ActiveRain is the world’s largest online real estate network.  There are more than 200,000+ real estate industry professionals on the ActiveRain network.

ActiveRain has often been described as the real estate industry’s example of FaceBook or MySpace.  ActiveRain was launched in 2006 as a networking site for real estate agents/brokers, appraisers, title companies and mortgage professionals.

ActiveRain is NOT just for real estate agents.  ActiveRain “channels” are a great resource for consumers.  The channels are loaded with information and advice on every topic involved in a real estate transaction.  ActiveRain is very similar to other large real estate web sites, such as Zillow or Trulia.

Many real estate web sites are constantly changing and evolving their vision or purpose.   But currently, Zillow and Trulia web sites are “geared” more toward listing properties and providing estimates of value (zestimates) than providing information.  ActiveRain has always been a network for real estate professionals and a fantastic information resource for consumers. 

The ActiveRain Leaderboard allows members to search for any profession (lender, real estate agent, home stager, insurance agent, home inspector, etc.) involved in a real estate transaction.  You can search by state, county, city.

I am currently listed #7 on the ActiveRain leaderboard for real estate agents in Columbus, Ohio (#13 in Franklin county).

ActiveRain Profile – Michael Marshall, Buyer’s Agent

What’s even more amazing is that there are NO other Exclusive (True) Buyer’s Agent in the Top 100 in Columbus, Ohio.

There are many good real estate web sites out there.  Make sure, you don’t pass by ActiveRain.

Good luck out there.

Contact me if you have any questions.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Over the years, I’ve really been impressed with my client’s “home makeovers”.  The last few years have been an excellent market for buyer’s to buy at extremely low prices.

Below are a few “before” and “after” photos of some recent client’s home makeovers.  The Buyer’s did almost all the work themselves, along with a little help from their families and friends.

I would say, “move over Ty Pennington you might have some competition!” 

Kitchen Makeover – Before & After!

A kitchen remodel can bring some good returns when you go to sell.  The only problem is that they can be very costly, unless you do a lot of the work yourself.  A client in Powell, Ohio did this excellent kitchen makeover.  Beautiful job, Scott!

Laundry Room – Before & After!

Bedroom – Before & After!

 

Living Room – Before & After!

Dining Room – Before & After!

Kitchen – Before & After!

An incredible home makeover in the Hilliard area, this client did a wonderful job on their HUD foreclosure purchase.  I’m always amazed how much you can totally transform a home with just new flooring/carpeting, painting and cleaning.  Incredible job, Jason & Liz!  You have a beautiful home!

Since 2007, the HomeBuyer’s Advocate blog has been featured in “This Old House” magazine and the Columbus Dispatch with 100+ posts and 54,000+ views!  The HomeBuyer’s Advocate blog has been a leading resource for home buyers and homeowners in Columbus, Ohio.  The HomeBuyer’s Advocate blog has been true to the blog mission statement “real opinions & quick, valuable information for the homebuyer in central Ohio.”

For additional information, we now have a great compliment to The HomeBuyer’s Advocate blog.  Check out our company Facebook fan page to stay updated with the latest important news for home owners in central Ohio. Our fan page is loaded with great information, coupons, monthly Lowe’s gift card raffles, contests with prizes and funny home pictures and videos. Make sure you click to “Like”.

Buyer’s Resource Facebook Fan Page!

In January, we will be celebrating the new year (2K11) and reaching 200 Facebook fans with a special, incredible gift card raffle.  Check us out and make sure you don’t miss out on this special prize.  We are NOT your typical traditional real estate Facebook fan page.

Good luck out there!

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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I’ve been an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA) since 1996.  During this time, I’ve evaluated thousands of homes with my Buyer clients.   I’m constantly amazed at some of the stupid staging techniques that I’ve seen.  When done correctly, I think there is place for subtle home staging techniques.  But, I think 90% of home staging techniques creates a fake, phony home and is more of a distraction.  As an EBA that just represents home buyers, I’m constantly focused on home staging tricks that might be trying to hide a problem with a home such as, fresh-baked cookies or popcorn to hide mildew or moisture smells.

Here is the Top 10 list of “Stupid Home Staging Tricks”:

10. Playing mood music. Playing music to set the atmosphere in a home is not that ridiculous.  This is why mood music comes in at #10.    It is a little distracting when you are viewing a “blue-collar” home with “Mozart’s  Symphony No. 16 in C Major” playing in every room.  Many Sellers think playing music will create a relaxing and peaceful environment in their home.  But, many times the music is just distracting the potential buyer from the home.

