Monday, March 26, 2007

What's up with sub-prime loans?

Do I need a sub-prime loan? Will I still be able to buy a house? Are these questions you've been asking yourself?

Did you see the heart attack the stock market experienced last month around subprime loan problems? So many people, including myself before, sat there staring at the TV wondering, "what is a sub-prime loan?" The answer is very simple, it's a loan other than prime. "WOW! Thanks for the tip Sarge!!" I know, I know, it sounded like a rather dumb answer huh? Well, sub-prime loans are given to folks that don't qualify for a prime loan. People who have bad credit, or maybe not very good credit, people who don't have money for down payments, etc. A lot of times these loans are made to people who shouldn't really have a home loan. Many more sub-prime loans go into default than prime loans. Because of this sub-prime lenders usually have higher marketing costs due to unaccepted applications, defaults, etc. Sub-prime loans usually come with higher interest rates, fee's, and expenses when closing on such a loan to help the lender recoup some of it's losses.

Unfortunately too many sub-prime loans have went into default lately which has caused an accordion effect throughout the stock markets sub-prime lenders. Causing some of them to even stop taking applications and possibly looking at future bankruptcy. This caused a ripple effect in the mortgage lending community and even got the federal reserves attention. Some experts believe that the fed will lower interest rates in the future. Which means, if they lower rates on the money they loan banks then banks can lower rates on the money they loan us. In short, it's a good thing for those of us who don't have sub-prime loan problems.

So will the sub-prime loan crisis affect you getting a loan? Yea, a little bit. The loan requirements are becoming more stringent on the mortgage brokers and banks alike. But if you have good credit and qualified for a prime loan before you should be ok now. But please, don't take my word for it, consult an expert in the mortgage field. I'm a Realtor remember?

As a side note before I leave you; do you think when you buy a house it's really yours? If so, try and not make, say about, 3 payments, then see who really owns the house? Not you! The mortgage company. Don't' know what that has to do with anything here but I just wanted to share that.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Driving 101 for Mississppians!!

Why is it that people in Mississippi just don't seem to understand traffic signals and laws? In short, why can't they drive? I'm sure I'll step on the nerves of a few with this blog but at the same time I'm sure anyone who lives here will agree with me. So without further ado, let me begin my class on how to follow traffic signals, some laws, and just ole plan courtesy to other drivers.

This first part is going to be just a bunch of questions because I don't really have any answers for why people do these things.

Why do people stop at yield signs, but not at stop signs? Why do people slow down when approaching a green light as if they anticipate it may one day turn yellow? Why do they try to merge on the interstate at 35 mph? Why do that not use the merge lanes provided throughout the city? Instead they rather stop and wait for all traffic to stop moving. Why do people stop at blinking caution lights, but not blinking red ones? Since when is it ok for two people to ride side by side on a four lane road at 15mph below the speed limit? By the way, if I'm behind you and you do this, I won't hesitate to use the turning lane to pass you. I think you should get the ticket for impeding traffic, not me for passing illegally. Of course any cop wouldn't agree with me. Show some courtesy to the other drivers and move into the "I like to drive slow lane." Why do people who drive slow speed up when you try to pass them? Chances are I'm going to drive faster than you, let me pass. And why do they speed up and follow you once you do pass them? You wanted to drive slow before, don't try to use me as your blocker. If you do this to me on the interstate, trust me, we will be driving really fast. I won't hesitate to do well over a 100mph to get you to stop following me. And hey, if a cop does clock me, he's going to see you right behind me and pull us both over. It won't be my first speeding ticket, probably not my last either. Why does everyone slow down to 60 mph on I-10 between exit the I-110 and exit 50 for Ocean Springs? Who are these people who do these things? Everyone I talk to about this complains about the same things. How can everyone complain about? Then who is actually doing it?
Now some actual tips.

A blinking caution light means proceed with caution, NOT STOP!!
A blinking red light DOES MEAN STOP!!!
If a light is green do not slow down because you think it may turn yellow sometime today.
If you notice you are driving the same speed as the person next to you and there are people behind you, MOVE INTO THE SLOW LANE!!!
Use merging lanes to MERGE, not stop and look at traffic!!
When you enter an on ramp to get on the interstate, speed up to interstate speeds so you can merge properly, THATS WHY THE ON RAMPS ARE SO LONG!!!
I'm done for now. I'm sure someone will bash me, some will have more to ad. But at least I feel better since I got to vent. Take care.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why should I buy a house? Let me explain!!!

