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Not Really!…..But I made you take a second to review our informative blog.  The Homebuyer’s Advocate Blog could possibly be the best real estate blog in central Ohio.  But that is for our subscribers & readers to comment on, NOT us.  I’m playfully breaking one of the most important commandments of blogging.

Rule #1 of blogging, thou shall not blatantly self-promote. 

10,000 Views

10,000 Views!!!

In the last year, hopefully our readers & subscribers feel the Homebuyers Advocate has been an excellent resource for EVERYTHING real estate in Columbus, Ohio.  We had a goal of reaching 10,000 views within the first year.  We came extremely close to our goal.  But, we fell short by only 13 days.  Our new goal for next year is 50,000 views by the end of year two.

We’ve had some good exposure in the last year.   Homebuyer’s Advocate Blog was used as a reference for a Columbus Dispatch news article in May, 2008.  Andrew Show, Owner of Buyer’s Resource Realty Services was a guest speaker on WTVN 610 radio station.  Our most popular blog post on home warranties was recently used as a reference in the current issue (September, 2008) of national magazine publication, This Old House Magazine”.

Our mission statement for The Homebuyer’s Advocate Blog is to be the premier information resource for home owners in central Ohio with a primary focus on saving home owners money or preserving their equity/appreciation. 

If you are a home owner or potential home owner in Central Ohio our blog is a growing database of important news and information that you need to be aware of. 

If you take a second to review a few of our 37 blog posts, I bet you will find some information that will save you some money.

Good luck out there!

Be Informed, Subscribe NOW!

Home Buyer 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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Central Ohio’s largest home builder announced on Friday losses in the 4th quarter and for all of 2007.  M/I homes is one of  the nation’s largest home builders.  M/I builds a quality a home and is a well managed company.  But, even the best, well- run, new home builders were not immune to the recent real estate market crisis.  M/I Homes has been in business for 30+ years and I’m sure they will be in business for another 30+ years. 

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Another “somewhat” good article about buyer’s agents popped up over the weekend in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper.  Buyer’s agents work on clients behalf, using one can help bring a better deal on home purchase.  This story was written by Mary Ellen Slayter of The Washington Post.  Mary has a decent history of writing informative articles (for example, Watching Out for You, the Buyer) that help educate home buyers and explain the virtues of using a buyer’s agent.

But, like many writers, Mary’s articles fall  short of providing accurate information.  Mary’s main sources and references in her articles are mainly tainted by traditional  real estate agents and organizations that are trying to promote the real estate industry in general, and NOT really promoting true buyer advocacy.  The most important issue for any potential home buyer is to first find a qualified Exclusive (true) Buyer Agent (EBA).  Articles like Mary’s do more harm than good because they don’t clearer state the important differences between a traditional real estate buyer agent and an Exclusive Buyer Agent.

Many traditional buyer agents will sell homes and take listings.  This creates a huge, conflict of interest to any home buyer and exposes them to being “sold” properties by their so called buyer agent instead of their buyer agent being their advocate and adviser.  Almost all Exclusive (true) Buyer Agent have access to all homes in their market but they do NOT SELL homes or take listings at all!  An Exclusive Buyer Agent is the highest, best representation possible for any home buyer.

Many traditional buyer agents are just using the “title” to try and capture business.  Mary’s suggestion for finding a buyer agent, “Another way to find a buyer’s agent is to visit open houses” is probably one of  the most negligent and craziest suggestions that I’ve ever heard.  Home buyers should start at the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) if they are trying to find a good, qualified buyer agent.  Good luck!

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike 

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Finally some good news for Central Ohio home buyers.   Cincinnati’s largest home builder, Fischer homes will be entering Framingthe new build home/condo market in the Columbus, Ohio area.  Fischer homes saw a good opportunity to finally enter the Central Ohio market.  Fisher homes was able to purchase land and lots from Centex homes, that pulled out of the Columbus market last year.  Fischer Homes acquired more than 280 lots in Central Ohio.

Fischer Homes appears to be a fairly strong builder with a good reputation.  As an Exclusive Buyer Agent I looking forward to working with my new home build clients to compare Fischer Homes to the other good home builders that are already established in our market.  The increased competition with new home builders will be GREAT for my buyer clients.  In my opinion, the competition between builders will increase QUALITY and LOWER PRICES in the long run.  For more information on buying a new build home or condo check out this section in our main company web site.  Good luck to Fischer Homes!