9. Too many lit candles. A few candles are nice but don’t overdo it.  I’ve evaluated many homes where the Seller will have 5-6 lit candles in almost every room.  Fire Marshall Bill would say, “Let me show you something!”  This many lit candles are ridiculous, if not to say a fire hazard.

8. Plastic anything! Plastic anything is a big “no-no”.  You don’t want to stage your home with plastic cookies, cake, flowers, beverage, fruit, etc.  Using plastic props to stage your home is probably the most overused staging techniques.  New build model homes are the worst offenders of plastic prop staging.  Even Pamela Anderson would be embarrassed by the amount of plastic used in some model homes.

7. What’s up with this diagonal crap? A Professional stager will state that placing furniture on a diagonal, especially beds and couches is supposed to make a room seem bigger.  I think the theory of “diagonal staging” is debatable.  Even when it is done correctly, I really don’t think it makes the room bigger.  The first thing that I notice when I see a diagonal bed is how odd and fake this looks.  No one lives with their bed or couch on a diagonal.  I’ve had numerous Buyer clients ask me “What’s up with this diagonal furniture stuff?”

6. Where Art Thou? Hanging artwork on walls pose many different problems.  A big, fancy piece of artwork in a room will distract buyers from everything else in the room.  This is especially a problem if there are no other pictures, family photos or other artwork on the walls.  Incorrect artwork placement  just screams fake and phony.  Another artwork problem is “theming” (I thought I was making up a new word but this word actually does exist) of the rooms.  Every room in the house has one single recurrent artwork/picture theme (ocean, barn, flowers, forest/landscaping, etc.)

5. Full blown table place settings! Dining room tables or island counters set up to look like a 5 star Michelin restaurant.  Silk table mats, fancy silverware, napkins stuffed into glasses or napkins with rings, etc. is too over the top!  If your dining room table would make the Queen of England proud then it is probably not appropriate and looks fake.

4. Ribbon Envy! Avoid decorating your home with any ribbons or cords.  Tying ribbons around your towels on towel racks, decorative robes on curtain rods/drapes and shower curtains with big, huge ropes are all laughable.  No one wants to spend extra 10 minutes to take a shower by untying and tying shower curtain cords or tie backs.  You don’t live in King Henry’s castle.

3.  Cookbook. The open cookbook staged on a stand in the kitchen.  This is not your mother’s Home  Journal magazine from the 50’s.  Just as hilarious is the copies of wine or cigar connoisseur magazines right beside the cookbook on a stand.

2.  Breakfast tray. The breakfast tray on the bed with tumbled wine glasses.  Is the Seller thinking, “I had caviar and crumpets for breakfast this morning and I didn’t have time to put my breakfast tray away before showing my home.”  I’ve also never understood the staging of turned over glasses.  Some houses would even have plastic liquid coming out of the glass to resemble spilled milk or wine.  Why are these items in a stage home?  What’s next a whoopee cushion in a chair?

1.  Rose petals.  The #1 most stupid and outrageous staging technique that I’ve ever seen is rose petals everywhere in the filled bathroom tub along candles, wine bottles and glasses.  Luckily, we’ve only seen this staging technique once, but it was enough to easily make it number one on the list.  The house we viewed was actually a nice home with a great, updated kitchen and big back yard.  The house had everything my Buyer was looking for in a new home.  But, the only thing the Buyer ended up remembering was the crazy use of rose petals in the bathtub.

Home buyers need to be careful in our market.  When evaluating homes don’t be too distracted by tacky home staging techniques.  Obviously, I’m not a big fan of overblown home staging of homes.  My definition of home staging is fairly basic.  I think every Seller should remove clutter, clean their home, make all beds and pick up dirty underwear.  A Seller that tries to hide problems or defects in their home via home staging is a serious problem.  I addressed this issue in a previous blog post:  Problems With Staging Homes!

Good luck out there!  I hope this information is helpful. 

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The other day I was attending a home inspection with one of my Buyer clients.  The  Home Inspector discovered some bugs that he thought were bed bugs.  My Buyers asked me a good question, “Do Seller’s have to disclose bed bugs to potential homebuyers?”

Bed bugs are becoming a major problem everywhere in the United States.  But, the bed bug problem is huge in the state of Ohio.  CBS Evening News recently had a story of the  “Top 15 Worst Cities For Bed Bugs!”  The State of Ohio has 4 cities in the top 15.   Eeek Gads!!!

The answer to this question above might not be as straight forward as you think.

In a residential real estate transaction most states do require a property disclosure form.  But, many states, including Ohio, do not specifically address bed bugs in their disclosure form.  In my opinion, the state of Ohio residential property disclosure form is inadequate and needs to be greatly improved.

