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In our market, a FROG in your house is actually a really good thing.  In real estate terms, a FROG means “family room over the garage” 

How many of you out there honestly knew what this abbreviation meant?  Many real estate agents & brokers don’t even know what a frog is?

Being able to decipher real estate abbreviations & terms has always been a funny, frustrating problem for many home buyers.

“Newer CC style home, 3BR, 1.5BA, WBFP, new A/C with a large FROG, no bsmt and only 209K” Can  anyone  please translate what I just typed here? heh, heh, heh.

Years ago, selling homes via classified ads in the back of newspapers and magazines was common place. But, now traditional real estate agents use other marketing venues, especially the Internet.  So, the good news is that heavy use of vague real estate terms, abbreviations and euphemisms in real estate marketing is on the decline.  But, abbreviations and euphemisms are still a problem in real estate that the homebuyer needs to be educated on. 

Before I give you more important information on this problem, take a quick second and review our award winning TV commercial (SOB) below about the abbreviation problems in real estate.

I hope you enjoyed our funny commercial. You can click here if you would like to view our entire TV commercial series.

Now, back to the important information that you need to know!  Our professional trade organization, “National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents” (NAEBA) recently released an excellent home buyer informational report; “2008 Report on Home Buying Euphemisms and Lingo-How to read between the lines when you’re shopping for a home”

(you will need to have adobe software on your computer to view/print report.  Click here if you would like to download the free adobe reader)

For years, I’ve told my clients that you have to be able to read between the lines when you are looking for a home.  The information about the home on the main listing page usually has misleading descriptions.

For example:

Needs a little TLC or fixer upper…………really means the house is a dump and hasn’t been updated at all.

Cozy, cute home……………..really means the home is so small that it is difficult to turn around in. 

Great landscaping, beautiful yard……………..really means the house is a piece of crap, but the seller has to found something positive about their house.   

Damp basement in the spring…………really means we usually get 2-3 feet water in our basement once a year.

Sometimes sellers think minimizing problems in their listing descriptions, like, “damp basement” will protect them from getting sued for non-disclosure.  I don’t think so!

One last tidbit of information for you.  Many times in the listing description you will see the words “many updates” or “mechanical’s updated”.   The problem is how do you define recently “updated”.  My personal definition of “updated” is anything that has been done in the last 5 years.

You really have to be careful when you see a sellers and/or listing agents that uses “many updates” in the listing description.  I had one personal experience where a listing agent stated that the roof was recently updated.  After evaluating the home with my buyer client, It appeared to me that the roof had some prominent signs of aging (lost granuales, slight peeling/curling of roof shingles, etc.) and didn’t really look like the roof was recently updated.  I contacted the listing agent for additional information and/or paperwork on the roof.  The listing agent provided documentation that the roof was nearly 9 1/2 years old.

I asked the agent how they could describe a nearly 10 year old roof as recently updated.  The listing agent’s explanation was that the new roof’s expected life expectancy was somewhere between 20-25 years and since the roof was still less than “half old” that they felt they could list the roof as recently updated.

Geez, are you kidding me! So again, be very careful when you see these words.  You always want to make sure you have a full home inspection completed by a qualifed home inspector.  Your Buyer Broker should also always ask for copies of receipts and/or invoices of any recent updates.

These are just a few of the funny, informative listing descriptions that you will find in the “Home Buying Euphemisms and Lingo report”.  There are 50+ listing descpritions in this report that will help you understand the lingo when review listing information.  But, remember your best protection is to have an Exclusive (True) Buyer Broker representing you.

If you thought this blog post was helpful, then you should also check out the “Problem With Staging Homes” blog post.  Both articles deal with the same general topic. 

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Last week there was a great article in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, “Independent Title Agents Sue”.  A group of small, independent title agents is petitioning the Ohio Supreme Court to STOP real estate brokers, banks, mortgage companies from steering business to affiliated title companies.

In a nutshell, the independent title agents are suing the Ohio Department of Insurance for failure to protect the consumer and to enforce state laws against what it calls “the spread of kickbacks and referral schemes in the real estate industry” (aka, affiliated business relationships).

Good news, Ohio law prohibits banks, real estate brokers and mortgage companies from being licensed title agencies.  But, since 1974 the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) has allowed affiliated business relationships.  In my opinion, overall RESPA has been great legislation that has helped protect the consumer.  But, RESPA really dropped the ball in regards to affiliated business relationships.

Let’s hope the independent title agents will be successful with their lawsuit.  I will keep you updated with future blog posts.  “Affiliated business relationships” are really bad for the consumer.  These relationships raise the cost of many title company fees with no benefits to the consumer.

In my opinion, if this lawsuit wins it could really open an “ugly door” into our state departments and agencies that are set up to monitor and regulate many industries, such as real estate, lending, financial securities and insurance.

The “average Joe citizen” would think these agencies are set up to protect the consumer.  But, in many times, the actions and decisions of these agencies have worked to protect the industry that they are monitoring more so than protecting the consumer.

We have been mixing “big business industry” with politics for years.  This has fostered an environment of “sleeping with the enemy” and/or “the fox is guarding the chicken coop”.

This is a dangerous mix of power, control and greed that has been dormant for a long time.  If this lawsuit is successful, hopefully it will expose other agencies and open up a lot more questions.

If you can’t tell by now, I am no proponent of “one stop shopping”.  The problems of affiliated business agreements are just a smaller component of the entire “one stop shopping” farce.

There is only ONE reason why big banks, insurance companies and/or real estate firms offer you the convenience of one stop shopping and that is profit and greed.  It will almost never be in your best interest to make a major financial decision on one stop shopping.

If you need to buy or sell a home in Central Ohio and you are thinking about using the largest real estate broker in our market to help with everything (real estate transaction, new loan, home warranty, title services, etc.) then you need to be really careful.  As Dr. Phil would say, “You need to get REAL” (or not real, if you know what I mean).

You need to do research and work to be a smart, informed consumer.  Shop around, make phone calls, get multiple estimates or quotes.  If you do your research you will make the best informed decision and you will be better off financially.

In my opinion, there has always been a public perception that the real estate industry has been notorious for kickback schemes and unethical referral arrangements.  Eliminating or better monitoring of affiliated business relationships/agreements will be a good start toward improving our public perception.  Let’s hope the Ohio Supreme Court can do the right thing! 

After we fix affiliated business relationships we will move onto stopping one stop shopping. heh, heh, heh!

Here are some related links:

Ohio Department of Insurance

Ohio Department of Commerce (Real Estate, Mortgage & Financial Securities)

Division of Financial Institutions

Division of Real Estate

Division of Securities

Be careful out there!

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

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HomeBuyer Advocate Mike


Representing People, NOT Property in Columbus, Ohio. If you are a home buyer, then you need me to protect you. I can help you get the best price and terms for your next home purchase. You must use a true Buyer Broker! 1.614.805.7607

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