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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I’ve been receiving a lot of good information from experienced lenders that I trust.  Everyone really needs to be aware of some drastic changes that will be occurring in 2008.  The sub-prime lending mess, declining real estate market and foreclosures in the past few years has finally starting to “trickle down” and will affect almost all potential home buyers.   In 2008 you will see a lot of changes to underwriting guidelines.  The good news is that FHA loans will be less affected than conventional loans.  The demand for FHA loans will probably increase in 2008.  The guidelines will be more strict.  For example:

*Conventional loan home buyers with a credit score of less than 680 and less than 30% down will see a significant increase in interest rates. 

*Home buyers putting less than 5% down and a credit score of 620 will be ineligible for mortgage insurance.  If you don’t qualify for mortgage insurance then you don’t qualify for the loan.  This is not rocket science!!!

*Mortgage insurance companies will also require appraisers to document if a home is in a increasing, stable or declining market.  If a home is in a declining market then a buyer putting less than 10% down and a credit score of 620 will be ineligible for mortgage insurance.

The problems in the lending market are really starting to take their toll on home buyers loan options.  Again, most of these changes will affect conventional loans and not FHA loans.  In 2008, FHA will incorporate a sliding scale for mortgage insurance rates based on credit score.  This sliding scale system is more of a “reward” for higher credit guide scores than a “punishment”.  As of right now, there are no major underwriting or pricing changes forecasted for FHA loans.  So if you’re a potential home buyer next year, it is now even more important to make sure you use a good, experienced lender.  Contact me if you need a reference for a good lender or if you have any further questions.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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Staging homes is really “storming” the real estate industry.  In the past few years, staging homes has become an increasingly growing “cottage” industry within the real estate market.  In 2007, The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) surveyed their  brokers & agents and found that 82% of the respondents stated that buyers were likely to get distracted from important issues when viewing a  staged home.  In addition, 51% of the respondents noted that staged homes often cover up Home Interiormajor defects and structural damage.  NAEBA is a small, international, professional trade organization that works to represent the best interests of the real estate buyer.  A recent article by columnist Blanche Evans with Realty Times ATTACKED NAEBA’s position on home staging.  Blanche’s article is one of the most biased pieces of journalism that I’ve ever read!   In Blanche’s article she states that “NAEBA is a spoilsport when it comes to staging homes” and NAEBA’s position on staging is SILLY and can possibly do serious damage”  Blanche’s article continues the trend of “old school”, traditional real estate brokers, insiders, agents, etc. that just don’t get it.  Blanche’s article is just preposterous!!!

OK, let’s try and help all the “confused” Blanche’s in the world.  First of all, Blanche is correct that a home-buyer’s decision (right or wrong) to purchase a home is always going to be based on three factors:  emotional, practical and financial.  A buyer agent’s responsibility is to properly advise their clients not to rely too heavily on the emotional aspect of buying a home.  As buyer agent’s, we believe our home-buyers decision process should be ranked:  financial, practical and then emotional.  The sole intention of staging a home is to get the buyer emotionally attached to a home.  So, why attack the “spoilsports” at NAEBA?                  Vase

There is nothing wrong with staging homes.  Right now, staging homes is “red hot”.  In the past, staging homes was limited more to higher end properties.  Not anymore, sellers can spend a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars to stage their homes.  Done the right way, staging a home is another excellent way for the seller to market their home.  But, I have no doubt, that the increased emphasis and “frenzy” on more elaborate ways to stage homes will definitely increase abuse and deception by the sellers.  Sellers will be more likely to try to hide defects in their home through staging options.  For example:

It is OK to add small furniture to make rooms appear bigger, but NOT OK to position furniture to hide holes in the walls or termite damage.

It is OK to play soothing, pleasant music as long as you are not trying to hide, “clangy” plumbing pipes.

It is OK to have cookies baking and pleasant smells as long as you are not trying to hide dingy mildew/mold smells.

It is OK to add a nice, expensive rug as long as you are not hiding a stain in the carpet or damaged wood flooring.

All the examples above are based on a seller NOT disclosing these issues or problems in a state required disclosure form (if applicable).  Most states require sellers to provide a disclosure form to potential buyers.

It is a buyer’s agent responsibility to protect their clients by uncovering issues or problems that are listed above in the examples.  I do not want to diminish the responsibilities and duties of the buyer’s agent.  But as staging becomes more prevalent then deception by sellers is going to occur no matter who the buyers have protecting them.

I can GUARANTEE you that the increased emphasis on more complex and elaborate home staging will increase the number of sellers trying to hide major issues that they should have disclosed (ethically and legally).

