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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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Warning!

Warning!

The volatile, toxic nature of manufacturing “meth” makes it a very serious health issue.  For every pound of methamphetamine (crank) manufactured there is six pounds of toxic waste and residue left behind.  In addition to the hazardous waste concerns, the making of “crank” in a drug lab is highly susceptible to explosions and fires.  Trust me, you don’t want to be living in a former drug lab home or even near a drug lab.  It is not going to be very good for your safety, home appreciation or resale value.

It would definitely be nice to make sure your new home wasn’t a former drug lab for Meth.  The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) thinks the same way.  This is why they have started the National Clandenstine Labortary Register, a great web site that will allow you to look up houses in your state that have been identified as meth labs.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is still trying to set guidelines & procedures on how to deal with drug lab homes.  It seems NAR can’t figure out how to properly disclose drug homes and/or how to set standards for cleaning up drug homes.  As of August 2008 NAR has no policy in place to deal with this issue.

So, take a second to review the registry to see if your new dream home was a former drug home.  While your looking, you also might want to check other addresses of family members, friends, co-workers, etc.   Lucky for us, it appears the higher concentration of drug homes are located in the southern states.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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After years of failed attempts, it finally looks like we will have some licensing regulations in place for Home Inspectors in the State of Ohio by 2009.  House bill (HB) 257 recently passed the Ohio House of Representatives by a wide margin (83-11).  The bill will be reviewed by the Ohio Senate later this year when the legislature reconvenes after the November 4th election.

With all the problems in the last few years in real estate, it would be “political suicide” for any political official (wink, wink Gov. Ted Strickland) not to pass some positive legislation.  Legislation designed to regulate & license Ohio’s home inspection industry is long over due.

For too long, any “Joe Schmoe” could print up a business card on their home computer and start a home inspection business.  Because of this reason, there are inexperienced, unqualified inspectors in our area.  This is a problem for a potential home buyer.  The problems we have had in the home inspection industry are really “small potatoes” compared to all the other major problems in real estate (lenders, fraud, greed, non-disclosure, foreclosures, etc.).  But, this is a good thing.  This means legislation will probably get passed in the State of Ohio.

The new Home Inspection Licensing will probably include the following provisions:

1.  Criminal penalties for performing home inspections without a license.

2.  Creation of a process for investigating complaints filed against inspectors.

3.  Creation of the Ohio Home Inspection Board to regulate the industry.

4.  Creating minimum standards and guidelines for performing inspections.

Hopefully our state legislature will have the home inspection bill passed soon.  I am confident that home buyers in 2009 will have the protection of home inspection regulation and licensing.
Home Inspector

Home Inspector

Check out my previous past about “Home Inspection Nightmares”.  This blog post also has good links to find qualified home inspectors in your area via The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI)

Good luck out there!

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Last week, The Homebuyer’s Advocate Blog was used as a reference for a  good article in the Columbus Dispatch by Jim Woods – Moldy Home Cost Builder $3 Million.

 

Jim put out a thorough follow up article about the moldy Maronda house and resulting lawsuit that has been in the news for the past few months. 

 

Our very popular blog post (over 500 views) in late February reported on the same Maronda issue – Maronda Home Verdict Cost Nearly $3.2 Million.

 

I especially liked the way Jim “touched” on the Reynoldsburg Building Department signing off the home.

 

The house passes all building code requirements, but yet the south side of the house was not attached to the foundation and was inadequately attached on the other three sides.  This was hilarious and sad all at the same time.

 

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person reading this article and saying “hmmm, how does that happen?”

 

How new homes pass building inspections & get occupancy permits is a mystery to most consumers & home owners.

 

I think the Columbus Dispatch has the start of whole other investigative exposé

 

I’ve heard many stories from experienced home inspectors that talk about the same problems and issues with homes passing building inspections.

 

For example, a home can pass plumbing & electrical inspections but yet have water leaks and no working lights.  There are two main reasons why these problems sometimes happen with building inspections.  First, many building inspectors just check to make sure homes are built to the correct specs, materials, items, hardware, clearances, etc.  As long as a home is built to the correct specs and material it could possibly pass a building inspection.  The second main reason why bad homes pass building inspections is human error.  This happens even in spite of pressurized plumbing checks and other tests on mechanical systems.

 

I think it is about time to stop beating a dead horse.  It is time to move past the issues of some new home builders in Central Ohio, like Maronda and Dominion homes. (Another Builder Casualty)  The last few years, their issues have been thoroughly documented in every type of media & press publication.  If you are an informed home buyer in Central Ohio then this is all old news.

 

The key phrase above is “if you are an informed home buyer“.  I’ve been an Exclusive (true) Buyer Broker since 1996.  I only represent residential and investor buyers.  I’m sorry to say that the definition of a truly informed home buyer varies greatly.  In most situations, a home buyer will spend only a few minutes researching the home buying process on the Internet sandwiched in between their favorite TV shows, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.  In one short evening a potential home buyer thinks they have thoroughly researched everything they need to know about the home buying process.

 

The reason this occurs so frequently is because researching on how to find the best representation possible for a home buyer is not fun and feels too much like work.  Home Buyers just want to look at beautiful pictures of fabulous homes.

 

The first and most important decision a home buyer needs to make is who will represent them, NOT which home they buy or what builder to use.  An Exclusive Buyer Broker (EBA) is the highest and best representation possible for any home buyer.  Would an EBA been able to protect the buyer that purchased the moldy Maronda home.  Maybe, yes or no.  There are no 100% guarantees in life.  A  true Buyer Broker (EBA) isn’t  always going to be a “Knight in Shining Armor”.  But, we are the best base or foundation of having a successful home buying transaction.