So you've finally reached that point in your life have you? That point were you're debating on buying a house, but you're not quite sure why you should? I'd first like to commend you on your wise choice, you will not regret it I assure you. So why should you buy a house? I sometimes like to answer questions with questions. So my question to you is, would you take your hard earned money and do like my friend here is doing? Of course not!! What you may not realize however is this is exactly what you are doing when you rent a home or apartment.

Do you ever feel like you go to work just to pay bills? You're stuck in the rat race that life has taught you is normal. You go to work, make money, and pay your bills, that's what we are taught in school. And usually our parents tell us, you're young, have fun. Yea that's great, but how about someone teach us how to use our money? I use to think my problem was not making enough money, I learned it was how I spent the money I made, that was my problem. And one of the biggest positive turns I made was to stop renting and buy my own house. I know we are taught as children and young adults that owning a house is for the rich or whatever it is people say that makes you think it is some unobtainable goal. I assure you it isn't. But what are you really doing when you rent a home? Let's explore that.

For rent? Good for me, bad for you! Why? When you rent a home you are actually making some Real Estate Investor a lot of money. If you don't understand how rent works let me briefly explain. Basically some Real Estate Investor somewhere has decided that he needs to make X amount of money every month on the home you rent in order to actually make a profit. That X amount is your rent. So what does your rent actually do? Well it pays for the mortgage payment on the house, taxes, insurance, maintenance fee, management, etc, while still leaving money left over to put money in his pocket every month. At least that is what should be happening if it's a smart investor. That's the whole point of investing, to make money. I know because I too have investment properties. When you moved in your probably had to pay a pretty healthy security deposit didn't you? Oh, and first months rent right? Do you realize that for that amount you could have probably paid your closing costs on purchasing a new home? But we want get into all the particulars of buying a home today, we are just concerned with why to buy? So on top of paying all this money you also had to sign a lease with the landlord that said what you can and can not do in the home. Great!!!! You just paid someone to tell you how to live. Congratulations!!
Okay, now why should you buy? Well you can actually buy a home for much less a month, normally, than you can rent a house for; remember, those guys you rent from have all the fees they have to make sure are paid. As a home buyer you wouldn't have to worry about management and miscellaneous fees. But of course you do have to pay for taxes, insurance, and the mortgage of course. But the beauty is, you pay less a month for the same quality of living you had before, and maybe even better, and it's yours to do with as you wish. If you want to put a fence up, go ahead!! Don't like that wall in the kitchen, knock it down!! It's yours. Think the master bedroom would look much better if it were purple and green, I don't happen to agree, but go ahead paint it!!! The point is, it's yours. And another great thing about owning a home is appreciation. That means that the home goes up in value every year so when you do decide to move, you don't just give the landlord his keys back, you sell and put money in your pocket. Now how great is that?
Please remember, there are many things to consider when purchasing a home so do yourself a favor and contact a good Realtor to help you through the process. Especially if it's your first home purchase. Take care and good luck out there!

The Sarge's Home Buying Quick Guide.

So you've decided to buy a home have you? Great idea! Just don't be like my lady friend here and blow it out your..... you know. In order to help you I've decided to take the time to give you some advice on what to look for. Of course there will inevitably be things I forget to mention so, all my Realtor buddies out there please feel free to comment and leave other advise for the readers. Thanks. Let's begin.

These are in no particular order with the exception of the first one.

1) Hire a Realtor- Seriously folks, this is without a doubt the best piece of advice I can give you. These people do nothing all day but study the market, stay current on home values, and help people find the perfect home for them. When you arm's broke you go to the doctor right? When your car breaks down you go see a mechanic? And when you're buying a home you go see a Realtor. It should be that easy.

But wait, you would rather find the home yourself than pay a Realtor to help you right? Wait this just in!! We now send it to Jimmy a Realtor in Another Place, MS with a breaking story. What do you have for the folks at home Jimmy? Well Mister and Misses home buyer, YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY THE REALTOR!! They work for you for free!! Back to you Sarge. Thanks Jimmy.