”So, be careful out there” – Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, Hill Street Blues

Now let’s end this post on a lighter note.  The all time FUNNIEST home staging mistake that our office has seen was when a seller left a ”porn” tape on a bookshelf right below their framed picture of the Ten Commandments.  No joke, this funny staging “faux pas” did actually occur with one of our agents and their buyer client.  Post a comment to this blog post, if you have a funny or deceptive staging story that you would like to share.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

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This is not Real Estate for Dummies.  But, it probably should be.  The basic definition of dual agency is “The same real estate agent is representing both buyer and seller in the same transaction”.  Dual agency is the single worst issue involved in real estate.  The average “Joe” out of the street easily understands that dual agency is WRONG.   This seems like common sense to the regular guy.  So, why can’t the politicians and many real estate agents & brokers understand this simple terrible concept?  The main reason why dual agency exists is because of the glorious MOOLAH.  Real estate brokers and agents have a huge financial incentive to be involved in a dual agency transaction at the detriment of their buyer or seller.  Dual agency has no benefits to protect the consumer (buyer or seller).  One of the simplest and best examples that I’ve ever read about the problems of dual agency actually came from a traditional real estate agent (Matt Difanis) in Illinois and not an Exclusive Buyer Agent.  A few years back, Matt had a sent this letter to the Realtor Magazine.

Here is another real simple definition; agency is when a real estate broker discloses “who” & “how” they are going to represent a buyer or seller.  Home buyers need to STOP spending all their time on the Internet looking at pretty pictures of potential homes and START spending more time fully understanding all types of agency (dual, single, transactional, limited or designated).  Understanding agency is definitely not the most exciting part of the home buying process.  As a matter of fact, it is down right boring.  But, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE; before you start down the path of buying a home make sure you spend time fully researching everything.   As with many major financial decisions (car, home, vacation, etc.) most of us end up rationalizing decisions based on emotion, don’t make a decision based on emotion!!

Non-disclosed dual agency is ILLEGAL in all 50 states.  But, only a few states have made (disclosed) dual agency illegal.  Dual agency should be”outlawed” and made illegal in all 50 states.   If you are a buyer or seller involved in a dual agency transaction and you don’t completely understand dual agency than you should immediately contact or RUN to your nearest real estate attorney.  

Here are a few other good blogs and web sites that just say NO to dual agency:   Bloodhound Realty & Homebuyer Representation

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

Representing People, NOT Property!

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 Television

In 2000,  we won FIRST PLACE in the television advertising category for a medium/small real estate firm in the State of Ohio.  The advertising & promotion contest was  Blue Ribbon  sponsored by the Ohio Association of Realtors (OAR).  These television commercials were conceived & produced in Central Ohio by a good friend of mine who is in advertising.  We produced these commercials for the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA).  NAEBA is our professional trade organization.  I hope you enjoy these spots.  I am really proud of the commercials.  I think the messages of these commercials are very powerful.  Today’s home buyer really has to question their “so called” buyers agent’s loyalty, competency and advocacy.  The home buyer really has to be aware of their agents duties and required disclosures to them or LACK OF!  The 30 second spots are funny, informative and controversial.

Cannonball II   http://youtube.com/watch?v=agN7p1lGvtQ  

(This is not a clip of that great Burt Reynolds sequel movie in the 70’s – Cannonball Run)

Problem             http://youtube.com/watch?v=1c15qPWkAz8

Flight Path        http://youtube.com/watch?v=1ASHpSARguU 

Watercooler      http://youtube.com/watch?v=5OR8JSETKVs 

SOB                   http://youtube.com/watch?v=C1KfYDx_DAI  

Thinking            http://youtube.com/watch?v=mTaiJqGDmPg   

Hounds              http://youtube.com/watch?v=cKFtTGCzHJ0   

Cannonball        http://youtube.com/watch?v=1xD37nhebGU     

In the future I hope to have more home buyer advocate clips on my main youtube site:

http://youtube.com/profile?user=OSUMike64

Ohio Association of Realtors Award Certificate 

I hope you enjoyed these funny, informative spots.

HomeBuyer Advocate Mike

 

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The Energy Policy Act of 2005 offers generous energy tax credits to consumers and businesses that purchase fuel efficient cars and/or energy efficient items for their home.  Small spread out moneyHomeowners can receive a tax credit up to $500.  Homeowners that purchase and install certain energy efficient products for their home such as; windows, exterior doors, heating and cooling systems,  water heaters, storm doors, insulation, etc. (see chart for more information) prior to the end of the year will be eligible for the tax credits.   The energy tax credit program is scheduled to end December 31, 2007.  So HURRY up and ACT now!  A tax credit is more beneficial than a tax deduction.   A tax credit reduces your actual tax amount due “dollar for dollar”.   A tax credit can provide substantial savings to the homeowner.  Click here for more information about tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Good luck and stop procrastinating.  Uncle Sam wants to give you money for going GREEN! 

Another great, informative web site to check out is the Energy Star Program.

HomeBuyer 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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