 

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

 

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 This is a great article from This Old House Magazine.  “Dealing with Household Disasters” is a funny, useful & informative article.  You will enjoy scrolling through the ten household disasters. 

My favorites are #6 and #8.  I’m sorry to say, that item #6 has happened to me a couple times.  “Does anyone want to use my cell phone?”

Lastly, item  #8 is a common problem/question that is often asked by my clients.  No one wants a John “Bluto” Blutarsky as a neighbor.  You always want to remember that “fences make the best neighbors”

Wow, it has been 30 years since the movie “Animal House” was released.  Hard to believe it was that long ago,  I am going to put everyone on double secret probation.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Forbes.com just released their top 10 “up and coming” tech cities in the USA.  Columbus, Ohio was ranked as the #1 up and coming high technology city in the USA.  I’m sure many people were surprised to see Columbus at the top of the list.  Two major reasons why Columbus leads this list.  Number one, Columbus is home to one of the largest universities in the world – The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!).  Number two, Battelle Memorial Institute has been based in Columbus, Ohio since 1932.  Battelle Memorial Institute is the state’s largest research center.  This is great news for Central Ohio.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

 

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On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, a couple in Franklin County Court won a jury verdict against Maronda Homes for nearly 3.2 million dollars.  The couple, Roman and Jennifer Cosner alleged that Maronda Homes knowingly sold them a defective home.  The jury verdict in favor of the homeowners stated that Maronda Homes did sell a defective home and that Maronda was aware of that fact.  Maronda acted in an “unfair, deceptive or unconscionable” manner.

Maronda has always had a reputation for building the biggest square footage home possible at the lowest price.  No other local production home builder can even come close to the price and square footage of Maronda Homes.  There is usually a reason why this happens.   It is not really complicated.  Home owners should stop being so naive.  You buy the lowest priced “anything” and you are going to have problems.  I don’t care if you buying a new home, a toilet seat or a widget.  You get what you pay for!!!!  Like many home builders, Maronda has had it’s fair share of unresolved consumer complaints.

In my opinion, this could be landmark case for new home builders.  The jury ruling in this case has now set a precedent for all future, similar cases.  I would be really curious to see how this affects the policies and procedures of other builders in our area.  I bet many builders are now “scrambling” to figure out how to adjust their business practices to deal with this jury verdict.  

I’m glad the home owner had won their court case.  But, I guarantee you, that they probably didn’t use an Exclusive Buyer Agent to help them purchase their new built home.  If they had the proper Buyer Broker representation looking out for their best interest then this problem probably would not have happened.  As consumers we have to be accountable for our bad decisions or lack of…..

Stay tuned for future posts on this topic.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike
Representing People, NOT Property!

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Finally a good article that fully explains everything the consumer needs to know about buyer agents.  Broderick Perkins with deadlinenews.com has put out one of the best articles that I could find explaining the differences among “so called” buyer agents.  Fake Buyer Agents have always been a problem for the average home buyer.  Hopefully, similar articles will follow in the future.  Watch out and good luck out there!

 

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Another builder is leaving the central Ohio market.  Beazer announced on Friday, February 1st that they will stop building new homes in the Columbus, Ohio market.  New home builders have really been affected by the real estate slow down.  Beazer is the second major new home builder to pull out of our market in the last year.  Last Summer, Centex homes stopped building in our area. 

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

 

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As an Exclusive (true) Buyer Agent since 1996, I have had to consistently deal with the false manipulation of real estate statistics by real estate agents that is often encouraged by our local real estate board and multiple listings service (MLS).  Recently the “days on the market” (DOM) statsitic has been in the news lately because multiple listing services in other parts of the country (for example, Southern California) are debating on removing DOM from reports that home buyers view.

 A quote from the SoCalMLS (Southern California Multiple Listing Service) online newsletter, “the bottom line is that you, the real estate professional are in the best position to explain to your customer-buyer or seller-what the true DOM figure is and what it means”.  Part of this quote is true, you need to use an exclusive buyer broker that you trust to help explain the pros and cons of ALL real estate statistics.  But one thing I’ve learned from being a buyer broker is that you have to be able to “read between the lines” or “filter out the garbage” when disseminating information. In my opinion,  the MLS systems and real estate boards will ALWAYS favor the Seller, and not the Buyer or the consumer in general.  The above quote from the SoCalMLS is a perfect example of what I am talking about.  It does make sense to have a qualified, experienced agent help explain the DOM statistic to a Buyer or Seller.  So, WHY hasn’t this been SoCalMLS policy from the beginning?  Isn’t it strange, that they now want to implement this change in a slow real estate market that is now cosidered a BUYERS MARKET?   In my opinion, the real estate boards feel that the depressing DOM stat is making it harder to sell homes in this slow market.  Why are their so many people out there that have their heads so far up there $%&*@#.

I agree that many times consumers are “bombarded” or overloaded with a lot of information and statistics.  Sometimes the information and statistics are meaningless.  But the solution to the problem is not to limit, delete or “hold back” information from the consumer. The best type of market for any industry is where the products, services and information are totally open and available to all consumers.  That’s my opinion!

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike
 

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Buyer's Resource Realty Services 7100 N. High St. Suite 204 Worthington, OH 43085
614.321.9577

Michael Marshall – Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013!

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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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