In the State of Ohio we have a four page Residential Property Disclosure (RPD) Form.  A Seller is required to disclose any material problems or defects on their property that has occurred over the past five years.

The definition of a “material defect” is any problem with a home that would affect a Buyer’s decision to purchase the home or affect the value of the property.

The State of Ohio RPD has 14 sections (A-N) that address such items as; structural, roof, water intrusion, mechanical, wood-boring insects, etc.  But, there is no specific section for disclosing bed bugs.  So, if there is no section in RPD do Sellers have to disclose?

I am not an attorney!!!  But, if you are a Seller struggling with what to disclose then I would use common sense and follow these 2 steps:

  • The best approach for any Seller is “when in doubt always disclose”.  Many Sellers do the exact opposite and disclose nothing.  Sellers don’t want to jeopardize selling their home.  This is a huge, risky gamble for any Seller.
  • Ask yourself, “would a reasonable person think the problem would affect the value?”.  If the honest answer is yes, then disclose.

You would think it would be a “no brainer” on how to answer the question, “Do Seller’s have to disclose Bed Bugs?”.

Yes, Yes, Yes…..you should disclose to potential Buyers any TYPE of pest, insect or rodent infestation in your home.  This is not just limited to termites, carpenter ants, bed bugs.  But, also squirrels, rats, bats, etc. 

Any reasonable person would think that a bed bug infestation in their home would affect the value of the property.

So, in the State of Ohio, even though we don’t have a specific section in the RPD to disclose bed bugs, you would need to disclose under section N (Other Known Material Defects) 

Real estate disclosure procedures vary greatly from state to state.  If you have specific questions then you should contact an attorney, licensed real estate agent or your states division/department of real estate. 

I really need to finish this post.   Bed bugs are so creepy that my mind is playing tricks on me.  As I’m writing this blog post,   I’m itching everywhere.  I hope this is not happening to you.  LOL!

If you want a little giggle, then hover your cursor over the bed bug pics above.

Good luck out there!  I hope this information is helpful. 

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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A recent Fannie Mae poll of homeowners and renters indicate that 78% of Americans believe home prices have bottomed out.  

Is now the right time to buy a home?  High inventory levels, low-interest rates and home prices that have bottomed out.

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

 “Representing People, NOT Property!”

The title tells you everything you need to know! A very good video for home buyers from “The Balancing Act” show on cable channel “Lifetime”.  The National Association Exclusive Buyer’s Agents (NAEBA) is an organization that strives to give today’s home-buying consumers the level of service they deserve and are increasingly demanding. NAEBA members firmly believe that home buyers have the same full and equal representation rights as sellers in any real estate transaction.   We have NAEBA members throughout the world.

Exclusive Buyer Agents (EBA) are the guaranteed, highest and best representation possible for a home buyer.  We help our Buyer Clients, “Locate, Evaluate and Negotiate!”

Great information for the home buyer.

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The Commerce Department reports that new home sales in June rebounded 24% from the previous month.  You would think this would be good news, but this is very misleading data.  March and April homes sales exploded because of the tax credit rush.  May was an all time “stinker” month.  So, it is not too hard to have a big increase over a previous terrible month.  Plus, the June sales pace is the 2nd slowest ever on record since Commerce Department began tracking the data in 1963.  Also on Monday, The National Association of Realtors reports that existing home sales fell 5.1% in June.

So what does all this mean?   On the same day, we get conflicting data on the real estate market.  Home buyers and sellers are frustrated.  They don’t know what to think. 

So is the real estate market improving?  Who knows the answer?

How about Bernanke, Buffett, Geithner or Greenspan….do they know the answer?

The answer is……nobody knows, not even the so called “experts”.

In my opinion, I think we’ve definitely hit the bottom months ago and the market has been slowly improving.  But my opinion or “guess” is no better than any other market expert.

But, the 2 things that I definitely know about the Columbus Ohio real market are:

  • The real estate market is extremely turbulant and volatile.  This is not always a bad thing for home buyers.
  • We are still in a Buyer’s market.

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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The guaranteed best representation possible for a home buyer is to hire their own personal Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA). 

Exclusive Buyer agent representation for home buyers has recently (Jan. 2010) been endorsed in the new consumer publication from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);  “Shopping for your Home Loan:  HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet“.  This is HUD’s first major revision in 10 years and advises home buyers to hire a real estate agent that will only represent their best interests.  Page 6 of HUD’s Settlement Cost Booklet states, “If you want someone to represent only your interests, consider hiring an ‘exclusive buyer’s agent’, who will be working for you.”

