story: Just know what you’re getting into.

Steve Pomeranz: Okay, okay, I mean, I have seen these situations where there’s different color roofs on attached townhouses.

Terry Story: Right.

Steve Pomeranz: Right, and you know that that’s not the intention, but I think they ran into the situation you just mentioned.

Terry Story: That’s right.

Steve Pomeranz: All right, my guest as always is Terry Story a 29-year veteran with Keller Williams located in Boca Raton, Florida. And she can be found at terrystory.com.

Thanks, Terry.

Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.