Well folks this is usually the case because we make the seller pay us the commission. Ah, but you are still too good for all that. You know the market, you seen 3 houses sell in your neighborhood since you started rented that house in 1995. You know all about real estate. You don't need no stinkin Realtor to help you? I know me personally I wouldn't hire a Realtor if I was buying a home here in Biloxi or Ocean Springs; wait, that's because I am a Realtor here in Biloxi and Ocean Springs. How about I just tell you what you need to look for.

First off, if you are looking for a home on your own chances are you are trying to exploit the for-sale-by-owner group. I warn you to be careful. There are two main types of people who use FSBO signs. The first, novice home sellers who think they can save a buck by not using a Realtor. This people usually have no idea what the heck they are doing so I hope you do. Second and the most dangerous is the Real Estate Investor. I assure you, these people no exactly what they are doing and they will screw you over by any means necessary to put another dollar in their pocket. Be careful.

But you are still not convinced to hire a Realtor so let's try to educate you and hopefully save you some heartache.

1) Get Pre-approved- Well if you are going to tackle this on your own I would definitely suggest first knowing how much home can you afford. Go talk to a local bank or broker and get pre-qaulified for a home loan. This way you will know exactly what price range to look in. You could literally wastes weeks of your free time finding the perfect home only to find you can't afford it. That can be extremely frustrating. Talk to a professional who can help you understand the expenses of home ownership such as principle, interest, taxes, and insurance. Believe you me, insurance can be a back breaker on the Gulf Coast.

2) Location, location, LOCATION!!!!- Where do you feel comfortable living? Do you know the area? I can't tell you how many people I hear say things like " I wish I would have known about that area" or "I wish I would have realized how far away I was from everything when I bought this house," or " I love the house but I hate the bugs we have here all year round, I don't even like to walk outside." And believe me there are hundreds more things like this people say. Take time to think about the things that are important to you such as: the drive time to work; where's Wal-Mart, everyone has to be close to Wal-Mart right?; where will the kids attend school; etc. Believe me, no matter how much you like a home, if it's not in the right location you will end up resenting the fact you purchased it.

MAN!! Has anyone seen my soapbox?? I just put it down. Ah, there it is. Let me get back on this thing for a second. Can everyone see and hear me? Good. "If you would have hired a Realtor they probably could have helped you with this!!" Ok, I'm done.

3) Sellers disclosure- As a Marine Instructor there is one rule we all follow, Students lie!! As a home buyer you need to know the same is true of sellers.

By the way, do you like the thumbs down guy? He has no real relevance here, but I think he's pretty cool. What do you think? Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

Make sure the seller gives you one of these; they probably have no idea what it is. This is a little piece of paper that tells you, the potential buyer, everything that is pertinent to the home. How old it is. How it's constructed. Any damages such as flood or hurricane. Things that stay with the home when sold. Things that don't stay. And other very important information you need to know. It's also the law that they provide this to you and the seller can be sued if they intentionally lied to you to help sell their home to you.

4) Home Inspection- This is the last thing I'll leave you with.The reason being is I could make a book, not a blog, on buying a home. In fact there is one. If you forget to do everything else during the buying process, do not forget this step. Have the home inspected by a professional. This could save you thousands in home repairs after you purchase.

In summary, buying a home isn't child's play. Do your research. Make buying your home a great experience and avoid the possible nightmare. If all else fails and you realize it's more than you thought it was, hire yourself a good Realtor to help you out. Good luck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cut the commission off the top and sell FSBO!!!