You would think this would be great news for home buyers & exclusive buyer’s agents.  But, now the problem is that many real estate agents are calling themselves an “Exclusive Buyer Agent”, when they really aren’t EBA’s.    Real estate agents are just making up their own “titles” or “specialities” just so they can generate more business.  But, they are NOT EBA’s or a true Buyer Broker

Quite simply, The only definition of an Exclusive Buyer Agent is an agent that never list property for sale and the company they work for does not list properties or provide any representation for Sellers.

If you are potential home buyer that is interviewing possible Exclusive Buyer Agents then just ask this simple question:

“Do you or any other agents in your office list or sell properties at anytime?”  If they answer yes, then the agent is not a true EBA.

Here is what leading national magazines and newspapers say about “true” Buyer Brokers:

 “Agents:  How to hire one for your side.”  Most agents who show you homes don’t represent your interests.  They work for   the seller, and their object is to sell the house at the highest price.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Many people don’t realize that, unless specifically stated otherwise, brokers are legal representatives of Sellers.  A buyer’s broker representing only the buyer, may be able to secure a better price and better terms.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 “Unlike the traditional agent who looks out for the seller, a buyer broker acts as your advocate, helping you find the  homes you want and then negotiating the lowest possible price.  the best buyer brokers are so-called exclusive agents – that is, they represent only buyers, never sellers…”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Exclusive agencies are best.  They remove any conflict of interest, which is the main reason for considering a Buyer Broker in the first place.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“…A Buyer’s Broker is prohibited from disclosing to a Seller that the Buyer can, or will, pay more than what has been offered…  To eliminate conflict of interests, exclusive buyer agents do not take listings.  Buyer’s Broker make a great deal of sense”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Groups such as Consumer Federation of America and AARP recommend using Buyer’s Agents.  The reason is they work.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

“Buyer Brokers:  agents that buyers can call their own.”  “If you real estate agent isn’t a Buyer Broker, he works for the Seller.”  Buyers no longer have to fend for themselves.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

“A conflict of interest is more likely when a real estate firm that represents sellers assigns you one of its Brokers as a Buyer’s agents.  That’s why many people believe, “Exclusive Buyer Broker” is preferrable.  Exclusive Buyer Broker aims to get the best deal for home buyer.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Many home buyers and sellers in central Ohio were hoping for a third extension to the popular home buyer tax credit program.  According to the Ohio Association of Realtors (OAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR), this appears  very unlikely to happen. 

Vicki Cox Golder, NAR President states “NAR has had extensive discussions with our congressional allies and concluded that an additional extension of the tax credit is unlikely.  While lawmakers recognize that the tax credit helped stabilize the market, it appears that much of the benefit has been realized.”

So, time is running out, we are down to the last few weeks for home buyers to claim the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit or the $6,500 move up buyer tax credit.  You must have a found a home and have a binding sales contract by April 30th, 2010.

Review these links for more information on Tax Credit Programs:

Tax Credit For First Time Home Buyers!

 Tax Credit Bonanza

Good luck out there!

Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions

Home Buyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, many potential home buyers & sellers were aware of the great $8,000 tax credit for 1st time home buyers.  But many consumers are not aware of all the other tax credit programs that are available:    
 
 
 

  • $8,000 tax credit for 1st time home buyers  extended until April 30, 2010, must close by June 30th, 2010.  Click HERE for more  info. 
  • NEW-$6,500 tax credit for move up/repeat buyers.  Existing home owners must have occupied their home for 5 years.  Click HERE or contact me for more detailed info. 
  • $1,500 tax credit for energy efficiency updating for existing homes.  Improvements must be completed by December 31, 2010.  Most popular updates are: new furnace, central air, tankless water heaters, windows, doors, patio doors, water heaters, etc.  Click HERE for completed list of eligible improvements and more info.
  • State of Ohio Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.  Ohio residents can receive anywhere from $100 to $250 for EACH eligible appliance that they replace ($700 maximum).  Program starts 1st quarter of 2010.  This rebate program offers the perfect excuse to buy a new expensive front loading, super high-efficiency steam washer & dryer.  Program ends when funds are depleted.  Rebates will possibly only last 4-6 weeks.  Important info:  Ohio appliance rebate program, Ohio offers rebates for Energy efficient appliances, Rebate Program Outline

We hope this information can help save you some money.  Please contact me if you have additional questions.     

Disclaimer:  Please consult a tax professional or accountant for additional details and eligibility questions regarding the federal tax credit programs.  Thoroughly review all guideline requirements for energy-efficient home improvements or appliances before making the purchases.   

Good luck out there.   

Home Buyer Advocate Mike   

Representing People, NOT Property!

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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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