With Terry Story, 26-year veteran Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker in Boca Raton, FL
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As a successful real estate agent for 26 years, Terry Story has come across about every scenario possible in the world of housing and those who are either wanting to get in or get out of a home, all of which has led to her Real Estate Survival Guide.
In this week’s show, Terry highlights a few things important to know for both the buyer and seller, one being “the ugly house across the street.” It’s the one with the lawn gone to seed, the tiles sliding off the roof, the paint peeling off the front—the eyesore, so to speak, which affects the property value of all surrounding homes. Terry’s advice is to investigate. The home could be in foreclosure, the occupants may be renters and the owners unaware, or they could even cooperate and spruce up the place, in which case the situation is temporary. The last resort, of course, is contacting a real estate attorney.
A common challenge for the agent is the home seekers who make appointments to view homes they are not yet in a position to buy. Often this is because their present home must first be sold, in which case the better avenue would be for them to do research in advance, such as looking at the many online tools and visiting open houses, before making appointments with a real estate agent and wasting their valuable time.
Terry also states that home equity loans are becoming easier to obtain; hence, more home improvements mean a stronger real estate environment, and that’s good for everyone.
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.
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 is a 26-year veteran with Coldwell Banker located in Boca Raton, Florida. Welcome back to the show, Terry.
Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.
Steve Pomeranz: We are going to talk about what we call your Real Estate Survival Guide. Here’s a question: “I’ve been trying to sell my home for a year with no luck. My real estate agent tells me that it’s because of the bad condition of the home next door. It looks awful, I already have complained to the city, but nothing changed. What can I do?” This is from Robert. By the way, the answers from this are from Gary M. Singer, a Florida attorney who is writing for the Sun Sentinel.
Terry Story: Yeah, this is a common problem. I just had it happen a couple of weeks ago. It was an ugly house across the way. They had—I’ll call it—lawn ornaments out front. Just junk all around the property. It is a problem. What you can do is keep going back to the city. There are code and zoning rules against this kind of thing. If that doesn’t work, maybe politely check with the owner next door, see if he’s willing to do something, or if he’ll help you out. Sometimes the owners may not even live there, they’re out of state, and may not realize that the tenants aren’t keeping up the property. You need to delve into it a little bit more. When all else fails, you can put up a fence, tall hedges. Maybe even offer to help clean up whatever the situation may be. This does hold back homes from selling on average.
Steve Pomeranz: How much? If a person walks up to your home and your home is just great, but next door is a mess and some are like some terrible artistic, eclectic collection of stuff, you got to do something.
Terry Story: Right. What they say is it drops your home value by about 5 percent. It depends on the situation next door. Maybe it’s only temporary. Maybe it’s a short sale, so eventually, it’s going to get picked up or foreclosure, depending on the situation. And, if all else fails, you can always turn to a local real estate attorney to see about filing a lawsuit.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, I think the answer is don’t be passive. Be polite, don’t be passive. Try to work it out with your neighbor and then move to the next level if you have to.
Terry Story: Right, right.
Steve Pomeranz: Right. Talking about buying a home, selling a home, you’re doing this day in and day out, you’ve been doing this for 26 years, as I mentioned, what are some of the most recent frustrations that you’ve experienced in the market? Because there’s always this tension between the buyer and seller, and also the marketplace itself has its own challenges with regards to maybe not having enough homes on the market and so on. What’s currently in your bailiwick here that’s bugging you?
Terry Story: Sure. Well, one of the biggest challenges I face as an agent is I have would-be sellers that are looking to buy a home. They’re exploring their housing options before they put their house up for sale. Which I get, you want to get an idea if there’s something out there for you to buy, be it you’re moving up or you’re downsizing. What happens is these buyers start absorbing a lot of your time looking at a variety of different neighborhoods and making appointments to look at houses where they’re not able buyers. They’re willing and ready, but not able. They’re not able to buy because they have to sell their house first.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah. As an agent how do you-
Terry Story: It creates a lot of problems. It creates…
Steve Pomeranz: How do you deal with that, though, as an agent you don’t really want to say no to them.