WOW!!! I actually had this conversation today, with a professional man none the less. He actually said to me, "ah, if I sell I'll just do for sale by owner and cut the 6% commission of my asking price." HUH?? WH?? HOW??? ,...... huh??? Now in what universe does this make sense? (if you know please immediately dial 228 238 7138 and explain.) I was, excuse the slag here, bamboozled. (serious head scratching going on, slight brain overload) So I asked him a simple question. What would be the advantage of not hiring a Realtor then? He says, "well, I think you guys make too much money." Okay. My next question. What is your marketing plan? How would you advertise your house? "You know, probably throw a FSBO sign in the front yard, maybe run an ad in the paper." I then proceeded to explain to him how home buyers love to use Realtors, you know, because they don't actually have to pay the Realtor, the seller does. And most people have enough common sense to realize they don't know as much about real estate as they need to know in order to make an informed decision on a home purchase. Therefore, about 90% (a # I pulled out of thin air, I have no proof to back that) of buyers are working with Realtors. So by cutting your asking price in order to "cut-out" the Realtor fees, you really cut out a LARGE number of potential buyers. He then continued to try to validate his position on why he was right and I was wrong. Some battles just aren't worth fighting. So I left him with my card and told him to call me when he needs help selling his home.
This guy just didn't get it. Do you? If not, call me. Let's talk about why a Realtor is important.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pimp the government, use Section 8 to make YOU money!!

What's that you say? You don't believe you can? I say hogwash!! I do it every month and it works GRRRRRREATTTTT!!!! But everyone said, "avoid these people like the plague!!" But I know what you're thinking, my uncle Jim said "these people will destroy your house and break your wallet." He said " avoid them like the real estate plague, don't do it!!" You probably respond with "yea, you're right. I just need to do something different." And let's face it, he is the real estate expert, I mean, shoot, he owns 8-10..... wait.... no, he doesn't own any real estate investment homes does he? Instead of acting on your "bad" idea, you do nothing, go home, eat dinner and go to bed, wake up tomorrow and go to the same old job you hated yesterday. All because the real estate expert Uncle Jim said not to take a risk. I mean, let's be honest, he know's what he's talking about doesn't he; he's 68 and in 10 yrs, if everything goes according to his paln, he can retire. So ask yourself this; why are you listening to "the expert?"
Do you know?

Now of course Section 8 is nothing but low life people who do nothing but mess up everything, especially real estate, right? Wrong!!! Just like any other tenants in the world, some are good, some are bad. You just have to screen them properly. I have a tenant right now that I wouldn't trade for any other tenant out there. She keeps the house clean, takes care of the place, and pays me (her portion) on time every month. I'll take two more of her if I can find them.
So how do we make money fly out of the governments posterior orfice and into your bank account? It's SO easy. The first step is buying a real estate investment property. Now don't think you can go buy a $300k home and think you can rent it out for $6500 a month and make mad money. Sorry, real estate isn't quit that good, not when you're dealing with single family homes anyway. But what can you expect?
Section 8 bases their numbers off of fair market rent values in the area. So in Pascagoula its around $900-950 mth; Gautier $1050-1100; Ocean Springs $1100-1200. If you buy a real estate investment at a good price, you can put a little change in your pocket every month. The best thing is it's gauranteed money!!
If you want to know more, feel free to contact me.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Biloxi and Ocean Springs Real Estate.

Ok Biloxi, pull up a chair. You too Ocean Springs, grab a chair. Let's talk about everyone's favorite subject, MONEY!! Sit back and relax while I serve you up a nice dinner of "it's ok" when it comes to Biloxi and Ocean Springs real estate. Will finish the night with a delicious side of overall market analysis. How has Katrina affected housing prices? How much are houses in demand now? Has the market cooled off? What about the "real estate bubble" that has busted? It's all over the news. Shouldn't I be worried? These are a few of the questions we will address now.

It's true that in many areas of the country the housing market has slowed dramatically. Why is this? Well, it's because the value of real estate in these areas has been increasing too fast, drastically exceeding inflation rates. But in Biloxi and Ocean Springs this just it isn't so. Our housing market isn't drastically over inflated. So what does this mean for you? It means so can breathe a breath of fresh air. It's safe to buy a home here, you don't have to worry about the real estate bubble everyone is panicking over, you're not in an over inflated market. The only time we were even close was right after Katrina, when housing was so limited and those with money were willing to pay just about anything for a house. Now supply is good, prices are fair, and homes are selling. In February, there were around 70 or so homes sold in Biloxi and Ocean Springs alone.

