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Since 1996,  I have viewed 1000’s of homes with Buyer(s) in Columbus, Ohio as their Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA) and one question I continually get asked by my Buyer(s) is “how to fix squeaky floors?”

Squeaky floors are an annoying problem that can affect both newer and older homes.   Typically squeaky floors occur when your wood flooring (plywood sub-flooring or hardwood) dries out and shrinks.  The squeak you hear can either be your wood floors rubbing against your floor joists or the flooring nails have become a little loose.

The basic fix is usually just to screw the wood flooring to the joists.  But, If you have newer carpeting or hardwood floors then the fix is a little more complicated.

I discovered a few of low costs solutions that might work for most home owners.

  • Squeeeeek No More (could you add a few more “e’s”)
  • Squeek-Relief
  • Squeek Ender

All of these methods are very inexpensive (approximately $10 – $30) and not the hard to do for even for the most “home repair challenged” home owner.  You should be able to purchase these items online or at your local hardware store.

Check out the short videos below:

I have NOT used these products and I do NOT endorse them.  But, they appear to be a great, easy fix for a very frustrating problem.

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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Buyer's Agent Map-Columbus, Ohio - A Beehive of Activity!

Most traditional real estate agents tend to “farm” or specialize in a certain areas or subdivisions.  As an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent (EBA) I don’t specialize in certain areas.  In the past 17 years, I’ve helped nearly 300 clients throughout ALL areas of Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding counties.

I’m a true Buyer’s Agent.  A true Buyer’s Agent is an agent that will NEVER will list or sell a home.  I specialize in only representing home buyers.  My responsibility is to be an advocate & advisor for my buyer client throughout the entire home buying process.

If you are a home buyer that doesn’t want to be SOLD a home, then you need to contact an EBA.  An EBA will be your advocate and always look out for your best interest.   A smart home buyer’s choice is to use an Exclusive (true) Buyer’s Agent.

For more information check out testimonials:   Buyer Broker Testimonials!

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 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 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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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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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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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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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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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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