Terry Story: It’s challenging because it frustrates everybody. Now I’m showing a property and that particular seller is upset because we’ve just brought somebody who can’t even buy their house. They’ve cleaned it up, there might be another agent having to open up the properties. There’s a lot of time and energy that go into this that time can’t be recouped. I certainly understand why a buyer wants to do this.
Steve Pomeranz: What would you suggest? I mean what’s an answer?
Terry Story: I mean my suggestion, I always tell them, spend more time online. Certainly ask your realtor about the different neighborhoods. Drive through the different neighborhoods. What’s even more frustrating than that, Steve, is when they want to see a house, you take them, meet them at that house, and they don’t even like the neighborhood. They’re not even really ready to buy, so now you’ve really wasted a lot of time. At least, if it’s something that you’re very, very interested in, maybe you have a shot at writing up an offer contingent on your house selling. Not very likely in a market like we’re experiencing today, but you might have a chance to pull that off. Just to randomly go and have the agent show you property when you haven’t even done your due diligence of checking out—does it back up to a road? Where is it located? That’s a lot of time wasted.
Steve Pomeranz: What about going and visiting open houses?
Terry Story: That’s an excellent, excellent way to learn areas and neighborhoods. That’s one reason why we hold open houses. Open houses, a lot of the people coming through open houses, they’re in a situation where they’re really not quite ready to pull the trigger, and that’s why they’re going to the open houses is they don’t want to engage a realtor at this time because they haven’t put their home up for sale, they don’t have their money all yet, but they’re just trying to educate themselves on the marketplace.
Steve Pomeranz: Right. Got it. Hey, let’s change gears here. We only have about two minutes left. I’m going to take you and talk to you about some information that you’ve given to me about banks now ramping up the push for home equity loans. Do you want to take a moment to get to that?
Terry Story: Yes.
Steve Pomeranz: I mean is this something that you’re involved in or is this something that just generally people should be aware of in the real estate market?
Terry Story: Yeah, it’s more of an awareness. For example, TD Bank is really pushing for these equity lines of credit because the market’s actually dried up for them for new mortgages. A lot of people are paying cash and they’re finding ways to get the money flowing out there. We’re now, it’s been since 2006, a lot of people have grown equity in their homes since the downfall. As a matter of fact, lenders extended $156 billion in home equity lines of credit last year. TD Bank, for example, is going to hardware stores with a van and trying to get people to come on board and take out applications for home equity line of credit.
Steve Pomeranz: Oh, gosh, that sounds so scary to me.
Terry Story: They’re crazy.
Steve Pomeranz: Look, I remember when they were giving away money at prime minus 2 percent way back when.
Terry Story: I know.
Steve Pomeranz: You remember that?
Terry Story: The good old days.
Steve Pomeranz: With no closing costs or anything like that for a home equity line of credit.
Terry Story: You just had to sign on the dotted line.
Steve Pomeranz: That’s it.
Terry Story: No questions asked.
Steve Pomeranz: You got it. I don’t even know that they sent out an appraiser or anything like that. Then that all shut down completely for so many years, and now it’s ramped back up, and now it sounds to me like we’re getting back, not totally, of course, I’m sure the banks are being more careful.
Terry Story: I’m sure they’re being very cautious dealing out the equity loans.
Steve Pomeranz: At least, they’re sending out someone to appraise the property.
Terry Story: At least do a drive-by, make sure the house exists.
Steve Pomeranz: Right. The idea is that money is getting looser in the real estate market and that’s good for real estate and good for real estate sales, right?
Terry Story: Sure, absolutely. Renovation to houses and that just adds more values to the homes.
Steve Pomeranz: There you go. It’s all good.
Terry Story: All good.
Steve Pomeranz: It’s all good. My guest, as always, is Terry Story. Terry is a 26-year veteran with Coldwell Banker located in Boca Raton, Florida and can be found at terrystory.com. Thanks, Terry.
Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.