Now the not so good news. Has the market cooled off a little? Sure it has. Why? Well it's a couple things. First, Katrina was a factor. Right after Katrina, if you wanted a house, you better have be in your car on the way to a house the minute it hit the market; believe me, if you weren't 12 other people were. Houses were moving like crack on the corner of "Tanked Ave" and "Stone Cr." The markets cooled a bit since then. A good, fair priced home, usually will sell within 60-90 days. The next factor is the time of year. Two things happened to real estate simultaneously here in Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The first was the cooling from Katrina. The second was the same thing that happens every year, Fall and Winter. It's just a fact of life that around these times the market cools. For one, who likes to shop when it's cold and gloomy outside? I don't. Unless of course Sergeant Real Estate is your agent and you like the cold. Another thing is school? I know what you're thinking, how does school affect home sales? It all really makes perfect sense. Who is the biggest buyer of homes? Families right? And what do families usually have? Kids! And where do kids go from Fall to Spring? School. So therefore a lot of families don't like to move during these times because it affects the kids.
In short, don't be worried about buying a house here. It's ok!
Blog Done. Carry On!!

Friday, March 2, 2007

What is real estate? Real property? Personal property?

So what is Real Estate? That's a fair question to ask. Well, real estate really is the piece of land you own and everything that is physically connected to it, whether natural or artificial. I think we all kinda knew that. But did you know that it doesn't just stop there? To be specific there are 4 types of rights that can be bought, sold, leased or transferred; Surface, Air, Subsurface, and Water. When you buy a piece of real estate you own the land below, known as subsurface (mineral) rights, the air above your real estate, known as air rights, and some of the water touching your property. But sometimes you may not own these, it really depends on what the deed to your house says. Some of the reasons maybe things like; BP owns the rights to the oil under your home. And believe me, if you're thinking you can just go tell planes to stop flying over your house at 30,000 ft because you don't like the little cloud it leaves behind, think again. The government beat you to it, they say if it doesn't interfere with your bundle of legal rights (which we will discuss in a second) then it's ok for them to use the air space.

So what is real property? Well it's anything physically attached to the land? I know what you're thinking, isn't that real estate? Ah ha my fine man, you're quick. Yes often times the two words are used interchangeably. But let's be a little more specific on this one. Real property is all the things physically attached to your real estate plus your bundle of legal rights. Then naturally the next question is, what is this bundle of legal rights? Let's take a look.

1) Right of Possession- pretty much you own the property and are allowed to occupy it.

2) Right to Control the property in any manner you see fit, as long as you don't break laws. You can pretty much do anything you want to your house as long as you don't break laws; like you can't turn it into an ice cream parlor because that breaks zoning laws.

3) Right of Enjoyment- use the property in any manner which is still legal. No you can't turn your new home into this years biggest crystal meth lab. Sorry!!

4) Right of Exclusion- this means if you don't like me, you have the right to tell me to stay of your land. But you can't go shooting at me just because I knocked on your door.

5) Right of Disposition- basically this means you have the right to dispose of the property in anyway you see fit. You can sell it, will it, sell some of the rights, etc.

Okay, now let's look at some example of real property. The most obvious of these is the home itself. If you have a shed in the back, it's real property. The cabinets you put in last year, that's real property cuz it's physically attached to the home. That seems like a no brainer too, but believe me, people have tried to take their cherry oak cabinets with them. You laugh, it's true. Remember that antic crystal chandelier you got from your late grandma, you know the one hanging in the foyer, that's real property too now. So whats not real property? That fridge of yours that slides out easily, it's not real property because it's easily removable. The trees in the backyard, real estate. You're TV, not real estate, you kinda get the picture now?

So what's personal property? How does it differ from real property? It's anything that would transfer with you if you left the house. Your car, your bed, your food, anything that isn't physically attached. Remember that chandelier, the one that was real property. What happens to it if you take the down? Now it becomes personal property, pretty cool huh? What about that 100 acres of trees in the back yard. They were real property. What happens when you cut them down? Now they are personal property and you can do anything with them you want. In the real estate world we call this severance.

Let's look at the flip side. Let's imagine you've decided to put down a drive way in your yard. So first you go down to the local home supply store and buy cement to put down the drive way. By the way, as a side note, why do we park on a drive way and drive on a park way? I just don't get it. Anyway, I digress. Now I think we can all agree now that the cement is personal property but guess what it becomes when you lay the drive way down? That's right, real property. In real estate we call this annexation.

Well this concludes today's lesson.

Blog done. Carry on!!